Sunday, November 30, 2014

Your Daily Cat

Lioness on her platform again 
Lioness on her platform again by Tambako The Jaguar

Lioness with funny mouth 
Lioness with funny mouth by Tambako The Jaguar

Insanely Adorable Tiger And Lion Cubs (Video)

National Geographic's Big Cat Week is in full swing, and to honor the occasion, big cat wrangler Boone Smith visited HuffPost Live with a precious baby tiger and lion.
While the six-week old tiger looks pretty cute and cuddly at this moment, Smith said this ball of fluff will grow up to be one of the largest cats on earth. "Siberian tigers are the largest. Males can grow to be over 600 pounds. These guys are huge." he explained.

The cub's just beginning to evolve into the massive cat he'll go on to be. "He's starting to be able to get around, a lot of strength and mobility," Smith said. "This is when they're at an age when they're super fun and playful, just adorable to watch."


Big cats at the Feline Conservation Center

By Sam McManis

Face your fears, people always say. OK, easily done, provided the mountain lion, object of my near-phobic trepidation, remains safely behind what looks like a sturdy metal enclosure.

I have driven well out of my way, to the dusty hinterlands of the high desert north of Lancaster, just to confront what I fervently hope I’ll never meet in the wilds of Auburn or any other trail in the Golden State. I planned to stand face to face, go tooth and claw, with a cat that, in less-controlled conditions, could have me for an afternoon snack.

Really, I shouldn’t be nervous. Anna Houston, the kindly docent at the Exotic Feline Breeding Compound’s Feline Conservation Center, tells me in soothing tones that “we have a great safety record, never had any cats escape and never had any deaths or serious injuries or stuff like that.”
Good to know, since it’s not just a mountain lion (a breed so fierce, apparently, it also goes by the name puma or cougar) among whom I’ll be strolling for the next hour. The FCC, a nonprofit that opened its breeding facility doors several years ago for fund-raising tours, also is home to other threatened big cats, such as snow leopards, jaguars, black leopards, a lynx or two and numerous other species with big, long teeth dripping with saliva.

Now I’m no ailurophobe – though, to be honest, I’m a dog person, not a cat fancier – so nearly all the 70 rare felines, from the tiny margay to the stoutest tiger, don’t get my heart racing. But the facility’s lone mountain lion, that guy freaks me a bit. Completely irrational, I know. But maybe I feel vulnerable because I frequent trails in the foothills, which the lions call home, and read with equal parts fascination and dread about occasional sightings of the stealthy quadruped both in open space and, as was the case a few months back in the Bay Area, at a strip mall.

This particular cat, which keepers named Serrano because it was found on a trail of the same name, came to the center in 2012 after it was captured skulking around Whiting Ranch in Orange County. Department of Fish & Game officials determined that Serrano, then less than 2 years old, was “not acting” like other young lions, so they did not release him back to the wild.

“So he came to us,” Houston said. “We’re not a rescue, per se, but if Fish & Wildlife or a vet picks up an animal, we’ll take them in some cases. Mainly, though, we’re a breeding facility. We’re trying to increase the genetic variation of all of these endangered cats.”

She led me past spacious cages housing Pallas cats of Central Asia, a black leopard from Thailand and an amur leopard from Russia to a large enclosure that look a lot like the area around the American River confluence.

There was a lush, fragrant coniferous tree throwing ample shade. There were crushed granite paths and dusty duff. There were debarked logs both flat on the ground and propped on top of each other, an artificial “pond” about the size of a hot tub with a small water fall, a granite bluff and a fabricating “cave” for snoozing and, incongruously, a red rubber ball you’d find on an elementary school playground. Says Houston: “We do what we can to give them the environment they are used to.”
There was, however, no mountain lion.

Serrano did not make an immediate appearance. I, of course, figured he was stalking me before choosing the most opportune time to pounce. (Have I mentioned that I’m irrational?)

Houston laughed. “Serrano’s kind of shy, especially during the day,” she said. “For the most part, mountain lions stick to themselves. The reason we have ours was because he was coming down and getting on the trails around people, which is not normal behavior. So, in some situations like that, they don’t (reintroduce) the (lions) back into (the wild). And some of the situations are people who’d had them as pets when they were younger and they got too big and out of control and so the people –”
Wait, people have mountain lions as pets? “Yes, really. That’s how we get many of our cats (of various species),” she said. “But, remember, we’re not a rescue.”

Serrano’s neighbors seemed much more outgoing. The North Chinese leopard and black panther in adjoining cages strutted and sunned themselves, occasionally leaping about boulders as if practicing parkour. Serrano? Not even a fleeting glimpse. Houston didn’t even bother to try to lure the lion out, as she did by playfully calling the names of cats in other enclosures. A mountain lion, apparently, cannot be so easily cajoled.

“Most of our cats are up and around most of the day, depending on how hot it is,” she said. “Some are more aggressive. Some are nicer, but some have been in captivity their whole lives so they have that connection with people.”

Serrano’s been a resident here for two years – about half his life. Houston said the cat hasn’t altered his stealthy mountain lion ways, keeping to himself. These aren’t, apparently, the most social of animals.

Two visitors to the center, who identified themselves only as Margo and Bruce, stopped by to take a gander and, seeing no activity in Serrano’s lair, turned their attention across the walkway to a jungle cat (Latin name: Felis chaus), found in Southeast Asia and looking like an extra tall and long domesticated house cat. “It’s kind of like the zoo here,” Margo said. “They never come out when you want them to.”

Bruce did his darnedest to lure the jungle cat, aptly named Pandora, out of her boxlike enclosure.
“C’mon sweet Pandora,” he said, voice raising two octaves. “C’mon good girl. C’mon out. You’re a good girl.”

Margo said she and Bruce, who live in Tehachapi less than an hour away, drop by often to visit the cats. They have, indeed, spotted Serrano and shrug when I asked if he looked fierce. “Pandora is our favorite,” Margo said. “Just a beautiful cat.” Then she whipped out her smartphone and clicked on a photo of her house cat, a flamepoint Siamese that even a dog lover would find cute.

Cat lovers make up most of center’s visitors, though you could hardly call any of the feline inhabitants here cute and fluffy. More like sleek, sinuous and sneaky.

Over at the North Chinese leopard spot, Maureen and Colin Marshall, of Rosamond, brought their 7-month-old son, James, to see the big cats because, according to Maureen, “We have a cat at home and he (James) likes to torment him.”

