Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Tampa's Big Cat Rescue opens 'vacation rotation' enclosure

Last Updated: Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Big Cat Rescue has expanded.

A new addition to the sanctuary for exotic cats opened Tuesday. It's a 2.5-acre "vacation rotation" enclosure that will allow the cats to experience a different environment two weeks at a time.

"Vacationing in the new enclosure will allow our exotic cats to experience new sights and smells, explore new trees and foliage, and enjoy new platforms, dens and toys," the rescue center said in a news release. The $200,000 enclosure includes a large pond.

Big Cat Rescue is the largest accredited sanctuary in the world dedicated entirely to rescuing and providing a permanent home for abused or abandoned cats. It is home to more than 100 big cats, including lions, tigers, leopards, lynx, bobcats. It's located at 12802 Easy St. in Tampa.


Madhya Pradesh getting ready to welcome big cats from Gir

Madhya Pradesh getting ready to welcome big cats from Gir
Soon after the Supreme Court gave its order directing that some of the Gir lions should be shifted to the neighbouring state, the MP government had roped in the trainers.

AHMEDABAD: Gujarat may be not willing to part with its lions for the KunoPalpur wildlife sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh, but Madhya Pradesh is getting ready in a big way to welcome the big cats from Gir. The forest department of MP has roped in trainers from World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF), Malaysia, to train its staff in lion protection and conservation.

Soon after the Supreme Court gave its order directing that some of the Gir lions should be shifted to the neighbouring state, the MP government had roped in the trainers. They are training the staff at Kuno Palpur not only in the management of the park but also in rescue of the animals.

The trainers are also preparing a plan for conservation of the Asiatic lions using modern equipment.

The officials said that the trainers will also teach the MP staff ways to improve the habitat of the big cats, including augmenting of water sources, water regime development, eradication of weeds, development and restoration of grasslands. They are also focusing on development of communication and protection infrastructure, patrolling and anti-poaching activities, research and monitoring, mitigation of man-animal conflicts, and inoculation of domestic cattle in and around Kuno Palpur against contagious diseases.

A senior officer of the Gujarat government complained that the central government has funds for a project whose fate depends on the final SC verdict, but when it comes to giving funds to Gujarat, the Centre expresses helplessness.

Such training would come in handy to Madhya Pradesh as that state is preparing ground to establish in court that it is as well-equipped for conservation as Gujarat, the officer said. He said that the Gujarat government, after filing the review petition in May 2013, has not taken any new steps to establish that Gujarat was safer for the lions than Madhya Pradesh.

Officials in the state government said that even if the Gujarat government's review petition was rejected, the state will have the option of going in for a curative petition which may take a long time.

Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull Advocates for Small Wild Cats

(Getty Images)
We all know about the plight of big cats, and we know that there are too many feral cats to count. It is rare, however, to hear about small wild cats, like the Bay Cat from Borneo, which is the same size of a typical house cat, and the Tigrillo from Costa Rico, which is even smaller.

Ian Anderson, lead vocalist, flautist, and frontman of Jethro Tull, is hoping to change that by bringing awareness to people all across the globe about the 26 species of small wild cats that need our help. “Most of the countries of the world have one or more species of small wild cats,” says Ian. “By small, I mean big enough to give you a fright, but probably not mean enough to bite your leg off. I’m talking about cats that are smaller than a puma. For instance, the Rusty Spotted Cat from Sri Lanka and India and the Black Footed Cat from parts of Africa are smaller than our house cats.”

“Most of these cats are endangered and many are at the point of near extinction. These little guys are in need of first, recognition, and on a larger scale, funding to provide research and breeding facilities.”

A Mysterious Cat
One of his favorite cats is the Andean Mountain Cat because it has never been caught or kept in captivity. It lives high in the Andes. Ian admires this breed because it is such a mystery. However, it is endangered. “Like the Margay, the Ocelot, Pallas’ Cat, and others, many are threatened because of their fur,” he explains. “It is hoped that international pressure will bring this ridiculous trade to an end in our lifetime.”

Not for Zoos
“Since these small cats are nocturnal and shy, they do not make good sense as zoo exhibits,” says Ian. “Most zoos have abandoned breeding programs for these small wild cats, and the future of these cats is in the hands of independent privately funded captive breeders.”

Not a Pet
On his website, at his concerts, and during interviews, Ian has called attention for the need to care for animals and the environment. Thanks to speaking out on behalf of small wild cats, Ian has handled a few. But he has no delusions that these small wild cats can be tamed. “These are not the cats that are going to be sleeping at the foot of your bed at night,” he says. “None of the small species make good house cats. They are wild, and we have to respect that.”

On House Cats
Ian and his wife currently live with five cats, all are spayed or neutered. His wife has two dogs, which Ian likes, but he thinks of himself as a cat person. He urges people to spay or neuter their pets. “It is the kindest thing to do,” he says.


Myzore zoo successfully pairs two wild tigers

H M Aravind, TNN Jul 29, 2013
MYSORE: This Global Tiger Day, there is something to rejoice. Captive breeding of tigers in India could now have a new genetic variant as the Mysore Zoo has been successful in breeding cubs by mating two wild tigers from different habitats.

Experts said it will help in captive breeding of big cats given that the young cubs carry a new gene pool, which will avoid inbreeding complications including premature deaths.
The Global Tiger Day, also called International Tiger Day celebrated on July 29, is celebrated to create awareness on tiger conservation by promoting a system for protecting the natural habitats of tigers, to raise public awareness and support for tiger conservation issues.

Four years after she was rescued from Bababundangiri hills in Muthodi Range, which is now part of buffer area of Bhadra tiger reserve, and moved to the Mysore facility, Anu has given birth to four cubs after the zoo's gambit of mating her with Brahma paid off. Anu was three months old when she was rescued. As she was of wild origin, the zoo management decided to pair her with wild cat Brahma, who has successfully mated with captive-born tigress Manya and sired six cubs in the zoo, zoo director B P Ravi said.

Anu gave birth to four cubs on July 18 of which two, both female, died within hours after their birth. As it was her first litter, Anu did not know how to clean the cubs and had licked the two cubs vigorously and had bitten them near the umbilical region leading to their death. "Anu is taking care of remaining two cubs well. Both the cubs are drinking milk at regular intervals and moving around in the den. As per he zoo records, this is the first successful pairing of wild tigers leading to breeding of wild cubs," he said.

Tiger ecologist Samba Kumar said Mysore zoo's success will help in captive breeding of tigers. "The new born cubs have a new gene pool and certainly help in captive breeding programmes of big tigers," he explained.

A vet, who has worked in tiger reserves, told TOI that new genetic variant will reduce inbreeding depression. "Due to inbreeding, the big cats face problems including decreased life expectancy. There is no free movement of tigers across tiger habitats too which has limited creation of newer gene pool in the wild. Mysore zoo's experiment could come in handy," he explained.

However, the tigers bred in zoo cannot be relocated to the wild. It is of little significance to tiger conservation in the wild, an expert said.

