Saturday, February 6, 2016

OPPOSE TRAPPING WYOMING LIONS & HB0012 (petition & video)



Please sign our petition, no matter where you live on our precious planet! Trapping is a cruel and indiscriminate practice that injures and kills millions of wildlife and pets annually. Wyoming House Bill 0012 (HB0012) has been introduced to allow hunters to kill mountain lions with traps and snares. Please help us stop this terrible bill.


Anyone, anywhere in the world can sign.

CONTACT WYOMING LEGISLATORS DIRECTLY

Travel, Recreation, Wildlife and Cultural Resources Committee
Wyoming Legislature
213 State Capitol
Cheyenne WY 82002


Representative Kermit C. Brown
Party: Republican
2015-2016 Speaker of the House
PO Box 817
Laramie WY 82073
Work - (307) 745-7358
Fax - (307) 745-7385
Kermit.Brown@wyoleg.gov


Senator Phil Nicholas
Party: Republican
2015-2016 President of the Senate
PO Box 928
Laramie WY 82073-0928
Work - (307) 742-7140
Phil.Nicholas@wyoleg.gov
Please click this link to...

SIGN THE PETITION: "I Oppose HB 0012 and the hunting and trapping of mountain lions."


Your Daily #Cat

Louis roaring 

Louis roaring by Tambako The Jaguar

Bobcat siblings rescued, released in Venus preserve TY @BigCatRescue


— Two baby bobcat siblings, found on the side of the road last year, have been returned to a wildlife preserve in Venus after months of care and rehabilitation.

This is also the first time Nature Conservancy Florida and Big Cat Rescue have partnered in releasing the two bobcats to the Venus Flatwoods Preserve. The cats, rescued last July, were released Thursday.
The Venus preserve is west of Lake Okeechobee and has been protected and managed by The Nature Conservancy for over 20 years.

“This 100-acre property provides the perfect habitat for the bobcats. The preserve includes one of the few remaining areas of old growth longleaf pine forest in Florida and is home to many species of wildlife,” the group said in a news release.

Big Cat Rescue rescued the sibling bobcats, Rain (male) and Dancer (female), as kittens when they were found on the side of a highway in the county without their mother.

Big Cat Rescue’s bobcat rehabilitation team provided the wild cats with the care and training they needed to be returned to the wild, the group said.

Cameras will be set up on the preserve to continue to monitor the now nine-month-old-cats.
The preserve is surrounded by timber, citrus and cattle ranch land, and its borders are not
adjacent to highways or heavily trafficked areas that would endanger the cats.

“The Nature Conservancy’s Venus Flatwoods Preserve is the perfect location for these two
young bobcats. We expect them to do very well in the healthy, maintained habitat of this protected property,” said Adam Peterson, Central Florida Fire and Land Management specialist, The Nature Conservancy.

“Rain and Dancer have grown up to become strong, healthy bobcats equipped with the skills to return to the wild where they belong,” said Jamie Veronica, president of Big Cat Rescue. “We are thrilled that they will be released on a vast, protected property where they will be able to find everything they need to thrive.”

Bobcats are found throughout Florida. They prefer deep forests and are also adaptable to swamps, hammock, and rural landscapes, as well as urban and suburban backyards.

SEE THE VIDEO HERE!

source


Snow Leopard cubs caught on webcam with mother (videos)



Friday, February 5, 2016

Your Daily #Cats

Clinging on the log 

Clinging on the log by Tambako The Jaguar


Smilng on mom 

Smilng on mom by Tambako The Jaguar


 

Lions - 1 car - 0 (video)

There are roars of laughter as big cats in a South African safari park rip off a front bumper (after having a go at the wing mirrors)

  • Video shows the cats playing with a car at the Johannesburg Lion Park
  • Footage was captured by a passenger inside the car and put on YouTube
  • As the car backs away from the pride, one lion tears the bumper clean off
A group of tourists got the surprise of their life when their car bumper was ripped clean off by a playful lion while they were driving through a South African park - and it was all caught on camera.
The incredible video, shot at the Johannesburg Lion Park, begins with a large curious cat fitting the Volkswagen Golf's entire wing mirror in its mouth to the amazement of the onlookers.
As the majority of the passengers excitedly react and take pictures, one female in the car starts to panic.


Open wide: The incredible video begins with a large curious cat, at the Johannesburg Lion Park, fitting the Volkswagen Golf1's entire wing mirror in its mouth to the amazement of the onlookers
Open wide: The incredible video begins with a large curious cat, at the Johannesburg Lion Park, fitting the Volkswagen Golf1's entire wing mirror in its mouth to the amazement of the onlookers

I'll take that: An inquisitive lion grabs the front bumper as the car begins to back away from the pride 
I'll take that: An inquisitive lion grabs the front bumper as the car begins to back away from the pride 

Stolen goods: The lions quickly go over to inspect their shiny new metal toy on the grass
Stolen goods: The lions quickly go over to inspect their shiny new metal toy on the grass
'You must go now, drive fast,' the woman can be heard insisting, but the driver is unable to move due to another lion in the path ahead. 
Evoking both laughter and horror, one of the lions follows the car as it attempts to reverse away from the pride. 
In one powerful movement, the golden beast rips off the bumper. 
'You aren't getting that back,' one passenger jokes, as the car pulls away with its occupants erupting into fits of giggles. 

The curious cat gazes into the car, with the passengers both amused and horrified as it licks its lips
The curious cat gazes into the car, with the passengers both amused and horrified as it licks its lips

Tasty snack: The inquisitive lion chews on the side view mirror of the driver's side 
Tasty snack: The inquisitive lion chews on the side view mirror of the driver's side 

Back off: Evoking both laughter and horror, one of the lions follows the car as it attempts to reverse away from the pack
Back off: Evoking both laughter and horror, one of the lions follows the car as it attempts to reverse away from the pack

'Let's go, let's go!' a passenger cries as the pride hurry over to inspect their new stolen metal toy. 
The clip was uploaded to YouTube by Thaveshan Moodley, who explained in the video caption that his brother captured the escapade from the back seat, as Moodley was driving. 
According to Moodley, his brother did not realise he was also recording his amused reaction as well as the lions.

