Sunday, February 28, 2010

Radio collars to study tiger behaviour in Sunderbans

Radio collars to study tiger behaviour in Sunderbans

STAFF WRITER 9:40 HRS IST

Kolkata, Feb 28 (PTI) For an authentic scientific study of their behaviour, tigers in the Sunderbans, the world's only mangrove eco-system which has big cats, will be fitted with radio collars, forest officials said.

"Last week a tigress which had strayed into Gosaba area in South 24 Parganas district was fitted with a radio collar.

We have to radio collar a few more tigers which will provide information about their behaviour in Sunderbans," Sunderban Biosphere Reserve (SBR) director Pradeep Vyas told PTI.

There was no scientific study on the behaviour of the big cats in the Sunderbans and all information was based solely on observation, he said.

"So, an authentic scientific study is needed and radio collars will provide us exact information about the behaviour of tigers," Vyas said.

http://www.ptinews.com/news/541115_Radio-collars-to-study-tiger-behaviour-in-Sunderbans

http://www.bigcatrescue.org/

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Seeing double

Seeing double

FROM ISSUE #490 (19 FEB 2010 - 25 FEB 2010)
The Nepali Times

Tigers may seem like an elusive remnant of our jungly past, but whether they continue to exist in the wild depends on a very current nexus of politics, economics and society.

Nepal and 12 other tiger range countries have declared that they will double the estimated 3200 tigers in the wild in the next 12 years. For Nepal, this means doubling our adult wild tiger population of 121.

"We understand tiger conservation is not like breeding chickens," Forest Minister Deepak Bohara conceded in the course of being grilled by BBC Nepali on Monday. "That is exactly why we are extending tiger habitat in Banke National Park and taking a strong stance against forest encroachment, poaching and smuggling in tiger parts."
But in the face of continued poaching and encroachment, this is easier said than done.

2010 is the Year of the Tiger. With crucial tiger summits this year in Vladivostok and Doha that will define the stance of China and India, let's hope it turns out to be one that will pave the way for a Year of the Tiger 2022 we can truly celebrate.

http://www.nepalitimes.com.np/issue/2010/02/19/Headline/16808

http://www.bigcatrescue.org

Tiger economy

Tiger economy

FROM ISSUE #490 (19 FEB 2010 - 25 FEB 2010)
The Nepali Times

Looking around the country today, it is hard to recall that Nepal was once internationally recognised for its pioneering work with eco-tourism and wildlife conservation. The Annapurna Area Conservation Project, the rescue of the tiger and rhino from the brink of extinction in Chitwan, the successful translocation of these species to nature reserves in western Nepal and the gharial breeding program on the Narayani were all once models. Some were replicated within Nepal and around the world.

But Nepal's human population has doubled since the early 1980s, and political instability has taken its toll. Fickle governments have lacked the political commitment or the time horizon to invest in safeguarding past accomplishments in conservation as well as address new threats. Whatever is happening now owes much to the momentum of past success.

The midhills have benefited from the community forestry program, an exemplar of creating sustainable livelihoods by protecting nature. But the lack of accountability during the political transition and the post-war culture of violence have eroded some of the gains as user groups collude to harvest logs for personal gain.

Elsewhere, especially in the Tarai, migration and population expansion are increasing the pressure on protected areas. The Maoists have been following the example set by the NC and UML in the 1990s by settling hill
farmers along what remains of the Tarai forests. The pressure on land in the plains is now the single biggest danger to the future of our forests.

Which is why the government's commitment to implement the World Wildlife Fund's campaign to double the number of wild tigers in Nepal by 2022 is such a huge challenge. Contiguous Tarai forests that served as wildlife corridors from the plains to the Mahabharat hills are being wiped away. Tiger, rhino and wild elephant populations can't roam as they used to, living instead in inbred isolation within fragmented jungle strips.

The breakdown of the state has emboldened poachers and Nepal now serves as a funnel for poached Indian tigers to China, just as it does for sandalwood and other contraband.

The solution is clear: protecting habitats, restoring jungle corridors along the Indo-Nepal border in the Tarai, and clamping down on the trade in tiger parts. But even these measures can be difficult in times of political volatility, and when joblessness and poverty drive desperate people to encroach and poach.

But Nepal has shown in the past that we can do it. We can once more take the lead in implementing eco-tourism models and fostering a sustainable, symbiotic relationship between people and parks.

Doubling Nepal's present population of 121 adult tigers is an achievable goal, and saving the charismatic species at the top of the food chain will also save the ecosystems where they live.

http://www.nepalitimes.com.np/issue/2010/02/19/PublishersNote/16810

http://www.bigcatrescue.org

Back to the jungle

Back to the jungle

Will the real tiger survive until the next year of the tiger in 2022?

NIRMAL GHOSH in BANGKOK
FROM ISSUE #490 (19 FEB 2010 - 25 FEB 2010)
Nepali Times

The Year of the Tiger has begun. Across China, tiger merchandise is the rage. In India, celebrities are throwing their weight behind calls to save the real tiger.

A flurry of conservation meetings has taken place, Internet groups have sprung up, and the media this past week has been full of tigers. There is an all-around glow of good intentions--and it is welcome, because the life of wild tigers hangs by a slender thread. Sadly, there are still many Chinese who would rather eat bits and pieces of a tiger than save the great cat in the wild. There are still many people the world over, who would like a tiger skin. And there are still many Indians who do not see why it is necessary to save them.

India, home to around 1,400 which is roughly one-third of the world's last wild tigers, recorded 66 tiger deaths in 2009 - of which 23 had been killed by poachers.

In the Chinese system, animals come with elements; this is the year of the metal Tiger. But the real tiger of flesh and blood and tooth and claw is a fragile one and very, very mortal. Estimates put the number of tigers in the wild across 13 Asian countries at around 3200--down from 5000-7000 in the last Year of the Tiger (1998).

Many are in small populations in remnant patches of habitat, constantly under threat and short of prey. Poachers kill not only the tigers for their bones, organs and skin, but also their prey--deer and wild boar--for meat.

Small populations are also genetically vulnerable. If a small population loses its male tigers for instance, it is doomed.In one Indian tiger reserve the opposite happened--the last male tiger ran out of mates.

There are only a few areas left which, if protected and ideally also restored, could support more tigers. These include Thailand's 17,870 sq km (11,103 sq miles) western forest complex, overlapping with Burma's Tenasserim region. Another is northern India's Terai Arc landscape, shared with Nepal. Historically the Tarai region has been the most productive breeding ground for tigers.

But that is history. Both the Indo-Nepal and Thai-Burma landscapes have habitat breaks which need to be restored to link sub-populations.

The most basic requirement remains that of protecting the tigers. On the demand side, China's role is critical. Even though some traditional Chinese medicine practitioners have dropped tiger parts from their menu of options, and powerful role models like martial arts film star Jackie Chan are crusading for change, there is still demand despite studies showing tiger bones and organs are no different to those of dogs, pigs and goats.

Wild tigers regularly turn up in Thailand sawn in half and stuffed into the boots of cars carrying them up the Malay peninsula to China. Once chopped up and passed up the line, the sum of a tiger's parts can fetch up to US$ 70,000.

China, backed by owners of tiger farms with over 6,000 of the big cats in stock alive or dead in deep freezes, has been trying to get the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) to agree to opening up the market in China for the farmed tigers. A proposition to this effect is reportedly ready for the next Conference of the Parties of CITES in Doha in April.

The farms claim that opening up the trade will flood the market with tiger parts, lowering prices and removing the incentive for poaching wild tigers. But it costs anywhere between US$1000 and US$ 4000 a year to rear a tiger in captivity, and less than US$25 to have one killed in the wild, with a bullet or a simple snare made of cable or wire. Everywhere in the world, and in every commodity and product, traders and smugglers exploit the smallest price differentials.

Consumers will also prefer wild tigers to farmed cats, creating a black market that beefs up the profit from taking a tiger from the wild. Those who advocate this Faustian solution, also clearly fail to notice that last year's recession destroyed the fond myth that the free market is its own best regulator. Supplying a product spurs demand, it does not limit or suppress it.

Ministers and officials from 13 Asian tiger range countries ended a meeting last month in Hua Hin, Thailand, with a pledge to double the number of tigers in the wild by 2022, the next Year of the Tiger. The meeting included experts from organizations like the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the World Bank.

Studies in India and Thailand, do suggest it is possible to double the population of tigers in more viable landscapes. The challenge is to turn this theoretical possibility into reality. In some areas, broken habitat links will have to be restored and local people resettled. This can succeed only with proper public consultation and attractive resettlement deals. Locals must not be abruptly severed from their natural resource base. Local support is essential if the tiger is to be saved.

But the declaration in reality carried little official weight.

The WWF and the World Bank which thanks to its president Robert Zoellick is a recent convert to tiger conservation, say it can be built upon at a 'tiger summit' in Vladivostok in September, which will be chaired by Zoellick and Russian Premier Vladimir Putin. But not everything went smoothly at Hua Hin.

From the 13 tiger range countries there were only four full ministers present; others were deputy ministers or senior officials. A World Bank statement saying China's tiger farms should be shut down reportedly irritated some Chinese delegates.

In a video message at Hua Hin, Zoellick pledged the World Bank's support. But India was cold to the World Bank, sending a junior official.

The World Bank saving tigers is a hard sell in India, where its track record shows wildlife habitat has always been ''acceptable collateral damage'' in the words of Mumbai-based conservationist Bittu Sahgal, editor of Sanctuary magazine. At one discussion in Hua Hin a delegate asked the World Bank whether, and why, loans still came with conditions. ''The World Bank had no answer'' said a source who was at the discussion.

But the World Bank has indeed raised the tiger a notch on the international agenda, and Hua Hin did produce some commitments from Thailand to step up protection.

Separately last month, India said it would release 10 billion rupees (over US$ 200 million) to relocate communities from tiger habitats. It has long been obvious that human encroachment in various forms on habitat has contributed to the tiger's decline, and human communities and tigers do not happily co-exist.

Eventually, whatever the number of meetings and Facebook groups, it is up to tiger range countries to save their own tigers. And better enforcement is the most basic and vital condition for saving tigers, both in China and in tiger habitats.

In recent years tigers have completely disappeared from at least two tiger reserves in India, and may be on the way out in about half a dozen more. The loss of the tigers was a wake-up call, but the alarm has been put on snooze.

Tigers attract vast numbers of international tourists, and create a powerful incentive to protect their habitats, both to protect biodiversity and water security. In India some 300 streams and rivers, are fed by tiger habitat catchment forests. Yet going by the half-hearted and sporadic protection and enforcement measures on the ground, the tiger is grossly undervalued.

Bangalore-based K. Ullas Karanth, one of the world's foremost tiger experts, in a recent interview to the Times of India deplored the ''mission drift'' in India's forest department, which had moved from its ''core task of protection towards eco-development, needless habitat modifications and such other distractions.''

For thousands of years across Asia, the resonating call of the tiger in trackless tropical jungles has inspired fear and fascination, art and literature, folklore and legend. But the vast jungles are now fragments, many of them oddly silent.

Whether the tiger's call in the wild will still be heard 12 years from now, or if today's children will grow up to see the great cats only in cages, can be decided only by local protection and enforcement in its last few viable habitats.

A version of this article appeared in print on 19, February 2010, issue #490.

Nirmal Ghosh is a conservationist and senior foreign correspondent for The Straits Times. He is also a Trustee of conservation NGO The Corbett Foundation.

http://nepalitimes.com/issue/2010/02/19/Nation/16820

http://www.bigcatrescue.org/

Friday, February 26, 2010

Draft rules ready for state Tiger Foundation

Draft rules ready for state Tiger Foundation

Sanjeev Kumar Verma, TNN, Feb 26, 2010, 07.39am IST

PATNA: Bihar has set the ball rolling for setting up a Tiger Foundation. The foundation would oversee projects related to the state's Valmiki Tiger Reserve and coordinate with different agencies, both government and non-government, for mobilising funds for the reserve.

According to the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) mandate, states having tiger reserves have to set up a foundation which, apart from playing a supervisory role, would also play an advisory role for improving the condition of the tiger reserves falling under its jurisdiction.

Having received funds from NTCA in November last year after signing an MoU with it in September the same year, the state would have to complete the process of setting up the foundation by April this year.

"We have already drafted rules for running the foundation," a senior environment and forest department official told TOI. After approval from the department bosses, the draft rules would be sent to the law department for approval before being adopted.

"We have proposed ten members in the foundation board with department minister as its chairman and the tiger reserve director as its member- secretary," the official said.

The draft rules also propose nomination of people's representatives residing near the reserve area as the foundation members so that they too could have a say in the decision-making process regarding the tiger reserve. "It's a must as no plan of habitat development can be successful without their cooperation," a Valmiki Tiger Reserve field official said.

He said steps taken for habitat development fail to give desired results as locals don't pay much heed to the directives of field officials and take their cattle to the reserve area for grazing purpose, thus damaging the reserve fauna. "Things would be different if their representatives say so as they would consider such advices coming from their own community and not from the department," added the official.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/patna/Draft-rules-ready-for-state-Tiger-Foundation/articleshow/5617794.cms

http://www.bigcatrescue.org/

India: Captured leopard succumbs to shock

HimVani

Shimla: The leopard that was caught by the wildlife department from heart of the capital town on Thursday died here this evening, veterinary official told HimVani.State wildlife veterinary surgeon Sandeep Rattan said the female leopard that was spotted strolling in areas adjoining the Mall, went into a coma due to traumatic stress and grievous injuries. It was kept at the National Wildlife Rehabilitation and Rescue Centre at Tutikandi on the outskirts of the city.

He said it died in the evening as it had developed septicemia due to injuries on one of its front limbs. During the health checkup its left paw was also found missing. Blood was also seen coming out of the its nostrils that showed that it was suffering from some internal injuries.

The leopard had also developed capture myopathy, a disease that leads to build up of lactic acid in the bloodstream that drops the pH in the body, affecting heart output and other organs.

According to veterinarians, there are several situations that can cause capture myopathy. These include trapping, capture, transport and even simple restraint.
The exact cause of her death would be known only after the post-mortem examination that would be conducted tomorrow , he added.

http://www.himvani.com/news/2010/02/27/captured-leopard-succumbs-to-shock/4134/

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Four leopard skins seized in north India

Four leopard skins seized in Himachal
Published on : Friday 26 Feb 2010 19:20 - by IANS

Shimla, Feb 26 : Four people were arrested in Himachal Pradesh Friday after police seized four leopard skins from them.

The men, who belonged to the state's Sirmaur district, were arrested from Solan town, a police official told IANS.

The seized skins were of adult animals, the official said.

The leopard falls under Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife Protection Act and its hunting is banned.

http://www.littleabout.com/news/74807,four-leopard-skins-seized-himachal.html

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Learn more about big cats and Big Cat Rescue at http://www.bigcatrescue.org

PHOTO GALLERY: Saving the Iranian cheetah from extinction

02/25/10

Photos by Yuness Khani, Mehr News Agency

Following photos are from the Semi-Captive, Breeding and Research Center of Iranian Cheetah located in Iran's Semnan province.

Described as powerful and graceful hunters, cheetahs are the world's fastest animal and easy to train. Cheetahs were trained by ancient Persian kings, who used them to hunt gazelles.

Recognizing the cats' precarious situation, Iran's Department of Environment has worked with the UN Development Program-Global Environment Facility and Wildlife Conservation Society in New York since 2001 to save the only 50 to 60 Asiatic cheetahs which live in the Dasht-e Kavir region of Iran.

http://www.payvand.com/news/10/feb/1266.html

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Tiger census begins in Buxa

Tiger census begins in Buxa

Ananya Dutta
The Hindu - Online edition of India's National Newspaper
Saturday, Feb 27, 2010

KOLKATA: The first phase of the tiger population census in West Bengal’s Buxa Tiger Reserve has started, officials said on Friday. A Wildlife Institute of India estimate suggests that there may be just 10 tigers left in the reserve.

The National Tiger Conservation Authority has identified the reserve as one of the seven reserves, where the tiger density is critically low.

Human activity due to the presence of 37 villages within the demarcated area and constant erosion of the grasslands owing to nearby mining activity are cited as the main reasons for the declining numbers. The grasslands within the reserve were scanty to begin with as large areas were converted into teak plantations before it was declared a protected area.

“In the first phase, field surveys will be conducted. These will include direct sightings and observations of pug marks, scratch marks on barks of trees and collection of scat,” field director of the reserve R. P. Saini told The Hindu over the telephone.

After every observation, GPS (Global Positioning System) records would be maintained and the data would be sent to the WII. Experts at the institute will then use it to indicate probable areas where tigers may be sighted and, accordingly camera traps would be set up, Mr. Saini said. “By September, the trends in tiger populations will start emerging and an estimate of the number of tigers in the reserve should hopefully be available by the end of the year.” Forest Department officials have collaborated with six non-governmental organisations for the survey and 160 teams would carry it out, he said.

http://www.hindu.com/2010/02/27/stories/2010022757592200.htm

http://www.bigcatrescue.org/

53 rare leopards found on Java

February 26, 2010

Officials say a population of 53 extremely endangered leopards has been found in Java’s Gunung Halimun Salak National Park.

“We have rediscovered a population of leopards which were on the brink of extinction in the Gunung Endut area" in Banten province, park director Pepen Efendi told kompas.com.

Pepen said the park will increase its security patrols, and warned that poachers would face criminal charges.

“I think if the patrols in the park are not intensified, other endangered animals could become extinct, too,” he said. “It will be our loss and our children and grandchildren’s loss, too, if they go extinct.”

Park employers are encouraging local residents to take part in protecting the endangered animals. Pepen said people living near the park should preserve the forest, since disturbing the habitat might cause the leopards to roam into the villages.

He noted that there are still plenty of deer and boars at Gunung Endut to support the leopard population.

The population of Javan leopards is unknown, but is “certainly less than 250 mature individuals (possibly even less than 100)” according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species. They are categorized as Critically Threatened due to habitat loss.

There are scattered populations of leopards in several national parks on Java, from Ujung Kulon on the tip of West Java to Alas Purwo on the tip of East Java.

http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/home/53-rare-leopards-found-on-java/360857

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Learn more about big cats and Big Cat Rescue at http://www.bigcatrescue.org

Thursday, February 25, 2010

"Cougar Clippings" for 24 Feb 2010 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 MountainLion.org and read the news daily.


** Groups Pounce to Defend Florida Panther **

Last fall, numerous environmental and animal welfare groups signed onto a petition demanding the US Fish & Wildlife Service protect critical habitat for the Florida panther. Panthers have been on the endangered species list since the mid 1960's and yet, the USFWS still has not followed through on a recovery plan. With only around 100 Florida panthers left in the wild and 24 killed in just the past year, time is running out. The USFWS denied the petition and the battle is now being brought into the courtroom.

Read the actual news story...


** Face-to-Face with a Lion **

On Sunday, one of the very few mountain lions recorded in Nebraska in over 100 years was needlessly killed by a Game & Parks Commission officer. Dale Wellnitz found tracks from the cat on his ranch, suspected it had been eating deer and wild turkey in the nearby creek, but was unsure what to do and so he called in the G&PC for their advice. No person, pet or livestock has ever been killed, attacked or even threatened by a mountain lion in Nebraska. And even though the frightened cat fled when Officer Packett arrived, he still turned his shotgun on the lion and fired. He followed the wounded cat down to the creek and subsequently killed what may very well have been the only female lion in the state of Nebraska. Meanwhile, Sen. LeRoy Louden is still pushing his LB 747 which would allow land owners to kill mountain lions without having to call the G&PC first.

Read the actual news story...


** Big Cougar Killed After Attack on Bull in Beaver Valley **

A full grown male mountain lion who tipped the scale at over 150 lbs was tracked and killed on Thursday by Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife officials along with houndsmen. The lion had reportedly killed a bull belonging to the Liske family. Their property backs up to a forested area with dense brush. Despite living in cougar country, residents in the area have had very few conflicts with and sightings of any big cats. Biologists generally attribute this to having an adult resident lion in the area - such as this big tom. These experienced hunters avoid people, are able to take down deer, and keep out younger cougars. With the resident lion killed, likely a new cat will move in ...and hopefully do a better job avoiding the temptation of free-ranging livestock.

Read the actual news story...


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

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

http://www.mountainlion.org/newsroom.asp

Cougar Clippings is a service of the Mountain Lion Foundation.
email: outreach@mountainlion.org
phone: 800-319-7621
web: http://www.MountainLion.org

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Learn more about big cats and Big Cat Rescue at http://www.bigcatrescue.org

South Africa: Are leopards protected or aren't they?

THE SUNDAY INDEPENDENT FEBRUARY 21 2010

Are they protected or aren’t they?

As the leopards of Phinda in KwaZulu-Natal pay scant attention to reserve boundaries,they were at a high risk of being killed legally or illegally. The Mun-Ya-Wana project and the local conservation authority have devised a new regulatory system to safeguard the big cats,writes Guy Balme

HUDDLED in the front seat of the open Land Rover, I could not get warm. Cold air lanced through my jacket and the layers I had piled on to survive a winter night of tracking leopards.

My motivation was fading fast. The young female I had been following since the previous afternoon had melted into a dense thicket and only the constant beep of her radiocollar reassured me that she had not disappeared entirely. One can stare at dead vegetation for only so long.

Dawn was approaching and a cup of warming coffee beckoned. As I reached for the ignition, an unexpected sound stopped my hand. Soft but unmistakable chirps – between a growl and a mew - were coming from the thicket. Carefully I repositioned the vehicle and there, clambering among the branches, was the smallest leopard cub I had ever seen.

Its spots were barely discernible and it looked no more than three weeks old. It stumbled on to the ground and approached the Land Rover one shaky step at a time. The pint-sized bundle of fur presented no danger, but an anxious mother leopard would have been a different story. Thankfully, a sharp hiss from the female sent the cub scrambling for cover. Slowly I backed away and turned for home, elated with the discovery of a new generation of Zululand leopards.

Such sightings were rare in the early days of the Mun-Ya-Wana Leopard Project. Located in Phinda Private Game Reserve, the project was started in 2002 by Luke Hunter, now the executive director of Panthera, an organisation dedicated to conserving the world’s wild cats.

At the time, Zululand represented the proverbial Wild West for leopards, which were targeted by almost every community in the region – cattle ranchers, trophy hunters and Zulu pastoralists, as well as poachers who killed them for traditional uses, from ceremonial dress to folk medicines. But that was all we knew.

Until then, leopards had been well studied only in a few protected areas where they were insulated from human contact, so we had no information on the consequences of high levels of persecution. If we were going to tackle those consequences, we would be taking on everyone in Zululand who had always killed leopards, essentially without restriction. To do this we would need the support of strong science, so we launched the most intensive effort to date to understand the ecology of leopards in a patchwork of protected and non-protected areas. By using radio-collars and remotely triggered cameratraps and interviewing various communities, we gradually built up a picture of the extent of leopard killing in the region - and whether the population could withstand it.

Although leopards are protected in Phinda and several other private and state-run reserves in KwaZulu- Natal, problems arise when they range into surrounding livestock farms, game ranches and tribal authority land. The electrified fencing around most protected areas does little to slow down the big cats. They simply glide under the fences or go over them. Thus, very few leopards in Zululand are permanently protected, and almost all are exposed to human persecution at some time in their lives.

Legally, leopards can only be killed by private individuals who have either a destruction permit or a CITES tag issued by the local conservation authority, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife (EKZNW). Destruction permits are granted to remove confirmed “problem” leopards. In principle, a land owner has to prove that a leopard represents a threat to his safety or livelihood and that no other, less dire solution exists.

When we first began our study, destruction permits were routinely
awarded based on little evidence and, even more worryingly, recipients often profited from them. It is against the law to export a leopard skin obtained from a destruction permit, but local hunters will pay up to R20 000 for the opportunity to bag a cat. Farmers would therefore apply for a permit and sell the right to shoot the cat to a fellow South African. A permit would also be issued if a leopard was preying on wild ungulates. Even when killing their natural prey, leopards are treated as competitors by game ranchers - they both harvest the same resource. CITES tags are allocated for the legal hunting of leopards for sport. Of the 150 leopard skins South Africa is authorised to export every year, between five and 10 are allocated to KwaZulu-Natal.

This hardly seems excessive for such an adaptable and widespread species, especially compared to the 50 for Limpopo Province or the 20 for North West. However, when we began our work, the hunting effort was unevenly distributed in Kwa-Zulu-Natal: almost 80 percent of the CITES tags awarded between 2000 and 2005 went to the properties surrounding Phinda and the adjacent Mkhuze Game Reserve.

Moreover, leopards were hunted on three game farms adjacent to Phinda for two successive years and another for four years running. Hunting the big cats on the same farm in consecutive years creates pockets of habitat that are permanently empty of resident leopards.

These vacancies attract others of the species, particularly dispersing sub-adults, because of the lack of competition for food and space. A network of vacuums arose around Phinda and Mkhuze as more and more cats were drawn from surrounding areas, and were in turn exposed to hunting. The legal killing of leopards was compounded by illegal persecution, which is almost impossible to police. Leopards were opportunistically shot, gin-trapped, snared and, worst of all, poisoned.

Three years into the research, our results painted a bleak picture. Thirteen of the 26 leopards radiocollared in Phinda had died from a combination of natural and human related causes. In addition, we knew of 10 uncollared leopards that had been killed on properties adjoining the reserve. The average mortality rate of the population was higher than 40 percent, more than double that for leopards in similar habitat in the Kruger National Park, where all deaths were from natural causes.

Males were the worst affected. Nearly 55 percent of males that we monitored died each year. Not only preferred by trophy hunters because of their size, male leopards use large home ranges, covering greater daily distances than females. This increases their chances of moving off the reserve into areas where they are vulnerable to hunters.

Although trophy hunting is not always automatically damaging to populations, removing too many males can induce a cascade of harmful outcomes in carnivores. In particular, it can lead to elevated levels of infanticide, in which a new male entering the population kills cubs sired by the previous male.

This is what happened with the very first litter I observed in Phinda: the father was shot outside the reserve and replaced by a new male that killed his predecessor’s cubs.

Infanticide occurs naturally in leopard populations, but an artificially inflated turnover of males creates a situation in which females fail to raise youngsters because of constant incursions by immigrant males. Compounding this, females in Phinda gave birth at a later age and had longer intervals between litters than was known from stable populations.

Even conception rates appeared to be affected. We knew from longterm research in the Serengeti that lionesses display a period of reduced fertility immediately after a new coalition of males has taken over the pride; females postpone conception until the threat of further takeovers has diminished. Female leopards in Phinda seemed to adopt a similar strategy, and less than a fifth of the mating bouts we observed were successful.

In the projects first three years, only three cubs survived in the Phinda population while at least 23 leopards died. Spurred by these figures, in 2005 we began working with EKZNW to turn things around. On our recommendation, the process governing the use of destruction permits was overhauled. Only the landowner or an EKZNW official can destroy an offending leopard and the permits can no longer be sold for profit-making hunts. They are also no longer awarded for predation on wild herbivores, which is now treated as an inherent risk of the game-farming industry.

Finally, EKZNW decreed that relocation would be abandoned as a management tool to address problems with leopards. In the past, leopards suspected of killing livestock were often captured and moved to a reserve or game ranch committed to ecotourism. This may resolve the conflict on the affected farm, but often creates trouble elsewhere, as the cats seldom remain on the new property and readily cross to a neighbouring farm and resume killing livestock.

We also needed to encourage more sustainable sport hunting of leopards. Once EKZNW had scrutinized our data, it completely revised the system that allocated CITES tags. The most significant change was diluting the intense concentration of hunting around Phinda. We created five Leopard Hunting Zones (LHZs), which are allocated across the species entire range in the province. The new system limits a single CITES tag to each LHZ, allowing only one leopard to be hunted there. A tag assigned to an LHZ cannot be used elsewhere. The upshot is that no more than five leopards are hunted each year in KwaZulu-Natal, and hunting pressure is evenly distributed.

Moreover, each LHZ adjoins a suitably large protected area that acts as a source population to replace hunted individuals. The protected area effectively serves as a biological savings account that protects the core population from the effects of hunting while also providing dispersers to neighbouring areas where hunting is permitted.

This was the first time that an African statutory authority had taken the results of scientific research and redesigned its protocols for hunting and the control of problem leopards. Nevertheless, it was only the first half of the process. Our credibility was on the line unless the radical changes we had fostered proved to be good for leopards.

By the end of 2007, we had the first signs that the conservation interventions we introduced were working. In the first two years following the changes, we recorded only eight leopard deaths (seven collared and one uncollared) compared to the 23 deaths prior to 2005. Correspondingly, the annual mortality rate of the population plunged from 40 to 13 percent close to that for protected leopard populations elsewhere in South Africa.

Leopards were not only living longer, they were also reproducing more effectively. Females gave birth at a younger age, spent a greater proportion of their time with dependent cubs, and produced more litters.

Most importantly, cub survival increased dramatically. In fact, all 14 of the cubs that we knew were born in Phinda after 2005 survived to independence. We think this was because the threat of infanticide dropped as the turnover in territorial males declined. From an average tenure of only 32 months before 2005, males held on to territories for longer than 45 months long enough for females to raise litters to independence without the disruption caused by new males continually moving in.

Perhaps the most conclusive proof of the positive changes came from the camera-trap surveys we conducted every second year in Phinda. The most efficient way to estimate leopard numbers is with remotely triggered cameras that take photographs of the cats as they go about their daily lives. Since leopards have unique coat patterns, individuals can be identified from photos and this, combined with powerful capture-recapture statistics, generates highly accurate estimates of abundance.

Hence, the only explanation was that our intervention programme was driving the recovery of the Phinda leopard population.

Our final proof was in the number of leopards killed by people, both legally and illegally a drop from 15 to four. EKZNWs new strategy for managing problem leopards had reduced the number of cats removed, and the overhauled trophy hunting protocols successfully dispersed the hunting pressure.

We believe the drop in illegal kills from eight to two reflects greater tolerance among land owners for leopards (as opposed to illegal killing becoming even more covert than previously).

Our strategy for problem leopards hinged on helping farmers by providing training and support in alternative means of protecting their stock from predators, and by helping to identify where there was a genuine problem individual; losses declined in all cases where our recommendations were adopted.

