Thursday, September 30, 2010
Sep 29, 2010, 6:32 GMT
Hanoi - Five people have been arrested on charges they ran the largest rare animal-parts trafficking ring ever uncovered in Hanoi, a police official said Wednesday.
The suspects allegedly bought and processed rare animal remains, including tiger and elephant bones, for use in traditional medicine.
Police arrested the five suspects on Tuesday, said Colonel Nguyen Van Nong, Head of Hanoi Police's department for economic crime investigation.
They were identified as couple who allegedly led the ring, Nguyen The Gioi, 54 and his wife Nguyen Thuy Dung, 49, and three men accused of buying and transporting the rare animal bones.
Police discovered a cache of bones on September 15 after stopping a car carrying tiger and forest-deer bones. The driver led them to a warehouse containing 10 tiger skeletons and some 600 kilograms of other bones from elephants, bears and panthers.
Police also seized 560 packages labeled 'bear gall,' but they turned out to be fake.
Illegal trafficking in tigers, monkeys and other rare animals is widespread in Vietnam and China, where the bones and other body parts are often used in traditional medicine.
A kilogram of pure tiger-bone paste can sell for up to 5,000 dollars on the black market.
Under Vietnamese law, hunting or trading in rare animals is punishable by a prison term of up to seven years and a fine of up to 20 million dong (1,250 dollars).
Thursday September 30, 2010
IPOH: A tiger, that had been terrorising an orang asli village in Kampung Ulu Geroh in Gopeng for the past few months, has finally been caught.
Perak Wildlife and National Parks Department director Shabrina Mohd Shariff said the department laid a trap following reports that the tiger had been attacking poultry and cattle.
”The tiger finally entered the trap on Tuesday evening at about 10pm,” she said here yesterday, adding that a live goat supplied by the orang asli was used to entice the tiger.
The tiger trap was laid 50m from the Bukit Kinta Forest Reserve. Shabrina said the female tiger is between four and five years old.
She added that the animal could have been a victim of poachers based on wounds on its left forelimb and other minor injuries on its body.
”We suspect it was trying to break out from the cage after it got trapped, leading to the injury,” she said.
The tiger has been sent to the Malacca Zoo for treatment.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
September 28, 2010
The tiger population has doubled in Kalakkad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve here compared to the number of wild cats found in the park four years ago.
As per the census carried out in February this year, there were 13 tigers in the KMTR compared to six recorded in 2006. The census showed that there were 3 males, seven females and three cubs at present.
There were also 62 panthers, 23 elephants, 100 migratory birds, 23 squirrels, 65 dotted deer, 69 bisons, 17 lion tailed macaques and 17 langurs in the reserve, KMTR Field Director and Chief Conservator of Forests H Mallesappa told reporters here yesterday.
This time forest department has used camera trap by deploying a total of 40 cameras throughout the KTMR, he said.
The Centre has allocated Rs. 1.94 crore this year for holistic development of KMTR, considered one of the delicate ecological bio-spheres in the Western Ghat range.
Utilising the fund, various measures, including setting up of anti-poaching squads, providing compensation to farmers for crop damage caused by wild animals in fringe areas of the reserve, had been taken up this year, he said.
Laying of proper roads and construction of bridges along this ecological bio—sphere, demarcating the protected reserve forests by powered fencing to prevent entry of wild animals into the farm lands were among other steps taken this year.
The fund has been provided by the National Tiger Conservation Authority, he said.
KMTR is situated in the southern most tip of the Western Ghat range, spread across the intervening borders of Tirunelveli and Kanyakumari districts adjoining Kerala.
29 September, 2010 Jayanta Kumar Pathak
Aaranyak, a society for biodiversity conservation in northeast India has achieved significant success in genetic research on tigers of northeast India. Wildlife Genetics laboratory of Aaranyak, situated at Guwahati, has successfully used DNA based analysis techniques for population estimation by using faecal samples of tigers in Buxa Tiger Reserve, in northern West Bengal. In a joint effort between Buxa Tiger Reserve Authority and Aaranyak, genetic profiling (DNA fingerprinting) of tiger faecal samples collected from the area has been undertaken, in order to understand the minimum number of tiger present. This work was undertaken due to the recent doubt on the status of tigers in Buxa Tiger Reserve, raised by some of the experts in the country. In a report submitted to the Buxa Tiger Reserve Authority, Wildlife Genetics Laboratory of Aaranyak has given sufficient scientific evidence of the presence of a minimum of fifteen individual tigers in the study area. This is for the first time that DNA based techniques of analysis of faecal samples have successfully been used for estimating the number of tigers in a protected area in eastern (north east) India. It is worth mentioning that Buxa Tiger Reserve is situated at Assam West Bengal border and international border of Bhutan on the north. From geographical point of view, Buxa Tiger Reserve is contiguous with that of Manas Tiger Reserve of Assam and Royal Manas National Park in Bhutan. Therefore, this area is considered together with the forests of western northeast India from the point of view of ecological assessment of various wildlife species such as tigers.
This project team, headed by Mr. Udayan Borthakur, comprises of field as well as laboratory biologists of Aaranyak. Mr. Udayan Borthakur is also the head of Wildlife Genetics Programme of Aaranyak, which was started in the year 2008, in order to undertake population genetic work on various wildlife species in northeast India.
A technical report on genetic assessment of Buxa tiger population will soon be published jointly by Aaranyak and Buxa Tiger Reserve authority, which will be made available in Aaranyak’s website (http://www.aaranyak.org/).
TNN, Sep 29, 2010, 04.14am IST
KOLKATA: Even as big cats dwindle across most big reserves around the country, triggering serious concern, the Buxa Tiger Reserve in West Bengal can now claim to be an honourable exception. A DNA analysis of tiger faeces in the north Bengal forest reveals that it has 15 tigers. Carried out by the genetics laboratory of Aaranyak, a wildlife organization in Guwahati, the study says Buxa has nine females and three males. The gender of three others couldn't be identified from the samples.
The Buxa Tiger Reserve in West Bengal has at least 15 tigers, a first-of-its-kind study by a wildlife body said on Tuesday. "Our study shows that there are nine females and three males in the forest. We are trying to ascertain the gender of the rest," said head of the wildlife genetics laboratory of Aaranyak, Udayan Borthakur. The researchers used DNA-based analysis to estimate the population from faecal samples of tigers in the reserve. Samples were also sent to the Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL), Hyderabad and its report is awaited. "We are waiting for the CFSL report but now it has been conclusively proved that tigers exist at Buxa. Sightings had happened in the recent past and we were confident that the DNA test would prove that. This certainly augurs well for the future of the tiger in India and the state," said Subhankar Sen Gupta, deputy director, Buxa Tiger Reserve.
Faecal samples collected by the Buxa authorities were handed over to Aranyak earlier this year. "We used genetic markers to identify tiger scat from other sympatric carnivores such as leopards," said Borthakur, who runs the society for conserving biodiversity in the northeast region.
"DNA-based techniques of identification of individual tigers might be considered as a practical and low-cost option for population estimation and long-term monitoring of this species in protected areas of the country," said Borthakur.
The DNA sampling technique is also being used at Sunderbans. "This is a scientific way of identifying the number of tigers. Let us hope our finding is corroborated by the CFSL," said Firoz Ahmed, wildlife biologist at Aaranyak.
Buxa Tiger Reserve is contiguous with the Manas Tiger Reserve of Assam and Royal Manas National Park in Bhutan in terms of area. The discovery was greeted with cheer across wildlife circles. "This is indeed great news for conservation. Let us hope that the study has been done scientifically and is error-free. We are keeping our fingers crossed for the Sunderban report," said Joydip Kundu, wildlife activist.
