Saturday, January 31, 2015

Your Daily #Cat

Villy looking happy 

Villy looking happy by Tambako The Jaguar

'Buffer zones, corridors crucial factors to conserve tiger population'

By Neha Attre | Last Updated: Saturday, January 31, 2015

The booming tiger population in India has resonated happy echoes across the world.

The tiger population figures in the country, which was released recently by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF), has seen a marginal rise from 1,706 in 2011 to 2,226 in 2014. The trend is encouraging considering the dwindling numbers of the big cat.

The present figure in the country alone amounts to 70 percent of the world's total tiger population.
In an exclusive chat with Neha Attre of Zee Media Corporation, Rajesh Gopal, Member-Secretary, National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) talks about the factors that have led to the increase in the tiger population in the country.

Q. Did the creation of buffer zones in and around tiger reserves help in increasing the tiger population?
A. The creation of buffer zones in and around the tiger reserves have been very helpful in maintaining the genes that percolate out and can reach areas which are promising and where tiger population can thrive. Rehabilitation plans have been implemented to minimise man-animal conflict scenario and relocate villagers who have been living in these areas.

Q. How crucial are wildlife corridors for conservation of tigers?
A. Habitat connectivity for genetic exchange is important for conservation of tigers and wildlife corridors linking tiger reserves facilitate easy movement of the big cats. With the help of corridors, the tigers can move from one conducive place to another. The easy movement of the big cats is extremely important as every tiger requires its own territory area.
Also, we suggest mitigating measures, suppose if a mine or a highway is present on the path of the corridor, then the concerning authorities are suggested to take remedial measures.

Q. What are the other factors that have helped in increasing the tiger population of the country?
A. Other important factors include creation of Special Tiger Protection Force (STPF), which helps in protecting the tiger population in vulnerable areas, and deployment of anti-poaching squads involving ex-Army personnel or home guards and workforce including locals.
Every reserve has a tiger conservation plan specific to the area and rehabilitation of villagers from tiger reserves and fostering corridors have also helped in conserving the tiger population.
The carrying capacity of a tiger reserve and prey base is also assessed. Depending on the same, the tiger is then physically shifted to other areas as each tiger requires its own territory area.

Q. Instead of the pugmark identification method, technologies like capturing tiger images and analysing DNA which are being used are more scientific?
A. With time, technology improves. It is a more scientific and accurate method of assessing the tiger population in the country and helps in giving a clear picture. Camera traps are used in tiger reserves which also helped in monitoring the movement of tigers.


Friday, January 30, 2015

Your Daily #Cat

Coto on the rock 

Coto on the rock by Tambako The Jaguar

The girls looking dad come!

The girls watching their dad arrive! by Tambako The Jaguar

See the Stunning—and Elusive—Saharan #Cheetah

Scientists have scored new photos of this elusive and endangered feline and new insights on how to save it from extinction.
(Photo: Farid Belbachir/ZSL/OPNA)
January 29, 2015
Emily Gertz is TakePart's associate editor for environment and wildlife.
One of the best chances for saving the world’s deserts and their vanishing wildlife may lie with the critically endangered Saharan cheetah.

The big cat is so elusive that it has rarely even been photographed—until now.

Using camera traps with infrared shutter triggers, an international team of scientists has captured rare close-ups of this mysterious and beautiful predator—and in the process have gained unprecedented scientific information that could help save it from extinction, according to a new study. With fewer than 250 left in the wild, the Saharan cheetah is listed as critically endangered, one step down from extinction, on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature Red List of threatened species.
(Photo: Farid Belbachir/ZSL/OPNA)
Scientists hope the new photographs of Saharan cheetahs will attract the attention of wildlife fans—and funders—and increase the support for conserving imperiled desert ecosystems.
“This research provides us with important new insights into the world of this remarkable desert-dwelling large cat,” Sarah Durant of the Wildlife Conservation Society and a study coauthor, said in a statement. “I hope that it…also reminds the world of the value of studying and protecting desert species and their environments, which are often overlooked by researchers and conservation programs.”

The photographs are an achievement because the harsh environment—a rocky, mountainous desert akin to the American Southwest—forces cheetahs to range far afield to find enough prey. Meanwhile, North Africa’s political instability makes doing science there dangerous, even in the Ahaggar Cultural Park of south-central Algeria, where these camera traps were placed.

Based on when and how often individual cheetahs made their appearances in two different camera traps, the researchers calculated that the species hunts mostly at night. The big cat needs to range about 1,000 square miles of territory to find enough chow—mainly desert antelopes like the Dorcas gazelle and the addax, which is also critically endangered.

