Sunday, April 29, 2007

Estimates of S.D. cougar population continue to grow

By The Associated Press

PIERRE -- Estimates on the number of mountain lions in the Black Hills continues to grow, possibly topping 210 animals.


In 2005, when the Game, Fish and Parks Department first proposed a hunting season on lions, it estimated the cougar population at around 145.

Last year, it boosted the estimate to a range of 165 to 210.

"Revised estimates indicate the mountain lion population is on the upper end, if not slightly above that range," Tony Leif of the state Game, Fish & Parks Department said this week.

The new population estimate is based on data from 47 lions that are outfitted with radio collars, plus four methods of calculating mountain lion numbers.

Leif said the research indicates that the lion population is evenly split between adults and dependent young lions.

The Game, Fish & Parks Commission will consider the regulations for a third hunting season when it meets May 10 and 11.

http://www.rapidcityjournal.com/articles/2007/ 04/27/news/top/news01_mountain _lion_numbers_rise.txt

India: Police seize leopard, tiger skins, 4 arrested

Pune, Apr 28 : Police on Saturday seized leopard and tiger skins worth 1.3 million rupees from here and arrested four poachers in connection with it.

Police said the men, who were arrested in a raid in rural areas of Pune near Junnar, were also involved in illegal arms peddling.

"Prima facie, the skins appear to that of leopard and tiger. They are hundred percent leopard and tiger skins. We have also seized five sophisticated pistols and two country-made revolvers. Investigation is on and we are also probing their interstate links," said Vishwas Nangre Patil, Superintendent of Police, Pune Rural Police.

The country, which has half the world's surviving tigers, has seen the tiger population dwindling due to the poaching activities.

There were about 40,000 tigers in India a century ago, but decades of poaching and depletion of their natural habitat have cut their numbers to 3,700. Some wildlife experts say the total could actually be as low as 1,200.

The conviction rate of those charged with poaching of endangered animals is less than five percent, with many accused of poaching getting off due to lack of evidence.

In September 2006, a new legislation was a passed that aimed at tackling the tiger crisis. The Act also made a provision for a National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCS) and a Wildlife Crime Bureau to investigate poaching and curbing the illegal trade in wildlife parts.

--- ANI

http://www.newkerala.com/news.php?action=fullnews&id=23620

Leopard strays in Indian village, kills 19 sheep

28 Apr, 2007 l 1444 hrs ISTlPTI]

JAMMU: Panic gripped a village in Doda district after a leopard killed 19 sheep, officials said here on Saturday.

The incident occurred on Friday night when a leopard attacked a herd of sheep and killed 19 of them in Bharat village, they said.

Armed with sticks, rods and torches, villagers tried to kill the wild cat but it managed to escape, they added.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/India/ Leopard_strays_in_JK_village_kills_19_sheep/ articleshow/1972009.cms

Friday, April 27, 2007

Opinion: Leopards, other wildlife in Kashmir

IT IS OUR SOCIAL, CULTURAL AND ABOVE ALL MORAL OBLIGATION TO TAKE CARE OF THE WILDLIFE IN OUR VALLEY, HAQ NAWAZ THOROUGHLY ANALYSES THE LAWS RELATED TO THE PROTECTION OF ECOSYSTEM IN KASHMIR

The biotic pressures resulted due to overexploitation of heaviest industrial units in and around the sensitive Protected Areas connecting and interlinking other areas with the wildlife sanctuaries and National Park also worked well in disturbance of food chain as well as in disturbance of the human environment. Thus the natural habitat of the predator leopards and the Hangul (Kashmir stag) reached to its destruction gradually.

There was nobody to come to rescue in such a scenario, because the technically qualified I.F.S Officers were now relieved and replaced by the junior local officers. The government was misled with reference to the population figures of Hanguls by fabricated census and survey reports systematically, which were finally turned down by a competent technical team of experts of Indian Wildlife Institute but the influence worked well, as per routine.

The overexploitation and heavy biotic pressures caused by timber smugglers resulted in destruction of wild habitat of Leopards. The predator leopards were so compelled to come out of the wilderness shelterbelts of their natural habitat for their survival. This opened a floodgate of ruthless killing of unfortunate leopards in Uri, Handwara, Kupwara, Gulmarg, Pahalgam, Kangan, Gurez, Karnah areas under the unjustified label of man-eaters, without being identified as such.

The wildlife managers as well as the smugglers of leopard skins both created the public sense that each leopard found out of forests is necessarily a man- eater-leopard. The department of wildlife remained confined to collection of dead bodies of leopards but where ever available. Most of the skins of leopards reached into the hands of smuggler mafia of illegal trade in leopard skins etc.

None of the aforesaid killings of the normal leopards was ever enquired or investigated into at all. The aforesaid ruthless killing of leopards and smuggling of leopard skins etc. goes against the very spirits of the notable “convention on trade in endangered species internationally known as C.I.T.E.S where under India has shown its commitment to “integrated wildlife management programs and regulating traffic in wildlife”.

The projection of the departmental functioning remained confined to celebration of wildlife weeks that too in a systematic procedure of concealment of the facts on the ground with reference to wildlife. The appointments and promotions even beyond the sanctioned staff strength received the main thrust that too avoiding conducting of any D.P.C meeting and bye passing the State Subordinate Services Recruitment Board. Till this date there is only one man-eater-leopard case on records in Kashmir valley.

The leopard responsible for killing of some ten children in Bandipora areas was formally identified and killed under proper competent orders. One normal leopard labeled as man-eater was illegally killed in Leherwalpora of North Kashmir.

The first ever leopard killing booked under the provisions of wildlife law was reported from Arin and second such leopard killing was formally reported in Bunkote areas of Bandipura..

The killing of normal leopard is an easy routine in Kashmir valley, when one reminds the killing of a normal leopard in Lalbazar, Srinagar that too in broad day light.
Praise worthy are the dedicated and human hearted efforts of print and the electronic media of the country whereunder the wildlife crime has been highlighted and projected well creating the desired public awareness.

This is further noteworthy that the Supreme Court has held, in a case, that any disturbance of basic environment namely, air, water and soil, which are necessary for “life” would be hazardous to “life” within the meaning of Art 21 of the constitution of India. If disturbing the environment violates these rights, the Court has the power award damages not only for restoration of the ecological balance, but also for the victims who have suffered due to that disturbance.

Another tip of the iceberg is that the leopards as and when seen outside forests anywhere are in first instance unjustifiably labeled as human killers even by the concerned wildlife managers of the area whereunder the people get a nod for killing such unfortunate leopards.

The public opinion so created with reference to the presence of such leopards in or around the public localities is also quite strange. Some learned people locally are even of the baseless opinion that such leopards are not native but are intruder predators of the neighboring countries. This is the height of the public awareness in this modern era for which the department is under another legal obligation as the public awareness itself is part of the management of wildlife.

None of such unfortunate leopards so found outside the forests was confirmed as human killer. Tranquilization has never been preferred in dealing with such leopards. Similarly the translocation of such leopards has never been seen at all. The provisions of tranquilizations and translocation as provided under section 10 of JKWLP (A), (Act) 2002 are never treated necessary in dealing with such matters.

The exhaustively referred above scenario, so continuing uninterruptedly in the form of systematic corruption, mismanagement, criminal negligence, flourishing encroachment of wet lands, overexploitation caused by operation of stone quarries, functioning of heavy cement plants, declining of stag (Hangul) population, ruthless killing of leopards, destruction of food chain, timber smuggling, activities, biotic pressures on wild habitat and exploitation of specified plants all together, unambiguously makes out prima facie grounds for filling of a public interest litigation in the interest of restoration of the imbalanced ecological system. Which is the fundamental duty of every citizen of the nation.

--Concluded
(Author is an Eco-freelancer)

http://www.greaterkashmir.com/full_story.asp? Date=28_4_2007&ItemID=10&cat=12

Bobcat struck and killed near Weston, Wisc.

Posted April 27, 2007

Gannett Wisconsin Newspapers

TOWN OF EASTON – A motorist driving a pickup struck and killed a bobcat Thursday night near the village of Weston, the Marathon County Sheriff’s Department said this morning.


The incident occurred at about 11:30 p.m. near the intersection of highways N and J in the town of Easton, Sheriff’s Lt. Fred Goch said this morning.

The truck sustained no damage, and the motorist took the animal home, Goch said. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has been notified.

http://www.postcrescent.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article? AID=/20070427/APC0101/70427082/1979

Mountain lion caught, killed in N. California

Published: April 26, 2007

Calaveras County Fish and Game wardens trapped a mountain lion Wednesday that broke into a Mountain Ranch home Sunday and killed a pet cat.

The lion entered a trailer next to a house in the 10700 block of Ponderosa Way shortly before 7 a.m. Sunday, according to a sheriff's report.

A young woman who lived in the trailer was in the bathroom and heard noises, and when she peeked out, saw the lion attacking one of her cats, said Fish and Game Warden Alan Gregory Wednesday.

The lion broke through the screen of a window six feet off the ground to enter, Gregory said.

"We assume it went out the same way," Gregory said. "There were cat parts everywhere in that house. It did a number."

The woman hid in the bathroom for some time, then, when all was quiet, ran to her parents' house nearby and called 911. Fish and Game wardens searched for the lion with dogs, but could not find it, he said.

They set a trap in the carport next to the house, using the remains of the cat as bait. The first two days, wardens only caught dogs in the trap, Gregory said. But Wednesday morning, the lion came back and was caught and euthanized.

"We were all real surprised we caught it," Gregory said.

The woman was shaken up, but unhurt, he said. This was the second mountain lion trapped in the county within two weeks.

http://www.uniondemocrat.com/news/ story.cfm?story_no=23314

India: Leopard carcass found in Orissa forest

Puri, April 25 (PTI): Wildlife authorities have stumbled upon a leopard carcass buried in Kalikabadi forest in Orissa's Puri district.

