DISEASES


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There are many reasons for the "death of a lion" but natural causes would be the preferred choice....

******* See bottom of page for BBC Video   ********

BTB in lions (photo Kruger National Park - Lower Sabie)

It is estimated that between 80-90% of Kruger Lions, from Satara to Crocodile Bridge and Pretoriuskop has TB in various stages

Tuberculosis, which affects a lions digestive tract, is transmitted through the eating of buffalo, which are virus carriers through domestic cattle. Kudus and other prey species are also carriers of TB.  Lions with tuberculosis lose so much weight in such a short period of time that among other things, they are prone to more illnesses such as the FI Virus.

 

 
What is : BOVINE TUBERCULOSIS (BTB)

  • A bacterial disease caused by Mycobacterium bovis, closely related to Mycobacterium tuberculosis

  • First diagnosed in the Kruger National Park in July 1990

  • Occurring mostly in the South of the Kruger, it is thought that Buffalo (being the primary host) contracted BTB from diseased cattle in the Malelane to Komatipoort areas

  • BTB has spread to other species e.g.. lion, leopard, cheetah, Kudu and Baboons. The lion population seem to be the hardest hit.

  • In Buffalo and Kudu this disease is spread by coughing or breathing in another animals breathing space (close to the nostrils or mouth), also by coughing on grass or leaves which are then eaten by others.

  • As lions feed on these animals they are infected.  Unfortunately for predators, this is a painful death.  The become severely emaciated before dying.

  • Observing these lions over a period one might first observe weight loss, difficulty in breathing, coughing, back legs seem to wobble and after a few days, the hind legs are dragged along, loss of appetite, unable to lie or sleep without getting sores on the areas where the bones protrude, similar to bedsores, and the symptoms go on and on.......

  • The virus that causes feline Aids (Feline immunodeficiency virus or FIV) and the bacterium (Mycobacterium bovis) that causes bovine tuberculosis are present in the approx 2000 lions that roam the Kruger National Park

  • According to scientists the virus, in the lions of the Kruger, is benign and does not cause any real problems for these lions. Lions in captivity might be affected and is spread through bites and scratch wounds.

  • It is said that of lions in the southern parts of the Kruger approx 80-90 per cent of lions tested were exposed or were infected with bovine tuberculosis, although not all show signs.  This is also the area with the highest concentration of Buffalo that are TB positive buffalo. Lions in the northern parts of the Kruger still seem to be TB negative. Bovine TB is contracted from infected prey species, especially buffalo, which in turn are infected by droplets spread by coughing. Lions, usually killing sick/old/injured animals or feeding on the dead (usually from diseases) target the sick buffalo. Males, by their “lions share” eating habits, eat the lungs that are the primary site for the TB bacteria and lesions. Lions have a shorter time span between infection and death. Kudu, warthog etc are also hosts to BTB.

  • A vaccine trial is being researched to prevent BTB in buffalo and hopefully this, in years to come could be useful for lions.

ANTHRAX

  • An acute FATAL bacterial disease.

  • Spread to water holes by scavengers, mostly vultures.

  • Vegetation gets contaminated by blow-flies and most vulnerable are the buffalo and to a larger extend Kudu and Roan-antelope, which, by virtue of their eating habits makes lions next on the list. (Blow-flies are disseminators of this disease)

  • Symptoms include swollen faces, dark tar like blood oozing from body opening - sudden death.

  • Although Anthrax in lions can in no way compare to BTB, it still contributes to the death of many lions. (No figures has been published on lions)

  • The floods during the first few months of the year 2000 has helped with the blow-fly problem, it might just be a temporary one.

  • Apart from the diseases mentioned above, viruses, ticks and natural deaths, what else is destroying the lion population? 
     

FELINE IMMUNODEFICIENCY VIRUS (FIV)
 

  • Mortality after three to five years of infection. Transmission is via biting. (Note all animals progress to AIDS)
    Symptoms include : depression, wasting, diarrhea, neurological diseases etc.

OTHER KILLERS

DISTEMPER - VIDEO FROM THE BBC


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Lion Website, contents : photos and information Charmane Baleiza  Copyright 2012

Video footage used: Courtesy of BBC Nature Wildlife - displaying BBC video's on this site is for educational purposes - Please do not copy any photos - More lion photos on http://www.pixoto.com/charmane/recent