Jaldapara National Park launches vaccination drive to protect livestock

Jaldapara National Park launches   vaccination drive to protect livestock

Alipurduar: The authorities at Jaldapara National Park have undertaken a vital initiative — vaccinating approximately 10,000 cattle across 20 villages neighbouring the forest, well in advance of the monsoon’s arrival. This crucial operation has been underway for the past week, targeting diseases such as Hemorrhagic Septicemia, Black Quarter, Foot and Mouth diseases.

Every year as the monsoon approaches, anxiety looms over Jaldapara National Park due to the recurring outbreak of ‘foot and mouth’ disease among cattle. This highly contagious organism spreads through the air and saliva of infected animals, posing a threat to both domestic and wild populations. Despite numerous awareness efforts, cattle from nearby villages often freely wander into the forest, while herbivorous animals from the park occasionally venture into the surrounding areas. Consequently, a surge in ‘foot and mouth’ disease cases among village cattle is witnessed at the onset of the rainy season. The symptoms of this disease are unmistakable — lesions in the hooves, continuous salivation, throat swelling and a halt in normal movement and feeding.

Once infected, survival chances for affected cattle are slim. Moreover, should an infected animal enter the forest, the consequences within the reserved area can be catastrophic. In 2016, the ‘swamp deer’ species was eradicated from Jaldapara National Park due to a severe outbreak of the disease.

Forest department sources emphasise the risk of disease transmission from village cattle to the diverse wildlife within the park. With approximately 8,000 herbivorous wild animals spread across the park’s 216.51 square kilometres, the potential for an epidemic is substantial.

Hence, the Forest department initiated the vaccination campaign without hesitation, prioritising prevention

over risk. Parveen Kaswan, Divisional Forest Officer of Jaldapara Forest Division, emphasised the urgency of the situation, stating: “The vaccination of 10,800 cattle in 20 villages near Jaldapara National Park has commenced.

With this target in mind, the campaign has been launched at full throttle. Once an outbreak occurs, it doesn’t take long for disaster to follow.”

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