Friday, February 27, 2009

Two tigers die in Tadoba, one may be poached

Two tigers die in Tadoba, one may be poached

27 Feb 2009, 0318 hrs IST, Vijay Pinjarkar, TNN

NAGPUR: It is a double blow on the wildlife front. The death of two tigers — one in Bhanuskhindi and another suspected to be in Dewada inside the high-profile Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) — has come as a rude shock to officials, conservationists and wildlife buffs.

According to S H Patil, field director & conservator of forests, TATR, a tigress, around 13-14 years old, was found dead in Bhanuskhindi, a hotspot tiger destination in Tadoba range, by the protection staff on a routine patrolling at 10 am on Thursday.

“Prima facie it looks the tigress died of starvation as its post mortem revealed its stomach was empty. Due to old age, it might not have been able to hunt. The area was closed for tourists and the protection camp is near to the place. Its body parts, skin and nails were intact,” Patil told TOI.

However, death of another tiger in compartment number 163 in Dewada beat inside TATR was not so innocent. Its bones were seized on February 21 and on Monday a tiger skin was recovered from the same spot indicating the tiger was most likely poached. TOI was first to report seizure of suspected tiger bones in Dewada beat on Sunday.

The tiger skin was recovered hidden on a bamboo grove. Patil said skin was triangular in shape, putrefied, and some 85 cm in length and 45 cm in breadth. “We are still investigating the case. Forensic and DNA tests alone will bring out the cause of death. We are sending the samples to Wildlife Institute of India (WWI), Dehradun, and another institute in Bangalore,” he said. The two seizures have opened a can of worms over hunting of a tiger either inside the reserve or close to it. However, it is still a mystery that could be solved only after interrogation of some villagers allegedly involved in the crime.

According sources, on February 20, the Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI), an NGO known for detecting wildlife crime, received a call that tiger bones were lying in compartment 163. Acting on the tip-off, Patil with his staff seized five pieces of bones including pelvic girdle and backbone.

Conservationists hunt for man-eating tiger

Conservationists hunt for man-eating tiger

Oyos Saroso H.N. and Jon Afrizal , THE JAKARTA POST , JAKARTA, BANDARLAMPUNG, JAMBI Fri, 02/27/2009 2:14 PM Headlines

The Jambi Natural Resources Conservation Center (BKSDA) in cooperation with the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and other concerned NGOs are intensifying the hunt for a man-eating tiger.

The Sumatran tiger is reported to have killed and eaten two illegal loggers from Lampung last week in Sungai Gelam district, Muaro Jambi, Jambi. The BKSDA is reportedly mulling relocating the tiger.

On Thursday, ZSL Indonesia representative Dolly told The Jakarta Post in Bandarlampung that a female tiger nicknamed Salwa, who the BKSDA captured on Feb. 11, might not be the only tiger in the jungle that had eaten humans.

The fact that people had continued to be attacked and eaten by a tiger even after her capture indicated there was at least another man-eater in the wild.

"We are now working together with the BKSDA in Jambi to catch the tiger. We have found its traces based on our survey and mapping," Dolly said.

Salwa, now being kept temporarily at Rimba Pall Merah Zoo in Jambi, is strongly believed to have attacked a total of five people, three of them fatally, between the end of January and the beginning of this month.

Dolly said there were frequent reports of the target tiger entering villages in Muaro Jambi area and causing panic among villagers. Its most recent appearance was in Paal 12 village in Sungai Gelam.

"We want to catch it soon. It probably will be released back into its habitat together with Salwa," Dolly said. He also said they would likely be released in a forest in Jambi. "It's possibly the South Bukit Barisan National Park," he said.

Sumatran tigers are the world's most critically endangered tiger subspecies. Only about 250 of the big cats are left in the wild, down from about 1,000 in the 1970s.

Illegal hunting and trading of the rare animals is blamed for their decline. In Jambi, for instance, such practices have rapidly decimated the tiger population from 50 a few years ago to only about 20 at present.

"Unless something is done about it, they will be extinct in only a few years' time," Jambi BKSDA head Didy Wurjanto said recently.

Tigers get a stimulus plan

Tigers get a stimulus plan

Public release date: 26-Feb-2009
Contact: Stephen Sautner
Wildlife Conservation Society

NEW YORK (February 26, 2009) The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), together with the World Bank and Global Environment Facility (GEF), announced today a commitment of $2.8 million toward tiger conservation across its range. WCS will lead a new project, Tiger Futures, in partnership with other conservation organizations with long-term field experience in tiger conservation throughout countries spanning the big cat's geographical range in Asia.

The Tiger Futures project will provide initial support and early action under the Global Tiger Initiative announced last June by Robert B. Zoellick, President of the World Bank Group. The Global Tiger Initiative (GTI) includes plans to support country dialogues in tiger range states, a review of World Bank projects in areas where tigers occur and initiatives to develop new models for tiger conservation. The GTI will also strengthen efforts to reduce poaching and illegal trade while creating new funding mechanisms for conservation efforts. As part of the initiative, the World Bank has offered to host a meeting of tiger experts from around the world for a Year of the Tiger Summit in 2010.

The Tiger Futures project will complement Bank initiatives to involve all tiger range states in high-level discussions for tiger conservation, and will support a broad participation of other conservation organizations including TRAFFIC, WWF, and IUCN as lead partners. Other project activities include working closely with local governments in China and Vietnam to reduce illegal wildlife trade—one of the main threats facing wild tigers.

"This agreement marks a unique partnership among the World Bank, GEF, and the conservation community to work with range states to save one of the world's most beloved animals, the tiger," said WCS President and CEO Dr Steven Sanderson. "This project is extremely timely since the plight of the tiger in the wild is dire, and urgent actions on many fronts are needed to protect remaining populations."

The survival of many tiger populations depends on the countries where tigers occur acting in concert. Building consensus is an essential ingredient in securing a sustainable, long-term future for tigers.

"We welcome the launch of the Tiger Futures project as a first step in building consensus and early action for tiger conservation," said Robert B. Zoellick, President of the World Bank Group. "The project recognizes that conservation organizations need to act in concert. We also understand that the survival of many tiger populations will depend on actions taken by the governments of the countries where tigers live."

"The struggle to prevent tigers from going extinct is emblematic of the monumental crisis facing biodiversity globally. We are determined to contribute to the protection of the tigers with this new initiative, but we will also start looking at the whole range of threatened species and the ecosystems they depend. Healthy ecosystems, in turn, provide for livelihoods and safety nets for rural people across the developing world. Therefore, starting with threatened species, we can trigger positive outcomes much beyond the reach of the original investments," said Monique Barbut, CEO and Chairperson of the GEF.

Today's announcement was made at New York's Rockefeller University at a symposium celebrating the career of renowned WCS conservationist George Schaller, who pioneered studies of tigers in India in the 1960s.

Tigers originally ranged over most of Asia, from the Caspian Sea in central Asia through Java and the Russian Far East. Tigers are now estimated to occupy about seven percent of their former historical range. They now only occur in relatively fragmented areas in South and Southeast Asia, with a few small populations in the Russian Far East and northeastern China. Within this reduced range, tiger populations with reasonable reproduction rates probably occupy only about 10 percent of the remaining available habitat, mainly in strictly protected reserves. Any surplus animals moving beyond such areas are likely to perish rapidly due to lack of prey or direct hunting.

The main threats to tigers are loss and degradation of their forest habitats, legal and illegal hunting of tiger prey, and direct killing of tigers either due to conflicts with humans, or commercial poaching for their fur and other body parts, including for traditional Asian medicines.

There are no exact numbers for wild tiger populations, both historical and current. But two hundred years ago the total number of wild tigers was likely to have been between 100,000 to 500,000 compared to today's total of around about 5,000 tigers, including 2,300 breeding adults. Tigers are listed by IUCN as endangered.

The Wildlife Conservation Society saves wildlife and wild places worldwide. We do so through science, global conservation, education and the management of the world's largest system of urban wildlife parks, led by the flagship Bronx Zoo. Together these activities change attitudes towards nature and help people imagine wildlife and humans living in harmony. WCS is committed to this mission because it is essential to the integrity of life on Earth. Visit:

Fourth Sumatran tiger killed

Fourth Sumatran tiger killed

Feb 27, 2009

JAKARTA - INDONESIAN villagers have trapped and killed a fourth endangered Sumatran tiger amid a spate of tiger attacks blamed on illegal logging, environmental group WWF said on Friday.

Four tigers and six people have been killed on Sumatra island this month, it said.

'We learnt on February 24 that another Sumatran tiger had been trapped and killed by villagers after it attacked two farmers on Sunday,' WWF spokesman Syamsidar told AFP.

'This is the fourth tiger killed this month and we are concerned because it is a protected animal and an endangered species.'

The farmers from Simpang Gaung village in Riau province were seriously injured in the attack, Syamsidar said.

'The tiger in the latest killing had wandered into the village as its habitat had been destroyed by people,' she added.

There are fewer than 400 Sumatran tigers left in the wild and their increasing contact with people is a result of habitat loss due to deforestation, according to the wildlife group.

It said about 12 million hectares (30 million acres) of forest on Sumatra had been cleared in the past 22 years, a loss of nearly 50 per cent islandwide.

The incidents in Riau occurred in an area dotted with pulp and oil palm plantations and recently subject to burning to clear forests.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Feds unveil final lynx habitat plan

Published February 25 2009

The federal government today will publish its final plan on what areas of the northern U.S. are declared “critical habitat’’ for the threatened lynx forest cat.

By: John Myers, Duluth News Tribune

The federal government today will publish its final plan on what areas of the northern U.S. are declared “critical habitat’’ for the threatened lynx forest cat.