The cubs have a new gene pool and certainly help in captive breeding programmes of big tigers
Samba Kumar, ecologist

* Anu is from Bhadra and Brahma from Brahmagiri wildlife sanctuary in Kodagu
* They were paired in April this year
* Anu gave birth to four cubs on July 18 of which two died


Nations unite to help tigers

English.news.cn   2013-07-30  
By Yang Yao in Kunming

BEIJING, July 30 (Xinhuanet) -- China is making a big push to protect tigers and recently finalized two separate agreements with Russia and India to beef up conservation efforts for the big cats and other endangered species.

At an ongoing conference in Kunming, China made good on its call for more cross-border cooperation, announcing a deal with Russia on Sunday to build two ecological corridors on their shared border to save the Siberian tigers' habitat.

The ecological corridors will allow wild Siberian tigers to migrate freely without disturbance from humans.

Siberian tigers, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature, were on the edge of extinction in the 1960s, but their numbers have recovered. Of the roughly 450 Siberian tigers today, around 20 live in China along its border with Russia, said Wang Weisheng, division director of the Department of Wildlife Conservation and Nature Reserve Management under the State Forestry Administration.

Wang said authorities are now working out the details of building the corridors, including reforestation of farmland.

Irina Borisovna Fominykh, deputy director of the International Cooperation Department of Russia's Ministry of Natural Resources, said there are around 400 to 450 in Russia.
Russia plans to increase the number to 700 by 2022, she said.

China also reached an agreement with India at the Kunming meeting to work on protecting tiger habitats and combat illegal wildlife trade.

The two nations will cooperate by exchanging their experiences and information about protecting tigers and their habitats.

The Kunming conference was called the International Workshop for Transboundary Conservation of Tigers and Other Endangered Species, and the Strategy for Combating Illegal Trade in Wildlife. It was organized by the State Forestry Administration to observe Global Tiger Day on July 29.
Yin Hong, deputy director of the State Forestry Administration, said on Monday that endangered animals can be saved if nations work together.

"The conservation of tigers and combating illegal trade in wildlife require the concerted effort of all the nations where they live," she said.

There are 13 tiger range countries, and they differ in their abilities in funding, law enforcement, supervision and scientific know-how.

Yin said more help should be made available to countries with weaker financial capabilities, law enforcement and scientific development.

The 13 countries created Global Tiger Day at the Tiger Summit in November 2010 in St Petersburg, Russia. The day is celebrated annually on July 29 to raise awareness of support for the conservation of wild tigers.

There are 3,200 to 3,500 wild tigers in the world, and the 13 nations have agreed to increase their number to 6,000 by 2022.

"We have set an ambitious goal," said Mike Baltzer, head of the WWF Tigers Alive Initiative. "To know global tiger population numbers will be to know where we are and will help understand what else we need to do together to put tigers in a safe place by 2022."

He said that determining the exact number of tigers in the wild is difficult because they are notoriously elusive and inhabit often remote and rugged terrain. Jiang Guangshun, of the China State Forestry Administration's Feline Research Center, said international cooperation is needed to count the tiger population.

For many countries, finding the number of tigers has been prohibitively expensive and time-consuming because many lack the techniques and equipment to survey tigers, particularly cheaper and more durable camera traps.

Jiang said China built a tiger/leopard monitoring platform in 2011 to collect information on the big cats' ranges and DNA as well as footprint images to create a database.
(Source: China Daily)

secondary source

Image of the Day


Monday, July 29, 2013

Save the big cat

Save the big cat
Save the big cat (Thinkstock photos/Getty Images)

Wildlife patrons in the city have organized a series of activities on World Tiger Day to raise awareness about tiger conservation.

The country's national animal, a symbol of strength and agility, is unfortunately one of the most endangered species today. As the world is left with few tigers, with the numbers plummeting at a rapid pace, it's high time everyone contribute to protecting these big cats and their habitats. Considering the gravity of the situation, the wildlife patrons in the city are ringing in World Tiger Day with many activities to raise awareness about tiger conservation.

Mohammad Saleem, an environmental activist, has organized a tiger conservation awareness programme across schools in the city. "We are launching the Tiger Express today, a mobile van that will have all information related to tigers. After the inauguration at a private school, the van will zip through the schools on Avinashi Road, where a team of eight will have an interaction session with the students. We will talk about important facts on tiger, including why it is important to protect the animal and what would happen if tigers ceased to exist. The programme will continue on Tuesday in the schools on Trichy Road. At least 15 schools are expected to participate in the programme," says Saleem.

Meanwhile, Umesh Marudhachalam, an environmental activist who has already kick-started the campaign with a talk on tiger conservation in Kinathukadavu, will be launching eco-chulhas in the tribal settlement of Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve along with the Wild Wing Society. "The eco-chulhas will prevent the chopping of trees in the tiger's natural habitat and will help eradicate weeds like parthenium and lantern. We are planning to introduce the programme in other tiger reserves — Mudumalai and Anamalai — as well," he says.

Painting contests will also be held across the city to mark the occasion. While the Anamalai Tiger Reserve is planning to hold a painting contest on tiger conservation, one of the malls in the city will play host to a painting competition for school children in the afternoon. "At least 10 schools are expected to participate in the event. The children will draw and paint on themes related to tiger and will leave a thumb impression on every picture once they are done," says the spokesperson of the event.


Stevensville couple have big love for pet lynx, bobcats

3 hours ago  • 

STEVENSVILLE – When Deborah Roe turns off the lights in her bathroom, all she can see are the green glowing eyes of a full-grown female Canada lynx staring back at her.

Deborah and her husband Gerald aren’t typical pet owners. When they feed their cats, they use whole chickens, rabbits or giant cuts of salmon. Sometimes, they feed them deer or elk steaks donated by local hunters.

The Roes have three bobcats and three Canada lynx on their property north of Stevensville, and all six are beloved family pets.

Bella, a three-year-old female lynx, lives in the house and is potty-trained.

“Yep, she climbs right up on the toilet,” Deborah said. “We call this place Lynxville, Montana.”
There’s Billy, a neutered male bobcat who purrs loudly when Deborah enters his cage and rubs his head on her face affectionately. Leo the bobcat has been a photography model for calenders and movies. Lily is the real star – she was featured stalking a rabbit through deep snow in a National Geographic film clip for a program called NatGeoWild. (Spoiler alert: It wasn’t a good day for the rabbit.)

“That was actually filmed in our backyard in Wisconsin,” Deborah said. “Lily loves the camera.”
The other two Canada lynx, Nanook and Nikki, might not be alive today if Deborah hadn’t found them.

“I got them off a fur farmer in North Dakota,” she said. “I bought them because he was going to pelt them out, so I had to pay pelt prices. He had them for four years. The other one, Bella, I got her from the same guy when she was a 13-day-old kitten. And now she’s the love of my life.“

All six of the animals were born in captivity. The Roes have raised dozens of cats over the years, and many of the animals they raised are now in zoos in Wisconsin, where they used to live.

Canada lynx have huge paws which make them adept at traveling over snow and hunting their favorite prey, snowshoe hares. They also have distinctive black tufts at the ends of their ears. Bobcats have beautiful spots on their fur, which also makes them a target for trappers and taxidermists.

