Just one vet for 72 species at Bannerghatta park

Authorities struggle to find takers for the posts even as animals perish

The shortage of veterinarians is all the more apparent, given that there have been 75 animal deaths at BBP in 2010, including those of nine tigers, 11 lions and three leopards. The lone vet not only treats animals at BBP, but is also sent on assignments outside Bangalore to treat elephants.

The veterinarian who was appointed on contract basis when the Salmonella infection claimed the lives of many tigers, recently quit her job. BBP does not have adequate veterinary staff even to do the regular rounds in enclosures (like in Mysore zoo). These rounds are necessary to keep a tab on the health of the animals. Recently, BBP appointed a retired veterinary doctor who was working in Karnataka Milk Federation.
However, he does not have any experience in treating wild animals.   

Sources say only when the animal keeper complains to the vet about the condition of a particular animal, the vet treats it. "Many a time, the vet only directs the helpers to administer intravenous (IV) fluids and check the condition of the animal. It is very stressful for one vet to handle so many animals," said a BBP source.

According to the Cadre and Recruitment (C&R) Rules, there are only six wildlife vet posts in the State, and only one post has been allotted to BBP. A meeting of the governing council of the Zoo Authority of Karnataka (ZAK) was conducted in this regard recently. A proposal to increase the number of posts of wildlife vets from six to 12 was accepted at the meeting.

M N Jayakumar, Additional Chief Conservator of Forests and member secretary, ZAK, told Deccan Herald that the proposal to increase the number of vets was pending with the government.

“We are trying to appoint vets on contract basis at BBP. But finding wildlife vets has become very difficult. Veterinary students do not wish to take up jobs in zoos, since they are very hectic and demand a responsible approach. They prefer regular government jobs to working as wildlife vets,” he added.

The Veterinary University started PG courses in wildlife medicine in 2010. Four students will graduate from the varsity in 2012. These students do make regular visits to BBP and help out the vet in treating the animals.

“When a student joins the veterinary college, in the first year they have the passion for wildlife. But when they learn about the job profile and income, they prefer treating cattle or dogs,” said a student at a veterinary college.

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