Canine distemper is a well known dog virus. It is very contagious and deadly. However, it can be prevented through vaccination. It not only makes dogs very ill; it can also affect wild animals such as ferrets, raccoons, skunks, wolves and foxes. It can also infect “some felidae“. Felidae is the scientific name for the cat family. Fortunately the disease does not infect domestic cats but it can be transmitted from dogs to tigers and kill them.
This is exactly what has happened in India. City of Chandrapur municipal workers have been removing stray dogs and dumping them in a forest that is adjacent to or near the Tadoba-Andhari tiger reserve in which there are an estimated 80 tigers.
The virus is known to have killed tigers in India in the past so the actions of these workers seems rather careless. Their behavior is compounded by the fact that the disease is preventable through vaccination, as mentioned.
The tiger in India is already highly endangered through loss of habitat, loss of prey and poachers who kill it in anyway possible (poisoning is a popular method) for body parts. There are 1,700 left in India.
If four tigers have been killed by the canine distemper virus it represents a notable loss especially if the loss occurs in one reserve because the reserves often have very few tigers in them. The loss of tigers in a reserve can negatively impact breeding, a vital component in conservation.
I hate to say it but it does make me feel that some people in authority are not taking the conservation of the tiger that seriously.