Three bison deaths in Jharkhand’s Betla National Park

By Deepanwita Gita Niyogi

Three wild bisons, one female and two males, have died in the Betla National Park under the Palamu Tiger Reserve situated in the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand. The first animal died on April 29, the second on May 4 and the third on May 17.

“These are possibly not natural deaths and may have been caused by bacterial infections,” said well-known wildlife expert DS Srivastava. “Generally, infections spread from cattle or sheep herds. The report has not come as yet. But if it is pleuropneumonia, it is highly contagious,” he added.

Srivastava explained that sometimes, when herds cross the park, infections can spread. Earlier, we had banned their movement, but it is again taking place. There are 60-70 bisons in Betla and it is the last standalone population in Jharkhand. In other areas, it is over, he said. “Initially, we used to immunise cattle, but now it has stopped. A lot of cattle grazing also takes place and the animals use water meant for wildlife. Vaccination of cattle should be done regularly,” Srivastava pointed out.

A forest guard, on the condition of anonymity, has also confirmed the deaths. According to him, post-mortem was conducted at the time of the deaths after medical teams arrived. Samples have been sent to the state capital Ranchi for lab tests.

The forest guard, however, ruled out the possibility of bacterial deaths. All the villages around the park are being monitored regularly and there is no infection. We are vaccinating the cattle population. As the deaths occurred suddenly, a team has been formed for 24-hour monitoring of wildlife.

Photo shows two wild bisons at Betla National Park

Pic credit: Deepanwita Gita Niyogi

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