Bobcats and lynx are in the same genus: The scientific name for bobcats is lynx rufus, while Canada lynx are classified as lynx canadensis. There are thirteen accepted subspecies of bobcats, and their range stretches from southern Canada to Mexico. There are three subspecies of Canada lynx, and they range from Alaska to the northern U.S. In 2000, the Canada lynx was listed as a threatened species in 16 U.S. states, and there is a a reintroduction effort underway in Colorado, where the species went extinct in the 1970s.

“They eat snowshoe hare almost exclusively in the wild,” Gerald explained. “So their population goes way down if there isn’t enough snowshoe hare to eat, because they stop reproducing.”

According to Mike Lee, a game warden and commercial wildlife permit manager for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Enforcement, there are currently 15 licensed fur farms in Montana. The licenses are required for anyone who wants to possess, rear in captivity, buy or sell any fur-bearing animal in the state. The licenses also require the animals must be kept in enclosures sufficient to prevent escape into the wild.
The Roes recently applied for a fur farm application from FWP, but they both say the name of the application is a misnomer because it couldn’t be further from their actual desire. Their goal is just to be licensed in case they want to sell kittens someday. They have plans to build a larger enclosed habitat for the cats than what they have now.

“These are my babies,” Deborah exclaims passionately, stroking Billy between his ears and letting him lick her arm. “We are absolutely not raising them for fur. I have never ever pelted an animal of any kind. On the rare occasion that we do lose a cat, I bury them in the backyard with a marker.”
Roe also said that she has strict guidelines for selling kittens.

“Nobody in their right mind would sell an animal to just anybody who walks through the door,” she explains. “These animals are strictly controlled in the majority of states. Before somebody even thinks about it, you need to know state and county laws and what permits are needed. Before I will let one of my animals go, we need an interview. We don’t allow anybody that has small children. They must own their own home, and they have got to have provable prior experience with owning these animals. And whenever possible, they need references. I will talk to local veterinarians and see how they treat their other animals.”

Deborah said she and her husband just wanted to get the fur farm license in case they ever decide to breed.

“We’re not breeding and selling cats like people breed and sell dogs,” she said. “We don’t have immediate plans to breed, but we may end up wanting to breed a litter. It’s not like my girls are just going to be pumping out kittens.“

The animals on the Roes’ property are housed inside separate pens made of woven kennel fencing. Gerald gets upset when he hears about the perception that his cats might somehow get loose and spread disease to wild bobcats or lynx.

“I would be more worried about all the feral cats spreading disease,” he said. “Ours are healthy and they are inside their pens. They’re not going anywhere.”

Deborah said her husband bought her the first bobcat, Billy, several years ago to see if raising big cats was something she wanted to do.

“Two weeks later I was hooked for life,” she said. “It took an awful lot of research in six different states. We visited 40 different zoos and talked with a lot of people, especially animal trainers. There are a lot of bigger outfits in the country that keep track of this stuff, like the U.S. Zoological Association and the Feline Conservation Federation, which is trying to keep these cats in good shape and properly cared for and regulated. Bella was in the FCF journal.”

Roe said there are a lot of misperceptions among the general public about how people with large cats treat the animals.

“We don’t drag them all over the place, and we don’t let people come and be with them,” she said. “They are our pets, it’s no big deal. There was another newspaper article about us, and they made it sound like I was just going to breed exotic cats and send them out the door. That is so wrong. I have worked with animal rescues and the Bureau of Land Management. I have been an animal person my entire life. I even worked with a parrot rescue. It would be nice if all these cats could live in the wild, but these cats were not born in the wild and would not survive in the wild, so we do all we can to make these cats happy and comfortable. That is my entire purpose. Everything I do I do for them.”
The cats are drowsy during the heat of the day, but perk up when the sun goes down.

“Once they’ve fed they go into stalk mode,” Deborah said. “They are really busy watching and listening to what’s going on at night. They like to watch horses, and my chickens and ducks. We have a skunk that wanders through here, and he must be pretty brave.”

Overall, Deborah said she wants to be an advocate for the animals.

“I want people to realize they are cuddly,” she said. “They are my babies, and I love my babies.”

To watch the National Geographic video of Lily hunting a rabbit in winter, visit online at www.youtube.com/watch?vXV-c9SXlSJY.

Image of the Day

Saturday, July 27, 2013

In the Himalayas, Nepali villagers hunt down poachers to help save the tiger

Criminal gangs are hunting the big cats to sell their organs and bones to the Chinese medicine industry. But an alliance between a western charity and local Nepalis is turning the tables, producing a small but encouraging rise in tiger numbers
  • The Observer,
tiger pugmark
A tiger pugmark in the mud on the bank of the Karnahi river, Nepal. Photograph: Adrian Steirn/Ginkgo Agency/Ginkgo
In the foothills of the Himalayas, a war is being waged. Soldiers armed with M16 assault rifles patrol the grasslands and forests while surveillance drones buzz overhead. But their fight is not against another army, it is to save the tiger from extinction – and the enemy is the poacher.

The Observer accompanied a group of soldiers and rangers on a search mission along the Karnali river in Nepal's Bardia National Park. Crocodiles lolled in the shallows, while the screeches of monkeys and birds punctuated the heavy, still air. The pugmarks – the pawprints – of an adult tiger were visible in the mud on the bank. A poacher staking out this spot for a couple of days would have a chance of catching one of the cats, as they often return to familiar watering holes.

It is estimated that there are 3,200 tigers left worldwide – 95% fewer than a century ago – and the booming wildlife trade is the biggest threat to their survival. Increasing affluence in Asia has caused prices for skins and the body parts used in traditional Chinese medicines to soar. International gangs pay local Nepalese handsomely to kill tigers and rhinos. The skin and bones are handed to middlemen who pass easily through the porous border to India, where the major dealers are based. For many in a country where the average income is 150 Nepalese rupees a day (£1.03), rewards of around £5,000 per skin and £1,700 per kilogram of bones outweigh the risks of being caught and jailed for up to 15 years.

Poachers kill tigers using guns fashioned from wood and piping which fire bullets of crushed glass and gunpowder, or by laying down poisoned bait. Diwakar Chapagain, the WWF Nepal's co-ordinator for wildlife trade monitoring, said: "It is hard to know if a tiger has been poached, because nothing is left behind. Each part of the animal has a sale value – eye-balls for drinks, the penis for soup to boost virility, its teeth for jewellery and its bones for good luck charms. Stuffed tiger cubs and rugs made from skins are also seen as status symbols."

Anti-poaching work has its dangers. Ramesh Thapa, assistant warden at Bardia, has been targeted: "I got phone calls with death threats and then a middleman came to warn me that a hitman had been hired to kill me – the man knew me so he told me. I moved my wife and daughter from a village to Kathmandu because I was so worried. I live in the park and go everywhere in a group now."

The Nepal police's criminal investigation bureau established a wildlife unit only two years ago. Superintendent Pravin Pokharel, 38, led the 11-strong unit responsible for activity outside the nine vast national parks until last August. He believes that 15-20% of Nepalese wildlife crime is detected.
"We have informants who tell us someone is dealing tiger skin or rhino horn," he said. "We go undercover as buyers and get evidence using spy recorders and video and go through phone records. One year ago a dealer tried to sell an undercover officer a jute bag of bones from a whole tiger.

