Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Big Cat SOS

Caged tiger! The South Khairbari Leopard Safari and Rehabilitation Centre in western Dooars houses ten Royal Bengal tigers, an endangered species.

Big Cat SOS

A tiger rescue centre in West Bengal struggles to live up to its promise.

Sankar Ray
Rajen Pradhan
Friday, Sep 25, 2009

Neither the Asia regional director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare, Grace Gabriel, nor well-known wildlife conservationist Judy Mills know of Ram, Sita, Lakshmi and seven others like them residing in Khairbari, in western Dooars of north Bengal. They are Royal Bengal tigers, an endangered species. Their present, and perhaps last, home is the South Khairbari Leopard Safari and Rehabilitation Centre (SKLSRC) set up four years ago by the West Bengal Government with the sanction, including financial assistance, from the Central Zoos Authority under the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests.

The ten big cats and some of the leopards at the centre are suffering from serious ailments, and the minimum care they deserve is missing.

There was a time when these same Royal Bengal tigers enthralled hundreds of children and adults alike at famous circuses across the country. Their agility and prowess understandably diminished with age. They were mostly rescued from the circuses — some were voluntarily handed over by circus owners who could no longer afford to maintain and feed them. When the centre was first set up, there were big promises. It was supposed to help treat rescued injured tigers in the Sunderbans too. The centre was also seen as a potential tourist attraction capable of earning valuable foreign exchange. But the high expectations seem belied.

This happens to be the lone tiger rescue and rehabilitation centre in eastern India, and the rare species — past their prime in hunting — need specialised clinical and health care. The attending vets are largely part-timers and none are specialised in treating big cats. The tragic circumstances leading to the death of a male Royal Bengal tiger last year adds to the general mood of pessimism. Karna of Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary was bitten on the tail by another tiger, Shyam, leading to a serious infection and damage to the veins connected to the spinal cord. Karna’s rear was paralysed within 48 hours of the bite and the vets were unable to administer saline after the tail was amputated. The then chief conservator of forests (wildlife) N.C. Bahuguna said, “It is very difficult to locate veins in a tiger body, apart from those in its tail. Our doctors somehow managed to push a bottle of saline. But that wasn’t enough. The injury extended to Karna’s spinal cord and his anus. Hence he could not be saved.”

The International Fund for Animal Welfare strongly condemns the “neo-liberal neglect” of big cats the world over and the support for “tiger farming”. Commenting on a recent TV show that advocated breeding tigers on industrialised farms to help save those in the wild, the Asian regional director of IFAW, Grace said, “It is inconceivable that profit and bottom line was the only lens through which 20/20 approached the issue of tiger farming. Every player in that trade chain is criminally responsible for the depletion of tigers in the wild, from poachers to smugglers to traders and to those who promote tiger trade: investors and owners of tiger farms.”

With the right scientific and clinical approach, tiger rescue centres such as the one in Khairbari can serve as a true sanctuary for this endangered magnificent animal.

Arizona: "Mama bobcat's killer got two-fers"

By Emil Franzi, Special to The Explorer

Kathy's mom lives next door about 60 yards away. She called Sunday morning to tell me her Aussie Shepherd Maxmillian had run into a bobcat kitten in her carport.

Max, a gentle dog, had hastily retreated when the little furball landed on his snout. I checked it out and figured kitten went back into whatever hiding place mama bobcat had put her. I told Grandmama, as she's called by our granddaughter, not to fret because mama would be back.

I was correct, but not the way I wanted. About an hour later I found mama bobcat's body less than a yard from where Max had found her kitten. Somebody had shot her.

She'd been hit in the back by what looked like a shotgun blast — wounds in both legs and the rump. Nobody else lives within a few hundred yards of us, so she had one helluva trip home. We decided to honor this gallant little lady by attempting to rescue that kitten.

A call to Pima Animal Care was answered by a real person who gave me the number of the wildlife rescue folks licensed by Game and Fish. A real person answered there, too. They offered to come out with a live trap, but I settled for their advice on using wet cat food and water in the one I had and to not remove mama right away. They said call them back if I scored and they'd come pick it up, but they were concerned that it was still nursing and too young to manage.

I'd like to report a happy ending, but it looks like mama's killer got two-fers. Monday morning, the trap was still empty. There's a bobcat kitten dead or dying somewhere close by.

I find it hard to understand why anybody would want to blow away this pretty little predator. I doubt she was lurking around ready to attack children in their beds. Might go for a cat or Chihuahua size dog if you leave them outside, but that's your fault. And removing one bobcat will barely increase their survival odds — several coyote packs and a batch of owls are doing back-up.

Coyotes and bobcats get the rap for owls too often. Too many folks living in semi-rural or even urban areas are ignorant of the threat of owls to smaller pets. A full-sized Great Horned can lift over 20 pounds. The biggest threat to all size dogs around here during monsoons is Colorado River Toads. I know lots of folks, including us, who've lost or almost lost a dog who licked or mouthed one of these foul critters.

Bobcats — and most snakes including rattlers — perform a useful service by keeping the rodent populations down. Having mama around here greatly reduced the rat population, something that's almost impossible to remove by we who live on large parcels. May whoever killed her find his wiring harness devoured some morning.

Mountain lions are another story, but again there's not many of them. One bagged a larger dog in the Airpark last year. Besides toads, they're the only real threat to most dogs unless the dog is dumb enough to engage a javelina herd — again, owner's fault. Try a "fence."

The bobcat's problem is visibility — unlike cougars, they're not very shy. Cougars are like Ben Johnson's description of Apaches in "Rio Grande." "If you can see 'em, they ain't Apache." I've seen lots of bobcats in the last 30 years, but only two cougars. Suspect more than that have seen me.

I buried mama bobcat this morning under a big mesquite. I admit to crying during the process.

Hear Emil Franzi and Tom Danehy Saturdays 1-4 p.m. on KVOI 1030AM.


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Bobcat sightings on the rise in Connecticut

Bobcat Sightings Reported In Tolland

The Hartford Courant

September 30, 2009


The number of bobcats in the state appears to be growing, and several town residents added to the sightings last weekend.

Bobcats were seen on Old Post Road, Cider Mill Road, Eaton Road and Charles Street/Old Stafford Road, according to a press release Tuesday from the local animal control office.

Jeanne Kosciw, who lives on Old Post Road, took photos of a bobcat in her yard Saturday morning. Kosciw said she was alerted about 5:45 a.m. by the loud squawking of a guinea hen she keeps in a backyard coop. The bobcat lingered around the coop for about 10 minutes, and Kosciw took the photos from her kitchen window, knocking on the window at one point so that the cat would look at her to get a head-on shot.

The sightings in town could involve two or three separate animals, animal control Supervisor John Littell said Tuesday.

The secretive cats have been spotted mostly west of the Connecticut River, and, in particular, in the state's northwest section, according to the state Department of Environmental Protection. In the 12-month period that ended in September 2008, 200 bobcat sightings were recorded, the highest number in about five years, DEP wildlife biologist Paul Rego said. About a third of the sightings have been east of the river, Rego said.

The sightings in Tolland prompted the animal control office to warn residents about the wild felines.

"Residents should not be alarmed by these sightings but should remember these animals are wild," a press release said. "Please do not try to go near them or feed them. Be sure all trash is protected in closed bins and do not leave dog or cat food outdoors. Children and pets should not be left unattended if there have been sightings in your area."

Chickens and other fowl should be securely fenced and house cats should be kept indoors, especially at night, according to the release. People who encounter bobcats in their yards can try to scare them away by making loud noises, such as banging on pots and pans or using whistles, according to the release.

Bobcats are night prowlers for the most part, although they have been spotted during the day. They usually avoid contact with people, Rego said.

"It's very rare for them to be aggressive toward humans," he said.

One exception occurred in April 2005, when a rabid bobcat attacked a man in Litchfield. Bill Winn had gone into the cellar of his mother's home to investigate loud noises. The 30-pound cat leaped on him at the bottom of the stairs, sank its teeth into Winn's left knee and started shredding his pants with teeth and claws.

Winn managed to sit on the cellar steps facing the cat and repeatedly kicked it with his right foot. He eventually kicked it away, got up and slammed the cellar door before the bobcat could jump at him again. A state conservation officer shot the animal, and a laboratory test of its brain confirmed that it had rabies, which is unusual in bobcats.

The cats, which can weigh up to 40 pounds, are not listed as endangered or threatened in the state, but trapping is not allowed.,0,6649307.story


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Minnesota: Bothered by naysayers ‘posing’ with mountain lion

Published September 30 2009

So we have confirmation of a mountain lion in Bemidji. After being told all of our sightings were misinformed, big house cats, over-zealous country folk; we always knew.

What is really sad and frustrating and bothersome is the “posing” all of the nay-sayers are doing with the dead proof.

You look proud of your “kill.”

