Monday, August 31, 2009

Mountain lion shot in western SD

Associated Press - August 29, 2009 5:55 PM ET

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) - A mountain lion was shot and killed after wandering into a residential neighborhood in western South Dakota.

The Rapid City Police Department fielded several calls Saturday morning from residents who had spotted the animal. Officers found the mountain lion in a tree.

The police department, along with the state Game, Fish & Parks department, decided to shoot the animal because it posed a danger to residents.

Police Sgt. Chris DeGroote says the mountain lion eluded authorities several times, but was finally found in the back yard of a house. An officer climbed onto the roof of a neighboring house in order to shoot the animal.


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Rare Photo of Snow Leopard in Afghanistan

August 28, 2009, 4:42 pm

By Henry Fountain
Wildlife Conservation Society

Dot Earth likes a good animal photo as much as the next blog, particularly when the animal is beautiful and endangered. So we’re pleased to present a photograph of a snow leopard, taken by a camera trap in the Wakhan Corridor in northeastern Afghanistan. (Here’s more on camera traps and Afghanistan’s elusive wildlife.)

Camera traps are used by conservationists to document the presence of animals that because of their rarity, behavior or other factors would otherwise be seldom seen. The basic trap consists of a camera and a means of triggering it — often an infrared device or some other motion sensor.

Workers try to set the traps in areas the target animal is likely to pass through — en route to a water or food source, for example. And the sensor is calibrated so that smaller animals or swaying tree limbs shouldn’t trigger it. Despite all this, camera traps don’t always capture their quarry. And even when they do, the subject is sometimes out of focus, or half out of the frame or plagued by red eye. And sometimes you get a fabulous shot of the animal’s derriere.

This photograph, though, is spectacular (if a trifle cockeyed). The trap was set up by workers with the Wildlife Conservation Society, the people who run the Bronx Zoo and undertake conservation projects around the world. In the Wakhan Corridor they are conducting wildlife surveys with the eventual goal of establishing a protected area.


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Tigers destroyed by poaching

Tigers destroyed by poaching

Published: 31 August 2009

Only about 4,000 tigers remain in the wild, scattered across forests stretching from India to the Russian Far East.

Tigers are poisoned, shot, trapped and snared, and the majority of these animals are sought to meet the demands of a continuing illegal wildlife trade.

Hunters, traders, and poor local residents whose main means of subsistence comes from the forest, are wiping out the tiger and the natural prey upon which it depends.

Loss of habitat and the depletion of the tiger's natural prey is also a factor of the animal's decline. Large commercial plantations have replaced a lot of tiger habitat in several tropical range countries.

The World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) has a conservation and strategy action plan which aims to combat the declining numbers.

Year of the Tiger: India raises poaching alarm, Beijing cool

Year of the Tiger: India raises poaching alarm, Beijing cool

Neha Sinha Posted online: Monday , Aug 31, 2009 at 0848 hrs

New Delhi : WITH 2010 being the Chinese ‘year of the tiger’ — which comes once in 12 years and when demand for tiger and leopard parts shoots up — a team of Indian wildlife officials will visit China in November to specifically discuss tiger and leopard poaching.

The meeting between officials drawn from the National Tiger Conservation Authority and the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau, and Chinese officials was finalised during the visit of Minister of Environment Jairam Ramesh to China this week.

During Ramesh’s trip, tiger poaching was one of the issues on agenda. In a written statement to Chinese officials, his ministry submitted that one of India’s main concerns was that demand for tiger and leopard skins and bones would go up in 2010. India also asked China to enforce a tiger skin registration scheme and crack down on tiger trade through Nepal.

“The dialogue and enforcement on tiger conservation needs to be taken forward. This is why a team from Project Tiger and wildlife enforcement officers will be visiting China as a lot more needs to be done especially in this year of the tiger,” Ramesh told The Indian Express.

The ministry has also contended that China should restrict its tiger farms as this creates a demand for Indian wild tiger products and has urged China to keep a domestic tiger-trade ban in place.

But the Chinese response appears to be lukewarm. Responding to concerns of tiger poaching for Chinese demand, the Chinese officials said India was not doing enough to check Chiru (Tibetan Antelope) poaching. They also said that there is no link between Chinese tiger farms and Indian tiger poaching.

Ramesh said he does not agree with China linking Chiru poaching to that of the tiger. “The case of poaching of the Chiru antelope and the tiger are totally different things,” he said. The statement submitted to China made the case that breeding tigers “on a commercial scale” was a serious threat to tiger conservation efforts. It said that there are no techniques to distinguish a wild tiger part from that of a farmed tiger. “Raising a farmed tiger is 250 times more expensive than poaching a wild tiger,” it said, inferring that poachers will always prefer poaching wild tigers in India.

India has a protocol on tiger conservation with China, which was signed in 1995. One of the main planks of the protocol is joint conservation. However, nothing has moved on the protocol and communication between the two countries has been low.

India had asked China at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) summit to shut down large-scale tiger farms, and only keep the farms ‘at a level supportive of tiger conservation in the wild’ (proceeds from these tourist attractions are supposed to go to wild tiger conservation). CITES has now asked China to file a report on its tiger farms and what steps were being taken to restrict trade in tiger parts.

Police arrest man accused of killing rare tiger

Police arrest man accused of killing rare tiger

The Jakarta Post Mon, 08/31/2009 4:51 PM National

Jambi Police Office has arrested a man, known only by his initials “SY”, for the theft and murder of an endangered Sumateran tiger from the Rimba National Park in Jambi on August 22.

The police did not elaborate on the suspect’s role in the crime or the chronology of events.

“Let us wait and see. We are developing the case and focusing our investigations on the possibility more people were involved in the crime,” police chief Snr. Comr. Bobby IOR Ade told on Monday.

Didy Wurjanto, head of the provincial’s Natural Resources Conservation Agency, said his office was coordinating with related parties to find the perpetrator.

Sela was the last Sumateran tiger owned by the park. The 25-year-old was stolen and the skin and bones removed in a subsequent poaching attack.

Previously, the park took care of another tiger, Rangga, that died in May. The third tiger, Salma, was released into Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park, Lampung, in July.

Trail cam catches cougar in Nebraska

Published Saturday August 22, 2009

They're back.

Not that they were gone.

A trail camera mounted on a leaning boxelder tree in northwest Nebraska's Pine Ridge captured an image of a mountain lion as it roamed out of a creek bed on Aug. 15.

“I about had a heart attack when I saw that picture. I thought, ‘No way!''' said 19-year-old Joe Krotz of Rushville.

The adult cougar is seen turning up an old logging road and steep hill after passing by a field of wheat stubble. The photo was snapped at 8:42 p.m., nearly an hour after sunset.

About an hour earlier, the camera snapped a photo of a fawn.

Like other big game hunters, Krotz set up the camera to capture images of deer and other wildlife without invading the habitat and spooking animals. The devices take snapshots of wildlife that cross the path of the lens. The image is stored on a digital card retrieved later.

Krotz, who hunts mule and whitetail deer, set out the camera July 29.

He selected family ranchland 11 miles northwest of Rushville on White Clay Creek. Krotz's uncle and grandmother own adjoining farmland in the area.

He has four pictures from the camera of a tall, eight-point whitetail buck passing by the same spot the cougar crossed.

“I just wanted to see what's there,'' he said. “I really wasn't expecting to get a predator. I've seen bobcats and coyotes, but never a cougar. People who live here know they're out there.''

Mountain lion sightings in the Pine Ridge are rare but not uncommon.

Cougars were driven or hunted from Nebraska more than a century ago. There have been more than 70 confirmed mountain lion sightings — many are duplicates and most from the Pine Ridge of northwest Nebraska — since the first authenticated evidence of their return to the state in 1991.

Today, cougars cannot be hunted or trapped in Nebraska. People, however, are permitted to defend themselves without penalty if a mountain lion attacks or shows unprovoked aggression toward people.

Last winter, a trail camera and tracks in snow confirmed the arrival of a mountain lion near the Loup River west of Columbus. In Scottsbluff, game wardens tranquilized and euthanized a female cougar wounded by a police officer. It was the sixth confirmed sighting of a female in Nebraska.

At least two groups of deer hunters spotted a cougar kitten with its mother in the Pine Ridge hills south of Chadron. A Nebraska Game and Parks Commission trail camera captured snapshots of the pair feeding on the carcass of a mule deer in December.

A young Alliance deer hunter shot a female mountain lion that appeared poised to attack last November.

An Omaha hunter and his son filed an unconfirmed report of a cougar near Gibbon in south central Nebraska on opening day of the November rifle deer season.

The Game and Parks Commission's standard for confirming a sighting is simple. If there's evidence of a mountain lion, the sighting is confirmed. When there's not tangible evidence, it's not confirmed.

Evidence includes hair, tracks, scat, a dead deer with mountain lion markings, blood tested for DNA, a cougar carcass or a photo.

Krotz is sophomore metallurgical engineering major at South Dakota School of Mines in Rapid City, S.D. He plans to return home more often this fall.

“I want to change out the memory cards and see what's there,'' he said.