"During my time we arrested 100 people, mostly small-time dealers. The big dealers are based in India. They use local tribespeople to kill to order." Most of the plunder goes to China, he added. "The price is increasing all the time. Two days ago two people with one rhino horn were asking 6m Nepalese rupees (£42,000) in Chitwan. That would fetch 8m rupees (£56,000) in Kathmandu, and that would be multiplied in China."

During the civil war between government forces and Maoist rebels from 1996 to 2006, the army checkpoints in the parks that had helped curb the wildlife trade were deserted after they became a prime target for the guerrillas. This led to a poaching bonanza, leaving Bardia with a handful of rhinos and tigers.

Now, thanks largely to a series of conservation and anti-poaching programmes run by the WWF, tiger numbers are inching up. Last year it was estimated that there were 37 in Bardia national park, up from 18 in 2009. In 2010 the WWF launched a multi-million pound global Tigers Alive appeal with the aim of doubling the number by 2022. One of the areas where it is concentrating its efforts is the Terai Arc, 5m hectares which includes Bardia national park on the border with India where around 120 royal Bengal tigers live near three million people.

This year the appeal is being boosted by a £500,000 injection from Whiskas, raised by the sale of special packs of cat food between now and September. In the park, there are now 31 anti-poaching bases, and some of the money will be spent on providing more of them with solar power so they can be manned around the clock. The WWF has also started a gun amnesty which has taken in hundreds of homemade guns – the village receives £3.50 for each weapon handed in. Volunteers have been trained how to set up camera-traps so that animals can be monitored.

One of the keys to boosting tiger numbers is to restore their habitat in the "corridors" between the parks. Tigers need to be able to move freely between the parks so they can mate and catch prey. Much of the WWF's work here is about harnessing the skills and enthusiasm of villagers so they can run anti-poaching patrols and conservation projects themselves.

In 2006 tigers had 40% less habitat than 10 years earlier. Increasing demand by villagers for wood for fuel and building, illegal logging, agricultural expansion and intensive grazing are all behind the erosion. In recent years there has been increasing conflict between tigers and humans as the cats have been forced into populated areas where they kill livestock – leading some farmers to retaliate by poisoning. Occasionally, they have killed people.

Twelve years ago the WWF started plantation and seedling protection programmes as well as micro-financing and insurance schemes to protect against livestock being killed. There are now thousands of community forests which are run by local people. Villagers have also been helped to install biogas, reducing the need for firewood, and grazing is now limited.

Bhadai Tharu, vice-chair of the Community Forest Co-ordination Committee in the Khata corridor, lost an eye when he was attacked by a tiger while patrolling grasslands nine years ago. When asked what happened, he lunges forward, claws the air and lets rip a bellicose roar.

"A tiger jumped on me from a bush at about 1pm. My friends ran off," said Bhadai, 48, a father of three. Removing his sunglasses – given to him by the actor and wildlife campaigner Leonardo DiCaprio when he visited the area – he reveals the scar where his eye had been.

Fearing for his life, he put all his strength into elbowing the animal. "If I do nothing I would die. I made a loud roaring noise and the tiger ran off. Blood was pouring out of my eye. I was taken to hospital and my eye was only attached by one tiny nerve so it had to be removed. One of my ribs was taken out to reconstruct my face.

"I didn't have much to do with tiger conservation for two years after, but now if I don't see a tiger's paw mark every day I feel something is missing."

The Observer joined Bhadai and around 20 villagers armed with sticks, mainly women in their teens and 20s, on an anti-poaching patrol in the forest near Gauri. Bhadai spotted some disturbed leaves and scattered them with a stick to reveal two iron traps; a large net was found nearby. Bhadai tells how they once caught six Indians. "They had set up traps and were camping in a tent [with] a spear, a knife for skinning a tiger as well as a dog and poison. The poisoned dog would have been used as tiger bait. Three hundred villagers surrounded the tent at dawn while police came. The gang was jailed for five years."

Harirani Chaudhary, 19, a student on the patrol, said: "Without a forest there's no life for us. That's why we conserve the forest and patrol. We must save the tiger, because the tiger is head of everything in the food chain. When we have lots of tigers, it means the habitat is strong enough to support all of us. Tourists will come and our village will improve."

A few months ago, seven tigers and nine rhino were caught on camera traps in the 3km-long Khata corridor. Chapagain said: "Their appearance shows what is being done is working. Fifteen years ago the Khata corridor was barren land and bad forest and there were no tiger or rhino and only a few elephant."

That progress has been made is clear, but the battle to save the tigers is still far from won.


Image of the Day

Cat bites boy – thanks a lot ocelot!

By Sharon Rice, Editor, The Friday Flyer

 This ocelot at the Belize Zoo pulled Ronald's hand and arm through the wire enclosure.

There was no 911 to call during a recent vacation when Holly Alteneder's 10 1/2-year-old son, Ronald, was bitten by a big cat – an ocelot, to be exact – at a small zoo in Belize. The quickest option for medical attention was a 40-minute ride to the nearest hospital in the zookeeper's car.

After initial treatment, Holly says she and her four sons cut short their plans for a six-week vacation to the Central American countries of Belize, Honduras and Guatemala to fly home to Southern California, where Ronald was admitted to Children's Hospital of Orange County.

He was still there three days later, when he and Holly were interviewed by KTLA News. At the time of the interview, Ronald was playing ping pong and wearing pajamas provided by the hospital – ironically covered in cats. Cats are Ronald's obsession, Holly says.

With such an obsession, it's easy to see why the family was enjoying an unusual feature at the Belize Zoo and Education Center – the opportunity for the family to be inside a cage within the jaguar habitat.

They had just been enjoying the antics of a jaguar around and on top of their cage when she heard her oldest son crying, "Mommy, Mommy, help me." She looked and saw that an ocelot (similar in appearance to a jaguar) had pulled Ronald's arm through the wire fence and wasn't letting go, no matter how much she pounded on the fencing. Another tourist joined the fray, as did the zookeeper.
When the ocelot released Ronald's hand, there were serious puncture wounds, especially around his thumb, which appeared to be almost severed. That's when Ronald and Holly and Ronald's younger brothers, Jude, Ion and Charley, began their urgent journey for medical attention.

Not only that, he earnestly desires to raise funds for the Belize Zoo so other children can enjoy the big cat habitat without experiencing what he endured. He thinks a glass partition, or at least a double or triple fence, would provide needed protection.

On Tuesday, Holly said Ronald is now home and doing better than expected. He is continuing to undergo a series of shots to prevent rabies.

She says she doesn't blame the zoo for the incident. She describe it as more of a rescue facility, unlike any American zoo she's ever seen. The Belize Zoo and Tropical Education Center sits on 29 acres of tropical savanna and exhibits more than 150 animals native to Belize. Founded in 1983 by Baltimore native Sharon Matola, the zoo keeps animals that have been orphaned, rescued, born at the zoo, rehabilitated or sent as donations from other zoological institutions.

Holly says Canyon Lakers can help Ronald reach his goal of helping the zoo by visiting belizezoo.org and making a donation. Ronald will be starting 6th grade at Canyon Lake Middle School in August. His brothers attend Tuscany Hills Elementary. See the video of the KTLA interview on The Friday Flyer's Facebook page.