James, for the record, hardly seemed fazed by the 160-pound spotted specimen with paws as large as dinner plates. The couple pushed the stroller past Serrano’s enclosure, saw no activity, kept moving. But I wasn’t yet ready to bail on Serrano. I lingered and read the laminated plaque outside his lair. “Deer are the most important part of the puma’s diet,” the poster read, but, really, they’ll eat anything from beavers to rabbits, raccoons to opossum.

Next to that was a handsome photograph of Serrano, regally sitting on his haunches. But I just kept fixating on his paws, so big, so lethal. I left, eventually, having nary a peek at the object of my mortal fear. Then I remembered what an acquaintance once told me while on the Olmstead Trail in Cool: You might not have seen a mountain lion, but he’s seen you.”

Now there’s a comforting thought.

Call The Bee’s Sam McManis, (916) 321-1145. Follow him on Twitter @SamMcManis
Where: 3718 60th St. West, Rosamond
Hours: 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Thursday-Tuesday
Cost: $5-$7
Phone: (661) 256-3793


From Idaho to Boston, a cougar kitten finds a new home

Wednesday November 12, 2014
Wednesday November 12, 2014

Wednesday November 12, 2014
Wednesday November 12, 2014
A cougar kitten, approximately four weeks old, has made the journey from central Idaho to Boston, where he will eventually make his new home at Zoo New England’s Stone Zoo.

Pete Costello, Assistant Curator of Stone Zoo, traveled to Idaho last week to pick up the male kitten and bring him home to Massachusetts. The trip was made possible through coordination with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, as well as through the generosity of JetBlue, which provided the travel arrangements and safety oversight.

“Given the challenges he has faced in his first few weeks of life, we are thrilled to be able to provide a home for this kitten. Our staff prepared for his arrival and for the special care that this kitten will need during these early days. An ambassador for his species, our guests will have the unique opportunity to learn more about cougars as they watch him grow up,” said John Linehan, Zoo New England President and CEO. “His journey to Boston is the result of a truly collaborative effort. We are incredibly grateful to JetBlue, whose team went above and beyond every step of the way in assuring a smooth travel experience. In honor of all of their support, the new kitten will be named Blue.”

Cougarkitten2Blue, a male kitten weighing 5 pounds, was found near Salmon, Idaho and taken to a local veterinary clinic. The next day, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game returned the kitten to the location where he was found in the hopes that the mother was nearby. Following this attempt to reunite the kitten with his mother, persons unknown found the kitten and it was once again returned to the veterinary clinic. At that time, Idaho Department of Fish and Game determined that the kitten could not be returned back to the wild and that a permanent home would need to be found.

“This late-season kitten emphasizes the need to be diligent about leaving wild babies alone. While the outcome is not what was hoped for, it is the best situation for the kitten under the circumstances,” said Dr. Mark Drew, Idaho Department of Fish and Game Wildlife Veterinarian.

Cougarkitten3Caring for the kitten will require a lot of dedicated attention by the Zoo’s skilled animal management and veterinary teams. Currently, the kitten is being bottle fed every four to five hours throughout the day. He is being cared for at the Zoo hospital, located at Franklin Park Zoo, for at least the first 30 days. When he is big enough, he will move to his new home at Stone Zoo. He is expected to make his debut in the cougar exhibit within Treasures of the Sierra Madre in winter 2015.

One of the largest of the wild cats in North America, the cougar is also known as a panther, painter, mountain lion, puma and catamount. Although the cougar’s United States range has diminished throughout the last century, they still have the widest distribution of any land mammal in the Western Hemisphere. They range from the Yukon in Canada through the western portion of the United States and a small portion of the eastern United States to Patagonia. Cougars are found in all habitats from lowlands to mountainous regions and from deserts to tropical forests.

Females typically give birth between April and September to one to six kittens, which are born with a spotted coat and blue eyes.

Learn more about cougars in Stone Zoo's Animals Section.
Images courtesy of Dayle Sullivan-Taylor

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Tiger census starts at Shuklaphanta


MAHENDRANAGAR, NOV 29 - The census of Bengal tigers has begun in the Suklaphanta Wildlife Reserve through camera trapping technology on Thursday. The administration of the popular wildlife reserve, which is spread over an area of 3,500 sq km, stated that they will be counting the tigers at the reserve using the technology for a period of one month.

Stating that the counting of the elusive big cats will be conducted in two phases spanning 15 days each, Bed Kumar Dhakal, chief conservation officer at the Reserve said that unlike previous years when the programme was conducted at conserved areas nationwide, the programme will be conducted only in the wildlife reserves and national parks with low tiger count this year. Dhakal further informed that the programme will also be conducted in Parsa Wildlife Reserve and Banke National Park. The programme is being conducted with active participation of the National Trust for Nature Conservation (NTNC), Reserve officials and Nepal Army personnel deployed for the security of the Suklaphanta Wildlife Reserve.

According to Dhakal, the programme is conducted every year at conserved areas with low tiger population to keep track of the elusive big cats. During the tiger counting and monitoring conducted at the reserve last year, 11-17 adult striped tigers were spotted.  There were 27 stripped tigers at the reserve during the first tiger counting and monitoring conducted about one and a half decades ago. However, the number had been decreasing ever since, falling down to an average of 6-8 coming into the year 2008. An increase in their number had only been witnessed after 2011 when 10 tigers were found, which gradually increased to 17 last year.

Meanwhile, Hemant Yadav, coordinator of NTNC, Kanchanpur programme said that training classes for participants in the tiger census had been started since last Sunday. “A 22 member team will count the tigers with the help of 46 automated cameras,” Yadav said, adding that camera trapping was the most effective and reliable technology to keep a tab on tiger population in a given area.

The population of these majestic creatures—which is estimated to be around 3200—has been decreasing by the year in all tiger habitats across the world. Hence, the Tiger Range Countries (TRC)  have started conservation programmes to double the number of tigers left in the wild by 2022.
According to the Department of National Park and Wildlife Conservation, the number of striped tigers stood at 176 within various conserved areas in Nepal until last year.

Rhino collared in Khata corridor

KATHMANDU: A sub-adult female rhino was fitted with a satellite collar on Thursday and released into wild in Khata corridor that connects Bardiya National Park in Nepal with Katerniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary in India. Data retrieved from the satellite collar will provide key insights to habitat use and movement patterns of rhinos along the corridor. The collaring initiative was led by the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation(DoNPWC) and Department of Forests with the support of WWF Nepal, National Trust for Nature Conservation, and local communities. “This is the first time that we have selected a corridor as a collaring site for rhinos,” said to Tika Ram Adhikary, director general of the DoNPWC. “The corridors serve an important contiguous function in the Terai Arc Landscape and with the help of this study we hope to gain from useful insights in conservation that will benefit wildlife and people on both sides of the trans-boundary landscape.”