Sue Johnson



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Lynx and beaver to ‘rewild’ English countryside

From The Sunday Times September 27, 2009

Chris Gourlay and Jonathan Leake

WILD animals such as elk and even lynx could roam parts of England again, long after being forced out by deforestation and the expansion of agriculture, under a government scheme to "rewild" tracts of countryside.

Hilary Benn, the environment secretary, will announce the plan to the Labour conference in Brighton tomorrow. He has told officials at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to investigate how best to revive not just species but entire landscapes.

Under rewilding, new reserves would be as large, wild and natural as possible, and be connected to each other so that animals can roam freely. Research shows that the current system of creating small, unconnected conservation areas is not working. Populations of animals in such reserves are often too small to be viable.

The project would build on attempts in recent years to re-establish long-lost species. The first beavers were reintroduced to England in the Cotswolds in 2005, 500 years after they became extinct. This summer the first great bustard chicks since 1832 were hatched at secret sites on Salisbury plain.

Keith Kirby, chief woodland conservation officer for Natural England, which will research the idea for Defra, said the most obvious potential sites for reserves were England's uplands such as Exmoor, Dartmoor, Northumberland and the Lake District. "But we want to find lowland regions, too."

The first stage would be to connect existing habitats to create larger landscapes, Kirby said. The reintroduction of large herbivores would follow — potentially including species such as elk, wild cattle and European wild boar.

Domesticated species such as highland cattle or exmoor ponies might be released into the wild, too.

In the much longer term, Kirby is keen on the idea of also releasing predatory species — but this idea would have to win public acceptance first. He believes lynx would be the first candidate because they are too small to threaten humans.

Kirby has calculated that northern England could support a population of 4-500 of these tufty-eared wild cats, which have been absent for at least 1,300 years, if dense forest were restored in some areas.

The British rewilding movement draws inspiration from Holland's Oostvaardersplassen reserve, 25 miles east of Amsterdam. The 14,000-acre tract of uninhabited fen, scrub woodland and wild grassland reclaimed from the sea just 40 years ago offers a glimpse of what northern Europe may have looked like roughly 11,000 years ago.

Primitive breeds such as Heck cattle and Konik horses already live on the reserve and there are plans to introduce European bison.

No reserve that big exists in Britain yet, but some private landowners have plans.

In West Sussex, fallow deer, Exmoor ponies and old English longhorn cattle roam the 3,500-acre Knepp Castle estate.

In Cambridgeshire, Natural England is helping to recreate more than 9,000 acres of ancient wetland between Huntingdon and Peterborough.

In Scotland, Paul Lister has released wild boar, elk and beavers onto his 23,000-acre Alladale estate in Sutherland, and wants to reintroduce lynx and wolves, nearly 270 years after the last wolf was killed.


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Fact sheet on cougars in Minnesota

DNR wildlife manager provides cougar fact sheet

Published September 28 2009

By: Paul Relander, Bemidji Pioneer

Cougars (sometimes referred to as "mountain lions" or "puma") were found throughout most of Minnesota prior to European settlement, though never in large numbers. Today they are rarely seen but do occasionally appear.

Like most wild animals, cougars will typically avoid any interaction with humans and an attack on a human would be highly unlikely. There has never been a reported case of a cougar attacking a human in Minnesota; even in western states, where cougars are relatively abundant, attacks on humans are extremely rare. What follows are commonly asked questions about cougars.

Cougar locales

Many of the cougars confirmed in Minnesota have had captive origins. Released or escaped pets often cannot be distinguished from wild animals until they are killed or captured and then only if they have obvious indications of captivity (e.g., tattooed, de-clawed or tame behavior). Some cougars have not had any apparent evidence of being in captivity and may have been truly wild. That may be the case with the recent car-killed cougar near Bemidji, though complete analysis has yet to be conducted.

The nearest known self-sustaining breeding population of cougars, estimated to number around 250, is in the Black Hills area of South Dakota (and to lesser extent, the North Dakota Badlands), several hundred miles from Minnesota. The only known population of cougars east of the Mississippi River is in Florida (i.e., the 'Florida panther'), where perhaps 50 wild animals continue to roam. In the mid-2000s, a cougar that was fitted with a radio collar in the Black Hills was later located with telemetry equipment on the Roseau River Wildlife Management Area in northwestern Minnesota. This animal was there for about two weeks before disappearing. It is possible that additional animals dispersing from the Black Hills or other western areas enter Minnesota. Most animals confirmed in the Midwest in the past 15 years have been young males, the segment of a cougar population most likely to disperse in search of new territories.

Once here, cougars are not restricted to territories by neighboring members of their species and therefore could move freely. While potential prey – deer – is abundant in Minnesota, dispersing cougars are not likely to stay in one area for long, instead continuing to search for suitable habitat with potential mates.

Cougar ID

It is not unusual for people to mistake other animals for cougars. To identify a cougar, it is helpful to know that adult males can reach 200 pounds, but most are much smaller and average about 150 pounds. Adult females usually weigh about 90 to 110 pounds. The head appears small in relation to the body which ranges in length from 4-6 feet overall. It is tan except for dark face markings and tip of tail, which is nearly as long as the body. An excellent identification guide, called the "Puma Field Guide," is available at

Cougar numbers

There is no evidence that Minnesota has a self-sustaining breeding population. And because of their highly secretive nature and tendency to wander, it is nearly impossible to accurately determine how many individual cougars there might be in Minnesota. During the past 30 years, DNR biologists doubt there has ever been more than a couple wanderers in the state at one time. Nevertheless, some are confirmed, and cougar confirmations in the Midwest have increased in the recent past. While uncertainty remains, most available information attributes the change to an increase in cougar populations out West, which in turn produces more dispersing cats, particularly when those populations approach carrying capacity. It is difficult to predict whether or when enough dispersers, both males and females, will settle in Minnesota and establish a small population.

Cougar food

Cougars subsist primarily on mammals, primarily ungulates – deer) – but also rabbit, squirrels, porcupine. When opportunity presents itself, they may go after farm livestock or pets. While there have been reports of cougars attacking livestock, there has not been an actual confirmed case of predation of livestock in Minnesota.

Cougar threat

There has never been a reported incident of cougars attacking humans in Minnesota and no predation on livestock has been conclusively confirmed by DNR staff. However, it is wise to remember that no wild animal is ever entirely predictable.

Cougar protocol

Report what you saw as soon as possible to the nearest DNR Wildlife Office or Conservation Officer. Note the date and time of the possible sighting, the location where the animal was seen, and a description of what you saw. If the opportunity presents itself, take a photograph of the animal or other potential evidence like tracks. The DNR collects reports from citizens Any physical evidence that could indicate the presence of a cougar will be investigated and proper steps taken to ensure public safety.

Cougar encounter

An encounter would be extremely rare in Minnesota. Cougars hunt by stalking and attacking from ambush, and if encountered, should be faced. Recommended actions include making yourself appear large by holding your arms above your head, waving a hat or jacket, talking loudly and firmly, and throwing rocks or sticks at the animal to chase it away. If actually attacked, hit the animal in the face and head with anything handy. Don’t run, crouch or lie down. Try and stay above the animal and give the animal a clear escape route.

Check out the following for more tips at

Problem cougar

Public safety officials are authorized to kill a cougar that proves to be an imminent threat to humans, but not private people. Cougars are protected by law. However, if there is a proven public safety concern, or if the animal is caught in the act of killing or injuring livestock, DNR or licensed peace officers can take action or authorize the taking of a problem animal. Should you become concerned with a cougar in your vicinity, contact a DNR conservation officer or other local public law enforcement authority to evaluate the situation and resolve problems. They have responsibility for public safety. DNR enforcement and wildlife personnel will work with them to quickly evaluate and resolve problems.

Cougar removal

Relocating problem animals is usually impractical because the same problems could occur at new release sites. Deporting them to western states, where cougar populations already exist, is often prohibitively expensive and can also result in territorial struggles and the death of the released animal.


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ND reports season's 1st mountain lion killed

Published September 29 2009

Bismarck, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota is reporting the first mountain lion killed since the state season for hunting the animals opened this fall.

State Wildlife Division Chief Randy Kreil says hunter Larry Schultz of Arnegard killed a 95-pound female cat in northwestern North Dakota, east of Watford City

The state's fifth mountain lion season started Sept. 4. It runs through March, but could end earlier in the western part of the state if the quota of eight cougars is reached. The eastern part of the state has no quota.


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COLORADO SPRINGS: Mountain lion, cow latest rabies victims in eastern El Paso County

September 29, 2009 08:49 am

September 28, 2009 7:35 PM

The Gazette

Back-to-back cases of a rabid mountain lion and a cow in eastern El Paso County have provided the latest evidence of the fatal disease’s sudden resurgence in the area in recent months.

The animals were euthanized late last week after displaying bizarre behavior, and their positive tests for rabies were announced Monday. The cases come just two weeks after a rabid horse was euthanized in the Black Forest area, and Colorado’s top veterinarian says northern and eastern El Paso County appear to be among the worst places for rabies statewide.