Monday, September 27, 2010
International Fund for Animal Welfare and Weekly Reader join forces to 'save the tigers'
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., Sept. 27 /PRNewswire/ -- As a kickoff to Animal Action Week (October 4-11), educational publisher Weekly Reader has partnered with the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) to create an innovative, inspiring educational program about protecting the world's endangered tiger population.
The multimedia classroom package, Born to Be Wild: Saving the Majestic Tiger, is designed to teach students in grades 3-9 about animals and the environment, the effects humans have on the natural world, and how people—including children—can work to protect endangered wildlife. The program, galvanized by this year's convergence of the Chinese Year of the Tiger and the United Nation's International Year for Youth, presents a rich store of resources, including a Video and Teaching Guide DVD with a 15-minute live-action film and multiple standards-based lesson plans. Born to Be Wild—offered free to teachers—also includes posters, a mini-magazine, and a unique, exciting website that that gathers and displays multimedia messages from students around the world.
"We hope this program will resonate with students and inspire them to take an active role in protecting tigers and other endangered wildlife," said Nancy Barr, who oversees IFAW's global education programs. "We must engage and empower young people if we hope to find lasting solutions to the challenges facing our planet."
"Weekly Reader is thrilled to take part in this important initiative to save one of the world's most magnificent creatures," added Ira Wolfman, Senior Vice President, Editorial. "The digital and print materials we developed with IFAW give teachers terrific tools for bringing to life these crucial messages."
Each year during Animal Action Week, IFAW launches a new international education and outreach campaign that highlights a different animal-welfare and conservation theme. The campaign engages more than five million school-age children in 15 countries each year.
For more information and access to an interactive digital magazine about tigers and the challenges they face, visit www.ifaw.org/education.
About IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare)
Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisis around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. http://www.ifaw.org/
About Weekly Reader (http://www.weeklyreader.com/)
Weekly Reader has been creating exciting, curriculum-rich materials for more than 100 years. Its unique digital products (including its new online reading-comprehension program http://www.wrconnect.com/) and its 11 classroom magazines give teachers tools that help them achieve their goals while igniting students' love of learning. Every year, Weekly Reader materials reach more than 200,000 teachers and 6 million students from Pre-K to grade 12. Weekly Reader also includes Weekly Reader Curriculum Publishing and is part of The Reader's Digest Association, Inc.
Sunday, September 26, 2010
YANGON, Myanmar, September 26, 2010 (ENS) - In August, Myanmar officials formally announced that the entire remote Hukawng Valley would be designated as a Protected Tiger Area. They trumpeted the creation of the world's largest tiger reserve in the valley in Kachin State, located in the northernmost part of the country, also called Burma.
The declaration was hailed by environmentalists around the world as a landmark in conserving the only 3,200 wild tigers left by protecting an area the size of Vermont.
But less than a month later, a report and video released by a network of civil society groups and development organizations in Kachin State shows that one of Myanmar's most powerful tycoons has been, and still is, clear-cutting forests across the tiger reserve to put in sugar and tapioca plantations and to plant jatropha for biofuel.
The report, "Tyrants, Tycoons and Tigers" by the Kachin Development Networking Group details how fleets of bulldozers and backhoes are razing forests and destroying animal corridors, leaving only the conservation signboards standing.
The Kachin Development Networking Group is a network of civil society groups and development organizations in Kachin State. KDNG's stated purpose is "to effectively work for sustainable development together with locally-based organisations in Kachin State. It's aim is to promote a civil society based on equality and justice for the local people in the struggle for social and political change in Burma."
"Today a 200,000 acre mono-crop plantation project is making a mockery of the reserve's protected status," the report states.
"Fleets of tractors, backhoes, and bulldozers rip up forests, raze bamboo groves and flatten existing small farms. Signboards that mark animal corridors and "no hunting zones" stand out starkly against a now barren landscape; they are all that is left of conservation efforts," KDNG reports.
"Application of chemical fertilizers and herbicides together with the daily toil of over two thousand imported workers are transforming the area into huge tapioca, sugar cane, and jatropha plantations," according to the report.
"In 2006 Senior General Than Shwe, Burma's ruling despot, granted the Rangoon-based Yuzana Company license to develop this "agricultural development zone" in the tiger reserve," KDNG states. "Yuzana Company is one of Burma's largest businesses and is chaired by U Htay Myint, a prominent real estate tycoon who has close connections with the junta."
The tiger reserve was established in 2001 with the support of the Wildlife Conservation Society based at New York's Bronx Zoo.
In 2004, the Myanmar government designated 2,500 square miles of the valley as a wildlife sanctuary, based on the first biological expedition into the area in 1999 led by Dr. Alan Rabinowitz, an American who is currently CEO of the wild cat conservation group Panthera, and staff from the Myanmar Forest Department and the Wildlife Conservation Society's Myanmar Program.
In August, 4,248 square miles was added to the reserve. "I have dreamt of this day for many years," Rabinowitz said at the time. "The strides we made in 2004 were groundbreaking, but protecting this entire valley to ensure tigers are able to live and roam freely is a game changer. This reserve is one of the most important stretches of tiger habitat in the world, and I am thrilled that the people and government of Myanmar understand the importance of preserving it."
Rabinowitz said the unprecedented tiger reserve extension was enacted after Myanmar Prime Minister Thein Sein gathered 17 other Cabinet ministers to fly to the valley earlier this year to assess its conservation needs.
Clouded leopards, Asian elephants and some 370 bird species, including the critically endangered Rufous-necked Hornbill, have been found in the region and of the current global estimate of 13,500 plant species, approximately 7,000 are found in this valley and nowhere else on the planet.
"Myanmar now offers one of the best hopes for saving tigers in Southeast Asia," said Colin Poole, director for Wildlife Conservation Society's Asia Programs, on August 6. "The newly expanded protected area in the Hukawng Valley will be a cornerstone of tiger conservation throughout this iconic big cat's range."
But KDNG spokesperson Ah Nan said on August 25, "The destruction in Hugawng makes a mockery of the tiger reserve. Yuzana is doing whatever it likes with the aid of the generals and the silence of conservationists."
People as well as tigers are being displaced. The KDNG report documents the struggles of indigenous farmers being forcibly relocated to make way for the plantations. There are seven villages in the middle project area with a total estimated population of 5,000. The populations come from several different subgroups of the Kachin ethnicity.
They have organized themselves to resist attacks and intimidation from Yuzana and regime officials, opened a court case against the company and asked the International Labor Organization to intervene.
"They threatened the local residents and took away their farms without negotiating with the people. They came at night time and bulldozed away our farmlands. They confiscated cemeteries and burned farmhouses. They confiscated lands belonging to religious organizations," the farmers wrote in a joint letter to Hpakant Township Peace and Development Council in June 2009.
In March 2010, representatives of three villages filed written requests to the International Labor Organization to investigate the actions of Yuzana. In July 2010, more than 100 farmers opened a joint court case in Kachin State.
Yuzana Company was founded in 1994 by Myint. The company is involved in hotels and tourism construction, fisheries, palm oil and rubber plantations. The company owns three hotels and the Yuzana Supermarket in Rangoon.
"We want to bring development to Hukawng," the KDNG report quotes Myint as telling Ban Kawk villagers in 2010.
Myint has been targeted by EU and US government sanctions due to his links with the Myanmar's military regime.
But KDNG predicts that Myint is slated to become a regional governor after Myanmar's upcoming elections. The ruling regime plans to hold general elections on November 7, the first in 20 years.
"These tycoons are a new face of tyranny in Burma," said Ah Nan. "They're set to enjoy even greater power after the elections."
Despite the plantations, the ruling military regime claims in its recent National Tiger Plan that it will double the country's tiger population by 2022.
