New virus putting tiger population at threat of extinction

New virus putting tiger population at threat of extinctionWashington, Nov 7 - A new research has observed that a new virus called canine distemper virus (CDV) is proving to be a threat to the tiger populations in the wild.

According to a new study from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and its partners, CDV has the potential to be a significant driver in pushing the animals toward extinction.

The authors evaluated these impacts on the Amur tiger population in Russi's Sikhote-Alin Biosphere Zapovednik (SABZ), where tiger numbers declined from 38 individuals to 9 in the years 2007 to 2012. In 2009 and
2010, six adult tigers died or disappeared from the reserve, and CDV was confirmed in two dead tigers-leading scientists to believe that CDV likely played a role in the overall decline of the population.

WCS veterinarian Martin Gilbert, said that although they knew that individual tigers had died from CDV in the wild, they wanted to understand the risk the virus presents to whole populations and tigers were elusive, however, and studying the long-term impact of risk factors was very challenging. Their model, based on tiger ecology data collected over 20 years in SABZ, explored the different ways that tigers might be exposed to the virus and how these impact the extinction risk to tiger populations over the long term.

WCS Russia Program Director, Dale Miquelle, said that tigers faced an array of threats throughout their range, from poaching to competition with humans for space and for food. Consequently, many tiger populations had become smaller and more fragmented, making them much more susceptible to diseases such as CDV. While they must continue to focus on the primary threats of poaching and habitat destruction, they now must also be prepared to deal with the appearance of such diseases in the future.

Small tiger populations are at greater risk to diseases such as CDV than larger populations, conservation strategies focusing on connectedness between populations become all the more important. (ANI)