“This area around Calhan and Peyton seems to be rather interesting right now,” said Keith Roehr.

It’s not clear how the lion and cow were infected, but health officials speculate the cases are tied to skunk rabies, which recently surfaced in El Paso County for the first time since 1970. Since then, eight skunks have tested positive, most in the north and eastern parts of the county.

The mountain lion attacked a man’s pet dog about 2:30 p.m. Thursday in the Peyton area, said Michael Seraphin, a spokesman with the Colorado Division of Wildlife. The man kicked the lion, which at first did not let go but eventually retreated to the man’s garage. The man trapped it in the garage until DOW officers arrived. DOW tranquilized the lion and decided to submit it for rabies testing, because the daytime attack, the lion’s location, and its response to the man were all unusual. The results came back positive Monday evening. It was not known Monday whether the dog was current on its rabies vaccine.

On Friday, a rabid cow in the Calhan area was euthanized. Veterinarian Robert DeAngelo examined the cow, which was standing on its back legs only and had a look in its eyes “like nobody’s home,” DeAngelo said. He got the cow to stand and it wobbled, another tell-tale sign of rabies.

DeAngelo, his veterinary technician, and the cow’s owner were all exposed to the virus from the cow and are getting treated. DeAngelo received seven injections Saturday and must undergo one injection a week for the next month.

Veterinarians and health officials are urging people to vaccinate their pets, and in many cases their livestock.

Although livestock in Colorado is not traditionally at risk of rabies, the cow and horse are evidence that’s changing.

Roehr said skunks tend to reside near outbuildings, so animals on the open plains are at as great of a risk as those on ranchettes or closer to neighborhoods and buildings.

DeAngelo also warned livestock owners against buying vaccine from supply stores and doing it themselves. Without a veterinarian’s supervision, there’s no way to know whether it was done properly or if the animal is adequately protected.

Although confirmed cases are generally occurring in the same parts of the county, health officials are working under an assumption that the disease could be anywhere, and they say the public should do the same.

“You have to assume it’s in the whole county and not just these isolated areas,” said Shannon Rowe, communicable disease program manager for the El Paso County Department of Health and Environment.

Call Newsome at 636-0198. Visit the Pikes Peak Health blog at and the Gazette’s Health page at


Get pets, horses and other high-value livestock vaccinated.

Don’t feed wild animals or allow your pets around them. Make sure children stay away from wild animals.

Contact the vet if a pet is bitten or scratched by a wild animal.

Call a doctor immediately if you suspect you’ve been exposed to rabies.

Stay away from an animal exhibiting bizarre behavior, such as a nocturnal animal like a skunk wandering about during the day.

If you must remove a dead skunk on your property, wear rubber gloves or lift the carcass with a shovel or other tool, and double-bag it for the trash.


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Solar for elephants, cheetahs and lions

Eric Wesoff | September 28, 2009 at 12:04 AM

African elephants, Ethiopian wolves, Andean cats and cheetahs are on the run. Habitat loss, encroaching human populations, disease and pollution are threatening their existence. Do you want your or your children's generation to be the last to know these creatures in the wild? To let them go the way of the thylacine?

If you're reading this website you are likely passionate about green technology. The markets are enormous and growing and there is the potential to make lots of money. Investors like Ira Ehrenpreis of Technology Partners have tried for years to decouple greentech from its hippie, save-the-world roots. Ira has long insisted that the green in greentech is about greenbacks, not about vegan, yoga-practicing, tree-sitting, save the whales, kill the seals, recycling, granola-crunching wiccans.

Sorry Ira. Time to help save the world. At least in today's blog. We'll return to making money tomorrow.

The Wildlife Conservation Network works to protect endangered species and preserve their natural habitats. The organization supports innovative strategies for people and wildlife to co-exist and thrive. The WCN has a solar project, and it needs donations of solar equipment.

Dedicated conservationists all over the globe are studying species in decline and trying to learn enough to save them. They live and work in extreme environments and they need electricity to run their camps, power their communications and just keep their modest facilities in repair.

The WCN Solar Project designs, assembles and ships solar electric systems to conservation projects in the field. By providing a reliable source of energy for everything from lights and laptop computers to GPS systems, the Solar Project is making a real impact on critical efforts to protect endangered species. They are using this electricity to conduct cutting edge research like tracking elephants in real-time via GPS, powering VSAT computer links at 15,000 feet in Ethiopia, and many other state-of-the-art programs.

Many conservationist camps get power from diesel generators or in some cases off of their jeep battery. Try getting barrels of diesel fuel to 14,300 feet elevation in Ethiopia on a predictable schedule. How are you going to refill your lead acid batteries with distilled water in the bush in Botswana?

Solar power is an obvious solution to these problems. Solar provides electrical power but these conservationist camps are also beginning to work with solar cookers, solar water pumps, and solar water purification. Less obvious is how a shoestring outfit like the WCN is going to afford them (even with a plunging PV cell ASP).

The Wildlife Conservation Network's solar project is also on the cutting edge of efficient green lighting – illuminating their camps with solid state lighting donated by startup Lumiette, a flat-panel florescent lighting company we covered here. That's right – donated lighting and donated solar. BP Solar has already donated 300 solar panels, the appropriately named Outback Power has donated off-grid inverters, Lumiette has provided lighting, MK Batteries has provided L16 deep-cycle batteries and Beronio Lumber has donated plywood for shipping the equipment.

In the words of solar power recipient Dr. Laurence Frank of Living with Lions in Kenya: “It works – the project is lit up, the satellite-internet system is working, and I don’t hear a generator!”

For Rebecca Klein of Cheetah Conservation Botswana: “It was very exciting to turn on the light switch for the first time and know that the energy making it all possible is completely sustainably produced.”

Founder of the WCN Solar Project, Stephen Gold commented: "You need to think about everything that could possibly go wrong – it's kind of like going to the moon. You have to bring along everything – nuts, bolts, wiring, plugs, spares, instruction manuals."

If you're interested in further details you can visit these sites. One-hundred percent of any donation can be designated to the conservation of a specific species.

Ethiopian Wolves (only a few hundred remain)
Snow Leopards
Small Cats
Painted Dogs (only 3,000 remain)
Predator conservation

WCN is having a Wildlife Conservation Expo and Garden Party on October 3 to 4 in San Francisco where you can hear conservation heroes from across the globe, including Dr. Jane Goodall, share inspiring stories about the endangered animals they work to protect and how you can get involved.

So – come on, Suntech (Andrew, cowboy up, it's not like we need custom sizes), SunPower (Julie – who is the contact at SunPower for a community project like this?), Sanyo, SMA, Q-Cells, Enphase et al. The organization also accepts cash donations. If you'd like to donate – contact the organization or contact me and I will get you to the right people.


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Russia plans to revive rare Persian leopard

September 28, 2009
by Antoine Blua

There's intense activity around Russia's Black Sea port of Sochi ahead of the Winter Olympics due to be held there in 2014, as billions of dollars are being spent to build infrastructure and Olympic venues.

But Russian authorities and conservationists are also going ahead with a project to restore a population of Persian leopards to the region.

It's part of a plan to counter fierce criticism by activists that Olympics-related construction will harm wilderness around Sochi.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin recently presided over the transfer of two male leopards, a gift from Turkmenistan, into pens in Sochi National Park. The project aims to introduce three pairs of males and females to a $3 million breeding center.

Igor Chestin, director of the Russian branch of the World Wildlife Fund -- which initiated the leopard project -- says the offspring will be released into the wild in the neighboring Caucasus State Biosphere Reserve.

"We've put special measures [in place] to increase the number of prey for the leopards, primarily chamois, ibex, red deer, and wild boar," says Chestin. "And we'll distribute salt licks every year. We expect to see the number of animals increase to 40 to 50 within about 15 to 20 years."

The Persian leopard (Panthera pardus saxicolor) is one of the largest of subspecies of leopards, with a long tail and a highly-prized pelt patterned with black rosettes and spots.

The leopards lived in mountainous areas throughout the Caucasus but largely disappeared last century because of poaching and a shrinking habitat.

A mere 10-12 wild leopards are believed to exist in remote areas of Russia's northeastern Caucasus. The same number is believed to remain in both Armenia and Azerbaijan, while up to seven animals reportedly to live in Georgia.

Chestin says the only viable populations exist in Turkmenistan, which has more than 100 leopards, and in Iran, with up to 300 leopards.

"The population in the Caucasus is not really viable. It's sustained only because of an inflow of leopards from Iran," Chestin says. "Our idea was to establish another northern nucleus of the leopard population that would support small groups in the Russian Caucasus, Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan."

Chestin says Ashgabat has pledged to send more cats to Russia, and negotiations are also under way with Iran.

The endangered leopard is protected in all countries in which it lives, including Afghanistan, where little is known about its status.

In the southern Caucasus countries of Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia, conservation work is focused on protecting the leopard's last remaining habitats and cracking down on poaching.