Play time: As the passengers can be heard asking to quickly drive off, the rest of the pride inspect their newly acquired car part
Play time: As the passengers can be heard asking to quickly drive off, the rest of the pride inspect their newly acquired car part

The clip was uploaded to YouTube by Thaveshan Moodley, who explained in the video caption that his brother captured the escapade from the back seat, as Moodley was driving
The clip was uploaded to YouTube by Thaveshan Moodley, who explained in the video caption that his brother captured the escapade from the back seat, as Moodley was driving
Although these tourists managed to drive safely away, there have been incidents nearby that ended more tragically. 
 
An American tourist last year was mauled to death by a lion, and took pictures of the cat who killed her just seconds before she pounced.

The woman was taking pictures from the vehicle up until moment the lioness launched herself through the open window, said park officials at Gauteng safari park in South Africa.

Traumatised tourists watched as the nine-year-old lioness killed the holidaymaker, 22, through an open window.  




Africa's dwindling lion population

Wildlife expert reveals why big cats are slowly dying in Kenya's Maasai Mara

Kenya lions
Lion population in Mara has fallen by a third in last two decades.Marko Djurica/Reuters
The Maasai Mara game reserve in Noarok County, Kenya, has been witnessing what experts call an age-old conflict between its indigenous people and predators. Lions have been the worst affected as their population in Mara has declined by a third in the last two decades.

While the Maasai people – ancestral inhabitants of the region after whom the reserve has been named – have claimed their safety as the primary reason for killing animals, experts state that there is more to it than meets the eye. The most recent attempt to kill lions in Mara, located about 300km southwest of Kenya's capital Nairobi, was made in December 2015 when two tribesmen allegedly poisoned and killed eight lions, which included seven from the famous Marsh Pride. These lions were featured on the BBC wildlife programme Big Cat Diary in 2007.

Two of the lions of the pride died due to poisoning. Another Marsh Pride lioness called Siena, whose two-year-old cub was among those poisoned, has unfortunately not been seen since the incident. 

To understand the reason behind the killing of lions and other wild animals in Maasai Mara, IBTimes UK exclusively spoke to travel and wildlife expert Brian Jackman, an award-winning journalist and author. He is a patron of Tusk Trust, of which Prince William is the royal patron.

Jackman talked about solutions, including granting the national park status to the reserve and empowering local people to reap benefits from the presence of lions through eco-tourism such as the conservation safari offered by Tusk Trust's long-standing partner, The Ultimate Travel Company.
Excerpts from Brian Jackman's interview:
Brian Jackman
Brian JackmanBrian Jackman
What are the wider problems surrounding incidences like the poisoning of lions in Maasai Mara in early December? Why do tribesmen want to kill the endangered species? Is it just for their safety or is there more to it?

Every night, tens of thousands of cattle encroach into the reserve when visitors are safely out of sight – but the likelihood of a conflict between predators such as lions and hyenas is greatest at this hour. Not only is this illegal, but it is inevitable that cattle would be killed by lions when deliberately driven into harm's way.

When two cows were killed in early December, tribesmen retaliated by leaving poison [in food] that killed the world's most famous lions. This makes no sense. The Masai Mara is after all a national reserve, of vital importance not only to the Masai [people], but to Kenya and the world at large. This sorry state of affairs is testimony to the appalling management of the Reserve, run by the Kenyan equivalent of a local council when ideally it should have been made a national park many years ago.
[According to International Union for Conservation of Nature (ICUN) national parks are state-owned and have stricter regulations for conservation and protection, where as reserves may or may not be owned by the state and the level of protection is determined by local laws.]

On 4 January, as the Kenya-based animal welfare and rescue organisation David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust reported, a lioness with a snare around its neck was found in the Mara. Could it be an attempt to kill or capture?
Maasai tribesmen
Maasai tribesmenReuters
It is extremely doubtful that this was an attempt to kill or capture a lion. Snares are widely used by poachers employed by the illegal trade in bush-meat. Their targets are other species – mostly antelope, wildebeest and zebra; but lions are sometimes caught by accident and elephants also suffer horrible injuries when caught by the trunk.

Lioness Sienna from the famous Marsh Pride is missing since the poisoning incident. What could have happened to her? If dead, why was her carcass not found?

Sienna, aged 11, was one of the Marsh Pride's best-loved matriarchs and has never been seen since the poisoning incident in which the veteran lioness Bibi was killed. The most likely explanation is that she wandered off before collapsing and her carcass eaten by hyenas [Jackman does not see involvement of poachers].

What Kenya should do to end the conflict between people and predators?

What needs to be done to protect the lions of the Masai Mara sounds simple: Uphold the law and stamp out corruption. As one of the seven natural wonders of the world, the Mara ought to be a national park, but politics have made this an impossible dream ­– until now. Maybe it is time for President Uhuru Kenyatta to step in and save the Mara and its lions before they are lost forever.
Maasai Mara lions
A lioness walks in front of her cubs at the Maasai MaraReuters
Additionally, it is worth pointing out that schemes are already in place whereby livestock owners are compensated for the loss of animals due to predation. I also believe it would be helpful if more land was set aside exclusively for grazing in the Greater Mara beyond the borders of the National Reserve, in the same way that private conservancies have been established to protect wildlife and promote responsible eco-tourism.

Africa's lion population is dwindling. Could you throw some light on the general plight of lions being harmed across the continent?

Back in the 1960s Africa still had around 200,000 lions. Today there are fewer than 25,000 and the population is likely to fall again by half in the next 20 years. This decline is reflected in the Mara, where the lion population has fallen by a third in the past 20 years, although lions are increasing in the surrounding wildlife conservancies. The main causes are loss of habitat, conflict between lions and livestock herders, and trophy hunting in countries where it is still allowed, such as Zimbabwe and Tanzania. The only glimmer of good news is the recent discovery of between 100 and 200 lions in a remote part of Ethiopia where they were not known to exist.

Don't like football; there's always the Kitten Bowl!

