After two successive operations and chemotherapy sessions each, Sanjay Gandhi National Park’s (SGNP) lone white tigress underwent a third round of chemotherapy on Thursday. Veterinarians at SGNP have said that the rate of increase of the cancerous growth near her left eye has slowed down after the treatment.
Rebecca, who is 18 years old, was diagnosed with melanoma (skin cancer) on March 8 and underwent surgery and two rounds of chemotherapy on April 16 and May 7.
A team comprising five doctors, including private vets on the national park’s advisory panel, namely Dr Neha Wakankar, Dr Chandrakant Wakankar, Dr Manish Pingle, Dr PR Chaudhari, senior scientific officer at The Advanced Centre for Treatment, Research and Education in Cancer (ACTREC), the R&D satellite of the Tata Memorial Centre, and Dr Sanjiv Pinjarkar from SGNP, have been treating the tigress and conducting her chemotherapy sessions.
“After almost three months of relentless efforts, we came to the conclusion on Thursday that the rate of increase of her tumour has been arrested (reduced). She is being treated with anti-cancerous drugs and saline, but a certain level of weakness can still be seen,” said Pinjarkar.
Vets at SGNP will continue to monitor Rebecca over the next three weeks to watch her progress, on the basis of which a decision will be taken on further treatment.
Pinjarkar added that Rebecca has been maintaining a stable diet and has not stopped eating during the tenure of her medication. “Due to the chemotherapy session today, she had to fast on Wednesday night. Her normal diet of chicken and beef will resume from Thursday onwards,” he said.
Vikas Gupta, director and chief conservator of forest, SGNP, said, “Rebecca appears to be doing well and has started responding to treatment. The fact that her tumour has reduced is a good sign and makes it clear that our doctors are trying their best.”
Deaths at SGNP in 2015:
* Four-year-old Royal Bengal tigress, Puja, who died on February 4 at the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP), had been suffering from septicaemia, or blood poisoning, since September 2014.
* Two weeks ago, the last of four leopard cubs estranged from their mother and brought to SGNP on March 31, died because of a lack of nutrition and proper grooming at the park’s rescue centre. In a series of deaths, the first cub died on April 9 and the second on April 16. Of the other two, one died on the night of April 22, while the fourth breathed its last at around 10pm on April 24.