Amur tigers in the Far East threatened by distemper

Amur tigers in the Far East threatened by distemper

30 September 2011

Feline distemper in Russia's Far East presents is presenting a growing danger to the Amur tiger, which is on in the Red Data Book of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. The Russian Academy of Sciences' Severtsov Institute of Problems of Ecology and Evolution launched a project to study tigers' infectious diseases of tigers in 2008 withinin the framework of the Amur Tiger Programme of the academy's ongoing expedition to study animals that have been placed on Russia's Red List of Threatened Species and other particularly important species of animals in Russia. Since then, the researchers have studied blood samples of from 11 tigers. They established that three tigers have found distemper antibodies in three tigers;, two of them whom died within a month. Zoologists note that distemper is one of the most dangerous diseases for these tigers, and poses a real threat to threatening the survival of the Amur tiger in Russia's Far East. These findings were presented in the report, "Preservation of the Amur Tiger in the Far East: How Dangerous is Distemper?" written by Sergei Naidenko and a group of researchers. The report was presented in February 2011 at thean international conference on the Teriofauna of Russia and Adjacent Territories.


A similar project was undertaken by a group of Russian vetsveterinarians and health experts of the WCS's Wildlife Health Center at the Bronx Zoo. They used histology along with DNA sequencing to confirm and characterise the infection in two wild tigers from the Primorye and Khabarovsk territories.Specialists could not were unable to prove that Amur tigers can have suffer from distemper until they launched until they launched a research project in 2003 and which established that distemper in the two tigers had distemper. "The first tigress approached the village of Pokrovka in the Khabarovsk Territory in 2003. She looked healthy but soon died for no obvious discernible reason. The other tigress approached the village of Terney in the Maritime Primorye Territory in 2010. She displayed abnormal neurologic signs, seemingly unfazed by the new surrounding, appeared gaunt and was searching for dogs as an easy meal," said a WCS representative. He said that the tigers most likely caught the disease after eating infected dogs. Health experts say the two dead tigers are not the only victims of the infection disease among Amur tigers.


Anatoly Astafyev, Director of the Sikhote-Alin Reserve, said this research explains the decline in the number of the Amur tigers in some certain areas of Primorye areas. "We have noted a decline in the number of tigers in our reserve," Astafyev said. "It was extremely important to for us to learn that at least one cause of the death causes is a diagnosable disease and that we can take measures to prevent it, for example, by vaccinate vaccinating domestic dogs."


Researchers of the Primorskaya State Academy of Agriculture are working jointly together with WCS health specialists to create a specialised veterinary laboratory in Ussuriysk, which could help in with the mass vaccination of dogs.