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Antecedents of locomotor disorders in wild animals and its impact--an insight.


Locomotion is the most essential activity for survival of living creatures, assisting animal movement in their home range and performing various behaviors and activities essential for survival. With the help of locomotion, animals can perform natural feeding, territorial behaviors, social interactions, breeding behaviors and protect themselves against any danger etc. Many times due to natural or unnatural reasons, the animal cannot perform locomotion and in its absence animals cannot survive (except primates). Locomotor disorders are observed in different species of wild animals caused due to several natural and unnatural reasons. There are some isolated reports available on locomotor disorders in the zoo's, but no detailed and systematic account in wild's animal and its causes are recorded till date. The present communication documents different types of locomotor disorders its natural or unnatural causes, impact on the animal survival and animal behavior. The study was conducted in the last 15 years in different parts of Rajasthan in animals suffering with locomotor disorders due to road accidents, predator attacks, kite flying, electrocution, man-animal conflicts as major causes and injured by spine or quills, old age, natural by birth, accidental fall from height, inter and intra species interactions as main causes in mammalian species (viz. Leopard, Hyaena, Caracal, Indian wolf, Jackal, Hanuman langurs, Jungle cat, Chinkara, Blue bull and Sloth bear), avian species (viz. Blue rock pigeon, House sparrow, Common crow, Common babbler, Maina, Parrot, Peacock, Long-billed vulture, White-rumped vulture, Cinereous vulture, Egyptian vulture, Eurasian griffon, Himalayan griffon and Kite) and in Ranthambore National Park, a crocodile with amputated limb, probably caused by predatory attack by the tiger.

Material and Methods Study Area

The Thar desert covers an area of about 0.32 million which is nearly 12% of the total geographical area of India. It spreads over the four states of Rajasthan (62%), Gujarat (20%), Haryana and Punjab (9%) and in the west merges with the fertile plains of the Indus in Pakistan. The Thar desert of Rajasthan comprises 13 districts stretching from Ganganagar district in north to Sirohi in south and Jaisalmer in its west (Fig.1). The Thar desert forms ideal habitat for the many threatened faunal species like Leopard (Panthera pardus), Hyaena (Hyaena hyaena), Caracal (Caracal caracal), Jungle cat (Felischaus), Desert cat (Felis sylvestris), Indian wolf (Canis lupus), Jackal (Canis aureas), Desert fox (Vulpes vulpes pusilla), Fox (Vulpes bengalensis), Toddy cat (Paradoxorus hermaphordiatus), Hanuman langur (Semnopithecus entellus), Blackbuck (Antilope cervicapra), Chinkara (Gazella gazellai bennettii), Blue bull (Boselaphus tragocamelus), Sloth bear (Melursus ursinus), Wild boar (Sus scrofa), Porcupine (Hystrix indica) and many other birds and reptiles. A total of 45 mammalian species were observed in the study area, out of which 11 species are threatened and listed in the Schedule-I of Indian Wildlife Act, 1972. Over 200 bird species were observed in the study area, of which 6 species are listed in the Schedule-I of Indian Wildlife Act, 1972.



Data collection included

During long-term eco-behavioral and population dynamics studies of Hanuman langur (Semnopithecus entellus) carried out between 1995-2001 using focal, scan and ad-libitum sampling of Altmann (1974); in the various sites of study area (Chhangani, 2000; 2002a,b; 2003a,b; 2004a,b, c, d;2005;2007a;b;2009a,b;2010; Chhangani and Mohnot 1997; 2004; Rajpurohit et al., 2006 and Wait et al., 2007; Jonathan et al., 2011). Since 1995 to 2011, continuous field studies has been conducted on the ecological and population dynamics of resident and migratory vultures by monitoring their nesting sites, collecting data on aspects of demography predation, interspecies interaction, seasonal migration and behavior in different parts of Rajasthan. Photography and videography supplemented these observations to confirm the presence of difficult-to-identify vertebrate species, especially birds. Systematic data on road accidents, predatory attacks, man-animal conflicts, electrocution and others were collected during various field studies.

Injured animal found during the study period were rescued with the help of community, NGO's, Zoo's and Veterinary department. The animals were rescued in safe cages made of the local material and transported to Jodhpur and Bikaner Zoo's or captive facilities operated by state forest department and Veterinary department.