Contact the writer:



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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Still more tiger deaths

Still more tiger deaths

The problem goes beyond poaching

Business Standard / New Delhi August 30, 2009, 0:10 IST

The death of 66 tigers since January 1 this year (or about one every four days) is testimony to the continuing decline in the population of this endangered species of big cats, despite the government committing huge chunks of forest land for their safe dwelling and spending crores of rupees annually on Project Tiger. Beginning with a tiger count of 1,827 in 1970, a number that was considered dangerously low and which, therefore, led to the launching of this wildlife conservation project, the tiger population has plummeted instead of growing, reaching 1,411 by 2006 when the last tiger census was held. That number is believed to have dwindled further now, to below 1,300. After the scandalous Sariska and Panna tiger reserves, both which have become tiger-less and required the re-location of tigers from elsewhere, seven more national parks have been put on high alert as the striped cats have not been spotted there for quite some time. The situation is not much better in most of the other sanctuaries, barring a few in Karnataka and Kerala.

Contrary to the popular notion, poaching is not the only reason for the disappearance of tigers, though it remains an important factor. Of the 66 big cats that have died this year, 23 are believed to be the victims of illegal hunters; the others died on account of in-fighting because of diminishing prey, tiger-human conflict, poor health cover and old age. This apart, the forest guards, who are meant to protect the tigers from their killers, remain inadequate in numbers and still lack appropriate equipment and training (all issues that were pointed out five years ago, when Sariska lost its last tiger). These guards, wielding sticks and archaic guns, and moving about in rickety vehicles, are out-smarted by poachers who are said to be armed quite often with automatic weapons. Moreover, there has been no fresh recruitment of guards for over a decade. As a result, the average age of forest guards has risen to around 50 years. Besides, most staff in the sanctuaries lack scientific knowledge of resource and habitat management.

The green cover of the forests, as also herbivorous animals, which carnivores like tigers prey on, are fast dwindling in most sanctuaries. This apart, the passage of the Tribal Rights Bill, which gave tribals legal rights to forest land, has made it more difficult to rid the protected areas of superfluous human habitations. In fact, many tribals have moved into these zones after the enactment of this law. All this has increased human-tiger conflict.

Several well-conceived tiger safety measures have been mooted by expert panels, but there has been little by way of follow-up action. These include the recommendations of the Subramanian committee for the prevention of illegal trade in wildlife (1994) and the Tiger Task Force (2005). Only a few tiger parks have put in place well-equipped intelligence network to facilitate pro-active preventive action against poachers and tiger part traders. Smuggling of these high-priced parts to China and, to a lesser extent, neighbouring East Asian countries is going on unhindered.

Showing the way on how to tackle the problem, the Periyar Tiger Reserve in Kerala has hired former and potential poachers as forest guards and raised a ‘Vasantha Sena’ (spring force) of poor women who live around the forests, to ward off poaching. This has worked. There seems to be a lesson in this for the others to learn. But effective policing is once again only a part of the solution. Improvement in the habitat environment, including rejuvenation of the green cover to facilitate growth in prey population, is the real imperative.

Frequent tiger intrusions in villages in Sundarbans

Frequent tiger intrusions in villages in Sundarbans


Annpur (Sundarbans), Aug 30 (PTI) Three months after Cyclone Aila struck Sundarbans wreaking havoc with the tiger habitat in the mangroves, villagers in the area are living in fear due to frequent intrusions by the big cats in residential areas in search of prey.

"Two weeks ago, my wife saw a tiger when she entered the kitchen after hearing sounds of utensils falling down. She saw a tiger crouching on the floor," Pintu Mridha, a resident of Jamespur village, said.

She ran out in panic with her child and climbed a tree as villagers, alerted by her screams, chased away the tiger.

To drive away trigers, residents of Annpur, Jamespur, Lahiripur, Rajat Jubilee villages have taken to bursting firecrackers at night.

The forest department has also pitched in by installing generators to illuminate embankments of rivers bordering the Sundarbans Tiger Reserve after nightfall.

Special thrust on security in Satpura tiger reserve

Special thrust on security in Satpura tiger reserve

Posted On Wednesday, August 26, 2009
United News of India
Hoshangabad, Aug 26:

A special thrust was given for the security of tigers and necessary steps were taken to intensify tigers' security in Madhya Pradesh's Satpura tiger reserve following the death of a tigress in state's Bandhavgarh National Park recently, forest department sources said.
A special vigil was being kept on the movement of tigers in Satpura tiger reserve, spreading over in this district and bordering areas of adjoining districts, with the help of footprints and sketches of tigers, the sources said.

Information was being provided to the 'protection force' about the nature of tigers and the authority was also keeping an eye over the movement of poachers after making list of about 50 poachers of this district and other areas.

According to 2004 census there were 40 tigers in Satpura tiger reserve, the sources said.

Special force in 13 reserves to save tiger

Special force in 13 reserves to save tiger

Imran Khan
First Published : 27 Aug 2009 04:19:00 AM IST
Last Updated : 27 Aug 2009 07:41:31 AM IST

BANGALORE: Alarmed over the spate of tiger deaths in the country, the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) has planned to raise a Special Tiger Protection Force (STPF), on a par with the Central Paramilitary Forces, for the protection of tigers in the country. Initially, out of the 37 tiger reserves, the NTCA has selected 13 reserves where STPF will be deployed, with Bandipur in Karnataka also being earmarked for three platoons of the STPF.

In a letter addressed to all the chief wildlife wardens of the 13 tiger reserves, NTCA chairman Rajesh Gopal has mentioned that due to the endangered status of the tiger, a Special Tiger Protection Force needs to be raised. He added it will be done with the active involvement of the forestdwelling communities.

Giving details, the chief wildlife warden of Karnataka B K Singh said, “Recently a meeting was convened in this regard, where we discussed about the Special Tiger Protection Force (STPF).” Singh said each of the three platoons to be deployed at Bandipur will consist of one range forest officer (RFO), six foresters and 30 guards. Singh said all three RFOs will come under the tiger force assistant conservator of forests, who will head the company.

Though STPF would comprise of only forest personnel, but around 30 % of the Special Tiger Guards would comprise of forest dwellers. Singh, however ruled out any ex-army people being part of the force.

BK Singh added, an annual budget of around Rs 3 crore has been set aside per company and a total of around Rs 50 crore for all the 13 companies.

He said within 15 days, everything will be finalised and in six months, the recruitment will be completed.

Tiger’s death triggers fever fear

Tiger’s death triggers fever fear


Guwahati, Aug. 19: A Royal Bengal tiger of the Rajiv Gandhi Orang National Park died this morning at the Centre for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation near Kaziranga, where it had been taken after the animal was found ill last evening.

The tiger’s death has raised fears of a mysterious disease lurking in the wilds of Orang.

“Preliminary investigations suggest that some kind of a disease might have led to the tiger’s death,” Prasanta Boro, a veterinarian at the centre told The Telegraph.

A post-mortem on the carcass would be conducted in the presence of officials from the Wildlife Crime Investigation Bureau tomorrow.

This is the first Royal Bengal tiger of Orang to have died this year.

On the other hand, seven such tigers have died this year at the Kaziranga National Park. Officials at Kaziranga claimed that most of these tigers had died of old age and infighting or in duels with buffaloes. A few died of poisoning.

S. Momin, the divisional forest officer of Orang, said the rangers spotted the tiger near Nislamari anti-poaching camp of the park early yesterday. “The tiger could barely walk,” he said.

Experts from the rehabilitation centre near Kaziranga rushed to Orang in the afternoon and captured the tiger by tranquillising the animal late last evening.

After preliminary treatment at the park’s range office, the tiger was shifted to the centre.

“We provided treatment throughout the night but the tiger died around 9am today,” Boro said.

He said two injury marks, one on the head and another on the left fore limb, were detected on the animal but it could not have led to its death.

“The injury marks did not look fatal enough to kill the animal. The exact cause of death will be ascertained only after post-mortem,” Boro said.

Momin said initially it was suspected that villagers, in a bid to protect their cattle, had poisoned the tiger.

“But when we found that the tongue of the tiger appeared normal, we were almost sure that it had not consumed poison,” the divisional forest officer said.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Habitat and food mark out Sunderbans tigers

Habitat and food mark out Sunderbans tigers

Ananya Dutta
August 21, 2009

Living in the inter-tidal habitat among marshy thickets, having become accustomed to the saline water, and but often without the trademark element of surprise, the Royal Bengal Tiger of the Sunderbans may have evolved differently from its brethren in peninsular India, according to experts here.

Forest Department Officials are constantly discovering aberrant behaviour patterns. The July 17 finding of poisonous snakes in a tiger’s stomach is one such example. “While tigers are known to eat snakes, this is perhaps the first record of a tiger eating poisonous ones,” said Richa Dwivedi, deputy field director of the Sunderbans Biosphere Reserve.

“Although it is yet to be confirmed scientifically that the tiger is genetically different from terrestrial tigers as the DNA analysis has not been done, there are certainly many physiological adaptations,” said Pradeep Vyas, the State Forest Department’s chief conservator of forests (Central).