Kittens are photographed on the set during a taping of Kitten Bowl III in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)
 
Cats to compete in Kitten Bowl
On the field, the four-legged fur balls of the Hallmark Channel's Kitten Bowl III were all business.

But off? Well, let's just say there were some impurr-prieties dogging these feline paw-thletes.

"Sometimes we get into an issue or two. They tend to like to really delve into the catnip, and that type of thing sometimes gets a little out of control," quipped Boomer Esiason. He is the Feline Football League commissioner for the Super Bowl Sunday event on Feb. 7.

It was Esiason's second turn as commissioner. He kept his tongue firmly in cheek in fending off any appearance of influence peddling this time around with the fielding of his own team of kittens. They are the Boomer Bobcats.

"I'm not like that. I'm above all of that, and my quarterback Ben Roethlis-purrger -- we like to call him Big Ben -- is just so cute and cuddly. I'm telling you he's going to knock everybody's socks off this year."

Big Ben's human doppelganger is Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger.

In addition to Esiason, Hallmark got some help from host Beth Stern and the North Shore Animal League America. The league supplied nearly 100 rescue kittens to fill up Hallmark's bite-size football field. It was decked out with scratchy goalposts and plenty of cat toys to keep the action moving when the event was taped in October.

All of the tiny footballers were later adopted. A few were taken home for fostering by Stern herself. Her husband is radio personality Howard Stern.  He is the official cat namer of their family that includes six resident felines and a steady stream of fosters.

Beth Stern, a spokeswoman for North Shore Animal League, is the master of the cat-human selfie on Instagram. Her secret?

"With the selfie I have to look good, of course. So I always have to put the iPhone up high. But I can never get a bad angle of the kittens," she said.

Human wranglers ringed the elevated Kitten Bowl set. They sent little slackers trying to escape back on the field. Hydration came in metal water bowls on the sidelines, along with a couple of handy litter boxes.

Esiason is an NFL most valuable player and four-time Pro Bowl quarterback. He was happy to help out worthy kittens. But back home, it's all about the dogs. He has two, to be exact. He used to have a cat, a Himalayan with bright blue eyes called Frankie, named for his college roommate.

He said he's got nothing but love for the adorable, feisty participants in the Kitten Bowl.

"The kitten players," Esiason offered, "are so much easier to deal with than human players."

source

Critically endangered leopard cats thriving on Pulau Tekong




Mr Chua, with a preserved specimen of the leopard cat, estimates that there are no more than 20 of them living on mainland Singapore, in the nature areas. He found a larger population of leopard cats on offshore Pulau Tekong, which is 32 times smaller than the mainland.ST PHOTO: ALICIA CHAN
 

A leopard cat kitten on Pulau Tekong. PHOTO: COURTESY OF MARCUS CHUA
 


A leopard cat on Pulau Tekong.PHOTO: COURTESY OF MARCUS CHUA

Leopard cats are critically endangered but a study finds them thriving on Tekong

By Audrey Tan
February 4, 2016

When night falls on the military training ground of Pulau Tekong, camouflaged figures emerge from the foliage - silent and invisible. They skulk through the vegetation, each individual on its own mission.
These are not soldiers, but leopard cats - the last remaining wild cat species found in Singapore. (Leopards have gone extinct here, and the last tiger in Singapore was shot in the early 1930s.)
These nocturnal animals, which have unique coats that help them blend into the shadows of surrounding vegetation, were found here in larger numbers during the early 20th century.
But they are now critically endangered in Singapore due to the loss of their natural forest habitats.
Mammal researcher Marcus Chua, 31, estimates that there are no more than 20 leopard cats living on mainland Singapore, in the nature areas located within the Safti Live Firing Area, as well as at the Central Catchment and Bukit Timah nature reserves.
But nature is resilient, and Mr Chua's latest study, published in science journal Mammal Research last month, has given conservationists reason to cheer.
Mr Chua found a larger population of leopard cats on Pulau Tekong, a 23.5 sq km island that is 32 times smaller than mainland Singapore. Data collected shows that they are thriving there. He recorded at least 29 leopard cats on the island, identified through unique coat markings that distinguish the animals in the same way human beings are differentiated through fingerprints.
  • About leopard cats

  • • Urbanisation has made the leopard cat a critically endangered species in Singapore, but it is found widely in Asia. In Singapore, they "deserve conservation focus", said Dr Sonja Luz, director for conservation and research at Wildlife Reserves Singapore. "Leopard cats are Singapore's last extant wild feline species," she added.
    • Leopard cats are common victims of the illegal wildlife trade. They are hunted for the pet trade, for their bones, which are used in some Asian traditional medicines, and for their fur. It takes around 16 leopard cats to make one fur coat, said mammal researcher Marcus Chua of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum.
    • Leopard cats are often involved in human-animal conflict in farming communities. The cats prey on poultry, prompting villagers to kill them.
    • Leopard cats can breed with domestic cats to produce, for instance, the popular domestic bengal cat.
    SOURCES: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE, INTERNATIONAL UNION FOR CONSERVATION OF NATURE, MARCUS CHUA
    Audrey Tan
Using camera trap records and mathematical algorithms, the population of leopard cats on Pulau Tekong was put at about 89 individuals for every 100 sq km - the world's highest.
Leopard cats appear to be doing better on Pulau Tekong than on the mainland as they do not have to compete with other animals, such as civets, which also prey on rats, birds and insects, said Mr Chua, who is curator of mammals and birds at the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum. There are no civets on Pulau Tekong.
On the importance of the animals, he said: "Leopard cats are meso predators, which means they are in the middle of the food chain. They are prey for bigger animals like pythons, and also help to regulate the population of smaller animals like rats and birds."

