Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Your Daily #Cat

Louis starting to yawn

Louis starting to yawn by Tambako The Jaguar

Prey base vital to sustain tiger population, say wildlife experts

R. Sairam
As the tiger population increases at the Anamalai Tiger Reserve in Coimbatore district, wildlife activists have called for more focus on increasing the prey base. —Photo: Special Arrangement
As the tiger population increases at the Anamalai Tiger Reserve in Coimbatore district, wildlife activists have called for more focus on increasing the prey base. —Photo: Special Arrangement

ATR to take up fodder plantation on 250 acres this year

Even as there is considerable joy at the increase in tiger population at the Anamalai Tiger Reserve (ATR), a trend reflected at the national level as well, wildlife activists are sounding a word of caution. While the last census conducted at ATR in 2010 put the count at 13, it is now nearly 23.

While there is a lot of focus on conserving tigers, activists say equal importance must be paid to conserving the prey base of the big cats.

Environment Conservation Group president R. Mohammed Saleem, who was involved in the recent tiger census, says the favoured natural prey for tigers is the gaur (Indian Bison), which can sustain the big cat for nearly a week.

Other preys include the Sambar Deer and Spotted Deer.

These herbivores can be sustained only by healthy vegetation that are threatened at ATR by invasive exotic alien weed species such as Lantana Camara. “Besides degrading other vegetation, these weeds are thorny and hence shunned by deers and gaurs. They were introduced in Western Ghats by the British who used them as ornamental plants. However, now they are a major threat. While the situation is under control at ATR as of now, the tight vigil must continue,” says Mr. Saleem.

K. Kalidasan, president of OSAI, an NGO involved in wildlife conservation, says tigers are territorial and a cub leaves its mother at the age of two.

Each tiger will carve out its own territory, which must have enough prey base to sustain it in order to avoid conflicts. Tigers were earlier confined to Bandipore – Mudumalai stretch.

However, the increasing population resulted in tigers spilling over to Sathyamangalam, which was initially a reserve and later declared as a tiger reserve.

With tiger population on an upward trajectory, it is expected to soon spill over to the adjoining areas in Erode and the Coimbatore Forest Division ranges of Sirumugai, Mettupalayam and Karamadai.
The prey base in these regions must also be maintained by controlling poaching and maintaining an undisturbed forest. Authorities should ensure there are no human activities in these areas so that man-animal conflict is minimised, he adds.

The ATR has already taken steps to sustain the herbivore population by increasing fodder availability. While crops have been planted on around 1,000 acres till now, it would be taken up on another 250 acres during the current year, said its field director V.T. Kandasamy.

Further, the personnel are also trained and equipped to combat forest fires.

The local populace have also been sensitised and eco-development committees formed among them to elicit their cooperation in fighting forest fires. “The tiger census also revealed a healthy increase in prey base. We would soon step up the fodder cultivation,” Mr. Kandasamy said.

Rare tiger cub triplets leave den

By Press Association Three of the world's littlest big cats have taken their first steps into the spotlight at a UK zoo. The three-week-old Sumatran tigers have just begun to emerge from their den at Chester Zoo, under the watchful eye of eight-year-old mother Kirana.

The chubby cubs are so little that keepers do not expect to learn their sexes for several weeks. But it's hoped the as-yet nameless triplets will help ensure a future for their species.

One of the three as-yet-unnamed Sumatran tiger cubs born at Chester Zoo
One of the three as-yet-unnamed Sumatran tiger cubs born at Chester Zoo
"Sumatran tigers are one of the rarest big cat species in the world," the zoo's mammals curator Tim Rowlands said. "That's what makes our new tiger trio so incredibly special - they're a rare boost to an animal that's critically endangered."
It's believed that fewer than 400 Sumatran tigers remain in the wild.

The species is found only on the Indonesian island of Sumatra and has been forced to the brink of disappearance by deforestation and poachers. "It's still early days but Kirana is an experienced mum and she's keeping her cubs very well protected. She's doing everything we would hope at this stage," Mr Rowlands said.


To see more images of the cubs, click on this link!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Your Dailly #Cat

Mirka is so cute! 

Mirka is so cute! by Tambako The Jaguar

8 poachers nabbed in Pilibhit with tiger meat, bones, teeth

BAREILLY: A joint team of Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) New Delhi, Pilibhit forest department and special task force has arrested eight poachers here, including six on Sunday, and recovered tiger bones, teeth and parts from them. Efforts are on to trace four of their accomplices still on the run.
The arrests came days after two poachers from Uttar Pradesh were arrested in Nepal recently with 37 kg of tiger bones and skin. The two had confessed to have poached tigers in Pilibhit.

Kailesh Prakash, divisional forest officer, Plilibhit tiger reserve (PTR), said, "They (Nepal police) told us that the poachers had killed two adult tigers in November and December 2013 in Barahi range of PTR. The poachers had used poisoned buffalo meat as bait to trap the tigers."

The forest authorities have lodged a case against the arrested under various relevant sections of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. Those arrested have been identified as Chiraungi, Om Prakash, Gangaram, Natae Gaen, Ravindra, Omprakash Baba, Nausey and Asgar Shah. All have been sent to jail.

Acting on the information, the joint team arrested six poachers in Pilibhit on Sunday and recovered sizeable quantity of tiger bones, teeth and body parts from them. Earlier on Saturday, two poachers were arrested and 5 kg of tiger bones, teeth and antlers of swamp deer were seized from them.

According to forest authorities, four other poachers — Kandhai Lal, Rakesh, Shree Krishna and Shyamlal — are on the run.

"Only after arresting Rakesh, considered to be the kingpin of the gang, we will be able to gauge the actual position. Rakesh would be able to inform us about the total number of poachers involved as well as their previous crimes," the DFO told TOI.

Chief conservator of forest, Bareilly and Moradabad zone, MP Singh said, "We have become more vigilant to stop the occurrence of poaching of animals in future. Strict action will be taken against forest officials, including the DFO and conservator, if such incidents happen again."

In the tiger census report 2014, Pilibhit tiger reserve is the only part of UP's protected area to have shown "improvement". In 2011, 35 to 40 tigers were counted at the place. But high human interference and proximity to Nepal makes it most unsafe for big cats.

Pilibhit has seen worst crime against tigers. In May 2012, two tigers were poisoned in Pilibhit within 24 hours. The culprits were later nabbed. In February 2009, a young tigress was shot down by forest department in Faizabad. The big cat had strayed out of Pilibhit forests and had turned a man-eater.


A big #cat bungle in the jungle

A big cat bungle in the jungle
A jungle cat (left) was mistaken for a leopard and sparked panic among the residents in Vidyanagar, a village about 80 km from Mangaluru
Rumours of missing dogs and chickens sparked fears that leopards had moved into the area

Villagers near Saraswathi School in Vidyanagar, about 80 kilometers from Mangaluru panicked after a rumour spread that leopards were spotted in the area. The rumours spread like wildfire thanks to WhatsApp, especially in the wake of an increase in leopard sightings in recent days all over the state.

According to sources, a lady spotted 'leopards' near her house and informed her son who immediately captured them on his mobile phone. This was then circulated on WhatsApp. This led to several stories being churned out about chicken and dogs going missing from the area. People started claiming that they spotted leopards two days ago at various locations. 

