Rajasthan begins testing its elephants for Covid-19
Rajasthan has crossed 25,000 Covid-19 tests a day, the third highest figure after Delhi and Tamil Nadu, and the state has now registered another achievement by testing its elephants for coronavirus infections.
The testing of the elephants began on Thursday in Jaipur, which is home to more than 110 elephants. Sixty-three of them live in the sprawling complex of the elephant village and 50 live with owners in areas around the iconic Amber Fort.
“Swabs have been taken from elephants for the first time in Rajasthan. We will send the samples to the Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI) in Bareilly,” said Arvind Mathur, who examined about 50 elephants with three more veterinary doctors on Thursday, the first day of a three-day check-up camp.
The camp has been organised by the state forest department in collaboration with Hathi Gaon Vikas Samiti. Similar camps are held every six months to check elephants for various ailments. This is the first time the gentle giants are being tested for the coronavirus.
Jaipur’s elephants are known around the world for the rides they offer to tourists on the steep cobbled stone pathways of the fort. They are often in close contact with their caretakers.
Hathi Gaon Vikas Samiti president Ballu Khan said getting the elephants tested for Coronavirus will keep the animals healthy and boost the confidence of visitors. He said around 8,000 families are directly or indirectly dependent on elephants.
Guided by their mahouts in masks and gloves, the elephants walked to the camp in Kunda village near Amber Fort in a queue, maintaining a social distance of 10 feet to 15 feet.
“Testing the elephants for Covid-19 is part of the protocol. Samples were taken from their eyes and oral cavity,” Mathur said, while extending a swab towards the aqua-gray eye of Bokdoi, a 26-year-old female elephant who shrunk a little as she was unfamiliar with this kind of test.
Mathur said the results of the tests are expected in seven to 10 days.