Friday, February 5, 2010

[rti_india] If gun doesn’t get them, virus does


If gun doesn't get them, virus does

It's not poaching that is the biggest threat to tigers. Information obtained by Bangalore Mirror under the RTI Act shows that 16 out of 30 big cats which died had succumbed to deadly maladies



Even as the state forest department has successfully conducted the first 'scientific' census of big cats in the four tiger reserves across the state, the very existence of tigers is threatened by diseases. Several microbial diseases, besides prowling poachers, are eating into the lives of tigers. Of the 30 tigers that died in the past few months, 16 have succumbed to deadly diseases like septicaemia and hypoxia.

The shocking revelation has come out in a reply to an RTI filed by Bangalore Mirror with the forest department seeking details of tiger deaths in the national parks and sanctuaries. As many as 16 tigers have died due to various diseases from 2006 to 2009 in Mysore and Chikmagalur divisions. While one tiger was killed by crocodile in D B Kuppe range, two tigers were poached at Nagarahole and Kallahalla range in 2008 and 2009.

The documents obtained from the forest department reveal that diseases like septicaemia, hypoxia, progressive anorexia and parasitic pneumonia have caused the deaths. The incidences of these diseases were sporadic in the beginning, but became frequent with the death of a two-year-old tigress in the D B Kuppe and Kakanakote Range in 2008.


According to veterinary experts, some tigers died of septicaemia or the systematic inflammatory response syndrome. The disease finds its way into the tiger's body through an infection by microbes present in blood, urine, lungs, skin or other tissues.The common symptoms of the disease include nausea, vomiting, increased heartbeat, neurological dysfunction and renal dysfunction.

The tiger may appear normal but internally it would be experiencing a burning sensation with constant bleeding of organs, leading to haemorrhage and shock. This would lead to the death of the tiger, explains Sanjay Gubbi, a wildlife biologist. In addition, another disorder hypoxia, which results in inadequate supply of oxygen to body, has also struck the tiger population.

Though these diseases can be treated if detected at an earlier stage, the occurrence of these diseases in the wild remains unnoticed because it is very difficult to track tigers with disease symptoms in the wild. Further, fights between the wild animals also result in wounds and these wounds can lead to septicaemia and hypoxia, explained yet another renowned wildlife conservationist.

While there were few death of tigers due to diseases till 2008, the casualty rate increased alarmingly in the last one year. The latter part of 2009 witnessed as many as five tiger deaths in Bandipur as well as Hunsur wildlife divisions. The tigresses are more prone to the infections compared to the male tigers.




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