When Kadaba Gram Panchayat President got to know about the leopards, he immediately called forest officials and requested them to trap the cats. The search operations then commenced, with the public's assistance.

Speaking to Bangalore Mirror, Dr Dinesh Kumar Y K, Assistant Conservat-or of Forest, Subrahmanya Sub-Division, Sullia said, "We first got the news that tigers were spotted and it was difficult to believe. We were then informed that leopards were sighted. Since the area is close to the forest area, we could not ignore this.

The region does not have a large leopard population when compared to the Hebri-Karkala region. We began investigating only to find out that the animals sighted were not leopards, but a pair of jungle cats. Jungle cats have been sighted in the area earlier as well," he said, adding, "The region generally has problems with elephants but not leopards."

About two days ago a jungle cat was killed near Bantwal, after it was hit by an autorickshaw.
Another official from the department, Praveen Shetty, said the jungle cats were spotted between 6-6.30am on Saturday. 

"The video shot by the boy is of poor quality. However, it looked like they were mating. Later, one of our staff spotted one of them. The other ran into the wild. We brought a book and showed the boy pictures of a leopard as well as jungle cat. He identified the jungle cat.

These cats feed on chicken," he said.


Decorating with #Cats

Hotcakes loaded with cat-shaped nerikiri, a traditional Japanese sweet

Artisan: Caroline I., Japan

By  | 
hotcakes loaded with cat-shaped nerikiri, a traditional Japanese sweet | Artisan: Caroline I., Japan | carolinei.exblog.jp/ | via: en.rocketnews24.c...


Sunday, January 25, 2015

Your Daily #Cat (little cougar)

Lying Mirka 

Lying Mirka by Tambako The Jaguar

Mirka cute but bored 

Mirka cute but bored by Tambako The Jaguar

Can lion dung deter #cats from your garden? Huh?

By Hertfordshire Mercury  |  Posted: January 25, 2015
Keepers Brian Badger and Jenny Bartlett with lion Zara

GARDENERS plagued by domestic or stray cats’ fouling need not look to their bigger relatives for a deterrence.
The debate rages on over whether spreading lion dung on your prize blooms really will protect them from the unwanted attention of your neighbours’ pets.
The cat welfare charity Cats Protection and the BBC's appropriately-named Watchdog programme reportedly back the theory.
There are even specially sterilised lion dung pellets available on the market claiming to offer protection for gardens beset by felines.
Where the theory originates from is unknown, but it holds that smaller cats are unsurprisingly uncomfortable in the presence of their big cat counterparts and on smelling the dung, make a quick exit.

It has also been suggested as a useful deterrence for other wildlife notorious for damaging gardens, such as rampaging badgers and deer, and even birds nesting in gutters.
However, an expert in Broxbourne is not so sure.
Lynn Whitnall, director of Paradise Wildlife Park has worked and lived with big cats for decades.
She said: “Whether it works or not, I couldn’t tell you.
“It’s a bit of an old wives’ tale that if you have a big cat’s smell, it will scare smaller cats away.
“It depends on how brave the little cats are.”
Whether you are convinced or not, anyone considering queuing at the park gates in White Stubbs Lane for a shovelful of poo will be disappointed.
“Some parks let people take a bit of dung,” Mrs Whitnall said.
“It was stopped by Defra during the foot and mouth crisis.
“We would let friends and family if they wanted to try it, but it’s not something we do on a regular basis.”

Instead, Paradise Park disposes of its not inconsiderable amounts of animal excrement in other ways.
Mrs Whitnall said: “We have to dispose of it ourselves.
“Some of it can be reused – some we can recycle back into manure, some of it is taken away by Defra licensed companies.”
Mrs Whitnall was able to offer some alternative advice to anyone with a cat problem, however.
“I have dogs,” she said.


Mind Your Moods, #Cat Owners

One study shows cats may take social signals from their owners.
Babies "social reference" by checking out their parents' facial expressions and voice tones when they encounter a new or strange object or event in their environment — then base their own reactions on mom's or dad's. They look to their parents as they wonder: Is it OK to stay calm, or is it time to worry?

Animal behavior research shows that dogs do this, too. It's not surprising, given how closely dogs are attuned to us — as they have been for many millennia. New research posted this month on the website of the journal Animal Cognition shows that cats may participate in social referencing also.
It's another blow for the stereotype of the aloof feline, the cat who lives among us with a whiff of disdain for his or her cohabitation with mere humans. Even one of my favorite authors, Haruki Murakami, has just gone on record saying that cats are "egoistic" creatures.

It's a stereotype that I've challenged before — and this new study only goes to show that those of us who live with cats may be quite closely scrutinized for our responses and moods.

In the paper, "Social referencing and cat-human communication," author Isabella Merola and colleagues report what happened when 24 cats and their owners participated in an experiment at the University of Milan in Italy designed to match tests done by other researchers on dogs. The stimulus deployed was an electric fan with plastic green ribbons attached, set up in a room with a screen at one end that hid a video camera; the screen also acted as a barrier for the cats (though they could see behind it) and marked the only way out of the room. "The aim," the authors state, "was to evaluate whether cats use the emotional information provided by their owners about a novel/unfamiliar object to guide their own behavior towards it."

Once the cats were allowed to explore the room, cat owners were asked first to regard the fan with neutral affect, then to respond either positively or negatively to it. In either case, the owner alternated gaze between the fan and the cat. In the positive group, owners used happy expressions and voice tones, and approached the fan; in the negative group, the expressions and voice tone were fearful, and the owners moved away from the fan.

More than three-quarters of the cats, 79 percent, looked between the owner and the fan when the owner was in the neutral phase at the start of the experiment. This percentage closely matched the results for dogs in a similar setup, and shows that cats, too, rely on us for emotional cues when faced with unfamiliarity.

Cats in the "negative owner" group were significantly more likely to alternate their gaze between the screen and the fan than cats in the positive group. "The screen was the only possible way out," the authors write, "and thus looking at the screen and then at the fan potentially suggests the cats were worried about the fan and wanted to get away from it." In addition, cats in the negative-owner group began moving earlier than their counterparts in the positive group, "potentially showing that they started looking for an escape route sooner."

Surrounded, as I am, by cats — our current census is five in the house, two in the yard and 11 in our large outdoor enclosure for former ferals — I was naturally intrigued by these findings. (None of my cats, by the way, would have qualified as participants for this study. To be selected, a cat had to be friendly with strangers; accustomed to traveling in a carrier at least twice a month; and savvy about changes in the environment, perhaps because he or she is used to holiday travel with human families. Either shy or homebound or both, my cats would have received a rejection slip.)

As I walk around my house and yard, are my cats intently watching and listening to me? A beribboned and startling fan won't magically appear in our midst, but how about when there's an unexpected thunder clap, loud knock at the door or barking dog bounding through the yard? Should I endeavor in these circumstances to be a role model for cat calm?

Earlier this week, I asked this question, by email, of the study's lead author, Isabella Merola, now at Lincoln University in England:
Should those of us who live with cats be more aware of the effect of our emotions (our voice tones, our facial expressions, our body postures) on our cats, do you think?
And she replied:
Of course we should (as a cat owner I include myself in this), in particular in a situation of uncertainty and in new situations (for example in new environments or in presence of new objects). Further studies are needed to better investigate this communication and the valence of voice vs. facial expression or body posture, but owners can surely help their cats with positive emotions in new situations.
There you have it, cat caretakers. (Here's a stereotype that is true: No way do we "own" our cats!) Social referencing, feline-style, may be important to our cats, at least cats of certain personalities. The mythically huge gap between cats and dogs just narrowed a little bit more.

