Three tigers found dead in just one week
Investigations have begun by forest rangers, in Corbett Tiger Reserve after three dead tigers were found over a week. Officials suspect the tigers had been poisoned by poachers, however, this is yet to be confirmed via autopsy.
Shrinking habitats due to the growth of urban areas in India and increasing deforestation have brought the cats into conflict with farmers who live near tiger reserves.
Despite conservation efforts, tiger numbers in India have declined due to rampant poaching of the cats for their valuable pelts and body parts that are highly prized in traditional Chinese medicine.
The search for Sundari (T-17)
A massive hunt was launched last month when first time mother, T-17 otherwise known as Sundari went missing from Ranthambhore National Park. Daughter of the legendary tigress Machali, her disappearance has caused great concern, as she’s left behind three 11 month old cubs, that are now under the watch of forest officials.
Earlier, four teams were deployed as search parties with the Assistant Conservators of Forest and range officers leading the staff. In all, more than 110 people were deployed in the combing operation. The teams covered Amba Ghati, Badlav, Tamba Khan, Kacchidah and other areas inside the national park. Lack of evidence suggests that the tigress is not dead, however, there has yet to be any sightings of her, including pug marks or images caught on motion camera traps.
Wildlife experts are seeing her disappearance as failing of the tracking system in the tiger reserve where at least eight big cats (excluding Sundari) have either disappeared or strayed from the park.
Amur leopard population up 50%
The population of the Amur leopard has grown by half since 2007 and the cats have expanded their habitat as far as North Korea, the WWF said.
Environmentalists were unable to take a census of the big cats for several years, because the population is counted by their paw prints in the snow. No lasting snow was seen since 2011 in their habitat, an area 5,000 square kilometre in Russia’s far eastern Primorye region.
The previous census in 2007 put the number of Amur leopards at between 27 and 34, which many experts said at the time is not enough to ensure continued reproduction of the subspecies. However, a conservation drive spearheaded by the WWF and supported by the Kremlin improved the situation.
Environmentalists hope to increase the population to 70 to 100 cats, which would ensure its stability
Lion breeder in Yemen cashes in on Gulf demand for exotic pets.
In a cage built from lengths of rusting steel trellis, six African lionesses sit on the concrete floor. The bare skull of a donkey lies at the back of the cell as two male lions pace up and down patrolling their shared six metres of territory.
A village on Yemen’s scorched Tihama plain is an incongruous home for African lions. Set back several miles from the nearest road and reached by a rough network of sandy paths and thorny gorse bushes, it is home to one of Yemen’s newest and most unlikely businesses.
All six of the lionesses are pregnant. Hassan Bari who owns the lions, expects most of the cubs to be sold within a few days as there is a high demand.
Africa battles poachers to save its wild lions.
Zambia has become the latest country to ban the hunting of lions and other endangered wild cats as the continent tries to arrest the predators’ plummeting population. UK charity LionAid chief executive and biologist Dr Pieter Kat says the number of lions across Africa has dropped dramatically in recent decades, with lions extinct in 25 African countries.
“About 50 years ago we had about 200,000 lions living in Africa. I’d estimate from our own research that perhaps today we have about 15,000 left. Now 15,000 still sounds like a relatively large number but, you know, you can’t put more than 15,000 into even a small space.” he said.
“What’s happening in western Africa is very, very sad because, you know, Senegal, all the way in the west, probably has about 40 lions left,” he said. “Then we move over a couple of countries and we find that there’s, you know, maybe 50 or 60 lions left. And then we go to Cameroon, they maybe have 110 lions left. And then we come to Nigeria that has less than 34, 35 lions left. And there are a lot of these national parks in these countries, but the problem is nobody goes there.”
Dr Kat said because west Africa is not a popular tourist destination, the national parks are starved of funds to maintain the parks and staff.
Cougars caught on camera traps
Automatic cameras originally put in place to oversee human activity, have given a unique insight into the wild fauna of Waterton National Park in Alberta, Canada. Because the camera traps snap images every few minutes, park managers have seen hikers saunter down the trail just before or after big animals. “From the look on their faces, they had no idea two minutes before there was a cougar or bear standing there,” said Dennis Madsen, resource conservation manager for the park.
Animals such as grizzly bears, wolverines and lynx have been captured aswell as unique encounters, including a skunk-versus-cougar face-off!
“The cougar was looking at the skunk like it might be lunch, and the skunk was looking at cougar like ‘you’re going to regret this decision,” said Masden. “The cougar chose the path of wisdom and decided to go elsewhere,”
A mother and cubs were also photographed on a wildlife trail, which is incredibly rare considering the cats are quite elusive and shy.
U.S. may add African lions to endangered-species list
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced this week that it will consider adding African lions to the endangered-species list, a move that organizations seeking the listing say would help reverse the decline of the species. Lions are a powerful worldwide symbol of Africa, and adding them to the U.S. list would make it even more difficult to import hides or trophies and would give the conservation effort more credibility in the international community. It also could help African nations pay for conservation work, research and management programs.
“Today’s decision is an important first step as we work to protect the African lion — a species confronted with mounting threats and a steep population decline,” said Jeff Flocken, the Washington director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare, an advocacy group. “The Endangered Species Act is the most powerful law we have to safeguard the African lion against the unnecessary threat of U.S. trophy hunters.”
