Srinagar: After news reports said a tiger has contracted coronavirus in USA, the government of India Monday issued guidelines to ensure all the wild cats in the country are monitored for any such symptoms.
A tiger in New York’s Bronx zoo tested positive for coronavirus after it developed dry cough, the zoo management reported on Sunday.
In its wake, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MOF) has issued guidelines to avert the disease in tigers in India.
“Tigers may be observed for symptoms consistent with COVID-19 such as respiratory signs of nasal discharge, coughing and laboured breathing through direct observation to the extent possible besides through camera trap images for visible symptoms,” the guidelines read.
A letter to the Ministry to all Chief Wildlife Wardens of states and UTs directs them to take immediate preventive measures to stop the transmission and spread of the virus from human to animals and vice versa
The directives cover Kashmir’s Dachigam National park too where three leopards are housed.
According to the ministry, it should be ensured that personnel handling tigers in human-tiger negative interactions and translocation operations be ascertained to be coronavirus negative.
“As coronaviruses are known to affect gastrointestinal system in felines, requisite correlation may be made for characterizing the virus type in consultation with the state veterinary department,” it says.
Veterinarian, Department of Wildlife Protection, Srinagar, Dr Umar Nazir said the monitoring of the cats in Dachigam Park is being done “two to three times” a day in accordance with COVID-19 protocol.
“We access their health behaviour based on four parameters: feeding habits, fecal matter, urination and gait,” Dr Nazir said.
He noted that all the animals including cats in the park are showing normal behaviour so far.
Wild Life Warden Central Altaf Hussain said the department is taking all necessary measures to monitor the health conditions of the cats.
“We feed and access their behaviour using proper gear,” he added.