Gaur deaths blamed on 'black disease'

The 24 gaurs found dead in Prachuap Khiri Khan's Kui Buri wildlife reserve were not necessarily killed by deliberate poisoning or poaching, but might possibly by a new disease, a joint investigation led by the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation showed yesterday.

Strains of the so-called black disease involving the bacterium Clostridium novyi, which is potentially fatal to animals, were found in the tissue of 15 gaurs and one clay sample.

Though "black disease" has never been reported in Thailand, further investigation has been recommended to determine whether the 15 gaurs really died from it.

In addition, the Clostridium perfringens bacterium was found in the tissue of six carcasses and food sources, but it is not fatal and was not likely to be the cause of death.

Another report said no excessive amounts of heavy metals, insecticide or cyanide were found in food and water resources for animals.

The department has recommended that the carcasses be immediately buried, the area where they were found be disinfected, a buffer zone be created to minimise future infections among animals, cattle farmed near the reserve be vaccinated, and access to the area be limited to authorised personnel and police.