Barbara J. King, an anthropology professor at the College of William and Mary, often writes about human evolution, primate behavior, and the cognition and emotion of animals. Barbara's most recent book on animals was released in paperback in April. You can keep up with what she is thinking on Twitter: @bjkingape.


High Court tells Forest Dept--Find out What Killed 30 Big Cats

JABALPUR: Madhya Pradesh high court (MPHC) on Saturday directed secretary of forest department to inquire into a complaint that alleges death of 30 big cats, including tigers and leopards in suspicious manner in forest regions across the state.

Division bench in Jabalpur has asked the officer to file action taken report (ATR) and next hearing is posted for March 28.

The action was taken following a petition filed by an activist, Bhawna Bisth, who alleged that 36 tigers, leopards and cubs were killed between 2012 and 2014 under suspicious circumstances, but no action was taken by the department. She claimed most of deaths were a result of poisoning and electrocution intended at smuggling of poached animals.

Bisth said she was forced to move the court as her complaint to draw the attention of forest officials failed to stir them in action.

Taking cognizance of the petition, the court asked the forest secretary to look into contents of the plea in four weeks.

The big cats are back, now clear their corridors

By Amit Bhattacharya, TNN | 25 Jan, 2015
The population of tigers has increased in India from 1,706 in 2011 to 2,226 in 2014.
The population of tigers has increased in India from 1,706 in 2011 to 2,226 in 2014.
NEW DELHI: Indian tigers have come roaring back to life from the crisis of 2006, when just 1,411 were found to be left in the wild.

Union environment minister Prakash Javadekar's announcement that the 2014 tiger census showed a 30% increase in the big cat's numbers in four years has been greeted as a success of India's conservation efforts since that shock.

The turnaround, indeed, is impressive. But in the flush of excitement over the tiger numbers, another important report released by the minister that day went largely unnoticed. That study — "Connecting Tiger Populations for Long-Term Conservation" — is a first-of-its-kind report identifying India's vanishing forest corridors.

It represents the next big battle for Indian conservation, one that it is so far losing. Forest corridors are green spaces, with some or no official protection, that link one protected forest with another. They are channels allowing movement of tigers between forests which ensures genetic diversity and health of the big cat population.

"These corridors are lifelines because most protected forests in India aren't big enough to be viable for the long-term survival of tigers and other species," says Yadvendra Jhala, wildlife biologist at Dehradun's Wildlife Institute of India.

The big cats are back, now clear their corridors
A tigress with her cub.

The average size of our protected forests is about 300-500 sq km. The only way to make them into larger chunks is by connecting them, he says.

But while our core forests — the tiger reserves, national parks and sanctuaries — have received a good degree of protection, the corridors are vanishing under the demands of development, population growth and short-sighted project designs.

In the Terai region of Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh for instance, growing cities are cutting off forest links. The HaridwarRishikesh complex has virtually cleaved the Rajaji National Park.

Officials say no tiger movement has taken place in this corridor for years. As a result, the tiger population of western Rajaji is dying, with just two aging females there.

"A proposal to revive the link was submitted years ago. It involved elevating a portion of the Haridwar highway to enable animal movement. Work started only two years ago and is still going on. Meanwhile, the township has grown. Resorts and six-storey com plexes are coming up in the vicinity that's anyway going to kill the corridor," says Jhala.

A restored link could extend tiger terrain right up to Ponta Sahib in Himachal and Kalesar National Park in Haryana, and provide a good dispersal route for big cats in Corbett, which has the densest tiger population in the world.

The big cats are back, now clear their corridors
Three young tigers in a playful mood.

In Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, road projects on NH-6 and NH-7 are threatening to cut off tiger habitats. Earlier this month, the Maharashtra government set up a committee to resolve the impasse over widening of a 37km stretch of NH-7 that cuts through Pench Tiger Reserve. The national highways authority says it can't implement a Wildlife Institute of India (WII) proposal for building wildlife underpasses because it would cost an additional Rs 750 crore.

"The highway is needed. But it has to be built with mitigation measures. Else, we would lose the tiger population of Pench be cause it's too small a forest to sustain the ani mal," said an activist.

Road projects in the northeast — one threatening the link between Kaziranga and Karbi-Anglong and another between Kaziranga and Pakke Nameri on the Assam Arunachal Pradesh border — have thrown up similar issues.

Forests in and around the Western Ghats, which hold the largest contiguous tiger popu lation in the world are under pressure as well.

"The forest strip in Western Ghats is very narrow, between five to 30 km wide, and ex tremely vulnerable to the massive wave of highway building, hydro power, wind power, mining and land encroachments," says K Ullas Karanth, veteran tiger biologist.

The big cats are back, now clear their corridors
A male Indian tiger.

Across central India, constant battles are being fought over coal mines. For instance, the corridor between Satpura National Park and Pench passes through several mines cov ering around 1,000 sq km. When the issue of opening up this area for mining was referred to WII, it recommended that a 100 sq km be left alone. "There was huge pressure to allow mining on an 80-hectare patch belonging to a politician that falls bang in the middle of the corridor," says a source.

"It's not just about the tigers," says Jhala. "These corridors are indicators of the health of our eco-systems that provide also livelihoods, life support system, goods and services."


Saturday, January 24, 2015

Solar lights at villages to keep off big #cats

Dehradun: Villages affected by man-animal conflict in the state will be lit up by solar street lights. An announcement to the effect was made by state forest minister Dinesh Aggarwal on Friday after he gave away a cheque of Rs 2 lakh to the father of Krishan Kumar, a 10-year-old boy of Phulsaini village in Dehradun district who was killed by a maneater leopard a week ago. He promised to provide the remaining Rs 1 lakh soon.

The decision to install solar light was taken to keep a off wild animals from human habitats. The minister said, "It is not only Phulsaini but all the other villagers which have witnessed man-animal conflicts in recent past which will be provided with solar lights by the state government," he said.

All the wings of district administration, forest, municipal corporation, MDDA and UREDA coming together to help such villages.

Dehradun Municipal Corporation's mayor, Vinod Chamoli, said, "I have sanctioned installation of 30 pole lights for Bajawala road, which also cover Phulsaini. Some pole lights have also been installed. Some more will be installed in the nearby areas by the Mussoorie Dehradun Development Authority (MDDA) and Uttarakhand Renewable Energy Development Agency (UREDA)."

Sushant Patnaik, divisional forest official of Dehradun, said, "The forest department has begun mass awareness program in the village to educate people about the ways to minimize the risk of coming in confrontation with leopards. Lantana (a weed), which had grown in the area, is also being cleared so that leopards cannot hide in them."

Doon DM Ravinath Raman said all the families who had encroached upon land on the fringes of the forest areas have been made to shift inside the village so that they remained safe.

Mountain Lion Sightings in the News

Mountain lion sightings reported in eastern CT

Posted: Jan 23, 2015 

WFSB 3 Connecticut

Mountain lions are the talk of the town in eastern Connecticut since residents in one town have reported several sightings of a big cat.

North Stonington residents have been reporting a big cat, 5' long, weighing 100 pounds, with a long tail.

