Dehradun: Transmission of the novel coronavirus to a tiger at a zoo in the US has led authorities at the Corbett Tiger Reserve in Uttarakhand to set up quarantine wards in its ranges for tigers, elephants and sniffer dog squads to protect them from the virus.
Quarantine wards have been set up at Kalagarh and Bijrani ranges of the reserve in compliance with the guidelines of the National Tiger Conservation Authority, CTR Director Rahul told PTI.
Apart from that, 40 video mode cameras and 450 still mode cameras have been installed at the peripheries of the reserve to keep a tab on any abnormal behaviour by animals which might suggest they have contracted the COVID-19 contagion, he said.
The reserve staff have been asked to stay put at the posts and they are being supplied with essentials there to prevent the possibility of their getting infected with COVID-19 and then passing it on to the animals that they have to handle, the official said.
Patrolling staff have also been asked to keep an eye on any abnormal behaviour by the wildlife at the reserve, he said.
Elaborate arrangements have also been made at the Rajaji Tiger Reserve to save tigers and other animals at the facility from the novel coronavirus infection, its Director PK Patro said.
"The reserve is under complete lockdown. The food for captive animals is sanitised at the gates before being brought in to be served to them. Zoo keepers who handle them are also being subjected to regular thermal screening to check if they have any symptoms of corona," Patro said.
He said if the need to quarantine animals arises the rescue centres can be used for the purpose.
Strict guidelines have been issued to the staff to inform the authorities if they spot the carcass of an animal within the reserve or at its peripheries. They have been asked to inform the Director if they see signs of illness in an animal, he said.
According to an official estimate there are around 250 tigers and 1100 elephants in Corbett Tiger Reserve while there are 38 tigers and 450 elephants in Rajaji. The Uttarakhand forest department has 22 captive elephants and two sniffer dog squads.
GB Pant High Altitude Zoo, Nainital Director Biju Lal said the guidelines issued by the Zoo Authority of India after a tiger tested positive for coronavirus at a zoo in New York have been implemented with immediate effect.
"The zoo is closed. Sanitisers are being used and the animal enclosures are being regularly cleaned. Biologist of the Zoo Rekha Suyal is keeping a watch on the behaviour of animals," Lal said.
There are two tiger reserves, six national parks, seven sanctuaries, four conservation reserves, two big zoo and one small zoo besides two animal rescue centres in Uttarakhand.
"The wildlife wing of Uttarakhand forest department is taking all preventive measures to protect the animal world from the deadly virus by keeping a close watch on them. All arrangements have been made as per NTCA guidelines," Chief Wildlife Warden Rajiv Bharatari said.