Results and Discussion Road Accidents

During December'2009 to May'2011, a total of 150 road accidents were recorded in and around Jodhpur. Of these, 49% were birds, 39.5% were mammals and 11.5% were reptiles. Among these, 80% occurred on highways most commonly along sharp turns, slopes, near water holes, road side animal feeding grounds (Fig. 2 and 3). Altogether 25 species of animals were found killed and injured in road accidents. During road accidents animal hit by the vehicles were mostly killed, but some time they survive with injuries, fractured and facing serious locomotor disorders in absence of timely rescue and veterinary assistance. Injured animal who received people's attention and were rescued to nearby veterinary facilities or zoos and survived. The animals without any assistance die in due course of time or killed any predators. The animals suffering with minor injuries and fractures sometimes survive with dysfunctional limbs (Fig. 4-7). The details of animal species observed in road accidents and their survives are given in Table 1,2 and 3. Roads therefore pose a serious threat to wild animals living in and out of protected areas. If strict measures are not taken for managing highway traffic and roads, the number of deaths of wild animals will continue to increase in and around the protected areas. Road killing is a serious threat to many threatened animals and birds (Chhangani, 2004 a,b,c,d).


In time of increasing urbanisation, the wild animals live in and around the urban habitats, facing variety of threats including mainly road accidents and electrocution, specially the extension of electricity supplying through open wires and electric poles. At times these electric poles and wires are used by many animals and birds for nesting and roosting. But they are also a serious threat to many birds and arboreal mammal species like

Hanuman langur, variety of bats, flying foxes, vultures, kites, crows etc (Fig.8-15). Due to electric shook the birds and mammals usually died but many times injured and fall on the ground with the dysfunctional body parts or wings. The details of the animals and birds injured or lost body parts due to electrocution are listed in Table 2 and 3.







Kite flying

In many parts of Rajasthan on the occasion of kite festival on 'Makar Sankranti' or 'Uttrayan' (in January) and 'Akha Teej' (in March or April), thousands of people fly kites with glass coated threads, often injure hundreds of birds including vultures. This is also the breeding season of many birds including vultures like White-rumped vulture, Long-billed vulture and Egyptian vulture population breeds in many parts of the study area particularly in and around cities of Ahmedabad, Surat, Jodhpur, Bikaner, Pali, Sirohi, Jalore and agaur etc. These cities witness massive kite flying. We observed several vultures dying due to injuries sustained on their wings and hands due to the glass coated threads, harming body parts severely. As a result the birds cannot fly, in

absence of rescue or veterinary aid die. Some 8-10 of injured vultures of different species were reported due to kite flying accidents in the study area. This needs further investigation as we assume more deaths, which go unreported. During the breeding season, the breeding pairs have to make several rounds between the nest and the foraging area to build nests and feed chicks. We found that during landing, their speed is as high as over 60 km/hr. At this speed the sharp kite thread cut their wings or a body part. Similarly birds like owls, kites, blue rock pigeons, house sparrow, etc. were also seriously injured due to kite flying (Fig. 16-22 ). The similar situation is also reported from Gujarat where in the kite flying on 'Uttrayan' thousands of birds injured and killed due to kite flying including vultures (Chhangani 2007a; Barvah, 2010 and Shastri, 2011).


Increasing numbers of feral dogs (Canis familiaris) also effect the population of wild animals, especially mammals and birds. In the last few years, dogs have emerged as predators of wild animals and birds (Fig. 23 and 24) including Hanuman langur (Semnopithecus entellus), Bluebull (Boselaphus tragocamelus), Chinkara (Gazella bennellii), Black buck (Antilope cervicapr) in and around Jodhpur and in many protected areas in Rajasthan (Chhangani, 2003a). Dogs also compete with threatened hyena (Hyaena hyaena), Indian wolf (Canis lupus) and jackal (Canis aureas). Man's best friend has become wildlife's worst enemy in this way (Daniel, 2004). Precise counts of dogs in villages surrounding the reserve are unavailable. A more precise census coupled with reproductive control of feral dogs, will be essential for successful conservation. Out of 260 observed attacks, encounters and interactions, 34 Hanuman langurs were observed killed by different predators from 16 troops including 3 focal troops. Of which 27 langurs of different age and sex were survived with lost limbs are summarized in Table 3.









