Poacher faces jail after killing an Amur leopard

A Vladivostok man faces up to seven years behind bars for allegedly having poached a critically endangered Amur leopard and attempted to sell its hide. After the 32-year-old hunter began scouting offers for the rare leopard’s pelt, local police were tipped off. Officers initially posed as potential buyers before detaining the suspect and launching a criminal investigation.

The hunter may be charged with the unlawful production and distribution of a particularly rare and valuable wild animal, a charge police claim they have ample proof to back up in court. The case materials have been dispatched to a local court for judicial review.



(Picture source / Map source)

Happy World Lion Day! In honor of this very special occasion, the members of Big Cat Network would like to encourage everyone to do what you can to help the plight of lions everywhere!

Here are some handy resources you can use to help:

Help with money

Donate to WWF India
Adopt through Lion Conservation Fund
Donate to Lion Conservation Fund
Donate to Build a Boma
Donate to Big Cats Initiative
Donate to Panthera
Adopt through Lion Guardians
Donate to Lion Guardians
Donate to Ruaha Carnivore Project
Donate to African Parks
Donate to Uganda Conservation Foundation
Donate to Ewaso Lions
Donate to Gorongosa Lion Project
Donate to/Adopt through The Lions of Gir Foundation - (Asiatic Lion Specific)
Donate to Niassa Lion Project
Donate to Uganda Carnivore Program
Donate to Lion Alert
Donate to Lion Aid
Donate to Rebuilding the Pride
Adopt through The AfriCat Foundation
Donate to The AfriCat Foundation
Donate to Conservation Lower Zambezi
Donate to Walking For Lions
Donate to Predator Conservation Trust
- Big Cat info for kids!

You can also donate to or adopt from your favorite sanctuary and/or accredited zoo!

Petitions to sign

- Save African lions from extinction by listing them as an endangered species!
- Save Lions Now TAKE ACTION!
- President of Kenya: Please Declare Poaching a - National Disaster (Gore warning)
Make Poaching of Endangered Animals an -Internationally Punishable Crime
Start your own petition!

Videos to watch

Desert Lion Conservation
- Lives of Lions

The Global Alliance for Wild Cats

On June 1, 2014, environmental philanthropists from China, India, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the United States formed a new Global Alliance with Panthera committing an initial $80 Million over the next ten years to conserve the world’s wild cats and their ecosystems. Marking an unprecedented turning point for the future of wild cat conservation, the Global Alliance’s $80 Million commitment provides cornerstone funding for Panthera’s new $200 Million initiative for wild cats.

The Alliance’s $80 Million commitment will fund the most effective solutions for conserving the world’s wild cats and mitigating their primary threats: poaching for the illegal wildlife trade, retaliatory and punitive killing of cats due to conflict with people, unsustainable hunting of prey species, and the loss and fragmentation of habitat.

Initiatives funded through this commitment will focus on protecting the world’s largest wild cats - tigers, lions, jaguars, snow leopards, cheetahs, clouded leopards, cougars and leopards – by implementing the following conservation solutions:

  • Protecting and stabilizing more than half of the world’s most important Asian tiger and African lion populations;
  • Securing the largest carnivore corridor in the world for jaguars across 18 countries in Latin America;
  • Creating community-based conservation projects in nearly all countries with snow leopard populations;
  • Reducing killing and poaching in more than half of cheetah and leopard range countries; and
  • Designing and implementing a range-wide conservation strategy for cougars, inclusive of creating corridors and recovery landscapes across North America.

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Three more tigers dead in wildlife reserves

After being monitored for quite some time, a 14 year old tigress in Kanha National Park, has unfortunately passed away due to her old age.

In Bandhavgarh, two of the three cubs born to the Kankati tigress, were found dead, suspected to have been killed by a rival tiger. The surviving cub, a female, was taken to Satpura tiger reserve where she will be brought up in semi-wild conditions, until she is able to be released back into the wild. 


Saddened to announce that nine year old tigress ‘Kankati’, was found dead yesterday in Bandhavgarh National Park. Her body was discovered by locals, and has been sent for a post-mortem examination. It did show signs of injury, which could’ve been caused by a fight with another tiger, however, officials aren’t ruling out poaching. 

She was a granddaughter of Sita, and is survived by three, five month old cubs which forest officials are now searching for. 

