Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Ethiopian girl reportedly guarded by lions

Authorities: Cats chased off men trying to force her to marry

updated 6/21/2005 

A 12-year-old girl who was abducted and beaten by men trying to force her into a marriage was found being guarded by three lions who apparently had chased off her captors, a policeman said Tuesday. 

The girl, missing for a week, had been taken by seven men who wanted to force her to marry one of them, said Sgt. Wondimu Wedajo, speaking by telephone from the provincial capital of Bita Genet, about 350 miles southwest of Addis Ababa.

She was beaten repeatedly before she was found June 9 by police and relatives on the outskirts of Bita Genet, Wondimu said. She had been guarded by the lions for about half a day, he said. “They stood guard until we found her and then they just left her like a gift and went back into the forest,” Wondimu said. “If the lions had not come to her rescue, then it could have been much worse. Often these young girls are raped and severely beaten to force them to accept the marriage,” he said.

'Some kind of miracle'

Tilahun Kassa, a local government official who corroborated Wondimu’s version of the events, said one of the men had wanted to marry the girl against her wishes. “Everyone thinks this is some kind of miracle, because normally the lions would attack people,” Wondimu said.

Stuart Williams, a wildlife expert with the rural development ministry, said the girl may have survived because she was crying from the trauma of her attack. “A young girl whimpering could be mistaken for the mewing sound from a lion cub, which in turn could explain why they didn’t eat her,” Williams said.

Ethiopia’s lions, famous for their large black manes, are the country’s national symbol and adorn statues and the local currency. Despite a recent crackdown, hunters kill the animals for their skins, which can fetch $1,000. Williams estimates that only 1,000 Ethiopian lions remain in the wild.
The girl, the youngest of four siblings, was “shocked and terrified” after her abduction and had to be treated for the cuts from her beatings, Wondimu said. He said police had caught four of the abductors and three were still at large.

Kidnapping young girls has long been part of the marriage custom in Ethiopia. The United Nations estimates that more than 70 percent of marriages in Ethiopia are by abduction, practiced in rural areas where most of the country’s 71 million people live.

source

Your Daily Cat

Posing elena

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Leopard causes uproar in Chandrapur (Video)

Apr 22, 2014
A leopard caused panic in the city of Chandrapur on Monday when it sprung from the roof of a house and charged at rescue workers. 


Image of the Day

Agrunia smiling... Yes, she is smiling!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Image of the Day

Cheek Jeevana 
Jeevana the young lioness showing her tongue!

Big Cat News from India


‘Aravali cat corridors needed to shield leopards’



GURGAON: For a city that is fast earning the adage of a concrete jungle, Gurgaon has a major share of the total 300 sqkm of leopard habitat in Haryana. While the forest department boasts about the number of leopards in the habitat, believed to be around 25, it is also worried about the safety of big cats.

Apart from the biggest threat, of humans encroaching on their territory, three major roads passing through the leopard habitat also pose a grave danger, officials say. They are NH-8, Rampura-Mohammedpur-Tauru and Palwal-Sohna-Rewari roads.

"According to the study conducted by the department, these areas require corridors to prevent such incidents. The roads should be elevated so that the habitat is minimally affected by traffic," said Vinod Kumar, conservator of forests (wildlife). Leopards have been hit while trying to cross these roads while the loss of habitat to construction and human encroachment often sees them straying into areas of human settlement. In either case, it's been fatal for the leopards. "The fragmented corridors should also be linked so that a larger habitat is available for the leopards and there are fewer chances of these animals straying into villages," Kumar suggested.

Locals residents in Manesar, located close to the Aravali foothills, claimed mining was a serious threat to the wildlife in the region. "Mining-related blasts here have increased tenfold and it has forced the animals to leave the region," said Amber Singh, a Navrangpur resident.

"To meet their daily food and water requirements, these big cats tread into human settlements as people have encroached on both land and water bodies. Their chances of survival are thin," said a wildlife expert.

A senior forest officer claimed that forest and wildlife was not a priority for the government and this was evident in the lack of action taken against non-forest activities in forest areas, which pose a threat to wildlife.

"Even the court orders in this regard are being flouted and construction is continuing in protected areas which has made the situation worse, he said. Under Indian law, leopards are listed in Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. Hunting or attacking leopards is illegal and is a punishable offence with a minimum sentence of up to three years of imprisonment or a fine of Rs 10,000. 
 
 
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Six more tigers found in Sunderbans


What's more, four of the new big cats are females, which according to forest officials show that the Sunderbans has breeding population of tiger. While a complete outcome of the camera trap exercise is expected by the end of this year, it has already found presence of eight new tigers in the entire mangroves this year, including two outside the reserve area.

The new individuals, this time, were found in the National Park East range of the mangroves, comprising the forests of Baghmara and Chamta. "A total of 19 tigers have so far been found in this range, of which six are new and the rest were photo captured during the same exercise last year," said a senior official of WWF-India's Sunderbans chapter.

Talking to TOI, chief wildlife warden Ujjwal Bhattacharya said the findings show that the tiger population in the Sunderbans is very much stable. "Tigers are great wanderers and have huge home ranges and territories. Images of new individuals in the Sunderbans drive home the fact again. While new tigers will come and make their own territories, some will either move out on their own in search of food or may be driven out by new individuals commonly known as outsiders," he said.

With the findings of new individuals come the hope for a rise in tiger number. The new tigers, according to additional PCCF Pradeep Vyas, show that there may be actually more tigers in the Sunderbans compared to the figure of 103, the minimum number of big cats found in the mangroves last year. "These new big cats didn't appear before the cameras last time. So, this is a positive sign as far as tiger population here is concerned," he added.

But, the officials are also cautious before jumping onto any conclusion. "At the moment, we can say that the population trend is stable. After compilation of images from all the ranges - National Park East, National Park West, Sajnekhali and Basirhat - we can say whether it is rising. For now, sighting of new individuals definitely brings hope for the future," said STR field director Soumitra Dasgupta.

It may be noted that during the exercise last year, 26 big cats were found in the National Park East range. This year, the officials started their exercise in the month of March and laid 60 pairs of trap cameras across the range covering almost 700 square kilometres area. "We will conduct the same exercise in Sajnekhali and Basirhat after the monsoon. By the end of this year, you can expect the figure for the entire mangroves," said an official of WWF-India. The camera-trap exercise for the National Park West range is being conducted by the officials of Wildlife Institute of India (WII).