Big cat sightings in North Wales lead to calls for Welsh Government investigation

By Tom Davidson

Darren Millar AM says there has been a 'a flurry of sightings of big cats' in Conwy and Denbighshire

Darren Millar calls on Welsh Government to investigate big cat sightings in North Wales
Darren Millar calls on Welsh Government to investigate big cat sightings in North Wales
A flurry of big cat sightings should spark a Welsh Government investigation, according to a Tory AM.

Clwyd West AM Darren Millar has criticized the Welsh Government’s lack of action over big cat sightings in Conwy and Denbighshire.

In the Senedd on Wednesday he asked Natural Resources Minister, Carl Sargeant AM what research the Welsh Government is undertaking into tigers, lions and pumas in Wales

Mr Millar said: “There has been a flurry of sightings of big cats since the Dangerous Wild Animals Act of 1976 made it illegal to keep untamed pets. “Many owners of exotic cats such as pumas or lynx simply freed their animals into the countryside.
Darren Millar
Darren Millar
 “It is worrying that despite there being a number of sightings across Wales, the Welsh Government is doing nothing about it.”

In 2011 there was fears big cats could have been responsible for slaughtering badgers and sheep in Snowdonia.

Farmers Dafydd and Pam Parry claimed to have seen the wild animals in the hills around their home near Beddgelert, Gwynedd.

Mr Millar added: “There have been a number of sightings over the years of big cats in the Welsh countryside, including in Conwy and Denbighshire, with tracks having been found in the snow a few years back in the Clocaenog Forest and a number of farmers having lost livestock mysteriously which show signs of big cat type attacks. “I wonder what research the Welsh Government may have commissioned on the subject of big cats, and the threat that they might pose to native wildlife species.”

Carl Sargeant said the Welsh Government has not commissioned any work on big cats. Danny Bamping at the British Big Cat Society agreed with Mr Millar that more needed to be done to investigate big cat sightings.  He said: "I certainly support this call. I've been investigating sights for 20 years and some of the best evidence of big cats living and breeding in Britain is in North Wales. 
"There was a law-loophole in 1976 which saw potentially dangerous animals released into the wild and the Welsh Government has the jurisdiction to look into it."


#BigCat Tracker Boone Smith On Why We 'Have A Responsibility' To Protect Lions


It's no secret that big cats are in trouble.

Four of the five feline species that fall under that umbrella are endangered or near threatened: snow leopards, jaguars, leopards and tigers. Lions, whose populations once numbered close to 200,000, have lost most of their historical range to farms and could face extinction by 2050. They face a slew of threats, from habitat loss and poaching, to retribution killings and the illegal pet trade.

For Boone Smith, a fourth-generation big cat tracker who cut his teeth trapping mountain lions in Idaho and star of Nat Geo WILD's upcoming show "Man v. Lion," the fight to save these species is an "uphill battle" that we still have time to win. The Huffington Post spent time with Smith at a private game reserve in South Africa earlier this month to learn about the threats lions and other cats face as urban sprawl threatens to overtake all of the land once ruled by the king of the jungle.

This interview has been edited for clarity and content.

You grew up collaring mountain lions, why are they doing so well compared to other cats?
Cats in general have a lot of similarities, generalities that you can say “ok, all cats do this, do that.” The difference that I see is that the success for something like mountain lions versus African lions is maybe a little bit of the ability to adapt. African lions have lost a lot of habitat... and when you’re a big animal like that and you need a big space and you don’t have that, conflict with humans is a little different. Whereas mountain lions, we talk about mountain lions a little different as living in deserts, jungles, the rockies and now we talk about urban mountain lions and their ability to adapt and live in California.

Lions are a little bit too big to go under the radar… and there’s that confidence, almost an arrogance of “I’m this big and bad and I’m going to do what I want.” Mountain lions aren’t like that, they’re secretive and shy and they’re elusive, so some of it’s personality, and differences in management, and that’s what makes it all great is that it's unique everywhere you go, and the animals are unique.

male lion

What kind of response do you have when you're tracking? Fear? Respect?
People always say “are you afraid,” and I say I’m always a little afraid, but I do a good job of keeping my head about me and processing things, but you have to show these animals a lot of respect. You think what the lifecycle of a big cat is, if you don’t kill, you don’t eat, and you die. So we’re talking about the best of the best in mother nature, and this has been honed, evolutionarily over millions of years, they’re really good at what they do, and you need to have a healthy respect for that.


Do you think most people have that sense of respect?
I guess it’s like anything, it’s what you’re used to, it’s time and experience and feeling comfortable.
So many times I hear people say “if we just leave them alone, we came into their world.” And I agree with that wholeheartedly, we did, we’ve encroached. The idea that we just leave it alone and it’ll fix itself, we have to take into account our effect, our footprint’s everywhere, we have such an impact whether we want to or not. And we don’t acknowledge that we are not collecting the best information. Acknowledging our screw ups, but our successes, we can do a lot for a lot of species, and I think we have a responsibility. Whether they were here first or not, we have a responsibility to make sure that there’s wild places, that there’s wild things there and that they can function in a natural environment. We're kind of guardians in that way a little bit and if we don't take that responsibility serious we’ve got great examples of how that’s caused big problems and impacts on ecosystems, and when you lose it, you don’t get it back.


What needs to be done to stop the downward trend?
Everybody wants a magic bullet, a fix-it-all, one thing that if we do this it will solve the problem, and it doesn’t exist. I think we really need to look at big picture things, education is so important, and that doesn’t fix problems, but when people are educated about it they are more likely to make compromises.

Why should we all work towards saving big cats?
Big cats are important because with them comes big wild places. Being able to go into the wild and be somewhere where you are not the top of the food chain, I think it really, it makes you alive. When I go to the wild places it’s a spiritual thing, it renews you it fires you up. I’m not saying we go there and get scared and be afraid that everything’s going to eat us and we’re going to die, but certainly I think it does something for us spiritually.

I think that’s good for us, because we lose touch of that. I love not being at the top of the food chain. It keeps you alive. You have to focus differently, you’re not glued to that phone, you’re looking up, you’re smelling these different things. I think it lets us reconnect with nature.

