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Book Review

Netherlands peter Offline
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#31
( This post was last modified: 01-09-2016, 07:28 AM by peter )

Many thanks for the reviews, Dr. Panthera. Very informing.

I have two questions. The first one is about morphology. Those of us interested would appreciate the specifics of wild big cats that were measured or weighed by biologists. The reason is data are hard to come by. Some of us want to compare then with now in order to find out if things have changed in, say, the last century or so. The data will be appreciated by those working with captive big cats as well. 

The second is about mortality of cubs, adolescents and adults. The percentages mentioned are a bit rough. Any details known? Are there differences between species and regions? And if so, why? Thanks in advance.
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Canada Dr Panthera Offline
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#32

(01-09-2016, 05:31 AM)peter Wrote: Many thanks for the reviews, Dr. Panthera. Very informing.

I have two questions. The first one is about morphology. Those of us interested would appreciate the specifics of wild big cats that were measured or weighed by biologists. The reason is data are hard to come by. Some of us want to compare then with now in order to find out if things have changed in, say, the last century or so. The data will be appreciated by those working with captive big cats as well. 

The second is about mortality of cubs, adolescents and adults. The percentages mentioned are a bit rough. Any details known? Are there differences between species and regions? And if so, why? Thanks in advance.

Thank you Peter.
As you say, data is hard to come by, McDougal's estimates are in line with Schaller's and many other biologists a good size tiger/lion is 180-200 kg, he does not elaborate on how he came up with that range, as for growing cubs he had more details.
When I look at historic data and current data for Amur tigers, Indochinese tigers, and Asiatic lions I see a considerable decrease as extensive hunting wiped out most larger individuals, and poor current conditions limited the emergence of larger individuals, all three cats here have a wild population of less than 500 individuals...possibly 100-150 adult males only, Bengal tigers and African lions are more numerous and the statistically larger sample continues to provide large specimens comparable to hunting records.
As for mortality of cubs , I think in the 60's and 70's it was mainly informed estimates ,without radio-collaring mothers, observe them when they give birth and monitor the growth/survival of cubs, you can not come up with an accurate percentage.Most cub mortality is in the first two months before they emerge from the den.
Subsequent research though proves his estimate to be reasonable, it is interesting how cub mortality is linked to the conditions of habitat, prey, predators, and infanticide, in an undisturbed habitat tigers will increase in numbers until they saturate it and then the number stabilizes the excess of surviving cubs migrate else where or get chased away by territorial males and the optimal number stays constant.
All of McDougal's findings are for Chitwan tigers and although he talks a bit about Kahna tigers but his data is for Chitwan tigers.
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Canada Dr Panthera Offline
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#33

Book Review: "Riding The Tiger" John Seidensticker and others.
Published by Cambridge University Press this book remains along with the two editions of "Tigers of The World" the best books written about tigers.
Dr. Seidensticker is a professor of biology, a conservationist, and a field biologist, he did great work with radio-telemetry studies of Pumas in the American west in the early 70's, he was a member of the team that caught and radio collared the first wild tigers in Chitwan in the 70's, he is the only scientists who studied Javan tigers in the wild in the 1970's before they became extinct and he did some work in the Sundarban as well.
The book is divided into three parts:
1-introducing the tiger: its ecology, predatory behavior, genetics, subspecies versus cline
2-Update on tiger ecology with contributions from field work in Russia, Nepal, India, Thailand, Malaysia, and Sumatra by scientists like Sunquist, Karanth, Chundawat, Franklin, Smith, Miquelle, Smirnov,McDougal, Rabinowitz, Tilson and others.
3-Tiger Conservation and its future.

Points of interest:

* A great analysis on how the tiger distribution in Asia mirrors the distribution of large cervids and wild boar and encompasses large bovids and medium cervids
* Explaining the importance of large deer to tiger survival...Manchurian red deer, Bukhara red deer, Sambar, Barasingha, Eld's deer , and Rusa deer. Protecting these ensures adequate prey base for tigers.
Depending on wild boad did not save Caspian tigers from extinction after the demise of Bukhara deer, depending on Banteng did not save Javan tigers ( Rusa deer and wild boar were almost extinct, Banteng distribution and its anti-predator defense pushed tigers towards small prey and extinction.)
* The Muntjac-Only Scenario and its grave consequences for Indochinese tigers
* The dispersal abilities of sub-adult tigers ( up to 150 kms from natal area for young males)
* The "migratory" Caspian tigers that followed wild boar herds for about 1000 kms in 2-3 months
* Comparison of feeding ecology studies from Chitwan, Kanha, Huai Kha Khaeng, and Nagarahole.
* Andrew Kitchener explains clinal variation versus subspecies and groups tigers as: mainland tigers and Sunda tigers
* Mean weight of vertebrate prey across Asia, comparing results obtained from scat analysis with kills.
* How to distinguish tigers based on their stripe pattern
* How to distinguish tiger footprints from leopards and their kills from one another
* The disasters that the Indochinese tiger is facing and the myths about this poorly studied eco-type
* Reintroducing tigers versus protecting existing areas
* Prey Depletion being the biggest threat to tigers more than habitat destruction and even tiger poaching
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Canada Dr Panthera Offline
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#34

Book Review: "Tigers In The Mangroves" M.M.H.Khan
I love collecting scientific books about big cats particularly tigers so I was thrilled to get this book since it is devoted in its entirety about the Sundarban tigers particularly the Bangladesh tigers.
Dr. Khan received his Ph.D. in Tiger Ecology from Cambridge University in the UK in 2004 and has been working in the conservation and research of the Sundarban tigers ever since then.
The book is an excellent compilation of our knowledge of the Sundarban tigers as well as the findings of Dr.Khan's research.
Some points of interest:
* The book explains how the Sundarban is more than just a mangrove forest there are also meadows, beach-front forests and transitional areas with different prey concentration in each.
* The Bangladesh part of the Sundarban ( 6017 square kms) seems to be almost free from human intrusion and habitat destruction, the Indian part ( 4000 square kms) has more human disturbance but it is less than elsewhere in southern Asia.
* The Sundarban tigers provide a great example of "insular dwarfism" as they are about 65% of the mass of their conspecifics in northern India and Nepal, Sundarban males weigh less than 120 kg and females less than 100 kg since their diet is composed of chital and wild boar, Dr.Khan states that the Sundarban had Javan rhinos, water buffalo, swamp deer, and hog deer that all went extinct in the past 100 years and the edge of the Sundarban had some gaur and muntjac , the former is extinct now and the latter is very rare, the extinction of large prey favored smaller sized tigers similar to the situation in South East Asia and the Sunda islands.
* Dr.Khan provides an accurate estimate of the Sundarban tigers density of 4.8 tigers/100 km, he refutes both Karanth 's low estimate at 0.17 tigers/100 km and Barlow's optimistic estimate of 18 tigers/100 km, ( a very recent study in the Indian part by Qureshi and Jhala shows very similar results). Therefore the entire eco-system contains around 500 tigers and the possibility of doubling that number is feasible making this tiger conservation unit a very important one and a safe haven where tigers could persist for centuries t come.
* The Chital population is very healthy in the area, the wild boar is also common but increasing it will impact the tigers positively ( around 97% of the available biomass comes from chital and 2% from wild boar)
* As expected feeding ecology studies whether from scat analysis or kills shows dependence on chital and wild boar as a secondary prey ( rare items include macaques, porcupines, leopard cat, Ganges dolphin, lesser adjutant, jungle fowl, crab, fish, and water monitor.)
* Prey selectivity analysis shows a preference for wild boar, and for adults and healthy individuals.
* Khan states that Sundarban tigers mate year round with a peak in winter ( October-March ) and that their litter size is small, most litters have one cub (61%) two cubs (34%) and three cubs (5% only).
*An excellent chapter about human-tiger conflict concludes the book and it is indeed puzzling why these smaller tigers that have plenty of wild prey available  are habitual man-eaters, most man-eaters here are males (73%) and most are prime-aged healthy individuals ( 68%), attacks peak in winter when tigers are mating and are most territorial and aggressive.
* The reported number of human deaths ( 30 in each country ) is much less likely than the actual number as many victims are illegal intruders, and the habit of the Sundarban tigers of dragging their human victims deep into the forest ( about 1370 meters) before feeding.
*Khan believe that the phenomenon of man-eating in the Sundarban is a behavioural character and it is taught mother to cubs over generations: Man-eating culture!!
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Canada Dr Panthera Offline
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#35