State wildlife advisory board member Joydip Kundu said: "This is definitely a positive sign and a landmark effort by the department which is now bringing reliable estimation of tiger number from the mangroves. But, with these new findings, come the need to implement stronger protection measures."
 

Friday, April 18, 2014

Image of the Day

Feline critics review videos in the Just for Cats film festival

Cats on Cats:

Nathalie Atkinson, Rebecca Tucker, Mark Medley, Jon Dekel, Jessica Leigh Johnston and Renee Alleyn, Jason Rehel |

The Original Grumpy CatThe Original Grumpy Cat (Screengrab from YouTube)

The Canadian Federation of Humane Societies is having a cat moment this spring, launching a series of awareness and adoption events with the Just for Cats Internet video festival. It kicks off Thursday in Toronto at the TIFF Bell Lightbox, with subsequent stops from Charlottetown to Vancouver (visit justforcats.ca for details). We here at National Post Arts & Life are cat people, so in honour of the festival, we’re taking a 360-degree look at the role of felines in wellness, music and culture. Follow along on Twitter with the hashtag #justforcats. Who needs the Easter bunny when there are cats? Meowwr.

For the Just for Cats festival offerings, the Arts & Life team enlisted their furry feline counterparts as film critics. Here’s what our four-legged friends might think about the popular YouTube clips:
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Renee Alleyn
Photo credit: Renee Alleyn
“Synchronized Sphinx Cats”
Right off the top this video makes me uncomfortable. Surely those things are not cats? What grotesque, naked abominations. What in god’s name has happened to their fur!? Stop the video: I have the sudden urge to lick my left side and reassure myself of the integrity of my own coat. Ok, that feels better; resume the video. No, wait. Stop. Are they listening to Mozart’s Serenade No. 13?

And what are they looking at? There is nothing behind me, is there? I don’t want to watch any more of this. The room is claustrophobic, the wallpaper is insipid, there’s an elephant (why is there an elephant?), and a hideous velour bedspread. My notion of free will is mocked by every jerky movement of their fleshy heads. Who am I? This is too much! I’m suffocating! I am very upset and now must soothe myself by yowling plaintively into the north-west corner of my living room. —Edwina, classic brown tabby, 16-years-old with anxiety disorder, OCD, growing senility.



“Cats Playing Patty Cake” (both English+French dubbed versions) 
The story of “Cute Cats Playing Patty Cake” is the story of Catness (or in your case, Humanity). Initially created as a closely observed silent film about alienation and the struggle to connect with another being, the journey of the video’s subsequent impositions of human constructs gives pause, even as it explores the semiotics of appropriation. The first reprise “What They Were Saying” has deceptively petulant hoser dialogue but the impatience suggests a subtext (think Pirandello and Ionesco) to its theatre of the absurd. The second offers a level of interpretation through use of


folklore, with the sing-song recitation of French traditional rhyme “Dansons la Capucine” and speaks to compromise and the weight of shared history. Both appropriations, notably, break the fourth wall like fur-covered versions of House of Cards’ Frank Underwood.

 Photo credit: Nathalie Atkinson

Nathalie AtkinsonThe longing to connect via tragic farce is so thorough that its original director, hkbecky, was moved to explore the motif further in Part 2 and Part 3. A combined 25 million views suggest that Goo and Yat Jai’s imagined exclamations “dude!” and “whoa whoa whoa, stop!” are less about being stoned or dismissive Gallic snobbery than about PostModern society’s cri de coeur. —Buster, 5, adopted in February through CFHS partner Toronto Cat Rescue 


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Jason Rehel
Photo credit: Jason Rehel
“Cat Jump Fail with music”

Because I am a small kitteh, I do not so much like the TV cats or the Internet catz. They are boring and do not smell nice like birds or squirrels. When I was just a very small orange cat, I would sometimes want to watch the small kitties on the BBC (British Broadcastings of Cats?) in a show called Big Cat Diary. It starred many African catz raising their kittens, and I liked watching them eat antelopez and hide snacks in trees for later. Especially Half-Tail and her cubs. You all thinks that small cats are cute, but big cats are way cuter and trust me thinks about eating humans less often than we do. Trust. Me. But now I cannot find Big Cat Diary anywhere except in silly scattered bites on YouTubez.

YouTubez. This brings me to the big festival I have heard about. I cannot go, and I would not like. To be honest, kitty senses of concentration are much better than humans now. I love to sit in the window and watch the birds and the squirrels and the raccoons. I am doing it right now as I dictate this review. Real life is REAL YouTubez, silly humans! But if I had to pick just ONE “cute cat video” as you all call them, then I would pick Sailcat. Which is very short video that shows how elegant and choreographed very short videos can be. So many are stupid cats that “look grumpy” — I feel sorry for these cats that are deformed and taken advantage of by human agents — or others are just cats that are psychologically broken, like the “nononono” cats. See, I know all these videos, but not from watching them over and over like dumb humans. But Sailcat? Oh yes. Many of you know this video, as “Cat Jump Fail with Music” has almost 13,000,000 viewings. BUT, maybe you did not notice yet the ears of this Siamese warrior. They haz bitez out of them. He is a very tough kitty. And in no way is this cat video jump a “fail.” I hope the TIFF programmerz renamed it for the festival. Is Sailcat. Foreverz. Nayaboo out. - Nayaboo, or just Naya, or just Boo
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Photo credit: Mark Medley

“Surprised Kitty (Original)”
Mark MedleyOkay, let’s see what all the fuss is about. My human watches this crap at least once a week. (Clicks on link.) 73 million views? Humans are dumber than I thought. (Presses play.) Alright, that’s a cute kitten, I’ll give you that, but there’s no way I’d allow myself to be placed on my back across my human’s thighs. If he ever tried to that with me I’d swipe his face like I was trying to swap a fly. This kitten is in desperate need of a mentor. And what is that guy saying as he tickles the kitten’s belly? “Coochie coo?” Really, dude, you’re just embarrassing yourself. And if anyone ever said I “look like a little monkey” I’d go ape on their ass. And who is that laughing in the background? You better watch your back, lady. (Sighs.) This video sets cats back a good ten years.  — Oscar, a five-year-old with anger issues.