The plan will be submitted at the first ever Global Tiger Summit to be held in St. Petersburg, Russia in November.
At the summit, Russia will host ministers and heads of state from the 13 countries that still have tiger populations to sign a declaration on joint cooperation for tiger conservation, and to initiate a global tiger recovery program which seeks double tiger numbers by the year 2022, the next Year of the Tiger.
Science Centric 25 September 2010 12:23 GMT
Every year on the last Sunday in September, Vladivostok turns orange with stripes. This year, as it hosts its annual Tiger Day on Sunday, Sept. 26th, the largest city in the Russian Far East will be buzzing with extra excitement as festivities take place prior to the first ever Global Tiger Summit to be held in Russia in the city of St. Petersburg from Nov. 21-24.
At the Summit, Russia will host ministers and heads of state from the 13 countries that still have tiger populations to sign a declaration on joint cooperation for tiger conservation, and to initiate a global tiger recovery program which seeks double the iconic species' numbers by the year 2022. The wild tiger population currently stands at a historic low of just 3,200.
Tiger Day is the biggest eco-celebration in the Russian Far East. Citizens of Vladivostok, students and representatives of many organisations wear orange from head to toe and join the tiger parade that moves through the centre of the city. Participants show that they are proud to live in the land of the tiger, and that they are concerned about the tiger's future.
The Amur tiger, the largest of the six big cat sub-species that still survive, numbers only about 500 and lives in the forests of the Russian Far East near Vladivostok and in Northeastern China.
This year's edition of Tiger Day will also include special guests: members of the youth German-Russian expedition 'On the Footpath of the Tiger.' The expedition connects young tiger enthusiasts from 18 to 24 years old, and also includes journalists and WWF staff members from both countries. Every member of the expedition has gone through tiger training in the field, including learning how to set photo traps to take a picture of their 'own' tiger, equipping a feeding complex for tiger prey, and learning how to count that prey from a specially built platform. Young German ecologists also have the opportunity to fly in a helicopter around the Shkotovsky plateau to detect forest fires and illegal logging. Expedition members will greet Tiger Day participants in Vladivostok's main square.
Prior to Tiger Day eminent actors and film directors who participated in the 8th international film festival of countries in the Asia-Pacific region, 'Meridians of the Pacific,' signed a tiger conservation petition aimed at the 13 heads of state where tigers still live in the wild. The petition was signed by Gerard Depardieu, Vensan Peres, Valentina Talyzina, Svetlana Toma, Artemij Troizky and 100 other film festival attendees.
WWF will also hold an eco-lottery during the day, with planting stocks of Korean Pine amongst the prizes. The tree has just received protected status in Russia's Far East cedar forests, and is a vital species in key Amur tiger habitat.
'It is absolutely possible to save and increase the population of our tiger,' stated Igor Chestin, WWF Russia CEO. 'The question is only in the political will. Russia has to accept a plan of action for the conservation of the Amur tiger and must provide adequate funding from its federal budget.'
Tiger day was first celebrated in Vladivostok in the year 2000. The event grows every year in the Russian Far East. Nature reserves in the Far East also take an active part in the day, and hold their own celebrations in smaller cities and villages. In addition to Moscow Zoo, nature parks and zoos throughout the USA and Europe, as well concerned people from countries all over the world, have joined in and now organise their own celebrations for the Tiger on the same day.
Sunday, September 26, 2010 6:51 AM
VLADIVOSTOK, Sep. 26, 2010 (Xinhua News Agency) -- The annual celebration of "Tiger Day" was held on Sunday in Vladivostok.
"Tiger Day," which has been celebrated in Vladivostok since 2000, has expanded to villages and towns throughout Primorsky Krai, Russia's most southeastern region, which contains the majority of the remaining Amur tiger habitat.
"Tiger Day" is the biggest eco-celebration in Russia's Far East. Citizens, students and representatives of many organizations wear orange clothing from head to toe and join the tiger parade that moves through the center of the city to show their concern about the tiger's future.
The Amur tiger, the largest of the six big cat sub-species that still exist, numbers only about 500 and lives in the forests of the Russian Far East near Vladivostok and in Northeastern China.
The event was organized by the Russian NGO Phoenix Fund, with support from the Primorsky authorities, the Vladivostok local government, WCS Russia, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), and the Far Eastern Development Fund "AzArt."
Published: Sept. 26, 2010 at 1:01 PM
NEW DELHI, Sept. 26 (UPI) -- U.S. actor Leonardo DiCaprio will use his celebrity to help India in its efforts to save the tiger, environmentalists said.
An ambassador for the World Wildlife Fund, DiCaprio met with India's Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh at a New York reception organized by the Coalition of Rainforest Nations, The Hollywood Reporter said.
The Reporter said Ramesh was quoted as saying the star was "very interested in the cause of tiger conservation. Somebody like him could play an important role in sensitizing the global community to the cause of the Indian tiger."
Coalition for Rainforest Nations Executive Director Kevin Conrad said, "Leonardo has now started traveling around the world looking at tigers, trying to assess the role of climate change on tiger habitats. We are inviting him to India. We want to get him to India and working with India on the issue of climate, forests and habitats."
Fri Sep 24, 9:00 am ET
YARMOUTH PORT, Mass., Sept. 24 –
YARMOUTH PORT, Mass., Sept. 24 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Thousands of schoolchildren will hit the streets for annual Tiger Day festivities in Vladivostok, Russia this Sunday to promote appreciation and conservation of one of the world's most iconic and endangered species. Children in at least thirteen countries, from China to Kenya, will join the celebration via a mosaic of video messages presented by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).
IFAW's Youth Voices for Tigers video messages comprise a collective call for world leaders to ensure that the next generation does not grow up in a world without tigers. The campaign is part of the United Nations International Year of Youth and IFAW's global Animal Action education and outreach program, which reaches more than five million school-age children in 15 countries each year.
Over the past century, the worldwide population of wild tigers has plunged from 100,000 to as few as 3,000, primarily due to rampant poaching and habitat loss.
"Tiger Day offers a unique opportunity to alert people to the grave threats tigers face, and what has to be done to save them from extinction," said Masha Vorontsova, Director of IFAW Russia. "Tiger Day is a holiday for all, which reminds us that the future of tigers is in our own hands."
The celebration is organized annually on the last Sunday in September by regional and municipal governments in partnership with IFAW, Phoenix Foundation, the Amur branch of WWF, AMUR Fund, and corporate sponsors. It was first held in Vladivostok in 2000 and is now celebrated in villages and towns throughout the Primorsky region, a small corner of the Russian Far East that is home to the world's last 300-400 Amur (Siberian) tigers. Officials, celebrities, musicians and thousands of local people take part in Tiger Day parades, festivals, education programs and concerts.
This Tiger Day falls during an especially significant year for tiger conservation. 2010 is the Year of the Tiger in the Chinese zodiac and the UN International Year of Biodiversity. In November, Russia will host a Global Tiger Summit for leaders of tiger range countries and others to announce new plans with specific commitments and time-lines to save these critically-endangered wild animals.
IFAW works on the front lines of tiger protection. Ranger teams have been instrumental in reducing poaching of tigers and their prey in protected reserves of the Russian Far East. IFAW has also trained and equipped a third of India's anti-poaching force.
Through campaigns in China and throughout Asia to reduce consumer demand, IFAW is working to close down the international black market for tiger body parts that fuels tiger poaching. The organization is also pioneering new methods for rescuing and rehabilitating orphaned and injured wild tigers, with the goal of returning them to the wild.
