Srinagar: Wildlife authorities have launched a major sanitization drive in protected areas to prevent the spread of coronavirus among the animals in Kashmir .
After a tiger in an American zoo tested positive for coronavirus, there were concerns that animals could contract the virus. Subsequently, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MOF) issued guidelines to avert the disease in animals by monitoring their behavior.
“We are complying with the instructions issued by the Centre and the UT administration. There are no symptoms or abnormal behavior displayed by any animals in Dachigam National Park so far,” said Wild Life Warden, Central, Altaf Hussain.
Dachigam National Park houses three leopards, four black bears, and one brown bear.
“The emphasis is being laid on the sanitizing of enclosures in the interiors of the park. Disinfection can serve as a supplementary tool in reducing the risk to both animals and humans being,” Altaf said.
Wild Life Warden pointed out that personal protective gear, masks, and caps have been provided to all staffers to prevent any transmission of the infection.
Wildlife Warden, South, Abdul Rauf Zargar said no wild animal under his domain has shown any symptom of the virus. “To ensure the safety of animals, all wildlife captive enclosures at Mini Zoo, Pahalgam are fumigated from time to time to contain the spread of the virus,” he said.
Rauf said zoos have been already closed as per MOF guidelines. “The idea was to prevent the transmission of any infection to any of the animals. So we reduced the human interference by closing down the zoos,” he said.
Rouf noted that while there is no change in animal diet, all food items are boiled, properly sanitized, and then offered to the animals.
“Due to less human interference, there is an increase in leopard activities. They are spotted often. It is advised that people living near the forests should avoid coming into the earmarked protected areas,” he said.
Appropriate protocol is being followed to ensure the safety of animals and the field staff.
“Screening of staff handling animals, orientation on sanitization, social distancing, and looking out for any symptomatic changes in captive animals are being followed in letter and spirit,” Altaf said.