 

Image credit: Jessica Johnston

Сними очкиJessica Johnston
In Сними очки, a cat knocks his person’s glasses off of her face. She laughs, snuggles the cat and puts the the glasses back on. A few seconds later, the cat knocks the glasses off her face again. This happens a total of six times over the movie’s two minutes and three seconds. I found this instructional video quite inspirational. It gave me an idea I’ll be sure to try. The cat’s technique is excellent. He swats the glasses from the face with one swift paw movement. A quibble: I would have liked it if the filmmakers had shown the move more slowly, perhaps with an instant replay, to make it easier to replicate and practice. Another drawback is that not every cat’s person wears glasses, so the audience for this kind of material may be limited. Nonetheless, I give it a tail’s up. — Monster T. Truck, National Post


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Jonathan Dekel
Jonathan Dekel
“Cat watching Slayer”

It’s so nice to see the dark lord has taken another one of his most loyal servants. My small intestine fills with joyous bile to witness my fellow dark traveler’s eyes sparkle with sadistic bliss as Lucifer’s hand guides the chug of Kerry King’s juicy riffs. Did you see the paw tap around the 36 second mark? It is the feline sign of the horns, of course. Sleep soundly humans, it’s only a matter of time before he gets his claws into you. — Mr. Marbles



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Rebecca Tucker
Image credit: Rebecca Tucker
“Original Grumpy Cat”
OH MY GOD I AM SO SICK OF THIS CAT. SO. SICK. OF. THIS. CAT. THERE IS ACTUALLY A PICTURE OF THIS CAT HANGING IN MY HOUSE, I KID YOU NOT. IF IT WASN’T HANGING SO HIGH ON THE WALL I WOULD KNOCK IT DOWN, JUST LIKE I KNOCKED DOWN A FULL GLASS OF WATER THIS MORNING AT 3 O’CLOCK WHEN I NOTICED MY DISH WAS NOT FULL TO MY SPECIFICATIONS (COMPLETELY FULL OF KIBBLES THAT HAVE BEEN OUT OF THE BAG FOR NO LONGER THAN TEN MINUTES). WHO’S GRUMPY NOW, I THOUGHT, AS MY PERSON TRIED TO EXPLAIN TO ME THAT IT WASN’T BREAKFAST TIME YET. WHAT DO I CARE OF BREAKFAST TIME? I’M HUNGRY WHEN I’M HUNGRY. AND ANYWAY WHAT IF BREAKFAST TIME CAME AND NOBODY WAS THERE TO FEED ME? THAT IS A RISK I CANNOT TAKE. I BET IF I WAS GRUMPY CAT MY PERSON WOULD PROBABLY SIT BY THE BOWL ALL THE TIME, JUST CONSTANTLY REFILLING IT AND LAUGHING AT MY STUPID DOWNTURNED MOUTH, LIKE SHE DOES FOR HOURS EVERY NIGHT IN FRONT OF HER COMPUTER SCREEN. BUT I DON’T HAVE A DOWNTURNED MOUTH. I’M PERFECT. UNLIKE GRUMPY CAT. I HATE GRUMPY CAT. — Euclid, a three-year-old orange tabby who doesn’t understand “indoor voices”

Just for Cats: The Internet Cat Video Festival takes place at the TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto on April 17 with a VIP kitty red carpet adopt-a-thon and Canadian Federation of Human Societies patron Mrs. Laureen Harper in attendance. The Festival makes subsequent stops from Charlottetown to Vancouver, visit justforcats.ca for dates.

source 

Africa’s Illegal Charcoal Trade Engulfs Cheetah Habitat


In rural northern Tanzania, an African country famous for charismatic megafauna, including free-roaming cheetah and other big cats, impoverished and under-employed Swahili villagers struggle to survive. One way to earn money and make cooking fuel is to cut forests for wood that can be turned into charcoal. It’s an economic and environmental disaster, illegal because it is not sustainable for either wildlife or people. Meet the team that is looking for new ways to create livelihoods while teaching villagers the importance of protecting their natural wealth.

By Deirdre Leowinata, African People and Wildlife Fund

The sprawling farms of the sub-village of Kangala stand out against the green wet-season landscape of the Maasai Steppe. Agriculture, mining, and charcoal, make up the majority of inhabitants’ income in the largely Swahili village.
The sprawling farms of the sub-village of Kangala stand out against the green wet-season landscape of the Maasai Steppe. Agriculture, mining, and charcoal, make up the majority of inhabitants’ income in the largely Swahili village.

From afar, the small farming community of Kangala looks unassuming. After passing through village after village of the circular homesteads, or bomas, that mark the Maasai Steppe in northern Tanzania, East Africa, the square, mud-brick houses decorated with bright flowers and nestled closely together in a vast, open landscape look incredibly appealing. It would never occur, upon first look, that this quaint spot was sustained by some of the most environmentally destructive practices in the area.

Mining, charcoal, and agriculture, in sequence, have been staples of Kangala’s economy since its founding, all of which resulted in extensive deforestation. For big cats, and particularly cheetahs, that means severe loss of essential habitat. Dependent on large expanses of land for survival, big cats are being threatened by habitat-clearing.
“When people started to move to Kangala, they came because of the mining. But after the mining disappeared, the hunger problem occurred — there was no money to spend,” says Akundaeli Swai, a farmer in Kangala, and assistant to the village priest. “And that’s when people started to think about what to do. So that problem caused people to go into the bush and burn charcoal.”

Akundaeli Swai (left) and Jumanne Labia (right) shared their unique knowledge and experience with charcoal from the school office of Kangala’s primary school. Akundaeli is a farmer and priest’s assistant in the village, while Jumanne works with our warriors for wildlife at the African People and Wildlife Fund, teaching community members how to build their Living Walls.

Akundaeli Swai (left) and Jumanne Labia (right) shared their unique knowledge and experience with charcoal from the school office of Kangala’s primary school. Akundaeli is a farmer and priest’s assistant in the village, while Jumanne works with our warriors for wildlife at the African People and Wildlife Fund, teaching community members how to build their Living Walls.

Akundaeli is a former charcoal-maker, and one of the many wa-Swahili, or Swahili people, who made their way to the Maasai Steppe for the promise of mining fortunes. A gentle, friendly, and wise man of the church, he is not exactly the image of one who would undermine the law. Charcoal regulations are managed by the district authorities in Tanzania, and in our district of Simanjiro, it is strictly illegal to harvest trees for charcoal without a permit. With the prohibition of harvesting and no other alternatives, families like Akundaeli’s are driven by poverty and hunger to subvert the law.