The predator's carcass was inside a gunny bag and found to be intact, forest officials said today.

The leopard, a male, was between eight to ten years of age and about four feet in length and two-and-half feet in height.

The carcass was found after a search launched by wildlife personnel following reports in a local newspaper that three leopards had been killed in the forest.

Divisional Forest Officer S K Mishra had dismissed the report saying the carcass belonged to a hyena which had been sighted by wildlife staff.

But it was not found the next morning and a forest guard was placed under suspension for dereliction of duty.

A team of officials including Mishra, noted tiger expert Lala A K Singh and assistant conservator of forest S K Ray was deputed by the chief wildlife warden S C Mohanty to inquire into the newspaper report.

The Forest department had maintained that there were no leopards in Kalikabadi forest and not one had been sighted over the past decade.

It is suspected that the tiger might have strayed into the jungle from Rambha-Khallikote or Dhuanali or Barbara forest to the area. But how it died is yet to be ascertained.

http://www.hindu.com/thehindu/holnus/004200704251240.htm

Senators question Bush endangered wildlife plan

By Deborah Zabarenko, Environment Correspondent
Wed Apr 25, 2007 8:36PM EDT

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A Bush administration plan to change rules of the Endangered Species Act protecting American wildlife drew pointed questions on Wednesday from five U.S. senators, who called the proposed changes "troubling."

The senators posed 15 questions to Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne, asking for full responses within one month, with no forward movement on rule-making until they are answered.

"If the draft revisions had been in place thirty years ago, it is hard to imagine that we ever could have achieved the successes -- with bald eagles, grizzly bears, sea turtles, sea otters and many other species -- of which we now are deservedly proud," the senators wrote in a letter to Kempthorne.

The letter was signed by independent senators Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut and Bernard Sanders of Vermont, and Democrats Barbara Boxer of California, Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey and Benjamin Cardin of Maryland.

An Interior Department spokesman, Hugh Vickery, said the proposed rules the senators questioned were part of an old document not now under consideration. He said the department is looking for recommendations on how to administer the Endangered Species Act more consistently.

Environmental activists raised alarms about the draft rules change last month, saying the revisions would weaken the act so much that about 80 percent of the 1,300 species now on the endangered list would lose protection.

The activists also said government documents they obtained indicate revisions were being made as recently as February.

QUESTIONS

Among other things, the lawmakers asked how the proposed changes would improve wildlife conservation and recovery and which industry or commercial groups had "input" on them.

The National Audubon Society's Mike Daulton criticized the Bush administration. "The public is clamoring for conservation solutions to problems like energy and global warming and what they're getting are half-baked ideas like gutting the Endangered Species Act and shutting down wildlife refuges," Daulton said in an e-mail.

Daulton referred to problems caused by long-running money troubles in the National Wildlife Refuge System, the subject of a report released on Wednesday by a coalition of conservation and sporting groups.

The report, "Restoring America's Wildlife Legacy 2007," said U.S. wildlife refuges are operating at half the funding levels needed for proper maintenance, and recommended $765 million in annual funding.

David Eisenhauer of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which has responsibility for the refuges, acknowledged the financial problems.

"Do we repair this road or do we build an addition to a visitor center? (Regional officials) are really going through a soul searching now in terms of priorities, with the ultimate goal of being able to carry out their trust responsibilities," Eisenhauer said by telephone.

http://www.reuters.com/article/politicsNews/ idUSN2531723820070426?feedType=RSS

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

"The Economist" terms tiger farms a "market failure"

Market failure

Apr 19th 2007 - KATHMANDU
From The Economist print edition

Breeding tigers in farms for their parts could kill the species in the wild

"TO SAVE the tiger, you have to sell it." So claimed Chinese officials and scientists at the Global Tiger Forum, a gathering of governments and conservationists in Kathmandu this week. The Forum studies the latest science and advises on policy. It will send its recommendations to the next meeting of signatories to CITES, the convention governing trade in endangered species, in the Netherlands in June.

The principal market for tiger parts, only available illegally, is China, where virtually every bit of the tiger has some medicinal or other use. The 17-strong Chinese delegation to the forum argued that the health benefits of tiger-bone wine and other concoctions are clear, and in high demand. They claimed a ban on the internal trade in tiger parts, which China imposed in 1993, has cost the country $4 billion, and yet poaching persists. The answer, they argued, is to flood their market with products from the 5,000 tigers that live on Chinese farms. The ban had been imposed only because tigers could not be bred in captivity, they said, but now they can be.

Conservationists are campaigning against allowing farmed-tiger parts to be traded. Only an estimated 2,500 breeding adult tigers survive in the wild, 80% of them in India. They are under severe pressure from loss of habitat and prey species as well as poaching. A relaxation of China's rules, they say, would drive the giant cats to extinction in the wild.

"It's make or break," says Belinda Wright, director of the Wildlife Protection Society of India. "If we lose this fight, we've lost the battle." A return to open trade, conservationists fear, would stimulate demand for a product that was slipping from public favour. China is widely given credit for successfully enforcing the ban and removing tiger from the official list of medicinal substances.

Wild tiger would probably remain more valuable because in Chinese medicinal thought it is regarded as more potent. What is more, it would remain cheaper for dealers to obtain. It costs thousands of dollars to raise a tiger in a cage but as little as $20 to hire a poor peasant to poach one.

A captive-bred tiger has never successfully been released into the wild, and conservationists say it would be impossible to do so with the 5,000 on Chinese farms, as their owners sometimes claim to intend. Sue Lieberman, of WWF, a conservation group, says the tigers are being bred like "chickens on a farm". And, despite denials from the Chinese government, there is abundant evidence that farmers are already turning tigers into food and wine.

http://www.economist.com/world/asia/ displaystory.cfm?story_id=9040384

Taiwan: A pair of leopard cats found by accident

The China Post staff
2007/4/25

A wild kitten jumped on a crane shovel a Puli farmer was operating to clear bushes for a glade to plant ginger.

It mewed pathetically.

The farmer, Pan Shen-hsien, didn't have the heart to shoo the kitten away. Puli is a village in the central Taiwan county of Nantou, near the scenic Sun Moon Lake.

Pan got off and scooped up the kitten in his hands. He looked for its mother but couldn't find her.

Instead, the kind-hearted farmer found a twin of the kitten in a hidden lair.

He decided to take the pair to a vet.

So Pan left the forest for a vet clinic in the village, where he was told to get the twins to the Endemic Species Research institute at Nantou.

Off Pan went to the seat of the Nantou county government.

After a close examination, Chan Fang-tse, ESRI director at Nantou, told the farmer he found two rare leopard cat kittens.

That all took place on last Friday.

The leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis) is a wild cat of Southeast Asia. It is also indigenous to Taiwan, where it is protected as an endangered species.

A nocturnal animal, the leopard cat feeds on rodents, birds, fish, reptiles and small mammals. It is usually solitary except for the mating season. It has litters of two to four kittens.

It looks like an American ocelot, though much smaller.

The kittens were shown the press at the ESRI station at Nantou yesterday. "We've found a treasure," Chan declared.

Both kittens have yet to be weaned. They have to be fed cow's milk once every five hours.

One more chore is to raise the tail of each kitten to wipe the part immediately under it with tissue paper from time to time. They need a proxy mother to stimulate the opening at the lower end of the alimentary canal through which the solid refuse of digestion is excreted.

"In the wild," Chan said, "their mother licks that part to get the refuse out and eat it."

The kittens will be kept at the ESRI station until they are weaned.

In the meantime, the ESRI is looking for a place where the pair can be kept after the weaning. A zoo may be interested in adopting them, Chan said.

http://www.chinapost.com.tw/news/archives/ taiwan/2007425/107987.htm

India: Leopard mutilated as part of religious ceremony?

The Associated Press
Published: April 24, 2007

NEW DELHI: Forest officials are investigating the death of at least one leopard suspected to have been killed and mutilated as part of a religious ceremony in India's eastern jungles, wildlife officials and activists said Tuesday.

Villagers on Monday found three large animal carcasses with their heads and legs severed in the Brahmagiri forest range in the eastern state of Orissa, according to news reports. One was a leopard, but it was unclear whether the others were leopards or hyenas, according to Diswajit Mohanty of the Wildlife Society of Orissa.

Though a black market demand for rare animals remains strong, the killings were likely part of a religious ceremony, not the poaching trade, said Belinda Wright of the Wildlife Protection Society of India.

Wright said the killings were probably linked to superstitious rituals because "the skin was left behind and the heads were severed."

"It's rare, but it does happen in India," Wright said

Superstitions and unusual religious ceremonies are still practiced across India, particularly in rural areas.

Poachers value rare animal pelts and bones because they can be sold on the Chinese market, where they are used in traditional medicines.

Poachers have killed at least 369 leopards over the past two years, according to rough numbers compiled by the Wildlife Protection Society of India.

The state Forest Department has opened an investigation into the killings, said department official Sarap Kumar Mishra.

Leopards and hyenas are both protected under the Indian Wildlife Act.

Also on Tuesday, two rhinoceros poachers were killed in a shootout with wildlife rangers at a sprawling game reserve in northeastern Assam state, according to officials. The shootings come less than two weeks after armed gangs shot two of the rare animals dead

Poachers hunting for rhinos late Monday night attached rangers on patrol in Kaziranga National Park, 235 kilometers (145 miles) east of the state capital Gauhati, which led to a shootout in the reserve, said M.C. Malakar, Assam's Chief Wildlife Warden.

Authorities in remote Assam state launched a crackdown on rhinoceros poachers at Kaziranga on Monday, sending in reinforcements of armed forest rangers, and drawing up plans to involve people in the vicinity to gather information on poacher gangs.

The government action follows the killing of six rare one-horned rhinoceros since January.

Rhino horns are in great demand globally, particularly in Southeast Asia, for their alleged efficacy in producing aphrodisiacs and traditional medicines. Some people also use them to make decorative dagger handles.

Between 2003 and 2005, 13 poachers have been shot dead inside the reserve while more than 100 others have been arrested in the past four years.

Wildlife officials and activists are concerned about an apparent spate of poaching in recent months.

Besides the rhino poaching, nine endangered Asiatic lions have been killed recently in western India, and last week eight tigers were reported missing from a reserve in western India.

Associated Press writer Wasbir Hussain contributed to this report.

http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2007/04/24/asia/ AS-GEN-India-Leopard-Killed.php

Investigation into death of Russian leopard continues

VLADIVOSTOK, April 24 (RIA Novosti) - The Interior Ministry is investigating whether a criminal case should be opened following the death of a Far Eastern leopard by suspected poachers in the Primorye Territory, a ministry spokesman said Tuesday.

The leopard carcass was discovered Monday in the Khasansky region, in the Primorye Territory, following an anonymous telephone call, said Vitaly Starostin, a deputy chief from a local wildlife watchdog.

"It was a fully grown female. The animal had a bullet wound and had been hit over the head with a heavy instrument," Starostin said. "The murder of any Far Eastern leopard could lead to the extinction of the species, which is currently in a critical situation."

According to a census, which was carried out last week, there are just 25-34 Far Eastern leopards left, which makes it the rarest wild cat and it has been entered in the international red book of endangered species.

http://en.rian.ru/russia/20070424/64239441.html

Bobcat surprises So. Cal. homeowner

POSTED: 11:03 pm PDT April 23, 2007
UPDATED: 11:16 pm PDT April 23, 2007

SANTA CLARITA, Calif. -- A homeowner in canyon country was surprised Monday by a wild bobcat lurking around in her backyard bushes.

The homeowner said the big cat had killed a rabbit and she called the sheriff's department, who then alerted animal control. Two of the officers went to the home and were able to put the animal on a leash and swing it over the backyard wall. From there, they put the animal in their truck and hauled it away.

The animal was believed to be an approximately 50-to-75-pound bobcat.

http://www.nbc4.tv/news/12970089/detail.html

Botswana: Unique DVD to benefit cheetahs, schools

Mmegi/The Reporter (Gaborone)
NEWS

By Keto Segwai
April 24, 2007

The recently launched DVD - Spirit of the Kalahari - is unique in its double-barrelled approach of imparting conservation message and the celebration of Botswana's song and dance. This communication mix appears to be highly effective, judging from the response it elicited from the audience that attended the DVD launch at the Mmokolodi Nature Reserve recently. The Cheetah Conservation Botswana (CCB) DVD is to be integrated into the organisation's education programme. It was disclosed that the DVD would be distributed to schools around Botswana.

The film chronicles the lives of two farmers - a traditional one and the other a modern one or rather more appropriately a "weekend farmer." The DVD starts by setting the tone of being a wildlife-based show, depicting snippets of game at Mmokolodi. Giraffes, bucks, zebras and hippos are shown in their natural habitat.

The changeover to the cattlepost or "masimo" is effective in that it drives home the fact that the two environments are in fact compatible. The traditional homestead is characterised by normal chores that include maize/sorghum pounding, roasting of maize by the open fire, preparation of family meals, and the cooking of 'serobe. (tripe) to be fed to the livestock guard dog. In another take, the traditional farmer is busy tending his livestock (goats and cattle). Not only is he involved with livestock tending (go disa) but also makes sure the holding pans or kraals (masaka) are in good working condition.

Basically, the message being conveyed here is that this traditional farmer employs the best farming practices and good management, which guarantee effective land and predator conservation. On the other hand, the second farmer, the examples of whom are prevalent in Botswana, appears to have the necessary financial wherewithal. In contrast to the first farmer, who uses a donkey/horse as a mode of transport, the second one drives a 4 x 4 vehicle. The film takes the viewer through the process of applying for land for ranching from the land board chiefs, who explain the applicant's rights to land and related information.

The weekend farmer enthusiastically launches into setting up a ranch. However, because of a poor management system that includes not paying farm workers on time, things are bound to go awry. The resultant scenario is that of demotivated, loafing, and alcohol-consuming farmhands who fail in their duties. On one of his weekend excursions to the ranch, our town farmer realises that some of his livestock is missing.

Armed with a shotgun, he immediately assembles a search party that subsequently picks up tracks of the predators. The spoor leads the party to a carcass of one of his goats. He rushes to the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP), in town where hysterically and incoherently he tries to explain his situation to them. But before his problem can be addressed, he takes off in a bid to return to the farm - with what he reckoned to be a "lasting" solution in his head. He slaughters a donkey whose carcass he poisons. This disingenuous act leads to the death of many predators on the ranch, and wildlife officials get to know of that. He is arrested and the wildlife officials later inform him that he had "inadvertently poisoned or contaminated his water and grazing resources". This obviously clear contrast in management styles, has spurred the CCB into action as they maintain "education is one of the most vital keys in conservation and a priority for CCB".

The film, therefore, continues by showing two officers, as part of the CCB outreach programme, addressing villagers on matters relating to predators, and particularly cheetahs. Information that is departed includes the fact that cheetahs normally eat smaller livestock such as goats and calves. A statement is also made to the effect that normally predators' preferred meal is that of wildlife as opposed to domesticated animals.

The outreach officers explain to their listeners that livestock management strategy is very important and critical in minimising human/problem animal conflict. The CCB was founded in 2003, primarily on the realization that no research work had been carried out to establish the status of Botswana's cheetah.

It is estimated that there are only 10 000 cheetahs left in the world. Hence they have been listed under CITES I as the most endangered species. CCB's objectives include long-term conservation, scientific research, species management and community education.

Since its inception CCB has carried out various activities towards the realisation of its goal. The organisation has been rehabilitating and releasing cubs into the wild, including the two that were released into the Tuli area recently.

Three males and a female were also released into the Central Kgalagadi Game Reserve (CKGR) last October and November, after being captured by farmers. In some instances cheetahs that have been captured by farmers are collared and released back into the farms for research purposes to establish their movement and territory size. As part of their outreach programme, CCB has participated in the DWNP events and at major trade fairs.

They have also held workshops for teachers and communal farmers.

http://allafrica.com/stories/200704240964.html

Taiwan: A pair of leopard cats found by accident

The China Post staff
2007/4/25

A wild kitten jumped on a crane shovel a Puli farmer was operating to clear bushes for a glade to plant ginger.

It mewed pathetically.

The farmer, Pan Shen-hsien, didn't have the heart to shoo the kitten away. Puli is a village in the central Taiwan county of Nantou, near the scenic Sun Moon Lake.

Pan got off and scooped up the kitten in his hands. He looked for its mother but couldn't find her.

Instead, the kind-hearted farmer found a twin of the kitten in a hidden lair.

He decided to take the pair to a vet.

So Pan left the forest for a vet clinic in the village, where he was told to get the twins to the Endemic Species Research institute at Nantou.

Off Pan went to the seat of the Nantou county government.

After a close examination, Chan Fang-tse, ESRI director at Nantou, told the farmer he found two rare leopard cat kittens.

That all took place on last Friday.

The leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis) is a wild cat of Southeast Asia. It is also indigenous to Taiwan, where it is protected as an endangered species.

A nocturnal animal, the leopard cat feeds on rodents, birds, fish, reptiles and small mammals. It is usually solitary except for the mating season. It has litters of two to four kittens.

It looks like an American ocelot, though much smaller.

The kittens were shown the press at the ESRI station at Nantou yesterday. "We've found a treasure," Chan declared.

Both kittens have yet to be weaned. They have to be fed cow's milk once every five hours.

One more chore is to raise the tail of each kitten to wipe the part immediately under it with tissue paper from time to time. They need a proxy mother to stimulate the opening at the lower end of the alimentary canal through which the solid refuse of digestion is excreted.

"In the wild," Chan said, "their mother licks that part to get the refuse out and eat it."

The kittens will be kept at the ESRI station until they are weaned.

In the meantime, the ESRI is looking for a place where the pair can be kept after the weaning. A zoo may be interested in adopting them, Chan said.

http://www.chinapost.com.tw/news/archives/ taiwan/2007425/107987.htm

Endangered South China tiger sent to Africa to mate

CHINA: April 24, 2007

SHANGHAI - A South China tiger, one of fewer than 100 in existence, took off from a Shanghai airport on Monday for a romantic mission to Africa that might help save the species.

The four-year-old male, known only by his breeding registry number "327", is to be paired with a young female of the same species in a South African reserve.
The idea is for the tigers to mix in a wild environment, breed and brush up on their hunting skills before being returned to their native habitat in China.

China's Suzhou South China Tiger Reserve volunteered the male tiger for the mating mission.

"South Africa offers land, expertise and prey animals, so it facilitates the tiger re-wilding in a much quicker and faster way," said Li Quan, founder of the charity Save China's Tigers.

She said China had initiated experiments but they did not go very far, although plans are afoot eventually to bring the tigers back to a reserve in China.

With only about 10 to 30 left in the wild and another 60 in captivity, the Chinese sub-species of the tiger clan is on the brink of extinction.

Two pairs have already been sent to the 33,000-hectare (81,540-acre) Laohu Valley Reserve in South Africa's Free State province since September 2003: a male named "Hope", his prospective partner "Cathay", and a younger pair, "Tiger Woods" and "Madonna". "Laohu" means "tiger" in Chinese.

Since Hope died of illness two years ago, reserve officials have been seeking a new mate for Cathay, who is now reaching sexual maturity, and number 327 seemed a perfect match.

"He is a very fertile stud tiger, one of the finer tigers here," said David Chen, director of the Suzhou reserve, which is home to 14 of the striped cats.

Feared as man-eaters but revered as majestic symbols of the wild, the South China tigers and other sub-species are being squeezed out in Asia by habitat loss as human populations swell.

The re-wilding programme has had initial success as the tigers moved from hunting birds to bigger prey such as the blesbok, a white-faced African antelope that is similar in size to the deer species the tigers hunt in China.

Tiger 327 will make the three-day jet and helicopter journey, via Hong Kong and Johannesburg, in a cargo box with only water, although Zhang Lin of Save China's Tigers said tigers can go for five days without food in the wild.

Conservationists are already planning for the re-wilded group's return to China.

"We would be choosing from a few areas from the original habitat of the South China tigers to rebuild," said Lu Jun, associate research professor at the National Wildlife Research and Development Center.

Save China's Tigers said this was still in the planning stage but sites had already been identified in Zixi in Jiangxi province and in Liuyang in Hunan province, both in southeastern China.

Story by Royston Chan

http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/ newsid/41531/story.htm

U.S. researcher scours Serengeti for cheetahs

By Sandi Doughton
Seattle Times science reporter

SERENGETI NATIONAL PARK, Tanzania — If studying cheetahs sounds like a glamorous job, consider that Anne Hilborn spends a lot of her time looking for poop.

On a good day, the Seattle woman will spot one of the big cats doing its business in short grass, where the specimen is easy to find. On a bad day, the cheetahs squat in tall grass.

"Then I have to get down on my hands and knees and sniff around until I find it," Hilborn explains.

On this day, she would be happy to simply glimpse one of the animals.

It's about 11 a.m. and she's been bumping across the savannah in her Land Rover for nearly five hours. The morning cool has evaporated and a shimmer blurs the horizon.

"This time of day, the cheetahs just tend to plop down," Hilborn says.

The 25-year-old has been chasing the world's fastest land animal since she graduated with a zoology degree from the University of Washington three years ago. She works for the Serengeti Cheetah Project, launched in 1974 to monitor the threatened species.

Hilborn's main job is to search for cheetahs and note their locations and conditions. Analyzing DNA in dung is a new effort to figure out which males are fathering the most cubs, and gauge the species' genetic vigor and prospects for survival.

Already wiped out in most of Asia, cheetah numbers are dwindling across Africa as their grassland habitat is plowed or fenced for western-style ranches.

In its early days, the cheetah project provided some of the first insights into the species' life history. Today, the emphasis is on conservation and habitat protection. A recent sighting proved that cheetahs are still able to migrate from one protected area to another, through corridors of private land.

"It's a critical time, because we need to keep those corridors open," says Sarah Durant, the British biologist who runs the project.

Hilborn is the project's only field worker. Her study area covers 850 square miles of southern Serengeti savannah, an area more than twice the size of Mount Rainier National Park.

"In theory we're trying to figure out how many cheetahs there are in Tanzania and what we can do to save them," she says as she stashes her gear in the Land Rover at dawn. "But in reality we have only the vaguest idea of how many there are because they are so hard to count."

The best estimates are that 10,000 to 14,000 of the spotted cats remain in the world, and their status is far more perilous than those of Africa's famed lions and leopards. Lions and hyenas prey on cheetahs and steal their kills. Only one in 20 cubs survives to adulthood.

Gazelles burst into a run

The sun's first rays gild the tops of acacia trees as Hilborn veers off the rutted track and heads across country. Guinea fowl scatter like matrons fleeing a runaway bus. In the distance, a knot of Thomson's gazelles burst into a run.

Hilborn kills the engine, pushes her glasses up on her forehead and lifts her binoculars.

"Cheetah snacks," she says, pointing out several calves not much taller than a golden retriever.

But these gazelles aren't displaying the nervous jitters that indicate a predator nearby.

Hilborn turns the key and the Land Rover rattles back to life. In the back are jerry cans of water and diesel, a well-used jack and several boards scavenged from a bookcase-building project.

The latter come in handy when you're mired to the axles in mud.

When her father was visiting from Seattle this winter, the pair spent two hours digging after the Land Rover got stuck near a marsh. Only later did they realize three male lions were lounging in a nearby clump of grass.

But the perils of field work are nothing new to Ray Hilborn. The UW biologist pressed his children into service every summer for salmon surveys in Alaska. When Anne was 12, he transplanted the family to Serengeti National Park for six months while he studied wildebeest populations.

That's where the Seattle seventh-grader met Durant.

Anne was enamored of Durant's job. "I kept asking: Can I come work for you when I graduate?" Hilborn said.

"Serengeti" is derived from a Masai word that means endless plains.

The only landmark in the area Hilborn is canvassing is a cluster of flat-topped acacias that rise from the prairie like a pagoda. The grass is tall, due to unusually heavy rains.

"So you can't really see cheetahs unless they're standing up or walking," Hilborn says.

Unlike most African predators, cheetahs hunt by day. Hilborn has learned to spot these supermodels of the cat world by their bowling-pin silhouette when seated: A small head atop an elongated body.

Something with that shape catches her eye. She pauses in her sweep, then lets out an amused snort.

It's a kori bustard, a 3-foot-tall bird that paces the grasslands like a cop on his beat.

"I make plenty of mistakes," Hilborn says cheerfully.

Tracking cheetahs is a lonely, gritty job, said project leader Durant, who used to do all the field work herself.

Most of her early assistants lasted about a year. "A lot of people say it's their dream job — until they actually do it," she said.

Durant, who holds dual appointments at the Zoological Society of London and the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society, now spends most of her time analyzing data, overseeing other research projects and scouting for money to keep the work going.

The cheetah program is largely funded by Howard Buffett, son of billionaire investor Warren Buffett.

Hilborn's $500-a-month salary includes free housing in a research compound in central Serengeti. Equipped with running water and electricity when they were built in the 1960s, the houses now have neither.

Social life consists of pot lucks with other biologists. Trashy magazines from home are cause for celebration.

Just when all seems lost

Hilborn is about to give up on spotting any cats today when she hits the brakes and grabs her binoculars.

"Just when all seems lost." she says. "Hi, cutie."

A female cheetah is sitting in the grass 100 yards away. Her mouth is open and her ears are twitching to flick away the ever-present flies.

Hilborn inches the Land Rover forward and stops about 40 feet from the animal. Cheetahs are naturally shy creatures, but those that live in the Serengeti have become blasé about tourists and their vehicles. A cheetah once climbed on top of Hilborn's Land Rover and made a deposit.

"It was the easiest pooh sample I ever got."

Hilborn grabs her camera and waits for the cheetah to stand. Languidly, the cheetah obliges and Hilborn snaps off several broadside shots. Like fingerprints, the unique spot patterns allow her to identify each of the 60 adults and 90 youngsters in her study area.

If she doesn't recognize an animal, she runs the photos through a computer program that matches spots and spits out a name. But in this case she simply rifles through a wooden box filled with photos pasted to index cards.

"It might be Mouse," she says, pulling out a blue card.

Indeed, the spots align.

Hilborn begins filling out her standard cheetah report, recording everything from coat condition (no mange) to belly size (8 on a 14-point scale). Except when they have cubs, female cheetahs are solitary, ranging over areas larger than Seattle. Males generally live in small groups called coalitions.

Named for her squeaky voice, Mouse keeps quiet as she rolls in the grass, sits up again, then slowly begins stalking a group of gazelles. A tame cheetah in Kenya was clocked running 64 mph. In the wild, the animals may go even faster in short bursts.

But Mouse is not very racy today. She makes a half-hearted lunge at the gazelles, who easily scatter to safety. A second charge is even more lackluster.

"I think I'll leave her in peace," Hilborn says, steering the Land Rover back the way she came.

This will be her last year on the cheetah project.

"I want to leave while I still love it," she says.

Before the isolation and dust and logistical headaches sour her appreciation of the beauty. And before the gulf between her life in Africa and the lives of friends and family in Seattle becomes too wide to bridge.

"That's really the hardest thing," she says, threading the Land Rover through a herd of zebra and gazelles. "That disconnect."

A lost wildebeest calf stands alone, so thin it seems little more than head and legs.

"He'll be vulture food by tomorrow," Hilborn says.

The calf stares forlornly as the Land Rover retreats across the savannah.

Sandi Doughton: 206-464-2491 or sdoughton@seattletimes.com

Cheetah Watch Campaign

The campaign recruits tourists to help track Africa's cheetah populations. With a digital photograph, date and approximate location, it's usually possible to identify individual animals.

More information is available at http://www.wcs.org/international/Africa/cheetahs


http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/ 2003677248_cheetah23m.html

Two leopard cubs sighted in Indian tiger reserve

April 24 (IANS) Two panther cubs have been sighted in Rajasthan's Sariska tiger reserve, which has been in news recently for its dwindling number of big cats, say forest department officials.

"A fortnight ago, a foreign tourist had sighted these cubs from a short distance. After that our team also saw them roaming in the jungle," said Rajesh Gupta, a forest official in Sariska.

The forest officials, who have taken pug-prints of the cubs, are working out a safety plan for the animals.

Wildlife sources, however, said that the forest officials were unable to locate the cubs after sighting them twice or thrice. A forest department team is daily combing the 881-sq-km jungle to find the whereabouts of the cubs.

The Sariska tiger reserve - set up in 1978 - has been in the news in recent times for its disappearing big cats.

A Wildlife Institute of India report in March 2005 confirmed that there were indeed no tigers left in this reserve while an official census in 2004 had put the population between 16 and 18.

The state had submitted a detailed project to the central government for rehabilitation of the tigers in Sariska. The project was sanctioned in November.

The Dehradun-based Wildlife Institute of India is planning a five-year study on panthers in Sariska from June.

"This is the first time in the country that such a study is being undertaken in which use of habitat, travelling patterns and eating habits of panthers would be monitored and analysed," L.N. Dave, Rajasthan's forest and environment minister, told IANS.

"This study would help in knowing the eating habits of panthers living in Sariska, including the census of prey animals," he added.