" Lions: In The Balance " Craig Packer
We all love Packer, he contributed to our lion knowledge even more than what Schaller did, 35 years in the Serengeti researching lions with an army of graduate students ( West, Whitman, Hopcraft, Ikanda, Kissui, Hazzah, Kushner, Rosengren, Jansson , and others ) he researched and answered a lot of questions regarding lion behavior.
The book describes his life and work over several decades in Tanzania , the hardships that western scientists experience working in Africa and Asia in terms of dealing with bureaucracy, red tape, corruption, accusations of espionage!!!, and the "colonial" mentality!!! While admiring the culture and doing their best to conduct groundbreaking and important research.
A good part of the book deals with trophy hunting of lions...lions in Tanzania and several parts of Africa are found mostly in non-state-protected habitat where they are hunted for trophies, Packer disagrees with other prominent lion scientists ( Schaller and Loveridge ) and conservationists ( Jackson and Joubert ) in the sense that he believes that killing a certain percentage of adult males CAN help save lions by generating massive funds ($25000- $75000  per lion hunt ) for conservation...the problem was for that to happen the victims needed to be prime-aged males who held a territory for 2-3 years and raised cubs to independence, he and Karyl Whitman wrote a beautiful paper describing that and used SIMSIMBA software to predict lion populations and trends. The problem was that most clients wanted to shoot any male lions and were killing anything with a mane including many 2-3 year juveniles which was causing catastrophic results to the lion populations.
Packer describes his battle with the lion trophy hunting industry and the corrupt politicians who pull the ropes for it and how effectively this led to his expulsion from his research in Tanzania .
The book is full of great information about the Serengeti lions and their cousins in ngorongoro , the Selous lions and their hunters, and the man-eaters in southern Tanzania it is not a book of biology but it still is informative.
Packer also describes Maasai attitude towards lions and his research of everything from the role of manes, the effects of manes on other lions of both genders, the catchability of prey versus the availability of prey, hunting by male lions, infanticide, dispersal of sub-adults, the Ngorongoro crater inbred lions, the Maasai-lion conflict in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area , the Lindi man-eaters, and inter-predator interactions.
A great read.
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United States Pckts Offline
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#36

I'd hate to believe that the best chance of saving lions or any species would be killing them....any one of them.
I don't buy into the fact that hunting will generate massive contributions for conservation and in turn, it's a good thing. Killing and Conservation are contradicting things, Eco-tourism generates massive revenues, the money needs to be distributed far better before we declare "monitored hunting" a secret weapon in the protection of an apex predator.
I find it sad that somebody like Packer feels that way, I think it shows just how hopeless he must feel fighting for the rights of the animals he loves so much. I'm sure it goes against his natural instinct but he thinks it could be a better way of getting them the protection they need.
I guess at this stage, animals are lucky to have what little land they have left, if hunting needs to fall under the umbrella of wildlife protection, so be it. But that attitude will have to change at some point, the sense of entitlement and destruction of natural resources will have to stop, all species will gain REAL protection once that happens.
"Imagination was given to man to compensate him for what he is not, and a sense of humor was provided to console him for what he is."
-Oscar Wilde
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United States Polar Offline
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#37

For this seperate philosophical discussion, I think we should create a new thread titled, "Human Behavior."

Though, I don't know how to move individual posts from one thread to another... Confused
"Be the reason someone smiles. Be the reason someone feels loved and believes in the goodness in people."

- Roy T. Bennett
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United States tigerluver Offline
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#38

I'll arrange for it. What posts should I move?
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United States Polar Offline
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#39

@tigerluver

Posts #37 through #39.
"Be the reason someone smiles. Be the reason someone feels loved and believes in the goodness in people."

- Roy T. Bennett
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Canada Dr Panthera Offline
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#40

(05-22-2016, 01:53 AM)Pckts Wrote: I'd hate to believe that the best chance of saving lions or any species would be killing them....any one of them.
I don't buy into the fact that hunting will generate massive contributions for conservation and in turn, it's a good thing. Killing and Conservation are contradicting things, Eco-tourism generates massive revenues, the money needs to be distributed far better before we declare "monitored hunting" a secret weapon in the protection of an apex predator.
I find it sad that somebody like Packer feels that way, I think it shows just how hopeless he must feel fighting for the rights of the animals he loves so much. I'm sure it goes against his natural instinct but he thinks it could be a better way of getting them the protection they need.
I guess at this stage, animals are lucky to have what little land they have left, if hunting needs to fall under the umbrella of wildlife protection, so be it. But that attitude will have to change at some point, the sense of entitlement and destruction of natural resources will have to stop, all species will gain REAL protection once that happens.