Hanuman langurs have many predators in the study area. Feral dog (Canis familiaris) appears to be the major predator in most of the habitats of study area. Whereas panther, jackal, wolf, hyeana, etc. are predators in and around protected areas. Langur predation by dogs have been reported in several studies. Predation by panther in the forest area was also reported in several studies like Kanha by Schaller (1967); at Mt. Abu by Hrdy (1977); at Varanasi by Pirta (1982); at Kumbhalgarh by Chhangani and Mohnot (1997); Chhangani (2000) and at Mount Abu by Jugtawat (1999). In many cases the langur survives after the attack by predators with some minor or major injuries with lost hands, legs and tails.

Man and Wildlife Conflict

Crop raids by wild mammals, like Blue bull (Boselaphus tragocamelus), Sloth bear (Melursus ursinus), Wild boar (Sus scrofa) Hanuman langur (Semnopithecus entellus) and Porcupine (Hystrix indica) have been widely reported in all the villages of the study area. Such raids do pose considerable damage to crops, vegetable fields and orchards, sometimes ruining an entire harvest in a single nightly event. Prospects for electrical fencing or other expensive and resource intensive solutions are poor. Farmers use a range of informal methods to protect their crop fields and orchards from wildlife. However, the most commonly used crop protection strategy is direct night guarding of fields during the crop season. This method is used by 60% of the farmers in the study area. 20% of field owners use 'gophan', a device to throw stones towards animals to chase them away from the field. Few farmers (about 15%) use dogs for crop protection and to chase the wild animals. Many times these dogs kill wild animals, in particular juveniles and infants. While the remaining 5% of farmers use dangerous methods like shotguns, potash bombs and high voltage electric current around farm fields. In all the different crop protection methods many times wild animals were killed or seriously injured with lost limbs and other organs (Fig. 5). [FIGURE OMITTED]

















There are several locomotor disorders observed in study area which are caused by very unusual causes, other than above. Like, one Hyaena (Hyaena hyaena) was observed wounded and injured by the Babul (Acacia nilotica) spine near Rajpura, Sadri (Fig. 25 and 26). Similar injuries and cause of locomotor disorder was observed in Jungle cat (Felis chaus), Desert cat (Felis sylvestris) and Jackal (Canis aureas) injured by the spines of Babul (Acacia nilotica), Angrajee babul (Prosopisjuliflora). In such situation injured animals neither walk nor hunt for food and in absence of rescue they die in nature. In a similar case a Leopard (Panthera pardus) was found injured and unable to walk properly because of the Porcupine (Hystrix indica), quills in the right front feet. With the help of tranquilizing the animal was treated and released normally in the wild area. It is important to know that such locomotor disorders are due to very small causes but animal die either due to hunger or are killed by predators or in absence of veterinary aid. Locomotor disorder in old Hanuman langurs were observed in and around Jodhpur due to the old age (Fig. 27), here Hanuman langurs reported to live up to the age of 35 years (Mohnot, 1999). Such old female usually cannot move with the troop in the home range areas to feed and are completely depending on the artificial feeding by people. They avoid close proximity to the young troop members and live in isolation. Many times during inter and intra specific aggressive interactions some loss their limbs, eye or wings. Further this cause serious locomotor disorder (Fig. 28 and 29). Skin disease also causes very fetal locomotor disorder in which animal skin loss the flexibility and animal couldn't move much to forage and slowly in absence of treatment and rescue died.

Even an unusual growth of the nails of the claws of sloth bear and cause locomotor disorder (Fig. 30), which restricts the movement for feeding and day to day activities of the animal.