Chestin says the leopards will be able to survive there in isolated pockets if their populations are supplemented by new animals from Iran or Russia.

"The primary task in the southern Caucasus is to expand protected areas as much as possible, but there isn't much room left because most of the areas have already been developed by humans," Chestin says. "There are no more than two or three adult animals in one site, so these groups are very vulnerable."

Chestin says conservation and anti-poaching measures in Turkmenistan have enabled the leopard population there to increase by some 40 percent over the last decade. He says that experience has given optimism about the effort to restore leopard populations in the Caucasus.


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Trap set up for bobcat in Kansas City suburb

Trap Set Up For Bobcat In Riss Lake
Dept. Of Conservation Officials Remind Owners To Supervise Pets

POSTED: 2:24 pm CDT September 24, 2009
UPDATED: 6:21 pm CDT September 24, 2009

PARKVILLE, Mo. -- Missouri Department of Conservation officials are attempting to trap a wild bobcat that is hunting in the Riss Lake area of Parkville.

Residents in the area have reported that the bobcat is killing pets.

"I've seen the car multiple times in front of my house," homeowner Cecilia Shalz told KMBC.

The animal's den has been spotted in a wood pile in the neighborhood.

The trap being set up by conservation officials may capture the bobcat so it can be removed.

However, wildlife experts said it can be difficult to trap an intelligent wild animal. They said that a more immediate solution would be for residents to keep a close eye on their pets and not let them wander out of sight.

Residents said that there have been sightings of the bobcat for nearly a year.

Wildlife experts said there have also been an increasing number of owl attacks on pets in the Kansas City area. They're also seeing the black bear population coming back, especially in the southern part of Missouri.


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"Cougar Clippings" for 23 Sep 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.

Commissioner Suggests "Lion Free" Zones

According to "Blogging in the Desert" by Arizona Daily Star journalist Tony Davis, at Saturday's Game & Fish Commission meeting, Commissioner Jack Husted suggested that Arizona create lion-free zones. Husted also supports returning to a year round lion trophy hunting season. After his recent suggestions, many appear to be wondering if Husted understands the fundamentals of a healthy ecosystem, or simply wants wildlife refuges to be hunting theme-parks.

Read the actual news story...

Lawsuit Coming if Panthers Aren't Protected, Environmental Groups Say

Three environmental groups have filed a petition with the Obama administration to protect 3.1 million acres of habitat critical for the survival of endangered Florida panthers. The Center for Biological Diversity has stated they will take this issue to court if they do not receive a positive response within the 90-day time period.

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Mountain Lion Fatally Struck by Car Near Bemidji

A large cat killed on a northern Minnesota road Friday night was confirmed to be a mountain lion. The adult male has been transported to the state's Department of Natural Resources office in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, for further study. He does not appear to be captive bred but researchers will know more in the upcoming weeks. Wildlife officials do not believe there is a breeding population of lions in the state.

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Protecting the tiger

Protecting the tiger

Some states have shown that it can be done

Business Standard / New Delhi September 25, 2009, 0:44 IST

The reconstitution of the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) earlier this month, within three years of its being set up, suggests that the government is unsure of how to fulfil this mandate. Actually, the solutions exist, and have been demonstrated on the ground; they need replication. For although there are no firm estimates of how far the tiger population has diminished since Project Tiger began in 1972 — the “pug mark” census method used then has been widely discredited — it is easy to see that tigers are disappearing from India’s jungles. Conserving the approximately 1,650-odd Royal Bengal tigers that India now has is essentially a question of institutional reform.

Radical proposals to develop farms that breed and release tigers in the wild have been discussed occasionally. The concept is attractive in theory but has proved a failure in practice in China — the biggest market for tiger parts. This is because of local beliefs that the most potent tiger bones — a standard ingredient in aphrodisiacs and treatments for rheumatic ailments — come from animals in the wild. In other words, tiger farms would actually raise the premium on wild tiger parts. India, being the largest source for the tiger parts market, would therefore suffer a sharper diminution in such an event.

India has an additional problem in that no zoo has a proper stud book. The result is that several tigers in Indian zoos are of mixed species — some, in fact, are half-Siberian. Third, no one has yet discovered a way of viably replicating the unique parental training for preparing an animal for the wild — Billy Arjan Singh’s experiment is considered too individualistic to be applied to large tiger populations.

In truth, there is little that is wrong with the concept of national parks that were set up under Project Tiger and there are easily remedied reasons for their sub-optimal functioning. First, conservation is a concurrent subject, so misalignments between central and state efforts are inevitable. Sariska is a case in point where central and state forest bureaucracies used each other as alibis for inaction, leading to the extinction of the big cat there.

Some states have not recruited forest guards since the 1980s, so the current ageing cadres, who are also unarmed, can scarcely be expected to police well-armed poachers. Conversely, the states that have taken conservation seriously like Assam (Kaziranga) and Karnataka (Nagarhole) have seen healthy increases in tiger populations. It would, thus, be useful if the NTCA explored ways of rewarding states that function effectively, and getting others to learn from the successful ones. Promoting responsible tourism is another effective conservation method because it provides a viable eco-system for land-losers to national parks, in addition to providing valuable local-level funding.

Today, much of the revenues from the national parks go into a centralised state kitty, and the funds earmarked for parks vanish under administrative heads and leakages. Redirecting such income for reinvestment would go a long way in making parks more financially self-sufficient.

Time running out for Dudhwa’s tigers

Time running out for Dudhwa’s tigers

September 27th, 2009 - 10:53 am ICT by IANS
By Sanjeeb Baruah

Dudhwa (Uttar Pradesh), Sep 27 (IANS) Tigers have no place to hide in Dudhwa National Park. With trains and buses plying through the sanctuary, poachers move around easily to pick their targets.

This 680-sq km sal forest in Lakhimpur-Kheri district in Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, is home to some 60 tigers. But their time is slowly running out with mounting threats from poachers and timber smugglers plundering the habitat.

Dudhwa also shares a porous international border with Nepal.

Over 100 heavy vehicles use the 25-km stretch of the Palia-Gauriphanta road in the park every day. Besides this, vehicles also ply on the Dudhwa-Chandan Chauki, Chandan Chauki-Dingania, Bhira-Mailani and Chandan Chauki-Mornochani roads.

The buses are for people who live in villages dotted within the forest and for Nepali citizens who come to India through the Gauriphanta border post.

According to Pinaki P. Singh, deputy director of the park, there is a proposal to build another road to divert the heavy vehicles away from the Palia-Gauriphanta road.

The proposed road is likely to come up near Sumernagar, some 9-12 km away from the park. The plan is currently being studied by the forest department, local administration and Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), responsible for security along the India-Nepal border.

“The heavy vehicles are a big menace for us. Only small vehicles will be allowed on this road,” Singh said.

The Mohona river demarcating the border between India and Nepal also forms the northern boundary of the park, while the Suheli river forms its southern and southwestern boundaries.

“All types of illegal activities, wildlife trade, arms and drugs smuggling, are taking place at the border. Nepali citizens enter the forest to smuggle timber. My guards (forest guards) cannot take action as they cross the border after committing the crimes,” Singh told IANS.

In addition, about 13 passenger trains run every day on the 35-km Palia-Dudhwa-Bellraien section of the park. The lines were laid in the pre-independence period to transport timber. Of the eight railway stations in the park, two are still in use, two others are under illegal occupation and the rest abandoned.

“We have been trying to stop the train service for the past 10 years. The railway ministry is aware of the problem but won’t stop it. They know the moment it abandons its activities, the forest department will take over the area and will never return the land. It was leased to the Railways to build the track.

“There is even a proposal to convert the metre gauge line to broad gauge. The train service is unprofitable, but they are running it to keep the land in their control,” Singh said.

Local officials say some 70 percent of the passengers on this route travel without tickets and nobody dares to ask them for one. Even the railway protection force is afraid to enforce the law, as the locals beat them up at isolated stations in the forest.

“Criminals also ask drivers to slow down trains so they can get down in the park and do whatever they want. From the public welfare point of view or from wildlife conservation point of view the train service is of no use; nor is it helping the Railways,” said Singh.

The rough terrain of this Terrai landscape also makes patrolling difficult. There is a high risk of poaching in the north as the area on the Nepal side is well connected by roads.

Besides this, two markets at Gauriphanta and Chandan Chauki are major pollutants.

The Dudhwa National Park, created in 1977, has a good number of breeding tigers that need inviolate space to thrive. The narrow ‘green corridors’ vital for the movement of tigers between adjoining forest patches have shrunk, leaving them exposed and resulting in man-animal conflicts.

A census in 2005 estimated about 100 tigers in the Dudhwa National Park, including the adjacent Kishanpur Wildlife Sanctuary. But the number is now estimated to have come down to about 60. It is also home to the attractive Barasingha deer (known for its 12-tine antlers) and a large population of leopards.

