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Thread: Wild animal treatment and role of Research and vets in India

  1. #1
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    Default Wild animal treatment and role of Research and vets in India

    I was asked this question based on some news paper reports. Are we able to capture wildanimals for treatment/research/rescue without any physical harm? There are some successful efforts and there are some amazingly incompetent handlings in the past. Rather than just blaming the forest department, we should question whether our officials and Vets are well equipped as their counterparts abroad?

    I feel there are several reasons for the methods practiced in India not to be at par with those practiced abroad. One of the reasons is lack of adequate knowledge on all the species. I would love to stand corrected on this issue. I feel the following few reasons have their impact:

    Facilities for Scientific research:
    There are few places where true scientific research is done. It is difficult here, as the environment for scientific research is not there. That's the reason, students who go abroad excel. The facilities there are amazing.

    Access to Widlife habitats:
    It is not always easy to gain access to wildlife parks and sactuaries. The requirements of Researchers is different than the casual tourist. A mechanism needs to be worked out. Greater sensitivities and understanding needs to be displayed towards the researchers.

    Research Institutions:
    There are few research institutes in India – not commensurate with the biodiversity that is at stake. Is one institute - Wildlife Institute of India – adequate for our needs?

    When we talk about the role of Vets, I am inclined to think about IVRI (Indian Veterinary Research Institute). I find that they do all sorts of research, but are removed from wild life. How will a vet know the exact dosage of anesthesia to be used to tranquilise a tiger?

    In one of the premier national parks of India, a male tiger was injured by another dominant male tiger. The well meaning officials wanted to treat it. They tranquilised the injured tiger, but the dosage was high and the tiger succumbed to it. I won't blame the forest department. They took all steps. Unfortunately, the expertise is simply not available in India. So it is a systemic fault. Results are more often seen in the way we handle the animals in our Zoos. Lots of cases of animals die in Zoos, due to improper medication. There have been instances of tigers or other endangered animals dying within days of being shifted to a Zoo.

    Intellectual Sterility?
    In India, we promote intellectual sterility. Promotions are taken for granted based on considerations other than merit.

    Availability of Funds:
    I don't agree that availability of funds is a problem. The issue is that funds are directed to few places. So few places (few big National parks) get all the funds from well meaning donors. Indian researchers also face a constraint vis-à-vis their foreign counterparts. An Indian researcher needs to prove himself or herself more for receiving the same level of funding.

    Quality of people:
    The emphasis of students during their 10+2 days is to go for Engineering or Medical. Once the cream is separated, then the best of the rest goes for other courses. The reason is quiet simple. Other disciplines don't have the attraction of engineering and Medical education. Unfortunate, but true. So the best of the rest goes else where. However, based on my interactions with other Nationalities, I find the average level of IQ in India is much higher. So even the best of the rest is good enough. Having said that, the flow of quality students will increase if the jobs are well paying and if these jobs/professions are marketed to generate excitement among students and general people. How many times a researcher or forest official is in news?

    Can we do something about it?

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    Some very pertinent points. Was especially surprised by the incident of an injured tiger succumbed to an over dose.

    There is an interesting philosophy that the Indian defense follows. If you do not have the expertise now, buy it from sources which have it!

    Hence, is it possible we design a database of case studies of scenarios as practised in the mature conservation parks outside. On a slightly off-tangent, Google has recently digitized the entire US healthcards and made them accessible to everyone. A similar service could be made accessible through a smart device (GPS + blackberry device) for wildlife too.

    Of course, we have to think about the cost benefit analysis part of it.

    Can something similar to be done here?

  3. #3
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    Some how this news item published in Indian Express had escaped my notice. Nevertheless, sharing it now.

    Wildlife at zoo, National Park cries for specialist vets

    Nitya Kaushik

    Mumbai may not be short of vets to look after pets and livestock, but wildlife veterinarians are in short supply. With a zoo in the middle of a Rs 433-crore makeover plan, the city, which has the largest protected forest in the world within city limits, is in dire need of wildlife vets.In fact, even the top two vets in Mumbai, the senior vet at the Byculla Zoo and the wildlife vet at the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, admit having no background in treating wildlife.

    The zoo vet, Dr K N Kshirsagar, is a bachelor of veterinary sciences and animal husbandry from the Bombay Veterinary College. SGNP’s Dr Vinaya Jangale is a post graduate in animal gynaecology.

    Kshirsagar was transferred to the zoo from the Deonar abattoir in late 2008, and Jangale’s last profile involved testing dairy products in the state’s Quality Control Laboratory in Goregaon.

    Today, Jangale’s job includes looking after several endangered wildlife species of SGNP like captive leopards and tigers and running the unique breeding programme for rare Rusty-spotted Cats.

    Today, the city’s only indigenous big cat, the leopard, is facing extinction. Also, the living condition of animals in the Byculla zoo has been an eyesore for city environmentalists. The zoo was in news recently for the death of a young hippopotamus due to an untimely “respiratory failure”.

    Identifying the need for doctors with a background in wildlife to handle wildlife issues across the country, the Nagpur-based Maharashtra Animal and Fisheries Sciences University (MAFSU) recently announced its plan to start a post-graduation diploma course in wildlife healthcare and management. The MAFSU is a state body that recognises all the major veterinary colleges across the state, including Mumbai’s Bombay Veterinary College in Parel.

    According to Dr S G Narayankhedkar, dean, veterinary faculty and director of instruction of MAFSU, “The wildlife territory has been neglected by Central as well as state governments. The PG course is specially designed for veterinarians like the Byculla zoo doctor who take decisions on the care of wild animals on a day-to-day basis, but have no expertise in the field. As a result, wildlife suffers. With population of many animals like the tiger, panther, lion, crocodiles and tortoises dwindling across the nation, wildlife doctors seem to a prime need.

    State secretary of environment and forest J P Dange, when asked if the city vets would be invited to take up the course, said, “We haven’t decided on offering doctors the course yet. We will have to consult the animal husbandry department on this,” he said.

    Meanwhile, doctors gallantly hold on to their posts and confess they are trying their best to cope with their profiles. Jangale said, “I am learning on the job. Besides, the wildlife training I received from the CZA before I took my position at SGNP as a wildlife vet has come in handy.” Kshirsagar added, “Yes, I don’t have any experience in wildlife management. The junior vet in the zoo has a specialisation in wildlife. He helps me with most of my assignments in the zoo.” The junior vet, Dr Sanjay Tripathi, is a veterinary major with wildlife anaesthesia as his research subject.

    Asked if he’d like to do a post graduation in wildlife, the zoo doctor said, “I’d love to if my bosses wants me to. But I can’t take the decision on my own. I can only follow orders.”

    Source article can be found here:

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