Tiger range states cautioned against lethal virus
New Delhi: Apprehending that a lethal virus carried by dogs may endanger big cats, the Environment Ministry has asked all tiger range states to take preventive measures including regular vaccination of stray animals living around tiger reserves.
The National Tiger Conservation Authority's (NTCA) move comes after recent media reports about spread of Canine Distemper Virus (CDV) in tigers in countries like Indonesia and Russia.
In a communication sent to chief wildlife wardens of all tiger range states, the NTCA, chaired by Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarjan, has said vaccination of stray cattle, cats and dogs living around tiger reserves should be done on regular basis and incidents of wild animals showing abnormal behaviour must be reported immediately.
The NTCA says the disease is incurable, causing high fever, watery eyes, lethargy, vomiting, diarrhoea, progressing to seizures, paralysis and death.
Infected tigers usually display strange behaviour, with disorientation, inability to predate, besides loss of fear which lead them to walk into human inhabited areas.
The tiger range states have been asked to collect the tissues of dead animals (brain tissue for CDV) for pathological analysis. The NTCA has directed that there should be facilities of deep fridge for storing samples in each tiger reserve.
It has also given direction to 17 states with tiger population for periodic checking of water quality in tiger reserves (pre and post monsoon) along with their chemical analysis.
India is one of the 13 tiger range countries and holds over half the world's tiger population. The tiger census report released in 2011 says the population of big cats in the country is 1,706.
The government has always made tiger protection a priority and Project Tiger, launched in the early 1970s, has put the endangered tiger on a definite path to recovery.