Man vs wild: #Leopards breed in fields, say experts

 DC | U. Sudhakar Reddy | January 30, 2015

Leopards live in high densities in rural areas due to easy availability of stray dogs, pigs and calves.

Hyderabad: Has the leopard-human conflict in AP and TS taken a new dimension? Is Maharashtra’s Akole valley phenomenon of carnivorous cats adapting to human habitation being replicated in Andhra and Telangana?

Wildlife experts say that the recent series of incidents wherein leopards have been spotted in five districts in AP and three in TS, close to towns and rural areas, are indications that the big cats are adapting to human habitations. On Thursday as well there were two instances of leopards being spotted, in Anantapur and Kadapa districts.

Imran Siddiqui of Hyderabad Tiger Conservation Society said, “There is no spurt in leopards straying out; in fact they are now adapting to stay close to human habitations. Leopards have started breeding in high crop areas like sugarcane fields. In Tirupati, Visakhapatnam and Hyderabad there have been instances of leopards feeding near garbage dumps. More instances are being reported as people are now more aware of their presence. Goat lifting, cattle kills are taking place.”

Leopards live in high densities in rural areas due to easy availability of stray dogs, pigs and calves. A senior wildlife official of the TS forest department said, “They might have come out in search of food like they stray during summer for water. Leopards can’t feed on adult wild boar as they are strong and difficult to attack.”

AP principal chief conservator of forests, A.V. Joseph said, “They are harmless and are of no danger to humans. In Maharashtra there was a phenomenon of leopards breeding in sugarcane fields. But this is unlikely in AP.

Population stabilises as poaching reduced:
The demand for leopards in international wild life trafficking has decreased according to Wildlife Protection Society of India, while the number of poaching incidents have come down according to the forest department. Tiger killings, however, have increased, but the leopard population is stabilising as they are not targeted by poachers.

Wildlife expert Imran Siddiqui said, “We can’t say leopard population is blooming but they have stabilised. Poaching has come down as there are no takers for leopard skin and bones.”

According to WPSI, the illicit international demand for big cat skins continues, there is virtually no market for leopard skins in India.


Video / Rare African Golden #Cat has been captured on camera While Attacking Monkey

29.01.2015 Rare African Golden Cat has been captured on camera While Attacking Monkey The African golden cat has been captured on camera launching an ambush attack on a troop of large red colobus monkeys. Set up the cameras in Uganda's Kibale national park, hoping to catch even a glimpse of the elusive predator, which has never been filmed in the country before, The Guardian reports.


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Your Daily #Cat

Standing and posing radja 
Standing and posing Radja by Tambako The Jaguar

#Cheetahs 'slower than we thought'

Big cats' top speed is actually around 58mph rather than 70mph that has been accepted for decades
  • Myth busted by researchers who attached GPS trackers to big cats
  • They gathered data from 367 hunts and 58mph was the top speed
  • Results will be shown on Sir David Attenborough's new TV series   

Cheat: The cheetah's top speed is only 58mph, research has found - though that's still pretty impressive

‘For more than half a century we have overestimated the cheetah’s speed,’ the veteran presenter said. ‘The cheetah’s legendary top speed of 70mph is just a myth. But their true speed of 58mph is still extraordinary.’

He added that while the cheetah may not be as speedy as previously believed, it still holds its title as the world’s fastest land animal. ‘Its greatest feat is its acceleration,’ he said, ‘[Which is] four times that of sprinter Usain Bolt.’

The presenter – whose broadcasting career began when he joined the BBC in 1952 – shows just how comfortable he is with animals, filming one segment of the documentary next to an affectionate cheetah, which happily purrs and licks his knee.
He explains the new and more accurate speed measurements were taken using high-tech data collection collars.

The more accurate speed measurements were taken using high-tech collars, which used solar batteries and GPS to track the animals’ movements. Researchers collected data from 367 cheetah ‘hunts’ and the top speed reached during any of the chases was just 58 miles per hour. 

The research was developed by scientists at the Royal Veterinary College who honed the technique using greyhounds and lurchers. The dogs are ‘similar in size and shape to a cheetah’ so worked as a good substitution for the more unpredictable wild animals. Both have backs that flex and extend so greatly that at times none of their feet touch the ground.

When researchers were sure the collar was not affecting the movement of the dogs, they tested the technology on wild cheetahs and found that previous estimations had been out by a whopping 12 miles per hour.

