Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Tiger census planned in Nepal

Razen Manandhar
Kathmandu, January 31:

Various international non-government organisations are making plans to carry out a census of Bengal tigers (Panthera tigris) in Nepal's national parks.

Recent studies have put the number of the wild cats in Nepal at about 350 to 375.

A tiger survey has been initiated in the Bardia National Park with a focus on the Babai river floodplain. A team of seven park personnel will start monitoring from the Chepang area, the gateway of the Babai, according to the last updated draft of the tiger count plan.

"We are currently working on methods to conduct a survey in the national parks to find out how many tigers are living in the habitat, which is constantly under human threat," Dr Ghanashyam Gurung, the action country representative of WWF Nepal, told The Himalayan Times.

He expressed the hope that the count will most probably begin this season with support from various other institutions and will last for some six months.

"This is the first time the WWF is initiating such a survey. The past five years of the insurgency have had a marked impact on wildlife population in the Babai river floodplain," he said.

Gurung added that the WWF will also develop a congregated methodology of counting rhinos. He, however, refused to comment on the financial aspect of the surveys.

The current tiger population estimation is based on various sources and surveys carried out in the past three decades.

However, it has been felt that there is insufficient information on the demographic patterns of the tigers such as population structure, spatial distribution, home-range size, movements, social organisations, age-structure, survival rate, extent for breeding etc, according to a recent outline document for tiger conservation.

Currently, three isolated areas in Nepal remain as tiger habitats. Chitwan occupies the largest area where 75 per cent of the tigers are within protected areas. The other two populations are those in Bardia and Shuklaphanta.

A $1million revised action plan to conserve tigers and their habitat is on the final stage of drafting. It will consolidate various programmes on tigers for the coming five years.

http://www.thehimalayantimes.com/fullstory.asp? filename=aFanata0va2qzpa4a9Ta8a9a.axamal&folder=aHaoamW &Name=Home&dtSiteDate=20070131

Fewer tiger sightings, more tourists in Indian reserve

SUMAN K. SHRIVASTAVA
Issue Date: Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Betla (Palamau), Jan. 30: Jameel, a casual forest worker, says tigers are like god. It is sheer luck if you get to see one in Palamau Tiger Reserve (PTR), he adds.

Jameel has made an innocent but striking admission about the number of tigers in the reserve. Like god, tigers are also invisible in PTR, one of the nine tiger reserves in the country. There has been an increase in the number of visitors, though.

The forest department maintains a register of tiger spotting. Visitors who have spotted tigers while taking elephant rides inside Betla National Park, a part of the reserve, make a note in the register.

The last time a big cat was sighted here was on April 29, 2006, when two tourists from Germany reported it. Before that, Chatra MP Dhirendra Agrawal had seen a tiger on April 9. In all, big cats were sighted only twice in 2006.

The dossier the forest officials have been maintaining since 1993 reveals more startling facts.

In 1994, 96 tourists spotted tigers. But the number of sightings dwindled sharply and reached 12 in 1996, one in 2001 and four in 2002. Interestingly, tourists have not had a glimpse of a big cat in 2003. In 2004 one was sighted and in 2005 three were seen.

Range officer Amarnath Bhagat said the dossier version is more accurate. “We maintain the register, which has comments from tourists, as our version is invariably not believed,” he said.

The precise number of tigers in PTR has always been a matter of dispute. Since the first census — which was in 1934 — the population of tigers has shown a steady decline. In 1972, their numbers dwindled to 17. However, after the forest was declared a sanctuary in 1973, there was an increase in the population of the big cats, reaching 55 in 1989. The 1991 census estimates the tiger population as 54. The 2005 animal census puts the number at 38.

However, tiger trackers put the figure at seven.

Explaining the dispute in numbers, Bhagat said PTR is spread over 1,026 sq km and Betla National Park, a part of PTR, is just 226 sq km. “Tourists visit the park area. There is a tigress or two there,” he said.

Tourists do not venture to the rest of the areas because of the fear of extremists.

“We assess the number of tigers on the basis of the pugmarks that our tiger trackers find,” said the range officer.

The forest department has employed about 120 tiger trackers.

But the rarity in sighting tigers has not brought down the number of visitors to the national park. In fact, footfall in the park has registered a sharp increase in 2006.

According to records, around 20,000 domestic and 98 foreign tourists came to the park in 2006. In 2005, there were 50 foreign and 16,672 domestic tourists. In 2004, the number was five, added Bhagat.

http://www.telegraphindia.com/1070131/asp / jamshedpur/story_7329140.asp#

Tiger, tiger, burning dim in India's Ranthambore NP

Candid corner - Abhishek Singhvi
January 30, 2007

Long weekends are precious rarities, especially when spent in the solitude of forests. Ranthambore is one of the finest examples of that solitude and the placid lake at Jogi Mahal truly tells you the meaning of the phrase ‘pin-drop silence’. Unlike several other wildlife parks, Ranthambore is flatter and a large part of it (the core area is 300 km and the total park area is 1,334 km) is motorable. It also has rich diversity, from lush vegetation, dense forest, lakes, swamp, hilly landscape, undulating topography, arid desert undergrowth and (unlike many other wildlife parks) interesting historical monuments.

Having visited the park several times earlier, I decided to check out some facts and figures. What distressed me most was that even optimistic estimates put the entire tiger population of the park at 36. My interaction with locals suggests 25-27 is closer to the truth. In fact, knowledgeable sources indicate that the 1984-85 figure of 41 had come down to about 26 in 2004-05. Happily, these sources put the figure in 2006-07 at 36 (which I have put at 25-27), but no formal census exists.

It is tragic that after decades of hullabaloo about conservation, environmental sustainability, Project Tiger, the apex court’s innumerable orders about forest cover in Godavarman, incessant seminars and colloquia and endless intellectual debates about protecting India’s precious heritage, we are down to a mean figure of 30 at one of our premier national parks. Is my depression misplaced when I am reminded that in the not-too-distant past (i.e. before our maharajahs acquired gunpower and before the British started colonising), the worldwide tiger population was over 100,000! That figure is now estimated to be about 6,000. Of this, the current Indian population is estimated to be approximately 2,000-3,000. Given the imprecisions inherent in any census, given the fact that we still do not tag our tigers with any identification and given the much larger real reach of poaching than imagined, I would not put the figure higher than 2,000 and probably lower.

Since tigers are mainly found at Kanha, Bandhavgarh, Corbett, Manas in the North-east, West Bengal and a few other parts of India and since most, if not all, of these locations can barely boast of double digit tiger population figures, I do not understand how this estimate of 2,000 is derived.

At the rate we are going, I can imagine the horrible feeling of having to either travel to a zoo to see a tiger or, worse still, to Siberia, south China or Sumatra. Since the Chinese are the biggest culprits in the trading of tiger body parts and skins and since the Indonesians have already made the Javan and Balinese tiger species extinct, I suppose we have only the Russians to rely upon. Exactly, how tragic my doomsday scenario is can only be understood by those who have experienced the magic of seeing a tiger in the wild or, if singularly fortunate as I have been in Kanha, seeing one chasing a leopard and fighting over a kill.

Apart from unparalleled beauty, inordinate luxury, gourmet food and access to the wildlife park, the remarkable Oberoi property, Vanvilas, at Ranthambore also has a well stocked library (at least on Shakespeare). Considering just a few — Macbeth, Othello, Hamlet and Merchant of Venice — one is astonished at the depth of human emotion, sheer psychoanalysis, the amazing power of story-telling and attention to detail, apart from the sheer poetry, prose and literature that one man can create.

While browsing through these four works, I was reminded of Shakespeare’s obsession with ghosts — from Hamlet’s father’s ghost guiding the young Hamlet through the tale to Macbeth’s sleepless nights with apparitions or, indeed, the vital role played by witches. Undoubtedly, no one else has given ghosts such dignity and centrality.

Second, his view of women was nasty and brutish. Hamlet’s mother typified fiendish infidelity, to the extent of marrying her former husband’s murderer with near certain knowledge of that murder. Macbeth’s wife was scheming, over-ambitious and the cause of his ruin. The women in Othello were of both kinds — innocent and charming, but also vicious and scheming.

Third, Shakespeare’s deep understanding of law — its sterile word on the one hand and its living spirit on the other, its potential use as an instrument of oppression as opposed to its efficacious deployment as a tool for justice — is brilliantly brought out in Merchant of Venice. None of Shakespeare’s characters are pure villain or complete heroes. Even Shylock has a strong case, despised as he is only for being successful in his vocation. When he asks Antonio for the pound of flesh on the strength of an unconscionable but legal contract, Shakespeare is illustrating a real-life legal problem. Equally, when the climax shows Shylock being allowed to take his pound of flesh but directed to do so without shedding blood, Shakespeare reached the peak of his brilliance in demanding adherence to the strict letter of the law so as to prevent injustice. It also illustrates how that same technicality may be used to practise injustice in another case.

Abhishek Singhvi is MP, Congress National Spokesperson and Senior Advocate abhisheks777@rediffmail.com

http://www.hindustantimes.com/news/181_1915848,00120002.htm

Leopard pair on prowl in Indian district

Srinagar, January 30: Panic struck the entire Khrew area in central Srinagar district when a pair of wild leopards prayed on two domestic goats in a village late last night and killed a street dog this morning.

Reports said that two wild leopards, probably a male and female, appeared in Gormayi Naad village in Khrew area late last night and killed two domestic goats in separate attacks. The carcasses of the two goats were consumed by the apparently hungry leopards.

A police party, along wit wildlife officials, rushed to the area early this morning to chase away the wild leopards. The leopards, however, did not harm any humans and wild life officials believe that the pair was looking for some easy prey.

"Certainly, the animals are not man eaters," said wild life warden central Kashmir, Raashid Naqaash. The wild life warden further said that a team of wild life officials was scanning the entire area to ensure that the leopards have been driven back to the forest and are not hidden nearby.

