Hyderabad: The Nagarjunasagar Srisailam Tiger reserve, one of India’s largest tiger habitats, is now ‘geared up’ to face any possible outbreak of the deadly Canine Distemper Virus that can kill tigers and also make them fearless, turning them into man eaters, officials said.
The Canine Distemper Virus caused tiger casualties in Bangladesh, Russian Federation countries and Indonesia. The National Tiger Conservation Authority has alerted NSTR field director to take measures to prevent the spread of the virus and vaccinate cattle entering the reserve.
Chief conservator of forests (Project Tiger) A.K. Nayak said, “We have received the alert from NTCA and are taking all measures suggested by it in both the tiger reserves — NSTR in Nallamalas’ and the Kawal tiger reserve in Adilabad.”
According to him, water testing is done frequently and monsoon patrolling teams are checking for unnatural deaths of animals. “We are on an alert. Earlier too, when two bisons died unnaturally, we got veterinary doctors from zoos who checked them for foot and mouth diseases and CDV and found they are not infected,” he said.
According NTCA deputy inspector general S.P. Yadav the CDV disease is incurable and causes high fever, watery eyes, lethargy, vomiting, diarrhoea, paralysis and death. “The infected animals have also been observed to display strange behaviour with disorientation and inability to predate,” said Yadav. In the Sundarbans in Bangladesh tigers turned man eaters as they lost fear. Tigers get infected by coming in contact with cattle and dogs straying into forests.
The measures suggested are vaccinating stray cattle, cats and dogs living around human habitations and tiger reserves on a regular basis. Incidents of wild animals showing abnormal behaviour must be reported immediately to NTCA, officials said.