The myth that cheetahs could reach 70mph began in 1957 after photographer Kurt Severin conducted a basic experiment using an upturned bicycle and some fishing line to pull along a meat-scented bag. He used a stopwatch and a pistol to record how long it took a cheetah to run 73-metre course. His results – showing cheetahs reaching speeds of 70 miles per hour - were soon accepted as scientific fact. 

African Golden #Cat Attacks Monkeys in Rare Camera Trap Footage

by Megan Gannon, News Editor   |   January 28, 2015

 This is one of the first photos of a living African golden cat in the wild. It was taken in Gabon in April 2002.Credit: Courtesy of Panthera


African golden cats are hardly ever photographed in the wild. In their rare, camera-trap cameos, the cats are usually seen licking their spotted fur or innocuously inspecting the unfamiliar lens. But recently, scientists captured a much more dynamic scene: a golden cat crashing a party of red colobus monkeys in Uganda.

The video, released yesterday (Jan. 27), may be the first footage of a golden cat hunting in the daylight, according to Panthera, the conservation group that released the video from inside Kibale National Park.

"We know a lot more about golden cats than we did a few years ago, and yet we still know almost nothing about their behavior," David Mills, a graduate student at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) in South Africa, said in a statement. "Primatologists in Kibale have observed monkeys emitting alarm calls at golden cats on several occasions, and considering this latest evidence, it's not hard to see why."

The video was recorded from a camera trap set up by researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany. In the beginning of the clip, a group of adult red colobus monkeys feeds on the dead wood of a tree stump. The attack happens suddenly. A cat leaps from the bushes and briefly wrestles with the monkey slowest to flee. A slow-motion version of the video makes it clear that the cat was unsuccessful; it quickly retreats when it fails to get a fatal hold on its prey.

African golden cats are comparable in size to bobcats. They can weigh 11 to 35 lbs. (5 to 16 kilograms). Red colobus monkeys, which weigh 15 to 27 lbs. (7 to 12 kg), can put up a good fight against the cats — and they aren't always on the defensive. Another video released by Panthera shows a group of colobus monkeys harassing a golden cat that's trying to sleep in a tree in Uganda's Kalinzu Forest Reserve.

African golden cats, which are listed as near-threated by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), are found in the forests of central and west Africa. They were photographed for the first time in the wild in 2002, and once in a while, new footage of the animals emerges. Two years ago, for example, scientists with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) captured a video of an African golden cat in Kibale. The researchers said they lured the creature to the camera trap with Calvin Klein's Obsession for Men. The cologne contains civetone, which comes from the scent glands of civets, small mammals that are native to Africa and parts of Asia.


Dog disease in #lions spread by multiple species

January 27, 2015
Washington State University
Canine distemper, a viral disease that's been infecting the famed lions of Tanzania's Serengeti National Park, appears to be spread by multiple animal species, according to a study published by a transcontinental team of scientists.
This is a lion pride in Tanzania's Serengeti National Park.
Credit: Courtesy, Sian Brown

Canine distemper, a viral disease that's been infecting the famed lions of Tanzania's Serengeti National Park, appears to be spread by multiple animal species, according to a study published by a transcontinental team of scientists. Writing in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, they say domestic dogs are no longer the primary source of the disease's transmission to lions and that wild carnivores may contribute as well.
Their findings demonstrate that in natural ecosystems, a deadly virus can jump between species and thrive, thereby threatening vulnerable animal populations.

"Our study shows that the dynamics of canine distemper virus are extremely complex, and a broadened approach -- focusing not only on domestic dogs--is required if we are to control the disease among lions and other wild animal species," said veterinary researcher Felix Lankester of Washington State University's Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health, a co-author based in Tanzania.

In 1994, a mysterious neurological ailment wiped out 30-percent of the lion population in the Serengeti, one of the largest wildlife regions in the world. Scientists determined it was canine distemper, a disease previously thought to infect only dogs, coyotes and a small number of other mammals. Evidence suggested the lions had contracted the virus from dogs living in villages and settlements nearby. A domestic dog vaccination campaign was launched to curb the infection's spread. It worked--among dogs, at least.

After analyzing three decades of blood serum data collected from lions and domestic dogs, the study's researchers discovered that the virus continues to circulate in the lion population while significantly declining among dogs.

