Temple Elephants suffering from TB

In a study that revealed alarming statistics, it has been discovered that one in four temple elephants in south India suffered from tuberculosis.

The study was spread across the four southern states and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and covered 387 captive elephants and looked at over 45 parameters. The study was led by principal investigator Jacob Cheeran, an expert on elephant studies and commissioned by Asian Nature and Conservation Foundation.

It is understood that lack of much-needed exercise, adequate nutrition and stress have led to a very high susceptibility to the disease. "Elephants need space. Most wild elephants are said to travel as much as 50-60 kilometers every day. The small temple enclosures and inhuman captive conditions has obviously been the cause for the spread of TB," says Ranu Malik, another elephant expert commenting on the study.
Cheeran also says that contaminated food and exposure to thousands of devotees every day was the cause. While only 11 per cent of elephants with the forest department had TB, 24 per cent of privately-owned elephants were suffering from the disease. It was further found that even the elephants with TB had outwardly healthy appearances, which made detection difficult.

The report had been sent to Project Elephant and would hopefully "urge the Ministry of Environment and Forest to take suitable action," said Cheeran, referring to the need for appropriate measures to find suitable treatments to control the disease.

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