Man's best friend, tiger's worst enemy? Tigers are entering Bhopal city limits because of stray dogs

Previously it was thought that big cats were being driven out of jungle because of a dominant tiger, but according to forest officials, that is not the case

A few days ago a tiger attacked a forest guard at Kerwa road, a few kilometres south of Bhopal. Though there were reports that there may have been a possibility of a dominant tiger driving others out of the jungle, according to forest officials, the real culprit is actually man’s best friend.

According to top forest officials, stray dogs released by Bhopal Municipal Corporation (BMC) have tempted tigers to crawl out of the forest reserves and closer to Bhopal city limits. The framework laid out by National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) explicitly mentions that domestic animals within 5 km of a tiger reserve must be vaccinated in order to avoid the possibility of a contagious disease outbreak within the tiger habitat.

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Environmentalist Ajay Dubey said,

Man’s best friend could be tiger’s worst enemy. Threat of this virus from neighbourhood canines could be as high as that of poachers. It has the potential to push the animals towards extinction.

Stray dogs are especially prone to get infected by CDV (Canine Distemper Virus) which when transferred to feline species like cats and tigers via inhalation or blood transfusion can prove to be fatal. Though a number of vaccines against CDV exist, the prevalence of the virus among dogs remains high. Loss of habitat and depletion of prey species forces tigers to edge towards city outskirts and come in close contact with dogs infected with CDV.

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Though the tiger population in the nearby Panna Tiger Reserve has swelled to 35, four tigers died due to CDV infection three years ago after which NTCA officials sought to keep a check on the stray dog population.

Source – The Times of India