The dog's role in spreading the disease appears to be shrinking, conclude the paper's authors, an international team of veterinarians, disease ecologists, epidemiologists and mathematical biologists.
"Domestic dog populations immediately surrounding the Serengeti National Park are not the sole driver of canine distemper infections in lions, and its persistence is likely to involve a larger multi-host community," they write.

Other species, including hyenas and jackals, are probably transmitting the disease and keeping it looming in the wild, they say. Consequently, outbreaks among lions and other already-threatened animals could occur at any time.

Researchers say more work is necessary to identify which species spread distemper and what triggers the spillovers. For example, it's believed that an infected hyena or other carnivore feeding on a carcass can disperse the virus through mucus secretions to other predators at the same site.
A better understanding of canine distemper virus and its dynamics in the wild is necessary to effectively monitor and better control the disease among lions and other threatened animals, the scientists report.

Story Source:
The above story is based on materials provided by Washington State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Journal Reference:
  1. Mafalda Viana, Sarah Cleaveland, Jason Matthiopoulos, Jo Halliday, Craig Packer, Meggan E. Craft, Katie Hampson, Anna Czupryna, Andrew P. Dobson, Edward J. Dubovi, Eblate Ernest, Robert Fyumagwa, Richard Hoare, J. Grant C. Hopcraft, Daniel L. Horton, Magai T. Kaare, Theo Kanellos, Felix Lankester, Christine Mentzel, Titus Mlengeya, Imam Mzimbiri, Emi Takahashi, Brian Willett, Daniel T. Haydon, Tiziana Lembo. Dynamics of a morbillivirus at the domestic–wildlife interface: Canine distemper virus in domestic dogs and lions. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2015; 201411623 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1411623112

Washington State University. "Dog disease in lions spread by multiple species." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 January 2015. <>.

In Search of the Elusive Saharan Cheetah

The video above includes rare photographs of Saharan cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus hecki) scentmarking taken by remote cameras in a survey in the Ahaggar Cultural Park in the Algerian Sahara. The survey was conducted by Farid Belbachir, Amel Belbachir-Bazi and Sarah Durant with the support of Zoological Society of London,  Howard G Buffett Foundation, Wildlife Conservation Society, Panthera, Office National du Parc Culturel de l’Ahaggar and others

In Search of the Elusive Saharan Cheetah

By Sarah Durant
Zoological Society of London, Wildlife Conservation Society and National Geographic Big Cats Initiative

The rare and enigmatic Saharan cheetah – a unique daylight photograph from remote cameras obtained during a survey of the Ahaggar Cultural Park in Algeria
The rare and enigmatic Saharan cheetah – a unique daylight photograph from remote cameras obtained during a survey of the Ahaggar Cultural Park in Algeria

It is 2008 and I am travelling through the magnificent red mountains and sandy plains in the Ahaggar Cultural Park in south central Algeria, with my PhD students, Farid Belbachir and Amel Belbachir-Bazi. We’re setting up the first surveys of cheetahs here. It was thrilling to think that a cheetah may well have passed through, perhaps just days, or even hours, before us.

Once we were away from the nearest towns, signs of wildlife were frequent, and we came across Dorcas gazelle, hares, and even Barbary sheep. Their numbers were sufficiently plentiful to support cheetah. Then we found cheetah scat and finally and tantalisingly, tracks.

The Sahara is the world’s largest desert, encompassing nearly ten million square kilometres and stretching across the width of the African continent, a distance of around 6,000km. At first sight it might appear to be an empty landscape, barren of wildlife. Closer inspection shows that not only is it teeming with life but, even more surprisingly, its most remote corners harbour one of the world’s most elusive big cats: the Saharan cheetah.

The Saharan cheetah is classed as a separate subspecies – Acinonyx jubatus hecki. It has a more ‘dog-like’ face with a pointed muzzle and sharp facial features compared with its sub-Saharan relatives – who appear distinctly round-faced and thick necked in comparison.

In a new article we use photographs from remote cameras to shed insights into the life of the secretive Saharan cheetah. These cameras trigger a photograph whenever an animal passes in front of an infrared motion detector.

Surveying these immense landscapes is no small undertaking. We used 40 camera traps, each 10km apart, to cover a total area of 2,600km2. After 2-3 months, we were successful in capturing thousands of photographs of camels and feral donkeys! However, snuck in between the camels and donkeys, were also 32 precious records of Saharan cheetah.

From these 32 sightings, we were able to identify five different individual cheetah using their distinctive spot patterns, and estimate the overall density of cheetah at 2-5 individuals per 10,000km2. This density is much lower than any cheetah density previously reported, and makes the Saharan cheetah one of the rarest large cats in the world.