About IFAW (the International Fund for Animal Welfare)
Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisis around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. http://www.ifaw.org/
SOURCE International Fund for Animal Welfare
Saturday, September 25, 2010
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Rachna Singh, TNN, Sep 22, 2010, 11.53pm IST
JAIPUR: For the wild life enthusiasts, there is just a week to go before the Ranthambhore National Park is thrown open to the tourists for tiger sighting. Now, after a span of two years, two tiger cubs, barely three months old, are spotted in the park.
According to sources, tourists from Hyderabad were the lucky firsts to spot a tigress strolling with her two cubs in the Kundal area in Sultanpur, near Zone 1 of the national park on Wednesday morning. While the national park is closed at this point of time, the Sultanpur area is open to the tourists throughout the year.
Eyewitnesses said they saw the tigress carry one cub in her mouth while the other trailed along. According to sources, the tigress has been identified as T-13. However, what is the cause of concern is that the male tiger (T-12) father to the cubs, was the last tiger to be shifted to Sariska National Park. With the male tiger not there to protect the cubs, there could be some threat to the cubs from another male tiger -- T-24 -- which was seen around the tigress (T-13).
Even though the official figures of the new census have not yet been declared, this would take the tiger count up to 34 in the park after five tigers have been shifted to Sariska National Park. Besides, two tigers are said to be in the Kaila Devi area and one in Kota. Incidentally, in March this year, two male cubs, about a year old, were poisoned by villagers in for killing their goats. The T-13 has also had a litter earlier, which is now in zone two, said sources.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
JIM MANN/Daily Inter Lake | 4 comments
After more than seven years in development, a final habitat conservation plan for protected fish and wildlife species on state forest lands is being rolled out by the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
If approved after a 30-day comment period that started Friday, the plan would provide measures to minimize the effects of timber harvest and related activities on the threatened grizzly bear, Canada lynx and bull trout, along with providing protections for unlisted westslope cutthroat trout and redband trout.
In return, the 50-year plan would address “incidental take” of those species that may result from management activities on state forest lands.
“It gives [the state] the ability to move forward with a little more certainty about their activities” and less potential for being sued over impacts to threatened species, said Kathleen Ports, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife project manager.
Arlene Montgomery of Friends of the Wild Swan has several concerns about the plan, starting with its 50-year term.
“What do we know is going to be out there 50 years from now?” said Montgomery, who closely monitors management activities on the Swan River State Forest. “I think to give an incidental take permit to any entity for that period of time is wrong. There are too many uncertainties.”
Ports said the plan secures conservation commitments from the state.
“From our standpoint, we are expecting benefits to the species,” she said.
Ports said concerns were raised that under the 50-year term, the plan would not be accountable for landscape changes caused by climate change.
But the plan does include an adaptive management program for the state and the federal government to respond to long-term natural disturbance.
Efforts to develop a plan for state forest lands got under way in 2003, and it has taken this long due to a variety of circumstances, Ports said.
“When the project started, it was a lot more ambitious than it is now,” she said. “The state started with a big list of species. And it just became too difficult to address the needs of all those species, so as the years have gone by we’ve kind of pared the project down.”
The plan would have applied to species such as black-backed woodpeckers, wolves, bald eagles, wolverines and goshawks.
There also were challenges in working through differences between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation.
The state, for example, had to analyze just how its commitments might conflict with a sustained yield policy that mandates annual timber harvest targets on state forest lands.
For grizzly bear conservation, the plan calls for minimizing disturbance and displacement from suitable habitat and providing seasonal habitat security through a “comprehensive access management plan and seasonal restrictions on timber activities.”
It contains alternatives calling for existing roads, new roads and temporary roads to be in the range of 1,300 miles and 1,400 miles on state forest lands over the next 50 years. That range deducts expectations for future road reclamation.
Ports said the draft environmental impact statement gave the wrong impression that the state was planning to build between 1,300 and 1,400 miles of new roads over the next 50 years, which Montgomery regarded as a “phenomenal” excess.
For protecting fisheries habitat, the final plan proposes a stream buffer zone for timber harvest that would be increased from 25 feet in the draft to 50 feet in the final.
Considering that the U.S. Forest Service has a 300-foot buffer zone, Montgomery considers the setback in the state plan inadequate.
Implementation of the plan will be funded through the state’s forest management program, which is largely funded by timber harvests and management activities.
The final environmental impact statement for the plan and instructions for public comment are available online at:
Reporter Jim Mann may be reached at 758-4407 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
This January 2006 photo provided by the Colorado Division of Wildlife shows a lynx in the San Juan Mountains south of Creede, Colo. Colorado wildlife officials are declaring victory in their 11-year effort to reintroduce lynx to the state. The Division of Wildlife said Friday Sept. 17, 2010 that the cats are reproducing faster than they're dying, a sign of a self-sustaining population. (AP Photo/Colorado Division of Wildlife)
DENVER — Colorado wildlife officials are declaring victory in their 11-year effort to reintroduce lynx to the state.
The Division of Wildlife said Friday that the cats are reproducing faster than they're dying, a sign of a self-sustaining population.
Colorado's native lynx died out in the early 1970s because of trapping, poisoning and development.
Wildlife officers began reintroducing them in the San Juan Mountains of southwest Colorado by releasing lynx that were captured in Alaska and Canada.
By 2006, 218 cats had been brought in. Researchers say at least 141 lynx kittens have been born since 2003, including at least 14 this year.
No estimate is available for the state's total lynx population, partly because the animals live in remote wilderness areas.
Monday, September 20, 2010
TNN, Sep 19, 2010, 07.15am IST
CHENNAI: In a first, air customs officers at airport on Friday seized a tiger skin sent from London as parcel.
The tiger skin was 8 feet long from head to tail and 6 feet wide from leg to leg. The body was 2.10 feet in width, said a customs press release.
The parcel was detained by the air intelligence unit of customs under suspicion that it might contain contraband. But it turned out to be a tiger skin when the parcel was opened. The parcel was addressed to a person in Chennai.
Wild Life Crime Control Bureau has confirmed that the skin and skull is genuine and that it belonged to an Indian tiger.
Customs Commissioner R Periasami said the skin was seized after we found that it is a violation of wildlife protection Act. Investigation is on to trace the person who sent it. It might have been sent abroad from India years ago, he said.
Page last updated at 04:11 GMT, Monday, 20 September 2010 05:11 UK
By Matt Walker
Editor, Earth News
Please see this link for videos: http://news.bbc.co.uk/earth/hi/earth_news/newsid_8998000/8998042.stm
A "lost" population of tigers has been filmed living in the Himalayas.
The discovery has stunned experts, as the tigers are living at a higher altitude than any others known and appear to be successfully breeding.
Their presence in the Bhutan highlands has been confirmed by footage taken by a BBC natural history camera crew.
Creating a nature reserve around the tigers could connect up fragmented populations across Asia, preventing the extinction of the world's biggest cat.
Tigers are known to live in the Himalayan foothills of Bhutan, though little is known about them, or how many there are.
However, leading tiger expert Dr Alan Rabinowitz, formerly of the World Conservation Society and now President of Panthera, a conservation organisation dedicated to safeguarding big cat species, also suspected that some tigers may also be living at higher altitude, following anecdotal reports by villagers suggesting that some were roaming as high as 4000m (13,000ft).
So, together with a BBC film crew, he decided to investigate by journeying to Bhutan to seek proof that such mountain tigers did indeed exist.
Dr Rabinowitz enlisted the help of BBC wildlife cameraman Gordon Buchanan, who has filmed wild cats worldwide for more than 10 years.
Under Dr Rabinowitz's direction, Mr Buchanan trekked up into the mountains, where he then set a series of camera traps, that would automatically film any creature moving in front.
The team left the traps at an altitude of between 3,000m and 4,100m, above which trees start being unable to survive.
Three months later, he returned to see what they had caught on camera.
The cameras recorded a wealth of wildlife, including red foxes, jungle cats, monkeys, leopards, Himalayan black bear, tarkin, serow, musk deer and even a red panda.
This is the only place on earth known to have tigers, leopard and snow leopards all sharing the same valley.
It is remarkable to have these three big cats sharing their range.
Most extraordinarily, the cameras took footage of two wild tigers, one male and one female, a discovery that moved Mr Buchanan to tears.
The images are the first known footage of tigers in the remote mountains of Bhutan and the first hard evidence that tigers are capable of living at that altitude.
This find was made in close collaboration with Bhutan Ministry of Agriculture and Forests, with help and guidance from forest guard Phup Tshering.
"The fact they can live here is just so important, for tigers in the wild, for their future," said Mr Buchanan, on seeing the footage for the first time.
The large male tiger, sighted at an altitude of 4,100m is recorded scent-marking, confirming that the tiger pair are living within their own territory, and not just passing through.
The female tiger, sighted at the same altitude, can also be seen to be lactating, strongly suggesting the tigers are breeding at that altitude.
Further footage shows tigers living lower at an altitude of 3000m.
The discovery, which is broadcast this week as part of the BBC One programme Lost Land of the Tiger was made by the same BBC team that discovered a new species of giant rat living on the slopes of a remote volcano deep inside the jungle of Papua New Guinea.
Dr Rabinowitz and the BBC team are not revealing the exact location of the tigers, in order to prevent them being found by poachers.
Tigers used to roam across Asia, now only pockets remain. There are estimated to be as few as 3,000 left in the wild, due to poaching and habitat loss.
The discovery of tigers living at altitude in Bhutan could be crucial to one scheme proposed to help save the species from extinction.
Known as a "tiger corridor", the idea is to connect up many of these surviving isolated and fragmented groups.
That would allow individual tigers to move between populations, allowing them to breed more widely, bolstering the genetic diversity of those surviving.
It would also offer some tigers sanctuary from human towns and villages and the increasing pressures they bring.
The Tiger Corridor Initiative, promoted by the conservation organisation Panthera, hopes one such major corridor could extend along the foothills of the Himalayas from Nepal into Bhutan and northern India, then through to Myanmar, stretching across 2000km with an area of 120,000 sq km. The ambition would then be to connect it to another corridor spanning Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, terminating in Malaysia.
"The significance of finding tigers living so high in Bhutan is that it means that huge areas of Himalayas, that people didn't think were natural places for tigers to live, can now be included in the tiger corridor," says Jonny Keeling, a BBC producer who helped track and film the big cats.
"Bhutan could act as tiger nursery from which tigers could breed safely and spread out to re-populate forests of some of the surrounding countries."
Lost Land of the Tiger will be broadcast on BBC One at 21.00BST on Tuesday 21st, Wednesday 22nd and Thursday 23rd September.
Visit Lost Land of the Tiger to find out more about the series http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00ty69k
Watch other amazing tiger footage filmed by the BBC http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/species/Tiger
Sunday, September 19, 2010
By Martin Hickman
Monday, 20 September 2010
A Bengal tiger prowls at an altitude of 13,000ft in the mountains of Bhutan
A British film crew has recorded rare footage of tigers high in the mountains of Bhutan, giving hope to conservationists who plan to link Asia's shrinking populations of the big cats.
A team from the BBC's Natural History Unit spent six weeks trying to film the elusive animals. One of the cameramen, Gordon Buchanan, said he was reduced to tears by the grainy images captured by his lens. "It was beyond words [and] pretty overwhelming," he added. "The purpose of the expedition was to film evidence of tigers living in Bhutan so all the effort and everything we did came down to a few seconds of footage."
The documentary team wedged hidden cameras into gullies and trees during their expedition to the Himalayan kingdom. They filmed Bengal tigers prowling at 13,000ft above sea level, more than twice the height of Ben Nevis. Their remote existence means that the world's biggest cat, Panthera tigris, may be able to survive away from human encroachment. Tigers once roamed from Turkey to eastern Russia but their numbers have dwindled by 95 per cent since 1900 because of hunting, loss of habitats and poaching. As few as 3,000 remain in the wild and are under threat of extinction.
In an effort to create a genetically viable tiger population, the Wildlife Conservation Society and the Panthera Foundation hope to establish a 5,000-mile corridor spanning eight countries from Bhutan to Burma which would allow tigers to move freely across their largest remaining block of habitat. Bhutan has one of the smallest tiger populations, estimated at between 67 and 81 adults. Mr Buchanan said his team was convinced the tigers they saw were breeding, and that there must be cubs in the mountains that potentially gave the species a future. "I have spent time working with tigers in India and looking for them in Russia and they face problems pretty much everywhere," he added. "But Bhutan is so wild poachers would find it very difficult to hunt them there."
Alan Rabinowitz, a biologist, said: "Tigers are thought of as jungle creatures yet we now know they can live and breed at this altitude, which is a safer habitat for them. Bhutan was the missing link in this tiger corridor."
'Lost Land Of The Tiger' starts at 9pm on BBC1 tomorrow (except Scotland).
Vinay Madhav, TNN, Sep 19, 2010, 06.46am IST
BANGALORE: There are 42 source sites, including 18 in India, that hold the key to the future of tigers, which are on the brink of extinction. Around 22 leading wildlife biologists from across the globe, including Dr K Ullas Karanth from India, made this observation in a paper they published in the prestigious PLoS Biology Magazine.
At a time when Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will be hosting the Tiger Summit to address the dwindling number of tigers across the globe, the paper has suggested pragmatic measures for the protection of this majestic animal.
It has been the Chinese Year of the Tiger, and it is this country which is the largest market for tiger parts. The summit will be held in November, where leaders of 13 tiger range states, supported by international donors, will participate.
Approximately 1.5 million sqkm of suitable habitat still remain in Asia, where tigers are distributed heterogenously, and except in the Russian Far East, are restricted to small pockets, mostly in protected areas.
Source sites are defined as areas which have more than 25 breeding females and having a landscape with the potential to contain more than 50 breeding females. These 42 source sites are home to almost 70% of all remaining wild tigers and though disproportionate, are important for the survival of the species. Collectively, they cover 100,000 sqkm, which is less than 0.5% of their historical range, and just 6% of their current distribution. If Russia is excluded from the analysis, 74% of the world's remaining tigers live in less than 4.5% of the current tiger range.
Source sites are not evenly distributed across the tigers' range, with the most number in India (18), Sumatra (eight) and the Russian Far East (six). Based on available data, no source site was identified in Cambodia, China, Korea, or Vietnam. Surveys in Bhutan and Myanmar have been too limited for their status to be assessed.
Actively protecting tigers at source sites is feasible and pragmatic, and has been successful in many reserves across India, between 1974 and 1986. The Malnad-Mysore tiger landscape currently maintains more than 220 adult tigers, one of the greatest concentrations in the world. This is mainly due to intensive protection of source sites such as Nagarahole National Park, where tiger numbers have increased by 400%, after protection began in the early 1970s.
Wild tiger numbers are at a historic low. There is no evidence of breeding populations of tigers in Cambodia, China, Vietnam, and DPR Korea. Current approaches to tiger conservation are not slowing the decline in tiger numbers, which has continued unabated over the past two decades.
The decline of the tiger continues despite much concern, and both their range and total number have collapsed: fewer than 3,500 animals now live in the wild, occupying less than 7% of their historical range. Of these, approximately 1,000 are likely to be breeding females.
Though tigers showed a remarkable recovery between 1970s and 1990s, during the era of Project Tiger, it also became clear that protection and management of many reserves remained inadequate as witnessed in the reserves of Sariska and Panna, where tigers are now extinct.
COST OF PROTECTION
Scientists feel that protecting source sites is financially attainable. The analysis estimates an average cost of protecting and monitoring tigers effectively at all 42 source sites at $82 million per year or $930 per sqkm per year. More than half of these funds are already being committed by range-state governments, and the shortfall is less than $35 million, the paper noted.
Posted: Mon Sep 20 2010, 05:40 hrs
Lucknow: The Uttar Pradesh Forest Department will soon set up an armed force to tackle poachers and check the crime against wildlife in the state.
The Wildlife Protection Force (WPF) is being constituted on the guidelines of National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA). The personnel will be given training at par with the state police force.
Though the main focus of the security force will be to check crime against wildlife, particularly tiger poaching, it will also check crimes like illegal cutting of trees. The forest department has sent the proposal to state home department seeking training support, and as soon as the proposal is finalised the recruitment process will kick off, said a senior forest department official.
“Wildlife poaching is a major problem in UP. The tiger reserves of Dudhwa in Lakhimpur Kheri and Katarniya Ghat in Bahraich are under constant threat from poachers. After declaring the area as critical tiger habitat, this (forming a special force) is the second step we are taking for tackling wildlife crime and managing tiger conservation in the state,” Minister for Forests and Wildlife Fateh Bahadur Singh told The Indian Express.
“They (personnel of Wildlife Protection Force) will be deployed across the Indo-Nepal border, apart from the two tiger reserves,” added the minister. This is for the first time that UP will have a special force designated for managing wildlife crime, and it is most likely to be operationalised within this financial year.
“Apart from regular police training, the personnel of WPF will be imparted knowledge wildlife Acts. Since the poachers use best equipment, they too will be given latest equipment like arms and ammunition, communication tools and satellite tracking devices. They will be given regular trainings for updating their skills,” said an official.
Saturday, September 18, 2010
Farmers, hunters and other outdoor enthusiasts can help monitor and document the expanding distribution of black bears and bobcats in Wisconsin through a new on-line reporting form that allows the public to submit black bear and bobcat observations. The Department of Natural Resources wildlife surveys section has developed a new bear and bobcat reporting application.
Black bears and bobcats are commonly found in the northern third of Wisconsin and much of the population for both species still resides in the northern counties. However, recent range expansion by both species has lead to more frequent sighting in southern counties. Wildlife officials are looking for reports of black bear sightings within areas that are outside of their normal range, particularly areas designated as occasional and rare on the distribution map. Bobcat sightings are to be reported statewide.
In addition to this new bear and bobcat monitoring effort the department has recently initiated citizen monitoring opportunities intended to collect more information on trends in deer reproductive success by reporting does and fawns seen together during the late summer and early fall, and 2010 will be the second season for the Hunter Wildlife Observation Survey which asks deer hunters to report on nine different wildlife species observed during the deer hunting seasons.
The DNR's Bureau of Endangered Resources has a Rare Mammal Observation form for to report sightings of wolf, moose, cougar, lynx, wolverine, marten, or Franklin's ground squirrel.
Friday, September 17, 2010
Thursday, September 16, 2010
For the Tidings
ASHLAND — A cougar killed a lamb 10 feet from the back door of a home at the edge of the city limits, leading Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife officials to warn residents around the railroad trestle on North Main Street that they should watch their animals and put up a loud human presence.
The attack, discovered Friday morning, does not signal an increase in the cougar population or change in their behavior, but, "as humans extend into cougar habitat and vice-versa, cougars will look for anything on your property that's an easy take, even big dogs," said Rosemary Stussy, a state wildlife biologist.
Homeowner Kim Lewis said the cougar took advantage of a situation in which the guard dog, a golden Lab, was inside for the night and two nearly mature lambs were on seven acres of pasture by his home, above the entrance to Ashland Mine Road on the west side of Highway 99.
State biologists confirmed that a cougar killed the lamb and removed the carcass, which was gutted in the cougar's usual way, to devour the heart and lungs, said Lewis.
The site of the attack is on lower Wright's Creek at the edge of a residential area.
"If you're on the edge of any town in Southern Oregon," said Stussy, "you're in the territory of adult male and female cougars. ... There are good cougars and bad cougars — and the good ones behave appropriately and don't come kill your animals."
The cougar in the Lewis attack will be trapped and killed by Jackson County's half-time trapper, Cricket Peyton, who is paid with county and federal funds, said Stussy. She said relocation of offending cougars and bears is not allowed by state law.
The cougar took the lamb "in my very personal space" off the back deck, said Lewis, dragging it around the pasture and leaving wool spread widely.
Following the advice of state biologists, Lewis said he will show his presence often in the pasture, making lots of noise — banging pots and pans is effective — and setting up recorded sounds of shots, to be triggered by motion detectors.
"A couple of big, mean dogs can deter cougars, but most dogs and cats are just snacks to cougars, even great Danes and St. Bernards," said Stussy.
Yard lighting triggered by motion detectors is effective a few times, said Stussy, then cougars decide it is no threat. Sprinklers triggered by motion detectors, however, work.
"Remember, cats don't like water," she said.
Cougars are becoming habituated to humans and can approach domestic animals even in daytime "because no one is telling them 'no' anymore," said Stussy. "They didn't come around the pioneers because they shot everything that moved."
Cougars shy away from upright, two-legged humans, who are not part of their natural world, and will flee, she said, "if you fire off a few rounds (not allowed inside cities), bang pots and pans or set off your car alarm."
Cougars will set up and patrol territory, often returning to sites of successful kills, said Stussy, adding they will be especially attracted to places where they see lots of deer or feral cats.
Ashland police have handled only one complaint about a bear and one for a cougar in the past three years, said Police Chief Terry Holderness, noting that all city workers just were trained in how to deal with such encounters.
During the sightings, "we told people to leave them alone and they would go away and they did," Holderness said.
John Darling is a freelance writer living in Ashland. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo by: Special to The Times
A mountain lion was given about four hours to vacate an east Morgan Hill neighborhood before police used pepper-spray guns to force it back into its own habitat Monday, police said.
Morgan Hill police received a phone call about 9 a.m. from a resident of Holiday Lake Estates, off East Dunne Avenue, who reported the 100-pound adult cat was resting near his backyard, Sgt. Jerry Neumayer said.
The resident called from the 17300 block of Lakeview Drive.
The local animal control officer went to the scene and saw the mountain lion laying near the rear entrance to the home's backyard. The officer contacted state Department of Fish and Game officials, who "didn't feel the need to respond" at first, Neumayer said.
Instead, the game wardens told police that it would be safe to leave the animal alone, but keep an eye on it until it went back into its habitat on its own.
Police passed out flyers around the subdivision and provided information to residents about what they should do, and who they could contact for more information, Neumayer said.
But the predacious feline, whose sex was unknown, did not leave. About 1:30 p.m. police decided - because more people would be returning home from school and work in the afternoon - to forcefully persuade the animal to leave the neighborhood, Neumayer said.
Police used a pepper-ball gun, which launches pellets that break open on impact and contain an irritating pepper-like substance intended to subdue people or animals, Neumayer said. After launching one round from the pepper-ball gun toward the ground in front of the mountain lion, the cat ran in a northeastern direction.
Authorities at the scene lost sight of the animal near Blue Jay Court, Neumayer said.
"We're hoping the animal got scared and went back to its habitat," Neumayer said.
Police are in the process of using its alert system to notify area residents of the mountain lion sighting with automated phone messages.
Morgan Hill police receive "one or two calls a year" of mountain lion sightings, Neumayer said.
"They're usually gone before we get there," he added.
Anyone with more information about Monday's mountain lion sighting can contact Morgan Hill police at (408) 779-2101, or the Department of Fish and Game at (707) 944-5500.