A leopard cat captured on camera at the Central Catchment Nature Reserve. PHOTO: COURTESY OF MARCUS CHUA
Another encouraging find from his study is that leopard cats are resilient animals, and able to adapt to human-modified landscapes despite the loss of their natural lowland rainforest and swamp forest habitats.
Pulau Tekong is located off the north-eastern coast of Singapore. The island is covered mainly by secondary forest. Most of it dates back 40 years, although the vegetation growing on a 6 sq km patch on the southern part of the island is younger. That area, connected to the original island by two bridges, was reclaimed in 1987.
On the eastern end of the island is an oil palm plantation, which has been changed even more by human intervention. Yet, Mr Chua's study found that most of the leopard cats - 13 of them - were recorded in the plantation. In comparison, eight individuals were recorded in secondary forests located on each of the original and reclaimed parts of the island.
Mr Chua said that the fruiting trees in the plantation attract smaller animals like rodents, turning the plantation into a "buffet table" for the leopard cats. "What I also found surprising is that the leopard cats were also found in the reclaimed part of the island," he said.
However, Mr Chua said that although oil palm plantations appear to be a good place for leopard cats to find food, forests - for shelter and breeding - are still important for their survival. His study, funded by Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS), was done over two years, from 2010 to 2012.
Dr Sonja Luz, WRS director for conservation and research, said his findings were encouraging.
"This research provides valuable information on their habitat use, ranging patterns, diet and basic population genetic analyses, which helps us better understand their tolerance levels and conservation requirements...," she said. "Further research to genetically assess the similarity of the Singapore population with neighbouring countries' populations will also be needed to formulate an effective conservation action plan," she added.


source 

This has to stop! Rhino, tiger and snow leopard DNA found in Chinese medicines

Date:
February 4, 2016
Source:
University of Adelaide
Summary:
More should be done to stop the use of endangered species in traditional Chinese medicines, with snow leopard, tiger and rhinoceros DNA still being found in remedies, according to a leading pathologist.

More should be done to stop the use of endangered species in traditional Chinese medicines, with snow leopard, tiger and rhinoceros DNA still being found in remedies, according to a leading University of Adelaide pathologist.

In an article published in the journal Forensic Science Medicine and Pathology, Professor Roger Byard, from the University's School of Medicine, has shown that traditional Chinese medicine has been identified as a significant driver in the illicit global wildlife trade. Furthermore, most of the policing surrounding the illegal trade is associated with species collection; the use of animal products in medicines is often overlooked.

"Rhinoceros horn is used to "cure" disorders ranging from cerebral haemorrhage to AIDS, selling for as much as US$50,000 per kilogram; the powdered bones of tigers and mole rats are used to treat arthritis; shell extracts of freshwater turtles are used to treat cancer; dried geckos are used as an aphrodisiac; monkey skeletons are used to treat general pain; and moon bears are milked for their bile through catheters in order to provide people with a treatment for digestive illnesses," says Professor Byard.

"The World Health Organization has suggested that 80% of people in developing countries rely on traditional medicines, and it has been estimated that 13% of traditional Chinese medicines contain animal derivatives.

"Approximately 50% of the reptiles used in traditional medicines are on lists of threatened or endangered species. And the effectiveness of many of these animal products in treating disease has not been established," he says.

Professor Byard would like more to be done to control the use of endangered and threatened animals in traditional medicines.

"Wildlife crime has been estimated to cost between US$10 and 20 billion per year globally," says Professor Byard.

"While much of the crime involves the illegal collection of uncommon species, or the use of rare materials such as ivory and rhinoceros horn for decorative purposes, one area that is being largely overlooked is that of traditional medicines.

"Surprisingly, even a Chinese medicine product purchased over the counter in Adelaide, Australia, was found to contain traces of snow leopard.

"Clearly any controls on the importation and sale of such a preparation have failed. It is also uncertain what steps are taken by authorities once such a preparation is brought to their attention.
"This illegal and very damaging trade needs to stop, however, unfortunately, for a number of species, it may already be too late," he says.


Story Source:
The above post is reprinted from materials provided by University of Adelaide. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Journal Reference:
  1. Roger W. Byard. Traditional medicines and species extinction: another side to forensic wildlife investigation. Forensic Science, Medicine, and Pathology, 2016; DOI: 10.1007/s12024-016-9742-8


University of Adelaide. "Rhino, tiger and snow leopard DNA found in Chinese medicines." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 February 2016. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/02/160204042955.htm>.
 
 

Thursday, February 4, 2016

The Reports are Everywhere about the El Jefe, the Jaguar

BY Alfred Ng

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Wednesday, February 3, 2016
 
The United States’s only wild jaguar has sneakily roamed around forests and remained elusive and out-of-sight — until now.

Rare footage showing “El Jefe,” the only known wild jaguar in the country, was released on Wednesday for the first time, showing the big cat exploring his natural habitat.

The 41-second clip shows the spotted jaguar stalking around at night, walking through a river and exploring a forest in the Santa Rita Mountains near Tucson, Ariz.

While the never-before-seen video was less than a minute long, it took three years of intense tracking to compile the footage from motion-capture cameras around the wooded area, Chris Bugbee, a biologist with Conservation CATalyst said in a statement.
AP PROVIDES ACCESS TO THIS HANDOUT PHOTO TO BE USED SOLELY TO ILLUSTRATE NEWS REPORTING OR COMMENTARY ON THE FACTS OR EVENTS DEPICTED IN THIS IMAGE. THIS IMAGE MAY ONLY BE USED FOR 14 DAYS FROM TIME OF TRANSMISSION; NO ARCHIVING; NO LICENSING; MANDATORY C AP

While El Jefe has been spotted several times on motion-capture cameras, this is the first time he has been seen on video.

“Studying these elusive cats anywhere is extremely difficult, but following the only known individual in the U.S. is especially challenging,” he said.

The group even relied on a specially trained dog to sniff out the elusive endangered animal's feces.
While the jaguar has been captured in photos more than 100 times in the last three years, this is the first time he’s been seen in motion on video.
3TP EUO NARCH/NARCH30 HANDOUT/REUTERS

The video is 41 seconds long, but took three years of intense tracking to put together.

Research showed that “El Jefe” — Spanish for “The Boss” — is an adult male jaguar in prime condition, and currently the only known one in the United States after “Macho B” was euthanized for a trapping injury in 2009.

Wild jaguars used to live around the American Southwest, near the Grand Canyon, southern California and even near Louisiana more than 150 years ago. Now the United States has been reduced to just one jaguar, after years of government population control programs and habitat loss.