Nat Geo WILD's fifth-annual Big Cat Week starts Friday, Nov. 28 and runs through Dec. 3. Tune in Friday to watch Boone Smith in "Man v. Lion" at 9 p.m. EST and again on Tuesday, Dec. 2 at 10 p.m.


Friday, November 28, 2014

Your Daily Cat expresses how it feels about Black Friday

Funny portrait of the lioness on the platform 
Funny portrait of the lioness on the platform by Tambako The Jaguar

Lynx portrait with tongue 

Lynx portrait with tongue by Tambako The Jaguar

Rare white lion cubs captured by photographer working to protect little big cats from hunters

  • By Rebecca Lewis

THE birth of three white lion cubs takes the wild white lion population to the grand total of 13 in the whole world.

Barcroft Scott Ramsay spotted the three white lion cubs - the trio bring the world population up to 13.
Scott Ramsay spotted the three white lion cubs - the trio bring the world population up to 13.
THEY are some of the rarest, most beautiful – and most vulnerable – creatures on the face of the earth. Three white lion cubs have been born to a white mother in the only place in the world where white lions are found. Their birth takes the total global wild white lion population to 13, with only six of them born outside captivity.

Wildlife rangers and conservationists are overjoyed by the new arrivals. But they also know they are in deadly danger, mainly because of twisted humans who pay huge prices to shoot wild lions for fun.
They hope the world will help them keep the cubs alive.

The babies were born in the Greater Timbavati region of South Africa, where the lion population have a unique gene which means a few of them are born snow white. It’s the first case known to science of a white lion mother giving birth to white cubs.

Game ranger Chad Cocking, 31, was first to spot the youngsters. He said: “We rounded a bit of vegetation and there in front of us were six lions, and two of the lionesses were white. “When I put my binoculars on, my smile got even bigger – if that was possible. There, nursing from their white mother, were three white cubs and their tawny sibling.”

Photographer Scott Ramsay took these amazing shots of the cubs and their mum two weeks later. He said: “They are hypnotic creatures. “One of the white lionesses has piercing blue eyes to go with her white coat. She was supremely photogenic.” Former model Linda Tucker, who has dedicated her life to saving white lions, is thrilled with the new cubs.

They take the total number of living white lions born in the wild to six. Linda’s Global White Lion Protection Trust rescued the other seven from captivity. Linda said: “The birth of these cubs is fantastic news. It brings huge hope.”
Scott Ramsay / Barcroft One of the white lion cubs looks straight through the reeds at the photographer
One of the white lion cubs looks straight through the reeds at the photographer
 But as she celebrated, she warned of the real threat the cubs face from the callousness of rich hunters and those who profit from their so-called sport. White lions are the ultimate trophy for rich men who will pay £100,000 for the chance to defy the law and kill one. Timbavati lions often fall victim to the grotesque practice of “canned hunting”, where poachers steal male cubs, raise them, then let them loose in fenced areas for foreigners to shoot. And cubs left behind are not safe either.

Hunters also operate in the wild, killing males. And if the leader of a pride is shot, his place will be taken by a younger male who will kill all the cubs he has not sired himself. Linda said the cubs’ mother herself survived after her pride’s leading male was killed and another took over. And she warned that the last litter of white cubs, born in 2006, died soon after hunters killed their father.
Linda said: “The survival of these cubs, and the future of white lions in the wild, is in jeopardy if trophy hunting continues.”


Thursday, November 27, 2014

Illegal animal trade in decline, but work still to be done

Illegal animal trade in decline, but work still to be done
Lilac the lioness, whose teeth were filed by an owner, was rescued and recuperated at the Abu Dhabi Wildlife Centre. Online sales to the UAE of big cats appear to have fallen. Delores Johnson / The National

Of the 144 advertisements for rare wildlife discovered by the survey in the UAE, Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait, the largest number – 122 was in the UAE. Ten ads were discovered in Bahrain, seven in Kuwait and five in Qatar. The UAE also had the largest number of websites hosting such trade at 14. The website with the largest number of wildlife ads was where 85 ads were discovered during the survey period. Ten adds were discovered on, and four on

DUBAI // Online sales of endangered wild animals appear to be decreasing in the UAE, an international survey has found. The International Fund for Animal Welfare (Ifaw) survey investigated trading through 280 open-source websites in 16 countries, including the UAE.

While animals and animal parts worth an estimated Dh1.48 million were being traded online in the UAE, activity seems to have decreased as a result of an intensified government response to the problem, said Dr Elsayed Mohamed, regional director for the Middle East and North Africa at Ifaw. There were 122 advertisements about the sale of wild animals and animal parts on UAE sites over the survey period, March 10 to April 20 this year. In a similar study carried out in 2012, 796 advertisements were discovered.

Dr Mohamed said in 2012 the Ministry of Environment and Water removed some adverts and blocked some websites. The Government also issued ministerial resolution number 346 for 2012 banning the personal and commercial import of wild animals.

Of the 122 latest ads, 120 concerned the sale of live animals, mostly exotic birds. There were eight ads for the sale of primates, four for large cats and birds of prey, and three for antelopes.
Among the UAE ads was one for the sale of a live cheetah priced at US$18,000 (Dh66,114).
Big cats are sought after by people – some of whom keep them as pets without being able to care for them properly.

Many end up at shelters such as the Abu Dhabi Wildlife Centre.
For the first time, the survey team discovered many ads for rare animals that were found to be fraudulent. “Here in the UAE, many ads related to the UAE were just a scam,” said Dr Mohamed. “This is one of the surprises we found this year. In 2012, we did not notice this.”

Besides the UAE, online trading in Kuwait, Bahrain, and Qatar was also investigated. Altogether, there were 144 ads, offering 245 specimens. An additional 704 advertisements were found to be fraudulent.

The survey did not focus on what is known as the dark net – online sites accessible only to registered users. Social media and forums where wildlife was offered, were also not reviewed.

The report, titled Wanted – Dead or Alive, Exposing Online Wildlife Trade, discovered that 33,006 rare animals and animal parts were traded via about 9,482 advertisements in the 16 countries covered.
The value of the animals and products advertised was put at a minimum of US$10.7 million.