Community leaders believe there have been at least 15 credible sightings of the big cats in North Stonington alone.

Conservation Commission Chairman Bill Ricker has been tracking the sightings."They're not after people's dogs and cats, they're not after children. If you're hiking through the woods in our state they'll go in the opposite direction and I dare you say you'll never see them if they see you," Ricker said.

The Connecticut DEEP isn't so sure the big cats are actually here. Spokesman Dennis Schain said the DEEP has not seen what they consider credible photographs, footprints or scat to confirm the cats' presence.

According to naturalist Steven Sarnoski, anything is possible. "There could be one in the state, maybe it's another traveler or maybe it's more commonly the bobcat, which is our most found and distributed wildcat in Connecticut," Sarnoski said.

If you see a large cat, take a picture of it. State and local experts said they need to see evidence of a paw print or fur to prove that mountain lions are in the state.



Mountain lions caught on video in Boulder Creek

Cameras catch animals walking down street

Published Jan 23, 2015
Mountain lions caught on video in Boulder Creek
BOULDER CREEK, Calif. —Word was spreading Friday night of a mountain lion sighting in Boulder Creek.
Boulder Creek resident Rob Fulton captured video of the mountain lions outside his home Wednesday night. Fulton has lived in his home on Lilac Avenue and Brookdale Street for 14 years. He set up the cameras a few months ago and captured two mountain lions walking down the street on consecutive nights.

The first video, recorded Wednesday morning at 12:50 a.m., shows one of the big cats walking in front of Fulton's car. Later that night, at 9:22 p.m., the second cat made its appearance. "It's kind of unnerving, but it's nice to watch such graceful cats walking,” Fulton said. “I think they've been here a long time and nobody's really seen them. Nobody's had any issues with them. We hear them off in the distance sometimes. You kind of hope they stay where they are and don't bother you.”

Fulton said he checked with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, which said the second cat, the one wearing a collar, is part of the University of California, Santa Cruz’s Puma Project, where mountain lions are tracked and observed to gather information about their physiology, behavior and ecology.


Latest #Tiger News from India

Forest staff to be increased to protect big cats in Karnataka

A day after TOI highlighted the shortage of forest guards and other frontline staff in tiger reserves, forest minister B Ramanath Rai on Friday promised to speed up recruitment of staff and enhance benefits for them.
A day after TOI highlighted the shortage of forest guards and other frontline staff in tiger reserves, forest minister B Ramanath Rai on Friday promised to speed up recruitment of staff and enhance benefits for them.

BENGALURU: The increasing number of tigers in Karnataka's forests and the related call for focus on meeting conservation challenges have woken up the state government.

A day after TOI highlighted the shortage of forest guards and other frontline staff in tiger reserves, forest minister B Ramanath Rai on Friday promised to speed up recruitment of staff and enhance benefits for them. He said of the 1300-odd vacancies of staff, including forest guards and foresters, about 500 will be filled up this year and the rest by next year-end.

"The recruitment wing is already conducting exams for various posts and placements will be done soon. We're taking steps to fill posts of Range Forest Officers (110), Deputy Range Forest officers (113), forest guards (329) and forest watchers (282)," he added.

TOI had on January 22 highlighted how filling up of existing vacancies and recruitment of additional staff were crucial to man the woods.

The forest minister also said he has taken steps to ensure that frontline staff are not transferred for at least five years from a forest division and they'll get special monthly allowance. "The rise in number of tigers, from 209 in 2006 to 406 as per the recent census, is mainly due to the conservation efforts of frontline staff. Habitat improvement programmes, strict patrolling, anti-depredation camps in sensitive zones and rapid response teams helped increase tiger numbers," he added.

Asked about steps to mitigate human-animal conflict, the minister said rail-track fencing for forest borders, which has started in Bandipur-Nagarhole-BRT tiger reserve, will be speeded up and expanded as the government has sanctioned Rs 213 crore for it. "We'll also take up awareness programmes and ensure disturbance in tiger corridors is reduced," he added.

Kudremukh tiger reserve:

On the move to declare Kudremukh the sixth tiger reserve for the state, the minister said the state government is yet to take a call on it. "The central government has given its go-ahead for the project. But there's opposition from local population who fear displacement and other issues. We'll take a call after discussions with stakeholders," he added. Asked about hundreds of families yet to vacate from protected areas, he said efforts are on to convince them and in some reserves there have been good results.



In North Bengal, big cats are not roaring

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, Kolkata
January 24, 2015
Although India’s tiger count has taken a good leap in the last four years, its population in North Bengal has dropped drastically.

According to the 2014 tiger census report, the number of big cats in the forests of North Bengal has dipped from 20 in 2010 to just three in 2014.

During the same period, the Sunderbans saw a rise in tiger population, from 70 to 76.

The report, ‘Status of Tiger in India 2014’, stated that the big cat count jumped by 30% in the past four years. Interestingly, these figures only reveal the number of tigers in the country’s reserves and not the population that exists outside. “The 76 tigers that the census data states is the population in the Sunderbans Tiger Reserve.

But there are tigers in South 24-Parganas division, too. Latest pictures captured through the camera trap technique show there are at least 106 tigers in the Sunderbans, including those in South 24-Parganas division. Images of cubs in South 24-Parganas division show the population is healthy and rising,” Biswajit Roy Chowdhury, a member of the state wildlife advisory board, said.

Similarly, in North Bengal, there are tigers that reside outside the Buxa Tiger Reserve such as the Jaldapara National Park.

Chief wildlife warden Ujjwal Bhattacharya said, “The National Tiger Conservation Authority counts tigers only in the reserves. The state has to make its own arrangements to count tigers which live outside the reserves.”

Wildlife enthusiasts raised an alarm over the declining tiger population in Buxa Tiger Reserve (BTR). In 2012, the state forest department stated there were 20 tigers in the reserve. It was based on a report by Hyderabad-based Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology which did a DNA analysis on the scat samples.

In October 2013, the NTCA pulled up BTR officials asking it to back their claims with photographic evidences.

While a section of the wildlife experts questioned the procedure adopted for tiger count, others have said that the BTA figures are bloated.



