No blue sheep found with eye infection in Kedar Tal
Earlier, a team had trekked over 15 km in Kedar Tal in search of blue sheep with possible signs of the infection that was even leading to blindness. Though the 15-member team didn’t find any infected Bharal, it returned with the head of a half-eaten corpse of a sheep.dehradun Updated: Dec 06, 2017 20:11 IST
DEHRADUN:The head of a sheep was sent to Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI) at Bareilly in Uttar Pradesh for a scientific probe into the spread of an eye infection affecting ‘Bharals’ in the wild.
Earlier, a team had trekked over 15 km in Kedar Tal in search of blue sheep with possible signs of the infection that was even leading to blindness. Though the 15-member team didn’t find any infected Bharal, it returned with the head of a half-eaten corpse of a sheep.
Mountaineer Loveraj Singh Dharamsaktu had returned from Gangotri National Park (GNP) with the findings that the infection, which experts suspect is keratoconjunctivitis, was noticed in some blue sheep.
Subsequently, the forest department formed the team comprising its staff, members of Uttarkashi-based Nehru Institute of Mountaineering and porters to survey the high-altitude area where the infected herbivores were seen. The team returned on December 5 late night after two days of the extensive survey.
“The team found a flock of blue sheep but did not notice any such infection. The members did find a carcass, the head of which we have sent to IVRI for further investigation,” Uttarkashi divisional forest officer and Gangotri National Park director Shravan Kumar told Hindustan Times.
“Whatever was found, was sent to IVRI for tests. If there’s any such disease in the area, we will take necessary measures,” chief wildlife warden Digvijay Singh Khati said.
Dharamsaktu had said the Bharals, as the blue sheep are locally called, were suffering from a severe eye infection. Some of them suffered from severe bleeding from the eyes. “The forest staff don’t visit high-altitude areas where the infection persists. The field workers are confined to some areas, especially in winter when snow makes the higher areas out of reach,” Dharamsaktu said.
After Dharamsaktu alerted the wildlife department on September 9, a team surveyed the national park. The team rescued a limping lamb but it didn’t survive. Experts at IVRI ruled out eye infection, saying the lamb suffered from a lung infection. Taking no chances, the forest staff had surveyed Nelong and Gaumukh valleys.
Gangotri park, a protected area in the upper catchment of the Bhagirathi, is spread across 2,390 sqkm. It is covered under the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) project ‘Securing Livelihoods, Conservation, Sustainable Use and Restoration of High Range Himalayan Ecosystem’.