BENGALURU: The death of a forest guard in Mangaluru has raised several questions as he is said to have died due to the bite of a poisonous insect, but its details are yet to be verified.
Suspecting something fishy, the head of forest force has ordered a thorough probe into the matter as forest officials from Mangaluru suspect he was bitten by a centipede but are not certain. However, the post-mortem report states that 55-year-old Bheemappa Illala was bitten by a ‘poisonous insect’ and suffered a multi-organ failure.
“This is tragic and it is the first such incident. I have been told that he was bitten three days ago. Following the incident, orders have been issued to check and strengthen the first aid kits in all forest camps and anti-poaching camps,” Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Punati Sridhar told The New Indian Express.
Mangaluru Deputy Conservator of Forests V Karikalan said Bheemappa was a retired defence officer. “He was diabetic and also suffered from psoriasis. Instead of approaching medical
professionals or his higher-ups, he sought help from traditional medicines. When his burning sensation did not subside, the staffers immediately took him to a hospital, but he did not survive. Bheemappa could not say with certainty what had bitten him or mention the location.”
Some staffers suspect that the traditional medicines he took could have had a reaction on his body, leading to his death caused by multi-organ failure.
Retired Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF), Avani Kumar Verma, said the department should not resort to knee-jerk reactions. “Though bites and accidents are bound to happen when one is in the forest, staffers should be well-prepared. Medical kits should be divided based on the demand and region. They should be up-to-date to address all issues. The incident also shows that many on ground and in the
department are not even aware of the biodiversity of species and the harm they could pose.”
Noted entomologist A K Chakravarthy from GKVK, said, “Centipedes are usually not poisonous, very few are. Usually, a centipede’s bite leads to inflammation, infection and allergies. Apart from snakes and scorpions, there are other insects which are poisonous, like dagger wasps, sting wasps, rock bees and giant spiders. Thus, the department should do a thorough check on what could be the cause.”