On a large scale, charcoal is not a great contributor to the global economy. Most developed countries utilize energy sources like electricity and gas. However, in much of sub-Saharan Africa, wood fuel still accounts for the majority of energy consumption, with estimates of over 90 percent in Tanzania.

Woodfuel remains the top fuel source for the majority of urban homes in Tanzania, despite efforts by the government to promote alternative fuels, such as electricity and gas. Because of the country’s continued poverty, these alternatives remain too expensive for most families, leading to a growing demand for charcoal for an increasingly multiplying population.

Woodfuel remains the top fuel source for the majority of urban homes in Tanzania, despite efforts by the government to promote alternative fuels, such as electricity and gas. Because of the country’s continued poverty, these alternatives remain too expensive for most families, leading to a growing demand for charcoal for an increasingly multiplying population.

Around our African People and Wildlife Fund headquarters in the village of Loibor Siret, the value of charcoal has increased over the past few decades, though its contribution to the national GDP has fallen, most likely due to a tumultuous history of regulation and poor enforcement. So, when the mining business started to plunge in Kangala, the Swahili families that made their lives excavating the earth switched to charcoal production.

The charcoal kiln is an ever-consuming black hole for the forests in which our big cats range, sometimes using 4-6 times more wood to produce the charcoal in comparison to cooking with firewood, and it claims a permanent ecological settlement on the land it occupies. The cleared forests themselves can recover only after many years of good conditions, but the kiln claims the land it sits on forever.

Cheetahs require large tracts of contiguous landscape in order to survive. In a landscape that is becoming more like a patched quilt than anything else, these animals flee to more suitable areas, but these areas are becoming scarce as Tanzania’s forests are depleted. However, this young male and his brother were recently spotted close to our camp, which might mean that our work is paying off.

Cheetahs require large tracts of contiguous landscape to survive. In areas where their habitats become too patchy, these animals flee to more suitable areas. But, these areas are becoming more scare as Tanzania’s forests are depleted. However, this young male and his brother were recently spotted near our center, an indication that our work is paying off.

Cheetahs require large tracts of contiguous landscape to survive. In areas where their habitats become too patchy, these animals flee to more suitable areas. But, these areas are becoming more scare as Tanzania’s forests are depleted. However, this young male and his brother were recently spotted near our center, an indication that our work is paying off.

For animals that require continuous stretches of land, increasingly patchy mosaics can quickly become inhospitable, driving wildlife into local extinction. And the increasing demand arising from rapid population growth, paired with poor regulation, and virtually no efforts toward regeneration, means that our treasured Tanzanian forests, protected or not, are being destroyed at a rapid rate. Annually, that is a loss of about 300,000-500,000 hectares, with charcoal contributing at least 30-60 percent of the destruction. For our cats here on the Steppe, that’s bad news – posing a significant challenge for the Maasai Steppe Big Cats Conservation Initiative team members, including our Warriors for Wildlife.

Two weeks ago, a late-night public transport vehicle on its way to Arusha caught fire due to a particularly ill-fated load of charcoal that had been stashed onboard. The incident was oddly unsurprising to many local community members, despite its illegal status. No one knows the situation better than the Loibor Siret village game scouts (VGS), a team supported by our Big Cat’s Warriors for Wildlife program, which receives significant support from the National Geographic Big Cats Initiative. On patrol, they have seized over 1,000 bags of charcoal just in the past year. Recently, they found and extinguished eight charcoal kilns in a single week.

Because of the efforts of these warriors, there is hope on the Maasai Steppe despite the disheartening statistics. Gerald Raphael, team leader, has seen a steady reduction in the amount of charcoal they are seizing. “This week, we destroyed eight charcoal kilns,” Gerald says. “You might find, next week, that we only tear down two kilns, and the following week, we might not find any.”

Working in their own communities, Gerald and his team are challenged with the task of explaining to their fellow community members why they can’t make charcoal. “If you ask someone why they’re doing it, the answer is ‘Because I don’t have any other job’. That’s a challenge, because it is very hard to motivate that person to stop doing it, because they don’t have any other options. That’s how they eat — through burning charcoal and cutting trees.”

The reduction in the amount of coal being made on the Maasai Steppe is largely due to the persistant hard work of the village game scouts, who make up an important branch of our warriors for wildlife. Since they started the job, they have seen great reductions in the amount of charcoal that is burned here. They continue to stay on the front lines of environmental protection, with our education and development teams following closely behind.
Since village game started the job, they have seen great reductions in the amount of charcoal that is burned here. They continue to stay on the front lines of environmental protection, with our education and development teams following closely behind.

Akundaeli has not made charcoal in more than four years. And others in the sub-village are following suit. But for many, the temptations of charcoal are too great. “Right now, a bag of charcoal costs 15,000 shillings. Charcoal brings in a lot of money. It brings income — more than farming. And charcoal is easy. If you do it for a week, you can make 30 bags,” he explains.

The government has tried to stimulate alternative fuel-use through policy, tax waivers on kerosene, and training to increase the efficiency of kilns. Some projects are underway to support fuel-efficient stoves. For Jumanne Labia, a citizen of Kangala and one of the African People & Wildlife Fund’s community trainers, the solution is education. “This community doesn’t have any notion that what they are doing is bad,” he says. “They could be given a seminar that teaches them about the environment. I think that would help a lot. If you just tell someone that cutting trees is bad, they don’t understand. They say that trees have been planted by God so we can just cut them. They need more education.”

For our team at Noloholo, education is a top priority. Through seminars and workshops run collectively by our staff and community members, people are starting to understand. That, combined with our new grant program for environmental entrepreneurs, provides critical incentives for people to stop making charcoal, and to start thinking about more sustainable ways to make their living.

Meanwhile, the Warriors for Wildlife continue their patrols. As they help to enforce the law on harvesting, the burning is coming to a halt. That means the animals still have a chance.

The game scouts spot cheetahs on their patrols, indicating that for now, the habitat is still viable. Median-case projections of deforestation predict Tanzanian forests to have disappeared by 2048. But, in areas like ours where on-the-ground protection is combined with support for alternative livelihoods, the big cats still roam – setting a positive example for the forests, and the big cats, of the rest of the country.