The big cats — only smaller than tigers and lions — primarily wander into the United States from Mexico.
AP PROVIDES ACCESS TO THIS HANDOUT PHOTO TO BE USED SOLELY TO ILLUSTRATE NEWS REPORTING OR COMMENTARY ON THE FACTS OR EVENTS DEPICTED IN THIS IMAGE. THIS IMAGE MAY ONLY BE USED FOR 14 DAYS FROM TIME OF TRANSMISSION; NO ARCHIVING; NO LICENSING; MANDATORY CR AP

In the video, El Jefe is spotted roaming around the Santa Rita Mountains, just 25 miles away from Tuscon, AZ.

Researchers can only hope to find a second, female jaguar to accompany El Jefe and increase the endangered species’ population.

The last verified female jaguar in the U.S. was killed by a hunter in 1963 at Arizona’s Mogollon Rim.
But a Canadian coal mining company could ruin El Jefe’s home forever, with plans to build a site right through the jaguar’s territory, driving the big cat out.

“The Santa Rita Mountains are critically important to jaguar recovery in this country, and they must be protected,” Bugbee said.

source

From National Geographic 
El Jefe, the only wild jaguar known in the United States, has made his film debut.
He's no stranger to the media limelight, though: Trail cameras have photographed the male more than a hundred times over the past three years, and schoolchildren named him El Jefe—which means "the boss" in Spanish—during a nationwide contest in 2015. (See "'Indomitable' Jaguars May Have Lessons in Survival for Us.")
To catch the solitary cat on camera, conservationists used dogs to sniff out jaguar scat, and then installed cameras in these strategic spots.
A U.S. jaguar is rare indeed. As late as the 19th century, the big cats frequently roamed from northern Argentina into Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. But ranchers and farmers settling the American West pushed the world's third-largest cat out of its territory.
By the time Arizona's last legally hunted jaguars were shot in the 1960s, there were no known females left in the U.S. The species is now listed as near-threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
Today only the occasional outlier like El Jefe makes an appearance. (See "First Jaguar Caught in U.S. Put to Sleep.")
“He's typical of the extreme toehold that this species maintains in the U.S.,” says Luke Hunter, president and chief conservation officer for Panthera, a global wild-cat conservation organization.
“Since 1996 there has been evidence of a jaguar in New Mexico or Arizona every year. But I think it has been a total of four or five individuals and they've all been adult males.”
“Great Explorers”
El Jefe and his male predecessors seem to have dispersed from the closest breeding population which is located in Sonora, Mexico, more than 125 miles (200 kilometers) to the south.
“Probably these individuals left that breeding population in Sonora and struck out on their own as young male jaguars do,” Hunter explains. “Their mothers kick them out of their birth home range, and these young male cats are great explorers.” (Learn more about National Geographic's Big Cats Initiative.)
Thanks to his epic journey, El Jefe is the boss of 764,207 acres (309,263 hectares) of Arizona and New Mexico set aside by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as critical jaguar habitat.
“He's managed to find what a male jaguar really wants—space and a good habitat with lots of prey like white-tailed deer,” Hunters says.
More jaguars would likely find the area to their liking, Hunter adds, but females' stay-at-home nature leaves future U.S. population growth in doubt. (See "Pictures: Jaguars Spotted on Colombian Plantation—A First.")
“For a female cat to naturally colonize the United States again from that Sonora population would be really difficult.”

source

The Lonely Jaguar of the United States

Conservationists have released video of the only known jaguar living in the country.
Shutterstock
There are about 15,000 jaguars living in the wild today. They are solitary creatures, preferring to live and hunt alone. But the one living and hunting in the United States takes the word “loner” to another level: The jaguar, nicknamed “El Jefe,” is the only known wild jaguar in the country.
El Jefe, which means “the boss” in Spanish, made his public debut Wednesday in video footage released by the Seattle-based Conservation CATalyst and the Tucson, Arizona-based Center for Biological Diversity. The brief clip shows the big cat roaming the grassy forest floor of the Santa Rita Mountains, outside Tucson, navigating rocky creeks, and just doing jaguar-y things:

Since 2013, El Jefe has been photographed by motion-detecting cameras more than 100 times. But jaguars are notoriously elusive creatures. The 41-second video posted Wednesday is the product of three years of tracking. Chris Bugbee, a biologist at Conservation CATalyst, said in a statement that researchers regularly tinkered with camera locations and even used a dog specially trained to sniff out wildlife feces to track down El Jefe.
Historically, jaguars are not uncommon in Arizona. Their range once extended north from Argentina to Central America and Mexico and up into south-central states and even California and Louisiana. But the big cats all but disappeared from the U.S. in the last century, mostly due to habitat loss and federal population-control programs intended to protect livestock. Will Rizzo described the bleak state of the jaguar in the U.S. in Smithsonian magazine in 2005:
In 1963, a hunter in Arizona’s White Mountains shot a female, the last of her sex to be documented in the United States. Two years later, the last legally killed jaguar, a male, was taken by a deer hunter in the Patagonia Mountains, south of Tucson.
In 1969, Arizona outlawed most jaguar hunting, but with no females known to be at large, there was little hope the population could rebound. During the next 25 years, only two jaguars were documented in the United States, both killed: a large male shot in 1971 near the Santa Cruz River by two teenage duck hunters, and another male cornered by hounds in the Dos Cabezas Mountains in 1986.
The conservation centers say a proposed copper mine by a Canadian company in the middle of the Santa Rita Mountains threatens to cleave thousands of acres from the jaguar’s natural territory.

Biologists says El Jefe is the only verified jaguar living in the U.S. since Macho B, who was euthanized in 2009 following injuries sustained when he was captured and collared with a GPS tracker. The Arizona wildlife officials involved in the capture said it was accidental, but it was later revealed that one biologist had lured Macho B by placing feces from a captive female jaguar in heat along a trail the animal was known to frequent. (The Arizona Republic’s Dennis Wagner has a fascinating and comprehensive account of the capture and cover-up here.)

