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Eleven-year-old tiger at Mumbai’s national park has rare cancer: Veterinarians

The veterinary team and experts will be taking a decision soon as to how to go ahead with chemotherapy

mumbai Updated: May 23, 2019 01:08 IST
Badri Chatterjee
Badri Chatterjee
Hindustan Times
The tumour is on the tiger’s lower lip(Satish Bate/HT Photo)

An 11-year-old male tiger from the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP)’s rescue centre has been diagnosed with an extremely rare form of cancer, said veterinarians.

“As reported by pathologists from Mumbai Veterinary College (MVC), the tiger, named Yash, is suffering from an embryonal-type rhabdomyosarcoma — a soft tissue muscular tumour — which affects the skeletal muscles,” said Dr Shailesh Pethe, senior veterinarian, SGNP.

The veterinary team and experts will be taking a decision soon as to how to go ahead with chemotherapy. “Performing chemo for a wild animal is extremely difficult considering practical problems such as exposure to radiation and giving anaesthesia for every cycle,” said Dr Pethe. “We will see whether Yash will be able to sustain the impact of this line of treatment.”

The diagnosis comes after the tiger was operated twice over the past year. First in August last year, an operation helped remove a tumour on the left side of the tiger’s lower lip, which was 2.5 inches long, two inches in width and weighed 150 grams.

However, subsequently, veterinarians observed a recurrence in the tumour, which grew to 400 grams. In March, Yash was operated again by a team of experts from the MVC and SGNP and removed a tumour called granuloma from his face. “After the removal of the tumour in March, Yash underwent continuous weight loss,” said Anwar Ahmed, director and chief conservator of forest, SGNP.

“We investigated the cause by studying samples of the tumour and consulted experts. It was concluded that this was a very rare form of cancer, which is genetic in nature and expresses its fatality at a specific age.”

Yash was born at the park in 2008 to tiger Palash and tigress Basanti along with siblings Anand and Laxmi, who are there at the park. Palash died at the age of 16 in October 2016. “Palash was not detected with cancer but could have been diagnosed with it at a later stage,” said Dr Pethe.

There are six remaining Royal Bengal tigers at the park — four female and two male — all above 10 years of age.

First Published: May 23, 2019 01:08 IST