Deirdre_Leowinata-1Deirdre Leowinata started as a biologist, completing her Bachelor of Science at the University of Ottawa in 2012 with a specialization in evolution, ecology, and behavior. That degree ignited a passion for novel science communication, leading to a post-graduate certificate in Environmental Visual Communication through a joint program between Fleming College and the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Canada. She fell in love with the wilds of Africa in 2009, and now acts as the media and communications coordinator at the African People and Wildlife Fund, based on the Maasai Steppe in Tanzania, just steps away from Tarangire National Park.

Sources for this Post:

Hamza, K.F.S., and E.O. Kimwer (2007). Tanzania’s forest policy and its practical achievements with respect to community based forest management in MITMIOMBO. Working Papers of the Finnish Forest Research Institute 50: 24-33.

Kideghesho, J.R., Rija, A.A., Mwamende, K.A., and I.S. Selemani (2013). Emerging issues and challenges in conservation of biodiversity in the rangelands of Tanzania. Nature Conservation 6: 1-29.

Mwampamba, T.H. (2007). Has the woodfuel crisis returned? Urban charcoal consumption in Tanzania and its implications to present and future forest availability. Energy Policy 35: 4221-4234.
The Guardian, November 22nd, 2009. Charcoal: Energy to many, deaths to all.
The Guardian, November 29th, 2009. The heavy cost behind booming charcoal trade. Accessible through www.ippmedia.com . Accessed March 18th, 2014.
The Guardian, March 16th 2012. Govt loses 70bn/- to tax evasion in charcoal business. Accessible through www.ippmedia.com . Accessed March 18th, 2014.
The Guardian, April 1st 2013. Lack of biomass energy policy ‘robbing’ government revenue. Accessible through www.ippmedia.com . Accessed March 18th, 2014.

source 

Tigers are nearing extinction


In this photo courtesy of Dr. Alan Rabinowitz’s group, Panthera, a tiger is shown. Steve Winter — National Geographic


In this photo courtesy of Dr. Alan Rabinowitz’s group, Panthera, a tiger is shown. Steve Winter — National Geographic
 
SARATOGA SPRINGS >> Saving the world’s 3,000 remaining wild tigers is a dangerous business requiring deadly force against poachers that sell animal parts on the international black market.
That’s what Alan Rabinowitz, a leading conservationist, said during his talk, “Saving the World’s Big Cats for the Future,” with 250 people on hand at Skidmore College.

Crime rings that traffic drugs, children and sex slaves also sell powdered tiger bones and male reproductive organs that fetch millions each year from buyers who believe they enhance sexual prowess and virility. Quite often, the animals’ flesh and beautiful skins are left to rot. “It’s all big money,” said Rabinowitz, who has travelled the world to save these large carnivores. “This species is in critical condition in the emergency room. We have to stop the bleeding. It takes law enforcement, guns and bullets.” He urged young people to take up his cause of protecting tigers and other big cats such as lions, leopards and jaguars.

Rabinowitz, a self-described “broken child,” told how he grew up with a severe stuttering impediment that led to his love for these magnificent creatures. Because he couldn’t speak freely, Rabinowitz became isolated and withdrew within himself. But he whispered to any animals he encountered and felt they understood him.

A visit to the Bronx Zoo turned out to be life-changing, especially the section where big cats were held in captivity.  “I understood what it was like for them to be locked in a cage,” he said. “I felt they were like me and I was like them.”

At that moment, despite his speaking disability, he vowed to become the voice for threatened animals everywhere, especially big cats, a promise that became his life’s work and one he’s never broken.
In addition to being hunted, tigers are also faced with rapidly diminishing habitat. They’re primarily found in India and Southeast Asia, some of the most densely populated regions on the planet.

Rabinowitz showed scenes of former jungle that has been devastated by hydraulic gold-mining operations. Some of this work produces little revenue, but to poor third-world inhabitants, every penny is critical in the struggle for survival.

Previously, Rabinowitz established the world’s first jaguar preserve in Belize and a Jaguar Corridor encompassing their entire range from Mexico to Argentina. Tigers are extremely mobile and he’s hopeful that similar projects can be established in Asia before it’s too late.

In Burma, anti-poaching forest guards have been turned into paramilitary units. In some parts of India, there’s a “shoot to kill” policy against poachers.

In 1900, there were more than 100,000 wild tigers in the world. Today, there are fewer than 3,000.
However, with education, protection and habitat preservation, numbers can be brought back up to at least 10,000 to 15,000, Rabinowitz said. “Tigers and people can live together,” he said. “We can get it there.”

source 

Diverse gene pool critical for tigers' survival, say experts

Date: April 16, 2014 

Source: Stanford University

Summary:


Increasing tigers' genetic diversity -- via interbreeding and other methods -- and not just their population numbers may be the best solution to saving this endangered species, according to research. Iconic symbols of power and beauty, wild tigers may roam only in stories someday soon. Their historical range has been reduced by more than 90 percent. But conservation plans that focus only on increasing numbers and preserving distinct subspecies ignore genetic diversity, according to the study. In fact, under that approach, the tiger could vanish entirely.

Researchers at Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment are examining conservation plans for wild tigers that would promote gene flow among populations. Credit: Prasenjeet Yadav
New research by Stanford scholars shows that increasing genetic diversity among the 3,000 or so tigers left on the planet is the key to their survival as a species. Iconic symbols of power and beauty, wild tigers may roam only in stories someday soon. Their historical range has been reduced by more than 90 percent. But conservation plans that focus only on increasing numbers and preserving distinct subspecies ignore genetic diversity, according to the study. In fact, under that approach, the tiger could vanish entirely. "Numbers don't tell the entire story," said study co-author Elizabeth Hadly, the Paul S. and Billie Achilles Professor in Environmental Biology at Stanford and senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment. She is a co-author of the study, which was published April 17 in the Journal of Heredity.
That research shows that the more gene flow there is among tiger populations, the more genetic diversity is maintained and the higher the chances of species survival become. In fact, it might be possible to maintain tiger populations that preserve about 90 percent of genetic diversity. Rachael Bay, a graduate student in biology at Stanford's Hopkins Marine Station and the lead author of the study, said, "Genetic diversity is the basis for adaptation."

Loss of diversity

The research focused on the Indian subcontinent, home to about 65 percent of the world's wild tigers. The scientists found that as populations become more fragmented and the pools of each tiger subspecies shrink, so does genetic diversity. This loss of diversity can lead to lower reproduction rates, faster spread of disease and more cardiac defects, among other problems.