Panna-bound tiger's scat collected for DNA test

Panna-bound tiger's scat collected for DNA test


Bhopal, Sep 25 (PTI) To ensure that inbreeding does not take place, Madhya Pradesh forest department has collected scat (stool) of the tiger in Badhavgarh reserve for a DNA test before translocating it to Panna National Park, where a big cat has already been shifted.

According to officials, the initiative aims at reviving the big cat population there. The exercise has been undertaken, given that a tigress had been shifted in March from Badhavgarh to Panna, which has become devoid of the stripped-animal population, except two translocated tigresses.

"We have collected the scat of tiger and are going to send the same shortly to the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) for the DNA test," Bandhavgarh Reserve Field Director C K Patil told PTI over phone today.

The exercise to shift the tiger will take place in a fortnight.

Forest dept indicates presence of tigers in Shivpuri

Forest dept indicates presence of tigers in Shivpuri

Posted On: 29-Sep-2009 18:40:55 News Source: Agencies

Shivpuri: There are indications of presence of tigers and their cubs in this district's Pohari subdivision's forest as a tribal shepherd claimed to have seen the big cats in the jungle.

Ramhet Adivasi, a resident of Umrai village, said he had sighted a tiger, a tigress and their two cubs moving in the jungle about a fortnight back, and when he went to the forest for grazing cattle on September 25, the tigers killed one of his cattle. He also informed the forest officials about the incident.

Some journalists, who visited the area along with forest officials of Pohari, also found bones of the cattle scattered in the forest. The villagers also confirmed that cattle were being killed by the tigers.

Pohari region is situated adjacent to Kuno-Palanpur forest that has been set up for providing habitat to tigers and other animals.

The presence of the tiger family in this region is being considered significant due to the dwindling population of big cats, cheetahs and leopards over the past few years.

The forest department sources said after confirmation of the presence of tiger family in the forest and gathering other related information, they would initiate further action.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Naxalism pose threat to tiger conservation: Experts

Anurag Sharma

New Delhi, Sep 27 (PTI) Insurgency seems to have affected efforts for tiger conservation in the country as wildlife protection activities for the striped cats has become difficult in the naxal-hit areas.

Experts point out that naxals are present in seven out of 38 tiger reserves, which means no official tiger census has been conducted for a very long time.

"Those are banned areas and difficult to reach. Naxal problem surely is hampering the conservation cause. Because of the fear, conservationists or government officials avoid visiting these areas. So, we remain unaware of the actual conditions of these endangered species," says well-known wildlife conservationist Mike Pandey.

"Several times during my shoot in the northern part of the country, I have met angry young people from the banned groups, who are actually not aware of the wildlife problems," he adds.

Vladivostok marking Tiger Day

Vladivostok marking Tiger Day

VLADIVOSTOK, September 27 (Itar-Tass) - Vladivostok is marking the Tiger Day for the tenth year running to raise awareness of conservation of the Ussuri Taiga and its animal species – Amur tiger and Far-Eastern leopard.

Traditionally the Tiger Day began from a masked parade – boys and girls dressed in costumes of Ussuri Taiga animals marched across the city’ s central streets with slogans for environmental protection.

This day is annually marked with the support of the Fenix Foundation, International Fund For Animal Welfare (IFAW) and the Amur branch of WWF-Russia.

This day is marked not only in Vladivostok, but also in the zoos of Russia, the United States and Europe.

In September 2010, the Year of Tiger in the Chinese Zodiac, Vladivostok will host the high-level ‘tiger’ summit, which will bring together 13 prime ministers of the countries, which territory tigers inhabit.

Delegates will gather to search a solution to the problem of a shrinking tiger population.

Amur tiger is put on the red list of endangered species of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Ninety-five percent of Amur tiger population or around 450 individuals inhabit the Primorsky territory and the south of the Khabarovsk territory. There are only 30-35 individuals of the total population of Far Eastern leopards or Amur leopards in wild life.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Missing the wildlife for the tiger

Missing the wildlife for the tiger

Radhika Raj / DNA
Sunday, September 27, 2009 2:46:00 AM

The Bombay Natural History Society’s headquarters at Kala Ghoda is buzzing with activity. Scientists from across the country have flown in to present projects they have worked on through the year. They’re an interesting mix — some have been studying the disappearance of sparrows, others working on breeding vultures, while one researcher has been trying to find a solution to the man versus beast conflict at Sanjay Gandhi National Park.

Dr Nita Shah, head of the vulture advocacy programme at BNHS, is slightly cross with our journalist’s reason to visit the headquarters. “You are here for an interview for the International Tiger Day? September 5 was International Vulture Day, I wonder why nobody from the press bothered then,” she says.

National board for wildlife member, Asad Rahmani smiles. “Nobody in this country wants to look beyond the tiger. When a tiger is killed, it makes headlines. What about the other species that are facing extinction? Half the frog species are declining at an alarming rate and there are no efforts to save them,” he says.

Rahmani agrees the tiger is a beautiful animal and very important for conservation. But he believes the country is getting carried away with it. So much so, that it is leading to disproportionate allocation of funds, and a distorted view of wildlife. “I often meet people who talk about how their trip to the Jim Corbett park was a waste because they didn’t see a single tiger. What about the other 500 species of birds and animals there?”

In the current five-year plan (2007-12), the government has allocated Rs600 crore for relocating tiger families and Rs200 crore for tiger protection — the highest-ever for tiger conservation. Barely any funds have been allocated to safeguard other endangered species.

Ask Vibhu Prakash, principal scientist at BNHS, who has been doing research on vultures. Their population has declined by 90 per cent in the past decade. And without them, carcasses would decay and breed viruses that spread diseases. “Initially we received no funds from the government. We wrote to them repeatedly but got no response. The project was entirely funded by Darwin Initiative for Survival of Species, a UK based agency,” he says. Currently a breeding centre at Pinjore has been set up with a little help from the state government.

MK Ranjitsinh, chairperson of the Wildlife Trust of India, believes the vulture is just one such example. “Like most tourists who come to India are only interested in the Taj Mahal and Khajuraho, most Indian conservationists cannot see beyond the tiger,” he says.
Ranjitsinh was a member secretary on the committee that initiated Project Tiger in the 1970s. However, he now believes the country is blinded by the animal. “Do we care about the Snow Leopard in the Himalayas that needs our urgent attention? There are only 200 Kashmiri stags. Do we care about them?”

The argument is that the tiger is at the apex of the food chain and protecting the tiger means protecting the entire food chain. But there are problems with this approach. The tiger habitats, thanks to the aggressive activism and media attention, are relatively better off. However areas where the tiger is not found are completely ignored. “The Himalayas are facing huge problems because rarely are any funds allocated to these areas. Nobody is bothered about them,” says Ranjitsinh, who is now working on Project Snow Leopard to help conserve India’s unique natural heritage of high-altitude wildlife.

Praveen Bhargav, member of the National Wildlife Board, also believes that overexposure of the tiger will lead to apathy. “If people read about the tiger every day they will take it for granted and stop worrying."

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

8-year-old, grandmom held poaching big cats

8-year-old, grandmom held poaching big cats

Arun Kumar David, TNN 24 September 2009, 12:05am IST

BETTIAH: Eight-year-old into tiger poaching. Sounds incredible, but forest guards patrolling the Valmikinagar Tiger Reserve in Bihar's West Champaran district on Wednesday arrested the boy along with his sexagenarian grandmother while they were in readiness to poach a big cat.

Mahavir and his grandmother Sundar Devi were caught from Manguraha jungles, adjacent to the Indo-Nepal border, where the duo had laid an iron trap for unsuspecting big cats. Sundar is the wife of notorious poacher Dhariya Singh who is in Bettiah jail in connection with a case of a tigress skin recovery in 2006, divisional forest officer (DFO) S Chandrashekhar told TOI.

It was after the seizure of the big cat's carcass three years ago that the use of iron trap for poaching purposes came to light, the DFO said and added this has been the modus operandi adopted by a nomadic tribe from Haryana, to catch their prey in the jungles of Valmikinagar.

Dhariya also belongs to this tribe and heads a gang of poachers whose operations were spread in forests along the Bihar-Nepal border, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and UP. After he was nabbed near Katni in Madhya Pradesh and the carcass of a bear seized from his possession, Dhariya was brought on remand to Bettiah.

His Haryana-based kin came to West Champaran apparently to line up legal aid for his release. "The family's women and children, meanwhile, took to the jungles when we pounced on them,'' the DFO said, fearing that three to four groups of Dhariya's kin active in the area.

Project Tiger officials said Dhariya's family is part of a cross-border syndicate of poachers dealing in wildlife parts.

Work on new tiger reserve may start by year end

Work on new tiger reserve may start by year end

TNN 24 September 2009, 03:00am IST

LUCKNOW: Things might start moving for Pilibhit tiger reserve by the end of this year. This is the best that could be hoped for the new tiger reserve of the state. The final plan on it was submitted by the pilibhit forest officials to the headquarters of forest department in May this year.

