Big cats at risk of bird flu
UNEP were significantly concerned about countries such as Vietnam
that have an abundance of wild species as well as a massive poultry
industry that has been affected by avian flu outbreaks.
“A far wider range of species, including rare and endangered ones,
may be affected by highly virulent avian flu than has previously been
supposed,” a UNEP statement read.
The statement detailed expert thinking at the Convention on
Biological Diversity (CBD) conference in Brazil.
“There is growing evidence that the H5N1 virus can infect and harm
big cats like leopards and tigers, small cats such as civets and
other mammals like martens, weasels, badgers and otters," the experts
The H5N1 strain of avian flu has so far killed over 100 people and
has already reached Africa, Europe and Asia with startling speed.
So far, 200 million birds have been culled across the world.
In Germany, infections in cats, a dog and a weasel-like mammal known
as marten have been reported.
Two tigers and two leopards fed on fresh chicken carcasses died
suddenly in a Thai zoo in December 2003.
Post-mortem analysis identified the H5N1 virus in tissue samples.
UNEP also expressed concerns for poor people in rural areas turning
to wildlife for protein if poultry culls continue.
The statement said: “Culling of poultry, especially in developing
countries where chicken is a key source of protein, may lead to local
people turning to 'bushmeat' as an alternative.”
“This may put new and unacceptable pressure on a wide range of wild
living creatures from wild pigs up to endangered species like
chimpanzees, gorillas and other great apes.”
Drastic measures, such as culling wild birds or draining wetlands,
had to be avoided, UNEP warned.
The statement also highlighted that bird species such as members of
the crow and vulture families were especially at risk.
Date Published: March 23, 2006
For the cats,
Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue
an Educational Sanctuary home
to more than 100 big cats
12802 Easy Street Tampa, FL 33625
813.493.4564 fax 885.4457
Sign our petition here: