Monday, August 31, 2015

Sunday, August 30, 2015

The Most Narcissistic Cats In The World (video)

Big shame: Outrage as hunters' sickening haul of elephant tusks and big cat trophy heads is exported to Scotland

GOVERNMENT watchdogs revealed the items were included in a haul exported to the United Kingdom and transported north of the Border by hunters.

A pile of 15 tonnes of elephant ivory seized in Kenya
TUSKS from endangered African elephants were among the big game trophies brought into Scotland last year. Government watchdogs revealed the items were included in a haul exported to the United Kingdom and transported north of the Border by hunters.

The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) say an elephant-skin rifle bag and eight bracelets made from the hair of African elephants were also flown into the country.

Official figures reveal other animal trophies included heads, skins and the skulls of endangered big cats and hippos. One hunter brought back the hide of a grizzly bear.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) UK spokeswoman Elisa Allen said: “It’s time for the Government to take action and stop the shipment of dead elephants’ and lions’ parts from entering Scotland.

“Most Scottish people are appalled by the idea of gunning down sensitive, intelligent animals – whether they be elephants or foxes – and understand that this so-called ‘sport’ has no place in the modern world.”
American dentist Dr Walter Palmer sparked an outcry after killing Cecil the lion during a hunting trip in Zimbabwe
Hunting came under added scrutiny after the killing of Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe by Walter Palmer.
The American dentist sparked outrage when it emerged he paid around £30,000 to kill the animal in July, before being pictured on social media posing with its carcass.

The Sunday Mail revealed earlier this month how Highlands-based Peter Swales organises safaris where millionaire clients can shoot a lion for £60,000. Bringing hunting trophies back to the UK is legal as long as the animal was not killed illegally. BA and Virgin have said they would not carry big-game trophies on flights in the wake of the Palmer story.

All legal hunters are registered and must apply for an import licence from the UK Government – as well as having an export licence from the country where the hunting took place – to transport their trophies home.

A total of 155 trophy import licences have been granted by the UK agency over the last five years, including 61 licences in the last 12 months. In the past year alone, 10 licences were used for African elephant trophies. The species is in danger of becoming extinct, according to the World Wildlife Fund, with demand for ivory in Asia leading to a rise in poaching.

But APHA said: “Properly managed, legal and sustainable trophy hunting can play a part in species conservation efforts, including providing funding for some countries.”

Scottish Green MSP Alison Johnstone said: “These sickening examples of Scots importing so-called trophies made from elephants are a reminder we need to support conservation efforts and shame those who take joy from inflicting cruelty on wild and endangered animals.”


Lions and tigers can't purr

Posted: Saturday, August 29, 2015 
By Bob Bamberg

There's a saying among veterinary professionals that goes something like, "If it roars it can't purr, and if it purrs it can't roar. That refers to the fact that the big cats, like lions and tigers, roar but can't purr, and the small cats such as house cats and mountain lions purr but can't roar.
Although cheetahs purr, and for my money, that's a pretty big honkin' cat. So is the mountain lion. But I digress. The domestic cat begins purring a few days after it's born, which many professionals believe is part of the bonding mechanism between kitten and mom.
Just as barking is to domestic dogs and wild canids; purring is a uniquely feline trait that lasts a lifetime. The difference between purring and other vocalizations such as meowing and hissing is that purring can occur when the cat is either inhaling or exhaling and whether the mouth is open or shut. The other sounds can happen only upon exhalation.

It was once believed that purring occurred as a result of blood flowing through the inferior vena cava, the blood vessel that carries blood from the lower part of the body into the right atrium of the heart.
But contemporary thinking holds that the laryngeal muscles play a key role in purring. From what I've been able to determine, it seems that the absence of purring in cats with laryngeal paralysis was a big clue. It all has to do with the chemistry and mechanics of purring. The chemistry part involves the brain; the mechanics involve the throat and diaphragm. You're probably familiar with the "feel good" hormones called endorphins. Well, they're also "feel-bad" hormones.

Endorphins are released in the brain as a result of things cats find pleasurable, such as being petted or groomed, eating, relaxing, etc. But they're also released during times of stress, such as when in pain or when frightened. That's why cats often purr when injured.

Once the endorphins have been released, the brain sends marching orders to the muscles associated with the larynx, or voice box, and to the diaphragm. The diaphragm forces air across the vocal cords and the laryngeal muscles vibrate the cords, producing the low frequency purr.

An interesting side note is that NASA researchers, investigating bone stress on astronauts in zero gravity, determined that bones heal optimally at sound frequencies between 25 and 50 hertz (vibrations per second). That just happens to be the frequency range of the cat purr.

This has given life to a theory that the cat's purr is a healing mechanism as well, that can rejuvenate muscles, ligaments and bones; keeping them in optimal condition for life as a hard working predator.
Some researchers further believe that purring can help heal bones following an injury, as well as reduce swelling and provide some pain relief. There is still debate within scientific circles about the healing properties attributed to purring, and the jury is still out. Being one who questions everything, and since purring is believed to have healing qualities, I can't help but wonder why other hard working felid predators such as lions and tigers can't purr. No cats work harder, nor bring down larger prey, such as water buffalo and stuff. I'll bet they often end of with sore muscles and joints. Just sayin.'

Bob Bamberg has been selling products for, and writing about, pets, livestock and wildlife since the early '90s. He can be reached at


Is this Cecil's legacy? What you can do to protect the lions, elephants and rhinos in Africa

The plight of Africa's animals has been the focus of media attention since Zimbabwe's beloved Cecil the lion was killed last month by an American hunter. But lions are often killed in Africa, as are many other wild animals.

The week after Cecil was lured out of Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe and shot, five elephants were gunned down in Tsavo West National Park in Kenya and their faces cut off for the tusks. They didn't make headlines, maybe because they didn't have human names.

Lions, elephants and rhinos are severely threatened by poaching, local conflict and foreign trophy hunters. This means that three of the "Big Five" animals most tourists want to see in Africa are now on the road to extinction.
The illegal wildlife trade (live animals, skins and parts) is, according to Public Radio International, a $20-billion annual industry. Is this a reason to get to Africa quickly? Sadly, yes. It's also a reason to make sure your tourism dollars support deserving causes if you do.

I felt a sense of urgency, so I looked for a safari company that had contacts with East African camps involved in conservation. I booked through Delaware-based Kensington Tours, a bespoke company that listened to my requests and delivered what I requested: safari lodges that were involved with animal conservation and locations where I didn't have to sit all day in a Jeep.

Ol Donyo Lodge, a high-end safari camp at the base of the Chyulu Hills in southeastern Kenya, was founded by Richard Bonham and is now part-owned by Great Plains, an organization that uses tourism to sustain wildlife programs.

Ol Donyo is luxurious, ecologically friendly and has some of the most knowledgeable Maasai guides I have encountered.

Most important, some of my safari dollars went to protecting the animals I'd come to see, and once there, I had an opportunity to donate to specific programs. I chose to pay school fees ($400) for a high-achieving Maasai child to become a "Wildlife Scholar," meaning he or she would become an anti-poaching community activist.

My room had its own plunge pool, an open-air living area with slipcovered sofas, and a rooftop bed ideal for stargazing. Below my hilltop room was a watering hole, filled with water recycled from camp use, which attracted elephants and other species up close.

Guests do not have to dine communally, as in many safari camps, and because it's on Maasai-owned land rather than in a national park, Ol Donyo offers horseback and walking safaris as well as mountain biking, making it a more active destination than your average safari location.
One of the guides told me that the place itself has strong energy, and I believe it. That, combined with excellent food and service, exhilarating adventures and the privacy of the lodge, made it one of the best stays I've had in many trips to Africa.

Kensington had arranged for a car and driver to take me across the border into Tanzania, a country that has lost more than 60% of its elephants to poaching.

At family-oriented Oliver's Camp in Tarangire National Park in Tanzania, the focus is not on direct elephant conservation, but on providing the locals with education and alternative sources of income. All of its guide staff were local Tanzanians, as were the camp employees. It also trains young people to enter the tourism industry.

The camp was simpler than Ol Donyo and can accommodate as many as 24 guests in spacious tents with attached bathrooms. Dining was communal.
Tarangire has plentiful populations of elephant, wildebeest, giraffe, zebra, buffalo, impala, gazelle, hartebeest, oryx, eland and the strange, long-necked gerenuk. One of my favorite sights was a nocturnal porcupine caught in daylight, bustling noisily along a dirt road like a character from "The Wind in the Willows."

It was heartening to see elephants thriving in Tarangire, but I did notice one thing: They had smaller tusks than those I saw in Kenya. Perhaps this is a Darwinian response to the human massacre?
What can travelers do?

First and foremost, going to Africa to support tourism is a good start. Stay at camps actively involved in conservation. Never buy anything that looks like ivory even if the seller tells you it's old. And if you are a hunter, perhaps look deep inside your soul.


Two Adorable Snow Leopard Cubs Born at Brookfield Zoo (video)

Your Daily #Cat

Mayhan with open mouth on the stone 

Mayhan with open mouth on the stone by Tambako The Jaguar

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Your Daily #Cat

Mayhan yawning with baby almost sleeping... 

Mayhan yawning with baby almost sleeping... by Tambako the Jaguar

Brookfield Zoo Welcomes Baby Snow Leopards

Brookfield Zoo in Illinois has announced the birth of two snow leopard cubs.

The cubs, which are currently off exhibit bonding with their 4-year-old mother Sarani, are scheduled to make their public debut in mid-October.

The two females, which each weigh about 10 pounds, were born on June 16, zoo officials said. 

Sarani and her 5-year-old mate, Sabu, arrived at the zoo in October 2011 from Tautphaus Park Zoo in Idaho Falls and Cape May County Park & Zoo in Cape May Court House, New Jersey.

Snow leopards are listed as an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and experts say their numbers are declining. The Snow Leopard Trust estimates population numbers of the elusive cat are between 4,000 and 6,500 remaining in the wild.







Friday, August 28, 2015

Watch out for cats while fishing! (video)

Your Daily #Cat

Lion cub looking at me 

Lion cub looking at me by Tambako The Jaguar

For cats, the comfort zone is shaped like a box

by Natural Selections, in Canton, NY
Photo: Steve Drolet, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
Of all the places a cat can hang out, why do do many of them want to hang out in boxes? According to researchers, cats that spend time in close confines are measurably less stressed than those remaining in the open. As Curt Stager tells Martha Foley, it's not just house cats who feel this way.

Martha Foley: Here's a question. This is great, because great minds are running in parallel tracks here. I have a cat who gets up on the table, right? I've never had a cat I couldn't keep off the table. This cat is incorrigible, but if I put a box on the table he'll get in the box instead of lying on the table. This is when we're out of the house, the sun is shining, there's the tabletop—he'll get in the box rather than mess up the papers or whatever is on the table. I've never had a cat that was so attached to boxes before.
Curt Stager: I think it is something a cat owner would know and my wife Carrie has had cats for a long time and she asked that—"Why is this so?"—and I hadn't realized it but you start asking around and by gosh it's pretty common. So there is actually an animal behaviorist in the Netherlands who is writing about this and talking about it, speculating about why this might be.

MF: It's that common. I know cats go into paper bags and so on and so forth, but I never realized it was a behavior that they exhibit.
CS: Well now that you mention the paper bag, I do remember a pet cat that was doing that, too. So there are some ideas about it. It's possible that they feel safer in there. You know their ancestors, these subtropical desert-type cats, would mainly be out hunting at night, so maybe they just feel safer if it's hard to be seen. It actually does make them safer if they can't be seen out in the wild, but then they can also watch what's going on in their little hideout, and then they can rush out and grab something if they want, and bring it right back into the safe space. It's like maybe a "comfort zone" kind of thing.

MF: You say there's a scientist that's looking into this and trying to explain why this would be. It's one of those observed phenomena, right?
CS: Yes, it's Claudia Vinke from the Netherlands, and she actually did a few experiments. She would take domestic cats from an animal shelter and give some a box in their cage and some not a box, and according to her data the ones that had the boxes showed lower levels of stress hormones and they adjusted better to the people and things like that.

MF: Kind of like swaddling a baby. It's like a confined space; they feel good. Honestly, my cat will try to get into a box that's way too small for him and he'll have a leg sticking out or his tail will be hanging out—his head will be hanging over the edge of the box. You can't think that's comfortable, but he loves it.
CS: Now that I'm remembering my own cat experiences, it wasn't just go in there and curl up and hide. Some will do that or fall asleep, but this cat was making noise and playing in there. So there's some attraction.
It turns out it's not just domestic cats. You can look on the web for videos of the big cats doing it.

MF: You mean like lions?
CS: Yeah, I made a list of the ones I was able to find on the web. There were lions and tigers and ocelots and pumas and jaguars and leopards. You put a cardboard box in the cage with them and they turn into little kittens, playing in there, and they want to sit in it.

MF: Sweet! So if you're out in the Serengeti somewhere where there are lion, just keep a big box with you. Put it down and the lion will get in there.
CS: And you're safe. So you think, the lion, it must be like their den, but then you think—the lion's den—do they really have dens? You know those African lions, they're usually out in the open—the lion's den thing would be like from the biblical stories, where maybe the king had a pen, let's say the lion's pen, where they would keep them for whatever reason.

MF: That was more for Daniel than for the lion, I think.
CS: It's anybody's guess and there are certainly a lot of people guessing why this is such a widespread thing among cats.

MF: I'm going to ask my cat next time.


Expanded NM cougar, bear hunting OK’d

Yolanda Morris, from Washington state, was part of a rally that expanded hunting foes held before the State Game Commission met on Thursday at Santa Fe Community College. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)
Yolanda Morris, from Washington state, was part of a rally that expanded hunting foes held before the State Game Commission met on Thursday at Santa Fe Community College. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)
SANTA FE — The state Game Commission on Thursday unanimously approved expanded hunting of bears and cougars — including cougar trapping on 9 million acres of state lands – over the fierce objections of critics who said the decision was rooted in politics, not science.

The vote was followed by an outburst from some opponents in the packed meeting room, with cries of “Shame on you” and “You’re a disgrace” directed at commission members.

The new rules, effective in the license year beginning in April 2016, allow a 26 percent increase in the number of bears that can be killed statewide each year by hunters, from 640 to 804. The per-hunter limit for shooting cougars in most areas of the state will double from two to four, although the statewide limit of about 750 will remain.

The requirement to obtain permits to trap cougars on private land will be lifted. And for the first time – at the request of Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn – cougar leg-hold trapping and snaring will be allowed on the trust lands that are managed by the State Land Office. The trapping will be allowed annually from November through March.

The Game and Fish Commission today approved expanding cougar and bear hunting in New Mexico.
The Game and Fish Commission today approved expanding cougar and bear hunting in New Mexico.

The Game Commission said in a statement after the voice vote that the changes are “based on sound science and research,” relying on current estimates of population densities, how much habitat is available, and other research data. “The only thing we can truly rely on is the scientific data,” Commissioner Elizabeth Ryan said at the meeting.

Ranching, farming and livestock groups endorsed the expanded hunting as a means of predator control, and hunting guides and outfitters backed the new rules as well. “The lion and bear populations, at least in my part of the state, are on the increase,” Ty Bays, a third-generation rancher from Silver City, told the commission.

But critics of the new rules – most of the roughly 250 people at the meeting – questioned the validity of the research data the Game Commission relied on.

And they said that even if the populations are up – for which they said there is no supportive data in the case of cougars – commissioners hadn’t provided any economic or ecological reasons to justify expanded hunting. “We don’t know how you get from ‘We have more’ … to ‘We need to kill more,’ ” said Kevin Bixby of the Southwest Environmental Center.

Opponents said trapping is cruel and indiscriminate, with the potential of snagging unintended wildlife – including cougar kittens and nursing mothers – as well as humans and their dogs.
And they said that although the new bear research data collected by the commission indicate there are more bears than previously thought, there was a 28 percent drop in the number of bears killed by hunters last year, with no accompanying decline in licenses.

Members of the commission, who were appointed by Gov. Susana Martinez, said they were inundated with thousands of emails from supporters and opponents of the rules change. Commissioner Bill Montoya said some critics apparently believe the Game Commission and the Department of Game and Fish want to destroy species. “Our intent is not to eliminate any species. … Our intent is to manage, correctly manage, with all the biological information we can put together,” Montoya said.

Opponents of the new rules who rallied before the meeting, however, said the Martinez administration is anti-predator and is catering to the livestock industry while ignoring the wishes of most New Mexicans. The commission “has chosen to blow off the conservation community,” said Dave Parsons, who coordinated the federal Mexican wolf recovery program for nine years. “The New Mexico Game Commission is pathetically political,” Parsons added.

Commissioners on Thursday also heard an appeal by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service of the commission’s earlier denial of permits for the federal agency to release more Mexican wolves this year as part of the ongoing recovery program. The commission could vote on the appeal next month.
The department said it rejected the permit requests because the federal agency’s 1982 wolf recovery plan has not been updated.

But Joy Nicholopoulos told the commission that a revised recovery plan “is not required to continue Mexican wolf recovery efforts in any state, including New Mexico.”

The federal agency will have a new recovery plan by the end of 2017, she said. In the meantime, it’s critical for the health of the wolf population – now at least 110 in Arizona and New Mexico – that genetic diversity be increased by releasing additional wolves from the captive population, she said.

That includes a plan for “cross-fostering,” in which wolf pups less than two weeks old are taken from their captive, biological parents and placed in dens of wild wolves to be raised by wild parents.
Nicholopoulos also said that if releases are curtailed, the federal Sevilleta Wolf Management Facility – where the wolves are being held – won’t have the pen space to take in problem wolves that have to be removed from the wild.


Cute moment a lynx kitten puts a brotherly arm around a nine-week-old cub as they survey the scenery in Norway

  • The adorable scenes were played out at Langedrag Nature Park
  • Kitten shows no fear as it takes a nap in a precarious position on a branch
  • Photographer Cecilie Sonsteby says she was amazed it didn't fall off
We all like to turn to a brother or sister for a bit of sibling advice sometimes and it seems lynx kittens are no different.

The adorable snap looks like the youngsters are re-enacting a memorable scene in the Lion King where Mufasa shows Simba the Pride Lands he will one day inherit.
But this was not snapped in the east African lands of Tanzania - rather it was captured at Langedrag Nature Park in Norway. 

Scroll down for video 

Paws for thought: One lynx cub appears to put a wise hand on the shoulder of its sibling
Paws for thought: One lynx cub appears to put a wise hand on the shoulder of its sibling

Cat nap: This nine-week old lynx kitten is so worn out it decides to take a nap in the most unlikely position up a tree
Cat nap: This nine-week old lynx kitten is so worn out it decides to take a nap in the most unlikely position up a tree

Photographer Cecilie Sonsteby 46, spotted the cute cat as it clung on during its cat nap, doing its best not to drop off a branch.

It was taken shortly after one of the cute animals went for 40 winks - up a tree.  
Her pictures show the youngster, thought to be a nine-week-old female, exploring the park from the best vantage point.
'The cub in the tree was the most adventurous of the siblings and she was up there for much more than an hour,' she said.

'It seemed very relaxed and comfortable and having a great overview. I did not see it myself, but it climbed down safely on its own. 

'The mother was quite relaxed about it the whole time it was there.

'It is so impressive that she managed to sleep like that. She was pretty high up in the tree too.'

Play time: It's claws out as the young lynx kittens learn how to fight with one another
Play time: It's claws out as the young lynx kittens learn how to fight with one another

Peek-a-boo: One of the kittens peers out from behind some colourful grasses at Langedrag Nature Park in Norway
Peek-a-boo: One of the kittens peers out from behind some colourful grasses at Langedrag Nature Park in Norway

Mother's protection: One kitten peers out from behind a rock in the safety of its mother's company
Mother's protection: One kitten peers out from behind a rock in the safety of its mother's company

Good balance: This lynx kitten showed what a doddle it is to climb trees and take a nap
Good balance: This lynx kitten showed what a doddle it is to climb trees and take a nap

Holding on: The lynx kitten awakes to find itself up a tree and holding on at the Langedrag Nature Park in Norway
Holding on: The lynx kitten awakes to find itself up a tree and holding on at the Langedrag Nature Park in Norway

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Your Daily #Cat

Nice portrait of Mbali 

Nice portrait of Mbali by Tambako The Jaguar

Why Istanbul Should Be Called Catstantinople

Turkish city can’t quit delighting in felines; ‘like being a cow in India’ 
 Dear followers, we got some great news. We decided to start a new cat tumblr but this time we feature cats from our the world, starting with Macedonia where we currently are. Check it out: The Cosmopolitan Cat

 Istanbul's thousands of street cats are fed, sheltered and cooed at by an adoring public. Now the felines are becoming an Internet phenomenon. Photo: Monique Jaques for The Wall Street Journal
ISTANBUL—In this ancient city once ruled by sultans and emperors, the real king is the humble alley cat.

In historic neighborhoods along Istanbul’s Bosporus and Golden Horn waterways, an army of furry-tailed street cats are fed, sheltered and cooed at by an adoring public. Hundreds of fleece-lined houses have been erected at street corners by cat-mad residents. Most are flanked by makeshift feeding stations fashioned from yogurt pots or plastic bottles and overflowing with tasty scraps.

In some districts, ground-floor windowsills are lined with pillows and blankets, offering a cozy place for the discerning kitty to recline. In restaurants and cafes, cats are often part of the furniture, curling up next to dining tables or patiently waiting for leftovers from patrons.

Visitors to the city can dine at one of several cat-theme cafes or stay a night at the Stray Cat Hostel. During a 2009 visit here, President Barack Obama paused to pet Gli, one of dozens of cats living in Hagia Sophia, Istanbul’s most famous mosque.

Istanbul cat at rest 
Istanbul cat at rest
“Being a cat in Istanbul is like being a cow in India,” said Sibel Resimci, a musician and confessed cat junkie who says her husband often walks nearly 2 miles to work rather than disturb street cats sleeping on his moped. “For generations, they’ve had a special place in the city’s soul.”
Now, Istanbul’s feline fetish is adapting to the digital age.

Social media sites offering daily pictures of the city’s cutest street cats boast tens of thousands of followers. Web developers have created apps to help adopt and locate users’ favorite kitties. Local filmmakers have released a trailer for their coming feature film “Nine Lives” on video sharing platform Vimeo. Wildly popular YouTube tutorials show Istanbul residents how to build shelters and feeding stations so cats can nap and nibble in maximum comfort. The #catsofistanbul hashtag on photo-sharing website Instagram has more than 50,000 posts of cats nonchalantly—and almost always adorably—doing their thing.

“It started with some photos of cats on my daily commute and very quickly the page just exploded,” says Rana Babac, a 30-year-old who works for the World Wildlife Fund. She founded the Cats of Istanbul Facebook page, website and Instagram accounts that together boast about 50,000 members.
Ms. Babac, who currently doesn’t have a cat because of “constant travel commitments,” says her sites have morphed from a picture-sharing feed into a news portal and information exchange for cat junkies. The site also helps members coordinate with charities to improve cats’ welfare: In June members of the group joined forces with local architects to repair dilapidated cat shelters.
“Cats have always been famous in Istanbul, but social media is making them famous around the world,” Ms. Babac said.

Historians here say the social media explosion is simply the latest incarnation of a centuries-old cat craze: stemming from a combination of religion, tradition and practicality.

Cats have a special place in Islam: Muslim lore tells of a cat thwarting a poisonous snake that had approached the Prophet Muhammad. One teaching tells that he found a cat sleeping on his shawl and opted to cut the fabric rather than disturb the animal. A popular saying goes: “If you’ve killed a cat, you need to build a mosque to be forgiven by God.”

The feline fetish is also functional: In the 19th century, cats were bred in large numbers for pest control to kill a rat population thriving in the city’s expanding sewage system. Before that, they helped Istanbul avoid the worst of a bubonic plague epidemic spread by rats.

Cats are even hard-wired into the city’s iconography and political culture.

In the bowels of Istanbul metro stations, pictures of waterside cityscapes feature cats posing alongside fisherman, in some cases munching the daily catch. Cat cartoons are used to satirize politicians: a digitized picture of a mustachioed sour puss named Recep Tayyip Erdocat was shared thousands of times last year, in a not-too subtle effort to lampoon Turkey’s pugilistic President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

“Cats are central to the culture of old Istanbul,” said Nur Bulca, a 45-year-old designer who welcomes groups of cats into her workshop each day. “We grow up with cats in the house and on the street. We share the city with them.”

In 2012, Mr. Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party tried to pass legislation it said would improve sterilization and clear the streets of stray animals, but the plan was shelved after 30,000 people took to Istanbul’s streets in protest.

Now, local authorities say the number of street cats in the city center is growing again thanks partly to online campaigns that are helping to improve care and prevent disease.

Ground zero for the city’s cat obsession is the district of Cihangir, a liberal neighborhood where gangs of multicolored cats can be seen roaming at intersections, lounging in cafes or sunning themselves on the hoods of cars. Local restaurants and butchers work with animal shelters to make sure leftover scraps are given to strays. On one road, an abandoned blue BMW has for years been used to help local alley cats: functioning as a food store in the summer and a shelter in winter.

Veterinarians in the neighborhood say Istanbul residents bring cats from across the city to the Cihangir district of Istanbul for treatment, or in some cases abandon unwanted pets in the district, as they know they will be cared for.

“A lot of our work is with strays because there are so many in Cihangir,” said Ozge Sahin, a vet at Anipoli clinic, which recently constructed a “stray hostel” where sick and injured animals can recuperate in comfort. “This area is special for animals,” she said.

Even some of the foreigners who have moved to Cihangir have adopted its cat-friendly culture.
U.K.-born resident Hilary Sable—a teacher who has five cats and feeds dozens more every day—formed the Cool for Cats association in 2011 to help care for street cats in the area.

Cats are adored in Istanbul, these days especially on social media. Above, a man on Istiklal street, the city’s main shopping avenue.Cats are adored in Istanbul, these days especially on social media. Above, a man on Istiklal street, the city’s main shopping avenue. Photo: Murad Sezer/Reuters 
“We share information that helps owners find lost cats and helps street cats find new homes,” said Ms. Sable, who toured Cihangir recently wearing a cat-theme handbag and a T-shirt emblazoned: ‘Meow we’re talking.’

“This online buzz is helping us to grow our network and bringing cat lovers together,” she said.
Some local businesses say they feel a responsibility to help preserve the city’s feline affinity. Pizza Factory, a trendy new food place, proclaims an “open-door policy” for street animals and sifts through leftovers to pick out waste that could upset a cat’s stomach.

“Istanbul is a heaven for cats, and we want it to stay that way,” said owner Nial Yigittas. “We recently adopted a stray and named him Azman—it means Monster.”

Why Cats (think they) Are Better Than Dogs (video)

Cats Who Don't Care That It's National Dog Day (video)

Lynx Trio Explores Highland Wildlife Park


At almost three months old, the Northern Lynx triplets, at RZSS Highland Wildlife Park in Scotland, spent their first few weeks huddled together in the warmth of various dens with their mother, but they are now bravely venturing out to explore their whole enclosure.



4_RZSSHWP_2015NorthernLynxCubs9_creditAlexRiddell.JPGPhoto Credits: Alex Riddell/RZSS

Born to mum, Dimma, and dad, Switch, on May 25, this is the fourth consecutive year the couple have had cubs. Una Richardson, Head Keeper for Carnivores at RZSS Highland Wildlife Park, commented, “This is the fourth year in a row they have produced cubs - a real testament to the quality of the animal husbandry and the enclosure here. Dimma gave birth to her previous litters in the bushes at the front of the enclosure, which required us to rope-off the adjacent visitor path, but this year she has opted for the privacy and security of the nest boxes provided in the lynx house.”

Dimma, which means 'fog' in Swedish, was born on the 24 May 2010, at Boras Wild Animal Park, in Sweden, and she arrived at Highland Wildlife Park in February 2012. Switch was born May 2010, in Latvia, and came to the Park one month after Dimma

The cubs’ antics are generating quite a stir with keepers and visitors to the Park. Richardson remarked, “Watching the cubs play fighting with each other, running and tumbling about the enclosure, it’s easy to see why they are quickly becoming favorites with both staff and visitors, over the past few weeks. They have been putting on quite a show, especially at feeding time when they routinely play stalk and pounce on sections of meat as big as themselves.”

RZSS Highland Wildlife Park's Lynx are part of the European Zoo Association's coordinated breeding programme and, although the species is not endangered, it has become locally extinct in many areas across Europe, resulting in some sub-populations being considered “endangered” or even “critically endangered”. The Lynx occurred in the UK until possibly as late as the Middle Ages. Loss of habitat, reduced prey availability and illegal hunting are the biggest threats to wild Lynx populations. There have been a number of successful Lynx reintroduction projects within Europe, including in Switzerland and France.

Northern Lynx have a short, thick tail with a blunt black tip. They have distinctive dark tufts on their ears, which are thought to act a bit like antennae in helping to locate prey using their excellent hearing. The Lynx also has exceptional leaping ability, as it is an ambush predator
They also have a pale sandy-grey to rusty-red colored coat, with indistinct spots. In winter, the coat becomes much denser and the large, rounded feet help them travel over deep snow.

Northern lynx mate in late February to early March. They usually have 2 or 3 kittens, which stay with their mother until next breeding season.






Mexico Airlifts Big Cats, Coyote to US Wildlife Sanctuary

MEXICO CITY — Aug 26, 2015
Mexico US Animal Airlift
Mexican environmental authorities loaded eight lions, two lynxes, a puma and a coyote aboard two military planes for a trip to a Colorado wildlife sanctuary on Wednesday, after the animals were found mistreated or abandoned.

The flight aboard two Mexican Navy transport aircraft was the second instalment in an airlift that will eventually take about two dozen animals to The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg, Colorado.
Biologist Ignacio Millan said it was the first time Mexico's Navy had participated in the animal relocation effort.

Millan said the lions, lynxes and puma had been taken from private homes, zoos or circuses where they were often mistreated.

The coyote had been used in witchcraft ceremonies.

Millan said that nine tigers still remain to be transferred to the 720-acre (291-hectare) sanctuary, where animals can roam.

Mexico's recently enacted ban on exotic animal performances in circuses is expected to increase the number of animals that are either abandoned or left in bad conditions, because many circus owners say they can't afford to maintain non-performing animals.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Your Daily #Cat

Walking lioness profile 

Walking lioness profile by Tambako The Jaguar

About that cat door? Nevermind... (video)

Adopted kitten bonds with family cat (Your Awww moment of the day)

Published on Jul 1, 2015
After coming across an abandoned kitten in a field, Andreas and Filiz decided to bring it home in the hopes that their cat would accept their new roommate. Surely they didn't expect THIS to happen!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Your Daily #Cat

Mayhan tenderly licking her son 

Mayhan tenderly licking her son by Tambako The Jaguar

A visit to rescue cat cafe Neco Republic (video)

Hunters Bagged 10,000 Lions in Africa Since 2003, Trophy Data Show

Posted by Adam Cruise of Conservation Action Trust in Cat Watch on August 24, 2015

Given that in Africa wild lions are in catastrophic decline–the latest International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) figures suggest that fewer than 20,000 remain–it may come as a shock to discover that as many as 10,000 of the  continent’s iconic big cats were legally hunted and exported as trophies in the ten years ending in 2013.

The vast majority of these lions were bred in captivity for the purpose of hunting. The mostly American and European sports hunters took the lions to their home countries as trophies–mounted heads or skins for their collections.

The tally for hunted lions is likely even higher than 10,000, says Dereck Joubert, wildlife filmmaker and National Geographic explorer-in-residence, because not all hunters take trophies. Some hunt just for the sport.

Six African countries where lions still range freely–South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique, Namibia and Tanzania–were analysed using the official CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) trade database, which lists animal and plant products exported and imported internationally.

Kenya and Botswana are two lion-range countries notably omitted from this list. Both countries have outlawed trophy hunting in an effort to boost lion populations, although Botswana only recently adopted this measure.

Even though the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species lists lions as Vulnerable (facing a high risk of extinction in the wild), African range lions in all six countries are listed by CITES under Appendix II, which means lion products may be exported under a permit system. Permits are granted “if the relevant authorities are satisfied that certain conditions are met, above all that trade will not be detrimental to the survival of the species in the wild.”

South Africa Tops List

Of the six nations, South Africa ranks highest in terms of most trophies exported. The country has registered a staggering average of 748 lion trophies exported per year.

Tanzania is next with an annual average of almost 150 lion trophies, followed by Zimbabwe and Zambia (each between 60-70 a year), Mozambique (22) and Namibia less than 20 a year). Botswana, before banning trophy hunting in January 2014, tabled an average of 10 trophies each year.

The figures are not 100 percent accurate as there are a number of discrepancies that creep into the database, such as countries reporting the number of permits issued but not the actual permits used. However, the figures give a general idea of just how impactful trophy hunting is on lions.

Country Exported Trophies 2003-2013 Estimated Wild Lion Population[1] Estimated Captive Lion Population
South Africa 7487 2100 Approx. 7000
Tanzania 1408 15600
Zimbabwe 688 850
Zambia 635 1150
Mozambique 219 2700
Namibia 185 600
[1] Based on latest figures from

South Africa tops the list but most of the lions hunted for trophies (two thirds of the country’s total lion population) are what the government terms “captive bred” or “ranch” lions. According to a spokesperson for the South African Department of Environment, less than 10 wild lions are hunted in South Africa a year.

Currently in South Africa there are almost 200 breeding facilities where lions are raised exclusively for trophy hunting. The big cats are kept in small enclosures and are habituated to humans, making them easy targets for hunters. The practice has come under fire recently with the release of the film Blood Lions. As Ian Michler, the documentary’s main narrator, says “it’s about breeding wildlife as intensively as they can, as quickly as they can, to make as much money as they can.”

Zimbabwe’s Lions Gone in a Decade

Zimbabwe’s situation is worse because trophy hunting involves vulnerable wild lion populations. Researchers, co-ordinated by a team at Duke Universty’s Nicholas School of the Environment and partially funded by National Geographic’s Big Cats Initiative (BCI), revealed in 2012 that wild lion populations in that country “are in trouble”.

Almost 700 lion trophies were legally exported during the decade under review, but the current population, according to the 2012 survey, stood at only 850. This suggests that, at the current rate and if lion numbers don’t increase, which is unlikely, in another decade trophy hunters alone will have wiped out nearly all remaining lions in Zimbabwe.

In Zambia an average of 65 trophies are exported each year. According to another 2012 research paper, most parks are registering free-falling numbers of lions. A park like the 1,500-square-mile (3,866-square-kilometer) Liuwa Plains National Park has just 3 individuals.

The collapse of their lion population prompted Zambian authorities to ban trophy hunting of big cats in 2013. Zambian Tourism and Arts Minister, Jean Kapata, cited big cat numbers “too low to have a sustainable hunting industry.” However, the country lifted the ban earlier this year. According to a recent CNN report, it was “because the government needed the money to fund conservation.”
Things look only marginally better in Mozambique and Namibia. Nambia exports less than 20 lion trophies per year. But that country’s lion population is considerably smaller at just 600 individuals. It indicates hunting still has a detrimental impact on the population as a third of the current total number during the decade was exported as trophies.

In Mozambique, lion numbers in the Niassa Reserve, the country’s largest game park, may be increasing. This is according to Colleen Begg of the Niassa Carnivore Project, an NGO working to conserve large carnivore populations there. She said in an email to the Associated Press in July that it was because of the heavy poaching of elephants, which has provided “the carnivores with a bounty of carcasses to eat as well as vulnerable elephant calves to hunt.”

Rapid Decline

However, farther south lions are disappearing rapidly. A study of lions in the northwest Tete Province of Mozambique in 2013 suggests 185 lions in the region, down from the 2009 survey of 295 lions. The Gorongosa National Park that once had over 200 lions now has less than 30 indivudals. In recognition of the country’s fast declining numbers due to trophy hunting, CITES has enforced an export quota on lions since 2012.

Tanzania has the largest wild lion population of all African nations. Still, almost 1,500 lion trophies have been exported in the decade following 2003 with overall numbers declining alarmingly. In the Katavi National Park, for example, 1,118 of the big cats were counted in 1993. By 2014 there was not a single lion remaining.

Lion expert, Professor Craig Packer of the University of Minnesota, found the results of their research in 2009 that the trophy hunting rate of big cats throughout Tanzania “had consistently been too high.” Packer predicted that the future population of lions in Tanzania would be seriously decimated unless fewer big cats were killed by trophy hunters each year.

Another problem with trophy hunting, as Jeffrey Flocken, North America Regional Director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), says, is that “hunters are not like natural predators. They target the largest specimens, with the biggest tusks, manes, antlers, or horns.”

According to Andrew Loveridge of the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCru) at Oxford University, a scientific group specializing in wild carnivores, sport hunters go almost exclusively for adult lion males. This has caused a decline in numbers of adult males in the total lion population. Loveridge says that “hunting predators on the boundaries of national parks causes significant disturbance and knock-on effects” such as infanticide when new males entered the prides.

According to the 2015 IUCN Red List analysis on lions, which Packer co-authored, there is concern that current management regimes in terms of trophy hunting have contributed to an astonishing decline of 42 percent of the continent’s total population.

The CITES listing of lion is currently undergoing a Periodic Review. The IUCN survey for 2015 has recommended a change in categorization for African lions from Vulnerable to Endangered. If that happens CITES may be prompted to list lions under Appendix I but as is the case with the other species on the same listing, it does not guarantee the days of hunting lions for trophies will soon be over.
Share your support of big cats by donating $5 and uploading a photo of yourself giving a virtual high five to any social media platform, with the hashtag #5forBigCats. Learn more.

Monday, August 24, 2015

For Rescued Baby Clouded Leopard, It’s Nursery Then Jungle Camp

IFAW-run wildlife rehab center in India develops a kindly curriculum to get orphaned big cats back into the wild.
By Vicki Croke
1 Leopard cub at center_photo-Bhaskar Choudhury_IFAW-WTI copy
The latest clouded leopard orphan is a male who arrived just 11 days ago. He’s in the right hands—staff members here have saved several other clouded leopard orphans and returned them to the wild. Photo: Bhaskar Choudhury/IFAW-WTI.

Scared, sick, and tiny, the orphaned clouded leopard cub has made it to safety.

So far, experts don’t know how he was separated from his mother or who took him from the forest. But they do have the experience and resources to give this little 5-pound cub not only a chance at life, but also, eventually, a shot at freedom back in the wild.

Things looked grim on August 13, when the baby, who is estimated to be only a few months old, arrived at the rehabilitation center in Assam, India—which is run by the International Fund for Animal Welfare and the Wildlife Trust of India. He had already been with other people for at least 10 days before that.

The cub gets a check up at the Transit Home. Blood tests show he’s anemic. Photo: Sanatan Deka/IFAW-WTI.