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Anil Kumar Chhangani (1)

Department of Environmental Science Maharaja Ganga Singh University Bikaner- 334001 (Rajasthan)

(1) Corresponding Author

E-mail :
Table 1: Wild animals with locomotor disorders--its cause and impact

Animal                     Cause of locomotor   Number of animals and
                           disorder             body part lost

Chinkara (Gazella          Predation/           3 (Right front and
  gazelle)                   Road accident        left hind leg
                                                  and Eye)
Black buck (Antilope       Road accident        1 (Right front leg)
Blue bull (Boselaphus      Road accident        1 (Left hind leg)
Jackal                     Road accident        2 (Right front leg)
  (Canis aureas)
Hyaena                     Acacia nilotica      1 (Left hind leg)
  (Hyaena hyeana)            spine
Sloth bear                 Nail overgrowth      1 (Left front claws
  (Melursus ursinus)                              nail)
Jungle cat                 Prosopis             1 (Right front claws)
  (Felis chaus)              juliflora spine
Desert cat                 Acacia senagle       1 (Left front claws)
  (Felis sylvestris)         spine
Fruit bat                  Kite Flying /        2 (Wings)
  (Pteropus gigenteus)       Electrocuted
Greater mouse-tailed       Kite Flying/         2 (Wings)
  bat (Rhinopoma             Predatory
  microphyllum kinneari)     attack by kite

Table 2: Wild birds with locomotor disorders--its cause and impact

Animal                             Cause of        Number of animals
                                   locomotor       and body part lost

Long-billed vulture                Kite flying     2 (Wings)
  (Gyps indicus)
White-rumped vulture               Kite flying     6 (Wings)
  (Gyps bengalensis)
Cinereous vulture                  Electrocution   1 (Wings and legs)
  (Aegypius monachus)
Egyptian vulture                   Kite flying     5 (Wings and legs)
  (Neophron percnopterus)
Eurasian griffon                   Electrocution   2 (Wings)
  (Gyps fulvus)
Himalayan griffon                  Predation       1 (Wings and legs)
  (Gyps hymalayansis)
Barn owl (Tyto alba)               Electrocution   2 (Wings and legs)
Eurasian eagle owl                 Electrocution   1 (Wings)
  (Bubo bubo)
Indian peafowl                     Electrocution   5 (Wings and legs)
  (Pavo cristatus)
Indian house sparrow               Predation       2 (Legs)
  (Passer domisticus indicus)
Peregrine falcon (Falco            Electrocution   1 (Wings)
  Peregrinus babylonicus)
Pariah kite (Milvus                Electrocution   3 (Wings and legs)
  migrans govinda)
Pied myna (Sturnus contra)         Predation       2 (Legs)
Blue rock pigeon (Columba livia)   Electrocution   4 (Legs)
Common babbler                     Predation       1 (Legs)
  (Turdoides caudatus)
House crow (Corvus splendens)      Electrocution   2 (Legs)

Table 3 : Hanuman langurs with locomotor disorders--its cause and
impact in and around Jodhpur (December' 2009 to May' 2011)

Group   Location        Cause of locomotor         Number of animals
No.                     disorder                   and managemental

B1     Daijar          Predation and Inter-       2 ( Right hand,
         temple          species interactions       Tail)
B3     Beriganga       Predation                  1 (Tail)
B4     Nimba           Predation                  1(Right hand)
B5     Nimbri          Predation                  2 (Tail and
                                                     Left hand)
B6     Mandor          Predation and Inter-       3 (Right hand,
         Devel           species interactions       Tail, Left leg)
B8     Mandor          Inter-species              1 (Right hand)
         temple          interactions
B9     Mandor          Road accident              1 (Left hand)
B11    Kaga North      Electrocution              1 (Right hand)
B12    Kaga South      Road accident              1 (Tail)
B13    City Pachatia   Electrocution              2 (Right hand,
         hill                                       Tail)
B14    City Ranisar    Electrocution              2 (Tail and Left
B15    Chandpole       Road accident/             2 (Right hand)
         choka           Electrocution
B17    Guptganga       Road Accident and Inter-   3 (Tail, Left
                         species interactions       hand, Left leg)
B17a   Soorsagar       Electrocution              1 (Left hand)
B22    Bhembharak      Predation/ Road Accident   2 (Right hand
                                                     and Tail)
B23    Sidhnath East   Predation                  1(Tail)
B26    Kadamkandi      Predation/ Road Accident   3 (Right hand)
B26a   Kadamkandi      Road Accident              2 (Right hand)
B27    Kadamkandi      Road Accident              1 (Tail)
B28    Bhadreshwar     Predation                  1 (Left hand)
B29    Arna-Jharna     Predation                  1 (Tail)
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Author:Chhangani, Anil Kumar
Publication:Intas Polivet
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:9INDI
Date:Jul 1, 2012
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