The wild life officials also circulated the DOs and DO NOTs manual among the villagers in the area to prevent any damage due to a wild animal coming into accidental conflict with humans.

"Basically our stress is on keeping children indoors before dawn and after dusk. Also we want people to avoid any encounter with the wild animals because the animals can attack if they feel threatened," Raashid said.

The feeling among the people, however, is that of panic as many persons have been mauled and killed by wild animals over the past few months while people have killed animals in retaliation.

http://www.kashmirobserver.com/index.php?id=1710

UK tour company offers Iberian lynx trip to Spain

On the lookout for lynx

The Iberian lynx is so rare that few people ever spot one, but a new tour run by Nature Trek (naturetrek.co.uk) hopes to let you see this magnificent beast. The lynx's last refuges are the remote corners of Coto Donana and the rugged regions of the Sierra Morena. Even if you don't glimpse a lynx, you should see other mammals, including otters, wild boar, and red deer.

A six-day tour to the lynx's habitat with Nature Trek costs £795 per person, based on two sharing, including return flights, accommodation, food and guides.

http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/features/travel/article2199060.ece

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Iranian park is home to leopards, Pallas' cat, wild cats

January 2007 - Various leopard pictures are our new year gift from our Persian leopard project in Iran obtained during a camera trapping survey inside the national park since October 2006. After the tragic loss of a huge male leopard in Sarigol NP in August NP to poachers, the new round of camera trapping survey has been initiated in order to obtain a reliable estimation on the leopard density and population composition inside the national park. So far, 12 pictures from the leopards have been captured revealing a healthy and dynamic population roaming across the park and surrounding mountainous habitats. All the images have been taken in nighttime darkness, mainly from males. Fortunately, the camera trapping period is on peak of the leopards rutting season in January and February when they are most active during the year to find a mate and possibly establish a territory for themselves.

At the moment, 15 DeerCam passive camera trap are covering more than 60 square kilometers until February 2007 and we hope to be able to capture between 7 to 10 different individuals as our preliminary estimation based on numerous measures during the past 18 months of tracking throughout the national park. We hope that capture-mark and recapture can help us to reach a reliable and scientific density for the leopards in Sarigol.

Beside biological aspect, a network of local stakeholders have been formed, including local GOs and NGOs in order to launch a public awareness campaign in communities around the national park. Educational efforts have been allocated to 9 villages neighboring the national park where posses the livestock and poaching problems. More than 600 primary and junior high school students are the main targets who are going to learn about their nearby leopards in winter and spring 2007 by 10 local tutors.

Initiated since March 2005, the Project Persian Leopard in Sarigol National Park has been continued in 2006 by BP Conservation Program till mid 2007, aimed at developing a good base of knowledge about the less-known Persian leopard and planning a conservation program to ensure the species' survival inside one of the last habitats in the country. Moreover, studies on wild cat Felis ornata are undergoing with hardware support of Small Cat Alliance inside the park at the same time.

You can find more pictures from the animals captured in the camera trapping 2006 here: http://www.iraniancheetah.org/SarigolCTImages1.htm

http://www.iraniancheetah.org/main.htm

SD's new GF&P head faces tough questions on cougars, other wildlife

Compiled by Journal staff

As the new secretary of the state Game, Fish & Parks Department, Jeff Vonk faces a range of issues crucial to wildlife populations in South Dakota, as well to the hunters and private landowners who are so important to fish and game management.

To learn more about Vonk and his philosophies, the Journal asked the assistance of five people deeply involved in GF&P issues. Their questions — and Vonk’s replies — offer a glimpse at what hunters, anglers, landowners and conservationists can expect from the new guy in charge.

-- Larry Nelson, Buffalo, rancher involved in hunting lockout:

Many farmers and ranchers feel that the Game & Fish tramples property rights in the way it uses the open-fields doctrine. Why should a private landowner allow hunters on his property when their presence — or even just the presumption of their presence by a conservation officer — could leave that landowner open to a warrantless search?

Vonk response: Clearly, the decision to allow hunters onto their property rests solely with individual private property owners. It is, in fact, lawful for conservation officers to enter open fields on private land to conduct compliance checks to determine if hunters or anglers are properly licensed and abiding by other laws and regulations. In these situations, the landowner is not being subjected to a warrantless search, as is suggested. The U.S. Supreme Court has consistently ruled that the provisions of the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which affords citizens protection against unreasonable government intrusion, do not apply to activities that occur out-of-doors, in open fields. In addition, state law exempts certain persons who are deemed “privileged” from being charged with trespass. Our courts have found that law enforcement officers acting in the performance of their duties fall into this category.

Under state and federal law, wildlife has long been held as a “public trust” resource. In other words, fish and wildlife are not owned by an individual but are held in trust for the benefit of the public at large. The state has been entrusted to manage these resources through the GF&P. Hunting, fishing and trapping are sports that require participants to be properly licensed and to abide by regulations designed to sustain these important public resources. Conservation officers are charged with enforcing the laws and regulations enacted by the people, including conducting inspections of those being regulated. Without the ability to make contact with hunters, anglers or trappers on private land, it would be impossible for conservation officers to do the job they are hired to do.

I am committed to continuing the dialogue with individual ranchers who still have concerns. This issue is also a high priority for the Wildlife Issues Panel, established by GF&P two years ago. I am committed to carrying out our open fields responsibilities in ways that are respectful of the rights of private property owners and their guests.

-- Charles Kruse, Scenic, rancher near Badlands National Park:

Pastures in some parts of western South Dakota are being wiped out by prairie dogs. Why can’t the state do more to control prairie-dog populations and provide compensation to landowners who suffer financial losses from prairie dogs and other wildlife?

Vonk response: Needless to say, I didn’t deal with prairie dog issues in Iowa. That being said, on my first day at work, one of the very first questions asked of me from the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resource Committee members dealt with prairie dogs. I made a promise to Sen. Jim Lintz that I would visit the Conata Basin and meet on the ground with landowners and other players involved with this issue. I will set up a site visit this spring. I am also aware that the Legislature recently approved a Prairie Dog Management Plan, and I believe the plan should lead and direct our actions on this issue.

It is my understanding that we have specific guidance to control prairie dogs that encroach from public land onto adjoining private land. We have been active in these situations, and I would hope that anyone who qualifies for and has requested this assistance has been helped. Also, as I understand it, the S.D. Department of Agriculture works with private landowners, those who do not adjoin public land, to assist them and provide sales of quality, approved rodenticides for use on private land. Finally, I understand that one yet-to-be-resolved issue is how the U.S. Forest Service deals with prairie dog and black-footed ferret management on their lands. Staff is working with the Forest Service as they develop options for a new prairie dog management plan involving the Conata Basin.

I have never been a proponent of direct damage payments or “compensation” for wildlife-related damages. I assume that, as was the case in Iowa, GF&P simply does not have enough money to adequately pay for every wildlife damage situation. And I assume that in addition to prairie dogs, a host of other wildlife species in South Dakota are probably involved with damage issues. I believe that it is far better to try to work together to solve over-abundant wildlife problems than to make direct damage payments.


-- Dr. Sharon Seneczko, Custer, president of Black Hills Mountain Lion Foundation:

Would you consider changing GF&P lion management season so that the kill quota for the fall mountain-lion season would be adjusted before the hunt depending on overall lion mortality — including vehicle strikes, GF&P removal, accidental trapping and disease?

Vonk response: I plan to lean heavily on my staff to get me current on the history and the issues surrounding our mountain-lion management. As I understand it, the process currently used to determine the recommended mountain

lion harvest limit already takes into account all forms of cougar mortality, including those animals hit by vehicles, problem lions removed by staff or otherwise verified as killed from other sources.

I know from previous experience that there is always a lot of emotion surrounding mountain-lion management. Interested stakeholders extend far beyond landowners and hunters. You can rely on the fact that we will continue to use sound science as the foundation of every management decision and hunting season recommendation that we take to the GF&P Commission.

-- Ken Edel, Rapid City, angler, officer in Black Hills Anglers:

Your agency is proposing $1.7 million in projects for the Spring Creek watershed, with more than half the money coming from fees and taxes paid by anglers. What is the process for selecting these projects, and who is involved?

Vonk response: The Spring Creek watershed project was selected as a top priority by our Wildlife Division staff and subsequently recommended in the FY 2008 budget, which was approved by the GF&P Commission and recently reviewed by the Legislature’s Appropriation Committee.

The idea of habitat improvement in Spring Creek began several years ago when a watershed study was conducted by a group of partners, including the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, South Dakota School of Mines & Technology, Black Hills Fly Fishers, and Game, Fish & Parks. This study, completed in 2005, identified sources and mechanisms that have led to degradation of Spring Creek and Sheridan Lake. We have also learned over the years that Black Hills anglers have a strong interest in small impoundment fishing, improved stream water quality, improved water quality of Sheridan Lake and the trout fishery below Sheridan Lake. All of these things provided strong justification for a comprehensive Spring Creek watershed project.

Restoration of Mitchell, Newton Fork and Major lakes, part of the larger Spring Creek work, will provide improved fisheries and increased sport fishing opportunity. Improvements at the three lakes will include sediment removal, renovation of dam structures, dam safety and stream routing. These three small impoundments are on major travel routes and close to high public-use areas.

As you can imagine, this multi-faceted project will still require additional planning, design work, public involvement and coordination before any work is done. I would hope for and expect continued stakeholder involvement as each of these specific project components come on line for actual implementation.

-- Stan Lieberman, Rapid City, sportsman and former GF&P commissioner: As a hunting-safety instructor, I’m concerned about the declining interest in hunting among young people, in part because it has grown increasingly difficult in South Dakota to find a place to hunt. How will you address the problem of hunting access and encourage more youngsters to take up the sport?

