Bigcats News - Printable Version

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RE: Bigcats News - Ngala - 09-04-2016

Bollywood star spent 7 years buying up land in India to save wild tigers
08/31/2016 by Cat DiStasio

Although tiger populations in many parts of the world are on the rebound after years of being endangered, they still need help. In the foothills of the Himalayas, where the largest population of wild tigers in the world live, one man is using the private purchase of forest land to ensure the big cats’ safety for years to come. Abhishek Ray has made his living as a Bollywood singer, musician, and composer, and he decided to use his earnings to buy forest land adjacent to Jim Corbett National Park in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand to create a nature reserve for tigers and other wildlife.

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The Bollywood composer learned more than 10 years ago how human activity can devastate the natural habitat of tigers and other wild creatures. Village life, unsustainable agriculture, and poaching all threaten the wildlife in India, leading Ray to the conclusion that purchasing land for a wildlife reserve was the only way to make a real difference for local wildlife. Over the course of seven years, Ray bought land from native families and worked to eradicate a dangerous parasite, created a year-round water source for animals to drink from, planted 400 trees, and worked to grow grass on stretches of land where none had been, thereby increasing usable habitat for many plants and animals.

*This image is copyright of its original author
The Sitabani Wildlife Reserve is home to at least 35 royal Bengal tigers, according to a recent count, as well as other animals that need protection: the Asiatic Black Bear, the leopard, the Goral (mountain goat-antelope), the elusive Serow, the yellow throated Pine Marten, and more. Over 650 species of birds also live on the reserve.

Ray’s motivation to turn his private estate into a wildlife reserve is the culmination of a lifetime of environmental protection work. He began supporting environmental protections as a child, and feels a close connection with nature. Ray even says his musical compositions are inspired by the natural world, including the composition he wrote and sang that became India’s national anthem for tiger conservation. “The forest has its own sounds and those are the best that I have heard,” he told reporters. “I inhale nature and exhale music.”

RE: Bigcats News - Ngala - 09-04-2016

Collaboration between Malaysia’s wildlife crime unit and the Wildlife Justice Commission leads to significant arrests & the disruption of two transnational wildlife criminal networks
02 September 2016, The Hague | Press Release

Collaboration between Malaysia’s wildlife crime unit and the Wildlife Justice Commission leads to significant arrests & the disruption of two transnational wildlife criminal networks
Kuala Lumpur, 2 September 2016: A collaboration between Perhilitan, Department of Wildlife & National Parks Malaysia, and the Wildlife Justice Commission has resulted in significant arrests and the disruption of two transnational wildlife criminal networks.

Perhilitan held a press conference in Kuala Lumpur this morning outlining details of the criminality, arrests made and the extent of the criminal networks infiltrated:

561 kg ivory, 3 key arrests and additional criminals within the network identified
Large quantities of wild Malay tiger products seized, 9 Vietnamese nationals arrested
In the process of our investigations we identified and successfully infiltrated two criminal networks operating in Malaysia; one Vietnamese and one Chinese network. Our investigators partnered with Perhilitan in setting up sting operations after learning that members of both networks were in Kuala Lumpur selling their products. Having secured proof of criminality, Perhilitan staff conducted raids across Kuala Lumpur leading to the arrests and seizures.

The partnership between the Wildlife Justice Commission and Perhilitan on Operation Chameleon demonstrates the Malaysian Government’s exemplary commitment in the fight against wildlife crime.

Olivia Swaak-Goldman, Executive Director, Wildlife Justice Commission, said: “We are delighted by the outcome of these two operations with Perhilitan. In addition to the seizures, arrests and impact on these two networks, it is fantastic to be strengthening our partnership with Perhilitan. Sharing of information and communication between Perhilitan and the Wildlife Justice Commission investigators was critical to the success of these operations.”

The Wildlife Justice Commission operates globally. Currently we have five investigations in progress, and continue to research other wildlife crime cases. Visual assets on this investigation are available via our website.


Tiger skull

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Two wild Malay tiger skins

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Tiger claws and canines

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Elephant tusk

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RE: Bigcats News - Ngala - 09-04-2016

India loses 83 tigers in eight months: Conservation body
Nihi Sharma, Hindustan Times, Dehradun |  Updated: Sep 01, 2016 19:13 IST

In this file photo, four full-grown tigers are seen walking on a forest track of the Ranthambore Tiger Reserve. (HT Photo)

*This image is copyright of its original author

The country has lost 83 tigers within eight months this year, higher than the last year’s total of 77, says the official website of National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA). Madhya Pradesh tops the chart in losing its big cats (21), followed by Karnataka (11) and Maharashtra (10).

About 3.72% of the total 2,226 tigers estimated during All India Tiger Estimation 2014 have been lost which was only 3.45% in 2015. This year, however, 18.7% (15) were reported due to skin seizure, 15.66% (13) due to natural reasons, 8.43% (7) due to infighting and 6.02% (5) due to poisoning and poaching. Details of 33% mortality incidents are still awaited.
“The figures are alarming enough to realise the growing threat to tiger population. Fifteen skin seizures and five poisoning and poaching incidents together account for 24% of the mortality this year,” Bilal Habib, tiger expert at Wildlife Institute of India (WII), told Hindustan Times.
Figures by Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI), a Delhi-based non-governmental organisation, say nearly 30% of tiger mortality in the country is due to poaching and seizure. “Even if the number of tigers is increasing that does not mean we can let our tigers get killed by wildlife criminals,” Tito Joseph, project manager of WPSI, said.
What’s interesting is big cat mortality was reported more in protected areas than in territorial forest divisions.
Pench Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh lost seven of the 21 tigers in the state. Three of them died of poisoning. Kanha Tiger Reserve, too, lost seven tigers followed by three at Bandhavgarh. Of the 11 tiger deaths in Karnataka, seven are from Nagarhole tiger reserve and three at Bandipur Tiger Reserve. Maharashtra lost 10 tigers. That is four from Tadoba Andhari, 1 from Navegaon-Nagzira and two from Melghat.
Cramped spaces for tigers in reserves or even conflict are possible reasons behind this trend.
Of the 15 skin seizures this year, Uttarakhand leads reporting six seizures. Five skins were seized from Kotkadar which falls in the buffer of Corbett while one from Rajaji Tiger Reserve. Bihar reported seizures of two skins and one each in Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Assam, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.
“We are in the process of investigating several cases and therefore, it is too early to establish a percentage unless we have reasons of mortality of all tigers,” said HS Negi, inspector-general of forest, NTCA.

RE: Bigcats News - GrizzlyClaws - 09-05-2016

This skull looks like a Clouded leopard.

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And these canine teeth look like Asiatic Black bear (maybe Sloth bear), and the claws look like Sloth bear.

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RE: Bigcats News - tigerluver - 09-05-2016

2016 seems to be a disastrous year for Bengal tiger conservation. I hope the earlier successes haven't led to overseers becoming lax.

Moreover, hopefully someone can get in contact with Dr. Yadav. A 9-foot long tiger would be well below 300 kg.

RE: Bigcats News - Ngala - 09-05-2016

Another case of Persian leopard skin confiscation from northern Iran:

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RE: Bigcats News - Pckts - 09-05-2016

There is an animal conservation meeting in Hawaii right now. The main issue of discussion is canned hunting, hopefully the iucn and the wvc come to an aggreement to eliminate it, either way, we should have some interesting things to discuss in the near future.

RE: Bigcats News - Pckts - 09-18-2016

New tiger spotted in jais territory 

RE: Bigcats News - Ngala - 09-21-2016

Leopards and landmines: Post-war carnivore research in Sri Lanka
14 September 2016 / Sanjiv Fernando

After Sri Lanka’s 25-year civil war and demining efforts in its largest national park, researchers use camera traps to establish a baseline for the country’s leopard population.
  • Researchers recently completed the first leopard study in Wilpattu National Park after its closure during the Sri Lankan Civil War.
  • Camera traps and scat analysis are helping biologists learn more about the ecology, diet and distribution of leopards across Sri Lanka.
  • Survey results show that the leopard population appears robust within the core of Wilpattu National Park, but further research in other parts of the country is required to better understand this endangered subspecies.
A leopard researcher walks calmly along a trail to set up a camera trap inside Sri Lanka’s Wilpattu National Park. She is wary of running into an elephant or a sloth bear, but she knows that the dangers of the jungle are far less severe than the landmines that once lay beneath the forest floor.

Anjali Watson and research assistant Riahn set up a camera trap. Photo credit: WWCT

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Wilpattu is Sri Lanka’s largest national park and was known historically as the island’s premier wildlife viewing destination. However, security concerns forced the park to close in 1988, five years after the outbreak of a civil war between the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) militant group. In 2010, a year after the war’s conclusion, Wilpattu National Park reopened, enabling the Wilderness & Wildlife Conservation Trust (WWCT) to complete the first leopard study in the area since one by the Smithsonian Institution in the early 1970s.

