"India Sees Coronavirus Threat to Fragile Population: Tigers"

"The country is home to most of the world’s wild tigers, and wildlife authorities announced steps to protect them."

"Something was wrong with a tiger in central India’s Pench Tiger Reserve earlier this month. For several days, wildlife managers had observed the 10-year-old male making frequent visits to a nearby pond, possibly, they speculated, because it was running a high fever. Though staff administered antibiotics, the tiger didn’t improve and eventually died by the water hole. A mysterious respiratory illness was at first the suspected cause of death.

Two days later — before authorities determined that an impacted intestine arising from a giant hairball had likely killed the cat — Indian officials put the country’s 50 wild tiger reserves on high alert. The country is home to 2,967 wild tigers, roughly three-quarters of the world’s total remaining non-captive population. And the cats are known to suffer from respiratory ailments, such as rhinotracheitis. But the announcement that a captive 4-year-old tiger at New York’s Bronx Zoo had tested positive for the coronavirus — the first confirmed case of the virus in a big cat — intensified concerns.

“This coronavirus could turn out to be very dangerous,” said Anup Kumar Nayak of the National Tiger Conservation Authority, the government agency charged with protecting India’s big cats. “We do not know what will happen in the future, but we are taking every precautionary measure. We have to take care of them.”"

Gloria Dickie reports for the New York Times April 22, 2020.

Source: NY Times, 04/23/2020