Photo by Sandeep Dutta


The Cat that Loves Water:

Determined scientists and photographers finally capture images of the rare and elusive fishing cat

by Morgan Heim

WE KNEW OUR INTENTION TO PHOTOGRAPH FISHING CATS in the wilds of Southeast Asia wouldn’t be easily accomplished. Other than National Geographic Society filmmakers Belinda Wright and Stanley Breeden, who took a few pictures of the cats in the 1990s, few people had seen, let alone photographed, the animals in the wild. In fact, since 2003, Thai biologist Passanan Cutter, founder of the Fishing Cat Research and Conservation Project, has observed only one free-roaming cat.

Science knows little about the fishing cat, which embraces a rather unfeline affinity for water. The animal lives in Southeast Asian swamps, where it swims and hunts fish. Weighing up to 30 pounds, it has adapted to its aquatic environment: It has webbed feet, short legs, tiny ears, spotted, almost water-resistant fur and a muscular tail it uses as a rudder.

Jim Sanderson, a member of the IUCN Cat Specialist Group and founder of the Small Cat Conservation Alliance, believes the species numbers no more than 3,000 individuals, scattered mostly throughout Thailand, India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Rampant habitat destruction, persecution and the bush-meat trade have caused an estimated decline in the cat’s numbers of more than 50 percent since those photos taken by Breeden and Wright in the 1990s…

(read more: National Wildlife Federation)

photos by Morgan Heim

The famous Langklaas leopard of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park in South Africa was visited by a lone lioness and her young cub, a day before she passed away. Whilst it’s common for lions to kill leopards, especially their cubs, this lioness decided to leave Langklaas be. The leopard, who was in very bad condition, died on the 8th of May 2014, after a suspected infection caused by an undelivered placenta. She was eight years old. 

Photo by Willie Visagie

Cee4life notified me last night that the Indian authorities have decided to continue to care for Machli until she dies. I have to give a lot of credit to Sybelle, the director of Cee4life, for her resilience in this matter as she faced a lot of criticism and even got death threats for going against the petition to let Machli die. Sybelle cancelled her trip to India, however, everyone who donated to this cause was contacted and given a chance to have their donations refunded.

For those of you who don’t know, Cee4life is currently doing work at the Surabaya Zoo in Indonesia, providing healthcare and resources as well as an International Education program. You can read more about that or donate here.

There is currently a debate going on about whether or not the forestry department in Ranthambhore should stop providing food for Machli. Apparently, they were ordered to stop in March by the NTCA, and that Machli has been surviving on her own ever since. For those of you who don’t know, Machli is nearly 18 years old, and has lost all of her canine teeth. Despite her ability to still hunt small animals, lizards and birds, she has, for the past four years, occasionally been provided with carcasses.

I agree that they should never have started feeding her in the first place, but that is in the past and not the problem at hand. In saying that, I don’t blame them for what they did, Machli is not an animal I could’ve just left for dead either. It’s now being argued that she’s taking up space, and that it’s inhumane to put her through old age. Whilst she does still live in Ranthambhore, she no longer holds prime territory and has been confined to the very outskirts of the park by males and breeding females. Food is still able to sustain and nourish her, to the point where she can still hunt for herself. Obviously we can’t keep on feeding her forever, but cutting her off completely and leaving her to die does seem a bit drastic.

Machli will die one day, but it absolutely cannot be by our own doing. I’m very open about this subject, but I think exceptions are needed because of her history. Machli does not always feed on the food she is supplemented with, which still suggests stable independence on her part. I know the park is becoming increasingly productive with the populations beginning to rise, but Machli will never become redundant, especially to those who love and admire her.

Valkmik is being opposed by a non-profit organisation called Cee4life. They’re heading over to India in a week’s time, and you can donate via PayPal to their cause if you agree with them. I really do hope that all the pros and cons are weighed and that they can come to a decision that serves her best interests. Machli is a national icon, and is dubbed as one of the greatest tigers to ever walk the planet. Her resilience, unique power and beauty has generated over 500 million dollars to India’s tourism, and she’s provided the park with numerous lineages for the continuation of her species. Towards the end of their lives, B2 and Charger of Bandhavgarh National Park, were cared for in different ways by the forestry department, so Machli should also be given the same kind of chances to live out the rest of her life peacefully. 