WildTech interviewed Anjali Watson, Ecologist & Managing Trustee at WWCT, to find out more about their recent study in Wilpattu, the research limitations of the civil war and the importance of camera trap technology in their leopard research.

Sri Lankan leopard cools off in the shade of a tree. Photo credit: Sanjiv Fernando

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War and wildlife
The Sri Lankan Leopard (Panthera pardus kotiya) is the country’s apex predator and is endemic to the island. This subspecies is classified as endangered, with population estimates suggesting that only 750 to 900 adult leopards remain. In the early 2000s, Anjali Watson and her zoologist husband Andrew Kittle embarked on a mission to better understand the ecology and distribution of this species. They founded WWCT, identified protected areas that needed to be surveyed and gradually commenced fieldwork in those locations. Wilpattu National Park was a high priority on their list, but political instability during the Sri Lankan Civil War made the region inaccessible.

Sri Lanka’s forested areas in the north provided an ideal environment for the LTTE’s guerilla warfare tactics. “Wilpattu’s jungles were ideal for hideouts and movement corridors to access the west of the island,” said Watson.

During the ceasefire in 2002, Watson and her team, accompanied by the Sri Lankan Army, made a field visit to assess forest and wildlife conditions but were confined to a couple of main roads due to fears that landmines were present elsewhere in the park. They conducted an additional recce visit when the park temporarily reopened in 2004, but security concerns and lack of access hindered more extensive research.

Demining technicians clear landmines in a field in northern Sri Lanka in 2010. Photo credit: UK Department for International Development, Creative Commons

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Although the region experienced conflict for over two decades, it is difficult to evaluate how the war affected Wilpattu National Park. Watson acknowledged that bush meat hunting was common due to limited food supplies. “We know that wild meat was part of the diet on both sides, but to what extent, we have no idea,” she noted.

Regular visitors to the park prior to its closure believe that deer herds are smaller than they used to be, but the absence of a baseline study on prey populations makes it impossible to draw definitive conclusions. Despite supposed declines in ungulate populations within the park, Watson suggests that the conflict may have actually helped preserve biodiversity outside of protected areas. “During the war, development did not occur, and people moved out of the area, thus allowing forested areas to remain intact,” she said.

A typical ‘villu’ (shallow natural lake) overflowing its banks after heavy rains in 2015. These villus give the park its name, as Wilpattu means ten lakes in Tamil. Photo credit: WWCT

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Post-war research
When the park reopened, Watson and Kittle took full advantage of it. Funded by a Rufford Small Grant and Cerza Conservation, they soon developed a research methodology for Wilpattu similar to what they had done in other parts of the country. At each study site, the WWCT team conducts a closed population survey and prey transects, using camera traps and scat analysis to determine leopard density, resident populations, and prey base, selection and preference.

They deployed remote cameras in closed population surveys in order to determine leopard density and prey density. Watson said they used camera trapping because “it is the best way to estimate population density of elusive carnivores, it is fairly easy to set up and it has become the equipment of choice for carnivore researchers in Asia after it was pioneered and refined by Dr. Ullas Karanth.” She noted that collaring was less prevalent in Asia until recently, so camera traps have been used much more extensively in this region than in other parts of the world.

Andrew Kittle sets a camera trap in Wilpattu National Park, Sri Lanka. Photo credit: WWCT

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Camera traps: Helping to spot the spots
Watson and Kittle have worked with camera traps for over 15 years and have seen the technology evolve tremendously within that time. They started off using TrailMasters, film-based camera traps that she said are “high quality but expensive and difficult to set up in the field, as they required wires connecting the various components.”

Today’s digital camera traps are much cheaper, easier to use and do not need to be as closely monitored due to their large storage capacity. “While they are prone to glitches, newer camera trap models have improved battery life and weather resistance and enable you to get results faster and cover larger areas [when compared to film cameras],” Watson said.

WWCT deploys digital camera traps with flashes that use an incandescent bulb at night, rather than units with infrared flashes that tend to produce blurry photos if the animal is moving. Crisp, clear images are essential to this study, as researchers identify individual leopards based on their spot patterns. Currently, the WWCT team identifies leopards using the naked eye because existing identification software still has a high error factor.

“Improving this software and fine-tuning it to minimize the error factor will help scientists produce results quicker, especially when working with large datasets,” Watson said.

She added that camera traps are advantageous, as they capture images 24 hours a day, are non-disruptive to the target species and can be set up in areas that are inaccessible by vehicle.

