Monday, May 30, 2016

Roadmap for better protection of Borneo’s cats and small carnivores

May 29, 2016
Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V. (FVB)
Habitat conversion and fragmentation, logging, illegal hunting, fires: The rainforests and wildlife on Borneo, the third largest island in the world, are highly threatened. Now scientists have published a roadmap for more targeted conservation efforts for Bornean cats and small carnivores.

Flat-headed cat: camera-trapped in Tangkulap Forest Reserve, Sabah, Malaysian Borneo on 18 March 2009. Credit: Mohamed & Wilting/IZW, SFD, SWD
Habitat conversion and fragmentation, logging, illegal hunting, fires: The rainforests and wildlife on Borneo, the third largest island in the world, are highly threatened. Now, an international research team under the leadership of the German Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) Species Survival Commission, has published a roadmap for more targeted conservation efforts for Bornean cats and small carnivores in a special supplement of the Raffles Bulletin of Zoology.

Borneo harbours more endemic carnivores than any other island except Madagascar and about half of these carnivores are globally threatened with extinction. In response to these threats and the paucity of knowledge about Bornean carnivores, three IUCN SSC specialist groups (the Cat Specialist Group, the Otter Specialist Group and the Small Carnivore Specialist Group), in collaboration with the Sabah Wildlife Department and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, organised the Borneo Carnivore Symposium (BCS) in 2011.

"The goal of the BCS was to understand better the distribution and conservation needs of Bornean cats and small carnivores and subsequently, to enable targeted conservation efforts to those carnivores which are most threatened," said Dr. Andreas Wilting, scientist at the IZW and lead editor of this supplement. "We achieved this goal through a collaborative effort of the Borneo Carnivore Consortium, a network of more than 60 national and international scientists, conservationists and naturalists working on Borneo."

The results are 15 small carnivore and 5 wild cat papers which discuss the distribution, conservation and research priorities for each of the 20 Bornean small carnivores and cats. The intent to model the distribution of the four Bornean otters could not be realized because too few records could be traced. Dr. J. W. Duckworth, the IUCN SSC Red List Authority for small carnivores, adds, "The conservation status of the carnivores which occur nowhere but Borneo and those of upper highland, extreme lowland and wetland habitats is particularly worrying. The BCS and this supplement were able to provide important new information which was recently used to update the Red List accounts, thereby enabling governmental agencies and other conservationists to focus efforts and resources on these threatened species."

The flat-headed cat and the otter civet are two such lowland and wetland specialists. "They are well equipped to hunt fish with their webbed feet but to do so, they require natural wetlands -- habitats which are rapidly shrinking," explains Wilting. Last year, peatlands and lowlands in Indonesia were burning for months, an environmental and ecological disaster, increasing the threat of extinction for these species.

Equally threatened, but restricted to the highlands are Hose's civet and Bornean ferret badger. John Mathai, lead author of the overarching carnivore community paper in the supplement and a wildlife ecologist from Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo, studies Hose's civet in the highlands of Sarawak. He explains that these highland species are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate, but also habitat, changes. "However, besides changes in climate and habitat and threats from illegal hunting, bushmeat trade and forest and peatland fires, the major conservation issue facing Bornean carnivores is the lack of awareness on the gravity of the problem," Mathai adds.

The Borneo Carnivore Consortium hopes this supplement will serve as a catalyst for future collaborative conservation initiatives between scientists and practitioners. William Baya, Director of the Sabah Wildlife Department adds, "We need more joint conservation efforts with the oil palm and forestry sector and better collaboration of scientists and conservationists with local authorities to protect the diversity of carnivores in the remaining rainforests of Borneo." Here, the published roadmap will provide guidance about needed activities in key carnivore landscapes.

Story Source:
The above post is reprinted from materials provided by Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V. (FVB). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V. (FVB). "Roadmap for better protection of Borneo’s cats and small carnivores." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 May 2016. <>.

Central Zoo Authority instructs MP government to stop tiger safaris in 'Mowgli land'

New Delhi: Central Zoo Authority (CZA) has asked Madhya Pradesh forest department to stop tiger safari in the state's Pench National Park citing alleged violation of wildlife norms. Pench national Park is famous as home to 'Mowgli'-- the protagonist of Rudyard Kipling's 'The Jungle Book'. In a letter to the State's Chief Wildlife Warden, the CZA said that no safari shall be established without its prior approval.

Representational image. AFP
Representational image. AFP

"As per records of the CZA, no approval has been granted for creation of safari at Pench tiger reserve or Bandhavgarh tiger reserve. Therefore, no construction work should be carried out," the communique said. The move assumes significance as many wildlife activists have been objecting to the creation of tiger safari in Pench and in Bandhavgarh national parks claiming it harmful for the big cats.

Earlier, the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) had allegedly found violation of laws in construction of tiger safaris in these two national parks. The NTCA, a statutory body under the Ministry of Environment and Forests, had also written to the state government saying the ongoing construction of tiger safari inside Pench "is detrimental to tiger dispersal" and "exposes them to poaching."