The plan affects about 39,000 square miles nationwide, including just over 8,000 square miles in northern Minnesota across Cook, Lake, St. Louis and Koochiching counties.

Critical habitat designation is part of the federal Endangered Species Act. It’s aimed at making sure land where threatened or endangered species live — or might return to — is in suitable condition for mating, living in dens and hunting.

The designation affects county, state, federal and some private forest land — but only when the federal government conducts business or spends money on that land, such as a highway, recreation or logging projects.

In those cases, local, state and federal agencies now must consider the impact on lynx, though that rarely means projects don’t go forward.

Phil Delphey, endangered species coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Twin Cities field office, said the designation of critical habitat will have little effect on Minnesota forests because most agencies already have been considering lynx needs before conducting any projects.

For example, both Voyageurs National Park and the Superior National Forest are included in the habitat area but already have lynx management efforts in place.

“Because lynx already are present across that entire area of northern Minnesota, we’ve already been working with almost all of the [affected land managers] as projects move forward,’’ Delphey told the News Tribune.

The critical habitat designation, which will be published in the Federal Register, is supported by conservation and environmental groups but was opposed by some logging interests and some rural county commissioners who dislike federal regulations on nonfederal land.

Forests in Maine, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho and Washington also are included in the habitat plan that now becomes part of the government’s official plan to restore lynx to their former status as a thriving species.

Lynx first received federal protection as threatened in 2000 after their numbers crashed across their native range for several years.

The government named just 1,841 square miles nationally as critical habitat in 2006, but that designation was loudly criticized as ignoring basic science and was later thrown out by the agency itself.

Scientists have confirmed lynx have been born and reproduced in northern Minnesota and surmise that as many as a few hundred might live here at any given time. But they also note that the population numbers fluctuate wildly and are tied to movements into and out of Canada, often based on the abundance of their primary food, snowshoe hares.


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A pride in peril

The migration of wildebeest is one of the most familiar events on the globe.

Each year, over a million wildebeest and many hundreds of thousands of gazelles and zebras gather in one corner of Tanzania's Serengeti plains.

And for the predators here, with this plentiful food supply, it is a time to feast.

But what happens when the wildebeest and other grazers have gone?

Over the course of seven months, the BBC Nature's Great Events team followed a pride of lions, filming what happened to them in this land of constant change.

And the story was a harrowing one.

Everyone thinks of the lion as the "king of the beasts" - but when the wildebeest leave, these big cats do not follow.

They have a life system that is based on having home ranges and they hunt within this territory.

When they have thousands and thousands of wildebeest there, that is their time of paradise. But when the wildebeest leave, everything changes - this great larder of food just walks away.

Death's door

The year that we filmed was particularly hard for some of the lions - and for our cameraman Owen Newman, who has spent the past 20 years filming big cats in Africa, it soon became clear to him that the Ndutu pride, with its seven cubs, was struggling.

As the grazers left, the pride's four females struggled to find enough food and water, and over a period of just a few months, the number of cubs dwindled from seven to just four.

Even with all of his years of experience, Owen found this extremely difficult - he had never seen cubs so thin before, and the lions' plight began to affect him deeply.

And when two of the four cubs - a little female and its brother - became separated from their mother, calling out, emaciated and alone, Owen was sure that they were close to the end.

It seemed almost disrespectful to capture what could be their final hours on camera, so he finished filming as soon as he could and left them alone.

The next day, when he returned to the same spot, they had gone - and he assumed the cubs had died.

Unable to shift the scene from his mind, Owen kept on watching for the cubs - and to his surprise, one of them, the small female, who had seemed so close to death, managed somehow to rediscover the pride.

But just as this reunion provided a glimmer of hope for these desperate lions, the pride vanished and Owen was unable to find them before he had to return to the UK.

Months later, Owen returned to the Serengeti to resume filming.

The wet season had begun and the wildebeest were arriving and giving birth - but he could not shift the pride that had suffered such hardship from his thoughts.

He and his team were constantly on the look-out for them, using photographs of the lions' unique whisker patterns to see if any of the cats that had returned to feast on the wildebeest matched the animals he had filmed a few months before.

Finally, a local spotter reported a sighting.

And, when Owen reached the scene, he discovered that the pride had survived and the last two cubs were still alive - the little lioness that had rediscovered the pride and who had been so close to death's door just a few months earlier was now healthy and well fed.

For all of us, and especially Owen, it was an emotional and moving experience, and the little known story of what happens to the lions when the wildebeest are gone will surprise many people.

Nature's Great Events: The Great Migration is on Wednesday 25th February on BBC One at 2100 GMT and is repeated on Sunday at 1800 GMT


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Jaguar roaming Southern AZ is identified

Posted: Feb 24, 2009 08:06 PM EST
Updated: Feb 24, 2009 08:06 PM EST

By Leasa Conze - email

Arizona Game and Fish wildlife managers are learning some fascinating things about a jaguar roaming Southern Arizona.

They put a satellite tracking collar on the jaguar last week and it provides the cat's location points every three hours.

It also has a unique feature with a special signal to indicate if the jaguar crosses the international border with Mexico.

Since it was collared February 18, the jaguar has moved several miles to a very high and rugged area.

He has stayed in that general vicinity for a few days with patterns of rest and visits to a nearby creek.

Scientists also have confirmed that this cougar is indeed "Macho B," the same cougar that has been photographed by trail cameras periodically over the past 13 years.

Macho B is believed to be the oldest known jaguar in the wild, somewhere around 15 or 16.


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Calif. woman grant depredation permit to kill mountain lion

You can learn more about depredation permits and California mountain lions from the Mountain Lion Foundation:

Cherry Valley woman granted permit to kill mountain lion who attacked horse

10:00 PM PST on Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Press-Enterprise

A woman was given a permit to kill the mountain lion that attacked her horse on her property in the hills of Cherry Valley earlier this week.

Debbie Avakian had to board her horse at a ranch in Cherry Valley because she was afraid the animal would return to her property and again attack her 24-year-old quarter horse, Skippy. The ranch where Skippy is now being boarded is away from the hills where mountain lions are likely to roam, Avakian said.

The tan horse had 16 stitches around her ear and a bandage wrapped around her leg to protect another wound. Skippy appeared calm Wednesday afternoon. She wouldn't eat and paced nervously until Avakian moved her to the other ranch.

The California Department of Fish and Game wildlife biologist Kevin Brennan examined the injuries to the horse received while in a corral at Avakian's home on Avenida San Timoteo and other evidence to determine that a mountain lion attacked the horse sometime Monday night or Tuesday morning.

Brennan said mountain lions rarely attack horses -- or humans -- but he has seen about one attack a year for the past four or five years in Riverside County. Despite those incidents, Brennan said there is no way to predict when a mountain lion might strike.

Brennan gave Avakian a permit to kill the mountain lion that expires 10 days after it is issued. He said about 100 mountain lions are killed in California every year under a law that allows people to hunt the animal if it has harmed their property.

He said it would be easy to determine which animal is responsible.

"They are creatures of habit," Brennan said. "They stay in the same generalized area."

Avakian said she doesn't know how to hunt, but is considering offers people have made to shoot the animal on her behalf.

"I am totally rattled," Avakian said. "I never thought (a mountain lion) would be that close."

She has forbidden people from walking on her property and plans to keep her horses boarded for at least a month.

"We are afraid for everyone's safety," Avakian said.

Reach Jessica Logan at 951-368-9466 or


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Wyoming closes down cougar hunt in one region

Lion area 14 closes
Feb 25 09 - 12:36 PM

Mountain lion hunters are alerted that hunt area 14, the Lincoln Hunt Area, closed on February 19, 2009.

Mountain lion areas have either a female mortality quota or an annual mortality quota. "A mountain lion hunt area closes as soon as the quota is filled or when the season ends, whichever comes first," says Lucy Wold, Green River Information and Education Specialist with the Wyoming Game & Fish Department. "It is the hunter's responsibility to call the mountain lion hotline at 1-800-637-0809 before going hunting to know which hunt areas are still open."

Other laws and regulations pertaining to lion hunting can be found in the 2008 – 2009 mountain lion hunting regulations, which are available at department offices, most local license agents and on the department's web site at For more information go to the web site or call the Green River Game and Fish Office at 1-800-843-8096.


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Monday, February 23, 2009

Tigress to be airlifted to Sariska sanctuary on Feb. 25

Tigress to be airlifted to Sariska sanctuary on Feb. 25

New Delhi (PTI): Come Wednesday, one of the four identified tigresses will be airlifted from Ranthambore Sanctuary to Sariska tiger reserve in Rajasthan.

"Last year in November, our plan of relocating second tigress could not take off as the identified female animal hid into the thick bush. Consequently we had to abandon the plan," a senior Rajasthan forest official told PTI.

But this time the officials are leaving nothing to chance and hence preferred to have a wider choice by banking on four tigresses. They claim that chances of success are more this time in view of better visibility as compared to November last.

"We don't want to fail this time, hence wider options. All the four identified tigresses are dispersing in nature and are adult in the age-group of 3-4 years. This is as per directive of the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) and the tigress in all its likelihood will be shifted on February 25," he added.

After successful introduction of a tiger couple last year in June and July, this is the second tigress that is planned to be introduced in Sariska where poachers have wiped all the big cats by 2005.

A two-member team comprising K Sankar and Parag Nigam from Wildlife Institute of India (WII) has already reached the Ranthambore Tiger Reserve and identified the four tigresses, institute's Director P R Sinha said.

Rare Indo-Chinese tiger spotted in China-Myanmar border

Rare Indo-Chinese tiger spotted in China-Myanmar border 2009-02-23 19:48:03

KUNMING, Feb. 23 (Xinhua) -- Chinese scientists in southwest China's Yunnan Province said Monday they had a photo of a wild Indo-Chinese tiger, the world's most critically endangered tiger subspecies.

The picture was taken in May 2007 by a researcher with an infrared camera in Xishuangbanna Nature Reserve, a mountainous border area straddling China and Myanmar, said a provincial forestry department official surnamed Huo.

At the time, scientists from the State Forestry Administration (SFA) and the provincial forestry department were on a 20-month field survey, he said.

"The research group found a large number of the tigers' footprints, feces, remains of prey and traces of other activity in the reserve," he said. "They also found bison, Sambar, barking deer, boar and other herbivorous animals that were part of the tigers' food chain."

Indo-Chinese tigers (Panthera tigris corbetti) are mainly found in Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Malaysia and southern China. Scientists estimate only 1,200 to 1,700 Indo-Chinese tigers are living in the wild.

Huo declined to give an estimate of the number of the tigers in Yunnan or the name of the researcher who took the photo.

"We have to wait for the final proof from the State Forestry Administration. Maybe in several weeks, we will release the investigation report with the estimated figure of the tigers," he said.

Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture, in the southernmost of Yunnan, has the best preserved tropical rain forests in China and has five state-level nature reserves.

Kheri tiger as tricky as its Barabanki mate

Kheri tiger as tricky as its Barabanki mate

23 Feb 2009, 0200 hrs IST, Neha Shukla, TNN

LUCKNOW: Kheri is running a re-play of Barabanki. Even as the forest team had made a frantic search for the young tiger while it was on the prowl in Barabanki, the big cat had not shown up for days once it was declared a man-eater. Much on the similar lines, even the Kheri tiger has not been sighted since Friday when it was declared a man-eater.

The first day of the tiger search operation in Kheri on Sunday did not yield much. The feline had killed a cattle on Saturday night. And it is the only evidence the search-team has to believe that tiger is still present in the vicinity of Kamp Tanda village.

Since it has been declared a man-eater there are chances that it might be shot down. But, according to foresters, options to trap it are also open. Meanwhile, to prevent any further human killing the forest staff has started constant patrolling in the village.

The team that comprises north Kheri, south Kheri, Dudhwa officials, local conservationists and members of Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) is monitoring the area during night as well.

PAC too is camping in the area and local police is present all through. "At present, the efforts are focussed on tracking the tiger," said a forest official. Baits and enclosures have been placed strategically. "The tiger is an adult and the way it has killed its prey does not show that it is injured," shared the official.

Kamp Tanda is a village in south Kheri and is almost adjacent to the west of Kishenpur sanctuary. The village has lost four of its inhabitants to the tiger since January 4. The village can be reached only through the sanctuary and that is the reason why the villagers keep moving through it. Besides, it has been raised inside a depression caused by the river Sharda. And, the dense sugarcane fields there have made the operation more difficult.

The forest department began making efforts to catch the big cat after it killed a third human on January 18. The WTI team too joined the operation but failed to track the feline. There was a common belief then that the tiger had retreated to Kishenpur.

But, conservationists who have been part of the operation shared that the big cat was sighted from close but they could not react since they had no equipments to trap it. "We saw it finally after tracking it for three successive days, but before we could react it moved along the Sutia nullah," said Rahul Shukla, former warden, Kishenpur.

Shukla had handled the operation with warden and rangers of Kishenpur between January 15 and 23. The team had no darting guns to tranquillise the tiger since the entire paraphernalia was at Faizabad.

Sumatran tigers kill 6 in a month in Indonesia

Sumatran tigers kill 6 in a month in Indonesia

By ZAKKI HAKIM – 3 hours ago

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — A string of attacks by rare Sumatran tigers has left six people dead in Indonesia in less than a month, including three mauled by at least one of the critically endangered cats this weekend, conservationists said Monday.

A father and son — illegal loggers sleeping near a pile of wood — were killed as they slept Saturday in protected forest on Sumatra island. Another man in the same area was attacked just after dusk Sunday, said Didy Wurdjanto of the state conservation agency.

The other victims were killed in late January, also in Sungai Gelam, a district 375 miles (600 kilometers) from the capital, Jakarta, but those tiger attacks all occurred near villages.

The Sumatran tiger is the world's most critically endangered tiger subspecies.

Only about 250 of the cats are left in the wild, the Forestry Ministry said, compared to about 1,000 in the 1970s. The tigers' diminishing population is largely blamed on poaching and the destruction of their forest habitat for palm oil and wood pulp plantations.

In some cases the animals roam into villages or plantations in search of food, setting the stage for a conflict with humans.

Rangers and conservationists were rushing to the scene of the latest attacks to investigate.

But since the animal — or animals — had not strayed from its habitat no efforts would be made to catch and relocate the cat, said Wurdjanto.

"This time it was the loggers' fault," he said, adding that the tigress believed responsible for last month's maulings has been captured and is being taken to a national park.

About 40 people have been killed by tigers on Sumatra between 2000-2004, according to the state conservation agency, which said the trend has continued since then. New figures will be released in April.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Tourists photograph Florida panther stalking deer

You can view all 4 pictures at:

Visitors to Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary witness panther stalking deer

Originally published 5:55 p.m., Friday, February 20, 2009
Updated 9:07 p.m., Friday, February 20, 2009

NAPLES — Call it beginner's luck.

Gail and Art Marks had absolutely no idea that what they were witnessing was an extremely rare wildlife sighting when they saw a panther stalking a deer just yards away from the boardwalk at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary in Naples shortly past 5:30 p.m. last Friday.

Nonetheless, the New Jersey vacationers have the photographic proof to share with those who know just how special their experience was.

Gail Marks said she initially didn't think the panther sighting was much of a big deal.

"We were being corralled out at closing time and we were walking the last couple hundred yards of the boardwalk when I looked over and saw the panther," she said. "I pointed at it, and everybody stopped and looked. That's when I handed my husband the camera and told him to start taking pictures." Using a Kodak on 10-times zoom, Marks said her husband started snapping away.

"He was shooting and the panther kept coming toward us because it was stalking the deer," she said. "I think everybody on the boardwalk spooked the deer, because then it started running away directly into the direction of the panther." Momentarily startled, Marks said the panther then took off after the deer, rapidly gaining ground.

"The last thing we saw was the panther leaping over a hill, and then it was just gone," she said.

Marks said the panther didn't seem the least bit fazed by its human audience.

"The panther wasn't scared of us at all — his eyes were just on that deer," she said. "To tell you the truth, I felt pretty bad for the deer, but I guess that's just life in the wildlife world."

Jason Lauritsen, assistant director of the sanctuary located north of Immokalee Road, said the photographs show that the panther was an excellent specimen.

"It was a young, healthy panther that still had kitten-like characteristics, with dark marking near its eyes," he said.

Lauritsen said sanctuary staff was amazed at the proximity of the sighting.

"It was a really unique encounter," he said. "First of all, it was during the day near the boardwalk where visitors cross. Second of all, to witness it stalking a deer is really special."

Lauritsen said estimates of panther numbers range from 100 to 120, a slight improvement from a number that once dipped below 100. He cites the introduction of eight female Texas cougars into Southwest Florida in 1995 as a main reason the population is beginning to bounce back.

"The population has come back a bit since then, but what it all boils down to is that it's still one of the rarest mammals in North America," he said.

Though photographic evidence of panthers at the sanctuary isn't unheard of, Lauritsen said the Marks' encounter was definitely unique.

"We have a few remote cameras out there that get pictures on a pretty regular basis, but not like the ones that the Marks' took," Lauritsen said. "The ones they have are like something out of "Wild Kingdom" or The Discovery Channel."

Lauritsen said about seven panthers call Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary home.

"We have a pretty dense population, including a few pre-dispersal males that haven't found their own territory yet," he said. "Still, we have some people who have worked here for years who haven't seen one. Then again, we have some interns who have worked here only a couple of months who have. It's hit or miss."

Lauritsen said the Marks definitely fell on the "hit" side of that equation.

"Those folks were very, very lucky," he said.

After once enjoying a range that stretched as far north as Arkansas and South Carolina, panthers are now exclusively located in Southwest Florida. They have been on the federal endangered species list since 1967, and on the state's endangered species list since 1973.

Vehicle collisions, loss of habitat and scarcity of prey are among the greatest factors that have contributed to the decimation of the panther population in the Southeastern United States.

For more information on the Audubon Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, call (239) 348-9151, or visit

E-mail John Osborne at


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Poachers put Balkan lynx on brink of extinction

7 hours ago

GALICICA MOUNTAIN, Macedonia (AFP) — The camera sits hidden in a field ready to track every move of the Balkan lynx, a wild cat both revered as an icon and reviled as a pest that has teetered on extinction for nearly a century.

"The lynx has no natural enemy except man," said Georgi Ivanov, an ecologist working on a project to monitor lynx numbers in western Macedonia's Galicica National Park, where 30 such cameras have been set up.

Poaching is one of the biggest threats to the survival of this Balkan subspecies of the European lynx, the largest wild cat found on the continent.

Though its overall numbers are uncertain, they seem to hover dangerously around the 100 scientists say are needed for their population to remain stable.

In Albania and Macedonia, foreign experts put their number at less than 80 though local counterparts say there are fewer than 40. The estimates in neighbouring Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia are even worse.

Lynx are killed by villagers in the impoverished region mainly for their prized fur, a spotted golden-brown. But dwindling forests and a lack of prey are also factors in their decline, experts say.

"The main cause of the extinction threat is illegal hunting, as well as environmental destruction and, above all, uncontrolled forest cutting," said biologist Dime Melovski of the Macedonian Ecological Society.

The monitoring scheme is also underway in Mavrovo National Park, also in western Macedonia, and in Albania in cooperation with the Swiss-based research group KORA, Germany's Euronatur and the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA).

Adeptly maneuvering his jeep along Mount Galicica's winding roads, Zoran Celakovski said members of the Ohrid Hunting Society, which he heads, are also doing their part to protect the Balkan lynx.

"We have information that there are some lynx here so we help the ecologists in their work, patrols and file-keeping," he said.

In addition to determining the cats' status, via camera date, research and interviews, the project aims to establish protected areas for the animal and help local authorities develop a conservation strategy. It is due to wind up at the end of 2009, Melovski said.

Long seen as an unofficial national symbol in Macedonia, the Balkan lynx -- whose scientific denomination is "lynx lynx martinoi" -- features on both a postal stamp and a coin. With a short tail, long legs, and thick neck, its defining characteristic may be the striking tufts of hair on both ears. They grow to an average one metre (three feet) in length and 65 centimetres (two feet) in height and can weigh up to 25 kilograms (55 pounds).

The wild cat prey mainly on roe deer, the mountain goat-like chamois and hares, but never attack its greatest threat -- human beings.

Although hunting lynx is punishable by prison terms of up to eight years, poachers continue to pursue the animal with impunity, knowing that no one has ever been prosecuted for doing so.

Lynx-advocates like Macedonian ecologist Aleksandar Stojanov have been pushing to have areas where the cat roams proclaimed as national parks, to "reduce threats and increase the number of protected mountainous areas".

Raising awareness among villagers is also needed, he said. Local lore holds that lynx are "pests that kill livestock and that is why they do not like it."

"But our data has shown that in only four cases has the animal actually caused any damage, and it was minimal," said Stojanov.

Experiments in other parts of Europe have been encouraging. Conservationists reintroduced wild lynx to Switzerland after its eradication there at the end of the 19th century, raising the population to 140 in the last two decades.

Similar action has seen the lynx population recover in the Baltics, in the Carpathian mountains that run from Slovakia to Romania, and in Scandinavia.

Some experts involved in the Balkans project, like John Linnell of NINA, warn this success might be difficult to repeat here because "poaching is obviously a factor that is limiting their ability to recover."

Another, Manuela von Arx of KORA, stressed that improving law enforcement and stepping up efforts to educate locals about the animal was the key to the Balkan lynx' survival.

"Legal protection is meaningless if violations are not persecuted," she said in a statement.

"In the long run co-existence between large carnivores and people can only be achieved and secured if the local people and land users are willing to tolerate animals such as the Balkan lynx in their vicinity."


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Snow leopards: Success in Bhutan, Land of the Thunder Dragon

Feb 17, 2009

In December 2008 the government of Bhutan declared Wangchuck Centennial Park, the country’s tenth and second-largest park. Bhutan is the only place on Earth where the habitat of the snow leopard and mighty tiger intersect.

WWF was intimately involved in establishing the new park and contributed to the surveys and development of the preliminary management plan. Wangchuck enlarges the Bhutan Biological Conservation Complex (BBCC) – a conservation landscape of all protected areas linked with forest corridors in the country.

Making room to roam

Wangchuck Centennial Park increases Bhutan’s protected area system to conserve nearly half of the country. As part of the BBCC, the new park will connect the two existing parks lying to its east and west. This creates a contiguous protected zone covering the entire northern frontier of the country – and connecting to the Sacred Himalayan Landscape in India and Nepal in the west, and to India’s Western Arunachal Landscape in the east. This connectivity facilitates the natural movements of endangered species that live inside the park such as tigers, snow leopards, Himalayan black bear and Tibetan wolves.


Because of climate change, the park’s glaciers are melting – with the associated risks of flooding from runoff and glacial lake outburst. Preliminary data suggests that smaller glaciers and snow-fed lakes are drying up. It is also evident that glaciers are retreating faster, possibly leading to insufficient water for natural systems and human use.

Human threats to the park’s ecosystems come from a lack of pastureland management. In the last few decades the number of cattle has increased, causing the surrounding forests to be cleared to create additional land for grazing. Direct threats to wildlife include poaching for trade, and retaliatory killings to safeguard livestock and property.

WWF in the region

For more than 30 years WWF has protected Bhutan’s natural heritage, and is the only international conservation organization with a permanent presence in Bhutan. WWF will continue our collaboration with the royal government to address Bhutan's economic and environmental needs while engaging and raising the technical capacity of its local people through education.

WWF is working at all levels throughout the Eastern Himalayas to restore and protect ecological processes, reduce the human footprint, and support local economies. By working closely with the governments and people of Bhutan, Nepal and India, we continue to build on our landscape-wide conservation experiences.


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Mountain lions and orcas and bureaucrats

Lions and orcas and bureaucrats

Tom Stienstra

Sunday, February 22, 2009

(02-21) 18:30 PST -- So many stories, so little time:

Mountain lions have been ordered shot in Nevada to protect deer herds. Salmon and killer whales face a collapse in California because of water projects. A Department of Fish and Game director appears ready to walk the plank into oblivion. And why one of the prettiest state parks in California, Pfeiffer Big Sur, is likely to stay closed.

Of the dozens of stories, adventures and profiles on my desk, these are the four most provocative:

Mountain lions vs. deer: In Nevada, deer populations have plummeted from 240,000 to 108,000 in the past 10 years. Scientists attribute the decline largely to mountain lion predation. So Ken Mayer, former big game coordinator in California and now the director of Nevada Department of Wildlife, has ordered a major program to shoot mountain lions.

The intent is not to eliminate predators, Mayer said, but rather to reduce them so deer herds can rebuild. He said the program will be based on wildlife science and the predator-prey relationship.

Some people think that the relationship between mountain lions and deer is self-governing. So when the deer are about wiped out, the mountain lion population then naturally goes down to form a "balance" and the deer herd will bounce back.

That is not what happens. When there are few deer left to eat, the mountain lions then wander into the backyards of homes and ranches and eat whatever they can catch, then return afield to clip off the fawns. Their favorite food other than deer appears to be house cats, but they'll take dogs, sheep, llamas, calves and about anything else when hungry enough, including people occasionally.

Many wildlife experts believe we need Mayer back in California to do the same thing here. In the past 50 years, the population of deer in California has dropped from an estimated high of 2 million to fewer than 450,000, because of mountain lion predation and habitat loss in the Sierra foothills.

Salmon, orcas face collapse: The story this past week that reported the lowest number of salmon in history to swim from the ocean, through the bay and to the Sacramento River has several shocking sub plots.

It's now likely that all salmon fishing will be shut down again this year off the Bay Area coast. Killer whales, or orcas, could face a population crash because their primary diet is salmon and they could have difficulty finding other food.

Now get this, from the fine print inside a report by the National Marine Fisheries Service: Of the salmon that spawn or are released from hatcheries in the Sacramento River downstream of Redding, only 20 percent make it to the Delta because of water projects. Of that 20 percent that make it to the Delta, 60 percent die because of more water projects. So for the juvenile salmon that start their journey in Northern California, only 8 percent make it to the Bay to head out to the ocean.

The best suggestion is tell L.A. and other water grabbers to shut off their California Aqueduct faucet and build several desalination plants.

DFG director to walk the plank? The Senate confirmation hearing and vote for Don Koch as director of Fish and Game, scheduled for next Wednesday, could turn into an interrogation with ugly results, or be delayed. The organization California Trout, once a Koch supporter, now opposes him. The Karuk Tribe also opposes Koch, and if his defeat is imminent, other organizations will reportedly surface at the hearing.

"Our endorsement was conditional, and Koch has uniformly failed on all counts," said Jeff Shellito of California Trout. "Under Koch's watch, DFG has really blown it in the past year."

The DFG charges a record high price for fishing licenses this year, $60.95 with stamps for the Bay Area angler. Yet salmon are shut down, striped bass have gone down the drain (of the California Aqueduct), ocean deep sea fishermen got lumped with commercials over widespread season closures, there isn't a single lake in the Bay Area where DFG trout plants alone provide decent fishing, and there still isn't a comprehensive trout planting management plan that protects native species and also provides recreation.

Koch will also have to explain how, when he was a DFG regional manager in Redding, water diversions caused fish kills on the Shasta and Scott rivers, and whether preferential treatment guided fish stocks in his region.

Trouble for Pfeiffer Big Sur: The backlog on infrastructure repair for state parks is finally hitting the public. Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, with no money to build a new bridge at the entrance, could be closed all year. The old bridge was removed last fall when engineers discovered it could be washed out by mud slides. There's no telling when this might be fixed.

"The Great Outdoors With Tom Stienstra" airs Sundays at 12:30 p.m. on KMAX-31 Sacramento. E-mail Tom Stienstra at


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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Is the lynx coming to Luxembourg?

21.02.2009 09:01 Uhr, aktualisiert 21.02.2009 09:11 Uhr

Kommt der Luchs nach Luxemburg?
Forstverwaltung: „Auftauchen im Großherzogtum nicht unwahrscheinlich“

Von Birgit Pfaus-Ravida

Bär und Wolf werden in unseren Breitengraden schon lange nicht mehr gesehen. Auch der eurasische Luchs, der Lynx lynx, ist eine Spezies, die sich eigentlich nicht mehr in luxemburgischen Wäldern tummelt. Und doch ist er gar nicht weit weg. In der Großregion wurden schon einige Tiere gesichtet, und es besteht die Möglichkeit, dass in nächster Zeit Exemplare dieser artengeschützten Raubkatze das Großherzogtum durchwandern.

„Über gesicherte genetische Analysen in Deutschland, im Raum Gerolstein, ist bestätigt, dass sich der Luchs dort aufhält“, so Laurent Schley von der luxemburgischen Forstverwaltung. Genetische Analyse – das bedeute, dass man beispielsweise Haare an einem Drahtzaun gefunden und untersucht habe. Solche gesicherten Meldungen gebe es auch aus der deutschen Nordeifel und aus Aachen, aus Belgien direkt im Dreiländereck nahe der nördlichen luxemburgischen Grenze sowie aus Maastricht und der Wallonie. „Die Anzahl der Tiere ist aber jeweils unklar“, so Laurent Schley.

Der Luchs – sollte er sich wirklich auf Luxemburg zubewegen, sich hier gar niederlassen? Das sei nicht unwahrscheinlich, so Schley. Unbestätigte Meldungen von Menschen, die die mittelgroße Raubkatze gesehen haben wollen, gebe es auch aus dem Trierer und Bitburger Raum. Dies und die bestätigte Präsenz in den genannten Grenzgebieten zeige die Möglichkeit auf, dass der Luchs ins Großherzogtum kommen könne.
Mehr zum Thema

* Die Spur der Raubkatze - Wie erkenne ich einen Luchs?

Ein „diskretes Tier“

Leicht zu sichten ist das Tier aber nicht. Schließlich hat jeder erwachsene Luchs ein Revier von 100 bis 200 Quadratkilometern. „Luchse sind Einzelgänger, die nur zur Paarung zusammenfinden“, erläutert Schley, der Doktor der Biologie ist. Daher finden sich in einem Revier immer höchstens zwei Luchse gleichzeitig. „Außerdem ist der Luchs ein sehr scheues und diskretes Tier“, erklärt Schley und erzählt eine Anekdote dazu. Ein ihm bekannter Tierfilmer habe einmal zwei Stunden „auf der Lauer gelegen“ – ohne zu bemerken, dass es sich ein Luchs genau neben ihm gut versteckt bequem gemacht hatte.

Das zeigt auch, dass der in Luxemburg und auch europaweit geschützte Luchs eines garantiert nicht ist: gefährlich für den Menschen. Er versteckt sich, duckt sich weg, ist nicht aggressiv – und auch prinzipiell kein Träger von Krankheiten wie beispielsweise der Tollwut.

Natürlich ist er trotzdem keine „Schmusekatze“, sondern ein Raubtier, das unter anderem Mäuse, Dachse und Füchse, aber vor allem und vorzugsweise Rehe frisst. Das, so weiß Laurent Schley aus Gesprächen und aus Erfahrung, sei oft ein Problem für Jäger. „Deren Sorge ist manchmal, dass der Luchs die Reh-Bestände zu sehr dezimiert“, weiß Schley aus dem Dialog mit Jägern.

Dabei gebe es zum einen einen „riesigen Rehbestand“ in Luxemburg. Zum anderen sei erwiesen: „Ein erwachsener Luchs frisst im Schnitt ein Reh pro Woche – und das auf einer Fläche von 100 bis 200 Quadratkilometern. Die Rehwilddichte beträgt schätzungsweise jedoch 24 bis 30 Tiere pro Quadratkilometer Wald“, rechnet Schley vor. Selbst wenn also der Luchs hierzulande flächendeckend präsent wäre, wäre das keine Gefahr für den Rehwildbestand. Im Gegenteil: In Ländern wie Slowenien, wo der Luchs erfolgreich wieder angesiedelt worden sei, seien die Rehwildbestände nachweislich gesünder und widerstandsfähiger als in anderen Ländern. „Nicht, dass der Luchs sich gezielt alte und kranke Tiere holt“, erläutert Schley. „Doch die Wahrscheinlichkeit, dass ein gesundes Reh dem Luchs entkommt, ist eben größer als bei einem kranken.“ Zudem hätten sich Luchs und Reh über Jahrtausende parallel entwickelt – und nachgewiesenermaßen seien die Rehe nicht ausgerottet worden.
Viele Junge sterben

Wenn ein Wildtier sich seinen alten Lebensraum zurückerobert, kommen bei den Menschen oft ganz alte Ängste auf. Bär und Wolf, die Menschen angreifen – und der Luchs, der auch Schafe reißt, also ein Nutztier des Menschen. „In der Tat werden in der Schweiz, in der der Luchs ebenfalls heute wieder ein Zuhause gefunden hat, ab und zu Schafe von ihm gerissen“, räumt Laurent Schley ein. Jedoch seien das nur etwa 0,15 Prozent der Schafe, die auf Almen weideten. „Bis zu fünf Prozent der Tiere fallen jedoch anderen Todesursachen zum Opfer – sie stürzen ab, werden von Felsen erschlagen oder von Hunden getötet“, so Schley. Trotzdem fielen die 0,15 Prozent rein psychologisch oft mehr ins Gewicht.

Für den Fall des Falles gebe es sogar einen öffentlichen Topf, aus dem Schäden, die eine geschützte Tierart anrichtet, bezahlt würden. Sollte also je ein Luchs in Luxemburg gesichtet werden, und sollte dieser wirklich ein Nutztier angreifen und gar töten, wird, nachdem bewiesen ist, dass es ein Luchs war, der Schaden aus staatlichen Mitteln bezahlt. Laurent Schley betont jedoch noch einmal: „So etwas kommt wirklich ganz, ganz selten vor.“

Als Lebensraum für das Raubtier seien in Luxemburg vor allem Teile des Öslings in jedem Fall geeignet. Leicht haben es die Luchse jedoch trotzdem nirgends. Bei den Jungen gibt es eine hohe Sterblichkeit. Die wenigsten werden ein Jahr alt – und ganz selten erreicht ein Luchs in Freiheit das Höchstalter von 17 Jahren.


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Program aims to restore Iberian lynx to Portugal

Un programa portugués para recuperar el lince ibérico actuará en Badajoz

Actualizado 20-02-2009 21:04 CET

Lisboa.- Portugal prepara una reserva natural para recuperar el hábitat del lince ibérico, considerado el felino más amenazado del planeta, en un programa conjunto con España que se desarrolla en 6.000 hectáreas del suroeste de la Península Ibérica y que también actuará en territorios fronterizos de Badajoz y Huelva.

"Comenzamos por el aumento de la población de conejos salvajes, la principal especie de la que se alimenta el lince", dijo hoy a EFE Bárbara Pinto, directora del Parque Natural Noudar, situado en la provincia meridional portuguesa del Alentejo, donde se ejecuta el proyecto.

El programa lo desarrolla la empresa lusa de Desarrollo e Infraestructuras de Alqueva (EDIA) dentro de su proyecto IBERLINX, aprobado por el programa de Cooperación Transfronterizo España-Portugal (POCTEP) como parte del plan general de recuperación del felino.

El plan para acondicionar la zona de repoblación de linces, que se prolongará durante dos años y tiene un presupuesto de 1,2 millones de euros, cuenta también con la participación del Ayuntamiento de la localidad pacense de Valencia del Mombuey y dispone del apoyo técnico de la Junta de Andalucía.

"En el lado portugués el lince ibérico está en los límites de la extinción. En España está en una situación menos dramática", explicó Pinto, quien destacó que el programa también actuará en territorios fronterizos de las provincias españolas de Badajoz y Huelva.

La directora subrayó que es esencial conservar la especie porque su extinción significaría una pérdida para el patrimonio genético y acarrearía una disminución de la biodiversidad en la Península.

"Asimismo su presencia es un gran indicador ecológico. Tener linces significa que el entorno medioambiental es rico y está en buenas condiciones", refirió.

El lince ibérico, con un peso medio de 8 a 12 kilos, habita el bosque y matorral mediterráneo, en zonas aisladas del suroeste de España y Portugal, donde se le cree prácticamente extinguido porque no se han avistado ejemplares desde hace varias décadas.

Los principales factores que lo amenazan son su propia dieta, basada en conejos que han sido diezmados por enfermedades como la mixomatosis, así como la desaparición de las zonas de bosque y la acción de los cazadores furtivos.

España y Portugal suscribieron, el 31 de agosto de 2007 en Lisboa, un acuerdo para recuperar el lince que prevé la cesión de felinos nacidos en el centro español de Doñana para que vivan y se reproduzcan en territorio portugués.

El programa supone una inversión total cercana a los 10 millones de euros y contempla que durante este año esté listo el entorno para reproducción en cautividad de los felinos, que serán liberados después en las reservas naturales previstas, primero en el Algarve y luego en la zona del Guadiana.

Dentro del mismo proyecto, en junio del pasado año, el Gobierno luso puso en marcha un centro para la cría de linces en Silves, al sur del país, que fue el primer paso para recuperar la especie en Portugal.


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No pet collars found in killed cougar in Oregon

No collars in dead cougar
Ashland police chief says report of pet collars in stomach was false

By By Vickie Aldous
for the Mail Tribune
February 21, 2009 6:00 AM

ASHLAND — Police Department Chief Terry Holderness said Friday he was misinformed when he announced that pet collars were found in the stomach of a cougar that police shot in Ashland on Feb. 7.

"It's embarrassing to the police department and I'm going to find out what happened so it doesn't happen again," Holderness said.

At the end of an Ashland City Council meeting on Tuesday, the chief said a necropsy, or animal autopsy, revealed pet collars in the cougar's stomach.