“When used in combination with other field methods, camera traps can give you a lot of answers,” she stated. She acknowledged, however, that camera traps can offer only limited information about animals’ movement patterns, which tracking collars can provide readily.

Male leopard captured on a camera trap in Wilpattu National Park. Photo credit: WWCT

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An adult female leopard captured by a remote camera in Wilpattu National Park. Photo credit: WWCT 

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Survey suggests robust leopard population
Overall, the team was happy with the results from their survey in Wilpattu. Over a four-month period (836 combined active camera days), they identified 49 individual leopards in an area of 500 sq. km. Using a spatially explicit capture-recapture analysis, they determined that the study area has a population density slightly higher than Horton Plains National Park and slightly lower than Yala National Park’s Block 1, which WWCT has documented as having one of the highest leopard densities in the world[i]. Watson also highlighted that “Prey densities appeared considerably lower than Yala National Park, which is consistent with the theory that carnivore densities respond to prey densities.”

A large adult male leopard in the Maha Wewa area of Wilpattu National Park. Photo credit: WWCT

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WWCT’s research in Wilpattu will become a baseline study, given the lack of previous field studies. “This is basic data in a sense, but because of the war, this is new data for us as a country. During the war, GPS units were not widely available, and the satellites were closed over Sri Lanka,” Watson explained.

But the future is bright. “Right now, the satellites are open and we have GIS layers and maps that you could not get earlier,” she said. These advances enable the researchers to more easily address questions regarding resource and habitat selection and how they link to potential movement corridors.

Future Plans
The Wilpattu study is part of WWCT’s broader program to understand leopard ecology and distribution across the island. Over the last 15 years, the team has confirmed that leopards live, maintain resident populations and breed outside of protected areas, and its findings suggest that leopard diets vary according to their habitat.

Watson and Kittle aim to establish a comprehensive habitat use plan for the Sri Lankan leopard by 2020, consisting of a complete distribution map and an assessment of its habitat selection across the nation. They hope that by understanding leopard distribution and movement throughout the island, they can contribute to a larger land use plan for the country that identifies priority areas for protection, reforestation and development where necessary.

[i] Kittle et al. (2016) “The ecology and behaviour of a protected area leopard (Panthera pardus kotiya) population”. Tropical Ecology Issue 57 Vol 5 (in press).

RE: Bigcats News - Pckts - 09-23-2016

Second tiger found dead in two days in Mysuru
By Express News Service
Published: 22nd September 2016 04:41 AM
Last Updated: 22nd September 2016 04:41 AM

Email 2

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    Carcass of tigress found dead in Hunsur forest division
MYSURU: A tigress was found dead near Muthurayanaswamy Temple at Anechoukuru range of Hunsur forest division on Wednesday. The big cat, aged about 7-8 years, is suspected to have died after consuming a russel viper, a venomous snake.
This is the second tiger death reported in a span of two days in Mysuru district. On Tuesday, a 12-year-old tiger was found dead reportedly due to age factor at Hulikalbetta in Nagarahole forest.

Hunsur forest division DCF Balachander also confirmed that it’s a natural death and samples have been sent to Institute of Animal Health and Veterinary Biologicals, Bengaluru, to ascertain the cause of death. He said during postmortem, russel viper, pangolin scales and nails of sloth bear were found in the tiger’s stomach.

RE: Bigcats News - Ngala - 09-23-2016

Police bureau spreading net to nab smugglers
- PRAGATI SHAHI, Kathmandu

Three people caught with a tiger hide last year. 

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Sep 3, 2016- The Wildlife Crime Unit under the Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) of Nepal Police is set to launch four different operations targeting to arrest wildlife poaching kingpins and others engaged in illegal trade of animal body parts.

Under the Operation Tiger and Operation Wild Eagle, two of the four major operations planned between August 2016 and July 2017, the CIB is targeting to arrest key poachers and traders. Seizure of tiger parts from across the country and beyond after 14 of the endangered animals were reportedly killed between January 2015 and March 2016 is another goal, said Pravin Pokhrel, chief of the unit, on Thursday. Out of 14 tigers hides seized from different parts of the country, at least six originated in Nepal—four of them belonging to Bardiya National Park.

“Our operation is majorly focused on breaking the networks of poachers and traders involved in tiger part trade by arresting the kingpins, who mostly are Nepalis,” he said. Last year, the CIB team mobilised in the far-western and mid-western regions had caught over 20 poachers, mostly those representing the tribal gypsy groups called Banjara from India, and traders in the first phase of the operation between December 2015 and January 2016.

