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More than 1,000 dogs given anti-rabies shots prior to arrival of cheetahs

by Rishika Choudhury

Date & Time: Sep 10, 2022 9:00 AM

Read Time: 2 minute

An official said that more than 1,000 dogs were given anti-rabies vaccine doses around Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh, where cheetahs will be brought from Africa next week as part of India's ambitious project to reintroduce these fastest land animals. He stated that the move is intended to protect cheetahs from rabies. On September 17, eight cheetahs - five males and three females - are expected to arrive in KNP from Namibia. According to MP Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will launch the cheetah reintroduction programme on that day, which is also the PM's birthday.

“More than 1,000 stray and domestic dogs in villages located in the five km periphery of KNP have been given anti-rabies shots in an attempt to ensure that the wild animals, including cheetahs, stay safe in the sanctuary," KNP’s Divisional Forest Officer P K Verma told PTI. He, however, denied that the dogs are being vaccinated because cheetahs may prey on them.

Massive anti-rabies vaccination drive
The forest official admitted that this was the first time that the park officials went on a massive anti-rabies vaccination drive. “Usually, a leopard kills an animal and after devouring a portion of the carcass it leaves the remaining part only to return to eat the leftovers later after feeling hungry. In the meantime, if a rabid dog eats that leopard prey’s leftover, the big cat is bound to catch rabies and spread it among other wild animals in the forest," Verma said. Notably, in September 2013, a rabid dog bit the tail of a three-year-old tiger in the state's Panna Tiger Reserve (PTR). The forest department later administered an anti-rabies injection to the tiger coded P-212 in order to save wild animals, particularly big cats.

“In case rabid canine bites cattle around the jungle and if it is preyed on by any of the cheetahs that are coming to the park, these animals can get infected. And this may cause infection among other cheetahs," he said. Verma said that the drive to give anti-rabies vaccine to dogs which started in April is almost over.

Vaccinated dogs against other diseases too
“We have vaccinated the dogs against other diseases too," he added. He said they have been giving injections to cattle around the park for a long time, but for the first time they have focused on dogs to protect cheetahs.

India and Namibia have already signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to import cheetahs. Some cheetahs are also being proposed for import from South Africa. However, that country's president has not signed an MoU, indicating that the country may be experiencing difficulties, according to official sources. The country's last cheetah died in 1947 in the Korea district of present-day Chhattisgarh, which was previously part of Madhya Pradesh, and the species was declared extinct in 1952.

Ajay Dubey, wildlife expert and founder of Prayat, said, “Cheetahs have become extinct due to widespread poaching. The last three cheetahs were killed by the King of Korea in the forests that are now the area of Ghasidas National Park."

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