He said he heard an Oregon State Police employee had told an evidence property clerk with the city's police department about the collars.

Oregon State Police had been on the scene with APD officers when the cougar, which was resting in a tree in the Clay Street yard of a senior citizen, was shot first by an APD officer and then a state police officer. Neighbors had reported missing pets prior to the shooting.

Holderness said an Oregon Fish and Wildlife biologist left him a voice mail on Friday saying the information about the pet collars in the cougar's stomach was false. Holderness called an Ashland reporter on Friday to report the information was wrong.

Holderness said he also contacted City Administrator Martha Bennett about the error and corrected information going out to City Council members.

The department has been fiercely criticized by some residents who contend the cougar should not have been shot. Several residents spoke at the council meeting Tuesday to ask that the city develop a policy to deal with wild animals.

Holderness said APD did not intentionally put out wrong information about the pet collars.

"If that were true, I wouldn't have called everyone to apologize," he said, noting he called news reporters and notified city officials after listening to the voice mail from Oregon Fish and Wildlife. "At the time I put (the information) out, I thought it was true."

Holderness said the APD employee who talked to the OSP employee was at training on Friday. But Holderness said he will talk to him next week to try and find out who he talked to from OSP and why the OSP employee said pet collars were in the cougar's stomach.

OSP Sergeant Kirk Meyer said on Friday that he and other OSP officers were present when the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife performed the necropsy. He said the necropsy was done in the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife's Central Point office almost immediately after the cougar was shot.

"I never heard anything about any pet collars being inside it. That information wasn't from me or any of my guys," Meyer said. "We were all present when ODFW cut into it. I didn't see any pet collars."

He said the cougar appeared healthy, although his understanding is that it had parasites like tapeworms. Meyer said he hasn't seen a written report about the necropsy.

ODFW Wildlife biologist Mark Vargas said Friday the cougar's stomach contained only partially digested pieces of a squirrel's jaw and paws.

"There wasn't much in the belly at all," he said. "It's common to have an empty belly for a while. Sometimes there's nothing, sometimes there's a little and sometimes the bellies come in bulging with meat."

He said if the city of Ashland wants to develop a policy on cougars in town, it would have to work with ODFW, which is the managing authority for big game animals, including cougars.

The city can, however, develop human safety protocols because it is responsible for public safety, Vargas said.

Vickie Aldous is a reporter for the Ashland Daily Tidings. She can be reached at 479-8199 or


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Jaguars will still be lost without critical habitat and a recovery plan

For Immediate Release, February 19, 2009

Contact: Michael Robinson, (575) 313-7017

Jaguar in Arizona Outfitted With Radio Collar; Endangered Jaguars
Will Still Be Lost Without Critical Habitat and a Recovery Plan

TUCSON, Ariz.— On February 18, a jaguar was captured in a snare south of Tucson, Arizona, outfitted with a radio collar by the Arizona Department of Game and Fish, and released on site.

The GPS radio collar will provide the first real-time information on jaguar movements and hour-by-hour habitat use in the United States. However, under current policy this valuable information will not help jaguars because the Bush administration refused to protect jaguar habitat and refused to plan for recovery of this endangered species – leading to an ongoing Center for Biological Diversity lawsuit.

The Center’s suit, filed in April 2008 and due to be argued before a federal judge in Tucson on March 23, seeks to compel the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to develop a recovery plan and designate critical habitat for the jaguar. Recovery plans are scientific roadmaps to how to ensure a species survives and is no longer in danger of extinction. Critical habitat designation delineates the areas needed for recovery.

Without these two measures, jaguars will disappear from the United States – particularly given the ongoing construction of a border wall separating the few jaguars in the United States from those in Mexico.

The radio-collared animal, a male dubbed “Macho B,” has been photographed repeatedly in southern Arizona -- first by a mountain-lion hunter who treed him in 1996 and subsequently by motion-operated cameras. He is one of only four jaguars known in the wild in the United States in recent years. (Another jaguar photographed alive in the wild in the United States, “Macho A,” is believed to have been killed.)

“‘Macho and other jaguars need President Obama to tear down the border wall and authorize a recovery plan and critical habitat protection,” said Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity.

“That way Macho may find a mate, and future generations of jaguars will still find homes in our forests and deserts.”

The jaguar, Panthera onca, is the largest cat native to North America, and once roamed from California to the Appalachians. Jaguars were killed off for their spotted pelts and out of fear of predation on livestock.

The last known female jaguar in the United States was killed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s “predator control” program in 1963 in eastern Arizona, and all known U.S. jaguars since then are believed to have originated in Mexico.

In June 2007, more than 500 members of the American Society of Mammalogists met in Albuquerque and unanimously passed a resolution calling on the Fish and Wildlife Service to develop a recovery plan for the jaguar. The resolution concluded that “habitats for the jaguar in the United States, including Arizona and New Mexico, are vital to the long-term resilience and survival of the species, especially in response to ongoing climate change.”

In opposing jaguar recovery, the Bush administration’s Fish and Wildlife Service cited “the existing voluntary approach” of an interagency Jaguar Conservation Team led by the Arizona Department of Game and Fish. But the team, sometimes referred to as the “Jaguar Conversation Team,” has not followed through on its 1997 pledge to “coordinate protection of jaguar habitat” and has not even taken a stand against the ongoing construction of the border wall near where Macho B roams. The wall divides jaguars in the United States from those in Mexico.

The Endangered Species Act is intended to recover species and conserve their ecosystems. The presence of jaguars in the Southwest contributed to the evolution of alertness in deer and the tendency of the pig-like javelina to travel in herds for protection. Because jaguars roam widely, protection for their habitat can also protect the habitats for many other species — an example of the link between conservation of species and their habitats that is intended by the Act.

The jaguar was listed as an endangered species south of the border in 1972 but was not afforded protection in the United States until July 1997, which only occurred as a result of a previous Center for Biological Diversity lawsuit against the Fish and Wildlife Service.


The jaguar is the largest New World cat. It historically occurred from the southern United States through Mexico and Central America to South America. In the United States it once roamed the southern states from Monterey Bay, California through the Appalachian Mountains. It was exterminated by the same federal predator extermination program that wiped out wolves in the western United States, along with persecution by the livestock industry and habitat loss.

The last female jaguar confirmed in the United States was shot by a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service predator control agent in the Apache National Forest (where Mexican gray wolves have since been reintroduced) in 1963.

When the jaguar was listed as an endangered species throughout its range in 1997, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was then required to develop a recovery plan and designate critical habitat for it.


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Arizona: Jaguar's capture hailed as info boon

Collaring refocuses attention on border fence, habitat issues

By Tony Davis
Arizona Daily Star
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 02.21.2009

The capture and collaring of a jaguar for satellite tracking will give authorities the best information they've ever had on how the rare cat behaves in this country, a state official said Friday.

Two days after the first capture of a jaguar in the United States, Arizona Game and Fish officials said the animal had traveled three or four miles in the first three hours after its release from a snare trap that day.

On Friday afternoon, data from the collar showed the cat was still roughly in the same area, after probably spending most of the day under an overhang of a rocky slope, said Terry Johnson, endangered-species coordinator for the state Game and Fish Department.

The jaguar, age 15 to 16, has been dubbed "Macho B" by scientists for some time. It appears to be the oldest known jaguar documented in the United States, Johnson said. It was first photographed in Arizona in 1996 by Jack L. Childs, now project coordinator of the non-profit Jaguar Border Detection Project, based in Amado. It has been photographed repeatedly since then. Data from the tracking collar will provide specifics about where the jaguar goes, rests and forages, including any crossings of the Mexican border, Johnson said.

A benefit from the collar will be to learn how a planned border fence would affect the jaguar, authorities said. Data also will help authorities decide how to manage jaguar populations and handle land-management plans for federal agencies, Johnson said. It will help the federal government review new projects' effects on endangered species.
But an environmentalist on Friday sharply criticized the jaguar capture on the grounds that it could have risked the safety of one of only four jaguars confirmed to be living in the Southwest — and in the entire country — since 1996.

Matt Skroch, former director of the Sky Island Alliance, questioned the sincerity of Game and Fish's statement that the jaguar was captured accidentally during a broader study of black bears and mountain lions.

"I'm pretty perturbed this has occurred, and surprised," Skroch said.

Whether to capture a jaguar has been hotly debated by scientists and activists for some time. But Johnson said this capture was clearly accidental and that the researchers also have trapped eight black bears and three mountain lions in the area since last May. The lion-bear project is a long-planned research effort, aimed at gaining information about bear populations, the border fence's effects and wildlife corridors, he said.

"The jaguar is a species we hoped to learn about by inference," Johnson said. "We were trapping lions and bears, and we prepared for the possibility of capturing a jaguar."
Environmentalists from the Center for Biological Diversity said Friday that they're not upset at the capture, but they said it will do little good if the federal government doesn't reverse course and agree to do a recovery plan and designate critical habitat for the jaguar, which is listed as endangered. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's refusal to do either has prompted a center lawsuit that has a U.S. District Court hearing in Tucson scheduled for March 23.

"It is ironic that these agencies are refusing to conserve jaguars but yet are investing time and money in radio-tracking projects," said Kieran Suckling, the center's director. "It's a bit cynical to spend time on a project like this if you don't have political willpower to build a jaguar population in the U.S."

The animal was discovered by researchers at about 9 a.m. Wednesday inside a snare trap in oak woodland and desert grassland at about 4,000 feet elevation in an area southwest of Tucson, Johnson said. The department has refused to give more specific information about the location, except that it is within a day or two's trek for the animal from the Mexican border.