Vonk response: The future of hunting rests with our ability to recruit and maintain new people in the ranks of active sportsmen and women. One of the keys to success in this challenge is access to good hunting areas. The department continues to purchase land from willing sellers as game production areas. The state Wildlife Division owns these lands and manages them for wildlife habitat and public recreation, especially hunting. We pay full agricultural land assessed property taxes on the 175,000 acres of GPAs.

We also lease private lands for walk-in public hunting. In western South Dakota we look for good range land and, in more central and eastern areas, Conservation Reserve Program acres. Each fall, we publish maps of the enrolled areas, which totaled a record 1 million acres in 2006. The program offers fair, competitive lease payment (up to $6 per acre for good CRP land), requires that all hunting be on foot and provides for certain immunity from liability to protect the landowner from lawsuits as a result of hunting accidents. In recent years, we have been working on a new system of long-term leases involving large ranch units in western South Dakota, where we negotiate terms with a landowner that may include management changes to provide better wildlife habitat. These often involve grazing management systems, areas set aside for undisturbed nesting cover, planting food plots, creating wetlands and planting trees. We also lease areas near Pierre specifically for public goose hunting. They range from decoy areas to designated pits or shooting strips to all types hunting or unrestricted access. Many are also open to pheasant hunting until the geese arrive.

In addition, our youth hunting seasons are designed to help get young people involved in hunting, with the help of mentors who offer guidance in safe, ethical hunting practices. Attracting youngsters to the sport requires cooperation from all sportsmen and conservation groups, as well as GF&P. Our future in the field depends on it.

http://www.rapidcityjournal.com/articles/2007/ 01/25/news/top/news04.txt

Spanish nursery awaits second generation of Iberian lynx

La cría del lince en Doñana espera su segunda generación

ARACELI ACOSTA. EL ACEBUCHE (DOÑANA).

Unos roncos maullidos nos reciben en la finca que alberga el Centro de control de fauna silvestre de El Acebuche, en el parque nacional de Doñana. No los vemos, pero los linces que forman parte del Programa de Cría en Cautividad están a menos de 200 metros de nosotros. Una decena de campeos, que van desde los 150 a los 550 metros de superficie, con matorral bajo y troncos secos, simulan el hábitat de este felino, el más amenazado del mundo.

Pero aquí están a salvo de las amenazas que les acechan en el campo, y sobre todo de los humanos que tanto han transformado sus territorios, aunque no se libran de las miradas indiscretas a través de las pantallas de ordenador que siguen sus movimientos durante las 24 horas del día. Decenas de cámaras estratégicamente instaladas y una veintena de micrófonos recogen cada movimiento y sonido de estos animales.

Seguimiento exhaustivo

No podemos asegurarlo, pero tal vez los maullidos que nos dieron la bienvenida fueran de Cromo, un macho de casi cuatro años, al que vemos en las pantallas en sus intentos de cortejo a Adelfa. «Están a punto», explica Maider, veterinaria y etóloga, que está hoy en el turno de vigilancia en esta especie de estudio de «Gran hermano» donde los linces son los únicos protagonistas. «Han hecho intentos de acercamiento a las dos de la madrugada y esta mañana. Él le ha enseñado los genitales y ella se ha revuelto, pero les queda poco». Maider va tecleando en el ordenador todo lo que ve a través de las pantallas. «Cromo: junto a Adelfa, la mira constantemente», ha escrito hace sólo unos minutos. Muy descriptivo, aunque en ningún caso puede sustituir a esas imágenes tan tiernas que nos muestran las pantallas.

Pero ya hay tres parejas que han pasado de las miradas a la acción. Así nos lo confirma Astrid Vargas, directora del Programa de Cría en Cautividad de la especie. «Hay tres parejas que ya han copulado». Se trata de Saliega y Jub, Aura y Garfio, y Brisa y Arcex. Las dos primeras hembras ya son adultas (tienen cinco años) y además Saliega ya tiene experiencia en estas lides. No en vano fue ella la que en 2005 dio a luz tres cachorros de lince -dos hembras y un macho, aunque una moriría después en una pelea con su hermano-, en un hecho considerado histórico por los expertos por ser la primera vez que se lograba el nacimiento de linces en cautividad.

La estirpe de Saliega

El caso de Brisa es, si cabe, aún más especial, no sólo porque aún es subadulta (tiene dos años), por lo que podría tener escaso éxito reproductor (muchas veces tienen embarazos psicológicos y partos prematuros) y no se sabe si en caso de haber sido fecundada y parir podrá sacar a sus crías adelante, sino también porque ella pertenece a esa primera camada que nació en cautividad hace dos años. Por tanto, si todo saliera bien, estaríamos hablando de los primeros nietos del programa de cría en cautividad, al tiempo que «la abuela», Saliega, también podría tener cachorros este año.

Sin embargo, a falta de un test de orina que sea capaz de detectar los embarazos a partir de la presencia de una hormona (la relaxina) -«lo estamos poniendo a punto, explica Vargas, porque aún da muchos falsos positivos»-, habrá que esperar «casi hasta el momento del parto» para saber si las cópulas han sido efectivas.

Fagocitan a sus crías

Por eso la directora de este programa se muestra muy cauta a la hora de valorar los tres cortejos exitosos que ha habido hasta el momento, y advierte de que incluso en el caso de que esos embarazos fueran adelante, no hay ninguna garantía de que los cachorros sobrevivan a los primeros días. «Saliega ha demostrado ser una madre estupenda», afirma Astrid Vargas, pero las hembras primerizas suelen tener un 50 por ciento de posibilidades de sacar adelante a las crías. Además, en muchos casos las canibalizan, y en cambio al año siguiente son madres excelentes.

«La gestación ronda los 60-65 días», dice Vargas, por lo que los partos podrían producirse a finales de marzo. Por si las previsiones fallan, aún quedan por copular tres parejas de adultos y otra subadulta. «Brezo: muy juntito a Boj (hembra), apoyando la cabeza sobre ella», había escrito por la mañana Maider en el ordenador. Han pasado las horas, y al sol del mediodía en Doñana es ella la que toma la iniciativa: «Boj abraza a Brezo».

Las parejas mixtas

Ellos forman esa pareja subadulta (ambos tienen dos años) preparada para copular. Además de que sus rasgos físicos y su carácter les hacen diferentes a ojos de sus cuidadores y de la propia Maider, que sólo lleva tres semanas trabajando con estos linces y ya llama a cada uno por su nombre -«son un mínimo de 40 horas semanales frente a estas pantallas», explica-, estos animales tienen su historia personal. Brezo es hermano de Brisa, por tanto, pertenece a esa primera camada exitosa del programa de conservación «ex situ». Además, es de Doñana, mientras que Boj es de Sierra Morena.

No son la única pareja mixta de El Acebuche. También lo son, por ejemplo, Aura y Garfio, que llegó hace tres años de Sierra Morena, y Almoradux y Artemisa, ella es la que en este caso cogió la «caravana de mujeres» hacia Doñana. Y es que se intenta aumentar la diversidad genética. El año pasado se cruzaron por primera vez dos animales de ambas poblaciones, Jub y Esperanza, fue la conexión de los núcleos de Sierra Morena y Doñana, aislados desde hacía seis décadas.

Las alarmas siguen encendidas

Por tanto, se trata de un programa de conservación que ha ido salvando escollos y consiguiendo éxitos uno tras otro, pero las alarmas para esta especie siguen encendidas. Astrid Vargas lo tiene claro: «El éxito del programa de cría no significa que el lince esté salvado. Si se extinguiese en la Naturaleza, estaría extinto. Y es que se halla en una situación en la que puede recibir la puntilla en aspectos que a una población saludable no le afectarían. Por ejemplo, una epidemia o un incendio». Por eso es importante controlar las amenazas (escasez de conejos, carreteras, cepos y venenos) para que el Gran Gato ibérico vuelva a campear libremente en su hábitat natural.

http://www.abc.es/20070127/sociedad-medio-ambiente/ cria-lince-donana-espera_200701270303.html

Clouded leopard: Climbing out of endangerment

By Alison Walker-Baird
News-Post Staff
Publish Date: 01/29/07

FREDERICK -- The clouded leopard's namesake cloud-like spots help camouflage the Asian wild cat in the forest, but a local scientist's discovery could help protect this vulnerable species from extinction at the hands of humans.

The population of this avid climber -- not a type of leopard but a separate "big cat" species -- has shrunk into endangerment, as the cats are hunted for their fur and meat, and their habitat is destroyed.

Four subspecies of clouded leopard had been recognized in Southeast Asia, but a researcher at the National Cancer Institute at Frederick discovered one of those is a separate species.

Finding that separate species may boost conservation efforts, said Karen Povey, coordinator of The Clouded Leopard Project, a conservation and research group based in Tacoma, Wash.

Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium, where Povey is a staff biologist, founded the project in 1999 to bring awareness and education of clouded leopards to the public.

"We know so little about them," Povey said. "This is very exciting -- it shows we have so many opportunities to learn about clouded leopards."

NCI-F's findings were published in a December 2006 paper in Current Biology. The paper's lead author, Valerie Buckley-Beason, is a researcher in the institute's Laboratory of Genomic Diversity, headed by Stephen O'Brien.

The scientific community will likely name the new species, Buckley-Beason said; its scientific name will probably be Neofelis diardi.

Buckley-Beason found major genetic differences between mainland clouded leopards, a subspecies found from Southern China to eastern Burma, and the diardi, found on the island of Borneo.

Though the new species may be able to reproduce with clouded leopards on the mainland, their island habitat isolates the diardi cats, making their population harder to sustain.

"On an island, you're stuck with the population you have," Buckley-Beason said.


Spotting a new species

Researchers have wondered for years if the Borneo clouded leopard could be a separate species, Povey said, because of obvious physical differences from other clouded leopards: The Borneo cat's coat is darker, with blotchy, less defined spots.