A male mountain lion peers down from a tree at the Wayne and Jane Schledewitz farm north of Hemingford, Neb., on Tuesday. Game and Parks biologists shot and killed the cougar because it could be a threat to people and livestock.
During the past twenty years, Nebraska had seen nineteen mountain lions wander into the state, most of which were found dead or killed shortly after being spotted. Yesterday marked the twentieth. A Nebraska woman stepped out of her farmhouse just after sunrise to feed her barn cats and take a morning walk with her dog, Griz -- a large Alaskan malamute. The dog took off behind the barn chasing the cougar and minutes later had frightened it more than 75 feet up a giant elm tree on the property. The woman was startled by the encounter, guided by misinformation that the cougar would lose its fear of people and pose a safety risk, and so she concluded her only option was to have the cat killed. A biologist from the Nebraska Department of Game & Parks came out, took aim at the cat (which was still hiding in the elm tree), and shot perhaps the only cougar in the entire state. Mountain lions were native to Nebraska until residents had killed them all by the early 1900's. Without accurate information about the species and tolerance for wildlife, mountain lions will never repopulate Nebraska. The farm owner did mention she wanted the cougar to return... only, stuffed, mounted, and on display at a local fur trade museum....Mountain Lion Foundation
Big, gentle Griz suddenly growled and darted away.
Moments later, the 2-year-old Alaskan malamute reappeared on the run from behind a few farm buildings — chasing a mountain lion.
“The cat was full leaped out. He was on a dead run with his tail out behind him. He looked huge,” said Jane Schledewitz.
“We were head-to-head. There was nothing between us but air.”
The cougar and Griz the dog zipped past Schledewitz and vanished around the corner of the farmhouse. She estimated the distance between herself and the cougar as twice the length of her living room.
That was the adrenaline-spiking start of 50-year-old Schledewitz's day Tuesday, after she stepped out of her western Nebraska farmhouse near Hemingford at sunrise to feed two calico barn cats and take a two-mile walk with Griz.
About an hour later, she and her husband, Wayne Schledewitz, made a tough decision to have the cougar killed because of the threat it posed to people, pets and livestock.
The young male mountain lion fled up a towering Chinese elm tree near the farmhouse, which is about six miles north and one mile west of Hemingford. It was in the tree when Nebraska Game and Parks wildlife biologists from Alliance arrived an hour later after receiving a call from the Box Butte County Sheriff's Office.
The lion was shot and fell about 25 yards from its perch.
Jane Schledewitz said she and her husband wish the cougar could have been spared, but there was no way to know if it was growing unafraid to wander through farmsteads.
“We have an old barn, and if we had come around there and surprised him inside, he could feel threatened and attack,'' she said. “Our neighbors pasture cattle on grassland all around our place. I'm still shaking.''
Todd Nordeen, a Game and Parks wildlife biologist manager in the Panhandle, said authorities work with landowners to make a joint decision on how to handle cougar encounters. There have been no confirmed instances of a mountain lion killing livestock in Nebraska.
“If there's any chance we think the best thing to do is to let it go, that's what we do,'' he said.
The mountain lion was the 112th confirmed observation in Nebraska since 1991. It was the 10th confirmation this year. Eighty of the confirmed sightings have occurred in the Pine Ridge area north of Hemingford.
Jane Schledewitz said her initial reaction was that it was a coyote or a bobcat. But when she focused on the face and tail — she screamed, hurried to a shed and pulled out her cell phone to call her husband.
“‘Big cat! Big cat!' was about all I could say,'' she said.
Wayne Schledewitz had just left the farmstead to harvest dry edible beans. He was skeptical, but returned and spotted the cougar hidden near the top of the fully-leafed tree.
Jane Schledewitz said the cougar's paws were twice as large as those on Griz, who weighs 125 pounds. Nordeen said the cougar weighed about 100 pounds. The carcass will be sent to agency headquarters in Lincoln for study.
Jane Schledewitz said she hopes it becomes a display mount at the Museum of the Fur Trade in Chadron.
“I'd like it to come home.”
Contact the writer:
Monday, September 13, 2010
A rampaging cougar that slaughtered 11 sheep at a farm near Chilliwack this week was a "large and efficient killing machine" whose blood lust left a conservation officer no choice but to shoot it dead, B.C. Environment Minister Barry Penner said Friday.
"It's not a happy ending," Penner said. "It was unfortunate but necessary to protect other livestock and members of the public. This cougar had demonstrated a proclivity for killing."
The 75-kilogram cougar entered a paddock at the four-hectare farm in the rural Ryder Lake area south of Chilliwack on Tuesday night and killed 10 pregnant ewes and one ram.
Only two of the sheep were eaten by the cougar. The other nine were simply killed and left, said Penner, who is the MLA for the area.
"These animals essentially had their throats torn out. This cougar was very good at what it was doing."
Farm owner Marlene Letkeman was devastated when she discovered her sheep lying on the ground Wednesday morning. "It was pretty traumatizing to see all our babies lying there," Letkeman said.
"It was a terrible loss for us, not just financially but also emotionally because we had those sheep for many years.
"They had their own names and answered to them. They had collars and bells. It's very quiet here now without them."
Letkeman notified a local conservation officer about the killings. One of the dead sheep was used as bait to attract the cougar, which was quickly located Thursday, still on the Letkeman farm.
It took only about two minutes for the conservation officer and his tracking dogs to chase the cougar up a tree.
The officer shot the cougar in the heart, killing him instantly, said Penner, who arrived at the farm in time to hear the shot.
"Conservation officers don't enjoy shooting cougars or bears, but it's something they have to do," he said.
Penner said a conservation officer had told him that the cougar's behaviour was consistent with that of "an aggressive male cougar conducting a march through his territory."
Letkeman said she took no pleasure in the cougar's death.
"I heard the gunshot go off and it just rang off the mountains -- and it just went right through me.
"I knew that animal was dead too and I felt bad. Our sheep didn't deserve to die, and the cougar was just living his life.
"But he crossed boundaries. There are no winners here."
© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun
Sunday, September 12, 2010
CORPUS CHRISTI — KINGSVILLE -- As fewer than 100 ocelots fight each other over the last virgin acres of South Texas brush country, conservationists wage their own battle to tell the story of the wild cats and why their survival matters even though the cats are seldom seen.
"The more wildlife we lose, the more it means we have a less healthy ecosystem out there," said Michael Tewes, a researcher and wild cat specialist at Texas A&M University-Kingsville.
Tewes and other wildlife biologists and conservationists are celebrating 10 years and $30 million in awards from State Wildlife Grants, a federal program that focuses funding on species that aren't hunted or fished. They held a briefing Wednesday at A&M-Kingsville to tout benefits of the program.
Even as they celebrate, they hope to convince policymakers to establish a permanent source of funding like the taxes on hunting and fishing licenses that support game species. Ninety-seven percent of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's wildlife division budget is funded by hunting, while State Wildlife Grants make up the remaining 3 percent, said John Young, a Parks and Wildlife scientist who studies mammals.
"This little bit of money we get from State Wildlife Grants does so much for us, so it's important to let the legislators know," Young said.
Connecting the reclusive ocelot -- similar in appearance to a house cat but with larger paws and a leopard-like fur pattern -- with the overall health of the environment is a challenge for conservationists. Two decades ago, the ocelot had all but disappeared from the land and language of South Texas.
Officials said saving the creature will involve a delicate web of conservation activities that span from Mexico and South Texas to Washington, strengthening partnerships between researchers, landowners, the government and nonprofit groups.
Tewes said skull specimens show today's ocelot population is less genetically diverse than in the past.
"It tells us we need more ocelots, and to have more ocelots we need more habitat," he said.
