Tuesday, 28 January 2020

PHOTOS: Captivating images show the diversity of India's secretive wild cats

The Indian subcontinent boasts 15 species of wild cat – a number unmatched anywhere in the world. And they come in all shapes and sizes, as these insightful images reveal.

Reaching a length of around 3 feet, the clouded leopard is classed as vulnerable in its Indian habitat of the Himalayan foothills. With specially adapted ankles to allow efficient tree climbing, they can even hang upside down from branches. This image was captured using a camera trap by National Geographic Fellow Sandesh Kadur, for the documentary India's Wild Leopards – which premieres on National Geographic Wild on 6th February.

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NEWSLINK: 'Tiger King' sentenced to 22 years for violence against tigers and people

Joseph Maldonado-Passage, better known as “Joe Exotic,” shuffled into federal court in Oklahoma City on Wednesday for sentencing, his hands and feet shackled. He wore an orange prison jumpsuit. Until his arrest in September 2018, he’d run one of the largest tiger breeding and cub-petting and photo op attractions in the U.S., sometimes putting on shows dressed as a Las Vegas-style performer.

But the man once hailed as “The Tiger King” was now subdued, haggard. There was no trace of the confident, effusive showman I’d observed during his seven-day trial last spring. On April 2, a jury convicted him on two counts of murder-for-hire and 17 wildlife charges, which we’d reported as part of a larger story examining why 5,000 to 10,000 captive tigers live in the US, who owned them—and why.

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NEWSLINK: Drone camera to look for big cat in sugarcane fields

After a tiger mauled a 50-year-old man to death on Thursday in a sugarcane at Bojra village in the buffer zone of Dudhwa Tiger Reserve (DTR) in Lakhimpur Kheri district, forest officials have decided to use a drone camera to check if the big cat is hiding amid the cane stalks in the field.

Forest officials told TOI that farmers who want to harvest their cane can make a request to them to use a drone camera over their field to see if all is clear.

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SIGHTINGS, UK: Mystery behind panthers on the loose across the UK

Big cat sightings are bizarrely a fairly regular occurrence in the UK and date as far back as 1962 when reports of the Surrey Puma first circulated. Express.co.uk has spoken to a big cat investigator based in Gloucestershire, one of the most common locations for big cat sightings, to get to the bottom of the mystery.

As recently as October 2019, a Northamptonshire woman reported her pet Labrador had been scratched by an animal “two or three times bigger than my dog”. She told the Northamptonshire Telegraph it had “yellow eyes” and published a photo of the claw mark on her dog.

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Tuesday, 21 January 2020

CARL WRITES: Doncaster - 6/11/19

Doncaster Free Press

The “huge five ft panther” allegedly spotted prowling fields near Doncaster’s Keepmoat Stadium by Mrs. Jessica Clark, is not the first time there have been panther sightings reported in and around Doncaster.

As recently as January 2017, Alan Tomlinson reported that he had observed a “panther” near to junction one of the M180, close to Doncaster services. And there have been other sightings in recent years.

Mrs. Clark was travelling along White Rose Way towards Doncaster from the M18 around 4.30pm on Sunday 3rd November.
The Warmsworth mum of two said:

“When I realised what I’d seen, I just started panicking. It was massive and very muscular and definitely a big cat. It was quite frightening to see something like that up close.”

“I first saw it as we approached in the car”

“As we got closer, I thought it was a dog or something. But when we were right at the side of it, I could clearly tell it was a big cat.”

“It looked about 5ft tall [?] and I could see it over the grass. You could see its tail, its face, its muscular legs, everything.”

“It was moving slowly, like it was stalking a rabbit or something like that.”

Also in 2017, trucker Graham Byram said he spotted a trio of highway maintenance workers struggling to lift a large dead cat-like animal onto the back of a lorry on the A1 near Harworth.

I expect Mrs. Clark’s sighting to be quite genuine, though a height of 5ft is obviously an overestimation. The simple fact that she slowly approached the animal and got to within a reasonable distance suggests her interpretation of the observation could potentially be accurate.

She described a highly “muscular” animal and therefore is very unlikely to have misidentified a fox or some other known British animal.

Describing a muscular appearance, as opposed to the now well known tail shape (a hooked tail) often reported in the media, is a far more reliable feature, which might imply a genuine encounter with a big cat. Mrs. Clark also appears to have not simply jumped to erroneous conclusions, in that she originally assumed the animal observed to be a dog or something, and only arrived at the conclusion of the animal being a Felid, when she approached within metres of it.

However, this is a reasonibly built up area and therefore I personally doubt whether this animal permanently resides in this locale, and, more likely, represents an extended territorial range, possibly even overlapping territories.