The Madhya Pradesh forest department has failed to take "prior approval" from the CZA before construction of tiger safari in Pench and Bandhavgarh. "It is a welcome decision by the CZA. We want the state government to immediately stop construction works inside the tiger reserve," claimed wildlife activist Ajay Dubey. There are six tiger reserves in Madhya Pradesh--Kanha, Bandhavgarh, Panna, Bori-Satpura, Sanjay-Dubri and Pench-- which have at least 257 big cats. While the tiger population in the country was estimated at 1,706 in 2010, it rose to 2,226 in 2014. Madhya Pradesh ranks third--after Karnataka and Uttarakhand--in tiger population in the country.


Big cats removed from Thailand's infamous Tiger Temple

Monday, 30 May 2016
By Patpicha Tanakasempipat

KANCHANABURI, Thailand, May 30 (Reuters) - Wildlife authorities in Thailand on Monday raided a Buddhist temple where tigers are kept, taking away three of the animals and vowing to confiscate scores more in response to global pressure over wildlife trafficking.

The Buddhist temple in Kanchanaburi province west of Bangkok has more than 100 tigers and has become a tourist destination where visitors take selfies with tigers and bottle-feed their cubs.
The temple promotes itself as a wildlife sanctuary, but in recent years it has been investigated for suspected links to wildlife trafficking and animal abuse.

Wildlife activists have accused the temple's monks of illegally breeding tigers, while some visitors have said the animals can appear drugged. The temple denies the accusations.

Monday's raid was the latest move by authorities in a tug-of-war since 2001 to bring the tigers under state control.

Adisorn Nuchdamrong, deputy director-general of the Department of National Parks, said the team had been able to confiscate the tigers thanks to a warrant obtained a few hours before the operation.
"We have a court warrant this time, unlike previous times, when we only asked for the temple's cooperation, which did not work," Adisorn told Reuters. "International pressure concerning illegal wildlife trafficking is also part of why we're acting now."

Officials from the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation said they planned to confiscate and remove more tigers from the temple on Tuesday and send them to a state-owned sanctuary.

Previous attempts to inspect the tigers have largely been blocked by the temple's abbots but in January and February wildlife officials removed 10 of the tigers.

Thailand has long been a hub for the illicit trafficking of wildlife and forest products, including ivory. Exotic birds, mammals and reptiles, some of them endangered species, can often be found on sale in markets.

The government introduced new animal welfare laws in 2015 aimed at curbing animal abuse, but activists accuse authorities of not enforcing the legislation properly. (Additional reporting by Juarawee Kittisilpa; Writing by Amy Sawitta Lefevre; Editing by Robert Birsel)


Saturday, May 28, 2016

GoPro View of Cheetah Run (video)

Russia is Trying to Bring Back a Leopard Species It Last Saw 100 Years Ago

SOCHI, Russia — The Russian resort of Sochi is best known for hosting the 2014 Winter Olympics. But now it's about to welcome a different kind of visitor — one that can break a goat's neck with a twist of its jaws.
The endangered Persian leopard is being reintroduced to the region after almost a century. But vital migration routes the animal needs to thrive are under threat from expanding ski resorts.

Image: A leopard in the Sochi leopard center.

Fewer than 400 Persian leopards live in the wild. Daniel Manganelli / WWF
Conservationists will release two three-year-old animals within the next few weeks, followed by another pair later this year. Officials hope a leopard colony will again take root in the southeastern corner of Europe and spread eastward.
"I had the idea first in 1983," said Igor Chestin, the head of WWF Russia. "Now it's finally coming to fruition."
The Persian leopard — also known as the Caucasian leopard — had lived in the Caucasus region long before the city of Sochi was founded in the 1800s.

Russian princes turned part the nearby mountainside into private grounds to hunt the big cats. But it was not royal sport that saw the region's leopards wiped out by the 1920s; a campaign to eradicate the unpopular wolf using traps and poisoned meat indiscriminately killed all predators.
Today, there are fewer than 400 Persian leopards in the wild, with the only sustainable wild populations in Iran and Turkmenistan.

Image: Persian leopard cub

Cute? An adult Persian leopard can take down an ibex. Natural Resources and Ecology Ministry of Russia
The Persian Leopard Breeding and Rehabilitation Center in Sochi plans to change all that.
No longer a royal hunting ground, the area around the city now falls under the Caucasus Biosphere Reserve, a 1,100-square-mile "biodiversity hotspot" that includes more than 100 unique species of mammals and birds.
The wider Western Caucasus region is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and "one of the few large mountain areas of Europe that has not experienced significant human impact."

Image: A Persian leopard in a tree

The leopards feed on live prey in their enclosures. Daniel Maganelli / WWF
The leopard breeding center opened in a remote corner of these mountains in 2007 and now has 13 leopards in its 30-acre grounds. Four were born in the center, the others came from the wild or zoos across Europe.
The project is bankrolled by the Russian government. President Vladimir Putin — known for his fondness of big, dangerous animals — posed for the cameras in 2014 hugging a six-month-old cub at the center.

Two of its feline denizens are slated for release in mid-June, the height of the fawning season that would provide them with enough prey. Two more are to follow later this year.
The cats are carefully groomed for release. They feed on live prey in their enclosures and visitors are forbidden from approaching, least the animals get used to two-legged creatures.
"Victoria [the leopard] passed the final exam just days ago," center expert Umar Semyonov said during a recent press tour of the facility. "She brought down an adult deer that we sent in, and then I entered its enclosure at night, and she fled."

This shyness is no rarity: There's no record of an unprovoked attack by a Persian leopard on a human in Russia. In any case, the region teems with deer, wildfowl and the goat-like ibex and chamois.
The designated release area is also 37 miles from the nearest village.

Image: Russian President Vladimir Putin pets a Persian leopard

Russian President Vladimir Putin pets a Persian leopard. WWF Russia
The leopards have a much better chance if they restore the ancient migration routes to Iran and Turkmenistan, according to professor Anatoly Kudaktin, a veteran researcher who worked at the Caucasus Biosphere Reserve for 46 years. This would allow them to meet up with their fellow big cats and strengthen the gene pool.
"A leopard can hike from here to Iran in a couple years," Kudaktin said. "It would strengthen the gene pool."

Image: Simbad the Persian leopard

Simbad the Persian leopard. Daniel Manganelli / WWF
However, this is where humans may interfere. The Sochi resorts that hosted the 2014 Winter Olympics plan to expand right across these migration routes.
In particular, the Roza Khutor ski resort has expressed interest in developing new pistes in the upper reaches of the Mzymta River — the only available route for big cats to hike to Iran or Turkmenistan.
The Russian government seems to back these plans, having amended the borders of the Sochi national park in 2015 to allow construction across the leopard migration routes.

Several prominent environmental groups in Russia have spoken against the decision, alleging it constitutes a violation of Russia's Olympic obligations.
Sergei Donskoi, Russia's natural resources and ecology minister, emphatically denied any construction had been authorized, telling NBC News that he in fact opposed it.
"A number of colleagues have discussed the issue but the government currently has no such plans," the minister said.

The Roza Khutor resort, which is favored by avid skier Putin, did not return NBC News' request for comment.
"The government is big," the WWF's Chestin said. "We have support from a part of it, and we don't have support from another part of it."
The reintroduction would still be possible even with new ski slopes nearby, but the population would remain isolated, according to the environmental experts interviewed for this article.
"And that's the whole idea: that the animals, or at least their genes, would flow all the way across the region," Chestin said.

Image: A Persian leopard

The Persian leopard had lived in the Caucasus region long before the city of Sochi was founded in the 1800s. Natalya Dronova / WWF

Friday, May 27, 2016

Lawsuit Launched to Protect Endangered Cats in Arizona, Texas From Government Killing

Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, May 26, 2016
Contact:  Collette Adkins, Center for Biological Diversity, (651) 955-3821,
Amey Owen, Animal Welfare Institute, (202) 446-2128, 

Lawsuit Launched to Protect Endangered Cats in Arizona, Texas From Government Killing
Fewer Than 100 Ocelots Likely Remain in United States
TUCSON, Ariz.— The Center for Biological Diversity and the Animal Welfare Institute today filed a notice of intent to sue the U.S. Department of Agriculture to ensure that endangered ocelots aren’t inadvertently killed as part of its long-running program to kill coyotes, bears, bobcats and other wildlife in Arizona and Texas. The USDA’s Wildlife Services program kills tens of thousands of animals in the two states every year using traps, snares and poisons.
Ocelot photo by Tom Smylie, USFWS. This photo is available for media use.

“Fewer than 100 of these beautiful wild cats likely remain, yet the government is putting them at even greater risk by riddling their habitat with cruel snares and traps,” said Collette Adkins, a Center attorney and biologist. “Ocelots were dragged to the brink of extinction decades ago partly because of the government’s persecution of predators. Now the few that remain face the same fate, as our government hunts down coyotes and bobcats as part of this ongoing war on predators. It has to stop before we lose them forever.”

Wildlife Services is required by the Endangered Species Act to consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on its activities that may affect endangered species, including its predator-control activities conducted on behalf of the livestock industry. Because the wildlife-killing program operates within the range of the endangered ocelot, and because of similarity in size between ocelot and many of the targeted predators, the Fish and Wildlife Service in 2010 warned in a formal biological opinion that ocelots could be harmed by Wildlife Services’ use of traps, snares and poisons (including M-44 devices that propel lethal doses of sodium cyanide into the mouths of animals lured by bait).

Since that 2010 analysis, ocelots have been spotted in several additional locations in Arizona, including the Huachuca and Santa Rita mountains. New information has also surfaced regarding Wildlife Services’ failure to comply with the 2010 biological opinion’s mandatory terms and conditions, which are intended to minimize risk to ocelots. This new information triggers a legal requirement to “reinitiate consultation” in order to take another look at the risks to ocelots and develop further mitigation measures to minimize that risk.

“Wildlife Services has been haphazardly conducting dangerous and indiscriminate wildlife-killing without taking adequate steps to ensure that threatened and endangered species aren’t harmed,” said Tara Zuardo, a wildlife attorney with the Animal Welfare Institute. “It’s time to stop cutting corners and using harmful methods, while ignoring the peril they pose to wildlife.”

To protect ocelots while the Fish and Wildlife Service completes the required analysis, the Center and the Animal Welfare Institute are seeking a halt to Wildlife Services’ animal-killing activities throughout the ocelot’s range in southern Arizona and Texas.

The graceful ocelot has a tawny coat marked by elongated brown spots with black borders. The animal can weigh as much as 35 pounds and stretch to 4 feet in length (including the tail). Ocelots seem to prefer dense cover but can use a variety of habitats. Hunting mostly at night, they target rabbits, birds, fish, rodents, snakes, lizards and other small to medium-sized prey.

The ocelot’s range includes Texas, Arizona, Mexico and Central and South America. Monitoring of collared individuals has shown that ocelots will move as much as 10 miles outside their home ranges. Since 2009 ocelots have been detected at least five times in Arizona, including a road-killed ocelot near Globe in 2010, a treed ocelot in the Huachuca Mountains in 2011, and a male ocelot photographed in the Santa Rita Mountains in 2014.

Fewer than 100 ocelots likely exist in the United States. The species was protected as “endangered” in 1982 under the Endangered Species Act. Although never abundant, ocelots were historically killed incidentally during the hunting, trapping and poisoning of coyotes, bobcats and other predators. Habitat loss also contributed to the animal’s decline; only a fraction of the less than 5 percent of original native vegetation remaining in the lower Rio Grande Valley is optimal habitat for the cats. Now continuing habitat loss, collisions with vehicles and inbreeding resulting from small and isolated groups are keeping the wildcat’s population numbers low.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.
The Animal Welfare Institute ( is a nonprofit charitable organization founded in 1951 and dedicated to reducing animal suffering caused by people.  AWI engages policymakers, scientists, industry, and the public to achieve better treatment of animals everywhere — in the laboratory, on the farm, in commerce, at home, and in the wild.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Just for smiles and laughs| Funny Cats/Kittens Video

How 16 leopard cubs could save an entire species

It’s easy to feel like there’s no good news these days when it comes to the environment. There’s too little action on climate change even as scientists warn of irreversible consequences; each month for the past year has been the hottest on record; many species remain on the razor’s edge of extinction. But not all the news is so grim.

The Amur leopard, the world’s rarest big cat (not to mention one of the most stunning), isn’t quite as close to vanishing as we thought.

According to the Far Eastern Leopard Program from the Russian Academy of Sciences, 16 “healthy looking” cubs—nearly triple the number spotted in 2014—were clocked this year by scientists. While it’s unclear as to whether this is from increased breeding or better tracking methods (they now have camera traps), the results are the same: confirmation that the world’s Amur leopard population is larger than previously estimated.

Back in 2011, there were only 30 known Amur leopards left in the wild after decades of hunting, poaching, and loss of habitat and prey. Today, that number is closer 80. While it’s still too early to tell whether or not this is a permanent increase, the finding is encouraging.

Russia has been impressive in its efforts to save both the Amur leopard and the Siberian tiger, going so far as to build a tunnel for big cats to pass safely under a four-lane highway on the China/Russia boarder. In addition, an insurance program has been established by the Russian government, allowing up to 2 million ruble reimbursements (roughly $30,000) for farmers to not shoot big cats who kill their livestock.

In addition, (and perhaps more impressively) in 2012 Sergey Ivanov, Vladimir Putin’s Chief of Staff, founded the “Land of the Leopard” National Park; a 1,100-square-mile sanctuary dedicated to saving the Amur leopard and the Siberian tiger. The move garnered much deserved praise from the Wildlife Conservation Society. These are no small measures and they seem to signal that Russia is very serious about saving these two stunning and dwindling species.

Despite all this good news and hard work, the Amur is still officially ‘critically endangered’; according to a recent report, the species has lost 98% of its habitat. But while a population of 80 is still dangerously close to extinction and decades of effort are required to move the species away from the brink, this is still a very welcome start.

It’s also promising that the Russian government, private stakeholders, and international organizations have been able to work together and yield positive results in just a few years’ time. Conservation requires entities of all geographic sizes—nations, states, towns, and even single farmers or ranchers—to work together to sustain the environment. This is a good and unexpected example of how that can be done.


Evolutionary Ferrari faces uncertain future

Cheetahs are increasingly having to look over their shoulders in case a lion or leopard might steal their hard-earned catch.
Cheetahs are increasingly having to look over their shoulders in case a lion or leopard might steal their hard-earned catch.

The cheetah is a truly spellbinding animal to watch.

There is something about that laser-like gaze as it focuses on its prey, followed by a few slow carefully placed steps, then unwinding those huge hind-leg muscles it accelerates its lean body to deliver the highest top speed of any animal.

A cheetah is all business – built for speed - the Ferrari of the animal world. But if you think cheetahs have a charmed life think again, because the cheetah, especially females, have the hardest life of any of the big cats on the African plains. It is such a hard life, many zoologists think they are heading for extinction.

Places such as Tanzania's Serengeti are an evolutionary cauldron, a place where myriad species compete for prey determined to evade capture. Each species is trying to carve out an evolutionary niche to exploit the environment better than the competition.

On one hand, evolution has been good to cheetahs - they can outpace all other big cats, literally leaving leopards and lions in the dust. They can catch the speediest antelopes inaccessible to the rival species.

Cheetahs have superb eyesight complete with a darkly coloured slither of fur along the tear line, thought to reduce the tropical sun's glare allowing them to have a dazzle-free view of the landscape and potential prey.

On the other hand, being exquisitely evolved for speed has its problems. In the TV documentary Cheetah – Price of Speed, Earth Touch Productions highlights these problems with dramatic film of cheetahs on the African plains.

Cheetahs are light-boned creatures - once their prey is brought down and killed it can easily be stolen from them by the bigger and more powerfully built leopards and lions. All that effort and up to 70 per cent of their catches are taken. There is a fine balance between this evolutionary weight-control regime and starvation.

A cheetah can reach speeds of 100km/h but that takes a toll – it has to stop and draw breath, its heart pounding at 250 beats per minute. Cheetahs kill by lunging for the throat and strangling their prey. This minimises noise from the victim which would immediately attract bigger cats.

Rather than a flat-out sprint, the cheetah's skill lies in a series of rapid direction changes as they pursue their fleeing quarry. Their claws are only semi-retractable so a portion of the claw is permanently exposed enabling them to grip the ground in the constantly direction-changing chase.

However, claws and feet built for speed are not good for climbing trees. That's a severe disadvantage because it means cheetahs can't stash their kills out of reach of other predators. When cheetahs make a kill it has to be eaten fast – gorged. They don't win prizes for table manners.

This is in contrast to leopards which have rather refined dining habits. Leopards have retractable claws, preserved nice and sharp for grabbing prey and for tree climbing. They can drag their kills into trees, store them and eat at leisure, secure in the knowledge that their larder is beyond the reach of thieves. Leopards prepare their meal by carefully removing unwanted parts from their prey. Up-market dining in the big cat world.

Only if hard pressed would lions and leopards hunt in the midday heat. Cheetahs, to avoid the competition, are often forced to work these anti-social hours out there on the plains under the scorching sun. If they're unlucky they can expend a huge amount of effort for little or no reward.

Female cheetahs mainly live alone and are solo parents. Their offspring have to be nearby their mother at all times, even when mum is hunting. This is because they can't be tucked nicely away in trees and they don't have the social protection that lion cubs have in prides. Cheetah mums have to carry out the stressful and dangerous business of hunting as well as keeping a close eye on the cubs.

If all this wasn't enough, evolution has dealt cheetahs another blow, possibly a death blow. Tests show that cheetahs have low genetic variability.

The cause is thought to be a drastic population reduction during migrations 100,000 years ago and Ice Age climate changes. The result was extensive in-breeding. Today cheetahs lack the genetic variation and adaptability to secure a future in which they can adequately compete with leopards and lions.
It would be incredibly sad to see this stunning speedster driven to extinction.

Dr Roger Hanson is a New Plymouth-based chemical engineer with a PhD from the University of Cambridge.


Monday, May 23, 2016

Family Almost Trips Over Mountain Lion On Their Doorstep

Facebook/Rhett Riding

By Christian Cotroneo
Looking out her front window, Kathy Inman didn't know what to make of the massive animal sprawled on her front porch.
"I looked down and I said, 'What dog is that laying on my porch?'" the Heber City, Utah, resident told Fox 13 News.

So she tapped on the glass.

And a mountain lion turned to face her.


The family went through the usual drills that follow finding a mountain lion on your doorstep:
frantically peeking out the window, calling authorities and more frantically peeking out the window.
For the mountain lion's part, she spent a couple of lazy hours on the porch, seemingly oblivious to the stares of people inside the house, according to neighbor Rhett Riding, who recounted the experience in a Facebook post.

But eventually the whole neighborhood came out to witness the wayward mountain lion lounging in the doorway.

And then animal control officers arrived and shot a tranquilizer dart at the big cat.

But the adventure didn't end there.

The mountain lion fled after being hit by the dart, sparking a hunt throughout the neighborhood. It ended an hour later when she was found in a nearby parking lot.

The mountain lion spent the night at an animal control facility, before being released far from the gawking crowds — and front porches — the next morning.

Facebook/Rhett Riding
And the mountain lion certainly got the memo. When released, she bolted from the her cage, suburban life far behind her.


Man mauled after entering Chile zoo’s lion pen, 2 cats slain

SANTIAGO, Chile — Two lions were killed after they severely mauled a man who stripped naked and entered their enclosure in an apparent suicide attempt early Saturday, authorities said.

The man was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment and was said to be in grave condition.

Director Alejandra Montalba of Santiago’s Metropolitan Zoo told local media the park was crowded with visitors at the time of the incident.

The 20-year-old man broke into the enclosure, took off his clothes and jumped into the middle, horrifying other visitors who witnessed the attack. Zookeepers killed the two lions in order to save his life.

“The zoo has an established protocol because people’s lives are very important to us,” said Montalba, adding that there were no fast-acting tranquilizers available to stop the lions from mauling the man. She said she was “deeply affected” by the deaths of the two lions, a male and a female.

An apparent suicide note was found in the man’s clothing, said Metropolitan Park director Mauricio Fabry. Witness reported he also made religious proclamations.


Sunday, May 22, 2016

Reintroduction of lynx requires larger numbers to avoid genetic depletion

May 19, 2016
Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V. (FVB)
For successful reintroduction of lynx into the wild, the number of released animals is crucial. If only a few lynx are reintroduced to found a population, the genetic diversity is too low to ensure their long-term sustainability. Researchers highlight the need to strengthen newly established European lynx populations by additional translocations of lynx as well as other conservation measures.

The Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx) is the largest European cat species.
Credit: Katarina Jewgenow/IZW
For successful reintroduction of lynx into the wild, the number of released animals is crucial. If only a few lynx are reintroduced to found a population, the genetic diversity is too low to ensure their long-term sustainability. An international research team has recently published these findings in the scientific journal Conservation Genetics. The researchers highlight the need to strengthen newly established European lynx populations by additional translocations of lynx as well as other conservation measures.
Scientists of the German Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW), the Bavarian Forest National Park (Germany), the Polish Academy of Sciences (Poland) and the Russian Academy of Sciences (Russia) investigated the genetic status of two lynx populations in the Bohemian-Bavarian and Vosges-Palatinian forests in central Europe.

The Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx) is the largest European cat species and has been protected in the EU since 1992. Originally spread throughout all of Europe, the species is now mainly limited to protected areas such as national parks. Current populations only exist because countries have invested a considerable effort to protect lynx in Europe or to reintroduced them to suitable habitat in its former range. Reintroduced populations face some specific challenges: "Our results show that these reintroduced populations usually consist of too few individuals to be self-sustaining. Small populations are highly vulnerable to loss of genetic variation because each individual represents a high percentage of the population's gene pool," explains Daniel Förster, geneticist at the IZW.

The population in the Bohemian-Bavarian forest was founded by introducing 5 to 10 lynxes in the 1970s and later supplementing them with 18 additional individuals. The population in the Vosges-Palatinian forest was founded by 21 lynxes released between 1983 and 1993. From this already limited number of founders, only some individuals actually produced offspring. "From a genetic point of view this means that the few founder animals represented little genetic variation," says Jörns Fickel, coauthor of the study and also a geneticist at the IZW. To assess the effect of the reintroduction on the genetic status of these two lynx populations, the scientists compared their genetic diversity with those of naturally occurring lynx populations in Eastern Europe. For this purpose they analysed molecular markers in lynx DNA obtained from fecal, blood, and tissue samples.

The study showed that these two populations displayed very low genetic diversity in comparison with other European lynx populations, with far fewer genetic variants present in the new populations than in the naturally occurring populations. A previous study on a reintroduced lynx population in Slovenia and Croatia already indicated that small reintroduced populations suffer from low genetic diversity. The current study now confirms these findings and thus points towards a more general pattern: Small populations are unlikely to survive in the long term. According to the authors of the study, it is well justified to classify the Bohemian-Bavarian population as "endangered" and the Vosges-Palatinian population as "critically endangered" as is currently done by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN Red List). Thus, suitable measures for their 'genetic reinforcement' and conservation need to be taken.

Especially for small populations it is crucial that not a single individual dies before it has reproduced -- be it of natural causes or poaching. "It is therefore really important to reduce the illegal killing of lynx to establish and maintain a long-term viable population" emphasizes Förster. He and his colleagues also advocate the reintroduction of more lynxes to directly strengthen the genetic variability of the populations. Indirect conservation measures such as setting up wildlife corridors can further facilitate the genetic exchange between neighbouring populations and thus contribute to the strengthening of the overall lynx population as well.

Story Source:
The above post is reprinted from materials provided by Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V. (FVB). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Journal Reference:
  1. James K. Bull, Marco Heurich, Alexander P. Saveljev, Krzysztof Schmidt, Jörns Fickel, Daniel W. Förster. The effect of reintroductions on the genetic variability in Eurasian lynx populations: the cases of Bohemian–Bavarian and Vosges–Palatinian populations. Conservation Genetics, 2016; DOI: 10.1007/s10592-016-0839-0

Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V. (FVB). "Reintroduction of lynx requires larger numbers to avoid genetic depletion." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 May 2016. <>.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Snow Leopards Love Nomming On Their Fluffy Tails (12 Pics)

Snow Leopards can’t roar like other big cats but they have the most majestic tails ever to compensate. Their tails are almost as long as they are – somewhere between 80 to 105 centimetres long! They are mainly used to help them balance, however, they can also serve as a perfect object to OM NOM NOM on!

While Snow Leopards wrap their tails around their noses to protect themselves from cold in their natural habitat (they are Snow Leopards after all), it hardly explains why they’d do that when in captivity. Maybe it’s simply genetic, or maybe they just can’t resist the fluff? Just look at those tails. SO. MUCH. FLUFF.

Image credits: theweaselking

Image credits: smileybears

Image credits: Andreas Richter

Image credits: imgur

Image credits: JB Baskin

Image credits: imgur

Image credits: Terrie K

Image credits: Paul Wiggin

Image credits: Martinus Scriblerus

Image credits: unknown

Image credits: Tiefenschaerfe

Image credits: Sujit Mahapatra


Friday, May 20, 2016

Simon's Cat Logic - Why Do Cats Love Boxes?! (video)

'Lick' your cat with a mouth-held pet brush? hahahaha- NO.

Your dream of drawing your tongue across your cat's fur is now close to being realized with the Licki Brush. All the fun, none of the hairballs.

I've done plenty of weird things for my cats. I build elaborate structures out of cardboard boxes on the living room floor. I let them sit on all the pieces in the jigsaw puzzle box and just work around them. But my cat-indulgence resolve is now being tested by a new, not-yet-released product called the Licki Brush.

Just hearing the name of the Licki Brush should give you an idea of what it does. It's a tongue-shaped cat brush you hold in your mouth and use to "lick" your cat. A short video shows the product in action.

