Wednesday, 31 October 2018

ARTICLE: The sickening reality behind this popular tourist attraction

A tourist smiles for the camera, proudly displaying the adorable lion cub snuggled in their arms, with it’s mother no where to be seen.

It’s a picture you have probably seen pop up on your social media before or maybe one you have posed for yourself.

For many, playing with a lion cub is a once in a lifetime opportunity that is just too enticing to pass up.

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NEWSLINK: Leopard playing with stray dogs goes viral

Residents of Bageshwar, who have been panic-stricken for the past few weeks after frequent leopard sightings and deaths of at least two people in tiger attacks, were in for a pleasant surprise after the video of a ‘friendly’ leopard playing with stray dogs and calves in the area went viral on social media. The clip, captured on a CCTV, shows the big cat playfully pouncing on the dogs sometime around midnight. The big cat was finally captured by forest department officials near Bagnath temple, situated around 200 meters inside Bageshwar city.


VIDEO: Charlestown zoo owner says he's ready for war against PETA 'devils'

There's no denying Tim Stark has a big, strong bond with some bigger, stronger cats.

"Hi, baby girl. Hi baby, girl. Now, damn. Look at them run. I mean, my God, they're scared to death of me. I beat them so often they're terrified of me," he said facetiously inside a cage with two young mountain lions as the two big cats purred and embraced him. "Quit, baby girl. Quit. Come here. Come here. Denali, come here."

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NEWSLINK: Rash of Cougar Sightings in Downtown Ashland Cause Alarm

A rash of cougar sightings in dAshland is causing alarm, but state wildlife officials say that because the big cats have all been spotted at night and haven't attacked anyone, it's not a public safety concern.

The Daily Tidings reports Friday that there have been about six cougar sightings in the past week, including by a grocery store, by a library, by a fire station and near a shopping complex.

Steve Niemela, district wildlife biologist with Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, says all the sightings except one have involved a cougar feeding on a deer at night.

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Tuesday, 30 October 2018

NEWSLINK: Poacher confesses to killing missing ST-5 at Sariska in Feb, selling its skin

Nearly eight months after a tigress was reported missing from the Sariska Tiger Reserve (STR), a poacher, who was recently arrested by the police, admitted to having shot dead the tigress, ST-5, and selling her skin.

The confession by 30-year-old Sarfuddin Meo is glaring proof that the reserve-—which in 2005 had lost all its tigers to poaching, forcing a first-of-its-kind big cat translocation programme—continues to be in the grip of poachers.

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SIGHTING, UK: Stamford man who claims to have seen a black panther on edge of town now photographs large pawprint

A Stamford man who claimed to have seen a black panther on Tuesday night returned the following day and took a photograph of a large pawprint.

Steve Kelly was so intrigued by the sighting that the following day he returned and managed to capture a photograph of a pawprint left by the creature.

He said: “This sort of thing really interests me, and I’m thinking of setting up a motion sensor infra-red camera in that area too, so who knows, if I could get a close up photo of whatever it really is, it could solve this completely!”

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Sunday, 28 October 2018

NEWSLINK: State houndsman works to keep Black Hills safe from lions

When a mountain lion behaves dangerously state wildlife officials sometimes have to call in the hounds.

Or, more specifically, the state houndsman, Jack Alexander. Alexander has been on the job with his dogs for 29 years. In the early part of his career he chased a lot of varmints.

"We do a lot of coyote work," he said Thursday on a training outing with his hounds. "And beaver at times when they're cutting trees or plugging culverts."

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NEWSLINK: Tigers dwindling: Just 6 sub-species remain

Six different sub-species of tigers exist on Thursday, scientists confirmed Thursday, amid hopes the findings will boost efforts to save the fewer than 4,000 free-range big cats that remain in the world.

The six include the Bengal tiger, Amur tiger, South China tiger, Sumatran tiger, Indochinese tiger and Malayan tiger, said the report in the journal Current Biology. Three other tiger subspecies have already gone extinct: the Caspian, Javan and Bali tigers. Key threats to tigers’ survival include habitat loss and poaching. How to best conserve the species and encourage both captive and wild breeding has been a matter of debate among scientists, in part because of divisions over how many tiger sub-species exist. Some say there are two types, and others believe there are five or six.

