Tigers…beautiful, regal and highly endangered. They are considered one of nature’s most perfect killing machines however they are fighting for their survival today. Katy Daigle writes in Yahoo News, India is scrambling to protect its beleaguered tiger population after several big cats tested positive for a virus common among dogs but deadly to other carnivores, experts said. In the last year, canine distemper virus has killed at least four tigers and several other animals across northern and eastern India, according to Rajesh Gopal of the government’s National Tiger Conservation Authority. This revelation is bad news for tigers. They are already endangered by extreme poaching and shrinking habitat. The larger India’s population grows, the closer more people and dogs encroach into much needed wildlife environment.
Gopal states they will now test every tiger carcass to see if they can find the virus while other authorities are considering a massive campaign to vaccinate dogs against distemper. While dogs can often recover from the disease, other animals including tigers, lions and leopards suffer fever, seizures and delirium before they die. There is no known cure. Some experts said it was pointless to try to limit the disease, given how closely millions of Indians live alongside wildlife. Instead, the country should focus on other proven threats like poaching, prey loss to hunting and human encroachment into forests. Illegal poaching remains a stubborn and serious danger, with tiger parts fetching high black market prices due to demand driven by traditional Chinese medicine practitioners. Deforestation and urban growth, meanwhile, bring the cats ever-closer to human settlements — and into conflict with villagers who will hunt any wild animals near their communities or livestock. India is home to more than half of the world’s estimated 3,200 tigers. An ongoing tiger census should give an updated count in a year. Despite dozens of tiger reserves in place, their numbers have sunk from an estimated 5,000-7,000 in the 1990s, when their habitat was more than twice as large.
Smithsonianmag.com states, the great cats are disappearing throughout its range because of habitat loss and illegal hunting. Luckily, an innovative big-cat biologist from India, Ullas Karanth, may have discovered a way to avert extinction. Karanth states he spent 15 years looking before he saw his first wild tiger. Even when the cats are all around, he says, the odds of seeing one are slim. From the boreal forests of the Russian Far East to the jungles of Sumatra, tiger populations are in free-fall. In the past century, their numbers have plunged from an estimated 100,000 to fewer than 3,500. This small pocket of southwestern India is one of the few places where the tiger population has reversed the trend and is now strong. Tigers are thriving in and around India’s Nagarhole National Park, with a regional population of 250. “If we do everything right, we can have 500,” Karanth tells Smithsonianmag.com. Biologists and government officials from all over the world are visiting Nagarhole to learn from Karanth. He gives them hope that they can save their own tigers and other big cats.
Yes, tigers are in a troubling situation but it’s not too late! Here are two great ways you can help save our tigers. Get involved and Make a Difference!
- WWF has listed great ways you can help save tigers.
- Save Tigers Now, a global campaign by World Wildlife Fund has joined with Leonardo Dicaprio to help bring tiger populations back up in the wild. Their goal is to build political, financial and public support to double the number of wild tigers by 2022. Diccaprio is well respected and known to contribute much of his time, effort and money into saving our world’s wildlife.