Buckley-Beason identified the new species while studying genes from the clouded leopard sub-species in fall 2003, as part of her master's work at Hood College. Samples from the Borneo clouded leopard weren't matching up with genes from the other sub-species.

She checked the genes several times, thinking the samples were contaminated. Finally, after confirming the samples were good, she compared the genomes and found striking differences.

"I asked my mentors, 'Am I looking at a new species?' Buckley-Beason said, smiling. "They nodded, and I was like, 'Oh my God!'"

The Laboratory of Genomic Diversity studies cats' evolutionary history and genetics as a way to learn more about infectious and hereditary diseases in humans.

Only a handful of researchers in the world are studying the clouded leopard, Buckley-Beason explained.

Warren Johnson, a staff scientist, said the diardi discovery provides valuable insight into cat evolution and should give impetus for studies of other species in Southeast Asia.

"A lot of experimentation has occurred in the natural world, from which we continue to learn a lot of lessons," he said. "This study is another example of how the tools and methods being used to study the genetic heritage of humans and human disease can simultaneously benefit other species."

Buckley-Beason, who is working toward her doctoral degree at George Mason University, has also studied diardi clouded leopards from the island of Sumatra in Indonesia and found they may be part of the new species with the Borneo cats. Her research will be published this spring.


Cat in the hat

Clouded leopards' looks and temperament may work to conservationists' advantage -- they resemble 30-pound house cats and rarely are known to attack humans -- but groups like The Clouded Leopard Project still face an uphill battle.

The United States Endangered Species Act lists the clouded leopard as endangered, and the World Conservation Union, also known as International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, lists the cat as vulnerable.

Clouded leopards are more abundant in Borneo than in other parts of Asia; the population in southern China is decreasing and the species is thought to be extinct in the wild in Taiwan.

To boost conservation, communities that would otherwise hunt clouded leopards must be shown the species' benefits and be offered economic alternatives to poaching, The Clouded Leopard Project's Povey said.

"Conservation doesn't happen in a vacuum," she said.

Buckley-Beason's research also showed great genetic similarity between clouded leopards in northeast China and those in Taiwan. The two countries were once connected. In her published study she suggests mainland Chinese clouded leopards could be introduced into Taiwan to help repopulate the island.

http://www.fredericknewspost.com/sections/news/ display.htm?storyid=56176

Leopard creates panic in Indian hamlet

Tuesday January 30 2007 00:00 IST

HOSUR: A leopard killed a three-month-old calf in a hill hamlet in Soolagiri panchayat union, besides ransacking a cattle shed.

According to sources, a leopard with its two cubs, from the reserved forest area in Soolagiri division entered Bogipuram village in the wee hours of Monday.

It then entered a cattle shed and killed the calf. The animal also ransacked the shed. Hearing the noise, the villagers rushed to the spot. But, the leopard escaped with the body of the calf.

Based on the information, a squad from the Krishnagiri forest division rushed to the spot. After struggling for three hours, the forest officials chased away the leopard and its cubs back to the forest.

The killing of cattle by the leopards has been continuing in the villages in and around Soolagiri for the past three months. The public wanted the forest officials to take effective steps to prevent the wild animals from entering the human dwelling in the Soolagiri panchayat union.

http://www.newindpress.com/NewsItems.asp?ID=IET20070129110845& Page=T&Title=Southern+News+-+Tamil+Nadu&Topic=0

Kenya: Clashes increase as people move closer to wildlife

Nicholas Wadhams, Chronicle Foreign Service
Sunday, January 28, 2007

(01-28) 04:00 PST Narok, Kenya -- Mary Sinigi hates elephants.

In December, an elephant terrorized her village, chased her husband down a dirt path and ripped the roof off her home while she and her five children cowered inside.

"Because of elephants, we never rest," Sinigi said, recalling the predawn invasion. "When the kids leave in the morning to go out to school, we are not certain they will come back until we see them again."

Most Kenyans do not share the common Western belief that the elephant is a lovable beast in desperate need of protection and worth the several thousand dollars' cost of a safari vacation. To them, the elephant is a 6-ton garden pest, a wrecking ball that kills, tramples and terrifies.

That anger reflects what conservationists say is a worrisome trend: Conflict between humans and wildlife -- and particularly elephants -- is on the rise, sparking a backlash among Kenyans against the very animals that are considered treasured assets.

That anger is being aired in a national debate this year, as Kenya conducts a new review of its wildlife policy, unchanged since the 1970s. The policy failed to take into account a booming human population that has encroached on the country's national parks and erected towns in the middle of wildlife migration routes.

Most of the possible changes have not been made public. But several ideas include buying land along migration routes, paying cash quickly to those whose lives or livelihoods have been ruined and -- in perhaps the most controversial proposal -- allowing limited hunting to cull problem animals.

"The problem is, of course, expanding human population that's taking up a lot of the space that elephants traditionally use on their migratory travels," said Daphne Sheldrick, a conservationist who runs an elephant sanctuary outside Nairobi. "Where elephants come into conflict with humans, those elephants will have to disappear or be moved."

Newspapers across East and southern Africa are filled with stories about elephants destroying crops, killing farmers, wandering into slums where they've never appeared before. In 2005, an elephant trampled an old man and then crashed his funeral -- spurring irate mourners to block a road and pelt passing cars with rocks in frustration.

Anecdotal evidence points to a rise in the illegal trade of bush meat, and poaching continues to be a problem in many parks. Statistics show that some 90 percent of Kenyans value wildlife in the abstract -- but only 5 percent value wildlife on their own land.

Current laws have stripped people of the right to kill problem animals themselves, and punishment for doing so can include prison time. Yet if an elephant, a lion or a buffalo kills a person, the victim's relatives receive just 30,000 Kenyan shillings -- about $400 -- if they get anything at all. There is no compensation for destruction of livestock or crops.

"If I'm not getting benefit, I would rather kill the animal than have my brother or sister killed," said Yusuf Ole Petenya, a Maasai who works with the African Conservation Centre, a Nairobi-based research group. "Of course, we have an interest in wildlife, but I'm also interested in seeing my brother or my sister alive. How can I have happiness if I wake up in the morning and my brother is dead because he's been mauled by a lion next door?"

The resentment toward the rules on wild animals was evident at a mid-December meeting to discuss the national review in Narok, a town outside the renowned Masai Mara game reserve. This is a place where everyone knows someone who has been killed by a charging buffalo. A nearby orphanage is populated by children who lost their parents to two main killers: HIV/AIDS and animals.

Speaker after speaker in an eight-hour meeting stood up to rail against the government and the Kenya Wildlife Service, which is chiefly responsible for managing wildlife. They criticized foreign conservation groups, which they suspected would rather control the people than the elephants. And they railed against the government for refusing to protect them or their wildlife.

Tourism, a leading engine of the Kenyan economy, is booming -- it comprises more than 20 percent of the government's annual income -- but these people said their villages don't see a dime.

"We've seen over the years that this wildlife brings a lot of economic benefits to the rest of the country," said Meitamei Olol Dapash, director of the Maasai Environmental Research Coalition headquartered in Washington, D.C. "The wildlife is in Maasailand, but the benefits are going to the rest of the country, leaving the Maasai people with nothing, just bearing the pain of their people being killed by wildlife."

The Kenya Wildlife Service itself admits many of its failings surrounding its mission: "To sustain and ably manage wildlife resources for the benefit of the people of Kenya and as a world heritage."

Aside from elephants and rhinoceros, wildlife numbers are down. The country is waiting for a new land-use policy that could bring order to what has been the chaotic subdivision and sale of thousands of acres of wildlife habitat for tea cultivation, flower farms, and scattered plots of maize, bananas and mangos.

"The policy has not changed over the years, and KWS recognizes that," said agency spokeswoman Connie Maina. "There are so many gaps."

The new elephant problem is gripping much of Africa, not just Kenya. In Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Tanzania, elephant populations stabilized at about 600,000 -- down from 1.5 million in the 1970s -- and are beginning to rise.

Capable of consuming several hundred pounds of food and at least 30 gallons of water a day, elephants have the capacity to turn heavily vegetated ecosystems into near desert. They also kill other species that crowd them.

Villagers say any policy change will have to address not only the changes in Kenya, but also the changes in the wildlife that surrounds them.

In the Rift Valley south of Nairobi, a flash point in the conflict between humans and elephants, the once-skittish beasts seem to have figured out that the laws are working in their favor.

"The elephants are very polite," said Steven Nteetu, a cattle owner and farmer near the village of Olkirimatian. "Even if they come here to the farms, you can shout and shout, but they can look at you and continue with eating. What we have seen now is that the animals are not wild. They are coming nearby. They are not afraid of the human being."

http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2007/01/28/ MNG7SNQDHR1.DTL

Discovery of new clouded leopard species may help its conservation

By Alison Walker-Baird
News-Post Staff
Published on January 28, 2007

FREDERICK -- The clouded leopard's namesake spots help camouflage the wild Asian cat in the forest, but a local scientist's discovery may help protect this vulnerable species from extinction at the hands of humans.
The population of this avid climber -- not a type of leopard but a separate "big cat" species -- has shrunk into endangerment, as the cats are hunted for their fur and meat, and their habitat is destroyed.

Four subspecies of clouded leopard had been recognized in Southeast Asia, but a National Cancer Institute at Frederick researcher has now discovered one of those is a separate species.

NCI-F's findings were published in a December 2006 paper in Current Biology. The paper's lead author, Valerie Buckley-Beason, is a researcher in the institute's Laboratory of Genomic Diversity.

The scientific community will likely name the new species Neofelis diardi, Buckley-Beason said.

She found major genetic differences between mainland clouded leopards, a subspecies found from Southern China to eastern Burma, and the diardi, found on the island of Borneo.

Finding that separate species may boost conservation efforts, said Karen Povey, coordinator of The Clouded Leopard Project, a conservation and research group based in Tacoma, Wash.

