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Deadly viruses threaten young elephants in the wild, wild elephants, deadly virus, elephant death

Representative image | Photo: ANI

Thiruvananthapuram: Recent research conducted by the Forest Department reveals a worrying trend. Deadly viruses claim the lives of young wild elephants. The study highlights the rising mortality rate among elephant calves due to herpes viruses, a long-standing threat to the elephant population.

The two viruses mentioned in the study are Elephant Endotheliotropic Herpesvirus (EEHV) and Elephantid Betaherpesvirus 1 (ELH,V-1). These viruses have been found to affect young elephants, with low immunity and genetic disorders, especially those under eight years of age. EEHV is often fatal to elephant calves.

According to the findings, 80 percent of elephants that succumb to viral infections are under eight years of age. This statistic is based on research conducted on both wild and captive elephants.

Several factors contribute to this situation, including climate change, habitat loss, declining food sources and human encroachment on elephant territories. These environmental changes have disrupted elephants’ natural habitat and lifestyle, making them more susceptible to viral infections. In response to these findings, the study recommends measures to increase the immunity of elephant calves and thereby reduce infant mortality.

Over a seven-year period from 2015 to 2022, an estimated 678 wild elephants, including young elephants, fell victim to these deadly viruses. Among them, 275 were under the age of ten. Also, 155 elephants between the ages of 10 and 20 died.

Elephant mortality rate

Year Number
2015 44
2016 58
2017 54
2018 93
2019 123
2020 106
2021 104
2022 96