Nat Geo Wild's Big Cat Week

The channel's annual feature is interesting and a visual treat, with a caged observer among lions as one of the highlights

Thursday, November 27, 2014

If you want to know how cheetahs are able to run so fast, Big Cat Week is the place to go.  
ROBERT CAPUTO/AP If you want to know how cheetahs are able to run so fast, Big Cat Week is the place to go.
Big cats always end up being a tiny bit less mysterious after Nat Geo Wild’s Big Cat Week, and in a sense that’s too bad.
But a solid week of film showing lions, tigers, cheetahs, cougars, jaguars, leopards and their kin prowling through the wild never lessens the fascination.
This year’s series kicks off with Nat Geo regular Boone Smith getting as up close and personal as one would ever want to get with lions.

In a maneuver that parallels underwater divers who study great white sharks from inside steel cages the sharks are trying to devour, Smith camps out in a cage in the heart of lion country.
Since we’re seeing his report, we can figure that he didn’t end up as a feline snack. Still, the power of lion paws is impressive from where Smith is crouching.

This being the Nat Geo family, the footage here is great, while the narrators explain what it all means. Breaking down the biomechanics of a cheetah’s sprint wouldn’t carry a whole show, but it creates an interesting side note.
Smith’s findings include the role of male lions in the hunt, which some big-cat shows suggest is to lie around and wait for the females to come back with fdinner. Not so, it turns out. The males kill some of it themselves.

Another new episode here focuses on a female leopard working to protect her cubs in their first months of life. The challenge of her mission is underscored by the fact that she lost her cubs to predators the previous year.
It’s not all Darwinism, though. Big Cat Week is also fun — as long as the cage holds.


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Your Daily Cat

Lynx looking at the side 
Lynx looking at the side by Tambako The Jaguar

Brave sitting lynx 
Brave sitting lynx by Tambako The Jaguar

Big Cats + Mirrors = Fun Video

Because Tigers, lions, leopards (and every other species of cat) spend so much time grooming themselves, we decided to show them what they look like and we got some hilarious results!

Music track "Got Funk" courtesy of

The leopards of Mumbai: life and death among the city's 'living ghosts'

India’s second city is home to an estimated 20 million people ... and 21 leopards. The 250,000 residents with homes inside the boundary of Sanjay Gandhi national park must find a way to live with their big-cat neighbours
Young female leopard seen around the Royal Palms apartments in Goregaon East, her home range.
A young female leopard spotted near the Royal Palms apartments in Goregaon. Photograph: Zeeshan A Mirza
Hawa hawa oh hawa … a 90s Hindi hit blares from the radio in Kusum’s mud house. “I play music till 1am every day,” says the elderly lady. She says she is not much of a music fan - but her loud playlist keeps the leopards away. Meanwhile, just down the road, 35-year-old Dilip Changverlekar recently renovated the house where his family has lived for generations. He added tin sheets to the roof and walls to make it difficult for leopards to climb.

Mumbai is India’s richest city and home to a human population of around 20 million, but it also contains one of the largest protected urban forests in the world. The Sanjay Gandhi national park (SGNP) spans 104 sq km - the size of 30 Central Parks - and is home to more than 1,000 species of plants and animals. Here in Chuna, a tribal hamlet of 40 houses inside the park’s boundary, seeing a leopard is not a scandal but a routine, and residents receive a visit from the big cats several times a week.

In 2012 a forest camera-trap counted as many as 21 leopards in the park, and footage of the big cats in the slums, residential complexes and schools of urban Mumbai has shaped what many think of SGNP’s leopards. It has also given the impression that the creatures are entering the city more often than ever before. But are there really more leopards?
Kusum, resident of Chuna Pada; leopards crouch in the vegetation just next to her house.
Chuna Pada resident Kusum plays loud music to keep leopards away from her house. Photograph: Elizabeth Soumya
The leopards were here long before millions of people turned Mumbai (which once had a sizeable population of tigers, too) into a bustling megacity. The park’s peripheral areas have never been so densely populated, and Vidya Athreya, India’s leading expert on leopard-human conflict, thinks this has led to the increase in sightings.

“Eye shine” is the easiest way to spot the cats, who have a tapetum lucidum structure at the back of each eye that reflects light back and helps them see more clearly in the dark. “People used to go to bed earlier, and there weren’t so many vehicles or so many lights,” says Athreya.
The presence of leopards living alongside humans is a case of two highly adaptable species sharing space, says Athreya, who calls the animals “living ghosts” for their ability to be elusive.

The very idea that the leopard shouldn’t live near humans is a completely urban construct, he says. “If you got to rural India, people know leopards have always been around. The adivasi [ethnic and tribal groups of India] have always lived with them and see the animal as part of their cultural identity.”

The leopards come close to human settlements looking for food, says SGNP wildlife researcher and conservationist Krishna Tiwari. Around 90% of their diet consists of dogs, rodents and wild boar, with stray dogs - attracted by the garbage dumped on the edge of the park - accounting for 60%.
Mumbai’s leopards have generally coexisted peacefully with their human neighbours. But a spate of attacks a decade ago reinforced the notion of them as bloodthirsty man-eaters. Of the 176 reported attacks between 1991 to 2013, 84 occurred between 2002 and 2004. Nine people were killed by leopards in the month of June 2004 alone.

During this period, leopards rescued from other parts of Maharashtra state were being released in the SGNP. The authorities though the park would be a haven for leopards, but instead the relocated cats were forced to fight for territory and food. “What we ended up having in the park was stressed-out predators,” says Athreya. “Highly territorial animals who were displaced and had to find food in an unfamiliar place.”
Krishna Tiwari, a wildlife researcher and conservationist grew up just outside the SGNP.
Krishna Tiwari, a wildlife researcher and conservationist who grew up just outside the park. Photograph: Elizabeth Soumya
After the relocations stopped in 2006, the number of attacks decreased dramatically and there were no fatalities or injuries from leopard attacks in the Mumbai suburbs from 2009-11. Yet, since November 2011 there have been six fatalities; the last three deaths were all reported in Aarey Milk Colony, to the south of the SGNP. The most recent was in October 2013, when a seven-year-old boy was killed.

Tiwari, who grew up in a residential building just outside the SGNP, has worked in the park for almost two decades. The encroachment of the city today is unparalleled, he says. Illegal settlements - including nagars (settlements by non-indigenous people), padas (tribal settlements) and high-rise buildings - continue to swell in and around the park. More than 54 illegal settlements and two villages - with a combined population in excess of 250,000 - are inside the park itself.

With this encroachment of the city into the park, Athreya fears that conflict with humans is the prime threat to Mumbai’s leopard population. How people living around the park deal with the presence of these animals will determine the future for the big cats.