Six Katarniaghat tigers find home in Berdia park

Jan 23, 2015

BAHRAICH: UP tigers are not only making their presence felt in populated areas like Lucknow and Kanpur, they are also crossing over to Nepal. Camera trappings have revealed that six tigers of Katarniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary had crossed over to Nepal and made Royal Berdia National Park their home. Alarmed over the 'loss', forest officials have written to their Nepalese counterparts for security of these big cats. Katarniaghat reserved forest area is known for its tiger population.
 Bahraich's reserved forest area connects with 60-km-long reserved forest area of Nepal leading to the Royal Berdia National Park in Himalayan kingdom. Elephants, rhinos and other wild animal often cross over to Katarniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary from Nepal through this forest corridor. Now, the movement of tigers too has come to light. The Indian Wildlife Institute, Dehradun, officials detected the movement during a routine tallying of camera trapping records of Nepal and believe that the six big cats crossed over to Nepal through the forest corridor. In the 2010 tiger Census, 32 tigers were identified in Katarniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary and their pictures were recorded through thermo sensor cameras. However, the numbers dwindled to 21 in 2012 Census and 24 in 2014. 
As questions about 'vanishing' tigers cropped up, experts of the Indian Wildlife Institute sought records of camera trapping done in Nepal by joint efforts of Nepal forest department and World Wildlife Fund (WWF). "A thorough study of records revealed startling facts. The pictures of six tigers captured in thermo-sensor cameras in Katarniaghat sanctuary in 2010 matched with records of Royal Berdia National Park," said WWF project officer DabeerHasan. "Although movement of tigers is common n forested areas, this is the first instance that Katarniaghat tigers have reached Nepal," he said. "There is nothing to worry, a letter has been sent to Nepal's forest officials to ensure safety of Indian tigers," he added. 
Hasan said that the 20-km region between Katarniaghat wildlife sanctuary and Royal Berdia National park has dense forest cover. "This area is sensitive for tigers. Indian tigers roaming in Nepal forest can return anytime. We have already alerted residents of villages around the forest," he added.
Divisional forest officer (DFO) AshishTiwari confirmed that Katarniaghat tigers had crossed over to Royal Berdia park. "A tiger occupies a territory of 15 to 20kms. Shifting of tigers is nothing new. However, we are in regular touch with our Nepal counterparts for updates on safety of these big cats. " Hasan said that movement of Katarniaghat tigers has increased drastically in the last one to two years. "North Kheri and Berdia park forests are directly connected with Katarniaghat corridor. Hence, we must conduct camera trapping on regular basis. 
A letter for the same has also been sent to the Union forest and environment ministry," he added. Tigers had created scare after making rural pockets of Lucknow and Kanpur their haunt. They are yet to be captured.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Your Daily #Cat

Jumping and playing! 

Jumping and playing! by Tambako The Jaguar

Undercover Investigations Reveal Abuse of #Tiger Cubs at Roadside Zoos

January 22, 2015

Infant tigers used in “photo ops” subjected to physical abuse and extreme stress

Results from two undercover investigations at roadside zoos revealed inhumane treatment of tiger cubs exploited for photographic opportunities, indiscriminate breeding of tigers, rampant trade in cubs for public handling and dumping of the cubs once they were no longer profitable. The Humane Society of the United States conducted the investigations at Tiger Safari in Oklahoma and Natural Bridge Zoo in Virginia. These roadside zoos allow members of the public to pet, feed, pose and play with baby tigers for a fee.

The investigations documented the very lucrative business of using infant tigers for public photo shoots and other moneymaking events – fees ranged from $50 to $1,000 per session. Video footage graphically revealed the distress and abuse endured by the endangered animals used for this practice. Tiger cubs were forcibly separated from their mothers during birth and the first few months of their lives were dictated exclusively by public handling schedules. Cubs who were tired, overheated, thirsty, hungry or sick were required to sit still for a parade of paying customers.

The investigations also provided a snapshot of the unfettered breeding of big cats for the exploitation of their cubs, the resulting surplus of adult big cats, and the animal welfare and public safety implications when large cubs are discarded after ceasing to be profitable.

Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS said: “Our investigations revealed never-before seen abuse, neglect, and the overbreeding that goes on behind the scenes at these tiger cub handling operations. We must put an end to this dangerous and cruel business.”

The HSUS documented:
  • Both facilities separated tiger cubs from their mothers during the birthing process for hand-rearing.
  • Tiger Safari and Natural Bridge Zoo began subjecting tiger cubs to public handling when the infants were just three and four weeks of age respectively.
  • Manhandling and physical discipline of cubs when they would not cooperate for photo shoots. All 4 cubs at both zoos were punched and slapped. At Tiger Safari, Maximus, a white tiger cub was dragged, choked, tossed and suspended by his legs and tail.
  • Tiger cubs were mercilessly over handled, were frequently awakened to be handled and often screamed in distress as they were passed around for entertainment.
  • At Tiger Safari, a tiger cub named Sarabi was handled by 27 people on the very day that she arrived at the facility, despite the fact that she had just endured a 19-hour car ride from South Carolina, was only three weeks old and had ringworm.
  • At both facilities, cubs were handled by dozens of people daily.
  • At Natural Bridge Zoo, two tiger cubs were deprived of formula, and then only fed from a bottle fashioned with a slow-flow nipple, so they could be more easily controlled during photo shoots. Meat was withheld to ensure the cubs were kept hungry.
  • At Tiger Safari, one tiger cub’s diet was so insufficient that the facility’s veterinarian expressed concern about improper development of the infant’s leg bones. At one point, the cub was purposefully fed inappropriately in the belief that it would make him more tractable during photo sessions.
  • All cubs were denied regular, necessary meat additions to their diets.
  • During the course of the investigation, the cubs at Natural Bridge Zoo were never seen by a veterinarian despite the fact that their fecal samples tested positive for coccidia and giardia, and they suffered from diarrhea and one had a suspected urinary tract infection.
  • The cubs at Tiger Safari both suffered from ringworm. One of the cubs had this contagious zoonotic disease upon her arrival at the facility, but she did not receive any treatment for it until more than a month later, by which time hundreds of people had come into contact with her.
  • At both facilities, juvenile tigers weighing 35-50 pounds continued to be used for photo sessions, even though they could barely be lifted and were very difficult to control.
Some discarded animals end up warehoused at poorly run roadside zoos and pseudo-sanctuaries or in the hands of unqualified people with private menageries. Others may fall victim to the illegal wildlife trade.

During the span of the investigations, twelve tigers who were born at both facilities were sent to T.I.G.E.R.S. (The Institute of Greatly Endangered and Rare Species) in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. T.I.G.E.R.S. is a substandard facility that breeds, trades and exhibits big cats and other exotic animals, and has built a large and very profitable business by charging the public exorbitant prices for tours and photos with young animals. When one of the investigators accompanied the owner of Tiger Safari to T.I.G.E.R.S., she received a behind-the-scenes tour where she witnessed dozens of adult tigers crammed into cement horse stalls in a darkened barn.

Ron Kagan, executive director and CEO of the Detroit Zoological Society said: "It appears that both operations are typical roadside zoos with amateur, reckless and harsh captive conditions and treatment. The physical discipline and examples of deprivation are clear as is the fact that the public is being put at risk by coming into contact with an animal capable of biting, clawing and spreading parasites."

The investigations provide clear evidence of why the U.S. Department of Agriculture must explicitly prohibit public contact with big cats of any age. This cycle of breeding, exploiting, then dumping baby animals after a few months fuels the exotic pet trade, puts animals at risk, endangers the public, and creates a burden for both law enforcement and nonprofit sanctuaries.

The HSUS has filed legal complaints with the U.S. Department of Agriculture for potential violations of the Animal Welfare Act at these two facilities, and is urging the agency to finally act on a legal petition filed in 2012 by HSUS attorneys on behalf of a coalition of eight animal protection and conservation organizations (Docket No. APHIS-2012-0107) to prohibit the public handling of these dangerous wild animals.

Investigation report for Tiger Safari found here. Investigation report for Natural Bridge Zoo found here. B-roll footage is available here. Photos available upon request.


Ban on Chinese trade only way to secure future of #tigers

By Biplob Ghosal
January 23, 2015

Tiger, a magnificent creature, is one of the most important constituents of the ecosystem. However the big cats are facing the threat of extinction due to unabated hunting for greed of money, despite global conservation efforts.

While population of tigers is facing a threat globally, that in India is estimated to be around 2,226, a rise of over 30 percent since the last count in 2010, according to the latest census report.