A long-lasting love affair with big cats

Updated: 2013-07-27 09:39
By Yang Yao ( China Daily)

Beijing native gave up corporate life to protect nature's beautiful creatures

Quan Li, a Beijing native, was once the head of Gucci's worldwide licensing business. Thirteen years ago she gave up her career in the fashion industry to live in the bushes of South Africa with the tigers.
A long-lasting love affair with big cats 
She said that instead of creating man-made beauty, she wants to preserve natural beauty.

She has a long-lasting love affair with cats that stretches back to her childhood.
After graduating from Peking University in the 1980s, Quan moved to Belgium with her first husband.

Later on, she divorced, moved to the United States and received her MBA at Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, remarried, and then moved again and again from one country to another.

Although many things have changed, her passion for cats, which she regards as "the most beautiful creatures in nature", remains.
A trip to Namibia in the summer of 1998 inspired Quan to protect threatened big cat species.

In 2000, she convinced her husband at that time to help fund the Save China's Tigers Foundation in London. "South China Tigers are on the verge of extinction," she said. "Vast land, a rich prey base and excellent wildlife expertise could save them." In cooperation with the State Forestry Administration, five tigers from zoos in China were sent to Africa.

The second generation of these tigers has given birth to cubs, bringing the number of Chinese tigers at her South African reserve to 14. The tigers have acquired the skills to live and hunt in the wild.

A long-lasting love affair with big cats 
However, as she is filing for a divorce from her current husband, she is starting a new foundation called China Tiger Revival. "South China tigers are still our current focus, as they are the most endangered subspecies of tiger and the most ignored by the conservation world," she said.

"The tiger is at the top of the food chain. Saving the tiger would also save other animals in the chain by protecting the tigers' habitat. Setting up a pilot reserve in areas where wild tigers might still exist will also help protect bears, leopards, wild boars, antelopes and wild goats."


Cheetahs newest exhibit at Baton Rouge Zoo

Published: July 26, 2013
The Associated Press A 13-year-old cheetah and her two-year-old daughter from the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden in Cincinnati, Ohio, are the newest exhibit at the Baton Rouge Zoo.

Zoo officials who announced the arrival of the pair said that cheetahs are the fastest land mammal on the planet, reaching speeds of up to 70 mph, and also are considered the most sociable of the big cats.

Identified as vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources "red list," the biggest identified threats to the big cats in the wild include competition for food sources from other successful African carnivores.


View zoo tigers through glass wall at Alipore Zoo

TNN Jul 26, 2013
KOLKATA: Visitors will no longer have to peek through railings and cages to catch a glimpse of the Royal Bengal tiger at the Alipore Zoo. Three of the zoo's eight tigers will be shifted to a glass enclosure by October. The six-feet tall glass will be the only barrier between the big cats and the audience.

While the old cages existing tiger enclosure will be eventually demolished, the zoo authorities are also planning to create a night shelter and a breeding zone for the tigers. This apart, a scheme for adoption of zoo animals is also on the anvil.
Gazing at a royal Bengal tiger at the Alipore Zoo will soon be a more exciting experience. Three of the zoo's eight tigers will be shifted to a glass enclosure by October. Six feet tall, the glass will be the only barrier between the big cats and the audience. While the existing tiger enclosure will be eventually demolished, the zoo authorities are also planning to create a night shelter and a breeding zone for the big cats. A scheme for 'adoption' of zoo animals is also on the anvil.

The zoo is undergoing renovation since 2009. Though several new enclosures have been set up, including a couple for birds. But it was the old, rundown tiger enclosure that cried out for attention.
"Three tigers will be moved to the new glass enclosure. The other five, too, will get to stay at the enclosure by rotation. We have imported this special glass from abroad. It will offer visitors an unobstructed view of the animals. Other than being safer for the big cats and the audience, the glass enclosure will also offer more space to tigers," said VK Yadav, chief conservator, central circle. Yadav now holds temporary charge of the zoo.

The cost of the glass for the enclosure stands at Rs 1.5 crore.

While the existing open enclosure for tigers will remain, the old cages will be removed. "It will be turned into green space. The old enclosure has lost its utility. Instead, the focus will now be on a night shelter and the breeding zone," added Yadav.

The glass enclosure will be almost double the size of the open enclosure. "It will spread across nearly 6 acres. The glass wall will have numerous small pieces held together and has been specially crafted. No other Indian zoo has a glass barrier like this one," said Yadav.

Meanwhile, the zoo is looking for sponsors to adopt animals. It will help to improve diet, treatment and living conditions of the animals. The funds can also be used to make new enclosures. "The flow of funds will help the zoo to keep the animals in a better shape. We have appealed to corporates, industrial houses and chambers of commerce to come forward and adopt animals," said Yadav.
Management of the Alipore Zoo was questioned when marmosets were stolen in 2009. Later, several kangaroos died at the zoo amid allegations that they have were not treated properly.

"A substantial portion of the funds from the adoption scheme will be spent on the animals' treatment. The idea is to raise the standard of maintenance at the zoo," said the chief conservator.


Cheetah tried to get closer to Chris Johnson

Chris Johnson APTitans running back Chris Johnson wasn’t necessarily worried about getting outrun by a cheetah.
At one point, becoming lunch became a legitimate concern.
Johnson and Bears return man Devin Hester ran against the big cat at Busch Gardens in Tampa, Fla., for an upcoming special on Nat Geo Wild.
And things were apparently a little wild from the start, even though they were separated by a fence before the race.
“The crazy thing is when they first set it up and they did a test run before we got there, the cheetah actually jumped over the barrier,” Johnson said, via Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean. “So they had to make it higher.”
Johnson wasn’t going to divulge the outcome of the race, but did admit to being the victim of a little cat trash-talk, saying: “It stared me down and walked back and forth.”
The fact it wasn’t walking off a meal, and Johnson’s talking about it, is a solid first step.


Friday, July 26, 2013

Image of the Day

Petra approaching by Tambako the Jaguar
Petra approaching, a photo by Tambako the Jaguar on Flickr.

A black Jaguaress approaches

Cat allergy research offers new clues

Cats are common culprits for pet allergies
Scientists have discovered how allergic reactions to cats are triggered, raising hopes of preventative medicine.
A University of Cambridge team has identified how the body's immune system detects cat allergen, leading to symptoms such as coughing and sneezing.

New treatments to block this pathway raise hopes of developing medicines to protect sufferers, they say.

Allergy UK says the research is "a big step forward" in understanding how cat allergen causes allergic reactions.
Researchers led by Dr Clare Bryant of the University of Cambridge studied proteins found in particles of cat skin, known as cat dander, which is the most common cause of cat allergy.

They found that cat allergen activates a specific pathway in the body, once in the presence of a common bacterial toxin.

This triggers a large immune response in allergy sufferers, causing symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, sneezing and a runny nose.