Residents of Chuna Pada, a tribal settlement inside the SGNP.
Residents of Chuna Pada, a tribal settlement inside the SGNP. Photograph: Elizabeth Soumya
In space-deprived Mumbai, any open land attracts a premium, and the wall around the national park is “for people to stay out, not for leopards to stay in,” Tiwari says. “Real estate ads sell ‘nature’ as if the park is their private property. People want to live close to nature, but don’t want to live with the leopards that come with it.”

He now limits his conflict awareness to those living in informal settlements, such as tribal hamlets and slums. “If you are in a building there’s no need to worry,” he says. “All attacks on humans have happened in [slum] areas, except one in Powai.” In settlements that lack toilets or electricity, 80% of the leopard attacks happen when people go out to answer nature’s call after dark.

Chandunushay Jadhav lives in Aarey Milk Colony, where a record high number of leopards attacks have been recorded, including the most recent death. But Jadhav says there are more important things to worry about than leopard attacks: “Don’t tell us to be scared of the leopard, give us facilities,” says the 64-year-old, who sleeps in a doorless structure on his farm where three leopards are regular visitors. “I am not afraid, I don’t even have electricity. Don’t tease it, don’t disturb it and it won’t attack you.”

Jadhav knows that leopards have roamed the area for generations and doesn’t think the creatures will disappear anytime soon. In the old times, the cats had enough space in the jungle and ample prey, so “why are we making towers where the leopards are? The leopards will visit Mumbai again and again because this is where they live,” he says. “It is really their home.”

This article was commissioned as part of the Guardian’s Citizen Reporting Programme


Mapping and Protecting the Biggest Cat in the Americas

Posted by Andrew Howley of National Geographic Society in Explorers Journal

The purple regions in the map above show the known populations of jaguars. Explore an interactive version of the map which reveals the corridors between groups that allow these fragmented groups to function as one robust community. (Map by NGM Maps)
The purple regions in the map above show the known populations of jaguars. Explore an interactive version of the map which reveals the corridors between groups that allow these fragmented groups to function as one robust community. (Map by NGM Maps)
During the Ice Age, enormous saber-toothed cats took down huge prey across the New World. Today, while the long, lank mountain lion holds on in North America, the muscle-bound jaguar is the top of the food chain in the south.

Still, despite being able to sneak up on a caiman and take it down with a single bite (as seen in the video below), like other big cats around the world these legendary beasts face huge threats to their survival in the form of vast habitat loss and extensive hunting.

The map above shows just how little of their home continents jaguars continue to prowl. Explore the interactive version to discover the key corridors that connect these pockets and allow the flow of genes that keeps the overall jaguar population diverse, healthy, and fit for adaptation and survival.

Explore the World of Big Cats for Yourself

Now, as part of Big Cat Week on Nat Geo Wild you can join the conversation about conservation, and learn more about big cats from the experts who study them and work for their protection on December 3 at 1pm ET in a live video chat via Google+ Hangouts.

Hosting the event will be Luke Dollar, director of National Geographic’s Big Cats Initiative and the scientist explaining the predator’s behavior in the “Jaguar vs. Caiman” video below, one of National Geographic’s most popular videos of all 2014.

Jag Stats

Weighing in from 100 to 250 lbs (45 to 113 kg) and stretching up to six feet (two meters) not counting the tail, jaguars are the third biggest of the big cats (tigers and lions being the top two).
While at first glance the spots on their coats may be confused with those of leopards or even cheetahs, the stocky body, slightly arched back, Schwarzenegger-like muscles, and rounded head make the living jaguar unmistakable on sight.

Honored (or feared), the jaguar has been a powerful presence in the thoughts and beliefs of native cultures for millennia. Now as hunting and development have whittled away its range and population, the once unassailable predator is largely at the mercy of humans who have at times viewed their gods in its image.

How to Participate in the Hangout

You can help us Cause an Uproar for big cats, and get answers to your burning questions about jaguars, other wild felines, and their world by taking part in our Google+ Hangout. Submit your questions by posting a question on Google+ or Twitter using #bigcats or commenting directly on this blog post.

Follow National Geographic on Google+ or return to this blog post (click source link below) to watch the Google+ Hangout Wednesday, December 3rd at 1 p.m. EST (6 p.m. UTC).
See more photos and read about jaguars in "Path of the Jaguars" from the March 2009 National Geographic Magazine. (Photo by Pete Oxford, Minden Pictures)
See more photos and read about jaguars in “Path of the Jaguars” from the March 2009 National Geographic Magazine. (Photo by Pete Oxford, Minden Pictures)

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Hollywood Producers Deny Militarized Robotic Cat Footage Is Real

Hollywood Production Company, Big Machine denies that military footage in their upcoming reality television special is real

(PRWEB) November 24, 2014 

The producers of Future Cat, a special for Nat Geo Wild, have released this statement regarding unauthorized footage that has been circulating on various internet sites: 

"It has come to our attention that leaked footage from our show has been mischaracterized by several organizations on the internet as classified footage that is evidence of a Defense Department program to create a militarized robot that looks and moves like a big cat. This footage is not classified and was not acquired illicitly, as has been implied by several members of these conspiracy sites," said Moriah Muse, an Executive Producer with the show.

"The photo real footage is computer generated and was created by our design and animation team for the express purpose of education and entertainment. If is completely coincidental if the footage resembles an actual project."

"Our footage is a synthesis of the predictions of robotics experts, big cat experts and military strategists. It is not based on any military program that we're aware of. It was meant as an exercise in appreciating what we have to learn from big cats and how that can be applied to human ingenuity."
The producers have promised to make available images that show the process and creation of this footage once the program airs on November 30. The show says it is unable to share the footage before that time due to contractual restrictions.

"We hope that we'll be able to put these rumors to rest and get back to the business of focusing on the importance of preserving big cats and appreciating them for the majestic animals they are. We also don't want this to detract from all of the legitimate robotics research that we also feature in our show."
FUTURE CAT airs November 30, 2014 at 9PM on Nat Geo WILD.

