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Deadly virus pushing tigers toward extinction


 Daily Post, Chandigarh, 8th November, 2014


Adding to the already devastating pressures of species, a new threat to tiger populations in the wild has surfaced in the form of canine distemper virus (CDV).


The CDV has the potential to be a significant driver in pushing the animals towards extinction, said a study from the Wildlife conservation Society (WCS). Smaller populations of tigers are more vulnerable to extinction by CDV, the findings showed.


Populations consisting of 25 individuals were 1.65 times more likely to decline in the next 50 years when CDV was present. "Many tiger populations have become smaller and more fragmented, Making them much more susceptible to diseases such as CDV,” said Dale Miquelle, programe director, WCS Russia. The authors  evaluated the impacts of CDV on the Amur tiger population  in Russia's Sikhote Alin Biosphere Zapovednik (SABZ), where tiger number declined from 38 individuals to 9 in the years 2007 to 2012. In 2009 and 2010, Six adult tiger died or disappeared from the reserve, and the CDV was confirmed in two dead tigers.


The scientists used computer modeling to simulate the effects of the CDV infection on isolated tiger population of various sizes and through series transmission scenarios.