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Wednesday, 24 October 2018

NEWSLINK: With 23 Gir lions dead in 10 days, debate for their relocation gains pace

Things are settling down at Gir Wildlife Sanctuary, the last abode of the endangered Asiatic lion, where some 23 of the big cats were found dead between September 12 and 21. Half the deaths were attributed to the Canine Distemper Virus (CDV), which is transmitted through domestic cattle and animals, and Babesia Protozoa (BP), spread by ticks in domestic animals. Both cause fever, weakness, loss of appetite and eventual death.

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NEWSLINK: Other states get a scent of plans to save big cats

The Telangana State Forest Department’s attempts to save the life of injured tigress K4 in Mancherial district using a commercially available perfume as a lure so it can be safely tranquilized and a wire snare from around its abdomen removed, appears to have inspired other States also to take up similar experiments to catch big cats to prevent potential man-animal conflict situations.

It may be recalled that it was first reported in these columns on September 27 that Calvin Klein’s Obsession For Men perfume was being planned to be used to attempt to attract K4. The perfume is one of the tools among several other methods that the department is working with to save the life of the tigress, one of the first born in Telangana State.

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ARTICLE: To kill or not to kill?

Nearly five decades ago, the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, empowered a state’s chief wildlife warden to permit any person to hunt a wild animal if he or she was satisfied that it had become dangerous to human life.

For M K Ranjitsinh, who drafted the landmark Act as a young IAS officer, it was a no-brainer. “How can one protect a maneater or a rogue elephant? But the Act ensures that the decision to declare an animal as dangerous to human life is taken at the top level,” he says.

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Sunday, 21 October 2018

NEWSLINK: 28 lions get more leg room in Devaliya

Twenty-eight of the 36 lions that were caged in Jamwala and Jasadhar rescue centres have more leg room now. The forest department has shifted the 28 big cats to the Devaliya Interpretation Zone; five remain in Jamwala, and three in Jasadhar.

The 36 lions from the Dalkhaniya range were kept under observation after 23 lions had died of various causes, including canine distemper virus (CDV) and babesiosis infections. They were initially housed in Jamwala rescue centre which has the capacity of only six.

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NEWSLINK: After Satkosia, Mahanadi wildlife division to be next tiger habitat in Odisha

After Satkosia, the authorities are targeting the forest areas under Mahanadi Wildlife Division to release tigers, to be brought in second phase.
With the Royal Bengal tiger Kanha and tigress Sundari brought from Madhya Pradesh are coming closer to each other following the latter creating panic among locals in Satkosia forest area last month; good news is expected from the couple very soon.
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Thursday, 18 October 2018

NEWSLINK: Gujarat HC questions Centre over meagre funding for lions

Gujarat high court on Monday asked the central government to explain the rationale behind giving the lion’s share to tigers and allocating meagre amounts for the Asiatic lions.

A bench of Chief Justice R S Reddy and Justice V M Pancholi directed the Centre to show its long-term plan for lion conservation and allocation of funds for the big cats — whether they have increased or decreased over the years.

NEWSLINK: Hunters May Lure 'Man-Eating' Tiger with Calvin Klein's Obsession

Calvin Klein's Obsession for Men is an oddly fascinating lure for big cats. Now officials in India are using the 1990s-era cologne to lure a "man-eating" tiger.

Officials in India are considering using Calvin Klein's Obsession for Men to lure a "man-eating" tiger to its doom.

The cologne has been purchased but not yet deployed in the hunt for the tiger, which is suspected to have killed five people in the past year and another eight since 2016, according to AFP. A hunt for the tiger launched last month, the news agency reported, but the animal has not yet been spotted.

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Tuesday, 16 October 2018

NEWSLINK: Petition seeking a presidential pardon for man-eating tigress Avni gathers 54,000 signatures on

A petition on online platform to save tigress Avni and her two cubs has garnered over 54,000 signatures. Addressed to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, President Ram Nath Kovind and Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, the petition seeks a pardon for the five-year-old tigress. Earlier this year, the Forest department division in Maharashtra’s Yavatmal district claimed that Avni or T1 as she has been termed has killed and eaten at least 13 locals in areas surrounding the Pandharkawada Forest in the past year and a half.