There is strong evidence of the fact that tigers in the Sunderbans drink saline water, says N.C. Bahuguna, director, Sunderbans Biosphere Reserve.

“There are nearly 270 tigers in the Sunderbans, but the few fresh water ponds that were created are not sufficient to support this large a population,” said Pranabesh Sanyal, former director. “In any case, there were no fresh water ponds before 1977, so what else could the tigers drink then?”

These tigers have to negotiate harsh habitat conditions, apart from non-availability of fresh water. The muddy and marshy areas, dotted with pneumatophores (spiked roots of mangroves which abound in these forests), have forced them to hunt differently, says Mr. Vyas. “When they walk on the wet soil, it is often noisy and they can’t stealthily approach their prey, like tigers normally do.”

Aquatic diet

Difficulties faced in hunting may be the cause of their alternative food habits, although experts differ on the reasons. “Studies have shown that nearly 20 per cent of the diet of tigers in these parts is aquatic including fish, crabs and turtles,” said Mr. Sanyal, who suggested that easy availability of these substitutes might cause them to eat this food. At times, even grasshoppers have been found in the stomach contents of these tigers, according to Mr. Bahuguna.

Smaller numbers for big cats

Smaller numbers for big cats

Neha Shukla, TNN 30 August 2009, 04:35am IST

LUCKNOW: The new tiger census will begin this October. But, a noticeable number of the big cats from the reported count of 2008 census will be missing from the exercise. Reason being that they have either been poached, died in an accident, or fell prey to ailments.

The 28 tiger deaths reported in 2008 and 67 mortalities reported since January this year, perhaps, indicate a jinxed existence for the treasured felines, in the country. Despite the allotment of sizable funds for the tigers' cause and Central authorities co-ordinating their protection plans, tiger conservation efforts have not lived up to expectations in the country.

Out of 67 tiger deaths reported this year, 24 were due to poaching and seizures. The remaining deaths were caused either by accidents or natural reasons. "It is difficult to talk about the exact reason as in most of the cases post-mortem reports are awaited", said Tito Joseph from Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI). The figures are compiled by WPSI, the agency that has been working with many state forest departments for tiger conservation.

The mortalities have been reported from across the states, including Uttar Pradesh. UP has lost five of its tigers in 2009. Among these was a young tigress which wandered out of Pilibhit and was shot dead by the forest department in Faizabad. The state also reported two cases of poaching.

According to simple mathematics, 67 tiger deaths in eight months make it to eight tiger deaths each month. It is also worth mentioning that these mortalities are the ones reported by the states and the enforcement agencies. There is no mention of the deaths that go unnoticed. "We record the data when we are informed that a tiger body has been found", said Joseph.

While natural and accidental deaths get usually reported, poachers might not leave any proof of the tiger being killed at the spot. A glaring example was that of the Panna Tiger Reserve which lost all its 24 tigers over a period of five to six years. The lid was blown off only when all its tigers were killed.

The things are not all hunky dory for other tiger reserves too. The ministry of environment and forest (MoEF) has already sounded an alert for seven reserves -- Buxa reserve in West Bengal, Namdapha in Arunachal Pradesh, Manas in Assam, Valmiki in Bihar, Simlipal in Orissa, Indravati in Chhattisgarh and Palamu in Jharkhand. There have either been no or very few tiger spottings in these reserves.

According to the February 2008 census, there were 1,411 tigers in 28 tiger reserves of the country. But since then, 95 tigers have already been reported dead -- 28 in 2008 and 67 in 2009. Since there is no database currently being maintained by the government, the available figures are the only reference available for enforcement agencies and the states. The database by the wildlife crime control bureau is under construction.

Bandipur to get country's first tiger protection force

Bandipur to get country's first tiger protection force

Jayashree Nandi, TNN 26 August 2009, 12:59am IST

BANGALORE: Six tigers have already died in Karnataka this year, compared to eight deaths each in 2008 and 2007. The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) considers this `abnormal and alarming'. The Centre has directed the state's forest department to step up conservation measures.

As a first step, the state will have a special tiger protection force, the first one among the 13 tiger reserves across the country.

The increasing tiger deaths in some states was discussed at the meeting of state forest departments with the Union environment minister and Prime Minister last week. Some wildlife conservationists say the number could be as high as 10.

Additional principal conservator of forests (PCCF) B K Singh has a different take on the number of deaths. He says one of the six tigers died when it was moved from Bandipur to Bhadra reserve forest in July. The post-mortem concluded it was due to shock from translocation. Two cases, in which pelts were seized from poachers, are old cases.

While one of them was seized from Pandavpura two years ago, the other was seized from Gundlupet over 15 years ago. Three other cases were of territorial fights and one due to starvation. "Patrolling on foot and investigations have been stepped up and that is why these cases are coming to light," he said.

NTCA member secretary Rajesh Gopal told TOI from New Delhi: "I don't see this very positively. The post-mortem process has to be very transparent. That is why we usually have an independent individual nominated by NTCA to be there during the post-mortem. This is being followed but I still think it is an abnormal figure. In Nagarahole, there are issues. Tigers are targets of poachers. There should be no scope for complacency. We are waiting for comments from our people who were at the post-mortems."

He added that NTCA will fund all the requirements of the special tiger protection force and an MoU will be signed with the state to see that men are not used for activities such as election duties or other commitments.

"Unnatural deaths due to reasons like poaching are a cause for concern currently. For instance, the seizure of a tiger pelt by Nagarahole staff was a clear case of poaching and the pelt was fresh," said assistant director (conservation science and policy), Wildlife Conservation Society - India Program, Sanjay Gubbi, who is tracking the issue locally.

Singh acknowledged that protection needs to be stepped up. While we have a healthy population of about 12 tigers per 100 sq km, it is less than 17 in the Corbett National Park. "Though there are almost no cases of poaching, patrolling can be improved and will be done more on foot. We'll make them walk on inter-state lines, which are very vulnerable. Intelligence gathering is also required, not just solving the case then and there by arresting the offender but investigating to the root cause. Bandipur officials should visit Mudumalai and Kerala to keep tabs on poachers there. However, all six cases were either due to territorial fights or old cases of poaching," he said.

As part of the protection force, 112 forest staff will be appointed with four vehicles. Gopal said governments need to comply with NTCA guidelines on special protection forces immediately. Bandipur has been chosen out of Karnataka's four tiger reserves because it has a rich landscape and the Waynad-Bandipur zone is vulnerable.

Kaziranga losing its hold on tigers

Kaziranga losing its hold on tigers

Satyajit Usham

Fri, Aug 28, 2009 12:34:39 IST

THOUGH KAZIRANGA National Park in the Northeastern state of India- Assam, still holds the unique distinction of being the only wildlife sanctuary having highest density of tiger population in the country, with report of six to seven tiger deaths on an average every year, the day would not be far when there would be no tiger left in the park even as tiger deaths continue at an alarming rate elsewhere in the country.

There are currently 24.5 tigers per sq km in Kaziranga National Park as against the other tiger reserved areas of the country, which is around 17 to 18 per 100 sq km.

According to a report, though the park famed for one-horned rhino, can still boost of highest density of tiger population in the country, the number of deaths of the royal big cats has been on the rise every year.

The report revealed that 11 tigers have been killed in the last 10 months. Between November 2008 and January 2009, about nine tigers were killed totalling the figure of tiger casualties in the park to 11 from November 2008 to August 2009.

Causes of deaths of tiger in Kaziranga Park have been attributed to several reasons like poaching, infighting and tiger-human conflict.

In addition to this, poisoning by villagers living on the fringes and shrinking of the habitat area have forced the big cats to stray into the neighbouring area thus resulting in retaliatory killing.

Taking serious note of the matter, wildlife conservationists in the region have sought the government to move the Tiger Foundation for three tiger reserves in Assam so as to sustain the popularity of Kaziranga being the haven for tigers.

The need of the hour has also been stressed on effective tiger conservation mechanism and a strong anti-poaching stand.

Elsewhere in the country, tiger deaths continue at an alarming rate with statistics provided by Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI), a prominent wildlife non-government, showing that at least 66 tigers lost their lives between January 1 and August 19 this year.

Of these, 23 died due to poaching and the remaining 43 died of a variety of reasons such as infighting, old age, tiger-human conflict, accidents and diseases.

According to the statistics of WPSI, in the last eight months, Uttarkhand in the North and Karnataka in the South have recorded particularly high numbers of tiger deaths. This illustrates that the problem exists throughout the country.

National tiger census figures released in January 2008 showed a mere 1,411 tigers alive as compared to 3,508 in 1997, showing a drastic drop of 60 per cent.

In the light of the above facts, efforts being made by the Centre to prepare the first-web based database on the endangered species to facilitate information exchange among the governments and agencies on illegal trade and the conservation plan in the country is appreciable.

To be modelled after the EU-Trade in Wildlife Information Exchange (EU TWIX), which is presently being used by over 431 wildlife law enforcement officials across 31 European countries and 93 enforcement agencies, including Interpol, the ‘Tigernet’ will be an exclusive tool to share information among the states on various aspects of tiger population ranging from illegal trade to their breeding.