"We don't want to attract a lot of people to come down and photograph it," Johnson said. "There's worldwide interest in this thing. This animal is sitting right on top of the border-wall issue — that's huge enough to swallow a whale. Loving it to death is entirely possible."

The animal was given an anesthetic so researchers could approach it and put the radio collar on it. The animal was kept in captivity for six hours — the time for the anesthetic to wear off — before its release.

The collar is programmed to transmit information about the animal's whereabouts every three hours. The collar is programmed to give off a signal if the cat crosses the Mexican border. Although Macho B has been tracked crossing the border by dogs, these data will give researchers far better information on its border crossings, Johnson said. The collar's battery is expected to last up to two years.

Fish and Wildlife Service officials would not comment on the recovery-plan issue Friday due to the pending litigation.

Recovery plans are generally required for endangered species such as the jaguar, but the service has said in the past that the cat should be exempt from the requirement because this country contains a small fraction of the jaguar's population and habitat. The vast majority of the jaguar's range lies south of this country, the service has said.

Contact reporter Tony Davis at 806-7746 or


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Jaguar captured, collared and released in Arizona

Captured jaguar 1st in US to get collar for tracking

By Tony Davis and Brady McCombs
Arizona Daily Star
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 02.20.2009

Arizona officials have captured and placed a tracking collar on a wild jaguar for the first time ever in the United States, the state wildlife agency said Thursday.

The male cat was captured Wednesday southwest of Tucson during a research study concerning mountain lions and black bears. The location of the capture was not released.

While individual jaguars have been photographed sporadically along the Mexican border the past few years, the capture occurred outside the area where the last known photograph of a jaguar was taken in January, state Game and Fish officials said in a press release.

The jaguar was fitted with a satellite tracking collar and then released. The collar will provide biologists with location points every three hours, the press release said. Early tracking indicates the cat is doing well and has already traveled more than three miles from the capture site, the release said.

The jaguar weighs 118 pounds with a thick and solid build, the department said. Field biologists said the cat appeared healthy and hardy.

Game and Fish officials could not be reached Thursday night to answer questions about the capture.

The data produced by the collar will shed light on a little-studied population segment of this species that uses Southern Arizona and New Mexico as the northern extent of its range.

The jaguar has been listed as an endangered species by the federal government since 1997, the year after a Douglas-area rancher spotted the first one seen in the United States for many years.

"While we didn't set out to collar a jaguar as part of the mountain lion and bear research project, we took advantage of an important opportunity," Terry Johnson, endangered species coordinator for the Arizona Game and Fish Department, said in the news release. "More than 10 years ago, Game and Fish attempted to collar a jaguar with no success. Since then, we've established handling protocols in case we inadvertently captured a jaguar in the course of one of our other wildlife management activities."
The capture didn't surprise Jack L. Childs, project coordinator for the Borderlands Jaguar Detection Project, based in Amado. Using remote-sensing cameras, the group has taken 26 photographs of jaguars in the wilds of Southern Arizona.

"We've known we've had jaguars for 100 years in Arizona and we've been documenting it for the past 10 years. This just kind of further verifies that we do have jaguars down here," Childs said.

The study on habitat connectivity for mountain lions and black bears that produced the accidental capture of the jaguar was intended, in part, to analyze the effects of new border fencing on the two large animals, he said.

With this jaguar collared, officials now have a great opportunity to analyze the effects of the fencing. As long as the jaguar remains alive and the collar continues to work, they'll be able to follow the movements of the cat for about two years, he said.
The capture was announced at Thursday's meeting of the Jaguar Conservation Team, a group of scientists, agency officials, private individuals and conservationists seeking to map out an effort to improve the future of the animal in the borderlands area.

Michael Robinson, an environmentalist on the team, said he was happy the jaguar sustained no injuries.

Contact reporter Tony Davis at 806-7746 or


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Tigers die in India's Nature Preserve

Tigers die in India's Nature Preserve

Written by Nava Thakuria
Friday, 20 February 2009

Big cats and villagers find it had to coexist

Somebody is poisoning the tigers in India's crown jewel of a wildlife preserve, Kaziranga National Park, heretofore a safe haven for some of the world's most endangered species. Ten of the big cats have died in the last three months at the world heritage site, although some may have died of natural causes.

The deaths of the big cats, India's national animal, have brought wildlife lovers to the realization that other animals also face an increasing threat in Kaziranga, a kind of real-life Noah's Ark whose wild inmates, besides rhinoceros, tiger and leopard, include wild buffalo, elephants, wild boars, Indian gaur, gibbons, bison, swamp deer, sambar, hog deer, jackals, monkeys, hornbills, geese, varieties of snakes and other reptiles and 500 species of birds. The oldest wildlife reserve in Assam, it is an exotic tangle of sheer forest, tall elephant grass, rugged reeds, marshes and shallow pools covering 430 sq km (with an additional buffer area of over 400 sq km) on the southern bank of the Brahmaputra River.

Asia Sentinel reported on August 7 that predators armed with high-powered rifles were killing increasing numbers of the rare one-horned rhinos in the park, which houses two thirds of the world's population of the huge beasts. Now the unprecedented rise in tiger deaths has caused serious concern among wildlife activists in the region. Authorities have responded that the deaths were not related to poaching. MC Malakar, chief conservator of forest wildlife of Assam, insisted that three of the tigers died due to old age, and one each died from fighting with each other or with buffaloes.

However, an unknown number have died from poisoning by villagers, who fear for their lives and depredations against their livestock. Three decomposed bodies which were recovered from inside the reserve might also indicate poisoning, conservationists say. Malakar told local media that in all cases the remains of the tigers were found, which would be unlikely if poachers had got at them. Nor has the authority received any information of a poacher network in or around the reserve.

Kaziranga was included under India's Project Tiger preservation program in 2006, then sheltering around 70 tigers although there has been no official census for more than eight years. The last, in 2000 showed 86, indicating that the high security park is losing tigers at a slow but steady pace. India as a whole has around 1500 tigers in the wild. The National Tiger Conservation Authority released a census report in February 2006 indicating that 1,411 tigers were left in India against a 2001-02 census of 3,642.

Amazingly, an initial survey by the conservation group Aaranyak said Kaziranga had a 'healthy and stable population of tigers'. An average of around 16 tigers lives in every 100 sq km in the park, the highest level in India's Northeast, the survey said. The Assam forest department has asked Aaranyak to start a database on the highly endangered mammals and their habitats inside Kaziranga.

Kaziranga has received international media attention because of rhino poaching during the last two years. Civil societies and advocacy groups of the region rigorously raised voices against the slaughtering of more than 30 rhinos in two years in the park. Pressure groups demanded a high- level enquiry into the matter of poaching in all wildlife reserves of the region. The concern for the rhinos remained visible in media through the editorials and the letters to the editor columns. Finally, the Assam government led by Tarun Gogoi bowed to the public outcry and declared on May 2 that his government favored for a Central Bureau of Investigation (of India) probe into the matter.

Nature's Beckon, an active environmental organization of the region, even alleged that a section of high placed officials of the State forest department were involved in the illegal wildlife trade. The director of Nature's Beckon, Soumyadeep Datta, alleged that park officials sold more than 300 rhino horns and other wildlife organs even after India adopted the wildlife protection act in 1972.

If the rhinos are being killed for their horns, which supposedly have aphrodisiac qualities, the tiger is being poached for its skin, bone and even meat. Chinese traditional food and medicines demand tiger bone, meat and also fat. China has long been identified is the largest consumer of tiger parts. Poaching, however, isn't the problem, Datta told Asia Sentinel. Deaths by poisoning are a serious issue which the park can't overlook, he said.

"The tigers are suspected of being targeted by the villagers in the fringe localities of the park angered by the loss of their cattle and human injury because of the big cats' entry to the villages in search of food, which finally tempts them to take revenge," Datta said.

UK Karanth, a conservationist with the Wildlife Conservation Society, says that the "'shortage of prey is a bigger factor behind the world's dwindling tiger population than poaching." The head of India program for the New York based society, Karanth said in an interview that 'when the prey density drops, reproduction of tigers goes down drastically, mostly because of lower survival rates of cubs'. He however asserted that the tiger is a very productive species and it starts breeding at the early age of three.

The Kaziranga park director S N Buragohain also acknowledged that the number of incidents of man-tiger conflicts has increased because of shrinking habitat and growing encroachment by human settlement. An adult tiger needs about 5kg of meat every day. The tigers of the park are often reported as moving towards the nearby villages in search of prey.

"In such cases, the duty of the authority is to promptly address the growing resentment of the victims' families who have been living in the fringe areas of the park," Datta said, charging that the authority loves to talk about finding more funds but shows little interest in involving the local population in preservation.

The Union government in New Delhi allocates compensation funds for the affected families, but Datta and others charge that forest officials siphon them away. Their activists survey the areas often and found that nobody has received any compensation for their losses from the forest department. Under the 'Project Elephant' scheme, the central government created guidelines for grants to families who had suffered human loss and damage of crops from the wild animals. The scheme specifies various amounts starting from Rs1,000 grants for losses (fully or partly) ranging from dwelling houses to crops and livestock to the family members.

Understanding the importance of timely payment for human deaths (or injury) and compensation for loss of property in pacifying the affected families, New Delhi has recently raised the compensation against loss of human life to Rs 100,000. Under Project Tiger and Project Elephant, the government enhanced the sum for compensation for loss of life and property up to Rs 33.2 million.

Speaking to Asia Sentinel at Kaziranga recently, a local resident, Sunil Das, revealed those in his village have never received compensation from the forest department although wild animals – buffalo, elephant and tiger – often destroy their crops and kill cattle but the authority has always turned a deaf ear to their grievances.

