Two dead as fox fear hits Kalutara
By Leon Berenger
The Wildlife authorities on 18 September alerted the public on the threat from rabid foxes prowling in the suburbs of Kalutara following recent fatal attacks on humans and animals, a senior-most official said.
The two victims died after they were attacked in separate incidents within a space of two months while the animals were also killed the same period, Conservation Director (Health) of the Department of Wildlife, Dr. Tharaka Prasad said on 18 September.
The first fox attack was reported on 6 June after a pack of dogs were bitten by a rabies-infected fox and later on, in the same month a buffalo and a cow were found with severe symptoms and abnormal behaviour and later were found dead, he said.
The carcasses of at least four foxes were also found in the area where they were either killed by villagers or had died from natural causes, he added.
He said that the attacks and sightings of the foxes were in Millaniya in the Kalutara area and warned locals against venturing into the open after dusk and sending their children alone to school.
He added that villagers should remain on high alert and adopt preventive measures for at least two more weeks.
Foxes are active after dusk and until 10:00 a.m. the following day and the people were warned against chasing the animals since they could end up as the hunted.
“Fox attacks take place due to misunderstandings of the animal’s behaviour. Earlier, it was natural for foxes to run away when they confront people but in this scenario, it is the opposite where they seem to chase people and attack them. These foxes have been infected with rabies,” he said.
“If anyone finds a dead fox, the head of the animal should be brought to the Medical Research Institute (MRI) for immediate diagnosis,” he said.
The fox population stretches from the borders of the Kalu Ganga to the areas of Millaniya, Galpatha, Aramawatte, Kanduruwela, Ingiriya and Horana, Dr. Prasad added.
He also said the Department along with several other State agencies that include the local regional Police, the Divisional Secretariat, the Kalutara Government Agent (GA), the Medical Officer of Health (MOH), the Pradeshiya Sabha (PS) and the Government Vet are carrying out several awareness campaigns in the area to educate the people on the existing threat.
Furthermore, all fox sightings or attacks should be relayed to the Wildlife Department on the hotline 1992, he added.
Meanwhile, officials also believe that an increase in the peacock population may have also attracted more foxes into the area.