The database is being prepared by the World Wild Life Fund (WWF) on behalf of the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) and it is likely to be launched by the end of this month.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Illegal trade pushes Sumatran tiger close to extinction

Illegal trade pushes Sumatran tiger close to extinction

Updated Wed Aug 26, 2009 8:08pm AEST

Conservationists say the illegal trade of animals is thriving in Southeast Asia and the gruesome killing of a Sumatran tiger at an Indonesian zoo over the weekend is just the latest example. A report released by the wildlife trade watchdog Traffic suggests the global demand for the fur and bones of unique animals remains high across Asia despite the threat or prosecution. There are fewer than 500 Sumatran tigers alive in the wild and the World Wildlife Fund says the animal faces extinction within years if the illegal trade is not stopped.

Presenter: Matt Conway
Speakers: Elizabeth John, international wildlife trade monitoring network, Traffic; Chris Shepherd, leading expert on the sustainable exploitation of animals

CONWAY: The proud roar of the Sumatran tiger belies a grim predicament.

The WWF estimates that less than 400 of the creatures remain in the wild and that a thriving trade of its parts could see that number decline.

Staff at the Taman Rimba zoo arrived to find only the intestines of a female tiger remaining.

Authorities believe thieves broke into the zoo, and killed the animal to remove its bones, claws fur and whiskers which can earn big money on the international market.

It remains unclear how the thieves broke into the zoo or how many were involved.

And its not the only recent example of the animal trade causing a direct impact on the population of the Sumatran tiger.

Elizabeth John from Traffic, an international wildlife trade monitoring network, says a recent raid on an Indonesian home found the remains of several Sumatran tigers, indicating that the demand for the animal is still there.

JOHN: They recovered 33 pieces of tiger material ranging in size from a few centimetres to larger pieces and when you consider this in the context of the population of Sumatran tigers now which is placed at 400-500 tigers, its quite a large number to take out of the wild. So they are very threatened by the illegal trade.

CONWAY: Rapid deforestation and clashes with humans have had a serious impact on the number of Sumatran tigers in the wild but its the trade of its paws which poses the biggest threat.

Elizabeth John explains.

JOHN: Poaching and the illegal wildlife trade is the biggest problem for tigers everywhere and it is also the biggest problem faced by wildlife around the world particularly in Southeast Asia. Products that come from the Sumatran tiger are traded across borders throughout Southeast Asia and also sold to markets in china not just for their skin, teeth or claws but also for their meat.

CONWAY: Despite tough laws against it in some countries - weak laws in others mean the trade remains a huge challenge for authorities.

Not only does the desire for money fuel the market but tradition and the practice of ancient beliefs are also adding incentive.

JOHN: In Sumatra particularly tiger parts are very often used for magic. For instance the claws are used to make pendants and necklaces which are used as charms which give protective powers to those who wear them and whiskers are believed to possess magical powers which are believed to protect the wearer from malicious curses so there are very often ancient beliefs attached to this which often drives the trade.

SHEPHERD: Wildlife crime is just not seen as a high priority and this has to change.

CONWAY: Chris Shepherd, a leading expert on the sustainable exploitation of animals, says the number of tigers remaining in the wild is dwindling and with the impact of decades of deforestation to come, the creature faces an uncertain future.

He discussed the issue with a number of colleagues at a recent crisis meeting in Malaysia and says authorities while concerned by the decline remain hamstrung by the weak punishments handed down to offenders by local courts.

He says the time to enforce stricter punishments is now or we face a future without one of the world's most dominant creatures

SHEPHERD: You always hear that if things don't change now we are gonna lose this species or that species but with tigers it really is critical. If there isn't action taken immediately, with trends the way they are now, we will lose tigers in the wild very, very quickly.

FIR against Goa forest officials who probed tiger poaching

FIR against Goa forest officials who probed tiger poaching

27 Aug 2009, 1557 hrs IST, IANS

PANAJI: The Goa forest department has joined issue with the state police, saying it will fully back three of its officials who have been booked for "doing their duty" while dealing with an accused in a tiger poaching case.

Goa's chief conservator of forest Shashi Kumar said the issue of a first information report (FIR) filed against his department officials would be taken up with the home ministry soon.

"My officers were on government duty. They were investigating the poaching of a tiger, not a sparrow. The department will not only give them legal assistance, but we will also be taking up the matter with the home ministry," Kumar said.

The Valpoi police Wednesday had booked three forest officials - assistant conservator of forest Anil Shetgaonkar, and range forest officers Paresh Parab and Tulshidas Wadkar - for wrongful confinement and causing grievous hurt to tiger poaching accused Suryakant Majik.

The FIR follows a complaint which was filed more than three months ago. In his complaint, Suryakant Majik, whom the forest department has accused of killing a Royal Bengal tiger, a protected animal under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife Protection Act, had claimed that the three officials had beaten him up when he was in the forest official's custody.

Majik, who is employed with the home guard department, which works in tandem with Goa police, had been arrested after a forest department probe indicated his alleged involvement in the poaching of a tiger in the Mhadei wildlife sanctuary, where a tiger was trapped and shot dead and filmed subsequently.

The case was exposed after wildlife activist Rajendra Kerkar published photographs of the slain tiger in the print media here.

"We are going to back our forest officials to the fullest. They were investigating a serious crime," Kumar said, adding investigations into the tiger poaching case had been temporarily stalled in view of the delay in the forensic examination of the poached tiger's bones and other remains.

"I have spoken to the director of the Wildlife Institute of India based in Dehradun who have said they will expedite the forensic tests. The report is expected soon," Kumar said.

Volunteer adventure abroad: Jaguars, Pumas & prey, oh my

August 28, 9:34 AM
San Diego Volunteer Travel Examiner
Tammara Phillips

The rainforest of Brazil’s St. Hilaire/Lange National Park is home to unstudied populations of Jaguars and Pumas. Volunteers interested in hands-on conservation can join the first-ever expedition to study the cats in the Park’s southernmost section.

The two week expedition will pair volunteers and scientists to collect data in densely forested mountain ranges and Mangrove lowlands. The information gathered will help local efforts to protect this key habitat for the two species. It is hoped that the area might contain the source population from which the Atlantic Forest Jaguar’s numbers could be bolstered. No knows how many are in the Park currently.

Biosphere Expeditions is organizing the venture to take place in May 2010. The trip is open to all and there are no special skills required. The program fee is $1650 which covers in-country travel, meals, and lodging. Volunteers will need to purchase transportation to and from Curitiba Brazil separately.

The organization has similar eco-ventures in other locations:
• Honduras – coral reef
• Slovakia – wolf & lynx
• Altai – snow leopard
• Caprivi – lion, leopard, hyena cheetah
• Oman – Arabian leopard
• Peru – jaguar, puma, parrots
• Musandam – coral reef


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Thursday, August 27, 2009

"Cougar Clippings for 26 Aug 2009 from Mountain Lion Foundation

Dear Friend,

Here are a few of the top stories on mountain lions from recent news articles. For more frequent updates, visit and read the news daily.

Panther Color Confounds Expert

The birth of two Florida Panther kittens would be an exciting report all on its own, but two gray kittens was a first time discovery for veteran panther biologist Mark Lotz. Aside from their odd and extremely rare coloration, the two cats appear to be in the good health. They will be monitored in the months to come to see if their smoky coats turn into the typical tawny- brown, or if they remain gray into adulthood.

Read the actual news story...

'My hands were shaking': Cougar-shooter tells his story

In Washington, over the past few weeks a cougar had been seen following a few bikers on a national forest trail. On Saturday, a nearby farmer killed a cougar going after one of his pigs and authorities believe it may be the same cat. Any cougar threatening people, pets or livestock can be killed on the spot, in addition to the hundreds of cougars that are killed every year for trophies in Washington.

Read the actual news story...

Hay Harvesters Encounter Cougar

A harvesting crew in La Grande Oregon is taking extra precautions during their night shifts bailing hay after a small cougar was seen in the parking lot. The men were startled when the cat did not appear afraid by immediately running away. Typically cougars will avoid people before ever being seen, or they will simply walk away if encountered. By working in pairs and using their headlights, the harvesting crew will likely increase their safety in other aspects as well.

Read the actual news story...


Those were just a few of the lion articles from the past week. Click here to read more! The Mountain Lion Foundation follows cougar and wildlife news each week. For a complete library of the most pertinent news articles, visit the Mountain Lion Foundation Newsroom.

If you can not use the links in this email to read complete articles, cut and paste (or type) the following address into your browser:

Cougar Clippings is a service of the Mountain Lion Foundation.


phone: 800-319-7621


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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

New Delhi to urge Beijing to rethink lifting of ban on trade in tiger parts

New Delhi to urge Beijing to rethink lifting of ban on trade in tiger parts

Ananth Krishnan
Wednesday, Aug 26, 2009

Much of poaching in India is driven by demand from China

Use of tiger bone common in prescriptions of Traditional Chinese Medicine

Conservationists call for closing down of tiger farms in China

BEIJING: India will on Wednesday call on China to increase its efforts to clamp down on trade in tiger parts even as Beijing mulls lifting a trade ban, a move conservationists say will deal a fatal blow to India’s wild tigers.

