About 30 km from Udaipur there is a place called Dholi Ghati, situated in a valley. In the early fifties, this area was inaccessible by road and sparsely populated. Near Dholi Gahti, there were three villages–Jogion-Ka_Guda, Sahawaton-Ka-Guda and Majam. The whole area teemed with game. My father, late Shri T. H. Tehsin, spent a lot of time in this area to study the behaviour of fauna. This is the place from where my father shot a barking deer (Muntiacus muntjak). This is the only instance of the presence of barking deer in Southern Rajasthan.
In those days, the chief ailment of the people of this region was guinea worms, dysentery and malaria. My father, during his jungle excursions, always carried a first aid kit to treat people suffering from these ailments. To treat guinea worm patients, he used a simple method. When a guinea worm protruded partly from a blister, he would inject a minute quantity of tincture iodine into the worm with a very fine hypodermic needle and would tie the worm. Within 24hrs the iodine would kill the worm, thereby loosening its grip on the muscles of the patient. Later it could be wound on a stick slowly and extracted from the patient.
My father's diary shows that during the winter of 1948 he had treated 900 patients suffering from guinea worm at Dholi Ghati during his stay of two months. One of the patients had 80 guinea worms in his body. One even protruded from his tongue. He expired within a fortnight. This proves the gravity of the suffering of the people from this disease in those days.
While looking through the diaries I came across an interesting note. On 6th February, 1952, my father shot a leopard in Kachot, a place near Dholi Ghati, in a beat. The animal was very lean. While skinning he found some yellowish fluid oozing out from a small wound, just above the right eye of the animal. He cut the flesh near the wound and extracted a thin, long, white worm, which he noted was a guinea worm. Leopards too apparently suffered from guinea worm infection.
Republished with consent of Dr Raza H Tehsin
Published originally in Journal of Bombay Natural History Society (JBNHS):Tehsin, R. H. (1996) Panther, Panthera pardus Linn. With Guinea Worm Infection. J. Bom. Nat. Hist. Soc. 93(1): 79