These days, the most jaguar conservationists can do—aside from hoping no one shoots and kills El Jefe—is wait for other jaguars, particularly female ones, to cross over the border from Mexico. Fingers crossed that happens in time for Valentine’s Day.


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Video Reveals Footage of Only Known Wild Jaguar in the U.S.



Prepare yourself: Conservation CATalyst and the Center for Biological Diversity this week released stunning new video of the only known wild jaguar living in the United States. Captured on remote-sensor cameras in the Santa Rita Mountains just outside Tucson, the footage provides a glimpse of the secretive life of one of nature's most majestic and charismatic creatures. It's the first-ever publicly released video of "El Jefe," as he was named by Tucson school kids (Spanish for "The Boss").

"These glimpses into his behavior offer the keys to unlocking the mysteries of these cryptic cats," said Aletris Neils, executive director of Conservation CATalyst.

"Knowing that this amazing cat is right out there, just 25 miles from downtown Tucson, is a big thrill," said the Center's Randy Serraglio. "El Jefe has been living more or less in our backyard for more than three years now. It's our job to make sure that his home is protected and he can get what he needs to survive."

The camera project is part of ongoing work to monitor mountain ranges around Tucson for endangered jaguars and ocelots, led by Chris Bugbee, a biologist with Conservation CATalyst. 

Learn more HERE

Posted by Center for Biological Diversity on Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Rare panther cub discovered at Sakata Florida research station

By Doug Ohlemeier
On Jan. 18, employees at Sakata Seed America Inc.’s Fort Myers, Fla., research station found this rare male panther kitten abandoned and sleeping in one of the research station’s fields. 
Though other wildlife, including alligators, bears and cranes, frequently visit the facility, this discovery was different because Florida panthers are an endangered species and the kitten was young and alone.
On Jan. 18, employees at Sakata Seed America Inc.’s Fort Myers, Fla., research station found this rare male panther kitten abandoned and sleeping in one of the research station’s fields. Though other wildlife, including alligators, bears and cranes, frequently visit the facility, this discovery was different because Florida panthers are an endangered species and the kitten was young and alone.
Sakata Seed America Inc.’s Fort Myers, Fla., research station was recently visited by an unusual visitor.

On Jan. 18, Sakata employees performing field maintenance found a male panther kitten abandoned and sleeping in one of the research station’s fields.

Though other wildlife, including alligators, bears and cranes frequently visit the facility, this discovery was different because Florida panthers are an endangered species and the kitten was young and alone, according to a news release from Sakata, Morgan Hill, Calif., company.

Sakata alerted wildlife officials and transported the kitten to the Naples, Fla., zoo, which recently constructed a facility specifically designed to provide housing for injured or orphaned panthers.
After the cat’s capture, Sakata opened its doors to tracking and monitoring by wildlife authorities. They concluded the panther was most likely lost during a rare encounter of two mothers with kittens in the field and the animal attempted to leave with the wrong mother.

Cats younger than six months are generally not released back into the wild because they lack sufficient survival skills, according to the release.

“We are in awe of the robust wildlife here at the Sakata Seed America Research Station, and it makes us appreciate the fact that agriculture and wildlife can not only coexist, but flourish together,” Randy Johnson, Sakata’s Florida station branch manager, said in the release. “We consider ourselves lucky to be able to witness evidence of such a majestic and endangered animal procreating on our property, and whenever we see something like this, we know we are being good stewards of the environment.”

About a year ago, Sakata employees began finding more panther tracks in the fields and — perhaps not by coincidence — fewer raccoons were eating their crops.

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Who Loves Their Humans More -- Cats Or Dogs? Here’s The Answer

"Their brains are telling them that they love us."
02/01/2016

Elyse Wanshel Trends Writer, The Huffington Post

Getty Images 
 
The never-ending cat vs. dog debate has a new topic that fans of both species can chew on/paw at: which pet loves its humans more?
Thanks to a new study done by neuroscientist Dr. Paul Zak, which will be featured in the BBC2 documentary show, Cat v. Dog, we have answer.
Canines were proven to love us Homo sapiens five times more than their feline counterparts.
But unlike commands like “stay,” “sit” and “beg,” the result isn’t that simple. Much like a cat, it’s way more complex.
Zak took blood samples from 10 cats and 10 dogs before and after they played with their people. He tested each animal twice and checked the samples for their level of oxytocin.
“Oxytocin is an attachment neurochemical or transmitter,” Zak told The Huffington Post. “It’s a chemical we produce in our brain when we care about someone. It’s what mammals release to bond with their young.”
Getty Images
According to Zak, humans produce oxytocin whenever we have a positive experience, and the amount we produce is contingent on how stressful our situations are when we have that positive interaction.
A general breakdown, according to Zak is that we produce 15 to 25 percent oxytocin when we have a pleasant interaction with a stranger; 25 to 50 percent when we’re engaging with someone we know; and if we release 50 percent or more, it’s in response to someone we really love like a child or spouse.
During Zak’s experiment, dogs, on average, produced 57.2 percent.
“So your dog really loves you … a lot,” Zak said. “But what makes this so amazing is that the oxytocin they produced is for another species, not their own. The fact that this is cross species is really freakin’ crazy/cool. Their brains are telling them that they love us.”
Getty Images
Cats, on the other hand, only produced 12 percent -- and only 50 percent of the felines tested produced any oxytocin at all. But if you’re a cat person, don’t hiss. Zak points out that cats are less social than dogs and are extremely territorial. Zak’s lab, where the experiments were conducted, was a sterile and unfamiliar place for the cats, creating a more stressful situation for the cats than the dogs.
When asked if the cats would have done better if they were tested in the comfort of their own homes, Zak said, "I think so. Or at least more cats would have produced more oxytocin."
When it comes to Zak’s pet preference, however, he’s clearly Team Dog. He adopted a black and white puppy named Cookie after his daughter discovered the stray in their garage a few years ago.
And if it weren’t for the research he’s conducted in regards to the amount of love dogs have for their humans, he says he might have not kept sweet, little Cookie.
“If it weren’t for the research we started three years ago, I wouldn’t have let my kid play with an animal we didn’t know within two seconds of meeting it,” he said. “But now I know it’s crazy how much they care about you. And isn’t that cool?”