In recent months, there has been increasing speculation among conservationists in China that the government will lift a ban on the internal trade in tiger body parts. Much of the poaching in India is driven by demand from China, which has the world’s biggest market for tiger parts. In China, the use of tiger bone is common in the prescriptions of Traditional Chinese Medicine, the popularity of which has soared in recent years with increasing healthcare costs.

Surge in tiger deaths

There has been a surge in tiger deaths in India in 2009, with at least 68 killings, according to reports. India has only around 1,300 wild tigers. There are few wild tigers left in China. While the Chinese government imposed a ban on trade in tiger parts in 1993, it also simultaneously sanctioned the setting up of controversial tiger farms from where parts from the animals are harvested.

There are around 4,000 captive tigers in such farms. Conservationists have called for closing down these farms as, they say, it encourages the consumer demand for tiger products. India will join those voices on Wednesday, when Union Minister of State for Environment and Forests (Independent Charge) Jairam Ramesh meets Zhou Shengxian, China’s Minister for Environment Protection.

Mr. Ramesh told The Hindu that India would ask China to phase out these farms and strengthen enforcement.

“It is an important issue which has to be raised, as it is a problem of both demand and supply,” Mr. Ramesh said. “A lot of the parts are smuggled through Nepal and Myanmar, but most of the demand comes from China. We are going to ask the Chinese to co-operate with us and also strengthen enforcement.”

Cross-border trafficking

He would ask China to “provide full co-operation to India through liaising with Nepal for controlling cross-border trafficking,” and to send a clearer message to consumers.

Chinese conservationists say the trade in tiger parts has generally been on the decline since the government imposed a ban in 1993, but caution there is a real possibility of a lifting of the ban. The consequences of legalising trade, conservationists say, will be catastrophic for India’s tigers.

“The Chinese government thinks the farms are not that big of a negative for conservation,” Xu Hongfa, China co-ordinator of Traffic, a wildlife trade monitoring network, told The Hindu. “The question of tiger farms is a great debate right now in China and it is a difficult problem to solve. We worry that if China reopens trade, it will increase consumer demand which will be difficult to control.”

China, like India, is a member of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), which has called for an end to the breeding of tigers for their parts. On Tuesday, the CITES issued a first of its kind notification asking countries like China that have set up tiger farms to report on steps they had taken to clamp down on trade.

“The CITES has sent out a message that tigers should not be bred for their parts,” said Samir Sinha of WWF-India. “By legalising even a small part of the market, China will create additional demand that does not exist today. And the logistics of keeping this market clean are impossible. We are very, very concerned that if such a ban is lifted, it will be the last nail in the coffin for wild tigers.”

India on a tiger hunt in China

India on a tiger hunt in China

By Neeta Lal
Aug 27, 2009

NEW DELHI - Indian Minister for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh - the new United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government's first minister to visit China - is on a four-day trip to Beijing this week for bilateral talks on an array of ecological issues.

Apart from seeking increased bilateral cooperation on climate change, the issue that has dominated the minister's unfolding agenda is a vital conservation problem that has bothered India for years - China-led tiger poaching in India.

The poaching - directly linked to international trade through Nepal and Myanmar into China - has over the years led to an alarming plummet in the population of the Royal Bengal tiger, India's national animal.

Officially, domestic trade in tiger and leopard parts is illegal in
China. But black-market businesses abound to cater to China's ever-growing demand for tiger parts to use in libido-enhancing and aphrodisiacal drugs. This demand fuels the smuggling of expensive tiger parts - skin, claws, teeth, penises and whiskers - out of India via neighboring countries and into China.

China also maintains scores of controversial tiger farms that are used to harvest the big cats' body parts. Experts estimate that some 4,000 cats are bred on these farms for use in traditional Chinese medicine in the wake of China's spiraling healthcare costs.

Ramesh has made a special request to China for an "active liaison" with Nepal to control tiger trafficking along the Indian border. He has also pushed for a phasing-out of tiger farms and the destruction of stockpiles of tiger parts. In recent months, there has been increasing speculation that China may lift its ban on trade in tiger parts imposed in 1993. This move, experts believe, could prove devastating for tiger conservation efforts in India.

"We need to intensify efforts with the Chinese so that international tiger trade networks are smashed," Ramesh, 55, told the Hindustan Times. "Poaching in India is directly linked to international trade into China."

The minister asked China to "assure increased enforcement to curb the tiger/leopard skin and bone trade considering it is the Year of the Tiger in 2010". He has also sought an assurance from his Chinese counterpart - Minister for Environment Protection Zhou Shengxian - that China will sensitize its consumers to the problem and discourage trade in tiger parts.

In the past, India has expressed uneasiness about China's appetite for tiger parts smuggled out of India. Still, tiger poaching continues to thrive along the Indo-Chinese border, with the Chinese authorities allegedly turning a blind eye to the problem. Tiger poaching and the smuggling of tiger skins is now the second-most common crime along the Indo-China border after the illicit trade of narcotics.

This flourishing commerce is having a catastrophic effect on India's endangered national animal. According to the Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI), only about 1,300 tigers remain in the wild in India, down from about 15,000 two decades ago. Other Asian countries have tiger populations, but the count is negligible when compared to India.

The Indian government's attempt to create 37 tiger reserves - spread across 19 states - has failed to provide a safe haven from poaching. The WPSI estimates that India has lost 66 tigers in 2009, with as many 23 shot by poachers.

Conservation of India's remaining tigers is a top priority for the UPA government. With the urging of conservationists and activists, the government has doubled the budgetary allocation for Project Tiger - India's flagship tiger conservation program launched in 1973 under the aegis of former prime minister Indira Gandhi.

When Ramesh took charge of the Environment Ministry a few months ago, he took steps to strengthen legislation to deter poaching and other illegal activities in forest reserves. He also created the National Green Tribunal, a court that will hear all cases relating to the environment and forests. Ramesh has claimed he intends to bolster the Wildlife Protection Act and the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau as well.

In a bid to augment the country's tiger population, state governments are adopting measures to aid breeding. This year, at the Sariska Tiger Reserve, three tigers - a male and two females - were relocated from Ranthambore Tiger Reserve to breed.

According to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, "India's growth is increasingly taking place at the cost of its environment." The premier's warning comes in the wake of the just-released State of the Environment Report which pointed out that at least 45% of India's land is environmentally "degraded". Air pollution is rising, the report claims, and India's flora and fauna are diminishing.

Manmohan has emphasized that to contain further decline of India's natural resources, stringent regulation and incentives are required along with initiatives to establish a balance between growth and the environment.

Ramesh has maintained that New Delhi considers Beijing an "important ally" in the battle against vital ecological issues. The minister's current visit to China reinforces India's desire to push the agenda forward.

India, China defer agreement on Himalayan glaciers, tigers

India, China defer agreement on Himalayan glaciers, tigers

Saibal Dasgupta , TNN 26 August 2009, 07:20pm IST

BEIJING: India and China have agreed to defer signing an agreement for joint research on Himalayan glaciers till October end, Jairam Ramesh, minister of state (independent charge) for environment and forests, said here on the last day of his three-day visit to Beijing on Wednesday.

India is worried about signs of faster melting of glaciers, which feeds major rivers like the Brahmaputra, due to global warming. China is anxious about the massive drought situation in the Tibetan region this year.

Ramesh said a comprehensive accord will be drawn up after another round of talks when a Chinese delegation of environment scientists and officials visit New Delhi in October end.

It is not clear if the postponement was caused by any differences between the two countries, which also look at the issue from the security viewpoint. Discussion on granting access to scientists to each otherĂ¢€™s areas in the Himalayas has been going on for a long time and it is only now that the two sides have come close to drafting an accord.

Ramesh also brought up the issue of tiger farming in China, which local officials do not like to discuss. China was rapped recently by the Geneva based Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species for encouraging tiger farming after strong lobby by India.

The two sides agreed to hold a meeting of experts on issues relating to tiger and Tibetan antelope protection in the first week of November. Any agreement on the wildlife front will take place only after the November talks.

The minister said China and India have agreed to set up a joint working group of forestry experts to study carbon sequestration and determine factors that result in the capture of carbon dioxide in green cover areas.

New Delhi was keen to learn from Chinese how they manage to raise four times more forest at four million hectares a year as compared to India. The two countries also want to collaborate in making forest surveys using satellites.

India and China also wants to work together in research on pollution in major cities in the two countries and management of chemical and hazardous wastes, Ramesh said.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Tiger kills fisherman in Sunderbans

Tiger kills fisherman in Sunderbans


Sundarbans (WB), Aug 25 (PTI) A Royal Bengal tiger today attacked two fishermen at a forest here, killing one and seriously injuring the other.

Rohinikanta Das (40) was killed when the tiger attacked them at a creek in Chulkathi forest, forest officials said.

Das, a resident of South 24-Parganas district, was killed on the spot while his friend sustained serious injuries and was hospitalised.