This might well be a genuine encounter! 

NEWSLINK: Woman tries to take selfie with jaguar, gets attacked

A woman was rushed to hospital in Mexico last Friday, having been attacked by a caged jaguar in a local zoo after reaching into its enclosure to take a selfie.

The 30-year-old victim, identified only as Noemí, of Puebla, was injured while visiting the "Bio Zoo" in Córdoba, Veracruz, with members of her family. She allegedly passed over a security line to snap a picture close to the big cat and was mauled on the arm, La República reported.

The woman was pulled from the animal by zoo staff and taken to the Córdoba general hospital for treatment by Red Cross paramedics, Posta reported.
The attack resulted in injuries to a tendon in the woman's arm and medical experts said the limb may have to be amputated, according to El Gráfico.

Images published by local media show surgeons treating lacerations to the arm.
Gonzalo Rodríguez Díaz, a legal representative for the zoo, said the woman was at fault for the incident as she broke the organization's policies by reaching into the cat's cage.

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NEWSLINK: Abandoned pet tigers found in shocking conditions

In Ukraine, six tigers in terrible conditions have been rescued by animal rights activists. According to the Daily Mail, the tigers were held in captivity in Kiev and were found when a neighbor reported noise. The animals were allegedly abandoned by a Ukrainian businessman who moved out of the country.

Local animal activist Evgheniya Prokopenko said of the findings, “We got a call saying they are being kept in a tiny aviary and that they are keeping people awake by roaring day and night.The aviaries where they are being housed were made of improvised materials. The conditions were shocking, three tigers lived in an eight-square-metre aviary in mud and their own waste, with no possibility to find a dry place.”

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CARL WRITES: Greenhithe, Kent - 19/11/19

Dead Foal, Greenhithe, Kent.
(Metro News, 19th Nov)

There is very little to imply the dead foal discovered in a field in Greenhithe, Kent, last November, was the work of a big cat. Other than the obvious gash on its underside there are no signs of predatory activities.

Big cats do quite often tear at the undersides of large prey, kicking with their rear legs, basically disembowelling it, but there are typically other signs visible such as bite and scratch marks located on the flanks, the haunches, and the underside and sides of the neck. There are no such signs here, unless, of course, the damage is located on the other side, out of view – which is possible I suppose.

However, going by the image alone, there is no clear evidence of feline activity, or of any other predator for that matter. The stomach contents look like they are still predominantly there to me! It’s more plausible that the foal died some natural death and may have been scavenged upon post mortem. The scavenger only ripping into the contents of the stomach.

The gash on the foal looks quite clean, which, if there had been other injuries present, might imply the activities of a big cat species. Be that is it may, there is very little to suggest this – other than the gash itself. It is quite possible that the foal injured itself (maybe trying to jump over something with a sharp edge), wandered a short distance and died where it lay. This might explain the single clean gash observable in the photograph.

If this is the work of an animal, I suspect it’s a scavenging species acting post mortem, likely a canid - although I’m not convinced of this either.

If samples had been taken, tested, which show the presence of Felid DNA, this would constitute evidence, but this is not suggested anywhere in the accompanying article.

Human activity also shouldn’t be ruled out at this point.

While there have been several ‘sightings’ of animals alleged to be pumas and panthers in and around Kent, I highly doubt this poor foal is evidence of such.

Kent has had its fair share of alleged big cat sightings, with four instances last year alone. That being said, this report clearly shows the folly of relying primarily on testimonial evidence and ignoring the practical data in front of our very eyes.

I doubt very much this was the work of a big cat!

NEWSLINK: Tiger undergoes root canal

A team of 13 dentists, vets and keepers have performed a root canal on a tiger to save the feline's canines.

Amur tiger Kuzma had the procedure at Knowsley Safari Park after dental issues were found in a routine check.

The four-and-a-half hour surgery went well and the 10-year-old male later "tucked into his tea", the park said.

A spokeswoman added that while many people "dread" dental checks, "on this occasion, the dentist had more reason to be wary of the patient".

She said the process was similar to the one used on humans, but was "scaled up for the big cat".

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NEWSLINK: Lion fatally shot on sight after attack

In an unfortunate incident for all involved, a mountain lion attack of a family pet occurred on Friday night, January 3 near Almont and resulted in a loss of life for the dog and the lion.

According to the Gunnison County Sheriff’s Department, the attack happened at approximately 9:30 p.m. on Ender Lane, near the intersection of County Road 742 and Highway 135. Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) representative J Wenum later reviewed the report that a very thin young female lion attacked a 15-year-old black Labrador retriever mix. The dog was outside its home in a run with a suspended cable leash system.

