17 January 2018, Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) released a paper, published in the Journal of Wildlife Diseases officially documenting the first case of Canine Distemper Virus (CDV) in a two-year-old, female Amur leopard.
Symptoms of CDV present themselves in big cats in a number of ways, in the case of this individual by demonstrating a lack of fear of humans and a general indifference to her surroundings despite being found near a busy road in Land of the Leopard National Park. Upon closer veterinary inspection it was clear that the leopard was malnourished and dependent on human intervention to take in food and water. The hard decision to euthanise the leopard was taken as her condition continued to deteriorate despite the best efforts of the veterinary team.
Disease is a critical threat to vulnerable small populations of any species, however, combined with the threat of poaching and habitat destruction it is crucial that conservation and veterinary experts understand more about the impact of this fatal disease to the population of ~80 Amur leopards.
Leopards are solitary creatures that do not live in large social groups like other felids, and so infectious diseases like CDV can take longer to obviously transmit through the population. This does not mean that there is a less profound effect on the population. WildCats Conservation Alliance is therefore keen to continue to support projects that work to identify the causes for transmission of this fatal disease and its impact on the fragile wild population. By regularly donating to WildCats you are contributing to a safer, healthier future for the world’s most endangered big cat.