Is the tiger on the verge of extinction?

Is the tiger on the verge of extinction?

In 1900, there were 100,000 tigers who roamed and roared in a dozen odd countries in parts of Asia and Europe. Of those majestic beasts, 40,000 or so were in India alone. Now in 2009, India cannot boast of having a couple of thousand tigers.

CJ: Chitranjan Sawant Mon, Aug 24, 2009 17:47:24 IST

THOSE WHO ride a tiger, end up in its stomach. This sentence was uttered time and again by political pundits and politico-jurnos alike to warn dictators and autocrats about their ultimate end. The situation has undergone a diametrical change. In the 21st century world, it is not the Man who ends up in tiger's stomach but the poor tiger who is becoming extinct as a species to make mankind healthy and happy. The tiger census makes the point abundantly clear.

In the year 1900, there were one hundred thousand tigers who roamed and roared in a dozen odd countries in parts of Asia and Europe. Of those majestic beasts, 40,000 or so were in India alone. Now in 2009, India - home of stately Royal Bengal tigers cannot boast of having a couple of thousand tigers. Where have they gone? Well, they have ended up in man's stomach. It is unbelievable but true. All parts of living and dead tigers are used by human beings in one form or the other.

The People's republic of China is the biggest user of parts of a tiger's body, from teeth to tail every part of the body is used in one indigenous Chinese medicine or the other. This has been going on for thousands of years not only on mainland China but also in other countries of the world where men and women of Chinese descent live and work. The South-East Asian countries make and dispense traditional Chinese medicines containing parts of tiger's body and bones in abundant measure.

As per an ancient Chinese concept, parts of a tiger's body used in a medicine or a tonic works as an aphrodisiac and enhances sexual enjoyment of both men and women. With the result the Chinese pharmacist of traditional medicines promoted poaching of tigers and kept on enhancing the incentive money to hunters. With the result, all tigers disappeared from southern China and ended up in man's stomach. The thirst for tiger-based aphrodisiacs remained unquenched and the poachers encouraged by ever expanding Chinese medicine market spread their tentacles beyond borders of China. In the bargain, India became the worst sufferer because of a large tiger population and lack of check on poaching.

The situation has become so alarming that a high level delegation headed by a Union Cabinet Minister visited Beijing to convince their Chinese counterpart that urgent and effective steps should be taken to prevent cross border trade in tiger parts. On paper, there is a ban on killing tigers and using its body for traditional Chinese medicines but the ban is ineffective on ground. The Chinese officials are not serious about it as an effective ban would grind a multi-million dollar trade to a halt. Who wants to kill a golden goose that lays golden eggs?

Now there are no tigers in Taiwan, Thailand, Indo-China, malaysia, Singapore or Bali worth the count. Bali used to feel pride on a small species of tiger that had full freedom on the only Hindu island in Indinesia; not so now. In other south-east Asian countries too tigers are seen only in the zoo. Consequently the pressure on poaching and illegal trading in tiger parts in India increased day by day. Bangladesh too shared this infamous trade for some time but called it off as she could not sustain it. There was an additional pressure on the Royal Bengal tiger of India to stand in the firing line. The majestic tiger roared no more in many jungles thereafter. The tiger preserve of Panna may be cited as an example where tigers scored a zero in the honest census.

The Chinese are good international traders. The dwindling tiger population in Asia and parts of Russia in the Siberian region encouraged them to do Tiger Farming. Large areas of land were converted into jungles for breeding and raising tigers. The experiment was a success but it hit a roadblock. Experts in traditional medicine did not find parts of a tiger's body raised in a tiger farm as effective and tasty as that of a tiger born and raised in the wild. Thus the conservators were back to square one.

The Government of India and the Government of China have one point in common in their thinking on tiger. Preserve the Tiger. Taking effective measures to protect and preserve the Tiger is the crying need of the hour.

Trade in tiger parts; CITES asks China to submit report

Trade in tiger parts; CITES asks China to submit report

Archana Jyoti

New Delhi, Aug 25 (PTI) India's efforts to save tigers has received a major boost with a global forum asking tiger-farming states like China to submit a report by October on steps taken to restrict trade in big cat parts.

This is for the first time that the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) Secretariat in Geneva has issued such a notification calling on relevant parties to report within a timeframe on steps taken by them to stop trade in tiger parts.

"It is a major development.The ruling undoubtedly puts a serious question mark on the fate of at least 5000 tigers currently in Chinese breeding farms as it has to now specify the steps taken to restrict farming in order to sustain tiger population in the wild. Other countries like Vietnam which are engaged in tiger farming will also have to report," sources said.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Jairam in China, seeks a break for Indian tigers

Jairam in China, seeks a break for Indian tigers

Reshma Patil, Hindustan Times
Beijing, August 23, 2009

The fate of India’s last big cats is now being linked to the Chinese zodiac and China’s Year of the Tiger in 2010.

On Sunday, Union Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh — the new government’s first minister to visit China — landed in Beijing for bilateral climate change talks.

He also brought a thick dossier stuffed with enlarged photographs of China’s captive tiger farms with dead tigers piled in cold storage, and tiger skins sold in Tibet.

Poaching has reduced India’s wild tiger population to about 1,300.

China has hardly 20 wild tigers but about 4,000 captive tigers on farms that are supposedly a tourist attraction.

Activists claim that farmed tiger parts illegally end up in Chinese traditional medicine and as sex drugs.

Officially, domestic trade in tiger and leopard parts is illegal in China.

“We need to intensify efforts with the Chinese so that international tiger trade networks are smashed,” Ramesh told Hindustan Times.

“Poaching in India is directly linked to international trade through Nepal and Myanmar border into China.”

India will strategically refer to the zodiac and ask China to ‘assure increased enforcement to curb the tiger/leopard skin and bone trade considering the Year of the Tiger in 2010’.

India will also nudge Chinese officials to send a message to consumers that the government is against this trade.

It’s difficult for enforcement officials to distinguish between parts from a farmed and poached tiger.

Poaching is cheaper than breeding tigers and consumers prefer wild tiger parts.

India will again request China for ‘active liasoning’ with Nepal to control tiger trafficking along the Indian border, a phasing-out of tiger farms and the destruction of stockpiles of tiger parts.

Ramesh will also propose setting up a ministerial-level joint working group on environment and forests.

In India, so far (as on August 15, 2009) 68 tigers have been killed.

No money for U'khand tiger conservation plan till it inks pact

No money for U'khand tiger conservation plan till it inks pact

August 23,2009
Source: PTI

New Delhi, Aug 23 (PTI) Uttarakhand Government's ambitious plan to acquire microlight aircraft for Corbett Tiger Reserve will have to wait with the Centre not ready to release funds to the state unless it signs a tripartite pact on conservation of the endangered species.

"Unless the state government signs a tripartite agreement with the us, no funds will be released. In simple words, it would not be able to acquire aircraft and motion sensors as demanded by it till then,"sources in National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) told PTI.

In June, Union Forest Minister Jairam Ramesh had agreed to the state government's Rs 8.5 crore comprehensive security plan spread over next six years which included purchase of an aircraft.

The aircraft was meant for air surveillance and for use during times of emergency in the park which has a rough terrain, making foot monitoring extremely difficult in its dense forests.

"We need easy connectivity and mobility which such an aircraft can provide. Patrolling in Corbett spread in the 1,000 square km area is not easy,"a senior official from Corbett Tiger Reserve said.

He said the state government is in the midst in finalising the nitty-gritty of the tripartite agreement to be signed with the Centre which makes the NTCA, the state government and tiger reserve's director accountable for the big cat conservation.

Corbett, which houses the maximum tigers in the world between 160-200, is always under threat from the poachers.

Centre preparing web-based database to aid tiger conservation

Centre preparing web-based database to aid tiger conservation

PTI 24 August 2009, 05:10pm IST

NEW DELHI: As part of efforts to counter threats to tiger population, Centre is preparing the first web-based database on the endangered species to facilitate information exchange among governments and agencies on illegal wildlife trade and the conservation plan in the country.

Modelled after the EU TWIX, presently being used by over 431 wildlife law enforcement officials across 31 European countries and 93 enforcement agencies, including Interpol, 'Tigernet' will be an exclusive tool to share information among the states on various aspect of tiger population ranging from illegal trade to their breeding.

"We cannot sit idle given the dwindling population of the royal tigers in the country. The comprehensive database on tiger and related wildlife trade and crime is being prepared by World Wild Fund (WWF) on behalf of the NTCA to support effective conservation enforcement," Samir Sinha, head of Traffic India, a well-known wildlife monitoring network associated with WWF said.

The database also aims at capacity building as well development of training materials on tiger conservation and intelligence development for various agencies keeping in mind the poaching threat faced by the 1,400 tigers left in various reserves in the country.

EU-TWIX is a short form for EU-Trade in Wildlife Information exchange which was established by the Belgian police, Customs and Cites, and Traffic Europe in 2005 and has been found extremely useful in keeping tab on wildlife crime.

