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Sahgal Bittu, editor, Sanctuary magazine
"An overpopulation of tigers in zoos"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 5 July, 2000, 14:46 GMT 15:46 UK
Mystery illness kills nine tigers
Dead tigers
Seven tigers are still in a critical condition
At least nine endangered Royal Bengal tigers have died in a zoo in India's eastern state of Orissa.

Though the exact cause of their deaths is not known, officials at the Nandankanan Zoo say the tigers were suffering from a mysterious disease.

Five of the nine tigers that have died are said to be rare white tigers.


Dead Tiger being carried away
Nandankanan Zoo is struggling to care for its animals
Nandankanan is believed to have India's largest collection of Royal Bengal tigers and the world's largest collection of white tigers.

A zoo official, who did not wish to be identified, told Reuters that there could be two possibilities for the tigers' deaths.

"One is the epidemic and the other is an adverse reaction to the medicines administered. We are awaiting detailed reports," he said.

Tigers not fed

Another report quoted other zoo officials who said the problem could have been due to fact that the tigers were not fed on Monday.

They told the private Star News television network that the zoo has been struggling to care for its animals since a devastating cyclone hit Orissa last year.


Royal Bengal tiger
Conservationists say India is losing 200-300 tigers a year
Nandankanan Zoo had 55 tigers until the first one, a male named Sagar, died on Tuesday night.

By Wednesday morning, another eight were dead.

Zoo officials say seven other tigers are currently in a critical condition.

Orissa's chief conservator of forests, SK Patnaik told United News of India that zoo officials were eager to prevent any further casualties.

He said the tigers had not responded well to medication and were tottering and gasping.

Experts have been summoned from around the country to investigate the deaths.

Conservationists estimate that India is losing about 200 to 300 tigers a year due to poaching and development projects that destroy the tigers' natural habitat.

India's current tiger population is estimated to be about 3500.

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See also:

20 Sep 99 | South Asia
Tiger disease claims another victim
02 May 99 | South Asia
Tiger conference call
02 May 99 | World
Mission to save the tiger
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