According to the sources a slight change was required in the map of the reserve which was submitted earlier, soon after the approval had come. But the final plan was re-worked and submitted again to the forest department on May 18.

The new reserve will have 44,560 hectare of the core area and 27,569 hectare buffer area. Apart from the core and buffer areas village area around the new tiger reserve will be around 80,842 hectare. Pilibhit division has 19.5% of the forest area and number of tigers is fairly good.

Pilibhit tiger reserve had bagged the in-principle approval from the central government in September 2008. Once the new tiger reserve comes up the tigers of Pilibhit will get as much protection as Dudhwa tigers. "This will also bring central aid to us and will make it easier for us to take action against illegal activities", said sources.

India failing to protect threatened tigers: experts

India failing to protect threatened tigers: experts

Wednesday, 23 Sep, 2009

NEW DELHI: India’s efforts to stop poaching of its endangered tigers are failing despite millions of dollars of funding, a new protection force and experiments with animal transfers, experts say.

The federal government swung into action in 2007 after India’s tiger population plunged to just 1,350 — just over a third of the 3,700 estimated to be alive in 2002.

A new tiger conservation plan chalked out some bold and urgent steps to end the poaching menace, move forest dwellers away from reserves and transfer tigers from one reserve to another while monitoring their movements.

Wildlife experts and directors of the 38 Indian tiger reserves met in Delhi last week for a conference on the highly-prized animals which were estimated to once number about 40,000 before independence from Britain in 1947.

‘India has framed all the policies and is doling out ample monetary aid to save the tiger but it is clearly not trickling down,’ said Belinda Wright, director of the Wildlife Protection of India who attended the conference.

‘Poaching cases are just not stopping.’

In the last nine months, 25 tigers have been killed by poachers and another 43 have died due to other causes.

On average, poachers kill 30 tigers every year in guarded reserves with demand driven by China where pelts, claws and bones are prized in traditional medicine.

In August, an Indian delegation in Beijing asked China for full co-operation for controlling cross-border trafficking of tiger parts and to send a clearer message to smugglers, but no official agreement was reached.

‘Every single tiger faces threat. It is a shame that poachers’ networks are not being cracked by the police,’ said P.K. Sen, a retired forest official who heads a tiger conservation programme in New Delhi.

Sen says India should implement all its conservation plans before calling on China to crack down on the tiger trade.

‘We have to fix our problems first before telling China what they should do,’ Sen said.

Ineffective bureaucracy, corruption, pressure on land for use by developers, a domestic insurgency and lack of modern equipment are to blame, say campaigners.

Sen said Maoist rebels are active in seven of the 38 tiger reserves established to protect the animal, meaning no official tiger census has been conducted since the year 2000.

‘Forget tiger census and forest management as in the past nine years even officers avoid entering these Maoist-infested reserves,’ said Sen, who stressed that ending extremist left-wing violence was the key.

Tiger hunting is illegal worldwide and the trade in tiger parts is banned under a treaty binding 167 countries, including India.

Experts said the porous border between India and Nepal continues to serve as a smuggling corridor for the poachers, who bribe poor forest dwellers to guide them through the dense jungles.

Alarmed by the dwindling numbers, the government has recruited retired army personnel to form a ‘tiger protection force’ to guard sanctuaries.

New young field officers have been trained up, cameras have been installed to guard the reserves and many tigers have been radio-tagged to monitor their movements.

In 2008, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also set up a national wildlife crime prevention bureau, drawing experts from the police, environmental agencies and customs in a bid to break up the poaching network.

But the idea of bringing together different arms of the state has been handicapped by bureaucratic infighting.

‘The state governments are just not understanding how critical the issue is,’ a senior official at the ministry of forests and environment said. ‘Most are very slow in implementing the conservation plan. We are losing the plot.’

India’s 29 state governments enjoy independent power on land issues and most of them continue to sell land around the tiger reserves for development for hotels, tourist resorts or even mining, he said.

The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) wants commercial use of land near the protected forests to be banned and buffer zones created.

The NTCA, which has a budget of 125 million dollars for 38 tiger reserves over four years, has also started moving tigers from one area to another to help protect numbers.

Two tigers have been transferred from reserves in Madhya Pradesh, central India, to Sariska, a reserve situated in Rajasthan, a western state.

The experiment is designed to ensure a wide distribution of tigers and revive the sanctuary in Rajasthan, but conservationists say success now depends on the new state protecting them from poachers.

‘If we don’t learn from our mistakes then all experiments will fail and the tigers could easily be found in the list of extinct animals,’ warned NTCA chief Rajesh Gopal. — AFP

Monday, September 21, 2009

Wildlife scientists asks international forums to protect tiger

Wildlife scientists asks international forums to protect tiger

Published by: Noor Khan
Published: Mon, 21 Sep 2009 at 15:40 ISTF

Dehra Dun, Sept 21: Concerned over the dwindling tiger population across the world, scientists at the Wildlife Institute of India (WWI) have asked the international forums to step in with new techniques immediately to protect the endangered bigcats.

The scientists appealed to the wildlife forums across the globe to bring new technologies in use to help preserve endangered species.

Speaking at a summit organised by the Institute, Global Tiger Forum President S C Dey said "the tiger population which was over one lakh in the beginning of the twentieth century has come down drastically."

"It has now declined to a few thousands only," he said, adding the 'cheetah' that could earlier be found in 17 African countries can now be found only in Namibia and Botsvana.

Pointing out the difficulties faced while counting the number of tigers and other wild animals, scientist Abhishek Harihar said that the camera-trap technique is not very efficient and a new method needs to be adopted.

Wildlife Institute of India Director Priyaranjan Sinha, said that the important suggestions at the summit for safeguarding and increasing the population of endangered species, should be brought into action.

Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve hit by poaching

Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve hit by poaching

Published on Mon, Sep 21, 2009 at 16:14 in India section

New Delhi: Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve in Maharashtra has been hit by poaching. Exclusive pictures available with CNN-IBN show a wild dog caught in a snare, proof of the rampant poaching in one of the country's ace tiger reserves.

The pictures indicate a severe neck injury to the dog.

While the wild dog may have been lucky to survive, a number of animals, including 40 Tigers in Tadoba are in danger of being killed by the poachers.

Activists say the region has lost four tigers this monsoon season itself.

The tiger reserve has been in the news after Adani Power Maharashtra Limited was allotted coal blocks at Lohara in Chandrapur district just 11 kms away from the reserve.

A major controversy had erupted recently following objections by the environment groups against allotments of coal blocks located in deep forests.

Govt reconstitutes tiger conservation body

Govt reconstitutes tiger conservation body

PTI 21 September 2009, 02:57pm IST

NEW DELHI: The government has reconstituted the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) with prominent wildlife activist and BJP MP Maneka Gandhi as one of its members.

Headed by Union environment minister Jairam Ramesh who is the chairman, the authority has eight experts with experience in wildlife conservation and the welfare of people, including the indigenous tribes, besides two Members of Parliament namely Rajya Sabha MP Santosh Bagrodia and Gandhi.

The wildlife experts are Brijendra Singh, Valmik Thapar, P K Sen, Prakash Mulidhar Amte, Urmila Pingle, K Ullas Karanth, Samar Singh and Aparjita Dutta.

The Authority was constituted under the Wild Life (Protection) Amendment Act, 2006, as recommended by the Tiger Task Force at the initiation of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The authority was reconstituted early this month after it was first set up three years ago.

The Authority deliberates on several issues relating to 38 tiger reserves spread across 17 states covering anti-poaching, infrastructure, man-animal conflict and co-existence in buffer and core areas.

Tiger Conservation Foundation soon

Tiger Conservation Foundation soon

K. S. Sudhi
September 21, 2009

A Tiger Conservation Foundation will be formed for the Periyar Tiger Reserve by dissolving the Periyar Foundation. The new foundation will be named Tiger Conservation Foundation, Periyar Tiger Reserve, Kerala.

The foundation is being formed as per the guidelines of the National Tiger Conservation Authority. The Periyar Foundation was formed in 2004 for supporting tiger conservation and allied activities of the reserve.

Finance mobilisation

The new foundation will focus on mobilising financial resources to foster stakeholder development and eco-tourism, the draft regulation says. The governing body of the foundation will be headed by the Kerala Forest Minister. The Principal Forest Secretary will be its vice-chairperson and the Chief Wildlife Warden its member-secretary. Senior forest officials, including the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife), and the Chief Conservator of Forests (Eco-development and Tribal Welfare) will be its members and the Field Director of the reserve its executive director.

The draft has suggested including the Idukki MP as a member. The divisional forest officers of Ranni, Konni, Achencoil, Thenmala, Punalur, and Kottayam divisions and the Gavi Divisional Manager of the Kerala Forest Development Corporation will be its executive committee members. They are included for the successful implementation of buffer zone activities and activities related to corridor management. The foundation will own all the assets of the Periyar Foundation. These will be transferred to it by the State government.