"The Chief wildlife wardens and wildlife officials besides environment ministry officials can access the database on the tiger status in the reserves in any part of the state in the country," the wildlife expert said, adding though public is restricted from availing the facility they can suggest and give inputs.

It is likely to be launched by the end of this month.

Panther color confounds expert

August 22, 2009

Whitish-gray shade unusual, biologist says

By Andrea Stetson
Special to The News-Press

Mark Lotz has been working with Florida panthers for 15 years, but he's never seen anything like the baby panthers he recently found in Collier County.

Instead of the typical tawny color with brown spots, these two male panthers are whitish-gray.

"They were healthy. Just the color of their fur was different," said Lotz, a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission panther biologist.

"We have had some litters in the past that were lighter colors, but nothing like this. That's the lightest I've ever seen. I've seen nothing to that extreme." He found them July 20 when they were 5 to 6 days old.

One of Lotz's jobs is to examine panther kits; determine sex, weight, insert a transponder, take a biopsy sample, get a hair sample, deworm and record their general health.

The kits' mother has a transponder and was being watched; when a female doesn't leave the den for seven to nine days biologists assume she is giving birth.
When he checked the den and saw the whitish-gray panthers he said his reaction was disbelief.

"'These things are freaky looking,'" he said about his first thought when he saw them. "When you look in the den you are expecting to see the usual tan-colored babies and these looked like vulture chicks. They had that downy gray fur. It was weird looking."

The good news, Lotz said, is that they are normal healthy kittens.

The light gray kittens do have spots, but those, too, are unusual. Normally tawny kits have darker brown spots. These gray kits have ashy gray spots.

"I have no idea what causes it," Lotz said. "We have not documented anything like that before. I don't know if it's environmental or some genetic factor. We really don't have any idea."

Lotz believes that when they grow up their coloring will change and they will look like typical panthers.

"There's never been a gray cougar anywhere found. I don't think that trait is going to stick with them through adulthood," Lotz said. "There are no black panthers and likewise there have been no white panthers discovered either."
The biologist plans to set up some cameras near the den in the Flint Pen Unit of CREW land, so when the kits leave the nest at about 2 months of age, he can get a photo to see what color they are.

Larry Richardson, supervisory wildlife biologist for the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge and the Ten Island National Wildlife Refuge, is also intrigued by the gray panthers.

"Change is the only constant," Richardson said. "As soon as you think you know what they look like they change appearance. It's interesting how different they look."
The panthers' mother, known as FP168, is a regular tawny panther. The father is unknown, but Richardson said there are no gray adult panthers. Lotz will return to the den and keep an eye out when the kits are about 2 months old. Normally kits would not be observed closely again, but Lotz will place a camera near the den to see if their color has changed when they start coming and going from the den with their mother at about 2 months old.

Ricky Pires, head of the Wings of Hope program at FGCU that brings panther education to hundreds of Lee and Collier County schoolchildren, plans to use photos of these panthers in her lessons this school year.

"Nature's so neat. You never know what's going to happen," Pires said.


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Saturday, August 22, 2009

Sunderbans tiger kills fisherman

Sunderbans tiger kills fisherman

Monotosh Chakraborty, TNN 23 August 2009, 04:05am IST

KULTOLI (South 24-Parganas): A 40-year-old fisherman was killed by a tiger at Storekhali, under Gosaba block in the Sunderbans, on Friday. In a separate incident, a tiger entered Annpur, also in Gosaba, leaving villagers panic-stricken. In yet another case of animal intrusion, a crocodile strayed into the Bagmari canal at Achintanagar in Patharpratima block and ate up a goat, said Subrat Mukherjee, Sunderbans Tiger Reserve field director.

Nabin Mondal, a fishermen from Gopalgunj in Kultoli, had gone to Storekhali with two others on his boat. While the trio was busy fishing in the late afternoon, a tiger pounced on Mondal and dragged him into the forest. His companions tried to save him but could not. They then raised an alarm and lit a torch, after which forest officials retrieved Mondal's body.

Police said the fisherman had sustained neck and chest injuries, which proved fatal. Meanwhile, there was panic at Annpur after a tiger strayed into the same spot where it had come only five days ago. A forest department team is camping there with searchlights, traps and two goats as bait. Officials suspect that because of its age, the tiger might have lost its ability to catch prey.

Sources said some people saw the tiger moving around the village and forest officials immediately rushed to the spot. "We did not take any risk and installed a cage where the tiger was last sighted. The situation is under control now," said Mukherjee.

In the third incident, officials had a tough time driving away a crocodile that had eaten up a goat after straying into the Bagmari canal.

After villagers informed forest officials about the matter, the latter used ropes to take the crocodile beyond the inhabited area.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Talks on tiger poaching

Talks on tiger poaching

India's minister set to raise issue of demand for tiger parts during China visit
By Ravi Velloor
Aug 22, 2009

NEW DELHI - INDIA'S feisty environment minister says he intends to tackle at source the reason his country's efforts to protect the tiger are failing - China's demand for tiger parts that fuels poaching of the big cats.

'I think we have a good enough, mature relationship with the Chinese to tell them that while we are doing our best to curb poaching, you cannot be oblivious to the fact that demand for tiger parts is the real reason for this,' said Mr Jairam Ramesh, whose ministry oversees the environment and forests.

The 55-year-old Mr Ramesh, influential as a speechwriter and political strategist to Congress party president Sonia Gandhi, is visiting China next week for four days for discussions on environmental issues.

Top of the Indian Institute of Technology and Carnegie Mellon-educated engineer's agenda is to work with China on evolving a common stand on climate change and joint studies on monitoring the receding Himalayan glaciers. The two Asian giants will also discuss ways to cooperate in forestry.

But Mr Ramesh's determination to bring up the issue of poaching underscores his alarm at the dwindling population in India of the Royal Bengal tiger.

Demand for tiger penis, teeth, claws and other parts from China and elsewhere in East Asia - where these are associated with aphrodisiacal qualities - has fuelled a lucrative trade in poaching. The animal parts typically are sent overland to Nepal or Bangladesh, from where they are shipped out.

India had more than 40,000 of the majestic beasts 100 years ago and tiger hunts were a popular pastime of the erstwhile royals and feudals. By 1973, the tiger population had dwindled to about 1,800 animals.

Project Tiger, launched in 1973 when the late Indira Gandhi was ruling the country, won worldwide acclaim as a conservation success, helping to double the tiger population to about 3,500 by the mid-1990s.

Since then, however, the programme has suffered a setback. Today, India is believed to have fewer than 1,300 tigers in the wild.

The non-governmental organisation Wildlife Protection Society of India estimates that India has lost 66 tigers since the year began, of which 23 were killed by poachers.

Bobcat facts from Iowa

State Fair briefs: Bobcat chronicles amaze - and appall


At the Courtyard Stage beside the Department of Natural Resources building Thursday afternoon, a bobcat stood atop a table and glared menacingly at a crowd of 70 or so.

The bobcat, of course, was stuffed. But Todd Gosselink, a research biologist for the DNR's wildlife bureau, made the animal come alive with stories from his six-year research project on the resurgent bobcat population in Iowa. The project has collected and examined more than 550 bobcat carcasses and has captured and tagged more than 120 bobcats.

Here are a few facts about these animals, which look like house cats, only three times the size:

- One bobcat has a living space of 22 square miles, but they're rarely seen because they're active between dusk and dawn.

- Bobcats have been known to attack free-range chickens but not sheep, cattle or humans. They're probably not good to cuddle with, though; their claws are also three times the size of a house cat's.

- A female bobcat weighs 17 pounds, a male about 23 pounds. They have small tails and pointed ears with tufts of hair on top.

"Everyone thinks it's so fun to be a wildlife biologist, sitting outside and watching animals," Gosselink told the crowd. "Actually, we sit in the truck all day and listen to beeps all night. We rarely see the animal."

That's because bobcat tracking often involves the monitoring of radio waves emitted from devices placed on the cats after they've been trapped.

Perhaps the most vivid moment of Gosselink's presentation came when he spoke of bobcats' diet. As part of the project, the contents of stomachs from 100 bobcat carcasses were examined. The No. 1 prey of Iowa bobcats was cottontail rabbits, followed by squirrels and mice.

Gosselink passed around bags full of samples of things salvaged from bobcat stomachs. The bobcats clearly had eaten other animals whole.

"They're not picky eaters," he said. "They're hungry, and they eat it quickly."


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Mountain Lion Foundation's new "Cougar Corner"

Cougar Corner 8/20/2009

Dear Friend,

The Mountain Lion Foundation has a new feature on its website - Cougar Corner. Cougar Corner is the editorial voice of MLF which regularly addresses actions pertinent to our mission of Saving America's Lions. As an introduction, we have included the latest blog and invite you to sign up for notification of upcoming ones. We hope you will enjoy this feature as much as you do our Cougar Clippings service.

To sign up click this link, enter your email address and an update link will be emailed to you.

In The End, It's The Cougars Who Will Pay For Credit Card Reform
Cougar Corner 8/20/2009
Tim Dunbar
I had just finished reading about the new credit card law which takes affect today, when I received a call from a Mountain Lion Foundation member. She was contacting all the organizations whom she supports to remind them of the amendment Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) attached to that particular bill-an amendment which now overturns a Reagan-Era ruling banning visitors to National Parks, and wildlife refuges from carrying loaded weapons.