Cat allergies

  • Cats are among the most common culprits for pet allergies
  • People with cat allergies are allergic to proteins in the cat's saliva, urine, and dander (dried flakes of skin)
  • Symptoms of a cat allergy can develop in a few minutes or take hours to appear
  • Some people with allergic asthma have severe flare-ups after coming in contact with a cat
Dr Bryant told BBC News: "We've discovered how the cat allergy proteins activate the host immune cells.
"By understanding the triggering mechanism, there are now drugs that have been designed that are in clinical trials for other conditions, such as sepsis, that could potentially then be used in a different way to treat cat allergy and to prevent cat allergy."

The charity Allergy UK said the research, published in Journal of Immunology, was a big step forward in understanding how cat allergen causes such severe allergic reactions.

"Cat allergen is particularly difficult to avoid as it is a 'sticky' molecule that is carried into every building on people's shoes and clothes," said director of clinical services Maureen Jenkins.

"It can also still be found in a home, on the walls and ceiling or fittings, even a few years after a cat has ceased to live there.

"Therefore, this new information identifying the specific receptor interaction in the immune system could pave the way for treatments for those with persistent disease triggered by cat allergen and, in the future, potentially dog and house dust mite allergen."

Allergic reactions happen when the immune system overreacts to a perceived danger.
Instead of responding to a harmful virus or bacteria, it misidentifies allergens, such as cat dander, and mounts an immune response.

The research was funded by the Wellcome Trust and the Medical Research Council.


Rescued wildcats getting new Ore. home

A tiger at WildCat Haven sanctuary in Sherwood, July 24, 2013 (KOIN 6 News)
A tiger at WildCat Haven sanctuary in Sherwood, July 24, 2013 (KOIN 6 News)
SHERWOOD, Ore. (KOIN) — It’s not a zoo and it’s not open to the public. WildCat Haven is a sanctuary for 67 big cats — cougars, tigers, servals and bobcats — that were all unwanted, abused or displaced.

A sign at WildCat Haven sanctuary in Sherwood, July 24, 2013 (KOIN 6 News)
A sign at WildCat Haven sanctuary in Sherwood, July 24, 2013. (KOIN 6 News)

The local sanctuary founded by Cheryl and Mike Tuller currently sits on less than eight acres of land in Sherwood. That will change in less than a year when they move into a home 10 times larger — 82 acres — about 40 miles south.

Born into captivity, these wildcats don’t know any other way of life.
“This project amazes me that a couple, two people, started WildCat Haven and they started out by saving one bobcat,” said board member Cheri Cooley. “Now they’re up to 67.”

A cougar at WildCat Haven sanctuary in Sherwood, July 24, 2013 (KOIN 6 News)
A cougar at WildCat Haven sanctuary in Sherwood, July 24, 2013. (KOIN 6 News)

Last year the sanctuary rescued two bengal tigers, Nora and Katie, from their life in Ohio. At WildCat Haven they have more space and a natural, peaceful setting.

“The breeding of exotic animals is a huge problem in the US today,” said Ken Hick, another sanctuary supporter. “The basement breeding of exotic animals has done tremendous damage to both the animals and, in many cases, to people who don’t know what they’re doing.”

Sanctuary supporters believe it will cost between $3,000 and $6,000 per enclosure to build on the new site, roughly $200,000 total.

To help reach that goal, they’re holding a Summer Safari Soiree fundraiser this weekend.
Enclosures for large breeds like cougars and tigers will be more than 20,000 square feet each. Smaller cats will live in a space roughly the size of an average family home.

“Our new facility, which we’ve already purchased, is 10 times larger than where we’re at now,” Cooley said. “It’s also flat, so it gives us a lot more use of the property and has wonderful outbuildings so we can do more to outreach to educate people about the cats.”

The larger sanctuary will give the animals more and better space — and help supporters in their fight against basement breeding.

“With our new location and our new education center,” Hick said, “we’re going to be able to bring in legislators, lawmakers and show them what we need to do.”


Big Cat Sightings Keep Brits on Their Toes

Aristocrat warns visitors after 'big cat' photographed on his estate

An aristocrat has put up warning signs for visitors to his estate after a member of his staff photographed a “big cat” prowling through the grounds.

The pictures are blurred but appear to show a large black animal  
Baronet Sir Benjamin Slade believes that the creature has already killed foxes, an otter and some of his chickens, and he fears that it could go on to attack his prized pedigree sheep, a dog or even a guest.
The “beast” was photographed by the night porter at the 98-acre Maunsel House estate, near Bridgwater in Somerset, in the early hours of the morning about a fortnight ago.
Beast of Bodmin sighting in Cornwall in 2008 (Rex Features)
The pictures are blurred but appear to show a large black animal with powerful haunches walking through a meadow of tall grass and wildflowers.
Sir Benjamin, 67, suggested that the creature might live on the nearby Somerset Levels and travel to his grounds overnight looking for food.
In recent months he and his staff have found piles of feathers from dead chickens and the mangled remains of a fox.
He is convinced that the picture shows a big cat, but admitted that it is not entirely clear.
He said: “They don’t exactly stand still and pose, which is the problem. It’s got a long tail and seemed to be quite big.

“Apparently these things will do 30 to 40 miles in a night. We are next to the Somerset Levels, which are 250 miles of fields and bogs where nobody lives.
“There is a possibility that this thing is bigger than a puma – it is probably quite frightening.
“We have put signs up telling people to keep their dogs in the car because there is a big cat about.
“We need this thing out of the way before it eats somebody. I’ve got a wedding business here and we are very worried about our guests – they might wander off piste and get gobbled up.”

Sir Benjamin Slade at Maunsel House in Somerset (Rex Features)
Sir Benjamin said hunters up and down the country had contacted him asking if they could come to his estate to look for the cat.
“I might be able to sell the shooting rights if it goes on like this,” he jokes.
The next time a dead chicken or fox is found, he plans to take samples of hair and droppings from the scene and send them off for DNA analysis.

Danny Bamping, founder of the British Big Cats Society, said it was impossible to tell what the photograph shows.
“Like most pictures of big cats in Britain, it is inconclusive because there is no sense of scale and it is blurry,” he said.

“However, that is not to say that the person who took the picture did not think it was a big cat at the time.”
He noted that there have been a “substantial” number of reported sightings of big cats in Somerset in the past year.

The existence of big cats in the British countryside has been debated for decades. Most of the alleged sightings have come since the Dangerous Wild Animals Act of 1976 made it illegal to keep untamed pets.
Some experts have suggested that this led to owners of exotic cats, such as pumas or lynx, simply releasing their animals into the countryside.



Did teacher see a big cat just yards from playing children?

Profile image for Tamworth Herald
By Tamworth Herald

Wednesday, July 24, 2013
THE MYSTERY big cat said to be roaming the Tamworth area has been spotted again, this time by a teacher who says she saw it on the area known as ‘the Bumpy’ between Glascote and Stonydelph, just yards from where children played.
Jenna Brindley (28), an English teacher at Tamworth Enterprise College (formerly Belgrave School), was walking her dog on Wednesday July 17 between 6pm and 7pm when she spotted the creature.
  1. panther
    A Tamworth teacher believes she spotted a panther-like black cat just yards from where children were playing.
She said: “It was about 20 yards away and it stood very still looking at me. After a good few minutes it slipped away into the undergrowth.
“It was about 5ft 1in long with jet black prominent ears and when it moved, its movements were like a wild animal.
“I was pretty scared, I was panicking to be honest and I was worried because there were children playing nearby – there is a football pitch just yards away.”
PC Ellie Sewell is a wildlife officer with Tamworth police. She said: “This sighting has not been reported to me and we have had no reports of cats or dogs going missing.