Cats lick themselves all the time, but their barbed tongues are made to handle the job. Human tongues are just too smooth. And if you're actually licking your cat with your tongue, you may want to consider some form of therapy.


Cecil The Lion’s Grandkids Spotted On Sweetest Family Outing

By Christian Cotroneo
Cecil would have been a grandfather today.

A video posted on YouTube Wednesday appears to capture a troop of tiny cubs being led down a path by lionesses in Zimbabwe's Hwange National Park.

YouTube/Africa Geographic

In all, eight cubs are seen in various states of furry frolic — from tumbling in and out of the tall grasses to scampering after a protective mother.

YouTube/Africa Geographic

While a free-ranging lion's family tree is famously complicated, it's likely these babies share a bloodline with the famed lion.

Wildlife photographer Graham Simmons describes the encounter in Africa Geographic:
"Buli, our guide, informed us that the two lionesses had been seen mating with a male named Xanda some months back. Xanda is one of Cecil the lion's sons that has recently come into his prime, and the cubs seen here are thought to be the 'grandcubs' of the legendary Cecil."

YouTube/Africa Geographic

It's a shame Cecil isn't around to watch them grow up. The lion, a beloved icon at Hwange National Park, was killed by American dentist Walter Palmer last July — a hunting trophy he paid $55,000 to acquire.

Cecil, a 13-year-old male, was just one of countless animals who lost their lives due to trophy hunting. American tourists alone have erased some 1.2 million animals from the planet over the last 15 years, frequently flaunting their kills on social media.

But the death of Cecil, a tourist favorite described as "the ultimate lion," sparked worldwide indignation.

"Dr. Walter Palmer has done something worthwhile after all," Paul Watson, founder of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, wrote in a Facebook post. "His special combination of vanity, smugness, greed, arrogance and stupidity has taken something which happens all the time, usually out of sight and out of mind, and has elevated it to international recognition."

Cecil with his pride in 2012. Shutterstock

But today, Cecil's legacy is more than wide-eyed horror at what some humans do for "fun."
It's wide-eyed adoration of a couple of tiny cubs tumbling down a path.

Watch the full video below:


Are Maine coon cats really from Maine?

Posted May 19, 2016
The big, furry, doglike Maine coon cat enjoys a rich history in our state, and it is in fact the state cat of Maine. But is it from here originally or is the breed from away?
Well, short answer, yes, Maine coons are from Maine. But as with all things in life, their origins are more complicated than one might think.

The Theories

There are several widely circulated theories on the origins of coon cats, some more plausible than others. We’ve brought in an expert — Dr. Christine Hoyt, owner of the Cats on Call Hospital in Scarborough — to debunk them, and to give us the actual science on Maine coons’ origins.

Viking cats: This theory postulates that Norwegian skogkatts — known in the U.S. as Norwegian forest cats — on Viking ships interbred with local cats during their shore leave. That’s supported by the fact that they look a lot alike, with tufted ears and paws and long hair. But Hoyt says this isn’t likely.

“There are some genetic similarities between the Norwegian forest cat, which is one of the ones that people point to it and say, ‘oh, this is the Maine coon from there,’” she said. “But what they’re closest to is the good old long-haired cats that are found in England.”

Hoyt said it’s really environmental pressures that make the cats look alike rather than relatedness.

Bobcats: This one is, essentially, that Maine coons are the result of interbreeding between the American bobcat and domestic cats, possibly because bobcats also have tufted ears and paws. Or, even less likely, cats and raccoons, hence the name coon cat. For anyone with even the most basic understanding of animal husbandry, this is a no-brainer. Hoyt said cats can’t interbreed with raccoons or bobcats — although many people on the Internet would say otherwise, with respect to the bobcats.
And there were two theories with which Hoyt wasn’t really familiar. They both seem a little specific, though.

“Let them eat cake” cats: Some say Maine coons are the result of an effort to smuggle Marie Antoinette — yes, that one — out of France during the revolution, by a Capt. Samuel Clough. The ship was carrying, among other things, six of Antoinette’s pet longhaired cats. When she was seized before the ship sailed, Clough sailed off to America with the cats still on board.

Coon’s cats’ cats: Still others theorize that another sea captain, called Coon, traveled with several longhaired breed cats, which were popular in England at the time, and brought them onshore with him, where they made some new friendships with local cats. When longhaired kittens started showing up, they were called “Coon’s cats.”

The Real Truth

Is honestly not as exciting as some of the theories. But isn’t that the way things sometimes go? The fact is, Hoyt said, that Maine coons became what they are mostly through natural selection.

“What we’re sure is true is that the origins of these cats come from the Puritans, cats that came over from western and northern Europe to the Americas in the 1600-1700s, and that these animals are descendants of these cats,” she said.

So why do they look so much like Norwegian forest cats? Convergent evolution, Hoyt said. This is when selection pressures — in this case, the harsh climate — push two unrelated species to have similar qualities. For example, bats and birds have similar wings, although they’re not related. And humans and koalas both have fingerprints.

In this case, what we’re looking at is a very big cat with big feet, a thick double coat of fur and tufts of fur on its ears and between its toes. The usefulness of all that fur seems pretty obvious in a very cold climate like ours or Scandinavia’s.