President Reagan-who, as Governor, placed a moratorium on hunting mountain lions in California-enacted the loaded weapons ban in 1983 to help stop the poaching of wildlife in areas where they should be safe. By making it illegal to carry loaded weapons in National Parks and wildlife refuges, Rangers had a some-what effective tool to help identify and prosecute poachers; where before they had to rely on catching them in the act.

Despite FBI data to the contrary, proponents of the new law, which started out as a last minute policy change at the end of the Bush Administration, used the same fear tactics one usually hears for pro-mountain lion hunting interests. They claimed that people have the right to protect themselves, and that without the ability to carry a concealed loaded weapon it was unsafe to visit our National Parks.

Instead of making our parks safer, all the gun-rights proponents have accomplished is to make the Rangers jobs more dangerous, and to have made it that much harder to protect mountain lions or the other wildlife that inhabit these special places. I am sorry that political expediency to pass credit card reform had to come at such a high price.

Cougar Corner is a service of the Mountain Lion Foundation.


phone: 800-319-7621


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Tiger kills man in Chitwan

Tiger kills man in Chitwan

Published on 2009-08-20 20:35:47

CHITWAN, Aug 20: A man died after being attacked by a tiger in western part of Chitwan district on Wednesday. The deceased has been identified as Sinharam Kumal, 32, of Sisabaas, Meghauli-2 in the district.

Kumal was attacked by a tiger when he was collecting fodder inside the community forest in Meghauli-2 on Wednesday. Kumal, an army soldier with the Fultekra Barrack of the Nepal Army in Nepalgunj, had come home on leave.

Thirty-five people have been killed by tigers inside the Chitwan National Park during the past five years.

MP not keen to sign pact for tiger conservation

MP not keen to sign pact for tiger conservation

Updated on Thursday, August 20, 2009, 18:02 IST

New Delhi: Madhya Pradesh has expressed reservation over signing of a tripartite pact with the centre for tiger conservation despite the state facing flak for several deaths of the big cats in its Panna and Kanha reserves.

The state officials are particularly worried over a clause in the pact that make directors of tiger reserves accountable for any lapses in the park.

"When already a bilateral agreement with the Centre and the State exists why to drag the director in the matter regarding tiger conservation. The funds are being doled out to the states and not to the director.

"And what if the director is shifted in between his term period," Prashant Mehta, Additional Chief Secretary (Forests) of Madhya Pradesh, asked Union Minister Jairarm Ramesh at a national conference on forests ministers here.

The issue came up during the deliberation when Ramesh called upon states to expedite signing of tripartite agreement which aims to make the stakeholders including director of the reserve responsible for protection of the big cat.

The agreement is a move to boost tiger conservation as it make three parties -- Environment Ministry on behalf of the Centre, state government and the tiger reserve -- accountable for their actions in protection of the big cats which are on the verge of extinction due to various reasons.

Refusing to buy the theory of the state government, Ramesh asked the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) member secretary Rajesh Gopal to hold a meeting with the state officials to encourage them to sign the pact.

Tripartite pact on Project Tiger

Tripartite pact on Project Tiger

STAFF Reporter

GUWAHATI, Aug 20 – State Environment and Forest Minister Rockybul Hussain today informed that the State has entered into a tripartite agreement involving the National Park Authority and the Central Government for the implementation of the Project Tiger Foundation in the State. Assam is among the five States of the country to have entered into such an agreement.

The Project Tiger is being implemented at Kaziranga, Nameri and Manas national parks of the State.

Under the said project, Rs 6.46 crore has been sanctioned for relocation of over 900 families based in forest villages of the Manas National Park and Rs 51 lakh for other developmental purposes of the park.

Similarly, Rs 1.56 crore has been sanctioned for Kaziranga National Park and Rs 17 lakh for Nameri reserve forest.

The Forest Minister, while addressing a press conference, also informed that the Central Government has been approached for similar conservation project for the one-horned rhino.

Hussain also claimed that the State has not recorded any tiger poaching incident expect one suspected poaching case where the animal was suspected to be poisoned to death.

”We have recovered the carcass of the tigers in intact manner and hence, we have grounds to assume that poaching has not taken place,” the Minister asserted, adding that most of tiger deaths were due to old age and infighting.

Hussain also informed that the density of tiger population could be as high as 24 tigers per 100 sq / km as per the preliminary findings of a survey on tiger population being carried out by independent agencies including Aranyak.

An average of 17 to 19 tigers per 100 sq / km is accepted to be satisfactory.

The Minister went on to inform that amendment into the Wild Life Protection Act has also been sought from the departments concerned to further tighten the legal noose on the poachers.

He also stated that a second battalion of Assam Forest Protection Force is also being raised exclusively to counter wildlife crimes.

The Minister also divulged that the Centre, in principle, has agreed to provide assistance for protection and cleaning of Bharalu and Kolong River and the State Government would engage IITG to prepare a detailed project report for the same.

“If required, assistance of experts from outside would also be sought,” the Minister added.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

More guards for Assam forest force

More guards for Assam forest force

787 men in 2nd battalion

Issue Date: Friday , August 21 , 2009

Guwahati, Aug. 20: Dispur is raising another battalion of the Assam Forest Protection Force for better protection and security of forests and wildlife in the state.

State forest and environment minister Rockybul Hussain today said the battalion, the second of its kind, would be stationed at Kaziranga National Park.

“Recruitment is on for the second battalion,” the minister told reporters. The total strength of the second battalion will be 787.

The first battalion was raised in 1984-85 and is stationed in the Basistha area here.

Hussain said 150 armed guards had already been posted at the park.

Sources said Delhi has also asked the state to constitute a special tiger protection force for tiger reserves for which 100 per cent central assistance would be provided.

The minister, while briefing reporters on the outcome of the two-day forest ministers’ conference that concluded in New Delhi yesterday, said Assam had been sanctioned Rs 6.7 crore under the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority.

The planning authority is an instrument to accelerate activities for preservation of natural forests, management of wildlife, infrastructure development in the sector, et al.

A sizeable amount of funds had accrued to Assam for the past several years from various agencies towards compensatory afforestation that was lying with the Supreme Court. However, the deadlock was broken only recently.

“We would use the money for carrying out afforestation activities on 1,388 hectares of land,” Hussain said, adding that an authority would be constituted soon.

On the status of tigers in Kaziranga, the minister said camera trapping by city-based NGO Aaranyak had helped sight several tigers.

“Twenty-four tigers have been sighted in an area of 100 square km, which is a good sign,” he said.

Hussain said the ministry had also given in-principle approval under the National River Conservation Programme for pollution abatement work in two rivers — Bharalu in the city and Kolong in Nagaon. A sum of Rs 60 crore has been provided for Bharalu and Rs 30 crore for Kolong.

“The ministry has asked us to prepare the detailed project report (DPR) for the projects. We have asked IIT Guwahati to prepare the DPR for us,” he added.

Big cats find healthy habitat at Kaziranga

Big cats find healthy habitat at Kaziranga

Naresh Mitra, TNN 20 August 2009, 10:31pm IST

GUWAHATI: At a time when tigers are fast vanishing from various sanctuaries of the country, the big cats seem to have got a healthy habitat in Assam's Kaziranga.

The national park on the southern banks of the Brahmaputra has 24.5 tigers per 100 sq km the "healthiest" density the big cat enjoys in the country, state environment and forest minister Rockybul Hussain said on Thursday. Tiger density in other protected areas is 17-18 per 100 sq km.

Though the actual tiger estimate in the 863 sq km-Kaziranga is yet to be published, Hussain said preliminary findings of the tiger density in the sanctuary showed "a healthy sign of big cat population in the park".

"Having 24.5 tigers per 100 sq km in Kaziranga is a very positive sign. It's the highest density in the country. This is just a conservative estimate... We expect a higher figure at the end of the census," he added.

According to the last census done in 2006, Kaziranga is home to 86 tigers. At present, Aaranyak, a bio-diversity conservation group in the North-East, is engaged in counting tigers in Kaziranga, the only Unesco World Heritage Site in the state. According to sources, the organization is using the camera-trap technology, instead of the traditional pug mark method, for a foolproof tiger count.

Kaziranga, which has two-thirds of the world's population of one-horned rhino, recently opened a new range covering the river front of the Brahmaputra in the northern boundary of the sanctuary. Incidents of tigers and other animals straying out of the park and falling prey to poachers' traps in nearby sand islands were quite frequent.

Kaziranga was recently in the news following death of nine tigers between November, 2008 and January 2009. Between November 2008 and this August, altogether 11 tigers died in Kaziranga.

On Wednesday, the Union ministry of environment and forest, state government and respective tiger reserves in the state signed a tripartite agreement in New Delhi to set up tiger foundations. According to the agreement, tiger foundations will be formed in three tiger reserves in Assam Kaziranga National Park, Manas National Park and Nameri National Park.