“I will let patrols in the area know about this. I’ve never seen the big cat, but if there is one out there, I would urge people to be vigilant.

“They should not approach it, but should try to get a photo of it if they can, so we can determine whether it is on the Bumpy.
“ If you think you may have seen it, please report it to the police and don’t panic, there is plenty of wildlife for it to eat, so it’s not going to start attacking people. Like any wild animals it does not want to be near people and it will keep its distance.”

Have you seen the big cat? email helen.machin@cintamworth.co.uk or find me on twitter: @HelenMHerald

A history of big cat sightings in Tamworth, from the Herald files 

Big cat sightings are not unusual in this part of the world. Here are a selection from the Herald files:
In February 2012, a young couple claimed to have seen a panther-like big cat in Dordon.
In January 2012 Dog walker Michael Greatrex photographed giant paw prints in a field off Boulters Lane in Wood End.

In December 2011 a 69-year-old Austrey woman claimed she saw a big cat in Warton Lane.
Also in December 2011 , Wood End woman Karen Rooke said she spotted the beast in the Boulters Lane/Gypsy Lane area.

In November 2011, police officer DC Sarah Anderson was out walking her dog in fields between Baddesley Ensor and Baxterley when she first saw the beast. She then saw it again two days later.
Weeks earlier, train driver Jake Medley was cycling close to midnight in the Shuttington area when a “big black cat” ran across the road.

A panther-like cat was seen in Measham in November 2010.
In September 2010, a Whittington man saw a golden big cat run from Hopwas Woods.
In July 2010, a big cat was spotted in Bonehill, fitting the description of a melanistic leopard.

In June 2010, a Dosthill man reported seeing a stripy big cat close to Hedging Lane.
In November 2009, the Herald reported on how TNT employee Gemma Capostagno was walking on Baddesley Common when she spotted the creature.

In October 2009, motorist Sue Swift saw what she thought was a large black labrador near Polesworth. When she tried to coax the animal into her car she realised it wasn’t a dog at all – it was what she believed was a puma.

Preston woman Jaki Ryding, aged 43, saw a big cat-like beast from a train between Tamworth and Lichfield on Thursday, September 3, 2009.

Also in September of 2009, Lisa Urry, of Borough Road, spotted a big cat on the outhouse of a nearby property.
In July 2009, a big cat-like creature was seen by Margaret Locke, the Musical Director of Tamworth Ladies Choir, who lives in Bonehill.

An Austrey woman, who asked not to be identified, told the Herald she saw a big cat on Monday, June 15, 2009, between Appleby and Measham.
Mount Pleasant resident Richard Foort said he had seen such a creature four times in 2009, prowling wasteland near to the river in Two Gates.

A Gillway woman claimed she saw a big cat in the garden of her Hawthorn Avenue home on July 7, 2009.
A Measham couple spotted a creature on their CCTV in April 2009, when it leapt their six-foot garden fence.

In 2008, a 31-year-old says he saw a feline in fields as he walked from No Mans Heath to Austrey.
In 2007, Coton Green man John Ellis reported seeing a big cat just four feet away from him in Wigginton Park.

In 2006, Drayton Manor zoo manager Robin Roberts broke a 15-year silence to admit that he had seen a black leopard roaming free in the area. Mr Roberts, who worked with big cats for more than 40 years, told the Herald how he and a former colleague saw the creature in a local village.

Also in 2006, a gruesome attack near Austrey, in which a pregnant sheep was stripped to the bone, was blamed on a big cat prowling the Tamworth area.
In the same week a woman, who kept horses in fields in Warton, told the Herald she was convinced a big cat was responsible for two vicious attacks on her lame horse, which left it with bite marks to its neck and deep claw marks needing stitches.

In 2004, Linda Rawlins, of Austrey, said she had seen what she believed to be a black panther twice in five days in fields near her home.
In 2003, a farmer and his wife told the Herald how they spotted a big cat when driving between Warton and Grendon at around 10pm.

In 2002, Warton man Simon Rooke said he believed a big cat was responsible for a wound to his pet pointer, Jasper.
Also in 2002, Fred Hopkins, senior ranger at Kingsbury Water Park, confirmed a sighting had been reported of two animals that fitted the description of large cats.

A similar sighting was also reported in 2001, in Water Orton, when a woman said a rottweiller was confronted by black cats.
In 2001, Measham man Graham Pearce claimed he had caught a big cat on video.



Museum find proves exotic ‘big cat’ prowled British countryside a century ago

Canadian lynx
Posted by: HeritageDaily ,
Canadian Lynx : Wiki Commons

The rediscovery of a mystery animal in a museum’s underground storeroom proves that a non-native ‘big cat’ prowled the British countryside at the turn of the last century.

The animal’s skeleton and mounted skin was analysed by a multi-disciplinary team of Durham University scientists and fellow researchers at Bristol, Southampton and Aberystwyth universities and found to be a Canadian lynx – a carnivorous predator more than twice the size of a domestic cat.
The research, published today in the academic journal Historical Biology, establishes the animal as the earliest example of an “alien big cat” at large in the British countryside.

The research team say this provides further evidence for debunking a popular hypothesis that wild cats entered the British countryside following the introduction of the 1976 Wild Animals Act. The Act was introduced to deal with an increasing fashion for exotic – and potentially dangerous – pets.
The academics believe such feral “British big cats” as they are known, may have lived in the wild much earlier, through escapes and even deliberate release. There is no evidence that such animals have been able to breed in the wild.

The study of the Canadian lynx, rediscovered by research team member Max Blake among hundreds of thousands of specimens at Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, details records unearthed at the museum which showed the animal had originally been mislabelled by Edwardian curators in 1903 as a Eurasian lynx – a close relative of the Canadian lynx.
The records also showed that the lynx was shot by a landowner in the Devon countryside in the early 1900s, after it killed two dogs.
“This Edwardian feral lynx provides concrete evidence that although rare, exotic felids have occasionally been part of British fauna for more than a century,” said lead researcher, Dr Ross Barnett, of Durham University’s Department of Archaeology.
“The animal remains are significant in representing the first historic big cat from Britain.”
Co-author Dr Darren Naish, from the University of Southampton, added: “There have been enough sightings of exotic big cats which substantially pre-date 1976 to cast doubt on the idea that one piece of legislation made in 1976 explains all releases of these animals in the UK.
“It seems more likely that escapes and releases have occurred throughout history, and that this continual presence of aliens explains the ‘British big cat’ phenomenon.”
The researchers point out in their paper that Eurasian lynxes existed in the wild in Britain many hundreds of years ago, but had almost certainly become extinct by the 7th century. Laboratory analysis of the Bristol specimen’s bones and teeth established it had been kept in captivity long enough to develop severe tooth loss and plaque before it either escaped or was deliberately released into the wild. Ancient DNA analysis of hair from the lynx proved inconclusive, possibly due to chemicals applied to the pelt during taxidermy.