"We know so little about them," Povey said. "This is very exciting -- it shows we have so many opportunities to learn about clouded leopards."

For more on this story, see Monday's edition of The Frederick News-Post.

http://www.fredericknewspost.com/sections/news/display_breaking Daily.htm?storyid=56174

Bobcat or dog? Leg traps don't distinguish

Danger - State biologists caution owners to keep their pets on a leash during fur-bearer trapping season Sunday, January 28, 2007

LA GRANDE -- The relatively mild snow conditions in Eastern Oregon this winter are tempting dog owners to let their pets venture off roads and trails.

But that might be a trap -- literally.

Fur-bearer trapping season is open and runs through mid-March. State wildlife officials say there's been in increase in dogs finding their way into snare and leg-hold traps meant for bobcats, coyotes and other animals.

Three dogs in Union County and one in Baker County have been caught in traps over the past month, said Leonard Erickson, a wildlife biologist with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife in La Grande.

One dog died after being caught in a snare in the hills of Union County. Two dogs in Wallowa County have been trapped in the past month, said Pat Matthews, an ODFW biologist in Enterprise.

The biologists say people should keep their dogs on leashes and not let them chase deer, elk or cattle. Dogs often find traps when running off alone.

"Don't let your dog wander," said Erickson, adding that dogs are attracted to traps by bait and scents meant to lure fur bearers.

Erickson said it is often easy to tell when a dog has found a trap: "If your dog is sniffing hard and intent on one spot, call it back immediately."

Traps can be set anywhere outside city limits. Most traps in northeast Oregon put dogs at risk because they are set for bobcats and coyotes, so they are large enough to capture canines.

Leg-hold traps are less of a threat to dogs because they do not kill and are less likely to injure. The traps have a feature that prevents leg circulation from being cut off, and people can free dogs by pressing a release mechanism.

Snares, however, can suffocate a dog struggling to free itself because movement causes the trap to be drawn tighter. A dog can be released from a snare with wire cutters or by pulling it in such a way to reduce pressure.

Trapping season for bobcats runs through Feb. 28, and trapping season for all fur bearers -- such as river otters and raccoons -- ends March 15. Dogs won't be completely safe from the devices because coyote trapping is allowed year-round in Oregon. But most coyote trapping is done in the winter, when the coats of coyotes, like those of all fur bearers, are worth more.

http://www.oregonlive.com/news/oregonian/index.ssf?/ base/news/116978011231910.xml&coll=7

Kansas: No cougars yet, but lynx sightings persist

BY MICHAEL PEARCE
The Wichita Eagle
Posted on Sun, Jan. 28, 2007

Kansas is still awaiting its first confirmed wild mountain lion in more than 100 years. Biologists are having no problems confirming lynx, though.

On Dec. 31, a game warden caught a lynx in Barton County. The animal had first been seen in Gove County, more than 100 miles to the west, on Nov. 22.

Another lynx was killed by a vehicle in western Kansas in 2005. Both animals wore radio collars from the Colorado Division of Wildlife.

Lynx, a close relative to bobcats, once roamed much of the Rockies, the northern U.S. and Canada.

There are no historic records of lynx in Kansas. Colorado is working to re-establish a population in the southwestern part of the state, and has released more than 200 animals since 1999.

Wandering Colorado lynx have since been found in nine states.

Mountain lions still seem to be on the move across the Midwest.

In 2006, Missouri officials had their ninth and 10th confirmed mountain lions in modern times.

One in northern Missouri was photographed by a trail camera on Dec. 7.

Another killed and partially ate a deer in the central part of the state in November.

Two additional 2006 confirmations brought the modern-times total in Nebraska to 32. A mountain lion was also shot in western Oklahoma, where it was killing livestock....

http://www.kansas.com/mld/kansas/sports/16562230.htm

NC bobcat sighting surprises and delights author

Stealthy animals more often heard than seen; still, keep eyes peeled
LINDA DOW

My husband and I got up early and headed out on our motorcycles. Our sunrise ride took us through some pretty countryside, by fields and forests and streams.

Any naturalist, hunter or farmer will tell you that the early morning hours are the best for wildlife viewing, and this morning was no exception. We saw many of the usual early risers -- deer and birds, among others -- but one animal was difficult to identify.

I rounded a curve, and for a split second, the animal stood at the side of the road. It immediately slipped away and disappeared into the thick underbrush. It was as big as a dog; but I noticed that it didn't move like a fox or a coyote.

As we rode, I wondered what I had just witnessed. I couldn't make sense of it. We were a long way down the road before I realized my luck. I had just seen a bobcat!

Bobcats live in every county in North Carolina -- ours included. Given adequate habitat, they don't mind being close to human activity; but they avoid the very densely populated areas. They are extremely secretive, clever and quick. It is rare to see one in the open.

They are also very difficult to track. The paw prints are about 2 inches in diameter -- about twice the size of your average house cat's. They show four toes and no claws, of course, as cats retract their claws when they walk.

You may hear a bobcat and not see it. Its growl is fearsome and sounds as if it were coming from an animal the size of a mountain lion.

In olden days, bobcats acquired nicknames like "woods ghost" and "lightning" and "ol' spitfire." The name "bobcat" probably refers to their short tails.

The bobcat's tail and its body are dark on top and white underneath. The tail is also tipped in white. Its thick fur is light brown or reddish brown in the summer and is sometimes grayer in the winter.

Bobcats aren't very big. They usually weigh between 15 and 20 pounds, but large males can weigh as much as 40. That's why it surprised me when I found out they will kill the occasional whitetail deer.

That is quite a feat of strength and tenacity. The bobcat will either stalk a deer where it sleeps or lie in wait along paths in the woods that are frequented by deer. The cat jumps on the deer's back and sinks its teeth into its prey's neck at the base of the skull. The deer may run and stagger and flail for some distance, trying to shake its attacker, before falling in exhaustion to its death.

A deer provides more meat than the bobcat can consume at one sitting, so it returns to the kill several times. The bobcat will often drag its prey to a more hidden spot and paw at the ground around the carcass in an attempt to cover it up. These scratch marks around a dead deer are a good indication of a bobcat kill.

Rabbits, squirrels and opossums, however, make up the larger percentage of a bobcat's diet. They will also feed on birds, rats, raccoons and snakes and have been known to take an occasional farm animal.

Bobcats usually mate during January, February and March. The young are usually born in May. They can and do mate at other times of the year, however, so the kittens are sometimes born as late as October.

The female bobcat gives birth to two to four kittens and raises them on her own. She doesn't dig a den. Instead, she finds shelter in a hollow log, at the base of a fallen tree, under large rocks or in low shrubs and brush piles.

The kittens are born blind, and at first they rely on mother's milk. At about 4 weeks of age, they will begin to explore their surroundings. They eventually hunt alongside their mother before striking off on their own.

Except for a short mating season, a bobcat lives a solitary life, rarely coming in contact with another adult.

In captivity, bobcats have lived as long as 25 years, but in the wild, their life expectancy averages 3 to 5 years.

It is unlikely that I will see a bobcat in its natural habitat before it sees me and slips out of sight. Nevertheless, I am keeping my eyes and ears peeled. I am hoping for a bit of luck and another chance glimpse of this wonderfully wild, elusive cat.

http://www.charlotte.com/mld/observer/news/local/states/ north_carolina/counties/cabarrus/16564357.htm

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Roar of Michigan cougar debate grows louder

Francis X. Donnelly / The Detroit News

TRAVERSE CITY -- No cougars live in Michigan, say some state and federal wildlife officials.

But a conservation group believes so many of the big cats exist that they cover the state.

Somewhere between those two views lies the truth, which has become as elusive as the skittish animal at the center of the debate, cougar experts said.

The argument has grown increasingly bitter with charges of hoaxes, cover-ups, blurry photos reminiscent of Bigfoot sightings, a state agency accused of violating state law, scientists accused of ignoring their own research, and a dead pet panther named Sasha.

"It's about money, ego, power -- all the forces of evil," said Dennis Fijalkowski, executive director of the Michigan Wildlife Conservancy, about the controversy.

The disagreement is more than an academic food fight. The two sides agree that public safety is at stake, but, as with everything else dealing with the issue, they disagree how.

The wildlife conservancy, based in Bath, near Lansing, says the government is failing to protect residents and an endangered species.

The state and federal officials say the conservation group is needlessly scaring people.

Cougars -- also called mountain lions -- seldomly attack humans, but a growing number of reported sightings -- 1,200 since 2001 -- has alarmed residents around the state.

Last year, Berrien County on the Indiana border issued a public safety advisory after an attack on a horse, and in June Battle Creek police did the same after officers reportedly spotted several cougars.

Eleanor Comings, 62, a volunteer at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore near Traverse City, said she was followed by a cougar for 20 minutes along one of the park trails in 2003.

"When I first saw it, it was my worst nightmare," she said. "My second thought was: Everyone wants to see one, and here it is."

Searching for hard evidence

A peer-reviewed study recently published in the "American Midland Naturalist" cited proof of eight cougars in Michigan.

The study, by Central Michigan University and the Michigan Wildlife Conservancy, said researchers found DNA evidence of the animals by analyzing nearly 300 samples of droppings collected from 2001 to 2003.

The eight positive samples were located in four Upper Peninsula counties: Delta, Dickinson, Houghton and Menominee, and four in the Lower Peninsula: Alcona, Emmet, Presque Isle and Roscommon.

Partly because of the study, the state Department of Natural Resources added a cougar page to its Web site and will send three staffers to New Mexico to develop more expertise on the animal.

The DNR's action sounded one of the few cordial notes in the raucous debate, but some wildlife officials remain dubious about the wildlife conservancy.

Mike DeCapita, endangered species chief for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in East Lansing, criticized the conservancy on several counts, including its use of blurry photos of cougars to prove their existence.