“The owner heard a commotion, came out and threw rocks, but the lion had the dog by the head and wouldn’t let go. Meanwhile, a neighbor came out and shot the lion,” said Wenum.

The dog was taken to the veterinarian, but due to its injuries it had to be euthanized. Two Gunnison County sheriff’s deputies responded that night, and the next morning a CPW district wildlife manager came to retrieve the lion’s remains.

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Mountain lion attack results in euthanized pet

Crested Butte News

And any place that has winter range for big game, which includes the ... get more general observation reports that big game, including the big cats, ...

NEWSLINK: Tiger strays into Rajasthan village

A tiger strayed into a village near the Ranthambore National Park, creating panic and prompting the authorities to advice people to stay indoors.

The tiger was spotted near Aniyala village, 15 kilometres away from the park in Sawaimadhopur district, after which a search operation was started.

"The tiger is moving in the area. Forest Department teams are tracking the big cat. The tiger was last sighted in a mustard farm on Tuesday," Khandar police station SHO Ram Singh Yadav said on Wednesday.

"People have been advised to stay indoors,” he added. “Aniyala is a village with nearly 250 houses and located nearly 15 km from the park. It is likely that the tiger is hiding in the fields,” he said.

The Ranthambhore National Park, with a core area of 392 sq km, is home to over 60 big cats.

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NEWSLINK: Sumatran Tiger seen roaming in Sriwijaya University's research area

A tiger was reportedly spotted in a research garden area of Sriwijaya University’s (Unsri's) Indralaya campus, Ogan Ilir District, South Sumatra, over the past six days.

A student conducting research in the garden heard the roar of a tiger after which he fled the area and stayed away from the place, M. Umar Harun, the head of the Indralaya Campus' Garden Research, stated here on Thursday.

Harun revealed that another witness was a rubber tree tapper, who spotted an animal, most likely a tiger, in an area near the campus.

Harun stated that the report on the tiger was initially received from the student on Jan 4, 2020, and the second from the rubber tree tapper on Jan 7.

The rubber tapper claimed to see an animal as big as a calf that was striped but since the tappers spotted it from a considerable distance and before sunset, hence it was not quite clear.

Tuesday, 14 January 2020

NEWSLINK: Tiger footage spurs hope for Thai big cat population

A male tiger noses the bloodied carcass of its latest kill in a Thai national park, extraordinary footage conservationists are hailing as a rare spot of good news for the endangered big cats.

The species has teetered on the brink of extinction across the Mekong region due to deforestation and demand for its striking pelts and body parts in traditional medicine.

But a pocket of forest split between Thailand and Myanmar -- known as the Dawna Tenasserim -- has become a holdout for the big cat.

Sightings of wild tigers are rare, but Thailand remains "one of the last strongholds" for them in Southeast Asia, WWF said Monday.

Camera traps placed in Thailand''s Mae Wong National Park in western Kamphaeng Phet province captured in late December a tiger circling a dead wild gaur, known to be the world''s largest bovine.

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NEWSLINK: Pugmarks set off tiger alarm

Pugmarks spotted in the Simplapal forest in Bankura and the Malaboti forest in Jhargram’s Silda on Sunday morning have prompted the forest department to launch an inquiry to find out whether they belong to tigers.

The local beat offices have been put on alert and a team has been sent to measure the pugmarks and make casts, a senior forest department official said on Sunday.
Photographs of the pugmarks are being analysed.

“Prima facie the pugmarks seem to belong to an adult and a sub-adult tiger but we are not yet certain,” the official said.

The area where the pugmarks were spotted on Sunday is close to where a tribal hunting party killed a Bengal tiger in Lalgarh on March 2018, the forest department official said.

Villagers spotted the pugmarks in forests along the Bankura-Jhargram border early on Sunday and alerted the forest department and police.

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Friday, 10 January 2020

NEWSLINK: Villagers kill leopard after it mauls boy to death

Angry people killed a leopard hours after it mauled a 14-year old boy to death in Bijnore’s Bhogpur village on Monday.

Six people were killed in leopard attacks since November last year in the district and the forest department now planned to use drone cameras and set up traps to track the movement of big cats.

Senior forest and administration officials, including district magistrate Ramakant Pandey and SP (city) Lakshmi Nivas Mishra, reached the village with a large number of policemen on getting the news of the killing.

While the boy’s body was sent to the district hospital for autopsy, a post-mortem examination was also carried out on the leopard, which was killed in a sugarcane field by the villagers.