In addition, the more democratic distribution of CITES tags across the region gave a larger proportion of land owners the opportunity to host a hunt, and hence the chance to benefit financially from having leopards on their land.

When we interviewed farmers on properties surrounding Phinda towards the end of 2007, most told us they preferred the new management system to the old. If the changes become permanent, the future of leopards in Phinda and Mkhuze is now much brighter. More than that, our study is one of the few examples demonstrating that conservation of big cats does work. We set out to achieve what many conservationists strive for to address a threat, reduce the decline of a population or save a species. But we also scrutinise our results.

Our project has probably ensured the future of leopards in KwaZulu-Natal. Just as importantly, by showing that conservation can succeed, I hope we have inspired fellow conservationists to prove that their efforts are working. If we can do that, I believe that the future of leopards and many other similarly imperiled species will be far more secure.

For further information about the Mun-Ya-Wana Leopard Project and other initiatives of Panthera, go to www.panthera.org.

Technical papers related to this article are available at http://panthera.org/scientific_publications.html. The author would like to thank &Beyond and EKZNW, whose assistance in developing the new leopard management strategy was essential, and the many professional hunters, game ranch managers, farmers and land owners who agreed to adopt it in the field.

http://www.panthera.org/documents/Aretheyprotectedorarentthey_SundayIndependent_Balme_Feb2010.pdf

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Leopard strays into capital of north Indian state

Leopard strays into Himachal capital
Published on : Thursday 25 Feb 2010 15:52 - by IANS

Shimla, Feb 25 : Panic gripped this Himachal Pradesh capital Thursday when a leopard was spotted strolling in areas adjoining the Mall, an official said. The animal was later trapped by the wildlife wing.

“After receiving information this (Thursday) morning that the leopard attacked a man, we reached the spot. After three hours of searching, we traced it in the wild bushes,” Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Rajesh Sharma told IANS.

“The animal was tranquilised with the help of a cartridge-propelled rifle. As the leopard got hit by the tranquiliser shot, it ran towards the houses and wandered into a home where it became unconscious,” he said, adding that “the animal could have come from Jakhoo forest area which surrounds the city”.

The one-and-a-half-year old wild cat was later taken to a rescue centre near the city.

“To ensure its safety, we took the animal to the rescue centre where it would be kept for observation and treatment. After a few days, it will be releasedin the wild,” an official said.

http://www.littleabout.com/news/74181,leopard-strays-himachal-capital.html

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Great whites more threatened than tigers

Great whites more threatened than tigers

By Steve Connor
Saturday, 20 February 2010

The number of great white sharks may have fallen below the number of tigers, one of the world's most endangered terrestrial species that benefits from a huge effort to save it from extinction.

Like tigers, great whites are a top predator and, like tigers, they have suffered in recent years from habitat destruction and hunting. But unlike tigers, great white sharks get little public sympathy, said Dr Ronald O'Dor, senior scientist at the Census of Marine Life, a 10-year study into ocean wildlife.

"We hear an awful lot about how endangered tigers are but apparently great white sharks are pretty close to the same level. Some people say, 'I don't care, they eat people', but I think we have to give them a little space to live in," Dr O'Dor told the American Association for the Advancement of Science in San Diego.

"Australia now has a system where they put tags on great whites and they have receivers on the beaches so when one comes into the bay the receiver makes a cell phone call and tells the guy in charge to close the beach. So we can co-exist with marine life," he said.

Based on the understanding on populations, scientists can estimate how many sharks there are in the world. "Until recently, people thought sharks were bad and there was no urge to save great whites. Now people are beginning to understand that they are rare and that they are a wonderful species," Dr O'Dor said.

The convention on the trade in endangered species, CITES, estimates the number of tigers in the wild at 3,500. Estimating the number of great white sharks is more problematic but studies using tagged sharks suggest that there may be just a few thousand left.

http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/nature/great-whites-more-threatened-than-tigers-1905150.html

http://www.bigcatrescue.org

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Mexico: Landfill may harm wild cats, other wildlife

Héctor Raúl González

CUERNAVACA.- Óscar Dorado, Premio Nacional de Ecología 1998, advirtió del daño que representa la pérdida de seis hectáreas de vegetación en el Cerro de la Vieja, donde las autoridades federales y estatales de Morelos autorizaron construir un relleno sanitario que el Ayuntamiento de Amacuzac pretende evitar.

El investigador del Centro de Educación Ambiental e Investigación Sierra de Huautla (Ceamish) explicó que si bien el Cerro de la Vieja no pertenece de manera oficial a la zona protegida, sí forma parte del área de influencia.

"La Sierra de Huautla se extiende hasta ahí, es decir, de manera natural el polígono que se seleccionó para la reserva no llega hasta allá, por diferentes razones, no había pláticas con los pobladores de ahí, pero de manera natural sí está dentro de la Sierra de Huautla", advirtió.

REFORMA publicó este domingo que al menos seis hectáreas de vegetación de la Sierra de Huautla fueron destruidas por la empresa Waste CO. Morelos S.A. de C.V. para construir un basurero.

Ex Acaldes y funcionarios del actual Ayuntamiento de Amcuzac, ubicado al sur de Morelos en los límites con Guerrero, acusaron que aunque hay un acta de Cabildo unánime que impide la construcción del basurero, autoridades ambientales estatales y federales han favorecido el proyecto.

Dorado advirtió que en toda la Sierra de Huautla, en el área protegida y no, existe una gran variedad de especies que, si llegara a operar de manera irregular el basurero, se verían afectadas.

"En México hay seis especies de felinos, en la Sierra de Huautla hay cinco de ellas, el Puma, el Ocelote, el Tigrillo, el Yaguarundi y el Gato Montés . Además, en México existen mil 200 especies de aves, en Sierra de Huautla hay 200 de esas".

Advirtió que si no opera bien y la basura queda al descubierto muchas horas las aves nativas esparcirán infecciones.

http://cencos.org/es/node/22686

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India: Barnadi Wildlife Sanctuary to see the light of day

From our Correspondent

MANGALDAI, Feb 14: Nol gahori or pigmy hog (sus salvanius or porcula salvania)- is the smallest and the rarest wild suid in the world and endangered species of khagarikata shaha or hispid hare (caprolagus hispiudus)- is one of the rarest animals of the world. The pigmy hog is facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the world, which can only be found in two protected areas of Assam- Manas National Park (MNP) and Barnadi Wildlife Sanctuary (BWS). Similarly, the BWS is also known as one of the few habitats of the hispid hare all over the world. And significantly both the two protected areas are under the territorial jurisdiction of the BTAD. But is any one in our country, State or the territorial council of Bodoland really cares or worried for Barnadi Wildlife Sanctuary (BWS)? Have the Forest and Wildlife Department taken any initiative for its conservation or protection not to speak of its proper maintenance?

Earlier known as the Barnadi Reserve Forest, this protected area was upgraded as a wildlife sanctuary way back in 1980. Situated in the foot hills of Himalayas, bordering the Southern boundary of Bhutan and in the Northwestern part of Udalguri district in Assam with an area of 28.22 sq km, BWS has been internationally known as the abode of the critically endangered species of nol gahori and khagarikata shaha. Besides these two rare species, the other animals found in the sanctuary are Indian elephants, tiger, leopard, slow lories, capped langur, barking deer, gaur, Himalayan black bear, wild boar, pangolin, panti coloured flying squirrel, Assamese macaque, peacocks, eurasian otter, fishing cat, porcupine, hornbills, etc.

This protected area of BWS has been facing some major problems like severe biotic interference, inadequate infrastructure, acute shortage of man power, no permanent Range Officer, lack of awareness among the people of the locality, encroachment of forest lands, and lack of proper communication systems, etc. which have been posing a serious threat to the sanctuary. Another major problem that has been faced by the forest staff is that in BWS there is no facility for potable drinking water and they have to walk a distance of more than five km twice a day to have drinking water. The BWS is no longer a spot for attraction of tourists both for the domestic and foreign due to these problems, as tourists hardly include the name of BWS in their itinerary. And perhaps the tour operators or travel agencies have also no idea about the exotic virgin beauty of this sanctuary. What is more interesting to note that in 1992, the State Government in the name of rehabilitation of some misguided youths, gave a free hand to these youths who caused a major irreparable damage to the BWS by illegally felling the trees. This unabated destruction took place under the very nose of the officials of Forest Department, police and civil administration that too in broad daylight while a section of timber smugglers too joined their hands in the deforestation operation.

However, BWS- the most neglected wildlife sanctuary in the country, which is also the only wildlife sanctuary in Udalguri district of BTAD, is going to see the light of the day with a recent visit of a high-level official team. Udalguri Deputy Commissioner Suttumali Subbaiah Meenakshi Sundaram accompanied by Divisional Forest Officer of Dhansiri Forest Division Bankim Sarma, prominent activists of WWF, a team of mediapersons led by Jayanta Kumar Das, office-bearers of Dimakuchi unit of All Bodo Students’ Union (ABSU) and several wildlife activists made a on the spot visit to this protected area to look into the problems that have almost crippled it. Though Divisional Forest Officer of Dhansiri Forest Division Bankim Sarma, informed the visiting officials that he had taken up a few schemes like arrangement of water in the sanctuary, repair of staff quarters, installation of 15 sets of wireless sets and powerful search lights but he also stated that Barnadi Wildlife Sanctuary had never been allotted sufficient fund allocation for its infrastructure development. On hearing this sorry state of affair in this sanctuary- the pride of Udalguri Deputy Commissioner SS Meenakshi Sundaram and the wildlife activists as well as the visiting mediapersons made a request before the representatives of WWF, India to take up some schemes immediately for the development of the sanctuary. Both the WWF officials agreed to take up the matter and said that they would soon meet to chalk out future course of action in finding a solution to the problems of the sanctuary. The visiting officials also requested the office-bearers of Dimakuchi unit of ABSU to take a lead role in launching awareness programmes among the people living in the fringe areas for the conservation of flora and fauna so that this protected area could be transformed into a beautiful spot of attraction for tourists and common people.

http://www.sentinelassam.com/state1/story.php?sec=2&subsec=2&id=28252&dtP=2010-02-15&ppr=1#28252

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Fishing cat study launched in Thailand

Study to protect fishing cats

By The Nation
Published on February 1, 2010

After 23 rare fishing cats were discovered in Prachuap Khiri Khan, the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry launched an indepth study to protect them.