It will have its headquarters at Thekkady and the area of operation will be “Periyar Tiger Reserve and its adjoining landscape forming the impact zone with possible corridor value for dispersal of wild animals from the tiger reserve.”

Madhya Pradesh opposes mooted MOU on tiger conservation

Madhya Pradesh opposes mooted MOU on tiger conservation

(Source: IANS)
Published: Sun, 20 Sep 2009 at 18:52

Bhopal: The Madhya Pradesh government is opposed to the proposed memorandum of understanding (MOU) on tiger consrvation, especially to the mooted clause that makes directors of tiger reserves accountable for any lapses, a state official has said.

The state government has also denied media reports that it has signed the proposed tripartite MOU with the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) and the field directors of Project Tiger reserves.

"The MoU is not acceptable to us in its present form, and discussions with the union government for amendments in it are under way," said the official, requesting anonimity.

The issue of signing the tripartite MoU came up for discussion with the central Environment and Forests Minister Jairam Ramesh during his Bhopal visit Sept 12.

Official sources said the state government does not want field directors of tiger reserves to become signatories in the MoU as it feels that NTCA should not deal with them directly, bypassing the state government. It wants to continue with the old system under which the state's chief wildlife warden is a signatory to the document with the NTCA's secretary general on behalf of the state government.

Another contentious issue in the tripartite MoU is the clause that moots to hold field directors of reserves liable to penal action if the tiger numbers decline.

According to the sources, the state government is now considering two options: Either, it could sign the tripartite MoU with dissenting notes on each point it has reservations with, or it could sign an agreement with the NTCA and an independent agreement with the field directors.

Meanwhile, the central government has not released any funds for management of tiger reserves on the grounds that the state government has not signed the tripartite MOU.

According to the central government, this agreement is a move to boost tiger conservation as it make three parties - the central government's environment ministry, the state government and those in charge of tiger reserves - accountable for their actions in protection of the big cats which are on the verge of extinction due to various reasons.

Prashant Mehta, the state's additional chief secretary (forests), is expected to meet Ramesh soon to discuss the issue.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Panels to evaluate functioning of tiger reserves

Panels to evaluate functioning of tiger reserves

PTI 20 September 2009, 10:39pm IST

NEW DELHI: To bring accountability and transparency in the hugely-funded big cat conservation programmes in the country, the Centre has constituted five committees for evaluating the management and functioning of 38 tiger reserves across 17 states.

The evaluation of tiger reserves will be done on the basis of parameters set by Dehradun-based Wildlife Institute of India and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), an international NGO.

The evaluation by the independent wildlife experts such as Belinda Wright comes at a time when as many as 16 tiger reserves including Panna in Madhya Pradesh and Valmiki in Bihar are in crisis as pointed out by Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh in a recent session of Parliament.

Five three-member teams have been set up to assess the 38 reserves situated in five zones.

Besides Wright, among the experts are Jamal A Khan, Eruch Bharucha, Rajeev Sharma, M Madhusudan, R K Dogra, Biswajit Mohanty, E A Jayson, D S Srivatava and Aparajita Dutta who have to submit their reports to the WII within six months.

"The panels would evaluate whether the chosen approaches in the reserves management are adequate, sound and appropriate," Wright, who has been entrusted with the task to assess management in most of the reserves in northern states, said.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Poachers kill tiger, jumbo

Poachers kill tiger, jumbo


Guwahati, Sept. 19: A Royal Bengal tiger died at the Kaziranga National Park last night of suspected poisoning, a new technique adopted by poachers at the world heritage site.

A male elephant, which migrated from Kaziranga, was also shot dead by poachers in an area between Panbari and Dolamara reserve forest in Karbi Anglong. The tusks were missing.

The carcass of the full-grown male tiger was found at Mohpora, on the fringes of the park near the Kohora range, by forest guards this morning.

Park officials said at least 10 cattle had died in the area within a week because of poisoning of grass by suspected poachers. “The tiger may have eaten one of the dead cattle,” a park official said.

Eight Royal Bengal tigers have died in Kaziranga this year. Kaziranga authorities claim that most of these died of infighting but few died because of poisoning.

The park official said no injury marks were found on the tiger apart from a broken bone on the rib cage. “But this could not be the cause of death since the bone has almost calcified. We suspect it died of poisoning,” the official said.

He said the exact cause of death would be confirmed only after post-mortem. A team of doctors from the College of Veterinary Science here and members of Wildlife Crime Bureau have rushed to Kaziranga.

On the other hand, bullet injuries were found on the carcass of the full-grown elephant, killed about two days ago.

Arup Ballab Goswami, a wildlife expert from Golaghat district, said although killing of tuskers was rampant in Karbi Anglong, the cases are rarely reported. “This is a major reason for the decrease in the tusker population at Kaziranga,” he said.

Note: (another article on this tiger death - Tiger found dead outside Kaziranga)

Another tiger cub caught in Chandrapur

Another tiger cub caught in Chandrapur

Vivek Deshpande Posted online: Sunday , Sep 20, 2009 at 0252 hrs

Nagpur : Two days after a tiger cub, a female, was caught by a villager at Sukhwasa in Gondpipri village of Chandrapur district, another cub, also a female of around the same age — one-and-half-years— was trapped in a cowshed at nearby Ganeshpipri village. Forest officials feel the two could be siblings who lost their way after their mother’s disappearance. They say only a DNA test would prove if they are related.

The cub entered the cowshed of Balaji Chafle and attacked the cows. Chafle rushed in, shut the door and called other villagers. Villagers used bamboo sticks to keep it at bay till the forest staff arrived and caught it.

The villagers were not ready to let them take the cub away demanding immediate compensation. After much persuasion, they allowed it to be taken to Zaran Nursery near Gondpipri where the earlier cub has been kept.

“We have been searching for the mother, but she is untraceable,” said Conservator of Forest, South Chandrapur, K Narasimhulu. Asked if he suspects she could have been poached, he said, “we can’t say so. We have formed eight teams to trace her.”

Recent history of cubs found, however, doesn’t conform to this claim. This is the fourth recent instance of a cub being found orphaned or left to fend for itself.

National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) Member-Secretary Rajesh Gopal had, during his visit last month to the district, praised the rich wildlife around Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve saying, “I haven’t seen such rich wildlife outside tiger reserves anythere else .” He had promised all possible aid, financial and material, to protect it. The divisions have been asked to prepare plans to be put up before the NTCA.

Tiger found dead outside Kaziranga

Tiger found dead outside Kaziranga

Naresh Mitra, TNN 19 September 2009, 11:14pm IST

GUWAHATI: A tiger was found dead outside the Kohra forest range of Kaziranga on Saturday, sparking suspicions of revenge killing by angry residents of adjoining villages. With this, the big cat death toll in the national park rose to three this year.

The carcass was spotted beyond the park boundary, near an upcoming resort in the Mohpara area. The tiger was aged between seven and eight and may have died around two days ago. Forest officials ruled out a poaching bid, for the corpse had not been mutilated and no organs were missing. "We found the ninth rib of the tiger broken and partially calcified. We are waiting for the report on the exact cause of death," said Kaziranga divisional forest officer D D Gogoi.

Over the past week, tigers have frequently lifted livestock from the villages outside Kaziranga, with a tiger killing a domestic pig in the park's Sildubi area on Saturday itself. This has given credence to the perception that the animal had died in a revenge attack.

Forest officials also hinted that it might have been killed by a rhino. In fact, a few days ago, a big cat had attacked a rhino calf in the Bagmari area of Kaziranga, they recalled. "Probably, the tiger suffered grievous injuries in the attack by a rhino while attempting to kill the calf. One of its ribs has been found broken. But until we get the post-mortem report, it is difficult to say how it really died," a forest official said.

Veterinarians from the Bokakhat-based Centre for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation (CWRC) conducted the post-mortem and collected samples from the carcass for further tests. "The preliminary findings indicate that the tiger might have died of infection following the fracture of the ninth rib on the right side. The infection also spread to the lungs and has showed the development of emphysema. Emphysema is a chronic respiratory disease caused by over-inflation of the air sacs (alveoli) in the lungs. It declines lung function and causes breathlessness," said CWRC veterinarian Phulmoni Gogoi, who conducted the post-mortem.

In all, 12 tigers have died in Kaziranga since November 2008 something which has prompted the state government to start the process of setting up tiger foundations. The aim is to ensure foolproof protection for big cats. Though the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau did not find direct involvement of poachers in those tiger deaths, wildlife conservationists warned that it was only a matter of time tiger poaching becomes a serious issue like the hunting of rhinos.

Frequent cases of tigers straying out of the park area to prey on livestock has not only heightened their vulnerability as far as revenge killings are concerned, but have also increased the risk of tiger poaching. Unlike rhinos, it is difficult for poachers to kill tigers inside Kaziranga as 65 per cent of the 430 sq km area is grassland. However, wildlife crime experts have said the big cats can easily be targeted when they stray out into human settlements.