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NEWSLINK: Hunter says cougars advanced on him near Mount Hood; kills one

Bill Nylund says in about 12 years of living and hunting near Mount Hood, he’s seen a lot of things. But up until last weekend, he had never run into a trio of cougars.

Nylund lives in Rhododendron. He says he had an all-too-close encounter with one of the big cats. He said it happened while he was deer hunting near Badger Lake, about 20 miles east of Mount Hood.

Nylund saw a cougar walking when seconds later he saw two more cougars.

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Sunday, 14 October 2018

NEWSLINK: Florida wild cat sanctuary caught in hurricane Michael’s path

"Saint” the mountain lion was pacing nervously in his pen and crying days before Hurricane Michael cut a path of destruction through the Bear Creek Feline Center, a refuge for 23 wild cats near Florida’s Panama City.

“They were very agitated,” said Bertie Broaddus, who runs the center with her husband Jim Broaddus, as she inspected the damage from the powerful storm that killed at least 17 people and tore up Florida’s Panhandle coastline.

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NEWSLINK: Wild Tigers in Asia: An Update

As now-rare megafauna at the top of the food chain, the presence or absence of tigers – strikingly beautiful and endangered – in forest ecosystems throughout Asia can tell something about the state of the ecological health of various national parks and wildlife sanctuaries. They are also an indication of the effectiveness of police enforcement, habitat destruction, and, often, corruption.

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Sunday, 7 October 2018

NEWSLINK: South American jaguar are losing critical habitat due to agricultural deforestation

New research finds that one-third of critical jaguar habitat in the Gran Chaco, South America's largest tropical dry forest, has been lost since the mid-1980s.
According to the study, led by researchers at Humboldt-Universit├Ąt zu Berlin (HU Berlin) and published in the journal Biodiversity Research this week, deforestation driven by agricultural expansion—mainly for soy and cattle production—has caused the steep decline of jaguar habitat in the region.
Meanwhile, the conversion of jaguar habitat into cropland and pastureland gives hunters easier access to the forest. 
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NEWSLINK: Gujarat lion deaths: Congress leader Ahmed Patel writes to PM Modi

Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi Saturday, suggesting measures to tackle large-scale deaths of Asiatic lions in Gujarat's Gir forest and calling it an example of "ecological neglect" by the state government.

In his letter, the Rajya Sabha MP from Gujarat said the death of Gir lions is a "manifestation of negligence" and "result of the state government's prolonged mismanagement and poor oversight."

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ARTICLE: If big cats existed in Dorset there would be more evidence

People believe big cats, such as leopards, panthers or pumas, are roaming the Dorset countryside and going undetected. Apparently, due to the high deer population, Dorset is the perfect place for big cats to live.

However, how is this possible? Surely, if there were lots of big cats we would have more evidence.

Jonathan McGowan, a Bournemouth-based wildlife expert, believes that big-cats are definitely present in the county's countryside.

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Wednesday, 3 October 2018

VIDEO: Large lion pride strolls past man's car

When Steve Haley decided to take a solo trip to the Kruger National Park, he never expected to have a 'once in a lifetime' experience with a large pride of lions.
Haley, who shared the video with Kruger National Park, said he spotted the pride while driving past Kumana Dam back to his camp. "I was completely alone and this was the first time I had witnessed anything like this. To see how big these beautiful big cats were up close was insane and a once in a lifetime moment!"

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NEWSLINK: World's first test tube lion cubs are 'healthy and normal'

The world's first test tube lion cubs are 'healthy and normal' five weeks after they were born in South Africa, raising hopes that other big cats including species of tiger and snow leopard could be saved from extinction.

A lioness gave birth to Victor and Isabel at a game reserve in August after she was artificially impregnated with sperm from a healthy lion, following 18 months of intensive trials.

In the latest pictures at the Ukutula Lodge and Conservation Centre near Pretoria, South Africa, Victor and Isabel are seen playing boisterously with each other and resting under a tree.

Lions are extinct in 26 African countries and numbers in the wild have plummeted 43 percent over the last two decades, with roughly only 20,000 left.