As per the 2004 wildlife census, there are over 550 panthers in the state, and Sawai Madhopur, which houses the Ranthambore National Park, has the maximum number of wild cats, including 83 panthers.

http://www.indianmuslims.info/news/2007/april/24/ india_news/two_panther_cubs_sighted_in_sariska.html

Update on jaguar research in U.S.-Mexico borderlands

by Sergio Avila, M.S., Conservation Biologist

A year has passed since the Wildlife Monitoring program did the "big jump" into working in Mexico, and as we say "el tiempo pasa volando!" The Jaguars of the Sonoran Sky Islands project has taken slowly-but-steady steps towards jaguar habitat research while establishing landowner collaboration, and we look forward to 2007's challenges and opportunities.

We first introduced this project in the Spring issue of Restoring Connections ("On the Ground in Sonora", 2006, Vol.9, Issue 1) when the initial purpose of the study was to evaluate the feasibility of conducting research on the presence and movement of jaguars in northern Sonora, Mexico. Sky Island Alliance is committed to securing jaguar recovery in the region and promoting conservation throughout the borderlands; today we have new and exciting advances to report, and stronger goals have been set. This project's long-term goal is to build cooperative relationships with landowners in Sonora in order to encourage jaguar conservation and facilitate ongoing scientific research in the region, and to strengthen collaboration with our partners in both sides of the border, like the Northern Jaguar Project, whose work focuses on preserving viable habitat for the last remaining breeding populations of endangered jaguars in northern Mexico.

During the course of 2006 we experienced a region that features species, climate, and ecological processes typical of the Sky Island region.We learned that similar to other rural areas in the region, whose economies are based on the livestock industry, local culture and customs are divergent and diverse giving the use, management and preservation of natural resources a different approach and presenting different challenges. In May 2006, we successfully explored Sierra El Pinito (please read the complete account by herpetologist Robert Villa, in Restoring Connections, Vol. 9, Issue 2, Summer 2006). In July and December we visited Sierra Azul, and met the Robles: a hard-working, environmentally conscious family and wildlife conservation advocate who decided to "let ecologicalprocesses happen" and allows wildlife species to recolonize areas that were used for grazing before excluding cattle. Mr. Robles' words described perfectly his family's approach to conservation: "cattle grazing is not worth the damage to the land".

Sky Island Alliance also participated in the development of a standardized protocol for utilization of camera traps to validate presence/absence and population densities of jaguars, published by Mexican researchers Chavez and Ceballos (2006; Chapter III: Census and Monitoring).

The Jaguars of the Sonoran Sky Islands project aims to "ground proof" the results of Geographic Information System habitat modeling studies. Two of those studies focused on potential habitat in Arizona (Hatten et al., 2003) and New Mexico (Menke and Hayes, 2003), while the other two focused on the borderlands region, presenting jaguar distribution maps that include the Sonoran Sky Islands and strongly suggesting this region as potential jaguar habitat (Boydston and Lopez-Gonzalez, 2005; Grigione et al., unpublished).

Threats to jaguar conservation remain on both sides of the international border, from habitat degradation to
poaching to loss of wildlife linkages. These threats compromise the ecological integrity of the landscape and
have the potential to jeopardize jaguar survival. Border security and law enforcement activities result in
environmental degradation and threaten the movement or establishment of individual jaguars in the border
region. These activities will disrupt, section and isolate wildlife populations in both sides of the border, the
linkages animals use to disperse and the jaguar's opportunities to colonize northern areas. The lack of
permeability in the border also threatens ecological processes like gene flow and genetic variability, control of
prey populations by predators, seed dispersal, and pollination.

Additional research in some areas needs to be undertaken to fill gaps in knowledge (Menke, 2004). By maintaining landscape connectivity across subtropical and temperate zones, conservation of jaguars would help conserve a number of other species and preserve the biological integrity of the unique Madrean region (Boydston and Lopez-Gonzalez, 2005). In 2006, we cultivated relationships with landowners and ejidos from different mountain ranges and ranches; in 2007 we will continue our efforts on outreach to landowners, collection of scientific data through non-invasive methods using remote camera traps and track counts, and collaborative work with our conservation partners and allies, within this unstudied area of the Mexican Sky Islands.

To learn more about organizations working on jaguar conservation in Sonora, please visit:

Northern Jaguar Project at
www.northernjaguarproject.org


and Naturalia at www.naturalia.org.mx/eljaguar.html


Boydston, E. and C. Lopez-Gonzalez. 2005. Sexual differentiation in the distribution
potential of the northern Jaguars (Panthera onca). USDA Forest Service Proceedings
RMRS-P-36.

Chavez, C., and G. Ceballos. 2006.Memorias del Primer Simposio. El Jaguar Mexicano en el Siglo XXI: Situación Actual y Manejo". CONABIO-Alianza WWF Telcel- Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. México, D.F.

Grigione, M.M., Menke, K., Lopez-Gonzalez, C., List, R., Banda, A., Carrera, J., Carrera, R.,Morrison, J., Sternberg, M., Thomas, R., and B. Van Pelt. (Unpublished). Identifying priority conservation areas in the U.S.- Mexico border region for Neotropical cats, the jaguar, jaguarundi and ocelot. Dept of Env Science & Policy, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL.

Hatten, J. R., Averill-Murray, A., and Van Pelt, W. E. 2003. Characterizing and mapping
potential jaguar habitat in Arizona. Arizona Game and Fish Department. 203, 1-28.
Menke, K. A. and Hayes, C. L. 2003. Evaluation of relative suitability of potential jaguar
habitat in New Mexico. New Mexico Game and Fish Department. 1-30.

Menke, K. 2004. Priority Conservation Areas in the U.S.-Mexico Border Region for
North American Tropical Cats: the Jaguar, Jaguarundi, and Ocelot. University of New
Mexico. In: Vacariu, K., and J. Neeley. 2005.

Ecological Considerations for Border Security Operations: Outcomes and Recommendations of the Border Ecological Symposium. Tucson, AZ.

Want to support this project? Adopt a Camera!
And support on-the-ground jaguar research and conservation
$150 provides: Film camera purchase and setup*
$250 provides: Film camera purchase, setup and checkup** for 6 months (4 times)
$500 provides: Film camera purchase, setup and checkup for a year (7 times)
$1000 provides: Digital camera purchase, setup and checkup for 3 months (2 times)
All donors receive:
An update on the status of camera after every checkup (site, species present) including a photo-index
Favorite wildlife photos printed on 8"x10" paper (3 photos per film)
An 8"x10" print of camera site
Membership to Sky Island Alliance for one year
Acknowledgements on this project's reports, presentations, etc.
* Camera purchase, setup and checkups are conducted by Sky Island Alliance

http://www.skyislandalliance.org/newsletter/ 07-Spring-SIANewsletter-geology.pdf

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Hunters kill one of last Amur leopards

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Hunters in Russia's Far East have shot and killed one of the last seven surviving female Amur leopards living in the wild, WWF said on Monday, driving the species even closer to extinction.

Last week environmentalists said there were only between 25 and 34 Amur leopards -- described as one of the most graceful cats in the world -- still living in the wild.

At least 100 are needed to guarantee the species' survival which depends upon female leopards breeding. There are more male leopards in the wild than female because cats tend to breed males when under stress, WWF said.

"Leopard murder can only be provoked by cowardice or stupidity, in this case most likely by both," Pavel Fomenko, WWF's biodiversity coordinator in Russia's Far East said in a statement.

A hunter shot the leopard through the tail bone. It tumbled over and was then beaten over the head with a heavy object, WWF said. Amur leopards have not been know to attack humans.

Environmentalists have urged the Russian government to introduce tighter controls on its national parks in the Far East to crack down on leopard hunting.

They also want more done to protect the animal's natural environment and food supply, which they say is being destroyed by human development.

A local wildlife watchdog received an anonymous tip-off that a leopard had been killed. State wildlife officers found the dead animal after a day of searching. The leopard died on either April 15 or April 16, WWF said.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20070423/sc_nm/russia_leopard_dc

Florida panthers: Whose home is it anyway?

Man moved in on the Florida panther's habitat. But big cats don't care about property lines. Whose home is it, anyway?

By JEFF KLINKENBERG
Published April 22, 2007


OCHOPEE - About a year ago, the old man's chickens began disappearing during the night. At first he suspected bears. Then his cat, Homer, vanished, followed by a goose. If this kept up he'd run out of animals.

Calvin Hodges is 80, a native Floridian. Thirty years ago he built a house with his own hands in the Big Cypress National Preserve. He grew his own food, raised livestock and hunted deer. Over decades he got used to the black bears.

"Even if I don't see them, I can smell them," he said. "They really stink."

It wasn't bears this time. Hodges, infirm and in a wheelchair, recognized cat tracks and summoned the authorities.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service told him to protect his animals during Florida panther hunting hours between dusk and dawn. Hodges promised to keep his dog, Lilly, inside after dark. He got his son to fortify the chicken coop with electric wire.

A few nights later, a wildlife officer on panther patrol was staking out the old man's house. The officer watched a panther creep into the yard. He watched as the panther jumped onto a rain barrel and peered into the sleeping house through the porch screen. Then he watched as the panther jumped down and attacked the chicken coop.

The jolt from the electrified wire knocked the cat backward. The animal fled past the clothesline into the brush.

It was a rare bad night for the panther known as Don Juan.

* * *

Florida panthers, which measure about 7 feet long from nose to tail and weigh up to 150 pounds, normally eat deer, wild hogs, raccoons, alligators and wading birds. True wilderness animals, among the rarest creatures in North America, they have always had a reputation for avoiding the stink of humanity in their last decent habitat, the woods and swamps that remain in southwest Florida.

Field work, inputting data, analyzing data - that used to be the job of panther biologists.

In the 21st century, part of a panther biologist's job is knocking on doors and advising residents who have chosen to live near the wilderness about how to live with lions.