The researchers used a novel framework, based on a method previously employed to analyze ancient DNA samples, to predict what population size would be necessary to maintain current genetic diversity of tigers into the future. The authors believe this new approach could help in managing populations of other threatened species.

The results showed that for tiger populations to maintain their current genetic diversity 150 years from now, the tiger population would have to expand to about 98,000 individuals if gene flow across species were delayed 25 years. By comparison, the population would need to grow to about 60,000 if gene flow were achieved immediately.

Neither of these numbers is realistic, considering the limited size of protected tiger habitat and availability of prey, among other factors, according to the researchers.

Limited habitat

"Since genetic variability is the raw material for future evolution, our results suggest that without interbreeding subpopulations of tigers, the genetic future for tigers is not viable," said co-author Uma Ramakrishnan, a former Stanford postdoctoral scholar in biology and current researcher at the National Centre for Biological Sciences in Bangalore, India.

Because migration and interbreeding among subspecies appear to be "much more important" for maintaining genetic diversity than increasing population numbers, the researchers recommend focusing conservation efforts on creating ways for tigers to travel longer distances, such as wildlife corridors, and potentially crossbreeding wild and captive tiger subspecies. "This is very much counter to the ideas that many managers and countries have now - that tigers in zoos are almost useless and that interbreeding tigers from multiple countries is akin to genetic pollution," said Hadly. "In this case, survival of the species matters more than does survival of the exclusive traits of individual populations."

Understanding these factors can help decision-makers better address how development affects populations of tigers and other animals, the study noted. Conservation efforts for other top predators have shown the importance of considering genetic diversity and connectivity among populations, according to the report. One example is Florida panthers: since individuals from a closely related panther subspecies were introduced to the population, Florida panthers have seen a modest rise in numbers and fewer cases of genetic disorders and poor fitness.

Story Source:
The above story is based on materials provided by Stanford University. The original article was written by Rob Jordan. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Journal Reference:
  1. R. A. Bay, U. Ramakrishnan, E. A. Hadly. A Call for Tiger Management Using "Reserves" of Genetic Diversity. Journal of Heredity, 2013; 105 (3): 295 DOI: 10.1093/jhered/est086


Stanford University. "Diverse gene pool critical for tigers' survival, say experts." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 April 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140416090807.htm>.
 

Big Cat Videos


Wild Cats VS Toilet Paper! 

Angry Birds, Big Cats & Golden Eggs! 


Pet Tigers & Public Safety! 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Breakthrough DNA study could slow big cat extinction

11 April 2014

New research comparing genes from living lions with ancient lion remains could help scientists boost dwindling populations.
A team of scientists has for the first time compared the genetic signatures from living and extinct lions to identify five distinct geographical groups within the lion species.
Their findings were reported in the BMC Evolutionary Biology journal last week.
Lion groups
The research team, led by the University of Durham and including Museum zoologists Prof Ian Barnes and Richard Sabin, has identified the five groups of lions as North African/Asian, West African, Central African, South African and East-South African.
Current conservation policies recognise only two distinct geographical groups.
Unique characteristics
The genetic information contained in lion DNA identifies the unique characteristics of each population, which, according to Mr Sabin, is vital in understanding how to protect lions from the increasing threat of extinction, using conservation programmes and repopulation both in the wild and in zoos.  'We need to understand how individual groups develop and adapt to their local environment,' Sabin said. ‘You can’t just repopulate an area with lions from anywhere, because they could be entirely unsuitable.'

Only one lion species (Panthera leo) exists today, with isolated populations living across Africa and in India. About 124,000 years ago during the Late Pleistocene, lions were one of the most successful land mammals on the planet, with many subgroups of Panthera leo existing across a huge geographical range from southern Africa to Eurasia and Central America.

Modern hunting and habitat destruction has left lions in India, and western and Central Africa critically endangered. In the past twenty years around 30 per cent of the total lion population in Africa has been lost

The results of this study will help scientists understand the potential loss of genetic diversity that could arise from poor conservation or mismanagement of the remaining lion populations.
African ancestors
The genetic data analysed by the team suggests that modern lions originated in Africa in the Late Pleistocene and that climate changes in Africa may have isolated lion populations, leading to the five unique geographical groups.

Humid periods in Africa led to the growth of tropical rainforest and savannah environments, creating barriers for lion groups that are not well adapted to living in such habitats. These environments then retreated during dry periods, allowing lions to leave sub-Saharan Africa around 21,000 years ago and populate north Africa and Asia.
Royal lions
This is the first time scientists have analysed a large collection of ancient DNA alongside DNA from modern lions. Some of the ancient DNA was collected from remains held at the Museum, including the jaw bones of the now extinct Barbary lion, emphasising the importance of museum collections.

‘Collections like ours represent archives of genetic diversity from parts of the world that may now be politically inaccessible and closed to study, or from organisms that are now extinct,’ Sabin said.
The Barbary lion remains held at the Museum were found by workmen excavating at the Tower of London in 1937. The animals were part of the exotic Royal Menagerie kept at the Tower during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.
Buried treasure
Sabin also said that there could be more remains lurking beneath the Tower of London. ‘There is likely to be a continuous record of almost 900 years of history in that moat. And there could be some really exotic animals buried there.'

Visit the Museum's Barbary lion skull in our Treasures gallery.

source

Image of the Day

Nice portrait of a wild cat with tongue out

European Wildcat (Felis sylvestris)

Angry Birds, Big Cats & Golden Eggs! (Video)


FDA Says Keep Lilies Away From Your Cats



April 14, 2014
The white, trumpet-shaped Easter lily symbolizes Easter and spring for many people, and is a popular decoration in homes at this time of year.

If you have cats, however, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) wants to remind you that these particular flowers, as well as Tiger, Asiatic, Day, and Japanese Show lilies, are a safety threat to your feline friends.

Eating small amounts of plants or grass may be normal for cats. But the entire lily plant (leaf, pollen, and flower) is poisonous to them, according to Melanie McLean, a veterinarian at FDA. Even if they just eat a couple of leaves or lick a few pollen grains off their fur, cats can suffer acute kidney failure within a very short period of time.

