Covid-19 and Big Cats

One of the tigers at the Bronx Zoo. Credit: National Geographic

Over the weekend, a four-year-old Malayan tiger at the Bronx Zoo in New York City tested positive for Covid-19. The tiger, along with six other big cats, including three other tigers and three lions, had been displaying symptoms similar to those displayed by humans infected with Covid-19, including a dry cough. A positive test for Covid-19 was confirmed by the USDA’s National Veterinary Services Laboratory.

Here is the statement released by the Wildlife Conservation Society, who runs the Bronx Zoo and also supports IRDNC’s human-wildlife conflict Rapid Response Teams. All seven big cats appear to have been infected by a zoo keeper and all are expected to recover fully.

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The Work Goes On…

Lionesses and cubs, near the Hoanib. Photo: P. Stander.

During this time of global uncertainty, the work of the IRDNC Rapid Response Teams, the Lion Rangers, and so many of the on-the-ground conservationists in northwest Namibia continues. Poaching and human-wildlife conflict care very little for Covid-19 and it remains imperative that wildlife conservation presses-on. Thanks to the tireless efforts of IRDNC’s directors and board and their partners, Namibia’s Ministry of Environment and Tourism is examining how to keep anti-poaching and human-wildlife conflict personnel, such as the Lion Rangers and Rapid Response Teams in the field.

But now, as always, field deployment costs money. Please consider supporting this critical conservation work by visiting this site and donating. Every little bit helps. Even during this trying time, we can secure an intact future for the wildlife and communities of northwest Namibia.

The Lion Rangers and HWC Rapid Response Teams are still hard at work.

Unknown Group Along the Escarpment

Over the past week, Dr. John Heydinger and Lion Ranger Field Operations Assistant Jendery Tsaneb, have been moving on foot through the Etendeka Concession in search of previously unmarked and uncollared groups of desert-adapted lions. This area is incredibly rugged and necessitated Heydinger and Tsaneb covering more than 80 km on-foot over five days. Their efforts were not in vain as ample evidence of multiple groups of lions inhabiting the area was uncovered.

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Northwest Lion Working Group Meeting, Swakopmund

Collared lioness in northwest Namibia. Photo: AJ Wattamaniuk

Conservation of northwest Namibia’s lions is more than just time in field. Management planning and policy development is critical to the successful long-term conservation of the population. The Northwest Lion Working Group (NWLWG) spearheads policy development, management decisions, and the development of field protocol and methodology for all aligned governmental, community, and NGO actors helping to conserve the lions in northwest Namibia and limit human-lion conflict. On 7 May, 2019, the NWLWG gathered in Swakopmund to review progress over the past year, plan for field activities for the rest of 2019, hear presentations from potential partners, review policy and make recommendations to the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET). This meeting was chaired by Kenneth //Uiseb, the MET Deputy Director of Scientific Services and Uakendisa Muzuma, the MET Large-Carnivore Coordinator who also chairs the NWLWG Technical Committee.

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