The Weird Thing About Cat Legs

The mystery that spans every feline, from tabby house cats to Siberian tigers.
Reuters
I'm standing with three scientists in a cold, long corridor that smells of hay, meat, and cat piss. We are looking into an empty, roomy cage. A hole in the cage leads to an outdoor enclosure that contains an Asian golden cat—a beautiful labrador-sized feline with rusty red fur. The scientists want the cat to come through the hole and walk onto the platform that they've set up inside the cage. As it steps, a metal plate will measure the forces exerted by its footfalls.

The cat has other plans. We see its tiger-striped face peer through the hole and then disappear. We wait. Nothing. “It probably knows we're here,” says John Hutchinson, one of the expectant researchers. We move to the side so as not to be seen, leaning our heads around the wall of the cage like characters in a cartoon. We are, I realize, trying to out-stealth a cat. It's going about as well as you'd expect.

Golden cats normally live in the jungles of southeast Asia, but this one currently resides in Hertfordshire, England, within the grounds of a charity called the Cat Survival Trust. The Trust's twelve-acre site, manned by volunteers, is home to several species of wild cats, including unwanted animals from various zoos and smuggled individuals seized by customs officials.
One block of large enclosures houses the bigger species—snow leopard, puma, jaguar, and the extremely rare Amur leopard. Nearby, another block is home to smaller ones like the serval (big ears, expert leaper), leopard cat (spotted coat, huge eyes), caracal (orange coat, tufted ears), jaguarundi (bizarrely weasel-like), and ... er... a raccoon (definitely not a cat). The enclosures aren't labelled and its entrance looks like a farm shop; this isn't a tourist attraction. The only visitors allowed are members and school groups—and, occasionally, scientists.

Hutchinson's team still isn't having any luck with the golden cat. Postdoc Andrew Cuff walks round to the outdoor section to try and flush the animal in, while undergraduate student Luke Grinham mans the equipment. But the cat simply prowls around, watching the hole, twitching its tail nervously, and ignoring the rain that starts to fall.
“Meow?” says Grinham.

Asian golden cat (Karen Stout / Flickr)
The earliest known cat—Proailurus, literally “first cat”—lived around 25 million years ago and weighed between 10 and 15 kilograms, about the size of a modern ocelot or golden cat. The family later diversified into around 40 living species (hidden ones are still being discovered). Most are small, and prey upon rodents and other little victims. But several lineages (including the puma, cheetah, and the other 'big cats') independently evolved to be big, and can now tackle prey much larger than themselves.

Today, cats span a huge range of sizes. The rusty-spotted cat of India and Sri Lanka weighs just one kilogram, while the mighty Siberian tiger is 300 times heavier. And yet, these animals are surprisingly similar. “It's famously said that a lion is just a scaled-up house cat,” says Anjali Goswami from University College London, who works with Hutchinson. “That's very weird.”
Their legs are especially odd. When animals get bigger, their posture changes. Their legs tend to straighten, becoming stiffer and more pillar-like to better support their weight. Not so with cats. When a lion strides across the savannah, it has essentially the same posture as the domesticated tabby that slinks over your lap. Lions, tigers, and leopards—oh my—are, as Hutchinson writes, the only large, crouching mammals.
“You can imagine walking around like this takes a lot of exertion,” says Hutchinson. “We still don’t really understand how they do that without suffering problems.” Odder still, “their muscles don't increase enough in size to compensate for how much bigger they are,” says Goswami. “They definitely get weaker as they get bigger, relative to their body size.” Why? No one knows. It could be that a permanently crouched posture is useful for stalking and pouncing. Perhaps it allows them to accelerate forwards more easily, or makes them more agile.

The team is now trying to solve the mystery of the crouching tiger by guiding different cat species over force plates—fancy 3-D bathroom scales that will measure the forces they produce with each step. Meanwhile, a camera will record the positions of their legs. By combining this information, the team can work out how cats differ in their movements, and whether the big ones have any biomechanical tricks that compensate for their unexpected postures.

Hutchinson is an old hand at such studies. He has guided rhinos, emus, elephants, salamanders, horses, and penguins over force plates before. Each species presents its own challenges. Giraffes were especially easy; cats, less so. The tigers of Colchester Zoo were terrified of the force plates and the researchers themselves—were, in turn, terrified of the tigers. But after a lot of chicken bribes (and a few rubber mats that were torn apart by the animals), the team got the data they needed. Here's what it looks like when things go well: a tiger strides purposefully through a wooden walkway and over a force plate embedded in the floor:

Having captured data for panthers, pumas, tigers, and cheetahs, the team are now trying to study smaller cat species, and the Cat Survival Trust has several. “We’re mostly playing it by ear because we don’t know how these animals are going to behave,” Hutchinson tells me. “It’s unpredictable what’s going to happen here so we’re going to start with a relatively easy animal.”
He meant the golden cat. Dispirited by its refusal to cooperate, the team tried their luck with Pudding, a rambunctious four-month-old Eurasian lynx with a spotted coat, tufty ears, and large doleful eyes. In the wild, his long legs and large feet would be ideal for padding through snow. In captivity, they're great for mauling a dead chicken, and killing a broom that's propped up against his cage. Unlike the other golden cats, Pudding is well acclimated to people. “We'll get something with him; he should perform again and again,” says Hutchinson.

The problem is that, acclimation aside, Pudding is still a cat—an innate master of not doing what you want him to do. He pounces on the force plates. He walks around them. He steps on to them but then leaps off. He mooches on top of them. He bites the power cables. Hutchinson asks if he can go in the cage and try to lead Pudding around. Sure, says the keeper, “but he's got a thing for trying to sever your spinal cord.” The keeper goes in with Pudding's teddy—a well-chewed soft toy lynx!—and tries to lead him around, but he leaps and twists and runs, instead of purposefully walking over the plates like the Colchester tiger. “We need a bored cat,” says Hutchinson.

