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Delhi zoo looks to Gambusia fish to check mosquito menace

With rain comes mosquitoes.

Written by Nandini Thilak | New Delhi |
July 10, 2012 2:52:41 am

With rain comes mosquitoes. So,three days into the monsoon’s onset in the capital,the Delhi Zoo has started an anti-malaria campaign to prevent mosquito menace affecting its animals.

Apart from regular with spraying and fogging exercises,the zoo has been relying on larvae-eating Gambusia fish to prevent the breeding of mosquitoes on its premises,said R A Khan,curator of the National Zoological Park on Friday.

“The fish have been used very successfully at the zoo after being procured by the MCD. They have helped bring mosquito population under control in the water bodies within the zoo,” the curator said.

Shoals of Gambusia now patrol its lakes,in areas where other mosquito-control measures such pesticide sprays or oils cannot be used.

The species is also known as “mosquitofish” was given because the diet of this fish predominantly consists of large amounts of mosquito larvae,relative to body size. They were introduced directly into ecosystems in many parts of the world as a biocontrol to lower mosquito population.

“As sprays and oils can prove toxic and cannot be used in lakes,the fish have been released into the water bodies. Their numbers are self-sustaining now and so we catch and release the fish into water bodies where there is a threat of mosquitoes breeding,” said Khan.

“While animals don’t get malaria as humans do,blood parasites similar to malarial parasites that are spread by mosquitoes affect animals,” said zoo doctor Dr Panneer Selvam.

While the animals can also be affected by malarial parasites,officials said they were more concerned about visitors,not just its own but also that of the Court complex in the Zoo’s vicinity.

“The Delhi High Court’s environment committee had last week called the zoological park to a meeting attended by MCD officials to take stock of measures being taken to prevent malaria. We submitted a report to them about the steps taken to control mosquitoes,” said Khan.

The Zoo has a mosquito-control protocol which it puts in place in the months from February to October and involves spraying,fogging as well as the use of oils to prevent breeding in stagnant water bodies and the zoo premises.

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