"Sightings of Bigfoot or UFOs don't prove those phenomena either," he said.

Where do they come from?

In the 1800s, cougars prowled all over Michigan and the rest of North America. The tan animal can grow up to 8 feet from nose to tail tip and weigh 200 pounds. It can run 40 miles per hour and eat up to 10 pounds of deer a day.

The animal was poisoned, trapped and hunted to near extinction a century ago.

The wildlife conservancy believes cougars were never exterminated in Michigan, and that the population has grown to 100.

It said the DNR is violating the state endangered species law by failing to develop a management plan to protect the cougar. But state officials said the law doesn't require a management plan, only that it protect the animal.

Mike Zuidema, a retired forester with the DNR, began keeping track of cougar sightings in 1981 and continued after his retirement in 1997. His journal lists 1,000 sightings, including several by DNR officials, including a former deputy director.

He doesn't understand how someone could question the animal's existence. "They don't know what they're talking about," he said. "They sit at their desk too much."

But some state and federal wildlife biologists continue to believe no cougars live in Michigan and that the occasional one found here came from outside the state.

They said the fact that so few big cats are killed by cars or hunters in Michigan suggests that their number here is negligible.

Scientists said it's nearly impossible to prove where a cougar comes from, but that hasn't stopped both sides from jumping into the gray area with both feet.

Bias enters debate for proof

In the cougar debate, both sides accuse the other of being more interested in pushing their beliefs than searching for the truth.

When a resident took a photo of an apparent cougar in an Alcona County field several years ago, a DNR wildlife biologist dismissed it as being staged. He said the animal may have been stuffed.

But another DNR biologist, Larry Robinson, later said he saw the cougar and it was real.

"This is a note I absolutely dread writing," he wrote in an e-mail to his supervisors. "I had the terrible misfortune of seeing the Alcona Co. cougar."

Robinson, who took photos of the cougar's tracks, asked his bosses how to keep his discovery out of the public eye.

"What do I do to get the pictures and info to our division files without this getting out to the media?"

Robinson, who is now retired, said Friday he couldn't recall when his discovery was reported by the press. DNR officials said the agency doesn't engage in misleading the public.

In a separate incident, the wildlife conservancy released a video in 2004 that purported to show proof of wild cougars living in Michigan.

Among the evidence was a skull found by woodcutters in Chippewa County in the Upper Peninsula.

But another conservancy group, the Cougar Network, of Concord, Mass., investigated the claim and traced the skull to a pet mountain lion named Sasha.

After Sasha died, its owner took it to a Chippewa taxidermy shop to be mounted. The taxidermist tossed the skull out his back door, where another animal apparently carried it to an adjacent property.

You can reach Francis X. Donnelly at (313) 223-4186 or fdonnelly@detnews.com.

http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID= /20070127/METRO/701270374/1003

India's Nagarahole Nat'l Park is tiger research center

G. ANANTHAKRISHNAN
28/01/2007

The Nagarahole National Park is at the centre of international research to determine the factors that can help reserves all across Asia nurture their tigers.

IN the still January evening, the view from the watchtower overlooking Mavinahalla tank in Nagarahole National Park was beautiful but unremarkable. It was too early at 3.00 p.m. for the green imperial pigeons to arrive. Common langurs lolled close to a salt lick, amusing themselves with mock chases and somersaults while sambar and spotted deer wandered languorously, a few of them giving the occasional cautious glance or raised-tail signal of nervousness. In the tank, a stork-billed kingfisher pursued a repetitive diving routine every few minutes, its prominent bright red beak, brilliant blue back and buff body glistening in the sun.

Just as the evening appeared destined for a quiet sunset, Ullas Karanth, well-known wildlife biologist looked towards the south view line and let out an excited whisper. "Tiger!" he said even as he remained glued to his seat, looking attentively through image-stabilising binoculars. A young male tiger, its golden brown coat glistening in the descending sun, was walking towards the watchtower along the view line, surveying the scene ahead. The atmosphere had suddenly turned electrifying. The deer had vanished and the langurs launched a series of alarm calls that grew progressively shrill as the predator drew closer to the tree that they were sitting on.

The tiger walked on, oblivious to the terror he was creating, but suddenly stopped and froze, looking up at the watchtower some 50 metres away. Seemingly disturbed by the presence of people, he paused for a few moments before turning westward. And then he was gone in a flash, his magnificent stripes melting into the lantana bushes. Life returned to normal in a few minutes in this part of the forest and the animals went about their normal business.

Comforting reminder

To sight a tiger in the 21st century in the deciduous forests of one of India's best nature reserves is a comforting reminder that with good science and effective conservation measures, this most charismatic animal, whose fate appeared sealed to many just a decade ago, does have a future. Until about 1964, gunshots rang out in and around Nagarahole regularly as bounty hunters pursued the big cat. "There was a bounty on killing tigers from the 1800s during the reign of Kodagu Kings almost up to 1964. There used to be a villager called Changappa who shot 26 tigers for such bounty from 1948 to 1964, just around his village on the edges of Nagarahole," recalled Dr. Karanth, Director of Wildlife Conservation Society's India Programme.

Today, this national park is at the centre of international research to determine the factors that can help reserves all across Asia nurture their tigers. It is led by WCS and actively supported by a forward-looking Karnataka Forest Department.

The Nagarahole study is part of a wider effort to understand what affects the fortunes of tigers in the wild. The key findings from many years of study of tiger populations nationally, which have been published by peer-reviewed journals indicate that in many sites, tigers decline in numbers because of prey depletion rather than being killed directly. Where adequate prey is available thanks to good protection measures (a tiger needs to eat about 50 deer-sized animals per year), their populations reach high numbers simply because the species breeds quickly.

If Nagarahole today has an estimated 60 tigers, which is considered a statistically valid number derived from modelling studies (based on average densities of 12 tigers per 100 square kilometres, 1996-2000 data), it is a tribute to two decades of work pursued by dedicated teams of researchers.

Progressive measures such as grant of lands to tribal people outside the park area for voluntary resettlement have reduced pressures and helped raise the prey numbers and as a consequence, the abundance of tigers.

Tiger ecology research has a history that predates by decades the peaking of interest in the animals after they disappeared in Sariska. India's dense old growth forests and the rich animal species that they held suffered irreversible losses during princely and colonial rule and even after independence for over two decades. As the most charismatic and prominent of the apex predators, thousands of tigers were shot for fun or profit, while another beautiful but less abundant cat, the Indian Cheetah was hunted to extinction early in the 20th century.

Turning point

The turning point for conservation was the arrival of George Schaller, the legendary field biologist who brought with him a scientific research ethos that was absent here. The remaining tigers in the country got Schaller interested in the study of their life, habitat and behaviour. He came in 1963 under the auspices of Johns Hopkins University to, in his own words, "recapture India's past, when wildlife was abundant almost everywhere, when domestic livestock had not overgrazed the range, and when tigers were not the rare creatures they have become... .as a result of decades of ruthless slaughter." It is widely recognised that The Deer and the Tiger (The University of Chicago Press), Schaller's meticulous record of his work in Kanha National Park is a treatise of monumental importance in the annals of wildlife studies.

Schaller's path-breaking work inspired Dr. Karanth to launch a detailed study of tiger ecology in Nagarahole in Karnataka beginning in the late 1980s. Two decades on, his wildlife research is yielding data of vital importance and helping policymakers and scientists understand conservation concerns better.

At the core of the ongoing work in Nagarahole (and in the adjoining Bandipur and Bhadra reserves) is the issue of deciding tiger numbers and, as a corollary, the health of prey populations. Estimating tiger populations through traditional ways using pugmarks and sightings has proved to be unreliable in the past but this has been settled in favour of scientific approaches, particularly after the debacle in Sariska.

There is consensus among scientists that it is impossible to count every tiger. While Nagarahole alone is spread across nearly 644 square kilometres, the total range for tigers in Asia is a staggering 1.5 million square kilometres. The practical option for conservation professionals is therefore to sample tigers in the area of study with a variety of devices such as camera traps, radio telemetry, DNA analysis from scat and, potentially, dogs trained for scent recognition. The data are then used for statistical modelling to estimate the abundance (total number in a population) and density (individuals per given area). For estimates of prey populations, assessment methods rely on establishing transect lines in the forest and counting all animals seen along several kilometres of these.

Tigers eat a range of ungulate prey species — wild pig, spotted deer, sambar, gaur and muntjac in the south besides nilgai, barasingha, chinkara, wild buffalo and hog deer elsewhere. Researchers make the important assumption while drawing up conservation plans that prey populations are vital for healthy tiger numbers; and sampling yields reliable estimates rather than attempts to count all visible animals in a simplistic manner. Over the past decade and more, research teams have estimated tiger populations using a technique that employs sensor-equipped cameras to photograph the cats as they pass along identified forest paths. These images are useful because every tiger has unique stripe patterns much like human fingerprints that help differentiate them. During the survey season, photographic `capture histories' of several individual tigers are constructed, which also enable the use of statistical models that can estimate the proportion of tigers in the area that were photographed.

The conservation benefits of such research are clear. It has strengthened the theory on the tiger-prey link. Between 1995 and 2003, the WCS-led effort covered 6,820 km in 11 national study sites ranging from the highly protected alluvial grasslands of Kaziranga, moist forests of Pench-Maharashtra, Bhadra, Nagarahole, Kanha, dry forests of Melghat and Panna and the mixed forests of Tadoba and Bandipur. The results published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA, in 2004 were revealing: The lowest tiger density, given as tigers per 100 square kilometres, was thought to be in Tadoba at 3.2 and the highest, in Kaziranga at 16.76. Even more striking, the study showed that tiger numbers could have been depressed because of pressure from humans on prey populations in Bhadra, Tadoba, Pench-Maharashtra and Melghat. At Panna and Bandipur, poor protection mechanisms appeared to have eroded the prey base. In Pench-Madhya Pradesh alone, it was evidently direct killing of tigers that had led to a serious reduction in numbers. Karnataka's support to such research has made the state a forerunner and placed it well ahead of other States.