* * *

Decades ago, even folks who spent their lives in the woods rarely saw one. If they were lucky, they might see a track.

Panthers instinctively avoided people. For two centuries they were considered varmints and shot on sight. Their range, which had once extended east of the Mississippi all the way to Canada, had shrunk to a couple million acres in southwest Florida. When scientific studies began in 1981, the panther population was estimated at less than 30.

Most Floridians know the story. Development, poor water management and busy roads threatened the panther with extinction. The cats also suffered from birth defects, the result of years of inbreeding. In 1995, biologists introduced to South Florida lions from west of the Mississippi River to invigorate the panther's failing gene pool.

Now the panther population is estimated at 90 robust animals. By some accounts, habitat in southwest Florida can't support any more.

Civilization, however, creeps deeper into panther territory by the day. The result: encounters between Puma concolor coryi, Homo sapiens and their pets.

"Panthers are just trying to get by," biologist Deborah Jansen said recently. "We're producing cats out here and all they're trying to do is find new territory."

Of course, deer are supposed to be on the menu. Not Siamese cats or chihuahuas.

And not, God forbid, people.

* * *

Jansen, a wiry 59, grew up in Wisconsin as "one of those frog-catching kids." Her office in the Big Cypress is filled with alligator skulls and plaster of paris panther tracks. She has a lovely photograph of Don Juan.

Jansen, being a scientist, is more likely to call him No. 79 than Don Juan. But even she slips up from time to time out of respect for the big boy.

Panthers have been studied hard in Florida for 25 years; Don Juan, a husky male, has been among the most prolific breeders in the program. By some accounts, he sired 32 kittens.

Male Florida panthers usually die violently. Most don't survive adolescence. They're killed by cars, disease, alligators and snakes, but usually by larger male panthers who instinctively eliminate competition for food and females.

Like the tomcat in urban neighborhoods, panthers wander endlessly. A male panther's range extends hundreds of square miles.

In 2006, the year he went bad, Don Juan was an old man of 10. Whenever biologists captured him to change the batteries in his collar, they marveled. Older male panthers usually are covered by battle scars. Don Juan's tawny brown coat looked as if no panther had ever laid a claw on him.

* * *

Don Juan made people nervous, and not only because he was eating their pets. Folks wondered if they might be next.

Out west, the panther's close relative, the mountain lion, occasionally sups on human flesh. They've been blamed in about a dozen attacks, mostly in Colorado and California, where new suburbs crowd lion territory.

In South Florida, dogs, lightning and bees are considered more dangerous than panthers. Only one attack is on the books.

But that's officially. Unofficially, panthers forever have been sneaking up on babies in bassinets or dropping from tree limbs onto the backs of unwary settlers.

"The panther's claws caught him on the shoulder, ripping his coat and shirt down and lacerating his back badly," reported the New York Times in 1897. "Mr. John Finn made a thrust at the panther with his hunting knife, but the beast knocked it out of his hand with a blow of his paw . . .

"Hardly had Mr. Finn gotten 10 feet away before he heard the panther after him again. With tremendous leaps he dashed up to him, crouching low for the fatal spring. Just then a report was heard at the side of the path, the strength of the beast was gone and with a snarl of rage and pain he fell dead. Mr. Finn looked up and saw Billy Bowlegs, a Seminole. He had been on the trail of the beast all the afternoon and had gotten there just in time to save Mr. Finn's life."

* * *

Don Juan was born in the Big Cypress in 1995. His mother was one of those Texas cougars, his father an uncollared male Florida panther about which nothing else is known.

His daddy must have had Casanova in his genes. In a five-year period starting in 1999, Don Juan fought off other male panthers for the honor of mating with seven females. He was the father of virtually every litter produced in the Big Cypress south of Alligator Alley.

Biologists knew all of this because they had caught and collared him and followed his exploits by radio.

Nobody can say, for sure, why he changed his dining habits. Perhaps, as a panther old man, he was tired. Perhaps a younger, stronger male had chased him out of his regular territory. At 10, maybe he just got lazy. Easier to eat a kitty than chase down a hog that fights back.

One night he strolled through the gate into Bob Mayberry's yard on Turner River Road to help himself to a snack. Mayberry's dogs attacked; Don Juan fought back. The dogs, torn up, survived.

About a mile away, Don Juan enjoyed another chicken dinner over at Calvin Hodges' house.

A few nights later he returned to eat the cat, Homer.

Next he visited the Trail Lakes Campground on U.S. 41, also known as the Tamiami Trail. The huge statue of a Florida panther on the lawn must have made him feel welcome. He jumped a fence and gulped down David Shealy's petting zoo turkey.

Jansen and other panther experts showed up with dogs. The dogs chased Don Juan into a tree. A veterinarian shot Don Juan with a tranquilizer. When he came to, he was 25 miles away at a place called Raccoon Point, far from any people or their pets.

Raccoons are good to eat. But Don Juan had another meal in mind.

Two days later, Jansen was driving on the Tamiami Trail toward park headquarters when she got a bad feeling. She pulled off the road and turned on her radio receiver. Don Juan's collar was beeping a strong signal. He was back in the neighborhood.

"I don't believe this," Jansen said to herself.

Don Juan waited until after dark to visit Hodges' yard again. Why he looked into the old man's window anyone can guess. At the electrified chicken coop, he received his comeuppance and bolted for safer environs.

A few nights later, he strolled into the tiny village of Copeland on State Road 29 and found himself a pet pot-bellied pig.

One last time the biologists and hounds came looking for him. They trailed him into the oaks and Brazilian pepper. Don Juan climbed a tree. He hissed and growled as the drug took effect.

His days of using back yards as a fast food restaurant were at an end.

* * *

But the problem wasn't over. Another panther had learned about the easy pickings available in the Copeland neighborhood.

Pam Mesce was doing a jigsaw puzzle at her dining room table one evening last September when she heard something crash against the front door of her home near Fakahatchee Strand State Preserve. A panther had her pet cat, Mizzy, pinned against the door.

As Mesce watched, the panther ambled into the woods with Mizzy in its jaws.

"This all has changed the way we live," said Mesce, an environmentalist. "When my husband and I are working in the yard now we never turn our backs to the woods. I can't stop thinking about Mizzy. The last I saw her she wasn't yowling. She just looked shocked. Her eyes were kind of bulging out and her little paws were tucked under her chin in that panther's jaws."

* * *

With panther predations in the news, wildlife agencies held public hearings throughout southwest Florida last fall.

Biologists advised:

If you live in panther territory, keep your pets indoors or locked up in a barn at night. Don't leave small children to play by themselves. Jog, walk or ride your bike with a buddy. If you see a panther, don't run. Make yourself look bigger by holding up your arms. Retreat but don't turn your back.

The meetings were well attended and mostly polite, though hysteria was in the air.

A few citizens demanded that science agencies remove Florida's official state animal from Florida.

"It's my property, not the panther's property. I paid for it," said a resident of Golden Gate Estates, a Naples suburb, according to the Naples Daily News.

On Internet blogs, where anonymous writers felt free to vent, another argument was tendered.

"We've all heard about self-absorbed a------- who move next door to a farm and then complain about noises and odors. Now it seems some of their twisted relatives are moving to the edge of a wilderness and then being furious that they might have an encounter with . . . drum roll . . . a wild animal. DUUUHHH!!!"

* * *

A panther attacked Reed Lolly's pet miniature donkey one morning at Golden Gate Estates, a development suddenly too close for comfort to the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge.

Lolly had read about Don Juan. In Collier County, he was as notorious as Billy the Kid. But this wasn't Don Juan. It was another panther, one without a radio collar.

At 57, the Florida-born Lolly loved the woods. He owned 10 beautiful acres and counted on seeing deer in the morning and hearing owls at night.

"Puddy," the donkey named after a Seinfeld television character, survived attack No. 1 by kicking the panther in the face.

A few mornings later the panther tried a frontal assault.

Puddy, about the size of a German shepherd, kept the panther away from his throat. But months later the puncture wound in his nose hadn't healed.

One night after supper Lolly ambled out the front door into his yard. A panther, hardly a dozen feet away, was ambling his way, looking fearless. "Hey, big fellow, I'm not food, and I'm getting out of here," Lolly told the panther.

The lion lay down in his yard like the king of the jungle.

Lolly's donkeys now sleep in a locked barn at night. Security cameras occasionally show the panther strolling through the yard with impunity.

Lolly's next-door neighbor is Donovan Smith, 35. The panther has eaten six of his goats. Smith, who has an animal display business, also counts giraffes and zebras on his 42 acres. The other day he bounced down his unpaved street atop his pet camel, Sultan.

"I'll tell you one thing," Smith declared. "No panther will ever take Sultan. He'll kick the living s--- out of him."

* * *

In his prime, when he was sowing wild oats, Don Juan was the king of his territory, a 602-square-mile slice of Big Cypress. That's twice the size of Pinellas County.

The other morning Don Juan was asleep in a 10- by 15-foot cage at Busch Gardens in Tampa. Outside, he had a 20- by 30-foot enclosure for wandering when he woke. Park staffers had planted bamboo and shrubs in the enclosure to make him feel at home.

Ray Ball, 41, his veterinarian, described Don Juan as a beautiful panther, 120 pounds or so, with fine teeth, maybe a little worn, but still lethal.

Deborah Jansen of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had driven up a few weeks earlier from the Big Cypress to see the old rascal. She was pleased that he was not pacing endlessly or biting the bars. "He seems to be adjusting," she said.

Don Juan, who got into trouble because he ate pets, now devours three pounds of vitamin-fortified horse meat every day. For a treat he eats rabbits and road-kill deer.

He will live in captivity for the rest of his life. There are no plans to put him on public display.

His compound is situated at the southwest corner of the park. He can hear the wooden roller coaster, Gwazi, as it rockets along the tracks.