As we watch, I ask him if this study will lead to any medical insights that would be important for cat owners. It won't. It's simply about the evolution of these endearing animals. “It’s a basic science project,” he says. “It’s curiosity-driven.”

Curiosity, huh? Maybe that’s why the cats aren’t cooperating. 


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Woman who left $150,000 inheritance to care for stray cats at the center of legal battle

  • Barbara Thorpe left most of her $200,000 inheritance as a trust to care for the abandoned cats of Dixfield, Maine
  • But locals who have been caring for the strays claim the trustees have been withholding money for 13 years
  • One carer spends $9,000 a year on cats, but says the trust pays out just $300 a year, on average
  • The suit also alleges that one trustee upped her housekeeping charges from $8 to $100 an hour after Thorpe was placed in care
Cat lovers in Dixfield, Maine, have teamed up with the town itself to take a local woman's estate trustees to court as part of a 13-year dispute over money that she left to local abandoned cats.
Although Barbara Thorpe wished to leave the lion's share of her $200,000 estate to pay for food, shelter and veterinary care for the stray cats of Dixfield when she died in 2002, plaintiffs in the case — including the town itself — claim that her trustees are refusing to put money in the kitty.
Thorpe's will named her friend, Gertrude Crosby, as her sole representative, and requested that she give money to a number of friends and institutions, including $5,000 to a Shriners Hospital for children. Once that was done, and estate expenses were paid, the remaining $147,978.63 plus life insurance proceeds were to be used to create a memorial trust to care for local strays.

Brenda Jarvis is one of five Dixfield, Maine locals who are suing the trustees of Barbara Thorpe's estate, accusing them of refusing to pay the money that Thorpe left to local cats in her will. Thorpe left almost $150,000 to the strays of Dixfield, hoping it would be used to pay for their food, shelter and care
Brenda Jarvis is one of five Dixfield, Maine locals who are suing the trustees of Barbara Thorpe's estate, accusing them of refusing to pay the money that Thorpe left to local cats in her will. Thorpe left almost $150,000 to the strays of Dixfield, hoping it would be used to pay for their food, shelter and care

But a group of local cat carers — Noreen Clarke, Brenda Jarvis, Caroline Smith, Valerie Warriner and Donna Weston — say they've struggled to get the money they need to act out Thorpe's wishes, and the town of Dixfield backed them in a suit filed last week.

Jarvis told The Sun Journal that the trustees had paid out about $300 a year to care for the cats, including a check for $2,500.
But, she says, the cost of caring for the animals is considerably higher — she spends most of each day at outdoor shelters and a trailer she bought to house cats, where she feeds, grooms and cares for them, and costs can run to around $9,000 a year.
'I spend darn close to my entire Social Security check,' she said to The Sun Journal.

Caroline Smith, Jarvis's sister, has been caring for local strays since 1974, and continues to dedicate money and time to their upkeep - but in court she and the other carers say that their expenses are not being met by Thorpe's trustees, whom they say are reluctant to part with money, and are taking it for themselves
Caroline Smith, Jarvis's sister, has been caring for local strays since 1974, and continues to dedicate money and time to their upkeep - but in court she and the other carers say that their expenses are not being met by Thorpe's trustees, whom they say are reluctant to part with money, and are taking it for themselves
Other members care for these animals or run their own shelters, including Warriner, who keeps 40 cats and estimates that she spends $800 a month on their upkeep.
They plan to move the animals to a dedicated three-bedroom farmhouse donated by a friend of Jarvis's, but say it will require a major renovation.
The suit claims that the trustees — named as Gertrude Crosby, Bentley Crosby and Charlotte Mesko, and attorney David Austin, who drafted Thorpe's will and began representing the Crosbys after she died — have billed excessive amounts for maintaining the trust, and have failed to properly invest the money in it.

Valerie Warriner looks after 40 cats and claims to spend around $800 a month on her charges, but the court papers filed by her group say that on average Thorpe's trust pays out just $300 per year
Valerie Warriner looks after 40 cats and claims to spend around $800 a month on her charges, but the court papers filed by her group say that on average Thorpe's trust pays out just $300 per year

The complaint also alleges that the Crosbys have taken money intended for the cats for themselves, claiming that when Thorpe moved to a nursing home in 2001 Gertrude upped her charges for housekeeping from $8 an hour to $100 an hour, and paid her husband Bentley $40 to help. 
They continued charging these fees after Thorpe died.
It adds that Austin conspired with the Crosbys to stop Thorpe's bequest to the cats from being enacted, and charged more than $13,000 in fees.

The suit claims that as well as restricting the money given to cat carers in Dixfield, those overseeing the trust have billed unreasonable amounts, with one charging $100 an hour for housekeeping after Thorpe's death
The suit claims that as well as restricting the money given to cat carers in Dixfield, those overseeing the trust have billed unreasonable amounts, with one charging $100 an hour for housekeeping after Thorpe's death

Representatives of Dixfield have chosen to side with Jarvis and her friends, saying that their continuing care of stray cats was in the interests of the town 
Representatives of Dixfield have chosen to side with Jarvis and her friends, saying that their continuing care of stray cats was in the interests of the town 

Dixfield's cat carers have been joined in their fight by the town itself, after a Board of Selectmen unanimously agreed that it was in the town's interests to deal with the area's abandoned cats.
Town manager Carlo Puiia told The Sun Journal that they agreed that Thorpe had intended for the money to go towards Dixfield's cat enthusiasts, some of whom had been helping cats there for decades.
Jarvis and sister Caroline Smith, in particular, have been caring for local strays since 1974.

This isn't the first time the case has seen the inside of a court: in 2004, a complaint was filed to a probate court, with the same charges. The judge at that time ruled that Austin had invoiced fairly but that the trustees' fees were unreasonable, and capped their fees at 10 percent of the total trust.
The trustees' attorney, Neal Pratt, told The Sun Journal on Sunday that his clients 'vehemently deny any wrongdoing.'

The court case remains ongoing, but the catwomen of Dixfield continue to keep their work ongoing — and the cats are keeping their chins up
The court case remains ongoing, but the catwomen of Dixfield continue to keep their work ongoing — and the cats are keeping their chins up