The hypothesis of healthy prey populations determining tiger abundance was reaffirmed by a longer study in Nagarahole (1991-2000) by Dr. Karanth and his colleagues that was reported last year by the journal Ecology.

Key mechanism

At Nagarahole, the work on collecting exhaustive data continues. Camera trapping of tigers, the key mechanism that helps assess abundance and density, is carried out methodically in 120 trap-sites at the rate of 40 sites every 15 days during an annual non-monsoon period when the population of the animal is thought to be unchanged.

"Studies based on camera trap capture and recapture can be done in most tiger reserves in India. But it needs the involvement of all individuals and institutions that possess the expertise and resources and not just the government," says Dr. Karanth.

This is an eminently feasible research agenda. There is a large pool of research talent with an impressive record of international journal publications; public support for wildlife conservation and tigers is high; there is sufficient funding for such programmes. What the conservation community looks forward to is a strong research bias at the Ministry of Environment and Forests and in the State Governments.

At the top of the list of conservation priorities must be the maintenance of high prey abundance in forests through strict protection; regular monitoring of prey numbers through line transect surveys; tracking of core tiger populations using reliable methods like camera trapping (which could have prevented the tragedy at Sariska by sounding an early alarm about reduced presence of tigers); preventing fragmentation, human impacts and conflicts through voluntary relocations of forest dwellers and other forms of habitat consolidation.

Nagarahole and its neighbouring reserves show that India can hope to save its megafauna for future generations despite mounting human pressures, if it understands the scientific basis of conservation. Without informed conservation policies, the MoEF, its agencies like Project Tiger and the State Forest departments will be unable to measure the success of their pro-wildlife actions.

Jungle events

THE first rays of sunlight filter in through the mist-covered canopy at base camp, close to the holding area of Nagarahole National Park at 7. Nagaraj N Bhat, a researcher with a particular interest in bats, prepares to set out with his men on his daily routine. His colleagues, C.M. Bipin and S. Sachin, engineers-turned-field biologists, will lead the other teams.

What lies ahead for the three groups is a demanding schedule that will see their teams drive across three different paths in the core area of the park, along which the Wildlife Conservation Society's camera traps have been positioned. The traps have two cameras facing each other on either side of the jungle path, linked by a sensor beam. They are set at a suitable height to capture side profile images of adult tigers and other animals that cross them during the night. A crossing animal breaks the sensor beam, triggering the camera. The system works because tigers have unique stripe patterns that help identify them

On the grind

Nagaraj and his teammates P.M. Vishwanath and Madhu get ready for the grind with soldier-like dedication. They carry a Global Positioning System handset, spare electrical supplies, cables, batteries and minimum rations and water.

Their job involves recording not just the number of "events" for each of the 18 camera traps in their line but also the numbers of animals such as spotted deer, sambar, muntjac, langur, elephants and wild pig they see.

Against a bracing wind, the team clad in camouflage jackets, trousers and caps sets off in a Mahindra jeep after a Spartan breakfast for the first location from base, which is identified by the GPS as 11.98682 N and 76.09354 E.

After travelling for 15 minutes, the team members stop at a trap point, and look a little concerned. An elephant has reacted to the cameras in the night. They point to one of the two olive green camera trap shells made of sturdy metal and embedded in a solid concrete foundation. It is bent to one side although the camera inside appears intact. Nagaraj thinks an elephant that was annoyed by the camera flash caused the damage. The sensor alignment has to be fixed for the cameras to fire again.

The team moves to the next location, Jalagadi Malada Dari, where the versatile Trailmaster controller (a programmable device that controls the camera trap functions) reveals that there have been six exposures in three days. Three of the shots are discounted because they represent test exposures made by the team. The others are most likely animals caught on camera.

It takes another 15 minutes to cover two more trap points. At each location, the team records its findings in a data form and then resets the controller, test firing the cameras for confirmation — one of the members holds a slate with the location details and date written in chalk for a cinema clapper board-style shot. On the Sunkadakatte-Mastigudi Road, the team is thrilled to find a pugmark. The camera trap nearby has also recorded an "event" overnight; it could be a tiger picture.

There are other tyre marks on the muddy road in this core area. The team thinks they could belong to a privileged tourism vehicle.

At the next camera trap, there is more encouraging news: the controller has recorded an "event" at 1.00 a.m. But the one ahead at Somayana Katte Road has none. As the jeep moves along, a couple of wild pig race into the undergrowth and this is noted down; tigers prey on these animals.

The team is thrilled at Sunkadakatte Road to find three "events" recorded at camera point SKR 16.2 around midnight. But the camera cables linked to the sensor and splitter are faulty and the team changes it in a few minutes. The fault and action taken must also be entered in the form.

After skirting the picturesque Kabini Lake, where woolly-necked and painted storks and a graceful tusker rest, it is time for lunch. It is 1.30 p.m. and the members climb up a watchtower overlooking Bisliwadikere tank for a quick lunch of tamarind rice, pickle, sliced onions and garlic pods. They watch playful langurs, a black eagle and a brahminy kite circle overhead before setting out again.

The day's findings

At a trap point on Kalappana Votkere Road, there has been an "event" at midnight. Nagaraj pauses to remove a tick that has caused a minor bite from under his watch and displays three more that have got on to his data entry sheets. He has been clearing fallen leaves and leafy camouflage from each camera point and ticks abound in these places. At Baraballe Road further down, there has been no event. A monitor lizard scurries off from the trap line. Camera point BBLR 02 is the last one at 11 96381 N and 76 1801 E.

It is just past three in the afternoon. The teams must put together the day's findings but it will take the entire cycle of 45 days to be completed before the films from the cameras are processed in Bangalore. There, the "events" will reveal themselves — as tigers, leopards, elephants, langurs, porcupines and other creatures that make Nagarahole a park to be treasured.

http://www.hindu.com/mag/2007/01/28/stories/ 2007012800010100.htm

Indian experts give tiger safe passage from village

AYUB JAVAID

Shopian, Jan 27: The apathy on the part of wildlife experts to catch or kill wild Tiger roaming in a village in Shopian came to fore when they allowed the animal “safe passage” after eight-hour long siege.

Reports said that a tiger surfaced in Chotipora Sedev village early on Friday and took refuge inside a deserted hut. The locals in a state of panic managed to inform the authorities who rushed experts from police, forest and wildlife departments to the village in the afternoon.

The wildlife experts headed by an officer of DFO rank erected an iron net outside the Dhoka and played a futile exercise till 9.00 in the evening.

According to eye-witnesses, the experiments to capture the tiger included frequent knocks, firewood burning and other measures failed to trap the creature.

Finally at 900 pm, the wildlife experts winded up the operation and vacated from the spot. They advised the locals to keep the doors of hut open and the tiger will proceed towards jungle.

Defending the wildlife experts and the operation at Chotipora Sedev on Friday, the DFO Forest Division Shopian told Greater Kashmir that providing safe passage to the Tiger towards jungle was based on the existing operation norms with wildlife sector as man animal relation is usually healthy in other parts of world.

http://www.greaterkashmir.com/Home/ Newsdetails.asp?newsid=3271&Issueid=130&Arch=

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Indian villagers burn leopard alive

[ 26 Jan, 2007 2035hrs ISTPTI ]

DEHRADUN: In a gory incident, a leopard, which was trapped in a cage, has been burnt alive by angry villagers following the recent killing of two young girls by a wild cat, official sources said here on Friday.

The Uttarakhand Forest Department has ordered an inquiry into the incident that took place on Thursday in Pathani area of Pauri district.

Enraged villagers of Kailakhur and Syuli gathered in Pathani area where a leopard was trapped in a cage put up by the Forest Department, which had been searching for a man-eater.

The villagers sprinkled kerosene in the cage and torched the wild cat, the sources said, observing that by the time forest officials arrived at the scene, the leopard had died.

An FIR has been registered and the inquiry is on.

When contacted, forest officials said a detailed report would reveal whether the animal was really a man-eater or not. A post-mortem of the animal was also being conducted. No arrest has been made so far, they said.

A few days ago, two young girls of Kailakhur and Syuli villages were devoured by a leopard due to which there was a lot of resentment among villagers.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/NEWS/India/ Leopard_burnt_alive_in_Pauri/articleshow/1472014.cms

Florida panther found dead in Broward

By CURTIS MORGAN
cmorgan@MiamiHerald.com
Posted on Fri, Jan. 26, 2007

A Florida panther has been killed in Broward County, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reported today.

The cat, which was wearing a tracking collar, was reported by wildlife officers working for the Miccosukee Tribe, who discovered it Thursday.

Tom MacKenzie, a spokesman for the service, said he had no details on how the endangered cat was killed or where its carcass was found. A necropsy was planned, he said.

An estimated 80 to 100 adult panthers roam the wild, with the highest numbers thought to live in Southwest Florida near Miccosukee tribal lands. Last year, a record 11 cats were killed by vehicles on Florida roads.

http://www.bradenton.com/mld/bradenton/news/nation/ 16556242.htm

Young female cougar believed responsible for CA hiker attack

(01-26) 15:08 PST Arcata, Calif. (AP) --

A female mountain lion that game wardens shot and killed after a 70-year-old man was mauled in a state park had human blood in her claws, state wildlife officials said Friday.

The lioness was one of two mountain lions, the other a male, that were hunted down in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park following the attack that severely injured Fortuna resident Jim Hamm on Wednesday.

Hamm was saved when his wife, Nell Hamm, 65, clubbed the lion with a stick as it pinned him to a hiking trail with his head clenched in its jaws. The lion eventually released him and the couple walked back to the head of the trail where a ranger called for help.