“The animal was very weak, anemic and pot-bellied at the time of admission,” said Dr. Bhaskar Choudhury, head veterinarian at the Wildlife Transit Home. But the cat, with the species’ trademark cloud-shaped black/brown spots on a cream-colored coat, immediately began receiving medical care and proper food. Dr. Choudhury said, “A suitable diet chart has been framed for its health improvement.”

With good care and luck, hopefully his health will continue to improve.

Clouded leopards are extremely mysterious and elusive, but seven of them, including the most recent admission, have landed at The Centre for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation (CWRC) Transit Home in recent years, most from in or around Manas National Park. From these orphans, a successful protocol, which can take about a year, has been established.

In 2009, a set of two male cubs, Runa and Kata, were hand-raised here, and in May of 2010, they became the first rehabbed clouded leopards in India to be radio-collared and released.

This video tells the story of Runa and Kata—radio-collared orphans who made history. Courtesy: Wildlife Trust of India.

In 2010, another pair of cubs came under the center’s care, but the team managed to reunite them with the mother.

Two other cubs—a male and a female— were less than a month old when they were carried off by a man illegally cutting trees in the Manas National Park, and brought to the center in May 2011. They were released a year later.

What may seem odd at first, but actually makes perfect sense, is that the first step in rehabilitation is to try NOT to rehabilitate. The best parent for clouded leopard cubs is a clouded leopard. And in the case of the cubs in 2011, IFAW/WTI staff returned the babies to the area where they were found, hoping to reunite them with their mother. Over a three-day period, the cubs were bottle-fed by day and left alone, monitored by camera traps, at night. The mother never came, and for the health and safety of the babies, they were returned to the Transit Home.

2 A view of the fornt of the Clouded leopard Cub_photo_Sanatan Deka_IFAW-WTI-copy
The handsome spotted cat has dark stripes at the corners of his eyes and along his cheeks. Photo: Sanatan Deka/IFAW-WTI.

There, they were hand-raised and fed well.

That’s part of the plan for the 5-pound cub, rescued this month, who has some catching up to do. Previous rescues weighed almost 8 pounds each by 4 months and were, by that age, off milk and eating a half a pound of meat a day.

The cubs who come into the center are protected, but the aim is to make them the wild animals they were meant to be.

According to an IFAW blog about clouded leopard rehabilitation, the young cats are “encouraged to test and learn the climbing skills and play-fight for hours on end, excellent habits that will prove vital for their survival in the wild.”

When they’re ready, (in the case of Runa and Kata, this was after six months in the center), clouded leopard rescues can be moved to a transition site in the forest where they are “taught to be wild.” This may require something like eight months (in the wild they might be with their mothers for about 10 months).

3 A view of the front limbs and big paws_photo_Sanatan Deka_IFAW-WTI-copy
The underside of the baby’s paws: right now even the pink pads look brand new. But they’ll be changing fast. Clouded leopards are master climbers in part because of their broad paws and sharp claws. Photo: Sanatan Deka/IFAW-WTI.

During the acclimatization phase of rehabilitation, typically the cubs are taken for walks by their caretakers during the day, and then, at night, for safety, are kept in a big enclosure. Next, they are given freedom even after dark and perhaps moved to a more isolated area of the forest. Keepers spend less time with the maturing and increasingly confident animals. The cats by then easily climb trees and begin to hunt prey.

In the past, hair in their feces has indicated to handlers that, on their own, the cats are catching and eating barking deer and jungle fowl, among other animals.
At that point, the clouded leopards are set free. Radio-collars that are expandable may be used to monitor the animals after their release.

There may only be about 10,000 clouded leopards in the wild today and they are considered “vulnerable” in the IUCN Red List of threatened species.

Habitat loss is the biggest threat to these animals who don’t adjust as well as common leopards to life close to humans.

Clouded leopards are fascinating cats. They are the smallest of the big cats, with males weighing in at only about 50 pounds. Compare that with the largest big cat—the tiger— who might be 700 pounds.

Measuring the canine teeth(1)-copy
Even in the babies you can see that the clouded leopard’s canines are impressive. In fact,  they have the largest canine teeth (in proportion to body size) of any modern cat. Photo: Sanatan Deka/IFAW-WTI.

But what clouded leopards lack in size they more than make up for in athleticism and weaponry. They are big-headed, with powerful jaws, and “dagger-like” canine teeth that make them look like “scaled-down” saber tooth cats, according to Fiona and Mel Sunquist in “The Wild Cat Book.” In fact, “for its size, this cat has the longest canine teeth of any living felid.”

And with a low center of gravity, long tails for ballast, broad, sharp-clawed paws, and flexible, rotating rear ankles, they can rip up and down trees with speed and agility, and even hang upside down from branches. They are master jungle climbers who are believed, though, to do most of their hunting on the ground.

The cats live from the foothills of the Himalayas in Nepal and India through the rainforests of Southeast Asia. Scientists now recognize two separate species—the clouded leopard, Neofelis nebulosa, (the orphaned cub found in Assam is one of these) and the Sunda clouded leopard, Neofelis diardi, found on Sumatra and Borneo.

Scientists determined fairly recently that there are two different clouded leopard species. This video from the World Wildlife Fund Australia shows the darker Sunda clouded leopard. Courtesy: World Wildlife Fund Australia.

Clouded leopards are losing habitat to human encroachment and deforestation. They are hunted for their coats, bones, and teeth. And they are killed in retaliation for livestock deaths. Though there isn’t a clear figure for their population, we do know that numbers are going down.

So, at the wildlife Transit Home in Assam, one, as yet unnamed, orphaned clouded leopard counts. And vets and staffers hope he follows in the footprints of the other orphans who have lived with them for only a short while before being returned to a life in the wild.