McLean says that if your cat has eaten part of a lily, the first thing you’ll see is vomiting soon afterwards. That may gradually lessen over two to four hours. Within 12 to 24 hours, the cat may start to urinate frequently. Then, if kidney failure sets in, the cat will stop urinating because the kidneys stop being able to produce urine. Untreated, she says, a cat will die within four to seven days of eating a lily.

Young cats typically have healthy kidneys, so when a young cat shows signs of acute kidney damage, consumption of a toxic substance is one of the first things veterinarians investigate, McLean says.
Early veterinary treatment is critical. McLean says that even if you just suspect that your cat has eaten a lily, you should call your veterinarian immediately or, if the office is closed, take your cat to an emergency veterinary clinic. The vet may induce vomiting if the cat just ate the lily, and will give the cat intravenous fluids to prevent dehydration and preserve kidney function.

Other lilies, like Calla and Peace lilies, don’t cause fatal kidney failure, but they can irritate your cat’s mouth and esophagus. Lilies of the Valley are toxic to the heart, causing an abnormal heart rhythm. If you think your cat has eaten any type of lily, contact your veterinarian.

Lilies are not a great danger to dogs, McLean says. Dogs may have some gastrointestinal issues if they eat a lily, but nothing considered life-threatening. Does this mean that you can’t have lilies in your home if you have a cat? Although it’s best not to have them in your home, if you want to enjoy these pretty spring flowers, McLean says to be sure to keep the plant someplace that your high-jumping pet can’t reach. 
 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

#Tiger cubs explore outside for the first time

Our three incredibly cute Sumatran tiger cubs tentatively explored Tiger Territory for their first time. Watch them playing around in their new home, as dutiful mum Melati looks on, just in time for Mother's Day!

Image of the Day

Pator

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Images of the Day




 

Kitty can go home — but only if he's not a bobcat




STAFFORD TOWNSHIP, N.J. — A bobcat hybrid who ran away from home last week has to prove he's not purebred before he can go back home to his owners, a judge said Friday.

Rocky, a 38-pound cat who's supposed to be a cross between a bobcat and a Maine coon, went missing from owner Ginny Fine's home here March 25. He was running around the area for almost two weeks until Fine was able to lure him out of the woods this past weekend with the meows from her domestic cat, LC.

Fine called police to tell them Rocky was home, but the township's animal control officers showed up at her home Monday with a court order to take him away to Popcorn Park Zoo in Lacey, N.J. "If you've got 100% bobcat, that should not be in your backyard," said Municipal Court Judge Damian Murray, who contended the cat could pose a danger to the community. "He has never hurt anyone," Fine said.



"I sure wouldn't want my grandkids walking up and petting your cat," Murray said. Rocky will stay at the zoo until the results of a blood test come in, which is expected to take about a week. If Rocky is not pure bobcat, he would be considered a big kitty under New Jersey state law, not an exotic animal, said Bob Considine, a spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Protection. Then he could go home if his owners can erect a special pen to contain him. If you've got 100% bobcat, that should not be in your backyard.

Rocky previously went on the lam in September. When he returned home in October, Fine signed a court order vowing not to let him get loose again, township police said. The cat was confiscated Monday because Fine violated the order.

The state requires permits for what it deems exotic animals: mammals like ferrets, kinkajous (a rainforest cousin to the raccoon), hedgehogs and chinchillas; an array of parrots and other birds; reptiles like pythons, boas and gecko; and certain frogs, including the colorful poison dart frogs — which are not poisonous. Pet stores will issue 20-day temporary permits with owners required to file for annual "hobby" permits; more than 5,000 people in New Jersey are registered owners of exotic pets.

The New Jersey bans residents from owning as pets "potentially dangerous species," a category that includes primates, bears, nondomestic cats including lions and tigers, venomous snakes and alligators — generally anything that can maim or kill you.

In 2011, the nation was horrified as sheriff's deputies in Zanesville, Ohio, shot and killed four dozen lions, tigers, bears and primates on the loose after their owner set them free before killing himself.


Fine has started a petition drive to show support to bring Rocky home to stay with his family, which includes two domestic cats, a dog and a bird. And an anonymous donor offered to pay for a pen for Rocky that would comply with the township's specifications.

Both Fine and Popcorn Park both agree that Rocky has a domestic temperament. Rocky's name came relatively easily for Fine. She was trying to think of macho monikers for her 5-week-old male kitten while she waited for him to be flown into Philadelphia. But Fine had months of internal debate and research before she decided to bring the feline into her home: Is this the type of cat she wants? Does she understand and is she capable of giving the proper care he needs? And could she find a breeder with whom she was comfortable? "I spent over a year researching it just to make sure I knew what I was getting in for," she said. "It wasn't some sort of whim kind of thing."

Fine said she was first drawn to the idea of owning a bobcat hybrid kitten after coming across a website while shopping for pet supplies. Fine thought she would be required to get a permit for him; instead she registered the 38-pound cat with township officials and kept him up to date on his shots
Murray said if Rocky is purebred bobcat, Fine cannot get back the animal without obtaining the appropriate permits from the state — and hobby permits don't cover bobcats. "Fish and Game feels that this in fact may not be a hybrid cat," Murray said.

New Jersey fish and wildlife officials had investigated the business in Montana from which Fine obtained Rocky, and based on that they formed suspicions that the animal is not a hybrid, the judge said. The website of the company, Bitter Root Bobcat & Lynx, and its annual reports to the state of Montana represent that it sells purebred bobcats, not hybrids.

The state investigation also turned up an incident in New York in which the company sold an animal as a hybrid when a blood test determined it was a purebred bobcat, Murray said. He acknowledged that Fine may not have known she was obtaining a purebred bobcat if Rocky is determined to be one.
Back in the 1980s, her brother owned an ocelot, and Fine had been struck with that cat's beauty.

She said hybrids seem to bond more closely to their owners. She experienced it first hand after Hurricane Sandy, when Rocky remained glued to her side and wouldn't venture down to the first floor, which needed to be remodeled after flood damage. "He senses something is wrong and not normal," Fine said, recalling what her breeder told her when she called to inquire about the new behavior. "His instinct is to cling to you because you are his support system."

source

Mountain Lion's Attack at Palm Springs Golf Course Raises Alarm

Thursday, 10 Apr 2014 
By Alexandra Ward


A mountain lion attacked a Palm Springs golf course worker last month in California and now the state Department of Fish and Wildlife is warning people to be on the lookout for the large cats.