"Thung Nong Pakchi" and the Sam Roi Yod Wetlands could be regarded as Thailand's habitat with the most fishing cats, which the International Union for the Conservation of Nature has just listed as a nearextinct species, Wildlife Conservation Office director Pornchai Pathumratanatan said yesterday.

After last month's survey identified 23 fishing cats inhabiting Sam Roi Yod district, 13 of them were microchipped, he said.

The threeyear research project would study the fishing cat population and related information for conservation.

In the past three months, only seven microchipped cats were still sending signals while three had died, he said.

Initial data showed that a male fishing cat occupied a territory of eight square kilometres and a female four square kilometres, so the 20squarekilometer Thung Nong Pakchi was crowded with some 20 cats living there.

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/home/2010/02/01/national/Study-to-protect-fishing-cats-30121527.html

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Rare fishing cat found dead on road in eastern India

BHUBANESWAR | Friday, February 19, 2010

Giant fishing cat found dead on K’para road

Rajesh Behera | Kendrapara

The villagers of Ganihanmuhan under Barimula Gram Panchayat on Wednesday night found a three-feet-long fishing cat lying dead on the Kendrapada-Indupur road.

A local, Uttam Kumar Nayak, said while he and some youth of his village were returning home at about 11 pm they came across the dead wild animal. Believing that the dead animal was a leopard, out of curiosity they took the carcass to their village .On Thursday morning, hundreds of locals and people from adjoining villagers thronged to see the rare and endangered animal.

The locals later, informed the matter to the DFO of Cuttack Division, as the dead animal was retrieved from the jurisdiction of Cuttack Forest Division. The forest officials of Kendrapada Forest Division took possession of the body of the fishing cat after the DFO of Cuttack asked the local forest officials to seize the dead fishing cat in order to conduct an autopsy in the local veterinary office. Later, the autopsy of the fishing cat was conducted. The reason for the giant fishing cat’s death might have been a mishap where it rammed a speeding truck, said forester Debendra Bai.

http://www.dailypioneer.com/237144/Giant-fishing-cat-found-dead-on-K%E2%80%99para-road.html

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TRAVEL: Chasing the cheetah in Botswana

By Kim Segal, CNN
February 23, 2010 9:50 a.m. EST

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
* Adventure begins with an online hunt for the best safari at a bargain price for two
* Author enjoys climate controlled tent with large balcony, turn down service, coffee, biscuits
* She races over bumpy roads and around trees to see a cheetah
* There are also trips to see elephants, lions, leopards, cape buffalo and rhinos

Okavango Delta, Botswana (CNN) -- The radio in the vehicle crackles. It's a fellow ranger telling our guide, O.T., that there has been a cheetah sighting. Visibly excited, O.T.'s lips form a huge smile as he turns to us, the tourists, in the back of his open-air vehicle to relate the good news.

A safari game drive is always hit or miss and this morning had been a miss. It is our first day on safari for this trip, which will last 7 days and include 12 game drives.

Since this is a morning drive, after an early wake-up, the Jeep left camp at 7 a.m. when the sun was rising but the night air remained bitter cold.

It had been an hour and the only animals we had seen were impalas -- African
antelopes, which are everywhere in this area of Botswana known as the Okavango Delta.
In contrast to impalas, cheetahs are rare and something special to see.

"There's not many of them," O.T. says. "It has been five months since our last spotting," he adds, oblivious to the pun.

Safaris also require a bit of luck, and luck has our vehicle miles away from the area where the cheetah was sighted.

O.T. tells us to hang on and off the Jeep goes, bouncing us around in the back, as he concentrates on safely navigating the dirt roads. They're filled with holes or blocked by a tree knocked down by an elephant, making the trip feel like a roller coaster and bumper car ride combined. O.T. was just as anxious to get there as his tourists, who have spent the last hour peppering him with questions about animals yet to be seen.

On the way, we whiz by a zebra, our first. Then a second and third appear. The excitement at seeing a zebra is quickly dismissed, as we are told there will be time for zebras later. I decide it's no use to verbally point out the herd of elephants I see in a clearing just off the road.

We will eventually find out that we will see not just zebras and elephants, but also encounter lions, hippos and even a leopard. However, according to O.T. there are not many animals worth stopping for when one is responding to a cheetah sighting.
Over the next few days it becomes obvious why O.T. decided to rush past some of the "Big Five" in order to see a cheetah. (The "Big Five" are the elephant, lion, leopard, cape buffalo and rhinoceros. The term refers to the five animals that hunters find the most difficult to pursue on foot. The reasons these animals were worth hunting are: the elephant's ivory tusks, a lion's trophy head, a leopard's coat and the horns of the buffalo and rhinoceros.)

The first day seems like an anomaly -- during subsequent game drives it takes only minutes and not hours before big game are spotted. The Botswana camp, the Khwai River Lodge, where we will spend our first 3 days, is adjacent to the Moremi Wildlife Reserve. Moremi covers a 3,000-mile area of pristine wilderness. (While it seems endless to the traveler, it is dwarfed by Chobe National Park and the Kalahari Game Reserve, also in Botswana.)

There are dozens of safari camps to choose from in Botswana's Okavango Delta region. The Okavango Delta is one of the largest inland water systems in the world, a place that a diverse variety of animals and birds call home.

Camp prices range from a couple of hundred dollars a night to several thousand dollars a night, per person. The cost usually includes your accommodations, game drives, meals and transportation to the camp from Botswana's Maun or Kasane airport.
The camps are remote and getting there can entail a trip on a four seat plane that lands on a dirt runway.

Deciding which camp to book can be overwhelming. The main difference between the camps, besides the level of comfort of the accommodations and the quality of the food, is the type of safari experience. Some camps offer land-based game drives while other camps may offer water-based game viewing.

After weeks of Internet searching and many trips to a bookstore's travel section, my husband and I finally decided on Orient Express Safaris. It was a luxurious choice that came with a hefty price, even with the deal I found on one of my favorite travel Web sites, Luxurylink.com. This site offers high-end accommodations that you can either bid on or buy at a discounted price.

We paid just over half of the $14,430 advertised price for two people staying six nights at two Orient Express camps. Our climate controlled "tent" came with a large balcony; turn down service, which included hot water bottles in the bed, and my favorite -- a wake-up knock complete with coffee, tea and biscuits. Orient Express Safaris, like many safari companies in Botswana, has several properties throughout the Okavango Delta and guests can transfer between them.

Before we move on from our first camp, we pass the time sneaking up on lions feeding on a buffalo carcass, patiently waiting by watering holes to get a glimpse of more than the hippopotamus' eyes and stalking a leopard as it's tracking a herd of impalas. One night during dinner, an elephant decides to visit, taking a casual stroll through the camp as the food is being served.

Food was the last thing that we were thinking of as we continued our chase for a glimpse at a cheetah. The less-than-casual ride through the bush ends as the Jeep arrives at the final destination, complete with upset stomachs. The bumpy ride mixed with the anxiety of an on-time arrival leaves us feeling as if we just stepped off a carnival ride that spun a bit too fast.

It's been 45 minutes since the radio call when our Jeep parks in front of a termite mound next to two other vehicles from our camp. O.T. turns off the engine and we all sit in silence and scan the area. At first we don't see anything, not even an impala.
As everyone readies his or her camera, suddenly the cheetah walks out from behind the mound. This sight induces amazement, and most of us just sit there, cameras hanging untouched around our necks, stunned by the gorgeous animal not very far away.
I think to myself, yes, there will be time for zebras later.

http://www.cnn.com/2010/TRAVEL/02/23/chasing.cheetah.botswana/

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Government of Colombia commits to jaguar conservation

Jaguars to Get Safe Passage in Colombia
by Juan-Pablo Velez

Published February 23, 2010 @ 09:47AM PT

About a decade ago, biologists made an amazing discovery about jaguars: Despite a range that stretches from Mexico to Argentina, the hemisphere's cats are not divided into subspecies. Jaguars rely on a continent-sized network of corridors to run around South and Central America, apparently mating along the way. Because in-breeding is one of the leading causes of species extinction, this finding had huge implications for the animal's conservation: saving the jaguar would require protecting existing jaguar populations and establishing a transnational strategy to protect their corridor system.

Panthera, a conservation organization specializing in wild cats, has just inked a plan with the Colombian government that moves this ambitious vision one step closer to reality.

"The most important link in ensuring connectivity of jaguars all the way from northern Mexico to Argentina is in Colombia, the corridor in which Central American and South American jaguar populations meet," says Panthera President Alan Rabinowitz. (See map).

Panthera's idea, then, is to secure the wilderness pathways that link these wild cat havens by working with the farmers, cattle ranchers, and indigenous communities that may live on them — and to figure out ways to broker peace between jaguars and cattle ranchers.

Corridors needn't be protected areas, just stretches of wild ecosystem where any human inhabitants will tolerate an occasional jaguar crossing.

The plan — to be executed by Panthera and the Colombian government — is a sliver of a much larger strategy and first-class example of "rewilding," an innovative, continent-scale approach to conversation that focuses on "cores, corridors, and carnivores."

It could not come at a better time: Jaguars, like most of the world's 36 wild cats, are very much endangered. They are threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation stemming from deforestation: More than 40 percent of the jaguar's habitat was destroyed during the last century. They are also hunted by cattle ranchers for their nasty, but understandable, habit of eating livestock.

A jaguar extinction would be a huge aesthetic loss to humanity:

But it would also be a tremendous ecological one, because the big cats have an outsized influence on their environment. Like other keystone predators, jaguars hunt the animals that eat the plants, fruits, and seeds that allow forests to regenerate themselves, and carry the seeds long distances before they, ahem, evacuate them. If only I could control my surroundings by eating excessive amounts of capybara. (Which, for the record, I did eat last summer while scouring the Colombian amazon for jaguars. True story.)

http://environment.change.org/blog/view/jaguars_to_get_safe_passage_in_colombia

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Gobierno de Colombia suscribe compromiso para conservar el jaguar
18/02/2010

El propósito es unir esfuerzos panamericanos para conservar esta especie

Bogotá, 17 de febrero de 2010 (MAVDT).- El Gobierno de Colombia suscribió un compromiso con el fin de unirse a los esfuerzos panamericanos para conservar el jaguar, considerado el gato salvaje más grande del neotrópico y uno de los animales más venerados y emblemáticos de nuestras culturas.