Big, wide, snowshoelike feet also would help the cats survive the winter and, Hoyt said, bigger animals survive better in colder climates, known in biology as Bergmann’s Rule.

“It’s why bears are bigger in Alaska than they are even here, and if you look at the black bear in Maine versus the black bear in North Carolina, our bears are bigger,” she said.

And people have been selectively breeding Maine coons to make them larger since the late 19th century, so they’re now larger than they would be from purely natural pressures.

And What About the Extra Toes?

One of the things Maine coons are known for is having lots of toes on those big feet, a condition called “polydactylism.” Probably the most famous examples of this would be Ernest Hemingway’s cats, whose descendants still live at his former home — now a museum — in Key West, Florida.
But, in fact, Hemingway’s cats weren’t Maine coons and, Hoyt said, Maine coons don’t actually have any more toes on average than any other group of cats — although their big feet may make it look like they do.
Polydactyl Maine coons may have become less common because polydactyl cats were considered a bit witchy during the Salem Witch Trials of the late 17th century, so they were frequently killed before they had a chance to reproduce and pass on the trait. Selective breeding after the breed was officially recognized also made the trait less common.

Is My Cat a Maine Coon?

The Cat Fanciers’ Association estimates that the Maine coon is the second most popular breed in the country, measured by the number of kittens registered.

But a lot more people than that think their cat might be a Maine coon. Hoyt said she often encounters people who notice Maine coon-esque qualities in their cat, and want to know for sure.

“People bring me in the cat they found in the street, and they say ‘is this a Maine coon?’ And I say, ‘You know, it’s more likely that the Maine coon that somebody paid $500 for has got some of your cat’s genes in it than the other way around,’” she said. “I have cats in my practice that are probably the most magnificent example of a Maine coon, but they don’t have papers.”

In other words, because so many Maine coon features come from natural selection, they’re very likely to occur in cats that aren’t from a specifically Maine coon lineage. This is as opposed to, say, the Siamese cat, whose current distinctive appearance is the result of selective breeding — click here for more on the genetic differences among cats breeds.

So, in answer to the question: Um, maybe.

This article appears through a media partnership with Maine Public Broadcasting Network.


How the most endangered big cat in the world is recovering

By The Siberian Times reporter
20 May 2016
A few years ago only 30 were living in the wild, but now there is a realistic chance to avoid extinction.

Amur leopardess Umka and her two cubs. Picture here and below: Land of Leopard

A total of 16 Amur Leopard cubs have been photographed by camera traps in a national park dedicated to the survival of the rarest big cat on the planet. The species is officially 'critically endangered', but these images show genuine new hope for the species.
The number of cubs is three times as many as were spotted in 2014, and indicates the success of a Kremlin-driven campaign to save an animal even after its survival seemed forlorn.
The new cubs are from eight females including three born this year to a leopard named Queen Borte - after the famously fertile first wife of Genghis Khan - by Hollywood action hero Steven Seagal.

Leo Aleksa and kitten

Leo Aleksa and kittens

Kitten of Leo 63F
Leopardess Aleksa and her two cubs. Cub od leopardess Leo 63F.

Another mother also had three cubs in the Land of the Leopard National Park in Russia's Far East. Experts say all the cubs have a 'healthy appearance'.
In March, Kremlin chief of staff Sergei Ivanov announced there are now 80 Amur leopards in the wild, compared with just 30 a few years ago. Numbers of the leopards were denuded over many decades by hunting and poaching.
The return of the leopards poses new problems in their native regions, notably a rising number of attacks on livestock. A novel solution has been found with a scheme to compensate farmers who do not shoot leopards and tigers that attack their livestock.
'One of the largest Russian insurance companies has volunteered to insure the damage caused by leopards and tigers,'  said Ivanov. 'The maximum insurance amounts to up to two million roubles.'

Borte's cub

Leo Borte's kittens

Leo 39F with kitten
Cubs of Seagal's leopardess Queen Borte. Leopardess Leo 38F with her cub.

Last June, a leopard attacked a two month old calf grazing on a privately-owned farm in Primorye region. On this occasion, Russian deputy premier Yuri Trutnev paid the farmer 70 bags of oats as compensation.
This led to an idea taken up by SOGAZ insurance company of compensation for farmers to protect the rare leopards from revenge attacks by farmers. The insurance scheme is a 'correct' and 'civilised solution', he said.
'We can say that our animals are becoming less exposed to dangers coming from humans. In these conditions, our cats are reproducing very well.'


Thursday, May 19, 2016

Big Cat Snow Day at the San Diego Zoo

Published on Apr 29, 2016
It was a rainy morning in San Diego today (April 28, 2016), but at the San Diego Zoo, the forecast called for snow. One-year-old jaguar cub Valerio and his mom, Nindiri, woke up to an unexpected surprise: piles of fresh, glistening snow blanketing their habitat. The duo appeared cautious when they entered the exhibit, stepping gingerly on the snow, unsure how to react to the novel substance.

However, after a few minutes, the pair started exploring, climbing, searching for buried meatballs and showcasing their natural behaviors while enjoying their chilly enrichment surprise. Animal care staff said the cats’ personalities really shined through, and it was fascinating seeing them venture to parts of their habitat they normally wouldn’t explore this early in the day.