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Tuesday, 2 October 2018

PHOTOS: Two lions get to grips with a tricky new toy

They say lions are just house cats at heart – and this playful pair from Denver Zoo prove that, and then some.
A video posted by the zoo shows Usiku, along with late arrival Bahati, interacting with a new balancing piece of equipment in their enclosure.


NEWSLINK: Forest dept installs three fox lights to keep big cats off farm

In view of several tiger attacks in and around Maheshpur and Devipur ranges of South Kheri forest division, the department has decided to install fox lights in vulnerable areas of the villages adjacent to the forest to keep the big cats at bay.

To check the effect of fox lights on big cats like tiger and leopard, forest department have installed three fox lights in the farm owned by Lal Singh at Sundarpur village near Devipur beat. Villagers said a tiger visits the area almost every night and has killed a few cattle.

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CARL WRITES: 24/9/18 - 'The Beast of Bodmin'

The "Beast of Bodmin" according to The Packet Newspaper.

Read the original story here.

Since the first sightings of the so called "Beast of Bodmin Moor" began back in 1978, and with sporadic reports of mutilated livestock made famous in 1983, there have been many such observations of anomalous panther-like felids reported to Devon and Cornwall Police. In general, scientists dismiss such reports due to the improbably large numbers of animals necessary to maintain sustained breeding populations, and because resources and climate issues would make such purported creatures' survival in alleged habitats, such as Bodmin Moor in Cornwall seem unlikely.

The main hypothesis suggested by British big cat researchers is that the animals at large in the United Kingdom could have been imported as part of private collections or zoos, and either escaped their enclosures, or were purposefully released illegally into the wilder areas of Britain. The escaped big cats would not be regularly reported to the local authorities due to the illegality of the importing, owning, and releasing of such animals since the Dangerous Wild Animals Act of 1976. However, it has often been claimed that British circus entertainer Mary Chipperfield released three cougars into the wild following the closure of her Plymouth zoo in 1978, and that subsequent observations of the animals gave rise to the first rumours of the "beast", though such claims have never been officially verified and many early reports refer to large black animals that cannot be those of cougars, which do not officially produce a melanistic variety.

In 1995, the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food conducted an official investigation. The enquiry published that there was "no verifiable evidence" of such predators loose in Britain, and that the mauled remains of livestock were probably the result of indigenous species and dog-worrying incidents - "worrying" is synonymous with gnawing when applied to animal behaviour. The official report stated that "no verifiable evidence for the presence of a big cat was found... There is no significant threat to livestock from a 'big cat' on Bodmin Moor."

However, such depredations have continued, albeit infrequently. 

Less than a week following the government announcement, a young boy walking by the River Fowley discovered a large cat skull measuring approximately ten centimetres long and eighteen centimetres wide, the skull was missing its lower jaw but possessed two very sharp, prominent canine teeth that suggested that it might have been a leopard - a species of big cat that does produce a well known melanistic variety. The discovery of the skull coincided with the official government counter-statement.

The skull was sent to the National History Museum in London for authentication, and determined to be that of a young male leopard, but also found that the animal had not died in Britain. The back of the cranium was clearly cut off in a way that is typically used by taxidermists to mount the head on a rug, and there was an egg case inside the skull that had been laid by a tropical species of cockroach that is not found in Britain.

There is no doubt that Bodmin Moor is a very atmospheric place. Should one find themselves alone there at dusk it is difficult not to think about the legends of "the Beast", but is it possible that despite the 1995 government report, and the disappointing discovery of the pre-mounted leopard skull, such a creature might actually exist after all?

The "Beast" is the result of numerous sightings of black panther-like big cats (therefore not cougars unless poorly observed), supposedly three to five feet in length and sporting yellow-white piercing eyes, and the various reports of mutilated livestock. Some credible eyewitnesses have also reported seeing such a creature over the years, and it seems likely that on occasion, a wandering leopard might have made temporary residence on Bodmin Moor. Leopards and cougars both have very large geographical ranges (cougars once had the largest range of any predator in the Western Hemisphere) so it is entirely possible that escaped big cats do occasionally venture onto Bodmin Moor, although they obviously do not remain there. According to Packet Newspapers Limited, since 2000, 205 sightings have been reported in the Devon and Cornwall force area, and now new freedom of information requests have revealed that Devon and Cornwall have been called a further 55 times since the beginning of 2011, although only on seven occasions since 2011 have police officers actually attended incidents, and no details on the disclosure log reveals whether there actually was a 'big cat' on the loose.

