Tests rule out deficiency in food quality behind blackbuck deaths
Tests of feed and fodder samples by the Northern Regional Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (NRDDL) has ruled out any quality deficiency in the food quality behind deaths of three blackbucks, a protected wildlife species, at a mini zoo in Bathinda’s Bir Talab.
The post-examination report of antelopes, including two females, is expected next week. It will throw light on the reasons behind sudden deaths at zoo’s deer safari, state wildlife officials said on Saturday. The affected wildlife was below one year.
Blackbuck is Punjab’s state animal and it is covered under the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972.
Sudden deaths in captivity on Wednesday triggered health concerns of the wildlife as the zoo houses about 200 antelopes in the open deer safari, including 112 blackbucks, sambar and hog deer. The mini-zoo that also has three leopards, and several herbivorous species, including emu and birds, has no full-time veterinarian.
Following blackbuck mortality, forest range officer Pawan Sridhar was removed as in-charge of the zoo. Services of the lone veterinarian, who was hired on ad hoc, were also discontinued with immediate effect.
Punjab’s chief conservator of forest (wildlife) Charchil Kumar said viscera samples are being analysed by experts at Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (GADVASU), Ludhiana.
“Deaths of blackbucks are being watched closely. It is premature to attribute reason to the wildlife mortality,” he added.
Amarinder Singh, who took charge of the mini zoon on Saturday, said the university scientists may take another 10 days to submit a report as the body tissues are being cultured at the laboratory for in-depth study of deaths.
Bathinda divisional forest officer (DFO) Swaran Singh said a team of veterinarians from Chhatbir Zoo on Friday audited wildlife health and safety at Bir Talab facility.
“Other wildlife in the safari did not show any symptom of illness. But behaviour of the animals is being monitored,” he added.