We are trying to urgently raise funds for Wildlife Veterinary International who are attempting to undertake the world’s first comprehensive tiger disease surveillance programme to combat deadly canine distemper (CDV) along with other diseases.
In a major leap forward for WVI’s work, big cat specialist and co-founder, John Lewis is to advise a new Indonesian initiative to help save its dwindling Sumatran tiger population and combat the emerging threat from CDV. (see Big Cats Fall Prey to Dog Disease)
Dr Lewis is one of a number of scientists looking at the potentially lethal impact of CDV on wild tigers, with the disease probably passed on by sick dogs. The hope is that a successful programme could become a model for tiger range states everywhere.
Concern is mounting on the impact of CDV both from within Sumatra and the Russian Far East, where domestic animals are coming into contact with wild tigers and leopards.
Research in the Russian Far East (J Wildlife Diseases (2012) 48(1):186-189) found that 15% of the tigers (both from the research area and tigers found in conflict situations) were found to be positive for distemper, with three tigers dying from the virus.
Not only will this project develop a model for other tiger range countries to adopt, it will pull together a network of veterinary experts across Sumatra and establish training opportunities to cover everything from safely immobilising/reviving tigers to ensuring efficient sample testing and maximising opportunities for disease surveillance.