Largest ever Amur tiger release in Russia

Three orphaned Amur tigers, two males and one female were successfully released to the wild in the Russian Far East last week, in further attempts to save the species and to reclaim tiger habitat. Underlining the importance of the event, Russian Federation president Vladimir Putin also attended the release. Two more tigers, a male and female, are scheduled for release in early June, making it the largest release of rehabilitated Amur tigers ever. 

"The tigers were prepared to go back to the wild; they are in good physical shape, successfully stalking and hunting their natural prey and avoid human beings," explains Dr. Viatcheslav Rozhnov, Deputy-Director of the Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution.

During the rehabilitation process, all contact with humans was eliminated. Monitoring the tigers was done through remotely-operated video cameras.

Read More & Video


Tigers need diverse gene pool to survive
Stanford University Original Study

New research shows that increasing genetic diversity among the 3,000 or so tigers left on the planet, though interbreeding and other methods, may be the key to their survival as a species. Iconic symbols of power and beauty, wild tigers may roam only in stories someday soon. Their historical range has been reduced by more than 90 percent. But conservation plans that focus only on increasing numbers and preserving distinct subspecies ignore genetic diversity, according to the study. In fact, following that approach, the tiger could vanish entirely. “Numbers don’t tell the entire story,” says Elizabeth Hadly, professor in environmental biology at Stanford University and senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment. She is a coauthor of the study, which appears in the Journal of Heredity.
That research shows that the more gene flow there is among tiger populations, the more genetic diversity is maintained and the higher the chances of species survival become. In fact, it might be possible to maintain tiger populations that preserve about 90 percent of genetic diversity. (via Tigers need diverse gene pool to survive | Futurity)

T-19 tigress has given birth to three cubs

Daughter of legendary tigress Machali, and now ruler of the largest territory in Ranthambhore, T-19 aka Krishna was spotted on the 24th of March with her three new cubs, believed to be about six weeks old.

The cubs appear to be in good health, and their birth has increased the number of tigers in the park to 58.


Notorious poacher Sansar Chand is dead.

Sansar Chand is believed to have been the biggest wildlife poacher in India, being responsible for more tiger and leopard deaths than anybody else. Diaries seized from Sansar Chand’s family by the Rajasthan Police in 2004 allegedly showed transactions of 40 tiger skins and 400 leopard skins in a period of just 11 months from October 2003 to September 2004. During interrogation by the CBI in 2006, Sansar Chand apparently admitted to selling 470 tiger skins and 2,130 leopard skins to just four clients from Nepal and Tibet.

He was facing several charges related to the killing of wild cats in Sariska Tiger Reserve, but was admitted to hospital last week, suffering from cancer. According to doctors, he had tumors in his brain, lungs and spinal cord. 


Machli Update

Five hours ago, a new article came out about how wildlife lovers feel about her disappearance. Most people have already labeled her as dead, despite the fact that fresh pug marks were found a few days ago. Dharmendra Khandal of Tiger Watch said that ‘She was old and was of no ecological use. The effort that the forest department used to maintain her can be better used to take care of the many sub-adults in the forest now.” For some years now, a vehicle and separate fund were allocated just for feeding Machli, as she could no longer hunt efficiently by herself. 

But it is not the absence of Machli that is stirring up wildlife enthusiasts against the forest department as is the use of the term “missing” in cases when tigers are not sighted even for long period of time. It has been six months since Machli’s daughter Sundari or T-17 was last sighted but the forest department still refers to her as ‘missing.’

In fact, there are at least 10 tigers including T-21, T-27, T-40, two cubs of T-13, T-31 and T-29 which have not been sighted for reasonable period of time but are referred to as ‘missing’ by the forest department.

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Nepal ‘prioritised’ for global effort to save snow leopards
Identifying Nepal as one of the rarest sanctuaries for the endangered snow leopard, the world community and the conservationists have put the country in the top priority of the global action plan to protect the animal.

Nepal’s Himalayas host as many as one-fifth of the world’s total snow leopard population. According to the World Wildlife Fund, there are only 12 countries, including Nepal, where the last remaining 5,000 snow leopards are surviving. Studies show that these wild cats are disappearing rapidly from the planet. 

As part of the action plan, the governments have shared a common goal to intensify conservation efforts in the large landscapes required for snow leopard survival by identifying and designating critical habitats of key snow leopard populations as no-go areas for destructive land uses, maintaining their integrity and connectivity through natural corridors, and strengthening their protection on the ground. The global action plan also aims to control illegal trade of wildlife body parts. 

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