In the other direction, only a few feet from Don Juan's compound wall, is busy Busch Boulevard.

When the wind is right, Don Juan probably smells the tomato and garlic wafting over from Bruno's Pizza Pie.

Don Juan is now a civilized cat.

Jeff Klinkenberg can be reached at (727) 893-8727 or klink@sptimes.com.

Attacks dogs in Bob Mayberry's yard.

Turns up in Calvin Hodges' yard, a mile from the Mayberry house. Eats chickens andHomer the cat.

Visits the Trail Lakes Campground on U.S. 41. Dines on a pet turkey before being shot with a tranquilizer dart.

Panther experts release Don Juan at Racoon Point, 25 miles away.

Reappears at Hodges home days later and is shocked by the new electrified fence around the chicken coop.

Captured for the last time in Copeland after eating a pot-bellied pig.

Moved to current home at Busch Gardens.

[Last modified April 21, 2007, 18:50:38]

http://www.sptimes.com/2007/04/22/ Floridian/the_uninvited_guesta.shtml

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Oregon bill OKs use of dogs in cougar, bear kills

Measure to enable ODFW method goes to the House

HENRY MILLER
Statesman Journal

April 20, 2007

On a 4-2 vote Thursday, a bill that would allow the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to appoint agents to pursue and kill cougars and bears using dogs is headed to the floor of the Oregon House with a recommendation for passage.

Reps. Jackie Dingfelder, D-Portland, and Greg Macperson, D-Lake Oswego, were the lone dissenters among the six members of the seven-member House Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources present.

Both said they wanted an alternative set of amendments that would have constrained situations in which agents could be used to document cases of cougar damage or threats.

Instead, House Bill 2971 was moved with a different set of amendments that defined the conditions and constraints, including certification and monitoring, under which agents could operate.

Brian Clem, D-Salem, said what opponents wanted was to debate the department's cougar- and bear-management plans.

Those plans are in place, he said, so the real issue is where the money comes from getting the provisions of the plan in action.

"It seems to me when I hear from my constituents on both sides of the issue ... it always still seems to be about the cougar management plan, which was set up through another process," he said. "It's not something we're reviewing in this bill."

Clem said he's heard impassioned arguments from both sides of the debate.

"I just can't -- regardless of how upset some of my folks are -- I just can't see why we should have to pay somebody to go and harvest a cougar that's going to be harvested anyway, when someone else will do it for free," Clem said. "I just can't get past that."

http://www.statesmanjournal.com/apps/pbcs.dll/ article?AID=/20070420/LEGISLATURE/704200328/1042

Kenya farmers fight animal welfare lobby

By CHRIS TOMLINSON
ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER

NAIVASHA, Kenya -- For the farmers of Kenya, life is a constant contest for grass and water between their herds and the wild animals that share the land. Now they are waging a new struggle, this time against the international animal welfare lobby.

Pleading poverty, the farmers want to open their land to wealthy fee-paying hunters. The advocacy groups are firmly opposed. The standoff has made Kenya the latest and perhaps most dramatic arena for the international debate over hunting and its role in financing conservation.

A million tourists a year spend more than $580 million to see and photograph lions, elephants, gazelle and other wildlife on this East African country's savannas. But the revenue is not enough to protect the animals.

Only 8 percent of land in Kenya, a country twice the size of Nevada, is set aside for wildlife. The rest is privately or communally owned and studies show that most of Kenya's wild animals live there.

By some estimates, wildlife numbers have dropped 60 percent since the mid-1970s and continue to plummet, because of human encroachment and illegal hunting for food.

Landowners say they can only go on maintaining animal sanctuaries if they can sell hunting rights. No one is suggesting killing endangered species, or hunting in existing protected areas. Only common animals on private land would be hunted, in a controlled way that would sustain their numbers, advocates say.

"The losses we are getting from livestock predation, or even medical bills for people who have been injured by elephants, buffaloes and even lions, is quite high," said Yusuf Ole Petenya, secretary of the Shompole Community Trust, a tribal foundation in animal-rich southern Kenya.

The trust opened a luxury wildlife lodge to help lift Petenya's Maasai clan out of poverty, but "it's not working," he said, because the cost of conservation outstrips the profits from tourism.

Kenya has bad health care, low education levels and a government that barely functions outside of the capital, Nairobi. There is no money to buy land or pay people to protect wildlife. Kenya banned sport hunting in 1977, but allowed limited hunting to cull animals and harvest game meat until 2003, when animal rights groups managed to shut it down.

Now the Kenyan government has reopened the debate over hunting by setting up an advisory group to thrash out the pros and cons. In favor are hunting groups such as Safari Club International; opposed are the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), Born Free, Action Aid and others.

James Isiche, the East Africa director for IFAW, said his organization seeks a blanket ban on what it calls "consumptive use of wildlife."

"I don't think bringing back hunting ... will enhance wildlife management," said Isiche, a Kenyan. "If you look at wildlife from the point of view that wildlife can bring in money, you begin to get into trouble."

Isiche, who sits on the government advisory committee on hunting, agrees that land is running out and wildlife is suffering. But he says the answer is for donors to buy more land for conservation, strictly limit development in rural areas, and compensate people for losses caused by wildlife. But he acknowledges funding is scarce.

Opposing him is Andrew Enniskillen, also Kenyan and a leader among private landowners. He has combined land rehabilitation, wildlife conservation and commercial cattle breeding on his ranch on Lake Naivasha. He says the wildlife corridor he provides to a nearby national park is losing him money and the resulting boom in the zebra population is destroying his ranch.

A zebra drinks four times more water than a cow.

If he can't manage and profit from the wildlife on his property, "then my operation cannot be sustained," he said.

He argues that revenue from hunting would provide more funds for conservation and help fight the poaching problem. When hunting was allowed, he says, he could control the zebra population by hiring a hunter to kill up to 100 a year and sell the skins and meat.

Farms like Enniskillen's once employed anti-poaching patrols using hunting income, but can no longer afford them. Some organizations estimate as much as 30 percent of the meat consumed in Kenya is from wild animals, such as gazelle, zebra and buffalo.

Hunting "has to be scientific - what we take off must be ethically done and minimize the suffering of the animal," he said.

He could make more money by using his land for housing, but if all landowners did that, wildlife "would be virtually exterminated outside the protected areas in five years," Enniskillen predicted. "National parks will become zoos."

The involvement of international nonprofit organizations in the debate has bred resentment among some. "It is not appropriate for foreigners to tell us what kind of laws or policies we should have," Petenya said.

But IFAW had revenues of more than $89 million in 2006 and donates millions to Kenya, which entitles it to advise the government on policy, Isiche said.

At a ceremony in November, where IFAW donated $150,000 toward protecting elephants, Vice President Moody Awori declared the government would maintain the hunting ban, no matter what a panel of experts determined.

Petenya questioned whether the anti-hunting lobby's donors fully understand the consequences.

"We want our friends to continue donating their money," Petenya said. But "it doesn't make sense that someone from Connecticut can come here and say to me: 'Let me show you how to conserve wildlife,' when my people have managed this land since time immemorial."

---

On the Net:

African Conservation Center: http://www.conservationafrica.org/

Shompole Community Trust: http://www.shompole.com

International Federation for Animal Welfare: http://www.ifaw.org

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/national/1501AP_ Kenya_Future_of_Wildlife.html?source=rss

Wyo. game managers kill mountain lion

By Gazette News Services

BUFFALO - State game managers killed a 2-year-old, 110-pound mountain lion found in a residential area.

The lion was killed Monday out of concern for public safety, according to the state Game and Fish Department.

"It is not an easy decision for a wildlife professional to destroy a wild animal, but public safety is paramount," Joe Gilbert, regional wildlife supervisor for the department in Sheridan, said in a statement.

Buffalo is located at the base of the Big Horn Mountains in northern Wyoming, where many mountains lions live.

http://www.billingsgazette.net/articles/2007/ 04/21/news/wyoming/70-mongers.txt

Web campaign seeks photos to stop the tiger trade

Source: WWF Press Release
Date: April 20, 2007

Thirty conservation groups have launched a worldwide campaign to collect supporters’ pictures online to create the world’s largest photo mosaic of a tiger.

The mosaic, built with thousands of photos from tiger supporters submitted around the globe, will be unveiled to world leaders in June as they gather to discuss trade wildlife trade.

Supporters of tiger conservation can take part in the campaign by uploading their photos to http://www.savethetigerfund.org/mosaic

Visitors to the mosaic can zoom in on the larger tiger picture and find images submitted of themselves and family and friends.

The mosaic campaign launches as China considers lifting its ban on trade in tiger bones and other body parts, a move that would be disastrous for wild tigers - since an increase in poaching would likely follow.

“This is a fun, interactive web tool with a serious goal. We decided that the most powerful message would come from having the public weigh in, voting for tiger conservation with their faces,” said Judy Mills, director of the Campaign Against Tiger Trafficking. “The aim of the mosaic is to send a united message that the world believes China ’s ban on tiger trade is absolutely necessary for the future of tigers in the wild.”

Supporters will also have the opportunity to send a note to China ’s leaders applauding them for their effective 1993 ban on tiger trade and urging them to maintain it.

These messages of appreciation will be hand delivered to officials in China . The mosaic itself will be presented to representatives from 171 countries at the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES) meeting in June.

“Your photos and actions could help save tigers,” said Susan Lieberman, Director of WWF’s Global Species Programme. “The Chinese government is being pressured to lift the ban and be able to sell tiger bone wine, tiger meat and skins. This would make it open season on the fewer than 5,000 tigers left in the wild, with criminals seeing the Chinese market as an easy way to ‘launder’ tigers poached from the wild.”

