Veterinarians assigned to tiger reserves and national parks in Madhya Pradesh have been withdrawn from their duties and temporarily told to take care of the 15 elephants brought in by several akhadas at the Simhastha Mahakumbh.
The ‘special’ assignment comes at a time when veterinary services at tiger reserves are stretched beyond capacity and territorial fights between tigers seen a rise.
Veterinarians from Madhav National Park, Shivpuri, Pench Tiger Reserve, Van Vihar National Park, Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve and Panna Tiger Reserve have been called for week-long duties at the ongoing Simhastha fair by the state government.
“Each tiger reserve or national park has only one veterinarian assigned to it and temporarily moving the veterinarian to Ujjain will expose wildlife, including endangered animals, to added threat in case they are injured or ill,” said a veterinarian, without wishing to be named.
According to sources, the state government felt the need for veterinary doctors specialised in wildlife because of the presence of 15 elephants on the mela ground. The veterinarians have been asked to treat the elephants in case they ill and keep them under control.
“The veterinarians are assigned for duty for a week. In case there is an emergency, veterinarians from neighbouring reserves can be sent,” said a senior forest department official, defending the state government decision.
Wildlife activist Ajay Dubey, however, said like the Maharashtra government, MP too have should not have allowed elephants at the Kumbh site. “The Maharashtra government did not allow elephants at the Nasik Kumbh because the animal could be a threat to people,” Dubey said, adding: “Tigers are dying in the reserves and veterinarians are needed there rather than at Ujjain where regular veterinarians (from state veterinary hospitals) can be used if required.”