Edwardian Lynx © Bristol Museums
Julie Finch, head of Bristol’s Museums, Galleries & Archives, said: “Bristol Museum, Galleries and Archives were pleased to be a part of this ground-breaking research, which not only highlights the importance of our science collections, it establishes the pedigree of our 100-year old Lynx and adds to our knowledge and understanding of ‘big cats’ in the UK.
“Our museum collections are extensive and caring for them requires the considerable skills of our collections officers. We have an amazing collection of taxidermy animals on display and we welcome museum visitors to come along, to take a closer look and discover more about the natural world.”
Dr Greger Larson, a member of the research team from Durham University and an expert in the migration of animals, said: “Every few years there is another claim that big cats are living wild in Britain, but none of these claims have been substantiated. It seems that big cats are to England what the Loch Ness Monster is to Scotland.
“By applying a robust scientific methodology, this study conclusively demonstrates that at least one big cat did roam Britain as early as the Edwardian era, and suggests that additional claims need to be subjected to this level of scrutiny.”
The lynx is now on public display at the museum.

Contributing Source : Durham University


Thursday, July 25, 2013

Image of the Day

Roaming Cats Savagely Attack Woman Walking Dog In France

cats attack woman
A pack of cats savagely attacked a woman who was walking her dog in France Sunday. (Photo via Shutterstock)

Cats may look fluffy and cuddly, but any cat owner knows there's mischief behind those wide eyes.
One pet owner in France learned as much, when a pack of at least six cats attacked the woman while she was walking her dog near a forested area in Belfort on Sunday evening, according to local reports.

The 31-year-old woman sustained several injuries on her legs and arms, including a nicked artery. She was taken to a local hospital for treatment, while her pet poodle, which was also wounded in the cat attack, was separately transported to a veterinarian clinic.

The local veterinarian called the savage encounter "abnormal behavior" and could not explain why the stray felines committed the act of apparent aggression, daily newspaper L'Est Républicain reports.
While cats do not usually attack humans so savagely, feral felines are known to strike out against perceived threats.

As Valérie Dramard, a veterinary behavioralist, writes in a contributing piece on Le Nouvel Observateur: "Cats are not the new zombies of the apocalypse. They are (very) simply territorial and unfriendly with unknown species."


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Image of the Day

Fufik getting up by Tambako the Jaguar
Fufik getting up, a photo by Tambako the Jaguar on Flickr.

Mountain lion hunting season could open in Nebraska

When it comes to big game we hunt deer, elk, even big horned sheep here in Nebraska. But could there soon be an open season on big cats? The Game and Parks Board of Commissioners is considering just that.

They meet this Friday talking about an inaugural mountain lion hunting season.

In the past few years cougar sightings have been on the rise.

You'll remember the big story in May of 2011, when one was even shot in a residential neighborhood in Kearney.

The legislature did pass a bill last year giving the go ahead for the season.

But they left it up to Game and Parks officials to create the season and the rules surrounding hunting the big cats.


Long-Held Myth About Cheetahs Busted

A portrait of an African cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus jubatus) on the Okavango Delta, Botswana.
An African cheetah on the Okavango Delta, Botswana.
Photograph by Chris Johns, National Geographic Stock
Jane J. Lee
National Geographic
Published July 23, 2013

Like a finely tuned sports car, cheetahs are precision machines born to run. But for over 30 years, researchers believed the animals' blazing speed came at a cost—the danger of overheating on a hunt.

A 1973 study looking at captive cheetahs running on a treadmill found evidence that these sprinters abandoned hunts because they got too hot. That gave birth to the idea that the animals' hunting success rate was due to the fact that their motors ran a little too hot. About 40 to 50 percent of cheetah hunts end in a kill, which is on the lower end of success rates among African big cats.
"It became a popular story that got applied to free-ranging cheetah," said Robyn Hetem, a biologist at the University of Witwatersrand in Parktown, South Africa. "Most of our guides will tell you this when you come to Africa and see cheetah."

Not so fast, says a new study published July 23 in the journal Biology Letters.

Study leader Hetem and colleagues found that the body temperatures of four free-ranging cheetahs stayed relatively stable during the chase portions of successful and unsuccessful hunts.
Body temperatures rose after the cheetahs stopped running—but they rose about twice as much in individuals that had brought down prey, compared with ones that had abandoned a hunt. (Watch National Geographic's slow-motion video of a cheetah running at top speed.)

Hetem and colleagues saw this rise after controlling for factors including the duration of a hunt, activity levels during a hunt, and air temperature.

"I've never been convinced by this idea that cheetahs overheat when they're chasing, so it's nice to see that confirmed," said Sarah Durant, an ecologist at the Zoological Society of London who also sits on the committee for National Geographic's Big Cats Initiative.

"What does surprise me is the temperature rise after they've killed," added Durant, who wasn't involved in the research.

Stressed Eaters

Hetem and colleagues were able to monitor body temperatures and activity patterns of these sleek carnivores by implanting sensors in six cheetahs living at the Tusk Trust Cheetah Rehabilitation Camp in Namibia. The scientists ended up using data from four because a leopard killed two of the six study animals.

The researchers hypothesized that the post-hunt temperature rise was due to a stress response in cheetahs on the lookout for other predators.

"In the Serengeti where I work, it's very common for hyenas to be attracted to the sound of a chase or the kill," explained Durant.

Cheetahs are very alert after a kill and when they're eating, she said. "They spend a lot of time sitting up, presumably looking for other predators."

Many times cheetahs rest or wait before tucking into a meal, and it was during these periods that Hetem and colleagues saw the body temperature increases. The rises would peak about 15 minutes after unsuccessful hunts and 40 minutes after successful ones.

Similar Siblings

Hetem discounts digestive processes as an explanation for the body temperature increases, since they occurred while the cats were eating as well as resting or waiting near their kill.

Previous studies have seen increases in the body temperatures of deer and impala when they are exhibiting fear. So a similar stress response in cheetahs could help explain why there's a greater increase in body temperature after successful hunts versus unsuccessful ones, Hetem said.

This is further supported by the fact that one of the study cheetahs got a thorn lodged in a paw one day and did not participate in a hunt at all—his sister made the kill. But the male did share in her spoils.

"He shows the same body temperature pattern that she does," said Hetem. "The rise in temperature happened when he got to the prey item."

Lunch Break

This stress-response explanation is an interesting hypothesis worth further investigation, Durant said.
She added that it's important to know how hunts affect cheetah body temperatures because of a curious effect of humans on cheetahs in the Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. (Related: "A Cheetah Can Get You Without Hitting Top Speed.")

A previous study done in the Masai Mara found that cheetahs would wait until tour groups broke for lunch before engaging in hunting behavior, Durant said.

Since Hetem and colleagues also found that the time of day had an effect on cheetah body temperatures, tourist schedules could affect a cat's core body temperature, Durant speculated. (Read about "Cheetahs on the Edge" in National Geographic magazine.)

If cheetahs in the Masai Mara are being forced to hunt at hotter times of the day, that might expose them to higher risks of heat stress, she said.