It happened March 28 at the O'Donnell Golf Club in Palm Springs, Calif., when Sal Corona was closing the front gate for the night. The 36-year-old manager said he heard a rustle in the bushes before a large mountain lion appeared.

"Out of the corner of my eye, I saw this cat leaping toward me. It was not the usual run of a house cat," Corona told The Press-Enterprise this week. "If I hadn’t seen him for another two seconds, he probably would’ve got me."

Corona blocked himself from the predator with part of the gate, raised his arms, and made "big cat noises" in an attempt to scare the mountain lion off.

"The [mountain lion] stopped on a dime," he said. "I made eye contact with him."

At first, the cat postured back, puffing its chest out, but then it turned around and ran off into the rocky hilltops.

Corona later contacted the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to report the incident.

"It's rare that lions act aggressively toward people," Kevin Brennan, a wildlife biologist with the department, told The Press-Enterprise. "Lions are opportunistic predators. It doesn’t necessarily mean they're hungry or starving [when they go after a human]."

The incident was just the latest mountain lion run-in in recent months. A homeless man was attacked by one near Perris, Calif., in February and just last month a mountain lion killed a $4,000 French bulldog puppy in Beaumont.

source

Cats captured on camera look pitifully sad (Images)

By Julian Robinson

They are the miserable looking moggies whose sad faces could melt even the coldest of hearts.
These cute cats each have their own reason for looking morose with a range of wide-eyed looks that can't help but tug on the heart strings.

Their upset little faces are reminiscent of  the pitifully sad image of Puss in Boots in the children's classic Shrek 2 as he clasps his tiny black hat in his front paws.
 

Clearly in need of being cheered up, this tiny kitten is so small it is being held in the grip of one hand. This moggy is so sad that its tiny, limp paws are simply draped over its owner's fingers, its ears have drooped down and its eyes look like they are on the verge of tears
Clearly in need of being cheered up, this tiny kitten is so small it is being held in the grip of one hand. This moggy is so sad that its tiny, limp paws are simply draped over its owner's fingers, its ears have drooped down and its eyes look like they are on the verge of tears


Graphic designer Alice Chilton, sent a picture of her tabby cat Tigerlily to the blog after stumbling across it recently. Alice, 25 from north London, couldn't resist uploading a picture of Tigerlily, her three-year-old tabby. She described the image as 'heart-melting'With its front paws tucked in to its white and yellow tummy and sitting up as if it beg, this miserable moggy looks close to despair. With one ear twisted downwards and looking mournfully on to the distance, it is certainly one sad cat
Graphic designer Alice Chilton's tabby cat Tigerlily is pictured left after it stumbled into her handbag. Alice, 25 from north London, couldn't resist taking a few snaps of the three-year-old tabby. She described the image as 'heart-melting'. To the right, and with its front paws tucked in to its white and yellow tummy this miserable moggy is sitting up as if to beg. It looks close to despair as it twists one ear downwards and looks mournfully in to the distance
 

With its white whiskers crumpled and his face scrunched up, this mournful moggy looks ready to give up. Its left paw is flopped helplessly over a white panel and even a red bow around its neck is not enough to cheer it up
With its white whiskers crumpled and his face scrunched up, this mournful moggy looks ready to give up. Its left paw is flopped helplessly over a white panel and even a red bow around its neck is not enough to cheer it up


There, there. It seems it has all got to much for this poor cat, whose watery eyes and mournful look are a heart-breaking image.
There, there. It seems it has all got to much for this poor cat, whose watery eyes and mournful look are a heart-breaking image.


I don't want to play any more: Its eyes looking down and its ears  drooped, something has certainly upset this kitten as it hitches its white paws up over a table with a sad downward stare
I don't want to play any more: Its eyes looking down and its ears drooped, something has certainly upset this kitten as it hitches its white paws up over a table with a sad downward stare


With its stunning blue eyes already looking a little misty, this miserable cat rests its head to the side and gazes sadly in to the distance hoping for some love and affection
With its stunning blue eyes already looking a little misty, this miserable cat rests its head to the side and gazes sadly in to the distance hoping for some love and affection


It looks as though somebody has taken away this kitten's favourite toy, bowl of cream or scrap of fish. With its wide, quizzical eyes, it clearly feels there has been an injustice somewhere along the line
It looks as though somebody has taken away this kitten's favourite toy, bowl of cream or scrap of fish. With its wide, quizzical eyes, it clearly feels there has been an injustice somewhere along the line


Something has clearly upset this moody-looking moggy. The right side of his mouth is hitched up showing a flash of its pink gums in a look that says 'not all is right with the world'

Something has clearly upset this moody-looking moggy. The right side of his mouth is hitched up showing a flash of its pink gums in a look that says 'not all is right with the world'


Not amused: this white cat stares straight ahead with green and black eyes. A pursed look on its face and its whiskers hanging downwards, this miserable moggy seems to have had a sense of humour failure
Not amused: this white cat stares straight ahead with green and black eyes. A pursed look on its face and its whiskers hanging downwards, this miserable moggy seems to have had a sense of humour failure


With watery eyes, it seems it has all got too much for this grey cat who just needs someone to hold it
With watery eyes, it seems it has all got too much for this grey cat who just needs someone to hold it


Wide eyes, pointy ears and a down-turned mouth. This cute kitty looks on the verge of tears as it looks in to the camera
Wide eyes, pointy ears and a down-turned mouth. This cute kitty looks on the verge of tears as it looks in to the camera

MASTERED: The sad-cat look perfected by Puss in Boots in the film Shrek 2

Puss in Boots from the 2004 DreamWorks film Shrek 2, looking on longingly as he tries to persuade Shrek and Donkey to let him come with them

Puss in Boots from the 2004 DreamWorks film Shrek 2, looking on longingly as he tries to persuade Shrek and Donkey to let him come with them


With his glassy eyes about to burst into tears, his little yellow paws clasping his famous black hat, Puss in Boots may just be the saddest cat of them all in this famous scene from Shrek 2. 

In the 2004 movie, the tiny cat, whose voice is provided by actor Antonio Banderas, looks up with mournful eyes at Shrek, the giant green ogre, who eventually picks up the animal in his giant arms and gives him a cuddle.

Shrek is clearly besotted by the animal and tells his sidekick, Donkey: 'Look at him, with his wee little boots'.