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Caution: Virus converting tigers into man-eaters at Sunderban

June 28, 2013

Conservation of the tigers has always been an area of major concern in India. Earlier it was the loss of habitat and poachers’ attack that threatened the conservationists, but now a virus is giving a tough time to the communities working for the welfare of wildlife.

CDV, Canine Distemper Virus is reported to be a lethal reason for the depleting number of tigers in countries like Indonesia and Russia. This virus is common in cattle, especially dogs. The report of CDV killing the tigers at neighboring countries is bothering the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA). NTCA has asked the respective state authorities of different tiger reserves to take preventive actions to fight the peril.

tiger-attack
Photo Source: deathandtaxesmag

Study of Sunderban
Britain’s Wildlife Vet International (WVI) is conducting first comprehensive global tiger surveillance program. Under the umbrella of this program, WVI is planning to study whether a cattle virus (basically found in dogs) is infecting tigers of Sunderban and turning them into man-eaters. With fingers crossed, the conservationists want the result to be negative.

The Fatal Effect of CDV
Due to the lack of prey within the vicinity of the reserve, big carnivores like tigers and lions prey on stray cattle wandering around the boundaries of the forest. These stray animals even include dogs that might be infected with CDV and thus can eventually lead to the death of the predator. The CDV disease causes the stated below health issues:

  • Watery eyes
  • High fever
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Paralysis

Preventive Measures Taken by NTCA
As per the statistics cattle viruses like CDV and Peste Des Petits Ruminants (PPR) are very dangerous for tigers and other wild species. These viruses are contagious and thus multiply at a fast rate. Further there is no cure for this virus, which makes it completely lethal. Considering all this, the National Tiger Conservation Authority has laid down certain preventive measures.

Vaccination of the stray cattle
S. P. Yadav, Deputy Inspector General of NTCA has asked the respective state authorities to vaccinate the stray cattle and dogs that are dwelling nearby the reserve. The vaccination is to be given on a regular basis so that no stray animal catches virus.

Immediate Reporting
If some fauna species residing on the reserve are showing abnormal behavior, then it must be reported as soon as possible. Besides loss of fear, disorientation and inability to predate are some of the strange traits noticed in the animals suffering from CDV disease.

Pathological Analysis
The forest officials are asked to collect the tissue samples of the dead animals for a pathological analysis. The analysis will help in determining the reason of death and if it comes out to be CDV, then the needful will be done, so that the virus doesn’t spread to other wild species.

For storing the samples deep fridge facilities is to be availed. Further, the officials have been asked to maintain proper record of the collected samples.

Chemical Analysis
Chemical analysis to check the quality water in the reserve is another important step. The water is needed to be checked pre and post monsoon.

There are 43 tiger reserves in India and these preventive measures must be taken with each of them. Presently the focus is on Sunderban tiger reserve and the respective forest authorities are putting their best foot forward to take the situation in control.

Jessica Frei is a wildlife enthusiast and a blogger too, she likes to travel different national parks and wildlife sanctuaries all over the globe. She is currently in India on her wildlife tour.



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