Virus Threatens Tigers’ Existence

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Future Of Tiger Rests On Gene Flow www.ambitionias.com
  • Adding to the existing pressures of habitat loss, poaching and depletion of prey species, a new threat to tiger populations in the wild has surfaced in the form of a deadly virus.
  • According to a new study from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), canine distemper virus (CDV) has the potential to be a significant driver in pushing the tigers towards extinction.
  • While CDV has recently been shown to lead to the deaths of individual tigers, its long-term impacts on tiger populations had never before been studied, researchers said.
  • The authors evaluated these impacts on the Amur tiger population in Russia's Sikhote-Alin Biosphere Zapovednik (SABZ), where tiger numbers declined from 38 individuals to 9 in the years 2007 to 2012.
  • In 2009 and 2010, six adult tigers died or disappeared from the reserve, and CDV was confirmed in two dead tigers leading scientists to believe that CDV likely played a role in the overall decline of the population.
  • Joint investigations of CDV have been an ongoing focus of scientists since its first appearance in tigers in 2003.
  • The finding shows that smaller populations of tigers were more vulnerable to extinction by CDV . Populations consisting of 25 individuals were 1.65 times more likely to decline in the next 50 years when CDV was present.
  • The results are profoundly disturbing for global wild tigers given that in most sites where wild tigers persist they are limited to populations of less than 25 adult breeding individuals.
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