According to Najibabad divisional forest officer Manoj Kumar Shukla, “The leopard killed Prashant Kumar, 14, of Bhogpur village. Later, the villagers shot it dead. The boy’s family will be given Rs 5 lakh as compensation.”

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NEWSLINK: Now fish water to be used to draw leopards near cages

In an unconventional approach to keep a leopard away, the forest department has been advising villagers to sing loudly while crossing fields alone. Now in yet another strange method, the forest officials are trying to draw leopards close to the cages by sprinkling water used to wash fish near the cages. After leopards killed two children and injured one in Surat and Bharuch, attempts are being made to trap it at the earliest before it can target any other human.

“We are sprinkling water in which fish, especially bumla or Bombay duck, was kept and cleaned. The water with strong smell of fish is being sprinkled around the cage and the track of leopard to bring the wild cat close to the cage and trap it,” said Puneet Nayyar, deputy conservator of forest, Surat.

The forest department normally keeps bait of chicken or goat in cages to attract the leopards. However, for a stronger smell in current situation, the forest officials are now using the water in which fish is kept for better results.

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NEWSLINK: Florida panther road kills, overall deaths down in 2019

Florida panther road kills were down in 2019 compared to recent years, but that might not be a good thing as more road kills generally means there are more panthers roaming the Sunshine State.

Twenty-seven panther deaths were documented last year by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the state agency charged with protecting endangered and threatened species.

Twenty-three of those deaths were caused by vehicle collisions, down from 26 in 2018 and 24 in 2017. A record 34 panthers were killed by cars in 2016, according to FWC records.
The iconic Florida panther is the official state animal with population numbers between 120 and 230 individuals, most of which live south of Lake Okeechobee and in or near Collier County.

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NEWSLINK: Poachers kill 16 lions with poison chicken before hacking off their paws and faces

Poachers have killed 16 lions at a safari park in South Africa and sliced off their faces for use in black magic rituals and potions.

The butchered bodies of the slaughtered big cats were discovered on Friday morning at Predators Rock Bush Lodge near the city of Rustenburg.

Gert Blom, owner of the park, said he went to investigate after growing concerned having not heard the roar of his lions, only to find their carcasses laid out on the ground without their paws and snouts, which had been brutally cut off by the poachers killed them.

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NEWSLINK: Forest department to use drones to track big cat movement

Concerned about the increase in tiger attacks on people and cattle in villages bordering the Kishanpur Wildlife Sanctuary in Dudhwa and Pilibhit, the UP forest department has decided to deploy drones to keep a watch on the movement of big cats.

The decision comes on the heels of the death of a 45-year-old farmer of Nankar village in Lakhimpur Kheri on Monday. According to officials, four others have been injured in tiger attacks in the area since December 28.

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NEWSLINK: Tiger From Vidarbha Walked over 1,700 Km In 7 Months,The Longest For Any Tiger In The World

Continuing on its unstoppable journey, a radio-collared tiger - TWLS-T1-C1 - has already covered a distance of more than 1,700 km in the last 7 months, reports The Indian Express.

Belonging to the Tipeshwar Wildlife Sanctuary in Vidarbha's Yavatmal, the tiger - that started from the sanctuary in June - is now the longest traveller in the history of big cats in the country.
According to Pench Tiger Reserve (PTR) Field Director Ravikiran Govekar, the tiger had already traveled 1,500 km towards Ajanta Hills before returning to Dnyanganga last week.

The journey back and forth across eight districts of Maharashtra and Telangana makes it a record-breaking journey, one that hasn't been heard of before.

Claiming it was the first tiger to inhabit Dnyanganga this Friday, the officials were baffled by the animal's extraordinary nomadic instincts.

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Thursday, 2 January 2020

NEWSLINK: Madhya Pradesh records 27 tiger deaths in 2019, highest in the country again

Madhya Pradesh—the tiger state of India—has reported the highest number of tiger deaths in the country again in 2019. Twenty-seven big cats reportedly died in the state forests and surroundings, according to the figures collated by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA).

In 2018 too, MP had recorded 27 tiger deaths—the highest in country. A total of 81 tiger deaths have been reported in the country in 2019. This would mean that one-third of the deaths were reported from Madhya Pradesh.

In 2018, as many as 94 tiger mortalities had been reported in the country. The number of deaths has seen a decline this year.

Madhya Pradesh regained the status of ‘tiger state’ when the tiger census 2018 was released earlier this year. According to the census, the state had 526 striped big cats, two more than Karnataka (524).

With Karnataka reporting just 12 deaths in 2019 according to NTCA figures, the tiger state tag for MP seems to be under threat.