The Humane Society of the United States estimates that African lions have declined by more than 50 percent in the past three decades. Fewer than 35,000 may remain today in 27 African countries.
World’s Largest Tiger Reserve ‘Bereft of Cats’
The massive environmental destruction inflicted on the Hukaung Valley by large scale logging, gold mining and plantations has very likely killed off all the existing tigers in the area, warns land rights activist and environmentalist Bawk Jar. Located in northwestern Kachin State, the entire valley consisting of 21,890 square kilometers is officially home to what Burma’s government says is the world’s largest tiger reserve.
In mid-2010, less than a year before fighting erupted throughout Kachin State, Bawk Jar conducted an extensive field trip to remote parts of the valley where tigers were known to live. What she saw was considerably different from previous trips to the area. Despite being the heart of the tiger reserve most of the trees had been chopped down, and a once-vibrant ecosystem destroyed. “The hunters have told me there are no more tigers left,” she said.
WCS and its partner organization Panthera, a tiger-focused conservation group, have reported that the biggest threat to the region’s tigers was from local villagers and hunters.“The tiger is still valuable and the indigenous people there such as the Lisu and the Kachin are very much tied into the Chinese trade, and they’ve been killing off tigers,”said Rabinowitz, who is now CEO of Panthera.
Tiger relocation to Sariska on anvil
The Ranthambhore National Park is facing the problem of plenty. In a bid to save tigers and avoid man-animal conflict, the forest department officials plan to relocate two tigers - Bina I and Bina II - to the Sariska Tiger Reserve. The two orphaned cubs, of T5 of Kachida, created history by being taken care of by their father T 28.
The tigers are growing and need their own territory. At the moment they are living on the periphery and often stray into the villages and urban areas. At the moment there are 27 adult tigers and 26 cubs in the 600 sq km area of the park. Six to seven tigers can easily be re-located either to Kaila Devi Sanctuary or SNP to ease out the situation in the park.
According to experts, if Kaila Devi is developed properly, this would make it easier for the tigers to stray out of RNP to the forest areas. What plagues the park is immense human intervention and poor prey base. “There is a natural movement of tigers to Kaila Devi, but it’s difficult for them to stay there. To help ease out stress in RNP, the government needs to look at reducing human disturbance and introducing certain prey species in Kaila Devi,” said Balendu Singh, honorary wildlife warden.
Tiger tourism ban lifted
The Supreme Court in India has recently lifted the ban on tourism in tiger reserves across the country. The court had imposed the ban in July after a conservationist said critical tiger habitats should be kept safe from all types of human disturbances, including tourism. Tour and travel operators argued that stopping tourism would encourage illegal wildlife trafficking as poachers will not be hindered by the presence of tourists.
On Tuesday, the government announced new rules aimed at allowing tourism to co-exist with conservation. According to the new rules, no new tourist facilities can be created in tiger areas and only 20 percent of tiger habitats will be open to visitors.
Four leopards killed on average every week in India.
On average, India is witnessing around four leopards being killed for their skin on a weekly basis. A decade long report conveyed by the WWF and wildlife organisation TRAFFIC looked closely at the illicit trade in wildlife species in the country.
According to the “Illuminating the Blind Spot: A study on illegal trade in leopard parts in India,” a total of 420 seizures of leopard skins, bones and other body parts were reported from 209 places in India during 2001-2010. Statistical analysis concludes that around 2,294 leopards were poached and their parts traded over the 10-year period in India, an average of four leopards a week.
Leopards are protected under India’s domestic legislation, and commercial international trade is banned under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
Nepal tigers take the night shift.
In Nepal, research shows that tigers have been adapting to the presence of humans by becoming nocturnal. The study, which was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggests that this adaptation decreases the chance of confrontation between humans and tigers, allowing shared resources such as water to be available to both species at different times of the day.
Co-writer of the study, Neil Carter, explains that “it’s a very fundamental conflict over resources. Tigers need resources, people need the same resources. If we operate under the traditional wisdom that tigers can only survive with space dedicated solely for them, there would always be conflict. If your priority is people, tigers lose out. If your priority is tigers, people lose out.”
The study took place over the span of two seasons by setting motion-detecting traps in the Chitwan National Park, which captured images showing “people and tigers walking the same paths, albeit at different times.”
Indo-Bangla pact for Sunderban tigers
West Bengal chief minister Mamta Banerjee and Bangladesh will join hands for protection of tigers in Sunderbans. The central government had put Teesta river treaty and land boundary agreement on hold after opposition from Mamata, a key ally of the UPA government. But, the centre was able to have the West Bengal government on board with respect to having a joint monitoring and protection mechanism for Sunderban tigers. There are about 400 tigers in Sunderbans spread across West Bengal and Bangladesh but lack of coordination between the two governments has hampered conservation efforts.
“Both countries will undertake bilateral scientific and research projects to promote their understanding and knowledge of Royal Bengal Tigers in Sunderbans,” said an agreement signed between India and Bangladesh government for tiger conservation recently.
The agreement also provides for collaboration in training and promotion of education in tiger conservation without undertaking any activity which can dampen the unique bio-diversity of mangrove rich Sunderbans. However, the agreement will not impose any restriction on border domination activities.