El vicepresidente de la República, Francisco Santos, el Ministro de Ambiente, Carlos costa y la directora de Parques Nacionales, Julia Miranda, suscribieron con el director de la Fundación Panthera, Alan Rabinowitz, una carta de intención mediante la cual se comprometen a respaldar los esfuerzos que se adelantan en todo el continente para la protección y conservación del jaguar, que se encuentra en vías de extinción, especialmente por la caza para aprovechar su piel o por la destrucción de su hábitat.

Durante la firma del documento que busca proteger esta especie amenazada en el continente, el ministro de Ambiente Carlos Costa señaló que: "los jaguares necesitan corredores de comunicación entre las áreas protegidas, porque son especies que tienen territorios de vida muy amplios y necesitan el intercambio genético entre poblaciones que viven en Centroamérica con poblaciones que viven en Colombia y en el resto de la Amazonía".

Igualmente, aseguró que esta iniciativa es una muestra del trabajo en equipo maximizando la oferta de conservación que tiene el país, ligada al conocimiento y el respaldo de la Fundación Panthera para asegurar la conservación del jaguar como una iniciativa piloto de corredores de mega fauna en Colombia.

Finalmente, el Ministro destacó la importancia del proyecto en el marco del año Internacional de la Biodiversidad, toda vez que "tenemos un gran patrimonio y al mismo tiempo una gran responsabilidad con la protección y conservación de nuestras especies".

Por su parte, para el vicepresidente Francisco Santos, la zona más crítica y donde está centrado el trabajo del Ministerio se encuentra en la Serranía San Lucas, una labor que hay que fortalecer con la Fundación y el Ministerio de Agricultura.

"Este acuerdo permitirá la preservación de un ícono cultural y un patrimonio natural de Colombia, como lo es el jaguar" explicó Santos.


Características del Jaguar

El jaguar es una de las especies con mayor presencia en América. Su territorio abarca zonas por debajo de los 2.000 metros sobre el nivel del mar desde el norte de México hasta Uruguay y el norte de Argentina, formando un corredor que incluye a todos los países latinoamericanos menos Chile. Colombia ocupa un espacio estratégico y muy importante dentro de su recorrido porque une a los jaguares de Centro y Suramérica.

Los jaguares son grandes caminantes, que recorren su amplio territorio durante horas en busca de alimento, consistente en una gran variedad de animales. Son animales solitarios, que se reúnen durante la temporada de celo.

La extinción del jaguar, además de representar una gran pérdida para la humanidad, puede llevar a la destrucción del funcionamiento de enteros sistemas ecológicos para siempre. El jaguar es importante en la biodiversidad porque controla demográficamente a sus especies presa, y esto a su vez repercute en el control del consumo de plantas y semillas e influye en la estructura y regeneración de los bosques.

En las últimas décadas se ha extinguido casi completamente y no se sabe con exactitud cuántos jaguares sobreviven en América. En Colombia se encuentran confirmadas seis especies nativas de félidos silvestres: el jaguar (Panthera onca), el puma (Puma concolor), el ocelote (Leopardus pardalis), el margay (Leopardus wiedi), el tigrillo (Leopardus tigrinus) y el yaguarundí (Herilurus yaguaroundí) (Emmos 1997), las cuales representan el 17% del total de especies en el mundo. La mayoría de éstas se encuentran listadas en alguna categoría amenazada (Navarro y Muñoz 2000; UICN 2004; CITES 2005).

El valor cultural del jaguar hace que su conservación cobre relevancia adicional, ya que todas las culturas indígenas han incluido al jaguar en su imaginario, en sus mitos de creación y en su cosmogonía. Un claro ejemplo son los petroglifos del parque Chiribiquete, las figuras de oro de la cultura Calima o los monolitos de jaguar de San Agustín. El jaguar siempre ha sido un dios, un poder de creación o el manejador de fuerzas naturales en América.

Al final del evento, el director de la Fundación Panthera, Alan Rabinowitz afirmó: "estamos felices con este acuerdo, porque en la medida que aseguramos la conectividad de jaguares desde Arizona hasta Argentina, la conexión más crítica es la colombiana, la que une al Darién chocoano con los llanos y la Amazonía."

http://www.corpocaldas.gov.co/pages/corpocaldas_cp.aspx?Noti_ID=58&Noti_Tipo=N

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Opinion: Montana bill damages lynx, other wildlife habitat

Tester’s forest bill damages wild places, legitimizes secrecy

Guest column | Posted: Tuesday, February 16, 2010 7:59 am

For Montanans who appreciate the need to keep our remaining wild places intact, there are many reasons to oppose Sen. Jon Tester’s forest bill.

For starters, the bill is based upon secretive collaborative agreements that intentionally excluded those who oppose more logging and road building in roadless areas. Next, it creates congressional mandates to radically increase logging, far beyond what the Forest Service has determined to be sustainable for portions of the Beaverhead-Deerlodge and Kootenai national forests, areas already damaged by past over-cutting. The bill actually declassifies over 200,000 acres of forest and Bureau of Land Management wilderness study areas, most of this domain protected by the late Sen. Lee Metcalf. It undercuts the popular national forest roadless rules. And the mandated cutting levels will, at least in part, come from roadless areas.

Road-building and logging in roadless areas creates erosion and weed infestations, decreases water quality, fragments habitat and degrades habitat for wilderness-dependent wildlife such as bull trout, wolverine and lynx. It’s expensive. It robs our wildland storehouse of ecosystem services. And it robs Montanans of an unparalleled legacy.

Tester would designate roughly 600,000 acres of forest wilderness, yes, but that’s less than 1/10th of Montana’s national forest roadless acreage. Most of the wilderness areas would be small, “pockets of backcountry,” as bill supporter Chris Naumann recently wrote in the Bozeman Daily Chronicle (Feb. 6). Boundaries for these “pocket wildernesses” were drawn to exclude nearly all conflicts, resulting mostly in high altitude “wilderness on the rocks” that fails to protect ecosystems. And some of the new wildernesses would allow motor vehicles and other incongruous uses.

All this would be bad enough, but much of the rationalization for the bill is based upon discredited ideas that promote logging for forest health and restoration. These ideas have been repeated ad nauseam in and by the media, but they’re wrong. For me this is a real sore point, primarily because scientists and even the Forest Service agree that our healthiest landscapes are wilderness and roadless areas. Frankly, I think it is outrageous that Tester and the closed-door collaborators, including the Montana Wilderness Association, perpetuate the myths by clamoring for logging to doctor our alleged messy bug-killed fire-prone woods.

Well, they are confused, indeed. It turns out that most of the old studies supporting this mind-set were flawed, often based upon examining individual timber stands, not the whole landscape. Recent comprehensive studies conclude that in the Rockies, current fuel loads, fire frequency and severity, and insect infestations are well within the historic range of variation. Also, recently burned or bug-killed woods rarely contribute to increased wildfire danger, so logging the backcountry for forest health is unwarranted, not to mention expensive. Rocky Mountain forests historically tended to evolve toward increasing density after a disturbance. So they’re supposed to become thick, with periodic large severe fires the norm, not the exception. The vast open park-like forest, with frequent “cool” burns is a myth, say the experts, except in the American Southwest. So sure, thin to create defensible space around buildings, but leave the backcountry alone! It is simply incorrect to claim that wild forests, dead trees and all, “need” to be logged!

Finally, research consistently shows that our unhealthiest and most fire-prone forests are those that have been logged and roaded (logging often exacerbates fire danger). So here’s the question: Why, then, does Tester, plus supporting groups such as MWA and the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, promote a bill that gives us more logging, more roads, a few “pocket” wilderness areas, and a big net loss of wild country? I think Montana deserves better.

Howie Wolke is a wilderness guide/outfitter with a degree in conservation and wildlife ecology who has explored Montana’s wildlands for 40 years. He writes from Emigrant.

http://www.missoulian.com/news/opinion/columnists/article_f985e2f0-1b0b-11df-aee5-001cc4c002e0.html

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Washington bill would ban feeding of wildlife

Wednesday, February 17, 2010 - Page updated at 12:31 AM

Bill in state House would ban feeding of wildlife
By Lillian Tucker

Seattle Times staff reporter

OLYMPIA - State Rep. Kevin Van De Wege has a message for animal lovers: Don't feed the bears.

Or the cougars, the wolves, the coyotes, the deer, the elk and the raccoons, for that matter.

Van De Wege is sponsoring legislation that would outlaw the feeding of such wildlife, to prevent animals from becoming habituated and causing problems when they come looking for an easy meal.

Working with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Van De Wege, D-Sequim, wanted to develop a law that could be used when agitated neighbors call to complain about the lawn next door being used as a wildlife feeding lot.

The measure, ESHB 1885, was first introduced last year but didn't make it out of committee. It was brought up again this year and passed the House last month with a 55-41 vote.

Van De Wege said that since he was elected in 2006, constituents have come to him with complaints about deer overpopulation. When he heard that Fish and Wildlife was having problems with people feeding bears, he decided it was time for legislation.

At a public hearing about the proposal last year, citizens from Sequim testified that the deer were too comfortable in their community -- littering yards with droppings, showing no fear of humans, crossing roadways and attracting cougars.

Mary Schilder, with the Progressive Animal Welfare Society, spoke in support of the new law. PAWS, she said, receives about 3,500 calls a year about conflicts with wildlife as a result of intentional and unintentional feeding. Raccoons especially are a nuisance, Schilder said. Stories of neighborhood coyotes snacking on pets have added steam to the proposed feeding ban.

Not everyone has trouble getting along with wildlife in their backyard.

Reed Merrill has lived near Bellingham for 40 years and for more than half of that time he's been feeding the deer.

"They are the sweetest things in the world," said Merrill in a phone interview. His property is on a greenbelt that borders a heavily developed area. The greenbelt provides about 1.5 square miles of foliage for the animals to feed on, he said. But Merrill and his neighbor supplement the animals' diet.