In an exclusive interview, Belinda Wright, one of India`s leading wildlife conservationists, shares her views with Biplob Ghosal of Zee Media Corp on several issues ranging from reasons behind significant surge in tiger population and the Chinese connection to illegal trade and poaching of tigers.

Belinda Wright founded the Wildlife Protection Society of India in 1994. The organisation helps avert India`s wildlife crisis by providing support and information to combat poaching and the escalating illegal wildlife trade.

Biplob: The latest Census shows tiger population has increased by 30 percent in the last three years. How do you view this development?
Belinda: This is very good news for tigers and for India.

Biplob: What according to you has helped achieve a rise in tiger numbers? Have government actions over the past few years yielded results?
Belinda: There has certainly been a lot more focus and funding by the government on better field patrolling and protection, scientific monitoring and village relocation, not to mention increasing the number of tiger reserves to 47. NGOs have also played an important role, assisting in resources and equipment, enforcement efforts with training and intelligence, legal interventions, village relocation, etc. But without casting aspersions on the results, it is still not clear to me what has changed so dramatically on the ground to cause such an increase in tiger numbers. Is it possible that the dramatic rise might actually be due to tiger habitats being covered in a lot more detail, resulting in a more accurate count?

Biplob: Illegal trading of tiger body parts is still rampant in India. Can you throw some light on this illegal business and the Tibet connection?
Belinda: In 2014, tiger poaching and tiger part seizures still accounted for 28 percent of all known tiger deaths, so clearly the trade in tiger parts is still a serious threat to the future of wild tigers. India needs to send a strong and encouraging message to China to make a commitment to end all trade in all tiger parts and products, from all sources, wild and captive. Without reduction in the demand for tiger parts and effective law enforcement in both India and China it will be very difficult to protect tigers. Indeed, tiger farming and legal trade in tiger parts in China make this virtually impossible. A total ban from China would be the single biggest contribution to securing a future for wild tigers.

Biplob: What steps does the government need to take to reduce encounters between tigers and humans, so farmers encroaching forest lands do not force big cats to leave reserves in search for water and food?
Belinda: Hopefully these new tiger figures and the prestige it brings to India will encourage the government to show a lot more caution about approving development projects in the precious tiger landscapes. We need a lot more focus on tiger landscapes and connectivity between different tiger populations. Keeping these landscapes free of large development projects is the very best way to reduce human-tiger conflict.

Biplob: Are Indian laws competent enough to instil fear amongst poachers?
Belinda: The Wild Life (Protection) Act is potentially a strong piece of legislation. It is the implementation that is weak. At the moment, quality of prosecutions and the low level of convictions do not discourage organised wildlife crime. But it certainly could do, if the law was properly implemented.

Biplob: India was once home to 40,000 tigers. Can the country regain that figure?
Belinda: India no longer has enough tiger habitat and prey species to sustain such large numbers. But if we respect and protect the little we do have left, there is certainly enough tiger habitat to sustain many more tigers - perhaps double what we have today.


#Tigers barometer of forest health

Jan 23 2015

Wild and beautiful

Some of the best fed and most handsome specimens of tiger would be found in American homes, where nearly 5,000 of the big cats are held in captivity — more than the entire wild population in the world estimated around 3,000. But the most beautiful would still be in the jungles of India. Not because of their stripes or grace, but what they represent — a forest base in which they have survived. Indications are that this habitat has made a slight recovery from extreme ill health, with the latest tiger census saying the numbers may be up 30 per cent since 2010, and 60 per cent since 2006. 
Officially, India is now home to 2,226 tigers. 

The camera-based identification and counting of tigers, apart from giving more reliable figures, is also part of a larger requirement in conservation - knowledge of what wildlife remains. A major hurdle in establishing the environmental worth of a wild expanse - to ward off the unrelenting march of development — is lack of data on its assets. To formulate any wider policy or a local conservation strategy this information is crucial. The funds available for this are way too inadequate. Most research by even the prestigious Wildlife Institute of India is funded by NGOs or global conservation bodies, rather than the government, which provides funds barely enough to pay the salaries. 

Poaching continues to be the most immediate concern, but habitat destruction and isolation of reserves owing to the snapping of wildlife corridors remain the biggest long-term threat. Only a century ago, the number of tigers in India was around 1 lakh, despite the rampant hunting that was happening at the time. It is ironical that Prakash Javadekar should take pride in announcing the latest tiger figures. Among his first orders in the Environment Ministry was a review of the environment protection laws, the outcome of which is only recommendations to relax many of them, and not tighten any. Here is hoping for saner decisions on the review report.


#Tiger population triples in Tamil Nadu in less than a decade

Divya Gandhi & B. Aravind Kumar

File photo of a tiger sighted along the Masinagudy-Theppakadu stretch of the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve in Tamil Nadu. Photo: Special Arrangement
File photo of a tiger sighted along the Masinagudy-Theppakadu stretch of the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve in Tamil Nadu. Photo: Special Arrangement

This December 19, 2014 photo shows officials inspecting the body of a tiger found dead in Annikatty Village near Mudumalai in Niligiris district of Tamil Nadu.
This December 19, 2014 photo shows officials inspecting the body of a tiger found dead in Annikatty Village near Mudumalai in Niligiris district of Tamil Nadu.

From 76 tigers in 2006, the number of big cats shot up to 229 in 2014, says the report on the Status of Tigers in India - 2014.

In a big pat on the back for conservation efforts in Tamil Nadu, the population of tigers has tripled in the State in just eight years, finds the latest official count of the big cats. 

From 76 tigers in 2006, the number of big cats shot up to 229 in 2014, says the report on the Status of Tigers in India - 2014 by the National Tiger Conservation Authority. The 2010 survey recorded 163 tigers. 

The forest complex of Mudumalai, Bandipur, Nagarhole and Wayanad Tiger Reserves has “the world's single largest tiger population” now estimated at over 570 tigers, says the report. With the addition of Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve in 2013, Tamil Nadu has four Tiger Reserves, including Mudumalai, Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve and Anamalai Tiger Reserve.
For the survey, researchers and volunteers sampled 7033 km of forest trails and analysed images of tigers from 578 camera traps. 

Western Ghats Landscape Complex 
The trend in Tamil Nadu’s tiger reserves is consistent with other tiger habitats in the Western Ghats, which together have seen the biggest growth in tiger numbers compared to other tiger-occupied landscapes in the country. The four States that make up the Western Ghats Landscape Complex saw a jump in tiger numbers from 402 tigers in 2006 to 776 in 2014. 

Tiger expert Ullas Karanth, Director, Centre for Wildlife Studies attributed the growing numbers to the improved forest protection in this region in the last decade. “Apart from the contiguity, the prey base and protection measures in this landscape will ensure the tigers will live here for many, many years,” says K. Sankar, Senior Scientist, Wildlife Institute of India (WII), Dehra Dun. 

The connectivity of this landscape with Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve, through Moyar gorge, is pushing the number of tigers up in this newly formed tiger reserve. Tigers must have inhabited the Sathyamangalam forests for long but not many dared to go inside when forest brigand Veerappan was alive. With easy access now, more tigers are being sighted, say activists. 

