Five national parks. An area of 7,582 sq km. Uncountable animals. And no veterinarian.
This situation led to the death of a six-month-old tiger cub at Uttarakhand’s famed Corbett National Park last week.
Villagers found two cubs apparently abandoned by their mothers — the other was one-and-half years old — 13 days ago and handed them over to wildlife officials in Corbett.
Since Corbett — which has the highest density of tigers in India — did not have a veterinarian, the cubs were sent to the Nainital Zoo where the younger one, which was injured, died. The other cub is being looked after by zoo veterinarians.
“The condition of both cubs was serious when they were brought to the zoo. We tried our best to save them, but failed to save the younger cub,” said R.N. Jha, Conservator Forest (South Kumaon) and member of the Nainital Zoo committee.
Five domesticated elephants have died in Uttarakhand’s national parks over the last seven years. So is Corbett supposed to have a veterinarian or not? There’s no clear answer.
“One post of veterinary doctor is lying vacant,” said Vinod Singhal, director, Corbett Tiger Reserve. Uttarakhand’s Chief Wildlife Warden, Shrikant Chandola, has a contradictory answer. “There is no provision of appointing veterinarians in
national parks and wildlife sanctuaries in Uttarakhand.” Chandola stated that no such post exists anywhere in the state.
Forests stocked with tigers, leopard, elephants, bears and deer cover 65 per cent of Uttarakhand’s area, and its shoddy care of this wealth has attracted official censure.
“Health of wildlife represented one of the most neglected areas of management in Corbett,” said a 2005-06 report of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India. “There was no veterinary doctor and the staff posted was untrained in health measures. An animal orphanage that was established was discontinued.”