On Friday, 5 wild dogs died in the Pench Tiger Reserve of suspected poisoning. Just 3 days after that, 2 wild dogs from the Salama round died of Sunday and Monday.
2 male, 2 female and a pup in Central Bodalzira and West Chikhalakari in the core area of East Pench range of the tiger reserve died on Friday, 30th March. The site where the deaths occured is about 12 km from human settlements.
Ravikiran Govekar, the Pench Field Director, wildlife veterinarians Dr. Chetan Pathod and Dr. BM Kadu had tried to administer the required supplements and medications to the rest of the pack through their chicken feed. The pack had 13 wild dogs.
Out of the 13, 7 wild dogs have died in the past 4 days. A female wild dog died on Sunday and another one died on Monday. The remaining 6 dogs from the pack are being monitored closely because their movement is still sluggish.
“We have combed the entire area for any suspicious activity. A langur kill has also been found nearby. Samples have been collected for toxicological and histopathological tests and are being sent to Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI) in Bareilly in Uttar Pradesh. Experts from other institutes like Wildlife Institute of India (WII), Dehradun, will also be consulted,” said Govekar.
According to Dr. Nitin Kurkure, HoD pathology at Nagpur Veterinary College, the other dogs in the pack are being monitored. He would also be assisting the forest department in conducting the post-mortem to identify the possible causes.
“Though chances of human interference are less, we are investigating all possible angles. Confirmation of reasons for death will give a proper direction to the investigation,” Govekar added.
The post-mortem conducted by Dr. Kadu and Dr. Patond suggests the possibility of poisoning. The samples are being further tested to rule out viral or bacterial diseases.
“Suitable measures are being taken considering all the eventualities including poisoning or disease,” the team said.