Sources said tigers usually land up in poachers' hands once they stray into human habitation, particularly on the hundreds of big and small islands between Orang National Park on the northern bank and Kaziranga National Park on the southern bank of the Brahmaputra. Tigers killed outside the protected area hardly get noticed or recorded, and their bodies ultimately end up with illegal traders of wildlife parts, sources added.

China's illegal tiger trade feeds on India

China's illegal tiger trade feeds on India

Headlines Today
New Delhi, September 17, 2009

The continuing illegal trade of tiger parts in China is raising serious concerns in India where the endangered animal is being poached to feed the supply lines across the border.

Chinese traders are buying tiger parts from Indian poachers at exorbitant prices, putting Indian tigers at a greater risk. There is a huge demand for tiger skin and parts in China, especially now that it's set to celebrate 2010 as the year of the tiger. According to Chinese astrology, keeping a tiger part brings good luck.

Though China has banned the sale of tiger products, it has done precious little to check the illegal tiger trade.

India has now asked China to shut down tiger farms that are engaged illegal tiger trade. But China's response has so far not been very encouraging.

"We are sending a delegation from India sometime in the first half of November to discuss issues relating to tiger conservation," said Union Environment and Forests Minister Jairam Ramesh.

Ramesh said India has been in talks with China on the issue. "We have (already) discussed the smuggling of tiger and leopard parts across the Nepal and Myanmar borders into China. The talks on tiger parts weren't much of a success. Both sides heard each other," he said.

How the illegal trade works

Tiger skin and parts are transported by Indian poachers via Jharkhand, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh to Nepal, from where they make their way into China. The trail also runs through north-east India into Myanmar, from where it reaches China.

Tiger parts in Chinese medicine

Each tiger part has some use or the other in traditional Chinese cures even though it has been scientifically proved to have no medicinal value.

The tiger's teeth are used to treat fever. Its eyeballs are believed to cure epilepsy and malaria and the leather of its nose is used for wounds.

The tiger's whiskers apparently cure toothaches. And if one has insomnia, tiger claws are believed to help. It is believed that skin diseases can be cured with the tiger's tail and its brain can be used to rid you of lethargy.

The tiger's bile treats convulsions in children with meningitis and the bones are used to treat rheumatism and arthritis, general weakness, headaches, paralysis and dysentery. Tiger fat is used to treat leprosy and rheumatism.

Depleting tigers

The tiger population is fast depleting in India. The national tiger census figures released last year put the total number at 1,411 - a drastic drop of 60 percent from 1997 when there were 3,508 tigers.

At least 66 tigers have lost their lives this year. Of these, 25 were poached. Maharashtra accounted for seven cases of poaching followed by Karnataka, Assam and Uttarakhand with six each.

Friday, September 18, 2009

One more tigress dies in Madhya Pradesh

One more tigress dies in Madhya Pradesh

September 18th, 2009 - 2:05 pm ICT by IANS

Bhopal, Sep 18 (IANS) One more tigress was found dead at the Kanha National Park in Madhya Pradesh, an official said Friday.

The partially eaten body of the tigress was found in the Kisli Range of the park Thursday. This is the seventh tiger death reported in the park this year.

The park official said the tigress was killed and eaten from the rear end by a male tiger of the area. This is the fifth tiger death attributed to infighting among big cats within this year in the park.

“The body of a sub-adult tigress, aged about 16 months, was found in the Kopedabri beat of Kisli Range by the patrolling staff,” Field Director Kanha National Park H.S. Negi told IANS.

“The park staff found pug marks of a male tiger near the spot where the body was found. They also found langurs raising alarm calls that points to the presence of the tiger in the vicinity,” he said.

The post-mortem report confirmed that the death was due to attack by another carnivore, another park official said.

MP denies reports of signing MoU with Centre on tiger reserves

MP denies reports of signing MoU with Centre on tiger reserves

September 16,2009 Print
Source: PTI

Bhopal, Sep 16 (PTI) The Madhya Pradesh Government today denied some reports that it has signed a tripartite agreement on tiger reserves management with the Centre and tiger parks in the state.

"The Madhya Pradesh government has not signed any tripartite MoU with the Centre through National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) and field directors of Project Tiger Reserves in the state,"an official release said here.

Some media reports had said the Madhya Pradesh Government, which faced criticism for the dwindling tiger count in the state, had agreed to sign the agreement for the conservation of big cats.

The Centre has been insisting that funds for the management of the tiger reserves would not be released unless the state government and the field directors enter into a tripartite pact with it through NTCA.

The state Forest Department refuted these reports saying the discussion is still going on regarding amendment in the form and contents of the agreement.

The Madhya Pradesh government has not yet agreed to sign the tripartite MoU in its current form, the release said.

WLI to start fresh tiger census in UP

WLI to start fresh tiger census in UP

TNN 17 September 2009, 05:50am IST

LUCKNOW: Heated controversy over the dwindling numbers of tigers in Dudhwa will shortly be put to rest, The Wildlife Institute of India is preparing to commence a new tiger census in Uttar Pradesh to make a correct assessment of the big cat family. The exercise is expected to be a collaborative venture between the WLI, The National Tiger Conservation Authority of India and the Uttar Pradesh government, chief conservator of forest BK Patnaik told TOI on Wednesday.

The exercise to be followed this year will be three-phased, Patnaik said. The first phase will consist of an extensive habitat monitoring plan and also sampling of the grid line. The total area marked for the Park and the reserve forest shall be stratified as low tiger density, medium/ high density or no tiger area on the basis of sings of the pray base and predators spotted during the survey, he said.

The second phase will consist of head count made on the basis of camera trap technique. The institute will be fixing the camera trap on the chosen sight, he said although the experts are still fine-tuning the modalities. There are indications that the Wildlife Institute may involve a few NGOs also in the exercise, Patnaik said.

In October, the institute plans to run a training course for training the trainers in conducting the tiger survey. The venue of the training, he said, are Corbett Park in Uttarakhand and also Kanaha National Park, Madhya Pradesh. The state forest department, he said, would be sending its delegates to the Corbett for training.

The National Tiger Conservation Authority shall be providing the monitory assistance for the project, Patnaik said. The role of the state will largely relate to collection of the data base. The training camps in the Corbett have been prepared with the module in mind. Finally, the analysis of the data bank prepared by the state forest cadre will be carried out by the Wildlife Institute.

Significantly, this could mean an end to the state government census which had lost its credibility over the past few years after the wildlife enthusiasts accused the department of giving fudged figures. The comprehensive survey by the expert agency officials feel will portray the right picture and shall allay skeptics suspicion as well.

'Goa not to close tiger killing case'

'Goa not to close tiger killing case'

TNN 18 September 2009, 05:38am IST

PANAJI: Despite the preliminary probe into a tiger killing case at Mhadei wildlife sanctuary suggesting that the remains were not that of a tiger, Goa's forest department on Thursday said it would investigate further.

"The preliminary report may have said that the animal remains found in the forest of Keri are not that of a tiger, but we will seek legal opinion in the matter," chief conservator of forest Shashi Kumar said on Thursday. .

The investigations into the case received a major jolt when the Dehradun-based Wildlife Institute of India (WII) observed that the samples were not that of a tiger. The forest department had arrested five persons and zeroed in on the sites where the tiger was killed on February 27 and managed to get to the site on May 30.

Kumar said that it is too early to say that the department would close the case following adverse forensic findings. The institute has sent its findings in the form of a letter and a detailed report would follow, he said.

A Young Siberian Tiger was Reintroduced into the Wild in Primorsky Krai

A Young Siberian Tiger was Reintroduced into the Wild in Primorsky Krai

11:40, 17.09.2009

VLADIVOSTOK. September 17. VOSTOK-MEDIA – Recently a young Siberian tiger was reintroduced into the wild successfully at the Mikhailovsky district, Primorsky Krai, the press service of Phoenix Fund told RIA Vostok-Media.

“We believe the young tiger has a reasonable chance for survival in the wild!” - Alexander Vrish, a project coordinator at Phoenix Fund, said. “Yesterday it took a good deal of time to catch and fix the animal in the Zoological Center of the Institute of Biology and Soil Sciences of the far Eastern Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences (FEB RAS) to carry it to the place where it was released in the wild. This means that one of the key tasks of the rehabilitation programme has been accomplished. – The beast is afraid of people and this thing is of great importance. For if the tiger wouldn’t be afraid of human beings it may come close to populated areas and so pose a threat to human life.

Sharing his views on the subject is Sergey Bereznyuk, founder director of Phoenix Fund:

“The reintroduction of the young tiger into the wild is unprecedented, because up until now in Russia there have never been any such attempts to return young beasts of prey into the wild. Surely there were precedents when scientists caught a grown-up tiger on various occasions. After the rehabilitation the grown-up tiger returned into the wild. But this is for the first time that a tiger cub, which lost his mother and was unable to hunt, was reintroduced into the wild after rehabilitation course and put a radio-collar on at that.”