He purchases cattle feed recommended by a veterinarian for the 15 or so deer that he feeds in the winter.

"They are essentially starving if we don't feed them," Merrill said.

Fish and Wildlife provides tips on its Web site for attracting deer and elk by creating natural incentives, such as cultivating favored plants, rather than by feeding. Bruce Bjork, chief of enforcement for the department, said the main point is to keep wild animals wild.

There are times when Fish and Wildlife does participate in supplemental feeding programs for struggling populations, such as elk and bighorn sheep in the L.T. Murray and Wenas wildlife areas near Ellensburg, and the wildlife area near Mt. St. Helens. These efforts would be allowed under the legislation, as would other state-approved feeding programs. Zoos and wildlife rehabilitators also would be exempt, and the law wouldn't extend to bird feeders.

"It is nobody's intention to be cracking down on people that occasionally throw apples to deer." said Van De Wege. "The goal is to keep deer and elk out of neighborhood settings."

Enforcement would be based on complaints, Bjork said. Penalties would be tiered, starting with a warning and possibly ending with a natural-resource civil infraction, which the department said can range from no fine to a $500 penalty.

The Senate Natural Resources, Ocean and Recreation Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on the bill Thursday at 10 a.m.

Lillian Tucker: 360-236-8266 or ltucker@seattletimes.com

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2011099722_wildlife17m.html

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Florida: Bobcat spotted beachside near high rises

Bobcat spotted in NSB beachside near A1A high rises

Posted Tue, 2010-02-23 07:28
By CAPT. BUDD NEVIASER

NEW SMYRNA BEACH -- Some residents like Stan Kapp say they are nervous about walking at nights because of wild bobcats; while others are concerned these felines might get into their houses, which are not very far from the cats.

The bobcats have been seen prowling an empty piece of property off of A!A, across the street from the neighboring high-rises, which are full of people. Kapp said some of the people who spotted them were amazed by the size of the bobcats.

Gary and Flory Schoenberger told Local 6 TV of Orlando they were amazed at the size of the bobcat they saw, though they had never seen one before that.

“I think it’s very scary -- beautiful, but scary,” Flory Schoenberger told a reporter there. “I thought, 'We’re walking with bobcats.' OK.’”

A Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission called by Local 6 said that bobcats are all over the state and have been known to migrate to the beach. The officer said that bobcats will go after pets. They rarely grow larger than 3 feet in size and weigh up to 30 pounds. They have very sharp claws and teeth.

Bobcats are a protected species. The FWC will not remove them unless they are causing a nuisance or exhibit signs of rabies.

http://nsbnews.net/content/245569-bobcat-spotted-nsb-beachside-near-a1a-high-rises

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Northeast Ohio seeing more black bears, bobcats

Published: Tuesday, February 23, 2010

By Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
JFrischkorn@News-Herald.com

Black bears are finding a honey of a spot in Northeast Ohio.

And in so doing they've also become a bit of a nuisance, at least in some cases.

Last year, the state recorded 119 black bear sightings in 32 of Ohio's 88 counties, an increase from the 105 sightings noted in 2008. And the bulk of these sightings — 71 percent — came from Northeast Ohio. Counties in this district reporting black bears included:

* Lake, 3 (with 2 confirmed by the Ohio Division of Wildlife).
* Geauga, 7 (with 3 confirmed).
* Cuyahoga, 2 (with 1 confirmed).
* Ashtabula, 27 (with 8 confirmed).
* n Trumbull, 9 (with 4 confirmed).



Of the 45 reported nuisance reports of black bears, 24 were confirmed. Among them were:

* Geauga, 2.
* Ashtabula, 7.
* Cuyahoga and Trumbull, 1 each



Nuisance bear situations ranged from the raiding of bird feeders or garbage cans to damaging beehives, damaging homes, decks and the like, attempts to enter or being too close to dwellings and damaging blueberry bushes.

The Wildlife Division also noted that two black bears were struck and killed by motor vehicles in the state last year.

Most of the bears, the Wildlife Division said, were juvenile males, dispersed after being shooed away by their mothers when they reached an age where they can fend for themselves.

"From the data it does seem that sightings have leveled off a bit and I don't know what to make of that, either. We do have a good system of recording information and reporting sightings," said Dan Kramer, wildlife management supervisor for the Wildlife Division's Northeast Ohio office in Akron.

Kramer said Northeast Ohio remains an entry venue for many of the bears being seen in the state.

"For one thing you have the Ohio River that largely — though not completely — serves as a barrier to bear migration from West Virginia, Kentucky and even parts of Pennsylvania.

But the bears that come into Ashtabula and Trumbull counties are no doubt coming from northwest Pennsylvania," Kramer said.

Also, it is believed that a very small breeding population of bears exist in the state, including in Northeast Ohio. Last year about 10 sightings of either a sow with cubs or just a cub were reported, though none were confirmed, Kramer said.

Bobcats also are increasingly being detected in the state, but they do not cause the same problems as bears.

In 2009, the state recorded 266 unverified bobcat sightings in Ohio, up from the 220 unverified sightings in 2008. Verified sightings included 92 last year and 65 in 2008.

Of the verified sightings, 25 came from Noble County in southeast Ohio and 70 were reported within a 1-county radius of Noble County. No verified bobcat sightings came from Northeast Ohio last year, though they have occurred in other years.

Locally, there were four unverified bobcat sightings in Ashtabula County, two in Trumbull County and six in Cuyahoga County, though none in Lake or Geauga counties.

"I am surprised about Cuyahoga County. Even with so many unverified sightings its still gives you pause to wonder," said Suzie Prange, the Wildlife Division's forest wildlife biologist.

A growing number of verified sightings are being recorded by so-called "trail cameras," which are used by archery hunters to detect deer movement when a stand is not occupied, Kramer said also.

"Trail cameras are a great tool for us to record bobcat sightings. That's also why we're adjusting our efforts to include more trail camera work over baits," Kramer said.

Prange said she's also seen some "great trail camera photos" of bobcats.

"Bobcats certainly are not camera shy," she said.

Kramer said the Wildlife Division anticipates an expanding bobcat population in Ohio as the species finds much to like here.

"I think bobcats have a greater ability and are more likely to expand in the state than black bears. They can go undetected better than can bears, too," Kramer said.

http://www.news-herald.com/articles/2010/02/23/news/nh2133309.txt

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India's lions at risk of being poached for bones, other body parts

Not M-P, Gir lions are going to China
Jumana Shah & Roxy Gagdekar / DNA
Tuesday, February 23, 2010 11:06 IST

Gandhinagar: Chief minister Narendra Modi may have refused to part with any of the Gir lions for a sanctuary in Madhya Pradesh, but the Asiatic lions are still at risk of ending up in China — dead.

The success of the state government in nabbing the poachers who, in 2007, killed eight lions in Gir has lulled many into believing that Gujarat’s Asiatic lions are now safe. But nothing could be farther from the truth.

The fact of the matter is that the existence of lions everywhere is constantly threatened by poachers. Wildlife experts say that the main reason why lions are prized by poachers is the high demand for lion bones in the international market.

“The purported medicinal value of lion bones fetches high prices for them in the international market,” Samir Sinha, head of TRAFFIC India, told DNA on Monday, at the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) in Gandhinagar. TRAFFIC India, a division of WWF India, does research and analysis and provides support to efforts to curb wildlife trade in India. China is believed to be the main market for lion bones but Sinha categorically said that there are several other countries among the “consumers”.

“Chain investigation of poacher gangs is not taking place,” he said. “We should try to get to the people who control the whole market. But all that we have done is crack the network of gangs operating within the country.” Sinha said that the exact value of the lion’s body parts is not completely clear yet. “But there is certainly a perception that its bones have medicinal value,” he said. “There does not seem to be much demand for the other body parts, except for the knuckles. But we are exploring further. The important thing is that there is value to lions, be it in India or Africa, and they continue to be hunted by poachers.”

Sinha further said that the nature of wildlife crime is always changing. “Earlier, it was perceived to be random but we now know that it is organized. Hence to deal with it, we too need an organised system,” he said. A five-day course in ‘Wildlife Crime Management’ is being held at the Directorate of Forensic Science (DFS), Gandhinagar. The training programme for forest officers of the country has been organised by the Tiger Conservation Society of India, Wildlife Institute of India-Dehradun, TRAFFIC-India and the DFS. Many forest conservators from Gujarat are also participating in the programme.

http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report_not-m-p-gir-lions-are-going-to-china_1351432

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Spanish woman leaves 3m euros for Iberian lynx

(AFP) – 21 hours ago

MADRID — The Iberian lynx, the world's most endangered feline species, could be a step further from extinction after a Spanish woman left three million euros in her will to help protect the animals.

The woman bequeathed a total of nine million euros (12 million dollars) to animal charities, one-third of which is to go to the lynxes, local authorities in Spain's southern Andalucia region said Tuesday.

A six-year-old captive breeding programme for the lynx is based in Andalucia's Donana National Park.

The Madrid newspaper El Pais said the woman died in October 2008 in Spain's Canary Islands at the age of 60, but that little else was known about her.

Barely 200 Iberian lynxes are believed to remain in the wild, mostly in protected areas of southern Spain. At the start of the 20th century there were around 100,000 in Spain and Portugal.

But urban development, hunting, and most of all a dramatic decline due to disease in the number of wild rabbits, the lynx's main prey, have sharply reduced the numbers of the spotted cats, which can grow to about one metre (three feet) in length.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature now lists the species as "critically endangered" -- the highest category of risk for a wild animal.

http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jyWGaVBur84T9mIh77GWimlHiQ0w

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El lince hereda tres millones
Una mujer lega 9 millones a tres entidades de defensa y conservación de animales

ISABEL PEDROTE - Sevilla - 23/02/2010

No se sabe casi nada de ella, salvo que murió con 60 años en octubre de 2008, era soltera, tenía un patrimonio de unos nueve millones de euros y amaba profundamente a los animales. La Junta de Andalucía ha decidido aceptar una herencia de unos tres millones de euros de una mujer que hizo testamento en una notaría de Canarias y legó la tercera parte de sus bienes a la conservación del lince ibérico en el Parque de Doñana (Huelva), gestionado por la comunidad autónoma. Las otras dos partes las ha donado a la Asociación Nacional Amigos de los Animales y a la Asociación para la Defensa del Borrico de Rute (Córdoba).

