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.
Nepal offers plans for conservation of snow leopards
Nepal says it will present a seven-point plan on better conservation of snow leopards at an upcoming Global Snow Leopard Conservation conference in Kyrgyzstan. The conference in October will focus on increasing the number of snow leopards in the 12 countries where the big cat is found.
Nepal’s involvement in the conference will center on reforming its existing policies on conservation of the animal, improving its habitat, reducing poaching and conflicts with human beings, and providing proper training to people involved in conservation efforts.
Of the 12 countries participating in the conference, China has the largest number of snow leopards, with an estimated 2,500. India has around 600, while Mongolia has 100.
Very pleased to announce that Kaitlyn, a Sumatran tiger at Australia Zoo is pregnant! This is the first litter for the five year old, and she’s expected to give birth in late August.
Kaitlyn is considered one of the most genetically valuable individuals in the world, as she was born to a wild mother and captive father. With less than 500 Sumatran tigers left in the wild, the pregnancy is a significant win for the future of the species.
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.