The Packet also reports that sixteen of the 55 reports since 2011 took place in July 2016 after Flaviu the Lynx famously escaped from Dartmoor Zoo. Witnesses reported that Flaviu had also been observed as far and wide as Exmouth, Dartmouth, Newquay and Bideford. Flaviu first escaped from the zoo at Sparkwell on July 7 when he chewed his way out of his enclosure, just a day after arriving from Port Lympne Animal Park in Kent. However, it’s almost impossible that Flaviu was responsible for all these reports as he was eventually captured three weeks later, 200 yards from Hemerdon Plantation, a woodland approximately a mile away from the zoo, in a trap set by keepers after he hunted and killed four lambs. The geographical range of a lynx is far less than those of leopards or cougars.  

I am of the opinion that large non-native felids do exist in small unsustained breeding populations in Britain, supplemented by simultaneous, illegal escapees from private collections, adding to the genealogy of these highly illusive animals. I suggest that even though breeding has probably taken place in the UK, resulting in observations of cubs alongside an adult, as a whole the British populations are the result of continuing escapees and illegal releases, and the actual number of these animals are far lower than most researchers might suggest. In the National Parks of Kenya there is approximately one leopard every 10 square kilometres, whereas in the UK I would expect it to be closer to one every 500 square kilometres.  

Essentially the big cat[s] referred to as the "Beast of Bodmin" was probably one in the same as the so called "Exmoor Beast" and “Beast of Dartmoor”, or descendants, simply travelling great distances and responsible for multiple observations over the intervening years.    

CARL WRITES: 4/9/18 - Whitehaven, Cumbria

Read the original story here.

Unfortunately the animal observed by Charlotte Dawson and her mother Bev near Whitehaven in Cumbria, and photographed by them, does not "prove the stories true". The 'big cat' that apparently "rips the heads off local sheep", referred to by the media as "the Beast of Cumbria", might well exist, but the photographs taken and published in The Daily Star are undoubtedly those of a domestic cat Felis catus. 

According to Charlotte (31), the mystery animal they witnessed in a field from their car, was at least three times the dimensions of her own pet cat, which she claims to be larger than the average moggie; but unfortunately the images published do not show any comparable objects nearby that we can use to determine the animals dimensions. However, going by the general outline of the animal, and its undeniably gracile features, it is clear this is not a true big cat. But just how large was it? I personally believe that maybe 15 - 20% of British reports refer to outsized domestics; the question really is how large can domestic cat breeds (feral or otherwise) get?

The average human male in Britain is 5 ft 9 inches tall, and a tall individual is roughly, say, 6 ft 2 inches tall; yet the tallest human alive today is a colossal 9 ft 9 inches (Sultan Kosen from Turkey); can we can expect a similar ratio in cat forms?

If the average domestic cat is 46 cm in length (from nose to tail tip), and a large cat is approximately 60 cm, and the largest domestic cat breed (a Maine coon) averages 101 cm (the largest Maine coon; a tom named Leo was a massive 121.92 cm long) it is conceivable that some British reports do refer to excessively large domestics (possibly large crossbreeds or individuals displaying gigantism) at least three times the dimensions of the average sized domestic cat.

There is nothing in the photographs to indicate Charlotte Dawson and her mother are being untruthful (however there is also nothing to indicate they were accurate in their estimations either). They seem to generally believe the cat they witnessed from their car was much larger than expected, leading them to suppose this animal was the famed “Beast of Cumbria”.

Although it is extremely difficult to estimate the size of an object with no frame of reference, we might assume that at the time, when the animal was witnessed, there was indeed something nearby that led them to believe the cat was quite large, it just wasn’t clear in the published photographs.

Whether or not this is the so called “beast”, this animal photographed is very likely a large domestic cat.