La recepción de la herencia debe tener el visto bueno del Consejo de Gobierno

Por el momento, con los pocos datos que han trascendido, la historia de la benefactora de los animales tiene todos los ingredientes de un cuento. La mujer, nacida en 1948 y cuyas iniciales son S. V. L., dejó dispuesto que todos sus bienes, muebles e inmuebles, fueran subastados al mejor postor por los albaceas de la notaría donde hizo testamento. Una vez liquidados, los albaceas debían invertir lo obtenido en valores seguros y rentables hasta su entrega a los herederos por terceras partes iguales.

Pero, según fuentes de la Junta andaluza, la cosa no queda ahí. Le siguen instrucciones precisas que, sin duda, condicionan y marcan la pauta de cómo se habrá de administrar el legado. Los herederos deben invertir a su vez lo recibido en valores y disponer únicamente al año para gastos corrientes de un 5% del importe. Si a cada uno le tocan unos tres millones de euros, esto significa que podrán gastar 150.000 euros por ejercicio. El testamento dice que si algunos de los elegidos no pudiera o quisiera heredar, acrecerá la parte de los demás.

En estos días la recepción debe ser avalada por el Consejo de Gobierno de la Junta andaluza.

El programa de actuaciones para la conservación del lince comenzó en 2000. El Parque de Doñana cuenta con el centro de cría en cautividad El Acebuche. La Asociación para la Defensa del Borrico (ADEBO), de la localidad cordobesa de Rute, se creó en 1989 para conservar las razas de burros españoles en extinción. Por su parte, la Asociación Nacional Amigos de Animales (ANAA) fue fundada en Madrid en 1992 para socorrer a los animales abandonados y maltratados.

Los motivos que llevaron a esta mujer a dejarlo todo concretamente a estas asociaciones son un misterio. Cabe recordar en su memoria la cita del escritor francés Anatole France: "Hasta que no hayas amado a un animal, parte de tu alma estará dormida".

http://www.elpais.com/articulo/andalucia/lince/hereda/millones/elpepuespand/20100223elpand_11/Tes

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Mountain lion shot at Nebraska ranch

Published Tuesday February 23, 2010

By David Hendee
WORLD-HERALD STAFF WRITER

A mountain lion was shot and killed Sunday by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission at a ranch northwest of Rushville, Neb.

Conservation officers were notified early Sunday morning of a mountain lion hiding under a livestock trailer near a ranch house.
.

The responding conservation officer determined the cougar was a safety risk because of the cat's proximity to the house and the people on site, officials said Monday.

The mountain lion was a female, weighing about 100 pounds. It did not appear to have been nursing kittens.
Advertising

It was the 96th confirmed mountain lion sighting in Nebraska since 1991 and the 68th in the Pine Ridge.

http://www.omaha.com/article/20100222/NEWS01/100229903

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Special Dogs Assist in Wild Tiger Conservation Efforts in Cambodia

Special Dogs Assist in Wild Tiger Conservation Efforts in Cambodia

In the Asian zodiac, this is the year of the tiger but conservationists say wild tiger populations are quickly disappearing. In Cambodia, there is hope that a pair of special dogs from the United States can help save the tiger.

Daniel Schearf Mondulkiri, Cambodia 22 February 2010

In Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia conservationists estimate hunting and poaching have reduced tiger numbers to fewer than 30 in each country.

In eastern Cambodia's Mondulkiri Protected Forest, conservationists have brought in unique specialists to track down the few remaining tigers.

Sadie May and Scooby Doo are black Labrador retrievers. They are part of Conservation Canines, a project at the University of Washington in the U.S. that trains dogs to sniff for wild animal feces - also called scat.

Scooby's handler, Jennifer Hartman, says the dogs are much faster than human researchers at finding tiger scat.

"And we train them to sit at them, which shows us that they have something," she said. "And, we come and check it out. And, all of our dogs are extremely ball driven - they love to play. So, their reward for finding a scat is they get to play ball for two to three minutes and that keeps them good all day long."

The handlers note where the scat is found and take a sample for analysis to determine if it is from a tiger and to check the animal's health.

Sadie's handler, Elizabeth Seely, says they can learn a lot from animal droppings.

"We can get hormone levels, physiological data, disease status," she said. "And, all of it combined will give us an overall population health."

Cambodia's Mondulkiri Forest was once rich in wildlife, including tigers, but hunting and poaching largely emptied the region and killed off almost all the tigers.

Lean Kha was a soldier with the communist Khmer Rouge in the early 1980s and admits he killed wildlife for food and trade, including 14 tigers.

He says he became a forest ranger to make up for what he calls his past sins.

"There were a lot of animals when I was with the Khmer Rouge and less afterwards," he said. "But, since I became an animal protector it seems like wildlife numbers are increasing."

Conservation Canines has teamed up with Cambodian rangers and the conservation group WWF to protect wild tigers. The big cats once roamed throughout Asia, into Siberia, but conservationists say only a few thousand tigers remain in the wild; far more live in captivity. Without immediate action, the WWF says, by 2022, there may no longer be any wild tigers.

Nick Cox, the WWF's Dry Forest and Tiger Program coordinator for the countries along Southeast Asia's Mekong River, says the forests of Cambodia's eastern plains offer an intact habitat for reviving wild tigers.

"These are some of the largest protected areas in this part of Asia and particularly important for conservation because they hold huge potential for recovering wildlife populations including tiger," he said.

The WWF has set up cameras in parts of the forest to capture images of elusive wildlife.

But the last photo they got of a tiger was in 2007.

Conservationists hope that Sadie May and Scooby Doo will find some fresher evidence of wild tigers - and help efforts to save them.

http://www1.voanews.com/english/news/asia/Special-US-Dogs-Assist-in-Wild-Tiger-Conservation-Efforts-in-Cambodia-84987612.html

http://www.bigcatrescue.org/

Monday, February 22, 2010

Iberian lynx siblings being treated for feline leukemia - Spain

Coca y Dalia, dos linces hermanos reciben tratamiento para la leucemia

Autor:Cristina Serena

Córdoba, 22 feb (EFE).- Coca y Dalia son dos linces hermanos depadre y madre de distinta camada. Este dato ya los convertiría enejemplares únicos en su especie, si no fuera porque lo son por otracircunstancia: están en tratamiento por padecer leucemia felina, unaenfermedad que le costó la vida a cuatro de sus congéneres en 2007.

Fue en ese año cuando se detectó un brote de esta enfermedad queafectó a siete linces de los que tan sólo han sobrevivido tres, losdos hermanos que se recuperan en el Centro de Recuperación deEspecies Amenazadas (CREA) en Córdoba y su madre, Rayuela, que fuedevuelta al medio natural después de que acantonara el virus.

El encargado del CREA de la Junta en Córdoba, Miguel Carrasco, haexplicado en una entrevista con Efe que la madre de Coca y Daliapudo ser puesta en libertad porque, tras el tratamiento, aisló estevirus, que destruye el sistema inmunitario de los felinos, y ademásdejó de liberarlo, por lo que no lo contagia al resto de animales.

El de Rayuela es, tal y como ha destacado Carrasco, un caso únicoen su especie, si bien también son peculiares los casos de sus doshijos, Coca y Dalia, que ingresaron en el CREA en 2007 y consiguenhacer frente a la enfermedad, para la que hasta este momento no seconoce cura.

Los dos únicos linces que en este momento residen de manerapermanente en el CREA cordobés, que es centro de referencia enAndalucía para la recuperación de estos felinos en peligro deextinción, llegaron en junio de 2007, cuando el macho tenía poco másde un año y la hembra tan sólo unos meses.

Desde entonces, estos dos hermanos, que ocupan espacios separadospero contiguos en los que se recrea su medio natural, están entratamiento para esta enfermedad que se contagia a través delcontacto directo, por lo que los linces afectados por leucemiatienen que ser ingresados en centros especializados, no sólo paraque no fallezcan por esta causa, sino también para que no lacontagien a otros linces.

Carrasco ha destacado que uno de los mayores logros obtenidos conCoca y Dalia es que no han desarrollado la enfermedad, pero encambio sí continúan liberando el virus de la leucemia felina, motivopor el cual no se prevé su puesta en libertad ni su reproducción,pues existe riesgo de que los descendientes también nacieran con lapatología.

En general, el responsable del CREA ha explicado que el objetivodel centro es "atender de la mejor manera posible" a los animalesque les llegan y "provocarles bienestar, tranquilidad y reposo" quepropicie la recuperación.

Para el caso concreto de los linces, el centro cordobés disponede diez módulos de recuperación, denominadas así a las instalacionesque ocupan estos animales en un primer momento, cuando atraviesan sufase más vulnerable.

El paso intermedio en la recuperación se produce en lasinstalaciones de cuarentena, que cumplen con múltiples funciones,pues los linces ya disponen de más espacios y diversos elementos deenriquecimiento del entorno.

La última fase de su estancia en el centro se desarrolla en lasinstalaciones de campeo, una hectárea de terreno en la que loslinces recuperan los instintos y la musculación.

De este modo, el delegado de Medio Ambiente de la Junta enCórdoba, Luis Rey, ha valorado el trabajo desarrollado en el CREA,al que acuden todo tipo de animales que han sufrido accidentes opadecen enfermedades, para su recuperación y posterior puesta enlibertad.

La mayor parte de ejemplares, más del 90 por ciento, son aves,aunque también se reciben mamíferos o reptiles, si bien estos dosúltimos grupos son más difíciles de detectar, porque cuando sesienten débiles o enfermos, tienen a esconderse en madrigueras.

Además, Rey también ha destacado la "importante labor" educativay de concienciación social que lleva a cabo el CREA, pues harecordado que la colaboración ciudadana es fundamental para laconservación de la biodiversidad. EFE

cst/vg/pz

http://www.efeverde.es/esl/contenidos/noticias/22-febrero-2010-11-01-00-coca-y-dalia-dos-linces-hermanos-reciben-tratamiento-para-la-leucemia

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Learn more about big cats and Big Cat Rescue at http://www.bigcatrescue.org