Additional information and press inquiries can be directed to info(at)bigmachine(dot)net


‘Puma cubs’ spotted in Red Lodge during search for lost dog

By CambridgeNews  |  Posted: November 25, 2014
By Natalie Robinson
  • Big cat spotted in Derbyshire
  • A big cat or Fen Tiger sighting near Girton from 1998
  • Bea Bea the dog, missing in Red Lodge
  • Big cat spotted in Derbyshire
  • A big cat or Fen Tiger sighting near Girton from 1998

A pet owner hunting for a lost dog fears it could have been savaged in a brutal attack – by two wild pumas. Sam Hammond was looking for her friend's black Labrador cross Bea Bea when she spotted the two cat-like beasts running through a field. She said she heard a yelping 15 minutes after the sighting and fears the dog may have been attacked by the cats. The dog has still not been found.

Sam reported the sighting in Red Lodge to the police the same day and is convinced the mystery animals were puma cubs. She said: "I was searching for my friend's dog and thought I'll just try this field where there was a farmer. "I got halfway across and turned around and the farmer had left. I started walking back and I then looked to my left and saw these two cats at the edge of the field. The cats were focusing on where they were walking. I think they were on the scent of something. I just ran and just thought I need to get as far away as possible. I was really freaked out. There were two of them. 
"I'm 100 per cent certain there were two and 100 per cent that they were big cats. I am so shaken up by it, even when I talk about it now."

Sam met up with her friend and told her what happened. But when they continued their search, they heard a dog bark and then "a dog cry out in pain". And it is not the first time Sam has spotted a big cat in Suffolk. In 1996 she believes she spotted a black panther near Long Melford in Suffolk and later on found a "massive footprint" in the village. Sam said: "I never thought I'd see anything like it again. The fact I saw two cats when I have already seen one just scared me. The fact I saw two this time has really affected me because I was in the middle of a field with them. They could have got me in a second."

Suffolk Police have confirmed they have received a report of the sighting of the cats on November 12. A spokeswoman from the force said: "It is rare that we receive these types of calls in the county, but if someone does believe they have seen a big cat they can contact police. "If there is immediate danger we will respond but often the sighting will be referred to other agencies such as the RSPCA."
The incident comes two months after a man reported a big cat sighting in Mildenhall Woods, just three miles from the spot where Sam says she saw them in Red Lodge.

A large "cat like" creature was spotted through trees in Thetford Road in Mildenhall on September 1, and it was also reported that a "deer carcass stripped to the bone" was found not far from the same spot of the last sighting in Mildenhall Woods just a few days previously.

John Berrett of Barton Mills spotted the cat and said he had "no doubt" that it was a wild creature, adding that in his 70 years, he had only seen something like that "on TV or in the zoo".
Sam Hammond and Bea Bea's owner are still hoping that the dog is alive and will continue their search for Bea Bea around the local area.


Sunday, November 23, 2014

Your Daily Cat

Lynx near the tree 

Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx) near the tree by Tambako The Jaguar

Mountain lions one step closer to Mississippi

Brian Broom, The Clarion-Ledger

Although Mississippi was once home to panthers, there have been no confirmed sightings in more than 100 years. But the recent killing of a big cat in Arkansas could indicate they intend to return.
On Nov. 8, a hunter in Bradley County shot and killed a mountain lion. It was only about 80 miles away from Greenville.

According to Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s Myron Means, the cat was a healthy, 148-pound adult male measuring 7 feet, 3 inches from nose to tail and showed no signs of ever being captive. He was truly a wild animal.

While that cat is dead, Means, AGFC’s Large Carnivore Coordinator, said there are more where he came from. “I know we have documented five sightings in the last five years,” Means said. “Missouri has seen the same thing over the past 15 years. They’ve seen a gradual increase in sightings. Maybe they’re starting to establish home ranges. Maybe that’s happening in Arkansas as well.”

Breeding populations

According to Means, male mountain lions are known to wander farther than females. Much like black bears, young males tend to strike out on their own. But with a steady, though slow, increase in confirmed sightings, Means said it is just a matter of time before the females catch up. “I expect to see more sightings in the future,” Means said. “Five to 10 years down the road, we may have a breeding population. It may be two years, who knows? ... All it takes is for one female to move in. Really, at this point, it’s just a matter of time before the animals establish home ranges.”

Mississippi is in the path and has suitable habitat. The first hurdle is the state line. “He’s still got to traverse the Mississippi River, but cats do swim,” Richard Rummel, Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks’ Exotic Species Program director, said.

Even though cats can cross rivers, setting up shop in Mississippi may take a while. “I think it’s going to be years before we have a breeding population,” Rummel said. “That’s way down the line. Males and females have to show up and they have to find each other.”

Another obstacle the cats face in their journey to find new territory is man.

Fraidy cats

Means said the shooting of the Bradley County mountain lion was the first recorded killing in Arkansas since 1975. The hunter involved claimed he felt threatened and was not charged with any wrongdoing. If an animal is considered a threat to someone, a person can legally kill it, Means said.

While the hunter was not charged with wrongdoing, comments on AGFC’s Facebook page indicated some were skeptical about him actually being in any danger. “You’ve got a large carnivore with a lot of negative folklore associated with it,” Means said. “I really hope it doesn’t open a can of worms where a bunch of trigger-happy guys start shooting them. If you’re going to claim self defense, it better be a good reason.”

In Mississippi, Rummel said it better be a really good reason.
Mississippi is in the historic range of the Florida panther, which varies little from the mountain lion, as it is called in western states. But unlike its western cousin, the Florida panther is endangered and federally protected. According to Dave Onorato, a research scientist with Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission’s Florida Panther Project, there are only 100 to 180 Florida panthers.

Because we are within the panthers’ historic range, Rummel said the intentional killing of a big cat in Mississippi will be treated as the killing of an endangered species. “You can expect a visit from federal and state officials who will thoroughly investigate,” Rummel said. He also noted that the mere presence of a panther does not constitute an immediate threat.

If a panther is encountered, Rummel had some advice. “You want to avoid eye contact,” Rummel said. “Back away. Wave your arms. Wave a jacket or shirt. Whatever you do, don’t turn and run. That could trigger a predator response.”


Saturday, November 22, 2014

DHS-funded jaguar study could be model for future predator rescues

Corbin Hiar, E&E reporter

As part of its broader effort to protect jaguars in the Southwest, the Fish and Wildlife Service is using more than $200,000 from the Department of Homeland Security to fund two opinion surveys -- a novel approach to species recovery that FWS officials believe could help improve future programs aimed at conserving imperiled predators.

DHS's Customs and Border Protection -- the program's unusual benefactor -- didn't agree to fund the surveys because the endangered jaguars pose a threat to national security. Quite the opposite: Citizens living along the U.S.-Mexico border and the federal agency charged with policing that boundary pose some of the biggest challenges to re-establishing the wild cats in this country. "The primary threat to jaguars is human hunting, poaching and poisonings," FWS spokesman Jeff Humphrey said. To reduce those dangers, he said, "we need to understand people's attitudes toward jaguar conservation."