We also found that the cheetah roamed across massive areas. Over just 2-3 months, the two individuals that were most photographed travelled across an average area of 1,600km2. Nearly all the cheetah photographs were taken during the night, often during the small hours, suggesting that the Saharan cheetah were also likely to be nocturnal, unlike their largely diurnal sub-Saharan cousins.

The author discusses data collection with Farid Belbachir during the Saharan cheetah survey (photo © Amel Belbachir-Bazi)
The author discusses data collection with Farid Belbachir during the Saharan cheetah survey (photo © Amel Belbachir-Bazi)
This evidence of Saharan cheetah surviving in the remote Ahaggar Cultural Park in Algeria is very welcome news. However, our findings have serious implications for their conservation. At such incredibly low densities, cheetah will need vast landscapes of hundreds of thousands of square kilometres for their conservation.

The Ahaggar Cultural Park, together with the adjacent Tassili N’Ajjer Cultural Park, encompass an impressive 770,000km2. Yet our study suggests that even this enormous area may only support 160 cheetah. Cheetah also face problems due to the insecurity that currently pervade most countries in the region, including serious unrest in adjacent countries: Libya and Mali. This reduces access to conservationists and managers to monitor and safeguard these precious landscapes and their biodiversity.

Not so long ago, the Sahara harboured a far greater diversity of life than survives today. This included the iconic desert antelope, the Addax, and Dama and slender horned gazelles. However, there has been a dramatic collapse in Saharan wildlife over the course of the 20th century. Today, less than 250 Saharan cheetah are thought to remain, and the subspecies is listed as Critically Endangered by IUCN.

The future of the Saharan cheetah hangs in the balance. Surely we will lose something of the magic of the spectacular landscapes of the Sahara if we allow the cheetah to disappear.

The spectacular landscapes of the Ahaggar Cultural Park in south central Algeria – home of the Saharan cheetah (photo © Sarah Durant).
The spectacular landscapes of the Ahaggar Cultural Park in south central Algeria – home of the Saharan cheetah (photo © Sarah Durant).

Farid Belbachir is the lead author on the article published in PLOS ONE on 28th January 2015. Amel Belbachir-Bazi, Nathalie Pettorelli Tim Wacher and myself are coauthors. The study was made possible by the generous support of the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, Wildlife Conservation Society, the Dunstable Runners and a Dorothy Hodgkins Postgraduate Award. It also benefited from a partnership with Panthera. Finally, the study would not have been possible without the support of the staff and Former Director, F. Ighilahriz, of the Office du Parc National de l’Ahaggar (now the Office National du Parc Culturel de l’Ahaggar).

A version of this blog also appears on


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Your Daily #Cat

Louis starting to yawn

Louis starting to yawn by Tambako The Jaguar

Prey base vital to sustain tiger population, say wildlife experts

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

ATR to take up fodder plantation on 250 acres this year

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

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

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

Other preys include the Sambar Deer and Spotted Deer.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rare tiger cub triplets leave den

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

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

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

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


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

Monday, January 26, 2015

Your Dailly #Cat

Mirka is so cute! 

Mirka is so cute! by Tambako The Jaguar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


A big #cat bungle in the jungle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

These cats feed on chicken," he said.


Decorating with #Cats

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

Artisan: Caroline I., Japan

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


Sunday, January 25, 2015

Your Daily #Cat (little cougar)

Lying Mirka 

Lying Mirka by Tambako The Jaguar

Mirka cute but bored 

Mirka cute but bored by Tambako The Jaguar

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

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

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

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

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


Mind Your Moods, #Cat Owners

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

The big cats are back, now clear their corridors

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Saturday, January 24, 2015

Solar lights at villages to keep off big #cats

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mountain Lion Sightings in the News

Mountain lion sightings reported in eastern CT

Posted: Jan 23, 2015 

WFSB 3 Connecticut

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Mountain lions caught on video in Boulder Creek

Cameras catch animals walking down street

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

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

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


Latest #Tiger News from India

Forest staff to be increased to protect big cats in Karnataka

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kudremukh tiger reserve:

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



In North Bengal, big cats are not roaring

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Six Katarniaghat tigers find home in Berdia park

Jan 23, 2015

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

Friday, January 23, 2015

Your Daily #Cat

Jumping and playing! 

Jumping and playing! by Tambako The Jaguar

Undercover Investigations Reveal Abuse of #Tiger Cubs at Roadside Zoos

January 22, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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