I agree with you ..I can not see how shooting some lions will generate enough money to save other lions.
I am sure that from the millions of dollars paid by trophy hunters only a fraction goes to actual conservation and most is stolen by corrupt officials.
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United States chaos Offline
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#41
( This post was last modified: 05-28-2016, 07:52 PM by chaos )

Its absurd to think an endangered species can be saved under the guise presented. Its nothing but GREED. What a sham and a shame!
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United States Pckts Offline
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#42
( This post was last modified: 08-17-2016, 02:35 AM by Pckts )

I just got "Tigers Forever"
By Steve Winter

I can't wait to read it, but I'm waiting for my long flight to Africa to do so, but I figured you all would like this picture

*This image is copyright of its original author

This is a mother Indochinese tigress, she had a 5 month old Male cub who was said to be 90lbs. He said they perform like a pit crew for a race car, very precise and efficient. Also notice how they have laid it on it's side, the tape seems to be pulled tight across the skull.

I can't wait to read it and review it after my trip of course.
"Imagination was given to man to compensate him for what he is not, and a sense of humor was provided to console him for what he is."
-Oscar Wilde
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India brotherbear Offline
Grizzly Enthusiast
#43

I have just today received a book titled, THE GRIZZLY KING by James Oliver Curwood, published in 1916. 

About Curwood: James Oliver Curwood, ( June 12, 1878 - August 13, 1927 ), was an American novelist and conservationist. A great number of his works were turned into movies, several of which starred Nell Shipman as a brave and adventurous woman in the wilds of the north. Many films from Curtwood's writings were made during his lifetime, as well as after his passing through to the 1950s. In 1988 French director Jean-Jacques Annaud used his 1916 novel, THE GRIZZLY KING to make the film 'The Bear'. Annaud's success generated a renewed interest in Curwood's stories that resulted in five more films being produced in 1994 and 1995.
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United Kingdom Sully Offline
Ecology and Conservation
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#44
( This post was last modified: 08-23-2019, 03:49 AM by Sully )

About a week ago I finished reading "The Big Cats and their fossil relatives" by Alan Turner. As a cat enthusiast it's a gripping read. More than thorough enough for a layman like me. In understanding the history of the cats this is a must read in my opinion. The general overview Turner gives of the family is also very well done, not dwelling on individual species too much, but more talking in collective terms. The illustrations are breathtaking too. A great, concise read. Only took a week. 

The only qualm I have with it is though its brief, it's very dense too. There's a lot of information to take in, I will only fully appreciate it on a second or third read. Though I am much less well versed on the felidae from the get go than many of you so this shouldn't be a problem for the more knowledgeable.

I've seen it talked about it a lot and I've finally got to reading the classic "Wild Cats of the World" by Sunquist. Will leave a quick review of it once im done. I've got high hopes.

Will definitely revisit this thread for more recommendations in the future. Looks like there's many gems just skimming through it.
"When the tiger stalks the jungle like the lowering clouds of a thunderstorm, the leopard moves as silently as mist drifting on a dawn wind." -Indian proverb
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Guatemala GuateGojira Offline
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#45

(12-25-2015, 02:15 AM)Dr Panthera Wrote: * The untrained eye will mistake sub-adult tigers for adults, a two year old male "looked" adult to the photography staff before the mahouts and biologist pointed out his age. This is a common error and there are many hunting reports that include/mistake sub-adult tigers and lions for adults, a two year old tiger/lion is a massive animal but by no means full grown nor sexually mature.

Now I have all these books about tigers and I already read them, a great treasure for tiger litterature. Maybe, in the future, I will put my own review on them.

Now, about this part that I quote, this is a BIG problem in the old records. Many young tigers had been mistaken for adults and that is why the old records are so low.

From my new point of view is a big error to included every single tiger in hunting records without review it. We now have a field guide to age tigers from Dr Jhala and we can use it to judge about the tigers in hunting litterature. We also have the information from young tigers from Nepal. This is problem about "youg-vs-old" was pointed out by Fiona Sunquist in the book "Tiger Moon" but it seems that it has been ignored in the constante debate of "size" issue.
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