With that goal in mind, the service has proposed surveys that will gauge attitudes of cattle ranchers and others in southern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico -- the areas of the United States where jaguars are occasionally sighted (Greenwire, Dec. 21, 2012). Public outreach efforts like these, Humphrey acknowledged, "are not common."

The ranchers' survey, which is expected to cost the federal government $150,361, was approved by the White House on Aug. 7. It is being conducted by the University of Arizona and will examine 228 landowners' knowledge of jaguars and interest in taking part in efforts to protect them.

The White House's Office of Management and Budget is reviewing a similar $64,699 knowledge and attitude survey of 200 residents. If it is approved, the Harris Environmental Group, a small consulting firm in Tucson, Ariz., will seek out 100 responses from household representatives, 60 from private-sector workers, and 40 from state, local and tribal government officials.

Funding for these innovative studies is left over from a $50 million deal that DHS signed in the waning days of the George W. Bush administration with the Department of the Interior, which oversees FWS. Then-Customs Commissioner W. Ralph Basham entered into the agreement -- amid considerable public pressure -- after former DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff invoked a series of congressionally authorized exemptions to environmental laws like the Endangered Species Act in order to speed construction of border fencing (Land Letter, Jan. 22, 2009).

The deal included an account of proposals to protect rare plants and animals harmed by the new border security measures, Customs and Border Protection spokeswoman Erlinda Byrd explained in an email. Interior "provided CBP with a list of proposed 'conservation actions,' which are projects that DOI identified as the most effective in addressing impacts from fence construction," she said.
"CBP and DOI mutually agreed that the mitigation funds would be made available to fund conservation actions in 'increments' over several fiscal years," she added. "The jaguar study is among the conservation actions that have been funded by CBP."

Survey worries green group

The agencies' agreement specifically set aside $2.035 million for jaguar monitoring, conservation and recovery, according to a project description worksheet provided to Greenwire. That pool of money was used to address the research needs of scientists working for FWS, who first called for a survey of ranchers in early 2012. "Results of this study will be used to inform the implementation of future recovery actions in the U.S.," the scientists wrote in their jaguar recovery outline, an interim document FWS officials are relying on while they assemble a full recovery plan.

The outline also notes that DHS's border security construction could harm the endangered cats. "Fences designed to prevent the passage of humans across the border also prevent passage of jaguars," the scientists wrote. "Because jaguars in Arizona and New Mexico are believed to be part of a population centered in northern Mexico, impeding jaguar movement from Mexico to the U.S. would likely adversely affect the presence and persistence of jaguars in the U.S.," they said.

Even though Mexico is home to only about 500 of the estimated 10,000 jaguars left in the wild, the cats actually evolved in North America. By the mid-1950s, though, habitat loss and hunting had decimated the population of jaguars living in the U.S.

The muscular, brownish-yellow animals, which have fur marked by flowerlike patterns of black spots, are the biggest cats native to the Americas. They can grow up to 8 feet long from nose to tail and weigh as much as 300 pounds -- only lions and tigers are larger.

CBP agents' pursuit of people attempting to avoid barriers along the border might have adverse impacts on these wild cats, the outline added. "Fences may cause an increase in illegal traffic and subsequent law enforcement activities in areas where no fence exists. This activity may limit jaguar movement across the border and result in general disturbance to jaguars and degradation of their habitat."

The DHS settlement has also funded about 10 different jaguar-related contracts for things like a big cats photo-monitoring program, a study of the effects of roadways on jaguars and other wild cats, and some feline genetics research, Humphrey said.

But the use of public surveys before the agency has issued a formal recovery plan for the jaguar has some environmentalists worried. "We certainly don't believe that people's attitudes should determine whether recovery takes place or not," said Michael Robinson, a conservation advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity, an activist group that's frequently at odds with FWS.

Earlier this year, CBD litigation forced the service to designate 760,000 acres of land along the border as "critical habitat" for the jaguars (Greenwire, March 5). That means federal agencies now have to consult with FWS on actions they carry out, fund or authorize within that area to ensure those activities won't destroy or degrade the land's usefulness for the endangered cats.

CBD celebrated that decision but is still critical of FWS's broader effort. "Sadly, the Fish and Wildlife Service has not been very affirmative and proactive in developing a recovery plan for the jaguar," Robinson added, noting that the cat was originally placed on the international endangered species list in 1972 -- even before the passage of the Endangered Species Act. "So we're very interested in exactly how the results would come to specific actions that would need to be taken to recover the jaguar."

Humphrey suggested environmentalists have nothing to worry about. He predicted that the draft recovery plan would likely be released "this coming year," before the surveys could be completed and taken into consideration. "Is there information that could come from this survey that could help inform the recovery plan?" he asked, before answering the question. "Under the current timelines, probably not."

'Public buy-in'

Regardless, FWS believes the surveys will still be of great value to the wild cat's long-term recovery effort. "This information is pretty important because the jaguar is pretty controversial," said Mary Anderson, an FWS border mitigation coordinator. "There's a lot of concern by the public regarding the presence of jaguars in their area, and we're just trying to find out what those concerns are so that we can educate the public."

For instance, she said, if people don't realize that jaguars mainly eat deer and javelinas, then that fact could "lessen concerns of the public regarding the threat of jaguars to humans." Ultimately, Anderson said, "recovery of endangered species also includes a public component. If we don't get public buy-in, it's difficult."

Getting widespread support for conservation efforts is easier with some endangered species than others, Humphrey noted. As a result, "there are a number of species that are more socially benign where doing this sort of study would not be appropriate," he said. "However, for something that has a broad range and stigma, such as a predator or a jaguar, it'd be very helpful for us to understand people's attitudes toward the animal as well as toward its conservation."

The main question these surveys -- and potentially future ones based on them -- will try to address, the FWS spokesman said, is "for a species whose primary threat has been poaching, how is it that you can affect social change to reduce that threat?"

Even though results from the jaguar surveys are many months away, other predator conservation efforts are already considering public polling as a way to answer that question. For example, a critical outside review of the red wolf recovery program recommended a survey of residents to learn more about their attitudes toward wolf conservation and to rebuild trust with the community in the wolves' recovery area (E&ENews PM, Nov. 20).