While Indian tigers have the highest genetic variation compared to other subspecies of the feline across the world, their populations continue to be fragmented by loss of habitat, leading to inbreeding and potential loss of this diversity, says a new study that may inform conservation strategies.

"As human population started expanding, so also their signatures on the land. We know that some of these signatures would result in disrupting the ability of tigers to move," Uma Ramakrishnan, co-author of the research, published in the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution, told PTI.

A gunshot explodes through the rainforest, followed by what sounds like branches falling from a tree. A dog barks.

“Tito, did I hit it?” a man asks his companion in Spanish. “Oh yes, I did hit it. Look, there is blood dripping. I shot it from over there.”

When bison roam beyond Yellowstone National Park’s northern boundary around this time of year in a search of forage, one of four fates await them: They’ll be hazed back into the park, harvested by hunters, shipped to slaughter or quarantined for months or even years of brucellosis testing. For years, this has been their lot, per a complex set of agreements between the Montana Department of Livestock, the National Park Service, the InterTribal Buffalo Council and the United States Department of Agriculture designed to keep the park’s bison population below an agreed-upon number and minimize the risk of brucellosis spread from bison to livestock.

Bison that go into quarantine are held in a kind of limbo while state and federal agencies conduct several rounds of testing to determine which animals have contracted brucellosis. Space is tight at the two quarantine facilities outside of the park — combined, they can accommodate about 104 animals — so that’s where the bottleneck develops.

 © 2020 George Wright Society


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