Tiger deaths
The rising number of big cats also raises the apprehension on their survival outside the protected habitat. In 2014, Tamil Nadu topped tiger deaths in the country. “The sub-adult tigers move out to carve out new territories for themselves and could resort to cattle lifting making them vulnerable to poisoning and poaching. There is a need for continuous monitoring of tigers outside protected areas,” says Mr. Sankar. The finer details of the analysis on the tigers and their habitat will be known by March, he adds. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Your Daily Cat

Orya looking at me 

Orya looking at me by Tambako The Jaguar

Climbing snow leopard cub

Climbing snow leopard cub by Tambako The Jaguar

America Has a #Tiger Problem And No One’s Sure How to Solve It

No one even knows how many of the big cats are in the United States
Tony the Tiger, a 550-pound Siberian-Bengal mix, lives in a cage at a Louisiana truck stop. (© FTTT)

Smithsonian Magazine

Clayton James Eller loved going to his aunt’s house in Millers Creek, North Carolina, where he got to visit Tigger, her 317-pound pet Bengal tiger. One December day in 2003, ten-year-old C.J. was shoveling snow near Tigger’s outdoor pen when the animal attacked him from an opening in the chain-link fence and dragged him under. C.J.’s uncle grabbed his rifle and shot the tiger, but the boy died before he reached the hospital.

Tiger attacks in the United States are always dramatic news—there were 27 reported between 1990 and 2006, with seven people and most of the tigers killed. But maulings aren’t the only problem arising from the perhaps surprising fact that there are more captive tigers in the U.S. than there are wild tigers on earth.

Conservationists estimate that about 3,200 wild tigers remain around the world, while there are some 5,000 tigers in captivity in the U.S., according to the World Wildlife Fund. Even that number is probably low, says Carole Baskin, the founder of Big Cat Rescue, an animal sanctuary in Tampa, Florida, because reporting is “based on the honor system, and we’re dealing with a lot of people that are really dishonorable.” Edward J. Grace, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s deputy assistant director for law enforcement, estimates that the nation is home to more than 10,000 captive tigers. Only about 350 of those, says the WWF, are held in facilities accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

For the thousands of tigers in private hands, from those in big-top circuses and roadside attractions to others in backyard dens, the regulations are inconsistent at best. Six states (North Carolina, South Carolina, Wisconsin, Nevada, Alabama and West Virginia) place no restrictions on owning a tiger; 14 states require a permit; and 30 states prohibit ownership, though in some of those states people have been known to flout the law, as in the famous case of the man who kept a tiger in his apartment in Harlem. 
One of the problems associated with these captive tigers, animal welfare advocates say, is that many of the creatures suffer. For example, the popular and stunningly beautiful white tigers—all descendants of a single, anomalous albino Bengal named Mohan, captured in 1951, and bred with his daughter—continue to be inbred with immediate family members to disabling effect; one frequent defect is severe strabismus, or crossed eyes, which hampers vision and coordination. Moreover, animal rescuers point out that many privately owned tigers live in deplorable conditions. Some tigers spend lifetimes in small, unsanitary enclosures. And wildlife advocates have accused tiger cub exhibitors of depriving the cats of sleep and exercise, and endangering both animals and people. One well-known captive animal is Tony the Tiger, a 550-pound Siberian-Bengal mix who has spent more than a decade in a cage at a truck stop in Louisiana. Baskin has been working with the Animal Legal Defense Fund to bring Tony to her sanctuary, but not everyone thinks his owner should be forced to send him. A Facebook group called “Keep Tony Where He Is” has more than 10,000 “Likes,” and Tony’s owner has called animal rights activists terrorists.

Some advocates argue that America’s other tiger problem, to put it bluntly, is hypocrisy, at least on the world stage. In China, a booming market for tiger parts has fueled the growth of legal “tiger farms,” where the animals are raised to be slaughtered for luxury d├ęcor (a tiger pelt can run tens of thousands of dollars) and pricey tiger-bone wine (up to $135 for a half-liter bottle). U.S. conservation groups and others have criticized the tiger farms both on humane grounds and for stoking demand for tigers—including poached wild animals. But Chinese officials dispute the claim that farmed tigers threaten animals in the wild, and, in any case, Americans have little credibility on the subject, given our own large but untallied population of neglected tigers and the patchwork of weak or nonexistent protections, according to J.A. Mills, a wildlife conservationist and author of the new book Blood of the Tiger. “U.S. tigers have a direct bearing on what China does,” she says, “and what China does has a direct bearing on whether wild tigers survive.” 

So some advocates are heartened that America is trying to get its regulatory act together. The Fish and Wildlife Service has long overseen buying and selling “pure” tiger subspecies (such as Bengals and Amurs) across state lines, but the agency has limited authority because most privately held tigers are mixed breeds; a 2011 move to expand the agency’s authority over all tigers is reportedly close to being approved. Even more sweeping is the proposed Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act, which would formally restrict tiger ownership to facilities accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. (A grandfather clause would allow unaccredited owners to keep their tigers as long as they register with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.) The bipartisan bill was introduced in 2013 and may come up again in the new Congressional term. Some tiger owners and businesses feel the bill is overly restrictive, but proponents say it would go a long way toward closing the gap between what we say about the treatment of captive tigers and what we’re actually willing to do about it.



Guwahati: Tigers seem to be burning bright in the jungles of the northeast as the latest data of the ministry of environment, forests and climate change (MoEFCC) showed a marked increase in the number of big cats in the region.

Experts are of the opinion that "lesser known" tiger habitats should be given utmost protection for the long-term conservation of big cats in the region.

The report, 'The status of tigers in India 2014', released on Tuesday in New Delhi, stated that, in Assam, the tiger count has increased to 167 in 2014 from 143 in 2010.

In Arunachal Pradesh, the tiger population has doubled to 28 in 2014 from 14 in 2006.

In Mizoram, the report said, the tiger count has dipped from five in 2010 to three in 2014.

On the whole, the data said the count of big cats has gone up from 148 in 2010 to 201 in 2014. The areas taken into account included hills, the Brahmaputra plains and also contiguous tiger habitats in the northern parts of West Bengal.

Former member of the National Tiger Conservation Authority and wildlife biologist, Aaranyak, M Firoz Ahmed, said more conservation efforts should be extended to potential habitats in the region, like the Namdapha Tiger Reserve, the Dibang Valley in Arunachal Pradesh and Karbi Anglong in Assam.

"Tiger habitats like Kaziranga and other reserves in the region are already getting the necessary attention. The time has come to shift focus on lesser known habitats for long-term tiger conservation. If these lesser known habitats are included in serious conservation efforts, our tiger population will increase manifold," Ahmed observed.

Sources said many of the areas which are potential habitats are being threatened by poaching and encroachment. Namdapha's biggest conservation threat is poaching.

"The hills of Karbi Anglong and its adjoining areas are equally important habitats. But they face the threat of militancy and law and order problems," another conservationist pointed out.

The report also mentioned Kaziranga as having the maximum number of tigers in the region. "The number of tigers in the Karbi Hills (Assam), Dibang Valley and Namdapha Tiger Reserve (Arunachal Pradesh) are encouraging," the report added.

The Troubling Reason Why Half Of Maine’s Rare Lynxes Have Died in 5 Years

The big cats' snowshoe hare prey is disappearing, but climate change poses the biggest threat to the endangered predator.
January 22, 2015
John R. Platt covers the environment, technology, philanthropy, and more for Scientific American, Conservation, Lion, and other publications.
The elusive and rarely seen Canada lynx is in trouble.