The photo mosaic can be accessed at

http://www.panda.org/tigermosaic

http://www.savethetigerfund.org/mosaic

http://worldwildlife.org/tigermosaic/

http://www.savethetigerfund.org/AM/Template.cfm? Section=News_Headlines&CONTENTID=5185&TEMPLATE=/ CM/ContentDisplay.cfm

Changes proposed for third N.D. cougar hunting season

By RICHARD HINTON
Bismarck Tribune

Two hunting zones, a quota of five mountain lions in the predators' prime Badlands habitat and no quota throughout the rest of the state, are among the proposals for the 2007-08 mountain lion season.

The plans for a third mountain lion season are being aired by the North Dakota Game and Fish Department at spring advisory board meetings around the state, but the proposal still must go to Gov. John Hoeven for the final say.

Also in the plan is an earlier start for hunters who use dogs. Their season would open Dec. 1, a month earlier than last year when the season closed before houndsmen could get out.

This third lion season will be a continuation of the learning process, Randy Kreil, NDGFDwildlife division chief, said Friday.

"We learned a lot after the first two seasons, and we will learn a lot after we implement these changes," he explained.

Season dates will be Aug. 31 through March 9 in Zone 2, which covers most of the state and isn't considered good lion habitat. Four of the five cougars killed last season were in Zone 2.

"There's no habitat (on the plains), and we don't expect (mountain lions) to set up shop there," Greg Link, NDGFD assistant wildlife chief, said Friday. Young lions in search of territory do move through such country.

Zone 1 will lie west of Highway 8 and south of Highway 1804. It will have the same Aug. 31 opener, but hunting will close once the fifth cat is taken.

All of the cats harvested under the zone 1 quota will be hunter killed, Link added. Lions killed for human safety, hit by vehicles, killed in defense of livestock or taken in traps or snares will not count against the quota.

A winter track survey also showed evidence of mountain lions farther south than typical, said Dorothy Fecske, NDGFD furbearer biologist. Researchers drove 400 miles of roads twice after snowfalls and checked for mountain lion tracks.

"There were decent tracks in the central Badlands," said Fecske.

By collecting blood from one set of tracks in the South Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park and sending it to a laboratory to be tested, Fecske was able to determine the gender of one cat.

"We've documented one female in the park," she said.

Sixteen mountain lion sighting have been confirmed so far in 2007, compared to 26 in 2006.

Of those 16 sightings, 12 were inside of the boundaries for where Zone 1 is proposed. The other four cats were just outside of the zone.

Under the proposed mountain lion season, kittens with spots and females accompanied by kittens again will be off limits to hunters. Snares and traps may not be used, and successful hunters must notify NDGFDwithin 12 hours.

(Reach outdoor writer Richard Hinton at 250-8256 or richard.hinton@;bismarcktribune.com.)

http://www.bismarcktribune.com/articles/2007/ 04/21/news/local/132270.txt

Friday, April 20, 2007

Hunting debate splits Kenya wildife community

KENYA: April 20, 2007

NAIROBI - A controversial proposal to help save Kenya's wildlife by scrapping a 30-year ban on sport hunting split delegates at a conference in the east African nation on Thursday.

Tens of thousands of tourists flock to Kenya each year to see lions, leopards, elephants, wildebeest and other wildlife roaming the parks and reserves. But animal numbers have fallen by at least two-thirds over the last three decades, and experts blame poaching plus human destruction of their habitats.

Those backing sport hunting say it would preserve wildlife by encouraging better management and earning big money that could be ploughed back into conservation. It would also bring Kenya into line with neighbours Uganda and Tanzania, and with South Africa, which all profit from restricted hunting.

Opponents have denounced any moves to re-introduce the blood sport and accused elitist hunters of colluding with wealthy local landowners.

"It is such an emotional issue right now," Sarah Macharia, a Kenyan environmental consultant, told Reuters at the meeting.

"Every time they try to count our animals there are fewer and fewer. I am against hunting because we don't have the capacity to enforce any rules on it. Maybe later, but not now."

Last year, Kenya's government appointed a committee to formulate a new wildlife policy. The draft report, completed in February, recommended lifting the ban on hunting, but its publication has been delayed by the wrangling.


BIG GAME

Tempers have flared, and one Kenyan journalist recently protested at the idea of Arab royals and rich Americans, "bored by ordinary living", blasting away at big game while children in rags look on from the doorways of mud huts.

Opponents say locals want a bigger share of tourist revenues from the parks and reserves, which go mostly to the service sector, and compensation for loss of property or crops caused by wildlife -- but not hunting.

Supporters of hunting include not only ranchers and sports hunters themselves, but also some veteran conservationists who have worked in the country for decades.

They say countries like South Africa and Tanzania have prospered hugely, partly because hunters spend thousands of dollars, many times more than regular tourists, and partly because they have experienced an increase in animal numbers.

Mike Norton-Griffiths, an expert on the economics of wildlife management, says natural habitats in Kenya are being destroyed by landowners because the returns from agriculture are currently much higher than from wildlife.

Money-making activities like selling animals, culling locally abundant populations, marketing trophies and -- most valuable of all -- sport hunting, should be allowed, he says.

Well-funded foreign animal welfare groups, mostly based in the United States, have muddied the debate, and even "subverted democracy", in Kenya, he says.

These groups seem determined to make sure hunting never returns, apparently regardless of whether this leads to further falls in wildlife numbers or continued rural poverty, he says.

"If they succeed in derailing the wildlife policy review, the decline in the country's wildlife will carry inexorably on," he wrote in the magazine New Scientist last month.

"That would hardly be a victory for conservation."

Story by Daniel Wallis

http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/ newsid/41477/story.htm

Corruption makes China trade too risky for tigers

April 1, 2007

A front page story in today’s Washington Post illustrates a sobering reason why China's proposed limited legal trade in farmed tiger products poses grave danger to wild tigers.

The story entitled "Corruption Stains Timber Trade" documents how companies like Ikea and Home Depot cannot make good on their promises to use legally-sourced wood because of crime and corruption along the supply chain that comes through China (http://www.washingtonpost.com/ wp-dyn/content/article/2007/03/31/ AR2007033101287.html?hpid=topnews).

"We're having a hard time getting the criminals to label their products ‘illegal,’" Ned Daly of the Forest Stewardship Council is quoted as saying.

"It would take enormous resources if we trace back each and every wood supply chain," Thomas Bergmark, Ikea’s global manager for social and environmental affairs, told The Post. "We can never guarantee that each and every log is from the right source."

The Post explains that unethical timber traders use bribery to fell protected forests in Asia and take the ill-gotten trees into China, where factories process them into furniture and flooring to be sold to unsuspecting consumers across the world who think they are buying "green" products.

Conservationists and economists both believe that a similar scenario will occur if China succumbs to pressure from tiger farms to lift its 14-year ban and allow trade in farmed tiger products. The bones of tigers poached in neighboring India, for instance, could easily be slipped into legal bone supplies from farms. Even well-meaning manufacturers, distributors and consumers would never know they were buying, selling and/or using products made from India's precious dwindling wild tiger population. As Ikea's Bergmark says, "enormous resources" are needed to guarantee legal supplies. Resources that would add costs to farmed products and make less costly wild products even more attractive.

With perhaps fewer than 5,000 tigers left in the wild, tiger experts say, the risks posed by reawakening demand among China's 1.3 billion people are simply too great when illegal trade channels are running rampant.

Feeling the growing pressure from the international conservation, zoo and traditional Chinese medicine communities for China to keep its tiger trade ban in place, two tiger farms held a press conference last week in Beijing to plead their case. The farms lamented their "tremendous economic burdens" as a result of the ban, but did not address why they continued to speed-breed tigers for their parts and products when a national prohibition was in place.

"If legal channels exist and patients can legally get their wanted materials of tiger bone for their medicine, the motivations to purchase tiger bones from illegal sources can greatly be minimized," reads a joint declaration by the farms. Unfortunately, the opposite is true. Wild tiger bone is cheaper to get and yet more highly valued in Chinese lore. Furthermore, as The Washington Post shows so well, China, her neighbors and the world face an uphill battle in fighting the crime and corruption that make trade from illegal sources altogether too easy.

Look for the tussle over China's tiger-saving trade ban to surface in the news again as the pro-farming lobby steps up its efforts to convince China's leaders and the world that tigers should be farmed like livestock. As more video showing farmed tigers galloping in herds after chickens thrown from jeeps full of tourists and tiger skeletons pulled from vats of muddy wine makes its way out of China, more voices are likely to join in the debate.

The United States Congress is definitely taking an interest. The issue caught the attention of a March 13 hearing of the House Committee on Natural Resources, which is likely to revisit tiger trade at another hearing in early May.

"I am not proposing we dictate anything to the Chinese government, but what can we do to encourage the opposite conclusion than to lift the ban?" Representative Neil Abercrombie (D-Hawaii) asked witnesses at the March 13 hearing (http://resourcescommittee.house.gov/hearings/hearingdetail.aspx?NewsID=29).

"This has been a concern for quite some time," Ken Stansell, deputy director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service told Abercrombie.

Other governments are taking an interest as well. The issue is likely to surface for discussion in June among the 169 countries who are parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which has long recommended prohibitions on international as well as national trade in tiger parts and derivatives.

They should keep in mind the words of Ikea's Sophie Beckham, who decribed China's current difficulties in stopping illegal timber trade to The Washington Post: "Falsification of documents is rampant. There's always someone who wants to break the rules."

###

CATT is a global partnership initiative of Save The Tiger Fund. CATT Alert delivers news related to tiger trade. If you know others who would like to receive CATT Alert, please ask them to subscribe at http://www.savethetigerfund.org/CATT. To view previous CATT Alerts, change your email address, unsubscribe or learn more about CATT, please also visit http://www.savethetigerfund.org/CATT. Correspondence for CATT should be addressed to CATT@nfwf.org.

http://www.savethetigerfund.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section= News_Headlines&CONTENTID=4821&TEMPLATE=/ CM/ContentDisplay.cfm