As if poaching and habitat encroachment weren’t enough, South African wildlife also face the threat of Tuberculosis. First diagnosed in African Buffalo, it then spread to baboons, lions and bushpig. More recently it has also effected leopards, *cheetahs, *wild dogs, honey badgers, mongooses, warthogs, kudu, nyala, bushbuck and *rhinos. (*endangered)
All mammals are susceptible, and it spreads quickly throughout the ecosystems.
It directly impacts animal productivity and health, but the long-term consequences to their survival are yet unknown and in particular the direct effects on survival of endangered species is worrisome. Lions in particular have suffered a 35-75% decline from TB in current lion populations over the last two decades. (Professor Michele A Miller, Stennenbosch University)
Wildlife are not the only victims of TB. The disease originated in cattle; which in turn are used for human consumption. In 2013, it was the leading cause of human death in South Africa. (World Health Organization)
The lack of diagnostic tools for most species and the absence of an effective vaccine make it currently impossible to contain and control. With the ever-increasing number of domestic livestock and their expanding contact with wildlife, the disease is perpetuated. It is merely a matter of time to see what effects it will have on both humans and Africa’s ecosytems.