Forest minister K Ramachandran said Chief Minister MK Stalin has instructed them to conduct tests in all sanctuaries across the state.

Two days after a nine-year-old lioness succumbed to Covid-19 and nine others tested positive at a zoo in Chennai, the Tamil Nadu Forest Department has carried out swab tests of captive elephants at two camps in Coimbatore and Nilgiris districts.

At the Kozhikmudi camp in Topslip, 28 elephants underwent the test. The elephants included Kumkis, safari elephants as well as aged ones. At the Theppakadu camp in Mudumalai, Nilgiris district, samples of 28 elephants were collected. As many as 52 mahouts and 27 kavadies were also vaccinated against Covid-19.  Temperature checks are regularly carried out by the officials before letting them go near the elephants.

Forest minister K Ramachandran, who took stock of the situation at Kozhikmudi camp, also distributed PPE kits and other necessary medicines to the officers. He said that after the incident at Vandalur Zoo in Chennai, Chief Minister MK Stalin has instructed them to conduct tests in all the sanctuaries across the state.

Coimbatore Forest Department’s veterinary officer Dr Sukumar said the tests were just a precautionary measure and the animals were otherwise very healthy.

“The process involves collecting the rectal swab through a viral transport medium followed by cold storage. We have also collected the trunk wash samples. All the samples have been sent to the Indian Veterinary Research Institute in Uttar Pradesh for testing, one of the four authorized institutes by the Central Zoo Authority to take up SARS COV-2 testing in captive animals,” he added.

The results of the samples are expected in the next three days.

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