Decades of ranching and highway construction shredded the area's dense brushy thickets until only a patchwork was left -- a hundred acres here, a few hundred there. Already suffering from fur trapping, the ocelot range that once spread from central Mexico into Texas and Arizona became fragmented. Genetic diversity among ocelots in South Texas plummeted, making them more vulnerable to diseases and birth defects.
The federal grants support projects across the state, including Texas Parks and Wildlife biologists who work with private landowners to advise them on ways to protect habitat. At the same time, they forge relationships with the landowners that can assuage fears of government interference. The result, officials said, is more landowners willing to set aside land for conservation easements, in which the land is protected from brush clearing and development.
"Private landowners are the cornerstone of maintaining biological diversity in South Texas," Texas Parks and Wildlife biologist Jesus Franco said.
Frank Yturria of Brownsville has established about 2,000 acres of easements on his ranches. Wildlife officials hope to string together more easements to reach the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge about 20 miles away, where another small group of ocelots resides. Ocelots already use this corridor, but it could disappear to private development, Tewes said. The hope is that ocelots eventually will be able to range freely from Mexico into the southern United States, he said.
Wednesday, September 08, 2010
Tuesday, September 07, 2010
Posted: Tue Sep 07 2010, 06:41 hrs
Lucknow: The tiger attacks in Pilibhit may have led to fear in the district, but it has brought some cheer to the state forest department.
In an area where tiger sightings were rare, the department has identified four tigers and believes there are two more. Although the department is waiting for the results of the tiger census, officials say the presence of tigers in the area indicates their numbers are increasing in the nearby Dudhwa tiger reserve and the animals are expanding their territory.
Since May, eight incidents of tiger attacks have been reported from the Deoria range in Pilibhit and Khutar range in Shahjehanpur district.
Following this, the state forest department set traps and cameras in the area, which zeroed in on four — three tigresses and one adult tiger — as the culprits. The department has sent teams to tranquilise the animals.
The Divisional Forest Officer, Pilibhit, V K Singh, said the last time tiger attacks were reported in this area was in 2003-04. Since then, there were stray tiger sightings. “We have already managed to get the photographs of the man-killer tigers and the pugmarks make it clear that it is not a simple case of tiger moving out of its territory during monsoons,” said Singh. “The incidents started occurring much before the season and the pattern of killing shows these tigers are now establishing territory in the Deoria range.”
Tigers expand their territories only in two cases, said Singh — when their area falls short of prey or the number of tigers increases. “These are adult tigers and since the area is adjoining the Dudhwa tiger reserve, there are chances that the numbers have increased there, resulting in the tigers moving out,” said Singh.
The estimated territory of an adult tiger is 20 sq kms and the area of the Deoria range, where most of the attacks have occurred, is 96.6 sq kms.
“The area is rich in vegetation and small animals, which makes it perfect for the tigers who are searching for fresh territory,” said Singh.
The department, on the suggestion of the National Tiger Conservation Authority, is planning to catch and relocate these tigers. NTCA officials visited Deoria range on Monday and suggested that the forest officials prepare short term and long term plans related to conservation of the big cat in the area.
Monday, September 06, 2010
7 Sep, 2010, 01.59AM IST
By Shivang Mehta & Kahini Ghosh Mehta
It is not a hidden fact that millions of dollars are being poured into the conservation of the striped wonders of India but the situation remains precarious.
With fewer than 1400 left in the wild, India is going through its worst tiger crises.
Human greed and selfishness has been one of the many cause of the plight of tigers in India and the irony is that as per recent trends, the present crisis has opened up a new dimension to the greed with corporates using the cause as a PR and branding tool hiding behind the garb of conservation.
If human greed and selfishness is one of the prime reasons for the condition of tigers in India today and if greed and selfishness is a character trait that humans understand, it would be worthwhile to save the tiger for our own selfish interest. The role of the tiger in the ecosystem is indeed quite interesting and it goes without saying that the tiger is the perfect indicator of the health of a forest. The tiger protects the forests of our country by maintaining an equilibrium that is important for the survival of its prey (deer, monkeys, boars etc.) and the vegetation.
And since the survival of the forests are crucial for the thousands of rivers, a life source for millions of people in India, that originate and flow through them, it makes the saving of tigers all the more important.
However, the economics of tiger conservation is quite interesting. Let’s consider Corbett as an example. With over 70 private properties in and around the Corbett Tiger Reserve in Uttrakhand, wildlife tourism has become an ever-flourishing business model generating revenues for property owners, travel agents and some great employment opportunities for locals. The local youth now look up to careers like naturalists, guide cum drivers of safari vehicles as a lot of private resorts are in need of such people.
According to the Tiger Task Force data released in 2005/06, a total of 1.29 million people visited tiger reserves in 2004/05 which approximates to 58456tourist per tiger reserve every year and the number is continuously growing year on year. The nominal gate charges of Rs 25-50 gives revenue in crores to most of the popular national parks.
Corbett alone experienced a tourist inflow of over two lakhs in the last season. With a total ceiling of 600 visitors per day, Corbett can officially have 1.6 lakh tourists during the eight-month season. The numbers invariably overshoot this limit. Tourism is rampant in other popular national parks like Bandhavgarh, Kanha, Ranthambore etc. and the tiger, without doubt, is a magnet that pulls the majority of the lot.
Be it an ordinary weekend walk-in tourist, or a season wildlife researcher or photographer, the tiger is the binding force that draws visitors from across the globe.
As per Aditya Singh, wildlife conservationist and tiger expert from Ranthambore “The tourism zone of the Ranthambhore which has around 20 tigers, contributes over Rs 1 billion — directly and indirectly — to the Indian economy, every year.”
“Over 40 per cent of this amount never reaches anyone in Ranthambhore and barely three per cent actually goes to the park,” adds Aditya.
Dharmendra Khandal, wildlife biologist from Ranthambore confirms, “With a cap of 40 vehicles per day in the park, Ranthambore had been traditionally running at a 80-85% capacity throughout the season during 2007 to 2008. “ “However, the 2009-2010 season ended at almost 90-95% capacity and ofcourse the tiger sightings have been phenomenal during the season,” he added.
Bandhavgarh — the tiger haven of Madhya Pradesh, has also seen an year on year 10% growth in tourist traffic. The interesting fact is that foreign tourists have increased from approximately 14,000 to nearly 17,000 in just 2 years! This is considering the fact that in case of Bandhavgarh accessibility is a problem as the nearest airport is Jabalpur which is around three hours from the tiger reserve.
The tourism and revenue graphs dipped drastically for places like Sariska where tiger population had been wiped off. The inflow of around 49,000 visitors in Sariska in 2004/05 has drastically dropped and so have the revenues that used to be in the range of Rs 28 lakh.
Sariska showed some signs of recovery when the relocation of tigers happened from Ranthambore but has never been able to experience the tourist traffic that it witnessed when the tiger prowled the dry and deciduous terrains of this forest. Of course, tourism does come with a lot of negative impacts but it all depends on the seriousness with which private properties feel for the cause of wildlife and realise the impact of tourism on wildlife.
A recent survey around Corbett revealed 70% of the properties around the Corbett Tiger Reserve are venues for parties, weddings and rain-dances. In addition, properties have also blocked wildlife corridors which are lifelines for the animals.
However, regulated tourism machinery where in wildlife is given adequate breathing space along with sustained eco-tourism efforts can result in a win-win situation for all stakeholders. India is one of the last few homes to the charismatic tiger and history has shown that that tigers do respond brilliantly when left on their own and given adequate protection in the form of limited interface with man. It is binding upon a nation proud of its history and heritage to save this dying species. But in this case if the tiger becomes history, which it is waiting to be consigned to, it won’t repeate itself.
(The authors, who have clicked the photographs, are wildlife photographers and conduct nature & photography workshops across national parks of India.)
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