First case of tuberculosis in Nepal rhino confirmed

KATHMANDU: Researchers have confirmed the first case of tuberculosis in one-horned rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis) population in Nepal.

According to a paper published in Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)'s journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, a female rhino died of tuberculosis in Chitwan National Park in February last year.

Researchers isolated Mycobacterium orygis, a member of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex, from lung tissue sample collected from the female rhino that was found dead in Amaltari in Chitwan.

In the paper, researchers wrote they isolated M. orygis from chital deer (Axis axis) and blue bull (Boselaphus tragocamelus) from a captive wild-animal facility in their earlier study. They said they have postulated that the origin of the infection might be from infected animals in Chitwan Naitonal Park, where the deer and blue bull originated.

A CNP veterinarian, Kamal P. Gairhe, also one of the members of the research team, said a dead rhino was sent for the examination around a year ago and the journal reported the same case. No any living rhino was examined to check the disease, he added.

The paper further says that the M. orygis–associated TB in rhinoceros in Chitwan National Park may also indicate a threat to other animals, including some that are endangered.

Chitwan National Park, which lies in central Nepal,  is house for many protected and endangered animals including Royal Bengal tigers and Asian elephants.

Earlier, some captive elephants of the CNP were diagnosed with tuberculosis.


(With inputs from our district reporter in Chitwan)