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July 5, 2000
Eleven tigers die in Nandankanan Park
M I Khan in Nandankanan Park (Bhubaneswar), Orissa
Catastrophe struck the world's biggest white tiger safari - Nandankanan Park, near Bhubaneswar in Orissa, when about eleven tigers - seven of them white tigers - died. One more is in a critical condition. According to reliable sources, the death was caused by an injection given by park officials to prevent spread of an infectious disease.
The tigers died between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning after being administered the injection, within the space of a few hours. Park officials gave the injection to one tiger on Sunday and the others on Monday.
On June 23rd, one tiger Debasis died after being infected by tripanosomiasis paracytic . Since then, officials have been on tenterhooks. To prevent spread of the infection, other tigers were given preventive injections as per the suggestion of veterinary doctors of the Orissa University of Agriculture and Technology, said B C Prusty, director of Nandankanan park.
However, on Tuesday evening a tiger, Sagar, developed symptoms of the infection, sources said. It died later in the night. Sagar's death was followed by that of Arun, Chandan, Durga, Petu, Surya, Janaka, Anif, Bandhabi and Samol.
All the dead tigers belonged to enclosures 31 and 32, an official said. A five-member team of veterinary doctors from OUAT is monitoring the condition of another six who have developed similar symptoms.
Before the deaths, the tiger safari had a population of 55.
Assistant Conservator of Wildlife G P Mohanty told rediff.com that the exact cause of the deaths could not be ascertained till detailed blood and pathological tests are concluded.
Interestingly, there is no facility in the state to conduct the tests. The nearest pathological laboratories are available in Bangalore and Madras. Chief Minister Navin Patnaik, accompanied state Forest Minister Adweta Prasad Singh, rushed to NandanKanan to take stock of the situation. The government has ordered an inquiry into the incident.
The park has the largest congregation of white tigers in the world. It was closed for a number of months after the devastation caused by the October super cyclone. Although the animal park was scheduled to be reopened by July 20.
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