Officials conducted necropsies on the dead animals to make sure they got the lion that attacked Hamm and to find out if it had rabies, said Steve Martarano, a spokesman for the California Department of Fish and Game.

Based on the results, they are confident the lion involved in the attack is not still roaming the park and that Hamm was not exposed to rabies, Martarano said. They also suspect the two young adult lions, which appeared to be between two and three years old, were siblings.

Hamm, who was partially scalped in the mauling and suffered deep cuts and puncture wounds all over his body, remained hospitalized in fair condition Friday, said Tom Ayotte, a spokesman for Mad River Community Hospital in Arcata.

The couple's ordeal and its comparatively happy ending have made the Hamms, who will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary on Feb. 9, minor celebrities. They are scheduled to appear on the "Today" show Monday morning live from the hospital.

http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/n/a/2007/01/ 26/state/n150841S65.DTL

Georgia teen treated in rare bobcat attack

By Joe Johnson, joe.johnson@onlineathens.com
Story updated at 12:34 AM on Friday, January 26, 2007

A rabid bobcat attacked a Madison County teen while he and a friend were duck hunting in northeastern Clarke County last week, health officials confirmed Thursday.

The wildcat attacked the teen around dusk Jan. 18 in the area of Old Elberton Road near the Madison County line, according to officials, who said it was the first bobcat attack they remember in Clarke County.

"It's the first bobcat incident I've had to deal with, and I've been here 11 years," Athens-Clarke County Animal Control Superintendent Patrick Rives said. "People rarely even see them, which is why this is an unusual situation."

The teens beat the bobcat to death and brought its body to the victim's home in Madison County, where they reported the incident to Athens-Clarke County Animal Control, according to Rives.

The head of the animal was sent to the state Public Health Laboratory in Atlanta, where on Thursday virologists determined the bobcat was rabid, said Bill Dukes, rabies coordinator for the Northeast Health District.

The teen who was bitten was being treated for exposure to the deadly disease even before tests showed the bobcat was rabid.

Confirmed rabies cases are on the rise in the 10 counties under the Northeast Health District's umbrella, according to Dukes.

Statistics aren't completely compiled for last year, but in May 2006, health officials counted 104 cases of rabies in wild animals and pets in the 10-county region since the beginning of 2005.

Public health officials expect even more cases in 2007, with six confirmed cases since the beginning of the year in Elbert, Jackson and Madison counties.

"It's already starting off to be a heavy year for rabies," Dukes said.

Rives and Dukes didn't know details of the bobcat attack and would not identify the teen because of his age and health privacy laws.

Rives isn't sure exactly where the attack happened, he said, because the teen told different stories, leading him to speculate that the teens were hunting in a restricted area.

Wherever the attack happened, Dukes said it is "highly unusual" for bobcats to come into contact with humans.

"Occasionally, you'll get a fox that pops up, but all wild animals are prone to rabies," he said.

Rabies-infected wild animals often lose their natural fear of humans, and nocturnal animals, like raccoons and possums, will come out in the day.

The bobcat attack came a week after another bobcat attacked a 20-year-old man in Bulloch County. Another man later shot the bobcat to death after it lunged at a truck.

According to news reports, public health officials couldn't test the bobcat for rabies because the man who shot the animal put it in a freezer, making the test ineffective.

http://www.onlineathens.com/stories/012607/ news_20070126046.shtml

Friday, January 26, 2007

Two cougars killed after 70-year-old hiker attacked in CA state park

Wife clubs big cat with log after husband is attacked in California state park

The Associated Press
Updated: 12:33 p.m. ET Jan 26, 2007

SAN FRANCISCO - Wildlife officials credited a woman with saving her husband's life by clubbing a mountain lion that attacked him while the couple were hiking in a California state park.

Jim and Nell Hamm, who will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary next month, were hiking in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park when the lion pounced, officials said Thursday.

"He didn't scream. It was a different, horrible plea for help, and I turned around, and by then the cat had wrestled Jim to the ground," Nell Hamm said in an interview from the hospital where her husband was recovering from a torn scalp, puncture wounds and other injuries.

After the attack, game wardens closed the park about 320 miles north of San Francisco and released hounds to track the lion. They later shot and killed a pair of lions found near the trail where the attack happened.

The carcasses were flown to a state forensics lab to determine if either animal mauled the man.

Although the Hamms are experienced hikers, neither had seen a mountain lion before Jim Hamm was mauled, his wife said. Nell Hamm said she grabbed a four-inch-wide log and beat the animal with it, but it would not release its hold on her husband's head.

"Jim was talking to me all through this, and he said, 'I've got a pen in my pocket and get the pen and jab him in the eye,'" she said. "So I got the pen and tried to put it in his eye, but it didn't want to go in as easy as I thought it would."

When the pen bent and became useless, Nell Hamm went back to using the log. The lion eventually let go and, with blood on its snout, stood staring at the woman. She screamed and waved the log until the animal walked away.


‘She saved his life, there is no doubt’
"She saved his life, there is no doubt about it," said Steve Martarano, a spokesman for the Department of Fish and Game.

Nell Hamm, 65, said she was scared to leave her dazed, bleeding husband alone, so the couple walked a quarter-mile to a trail head, where she gathered branches to protect them if more lions came around. They waited until a ranger came by and summoned help.

"My concern was to get Jim out of there," she said. "I told him, 'Get up, get up, walk,' and he did."

Jim Hamm, 70, was in fair condition Thursday. He had to have his lips stitched back together and underwent surgery for lacerations on his head and body.

Nell Hamm warned people never to hike in the backcountry alone. Park rangers told the couple if Jim Hamm had been alone, he probably would not have survived.

"We fought harder than we ever have to save his life, and we fought together," she said.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/16817149/

Florida panther kitten first vehicle victim of 2007

By Jeremy Cox
Updated — 4:43 p.m., January 25, 2007

A Florida panther killed this week on a rural road in Hendry County became the first vehicle victim of 2007.

The female kitten, believed to have been between 4 and 6 months old, was found Wednesday along County Road 832 in Okaloacoochee Slough State Forest, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said today.

The cat had been dead between 12 and 24 hours. It was not wearing a radio collar.

Last year, 11 panthers died in collisions with vehicles on Florida roads, one more than the previous record. Scientists believe 70to 100 panthers are living in Southwest Florida, making the cougar subspecies one of the most endangered creatures on the planet.

http://www.naplesnews.com/news/2007/jan/25/panther_kitten _killed_hendry_first_vehicle_death_2/?latest

One month, five leopard deaths in Indian district

Express News Service

Vadodara, January 24: In the fifth instance of a big cat death in Panchmahals district within a month, a five-year-old leopard was killed in an accident at National Highway 59 near Vandelav village at Godhra taluka early on Wednesday. Earlier, four leopards died due to poisoning in the district between January 3 and January 6.

SK Puwar, RFO, Godhra east, said that post-mortem reports indicated that a heavy vehicle had struck down the 40-kg leopard. “Forest beat guards reached the spot and found the leopard with severe injuries on its heads and limbs. The animal died on the spot,’’ said Puwar. He added that when forest staff reached the spot, the claws and teeth of leopard were found intact, thereby indicating that in was not a case of poaching.

Earlier this month, there were four leopard deaths in the duration of three days. Two leopards were reported dead near Chitwa village in Santrampur taluka of Panchmahals district on January 4. Another leopard death was reported in Chhatrapur village in neighbouring Kadana taluka on January 5. On January 6, a one-year-old leopard was found dead near the forest ranges of Chitwa village.

http://cities.expressindia.com/fullstory.php?newsid=219305

Missing Colorado lynx found in Wyoming

Jan 25, 2007 10:48 am US/Mountain

(AP) CHEYENNE, Wyo. A lynx missing from Colorado has been found hundreds of miles away in Cheyenne, Wyo. The lynx had been released in southwest Colorado in 2004, but was recently discovered in Cheyenne where the cat apparently had been raiding a chicken coop.

Wyoming Game and Fish Department officers captured the animal Tuesday and returned it the same day to the Colorado Division of Wildlife.

The lynx is said to be in good health.

Cheyenne resident Lauriel Winters first suspected an unusual predator in the vicinity when two of her chickens were killed last Friday night. Her dogs then chased the lynx up a tree Tuesday morning.

The animal was wearing a global positioning system collar that identified it as a member of Colorado's lynx reintroduction effort.

The cat is now at a Colorado DOW facility where it'll recuperate before being released again.

http://cbs4denver.com/pets/local_story_025124922.html

A story of hope for the tigers of Russia's Far East

From: David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation e-Newsletter: No.16 January 2007

Whilst traveling along the main road near his home in the Khabarovsky region of Russia's far east, a local villager came across the unexpected sight of a tiny, weak, Amur (Siberian) tiger cub apparently alone and terrified. After stopping his vehicle and checking very carefully for an adult tigress in the surrounding area, the villager lifted the tiny cub into his car, took it home and reported the incident to the local Inspection Tiger officers. They arrived and took charge of the little animal which was badly wounded and practically incapable of movement. The Inspection Tiger officers arranged for its transportation to the Far Eastern Zoo Garden where it underwent immediate intensive veterinary treatment and was named Rigma.

Sadly her story is not unique. It is more than likely that her mother was killed by the poachers who roam the taiga forest prepared to kill the elusive big cats whose body parts fetch high prices as ingredients in the traditional Chinese medicine trade. However, her story is miraculous. Not only was she rescued by someone aware of the precarious state of her species and who reported her to the right authorities, but she was then removed and given life-saving treatment by a dedicated team of experts. Since then, the little cub, which turned out to be female, has made remarkable progress according to the zoo keepers.

Rigma is now able to move around, eat by herself and express her fury with a weak roar! She will be further examined this month and then officials will decide where her future lies, either in the wild or, if she has become too habituated to humans, in a wildlife park

For further information on DSWF's work in Russia, go to http://www.davidshepherd.org/projects/siberia_amur_tiger.shtml