If the people living on the fringes of any national park or wildlife sanctuary feel neglected and cheated by the forest officials, it will be simply impossible to reduce the incidents of poaching as well as poisoning of wild animals. The wildlife lovers say the forest department and the government must understand that and begin to function honestly, with little or no corruption, or the slaughter of some of India's most magnificent animals will continue.

Tiger census to begin in Sunderbans

Tiger census to begin in Sunderbans

20 Feb 2009, 0531 hrs IST, Prithvijit Mitra, TNN

KOLKATA: The jinxed tiger census at Sunderbans will finally take off this month. It will use a new method and employ technology that has never been used for taking a big cat count anywhere else in the country. Officials of the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) confirmed that the decks have been cleared and a blueprint put in place for the job that will also include a study of tiger behaviour in the mangrove forest. The last census was conducted in the Sunderbans in 2001 that put the tiger population at 265. It was later disputed by a software analysis which led to the stalling of the 2006 census.

This time, the WII will use an imported radio collar. Being purchased at a cost of Rs 3.5 lakh each, the authorities plan to buy 10 of them from Canada. These are going to be "tougher and more suitable" for Sunderbans conditions unlike the one used in December 2007 that had malfunctioned.

"The new collars have been successfully used on elephants, mountain lions and polar bears abroad. We will do minor adjustments to make them fit for Sunderbans. The new ones are infinitely more tough than the previous model and should function effectively. Once they start functioning, the proper census will begin," said Y Jhala, professor, WII who is among the experts conducting the census. Now in Kolkata for a conference on saving the Royal Bengal Tiger, Jhala said tt will take around eight months to procure the collars.

New methods for census will be used this time. "We are going to map the pugmark density. It will be easier once we have installed the radio collars. The collared tigers will be tracked and only fresh their pugmarks collected and analysed. This will give us a more accurate picture. We are also going to collect and analyze tiger droppings. It has been successfully used at some sanctuaries in India and should work at Sunderbans as well," said Jhala.

Experts welcomed the move. "The census was due for a long time. It is good that the authorities have finally decided to do it using modern methods. It is important to have the correct tiger population of the Sunderbans," said Pranabesh Sanyal, former director of the Sunderban Tiger Reserve (STR).

Elaborating on the technology to be used, Jhala said the collars will transmit signals to a satellite station abroad that will divert them back to a local station. Movements of each of the ten tigers to be collared will be followed for several months for the study and the census.

Dispelling claims that the Sunderbans tiger behaved differently from those in other forests, the expert said that barring a few behavioural alterations that have come about owing to the terrain, their behaviour was same.

"Two things about the Sunderbans tiger are still not clear. One is it's home range and the other is the mystery where they retreat during high tide when water gushes into the forest. Both will now be revealed," said Jhala.

Even though the census will have no "base figure", WII experts "guessed" the tiger population at Sunderbans to be somewhere between 50 and 100.

Friday, February 20, 2009

New Mexico: Second rabid bobcat found

By Holly Wise Sun-News Bureau Chief
Posted: 02/20/2009 01:00:00 AM MST

SILVER CITY — A second bobcat in the region has tested positive for rabies, the New Mexico Department of Health reported Thursday afternoon.

The bobcat was discovered dead just east of Lake Roberts on Feb. 11 and was confirmed rabies positive Thursday.

A sample of the bobcat was sent to the Center for Disease Control to determine if the strain of rabies is viral and if "it can be passed from bobcat to bobcat," said Chris Minnick, New Mexico Department of Health public information officer.

The bobcat was the second rabid bobcat found within five days. The first bobcat attacked an unvaccinated dog in Mimbres on Feb. 6 and was confirmed rabies positive on Feb. 11. The bobcat was shot by the landowner.

"It's unusual to see these kinds of cases," said Minnick.

According to state Public Health Veterinarian Dr. Paul Ettestad, the bobcats were most likely infected by rabid foxes.

New Mexico Game and Fish Wildlife Conservation Officer John Armijo said he and his staff have held discussions on the prevention of rabies in foxes and bobcats, but have not yet come to any conclusions.

"We haven't come up with anything affirmative yet," he said.

Armijo said he wasn't alarmed by the two rabid bobcats.

"Obviously, rabies has been around for awhile," he said. "It's a lot more prevalent right now" due to the large number of animals.

Two foxes in Grant County have tested positive for rabies in 2009. Last year there were 28 cases of rabies in New Mexico, including 18 foxes and one dog in the southwestern area of New Mexico. There were 14 foxes and one dog with rabies in Grant County, two foxes in Catron County and one fox in Sierra and Hidalgo counties, according to the Department of Health.

Rabid foxes have been a problem for decades in Arizona, but were first detected in New Mexico in the Glenwood area of Catron County in 2007.

"Grant County residents need to be vigilant in their efforts to prevent rabies from affecting their families and their pets." Ettestad said in a prepared statement. "Rabies is a fatal disease that can be prevented with vaccination, but not cured once it has been diagnosed."

If anyone sees a suspicious looking or dead animal, they are encouraged to call Armijo at (575) 534-4023 or the Santa Fe central dispatch at (505) 827-9376.

Holly Wise can be reached at (575) 538-5893


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Countries urged to collaborate to save Arabian leopard

Oman-Yemen tie-up urged to save leopards

02/19/2009 06:13 PM - By Sunil K. Vaidya, Bureau Chief

Muscat: An international expert says the rare Arabian leopards could be moving between Oman and Yemen in the south of the Sultanate.

It is critical for leopards that some kind of collaboration between Oman and Yemen is arrived at in surveying the Arabian leopard, Tessa McGregor, an independent wildlife biologist, told Gulf News on Sunday at the end of the 28-day Biosphere Expeditions Arabian Leopard Research Project in Oman.

The expedition is monitored and facilitated by the Office for Conservation of Environment of the Diwan of Royal Court.

She also raised concern at a new highway being laid in the south of Oman. The new highway cuts right across the area where strong evidence of leopard life is found. This year Biosphere Expeditions continued its initiative in Dhofar in the vicinity of Wadi Uyun and Wadi Mudday. "We have found definite evidence of leopards' existence in the area," she said.

She also added that in November and December people in the area have heard leopards and the expedition team also found pug marks. In my opinion the pug marks that we found during our expedition now were not more than three months old, she pointed out.

So, the team has found evidence that the leopards are still living in the south of Oman but are yet to see them. Leopard is a very difficult animal to see and now we plan to install 20 trap cameras to capture the rare big cat, she said.

McGregor was at pains to admit that wildlife was getting extinct by day in the Arab region. "Wildlife is disappearing from the Arabian region faster than anywhere [else] in the world," said the renowned scientist. About the expedition, she said more than seeing the leopard, it was important to find out about its movements, numbers and conservation status in the study area and also to develop strategies that ensure its survival for future generations.

"Yes, we are very happy with the final outcome and are confident that we have made a positive contribution towards Arabian leopard conservation in Oman," she said. McGregor also praised the support of the local population in their efforts to track down the leopards. "Without the local support and guides Khalid Hikmani and Hadi Hikmani the expedition would not have been possible."

"Oman is committed to conserving its bio-diversity and also has ratified international conventions such as the CBD (Convention on Biological Diversity)," said Khalifa Bin Hamed Al Jahwari, Senior Specialist for Wildlife Conservation of the Environment at the Diwan of Royal Court.


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Countries urged to collaborate to save Arabian leopard

Oman-Yemen tie-up urged to save leopards

02/19/2009 06:13 PM - By Sunil K. Vaidya, Bureau Chief

Muscat: An international expert says the rare Arabian leopards could be moving between Oman and Yemen in the south of the Sultanate.

It is critical for leopards that some kind of collaboration between Oman and Yemen is arrived at in surveying the Arabian leopard, Tessa McGregor, an independent wildlife biologist, told Gulf News on Sunday at the end of the 28-day Biosphere Expeditions Arabian Leopard Research Project in Oman.

The expedition is monitored and facilitated by the Office for Conservation of Environment of the Diwan of Royal Court.

She also raised concern at a new highway being laid in the south of Oman. The new highway cuts right across the area where strong evidence of leopard life is found. This year Biosphere Expeditions continued its initiative in Dhofar in the vicinity of Wadi Uyun and Wadi Mudday. "We have found definite evidence of leopards' existence in the area," she said.

She also added that in November and December people in the area have heard leopards and the expedition team also found pug marks. In my opinion the pug marks that we found during our expedition now were not more than three months old, she pointed out.

So, the team has found evidence that the leopards are still living in the south of Oman but are yet to see them. Leopard is a very difficult animal to see and now we plan to install 20 trap cameras to capture the rare big cat, she said.

McGregor was at pains to admit that wildlife was getting extinct by day in the Arab region. "Wildlife is disappearing from the Arabian region faster than anywhere [else] in the world," said the renowned scientist. About the expedition, she said more than seeing the leopard, it was important to find out about its movements, numbers and conservation status in the study area and also to develop strategies that ensure its survival for future generations.

"Yes, we are very happy with the final outcome and are confident that we have made a positive contribution towards Arabian leopard conservation in Oman," she said. McGregor also praised the support of the local population in their efforts to track down the leopards. "Without the local support and guides Khalid Hikmani and Hadi Hikmani the expedition would not have been possible."

"Oman is committed to conserving its bio-diversity and also has ratified international conventions such as the CBD (Convention on Biological Diversity)," said Khalifa Bin Hamed Al Jahwari, Senior Specialist for Wildlife Conservation of the Environment at the Diwan of Royal Court.


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