“We want to achieve the first zero poaching year for tigers in Nepal next year,” Pokhrel shared the ambitious target.

The CIB nabbed Sher Bahadur Lama, a key middleman involved in illegal trade of tiger skin and body parts in Nepal and India, from Nepalgunj in May this year. Lama, 57, who hailed from Humla district, was wanted both in Nepal and India. Lama hanged himself hours after his arrest.

Police also arrested Lal Bahadur BK, aka Raj Bahadur, a resident of Surkhet district, in the same month for involvement in killing Namobuddha, the country’s first tiger fitted with a GPS-enabled satellite collar in 2011. Bardiya National Park in the West, home to 50 wild tigers according to the 2013 census, was the major target of poachers last year, along with other tiger habitats in the Far West and the Mid West. Nepal is home to 198 tigers.

“After our major bust last year, our intelligence has found that the movement of Banjaras from India to Nepal has stopped,” he said. “Now our main target is to arrest three Nepali kingpins who are operating an illegal wildlife trade between India, Nepal and China.”

Besides, Operation Ring will concentrate on tracking down and arresting poachers and traders associated with illegal trade of shahtoosh, high-quality wool obtained from the Tibetan antelope Chiru while Operation Floral will focus on measures against smuggling of medicinal herbs and other non-timber forest products.

Published: 03-09-2016 09:04

RE: Bigcats News - Ngala - 09-23-2016

MYCAT: Make Poachers and Smugglers pay dearly for Harming wild Tigers
SEPTEMBER 16, 2016

Malaysian wild tigers need to be protected with the full force of Malaysian law. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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Malayan tigers, those eponymous icons of Malaysia, deserve better – much better. Once the reigning masters of the country’s forests, they have become thin on the ground, with a mere 300 or so of them left in the wild. They are so thin on the ground, in fact, that they are increasingly at risk of going extinct entirely.

To its credit, Malaysia has been investing heavily into saving its wild tigers. Yet often the country’s efforts are misplaced, according to the Malaysian Conservation Alliance for Tigers (MYCAT), a coalition of leading conservationist groups dedicated to saving the iconic predators. Why spend large amounts of manpower and money on painstakingly rolling back poaching networks if the poachers themselves are then let off with light sentences, the alliance wonders?

“What is the point of maximum fines of RM500,000 and a jail term of up to five years if they aren’t used to scare poachers and traffickers out of this shadowy business?” MYCAT observes. “What are we saying to poachers and traffickers with just a slap on the wrist? Look, Malaysia is the easiest place to get tigers in the world?”

That does seem to be the case. In recent months several cases of foreign poachers and wildlife traffickers (Vietnamese, Chinese, Filipinos) have come to light. Just a couple of weeks ago Malaysian officials uncovered an international syndicate of 12 traffickers, including seven Vietnamese men, who were caught red-handed with tiger pelts, teeth and bones in their possession (in addition to elephant tusks, hornbill beaks, sun bear claws and various other body parts from protected species).

The suspects have yet to be sentenced, but if found guilty they should be handed o maximum sentences for their crimes, MYCAT argues. “[P]oachers are still plundering the jungles to feed the illegal trade,” the alliance notes. “Traffickers are buying and selling parts with little fear of the law. And there is still a sizeable demand for Malaysia’s last 300 critically endangered wild tigers,” it adds. “That the biggest haul of tiger parts in this series of raids came from seven Vietnamese nationals goes to show that as wild tiger populations dwindle elsewhere, the threat to and demand for Malaysia’s own will only grow.”

The solution then is to throw the book at poachers and smugglers caught in the act with the full force of the law so as to deter other prospective poachers and smugglers.

RE: Bigcats News - Apollo - 09-24-2016

These poachers should be given the maximum possible punishment by law.
The big problem here is that as long as there is a high demand for tiger parts in China, this will continue.

China is playing big vital role in slowly exterminating several endangered species. Large majority of people still beleive in ancient chinese medicines. There is very little concern for wildlife conservation and patent rights in China.
The chinese government as done very little to stop this. I think the world governments should do something for this to stop.

RE: Bigcats News - Apollo - 09-24-2016

RE: Bigcats News - Ngala - 09-25-2016

Is Thailand serious about curbing trade in tigers?
Three months after the famous Tiger Temple was shut down, the fate of the big cats seized is uncertain. Meanwhile, anti-trafficking groups suspect legal zoos and illegal farms continue to feed trade in the beasts, dead or alive.
9 SEP 2016

I haven't added all it because it's a long article, with videos. Good read.