Dungun’s ‘friendly’ tiger Awang Besul dies of canine distemper

Perhilitan said that it is monitoring the area where Awang Besul and another tiger were seen, and has set tiger traps. — Picture via Twitter/Jabatan Perhilitan
Perhilitan said that it is monitoring the area where Awang Besul and another tiger were seen, and has set tiger traps. — Picture via Twitter/Jabatan Perhilitan

KUALA LUMPUR, July 23 — The Malayan tiger captured in a village in Dungun, Terrengganu after it was spotted strolling casually has died from the canine distemper virus, the Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) said today.

In a statement, the department said the tiger, named Awang Besul, sported injuries to its legs, an eye infection and was dehydrated when it was captured.

The Malayan Tiger was transferred to the National Wildlife Rescue Centre (NWRC) in Sungkai, for intensive treatment from Perhilitan’s veterinary doctor, and was quarantined.

“After various efforts to treat and save Awang Besul, we are saddened to inform that at 5.30am, Awang Besul was confirmed dead at the NWRC, by Perhilitan’s veterinary doctor, and a post-mortem would be conducted soon.

The department said Awang Besul displayed signs of unusual clinical neurology for a tiger, such as non-aggressiveness and turning in one direction when walking, and was also suffering from other complications such as seizures and nasal discharge.

Perhilitan said that Awang Besul’s virology results received yesterday confirmed that the young Malayan Tiger tested positive for canine distemper.

Canine distemper is a disease caused by a virus which attacks domestic animals such as dogs or other wildlife, including the tiger species.

“If tigers are affected by this disease, it will display behaviors such as being unafraid of humans. The probability to recover is very slim. The Department does not rule out the possibility that the canine distemper which Awang Besul suffered from was spread by wild animals around Kampung Besul Lama, Bukit Besi, Dungun, Terengganu,” Perhilitan added.

Perhilitan said that it is also still monitoring the area where Awang Besul and another tiger were seen, and has set tiger traps.

Anyone with information is advised to contact the department at 1-800-88-5151.

Terengganu Perhilitan director Dr Abdul Malek Mohd Yusof was previously reported saying that Awang Besul and another tiger spotted strolling casually around Kampung Besul, Bukit Besi, were most likely someone’s pet.

He said based on the large cats’ tame behaviour, the tigers were probably set free to wander into the jungle by their owner before they got lost and entered the village.

The wild cats’ antics were captured on video and created a social media frenzy.

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