Unique Indian snow leopard photo


The snow leopard photographed with its kill in Kugti Wildlife Sanctuary. Photo credit Wildlife Trust of India

From Wildlife Extra:

Snow leopard photographed in India’s Kugti Wildlife Sanctuary for the first time

Snow leopard study in India

January 2013. The Wildlife Trust of India have recently published the first photographic proof that snow leopard inhabit Kugti Wildlife Sanctuary in India’s Himachal Pradesh region.

Very little specific information exists on the snow leopard distribution and population in India. Rough estimates put the population at 400-600 along the Himalayan region in India, and about 4080 – 6590 across the world (12 countries where it is found).

The snow leopard in Kugti WLS was sighted dragging its kill (a young ibex) by researchers – Neeraj Mahar and Sajid Idrisi, during a WTI survey in 2010 to help the Forest Department prepare an inventory of the area’s wildlife. It was recorded at an altitude of 3376 metres.

Permanent or temporary residents?

“While this opportunistic sighting by our team established snow leopard presence in Kugti, it raised a number of questions. Is Kugti WLS and nearby protected areas a snow leopard habitat? Or do they follow the prey to lower altitudes during winter, possibly from Lahaul or other nearby areas? This can only be verified with further focused studies,” said Dr Rahul Kaul, Chief Ecologist, Wildlife Trust of India (WTI), one of the authors of the recent study.

Five states, three in the western Himalayan region – Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Uttarakhand, and two in the north-eastern region – Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim, are known to host snow leopards in India.

Snow leopard habitat

Snow leopards inhabit the non-forested zone above the tree line – around 3,200 metres in the western Himalayas and around 4,200 metres in the eastern Himalayas, going over the Greater Himalayan crest into the Trans Himalayan region,” explained Dr Yash Veer Bhatnagar of the Snow Leopard Trust and Nature Conservation Foundation, adding that the common leopards are ‘replaced’ by snow leopards in these areas.

“However, there is not yet any concrete range distribution map for the species in India. While there is some developing information about snow leopard from the Trans Himalaya, information from the southern face of the Himalaya is very scarce. Such information thus becomes even more useful,” he added.

A recently-published paper has recommended further studies to help generate baseline information for conservation of this endangered species.

The snow leopard is listed in Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, and is classified as ‘endangered’ by the IUCN Red List. Yet, as other carnivores in India, it is threatened due to conflicts with people, retaliatory attacks, prey depletion due to competition with livestock and hunting, poaching, and unplanned development in their habitat.

German bishops sabotage child abuse inquiry


This video says about itself:

The Catholic church in Germany is under an increasing amount of pressure as more cases of sexual abuse in its schools and institutions come to light.

From Deutsche Welle in Germany:

Catholic Church in Germany calls off study on sexual abuse

The Catholic Church in Germany has terminated an investigation into alleged cases of sexual abuse by clergy members. It is unclear whether the research will be continued by a different team.

The German Bishops’ Conference confirmed that it has ended cooperation with the Criminological Research Institute of Lower Saxony (KFN) which had been investigating sexual abuse cases committed by employees of the Catholic Church, citing the lack of trust.

“The relationship of mutual trust between the bishops and the head of the institute has been destroyed,” the Bishop of Trier, Stephan Ackermann, explained on Wednesday morning, saying that constructive cooperation had become impossible.

“Trust is vital for such an extensive project dealing with such a sensitive issue.”

In an interview with public broadcaster “Deutschlandfunk,” Christian Pfeiffer, the head of the KFN institute accused Church officials of hampering his team’s research efforts by continually attempting to intervene in and control the investigation. In an interview with the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper he spoke of censorship.

In 2011, the German Bishops’ Conference had authorized the KFN to launch an investigation into sexual abuse cases. This followed reports of abuse at several Catholic schools across Germany, claiming that children had repeatedly been abused.

The team of experts around Christian Pfeiffer consisted of retired prosecutors and judges and was allowed access to personnel records on Church employees going back more than a decade.

The investigation was to determine how such abuses came about, how the Church had dealt with them in the past, and what conclusions could be drawn to prevent new cases.

This followed a spate of allegations in 2010 of abuse of children by priests and other Church employees and the subsequent criticism of the Church’s slow response.

The Catholic Church officially apologized to the victims in March of 2010, and offered victims 5,000 euros ($6,546) each in compensation.

See also here.

The Catholic Church in Germany has closed its hotline for victims of sexual abuse due to lack of use. Critics say the church is not doing enough to counter this ongoing problem: here.

Parakeets, gulls, new blog page


The singing song thrush was not the only bird today.

On the canal bank, an adult and an immature herring gull. Now that the soil is not frozen like on other winter days, they tried to catch worms. Close to them, a coot started swimming.

A bit further, two ring-necked parakeets, calling in a leafless deciduous treetop. A bit later, they flew away, still calling.

This video from California in the USA says about itself:

Wild Rose-ringed Parakeets, Ring-necked, Psittacula krameri

The largest North American population of naturalized Rose-ringed Parakeets, Psittacula krameri, lives in Bakersfield, CA.
This is video I took of this parakeet in the trees in my backyard this morning. I am Blessed with these BEAUTIFUL birds every day.

ENJOY!

Unrelated to birds … well, not completely, as it includes my firefinch Gravatar … I have added a page to this blog. It is my second page ever, after my About page. The new page is called Frequently asked questions. It is here.

Song thrush, first 2013 song


Last night, I heard a robin sing.

That is not unusual. Not even during the night. Not even in winter.

This morning, I heard a song thrush sing. My first song thrush song of 2013.

This video is called A British Song Thrush bird singing for all he is worth in Dorset.

Probably, the bird sang because of relatively mild weather. Song thrushes are sensitive to higher than usual temperatures. Sometimes, they even start to sing in December. Usually, they start their songs in February.