No one knows exactly how many of the distinctive big cats remain in the United States, but all signs point to the fact that their population is shrinking while their habitats have become fragmented.
That has prompted efforts to secure greater protection for Canada lynxes. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) last week kicked off a review of the species, the first since it was listed as “threatened,” one step below endangered, in the year 2000.

“By comparing historical and recent lynx records, we know that they’re now scarce in regions where they used to be more common,” said Kylie Paul, Rockies and Plains representative for Defenders of Wildlife, who has spent the past several years working to preserve the species. “Now they’re holed up in a few major regions across the northern part of the country.” That includes populations in Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, Washington, Minnesota, and a few New England states.

One area where lynx appear to be on the decline is Maine, which just five years ago was home to an estimated 750 to 1,000 of the cats. Today, that number is probably closer to 500, according to FWS. (The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife (IFW) still sticks to the higher number.)

No matter which figure is correct, “they are expected to decline,” Paul noted, pointing out that the population actually expanded in the last 1990s after clearcutting and fire-suppression techniques created more habitat for snowshoe hares, the lynx’s primary prey. Changes in forestry methods have allowed trees to grow there once again, removing the low-height underbrush the hares need to thrive. “That habitat is slowly aging and the changing and that’s going lead to a decrease in both hares and lynx,” she said.

Climate change will also pose problems for both species across their range in the future, as both the hares and the lynxes are highly adapted for snowy conditions. “Lynx need snow,” Paul said. “They’re fully adapted to a winter lifestyle, with a weight ratio that allows them to move quickly across snow.”
FWS estimates that the amount of snowy habitat for lynx in Maine and New Hampshire will almost completely disappear by the end of the century, based on current climate-change models. Climate change was not even recognized as a threat to Canada lynxes when the species was first protected 15 years ago.

The long-standing tradition of trap-hunting in Maine could also pose a risk to lynx. More of the cats were caught in traps last year, more than in any year since 1999. In response, FWS and IFW adopted strict new trapping rules in November. But two lynx died in traps almost immediately after the new rules went into effect, forcing IFW to put even stricter measures in place and ban almost all trapping in the state’s North Woods.
Sportsmen immediately objected to the new rules, with one writer accusing FWS of having an “anti-trapping agenda.” The Maine Trappers Association did not respond to requests for comment.
Paul said she hopes the FWS review period will inspire people to think about Canada lynxes. “They’ve suffered from a lack of public awareness,” she said. “They lack some of the love that wolves and grizzlies and wolverines have been getting recently. If we can encourage people to take the lynx into their hearts and minds, then hopefully we can get them recovered over time.”


Zolushka, (aka Cinderella), the #tiger, rescued and released back into the wild

January 21, 2015
Wildlife Conservation Society
The Russian Far East is the setting for a Cinderella story. In this case, Cinderella is a tiger. An orphaned, starved, frost-bitten cub was rescued in the winter of 2012, rehabilitated, released, and now is possibly mating and re-colonizing former tiger territory, according to new research.
Zolushka the tiger appears in a camera trap image. Zolushka was rescued as an orphaned, starved, frost-bitten cub in the winter of 2012. She was rehabilitated, released, and now is possibly mating and re-colonizing former tiger territory, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society. Credit: WCS

The Russian Far East is the setting for a Cinderella story. In this case, Cinderella is a tiger. An orphaned, starved, frost-bitten cub was rescued in the winter of 2012, rehabilitated, released, and now is possibly mating and re-colonizing former tiger territory, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society.

The female tiger known as Zolushka (the Russian equivalent of "Cinderella") seems to be thriving within the Jewish Autonomous Oblast, a region where tigers had vanished some 40 years ago as a result of habitat loss, direct poaching, and loss of prey. Scientists note she has already met up with a resident male tiger and are hopeful that cubs may follow.

"Zolushka appears to be thriving in her new home, and represents the spearhead of a process for re-colonizing habitat once roamed over by her ancestors," said Dr. Dale Miquelle, Director of the WCS Russia Program. "This story is good news for Cinderella but also for tigers overall as she and her prince appear to be consorting in formerly lost tiger habitat. Since her release, an additional five more orphaned cubs have been rescued, rehabilitated and released also into this westernmost range of historical tiger habitat. All but one of the cubs seems to be doing well in their new environment. "

Zolushka first came to the attention of conservationists working in the Russian Far East in the winter of 2012. She was found alone, the likely result of the death of her mother at the hands of poachers. On the verge of starvation, she was brought by hunters to a wildlife inspector of the regional Primorskii Wildlife Department and treated with veterinary treatment regional Agricultural Academy, including amputation of a third of her frostbitten tail.

For the next year 15 months, Zolushka's home was a Russian federal tiger rehabilitation center, designed with technical assistance from WCS's Bronx Zoo General Curator Dr. Pat Thomas. Dr. Thomas made recommendations on facility design to improve safety and reduce the need for direct interactions between tigers and humans. The key to this rehabilitation was ensuring that the tiger's natural fear of humans would remain intact and that she learned to hunt live prey before being released by into the wild. After growing significantly in size and strength, Zolushka began successfully capturing her live prey, including wild boar.

Zolushka was released back into the wild to Bastak Reserve in the spring of 2013. Scientists followed her movements with GPS and camera trap technology. After checking locations in the field where she had been, there was clear evidence of successful predation on wild boar, badgers, and red deer.

After the GPS signals faded, scientists became uncertain of Zolushka's fate. WCS and staff of Bastak Reserve used camera traps to re-establish contact with the big cat, successfully capturing her image multiple times in the Bastak Reserve. While following Zolushka's tracks, scientists discovered the presence of a recently arrived male tiger in the same territory, giving rise to the hope that cubs may soon be on the way. "If cubs are born, it will be the ultimate sign of success in returning tigers to this once empty landscape," said Miquelle.
The exact population size of Amur tigers is difficult to estimate, but the official estimates suggest that tiger numbers have dropped to 330-390 individuals (from 430-500 in 2005). This decline was likely the result of increased poaching of tigers and their prey between 2005-2010, a period when poachers took advantage of wildlife management restructuring and the confusion associated with those changes. A full-range tiger population survey, conducted every 10 years, is scheduled for February 2015. The WCS Russia Program plays a critical role in monitoring tigers and their prey species in the Russian Far East and minimizing potential conflicts between tigers and human communities. WCS works to save tiger populations and their remaining habitat in nine range countries across Asia.

WCS's work in rehabilitating, releasing, and monitoring Zolushka was made possible through the generous support of the Liz Claiborne and Art Ortenberg Foundation, Columbus Zoo Conservation Fund, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Rhinoceros & Tiger Conservation Fund, Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund, International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), and the AZA Tiger Species Survival Plan Tiger Conservation Campaign. Collaborators for this project included the A. N. Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution from the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Russian Geographical Society, Inspection Tiger, IFAW, and Phoenix Fund.

The full Cinderella story and the state of the Amur tiger in Russia is the cover story in the February issue of Smithsonian magazine.

Story Source:
The above story is based on materials provided by Wildlife Conservation Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Wildlife Conservation Society. "Zolushka, (the russian translation for Cinderella), the tiger, rescued and released back into the wild." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 January 2015. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/01/150121173543.htm>.