Balkan lynx in danger

This 2015 video is called Wild Balkan: HD National Geographic Documentary.

From BirdLife:

Balkan Lynx added to the IUCN list as Critically Endangered

By Sanya Khetani-Shah, Tue, 24/11/2015 – 16:40

The IUCN Red List has added the Balkan Lynx to its Red List as a Critically Endangered subspecies of the Eurasian Lynx. This is a very real confirmation that the Balkan Lynx requires urgent and coordinated conservation actions in order to increase its population in the wild.

“In the past 10 years, through the Balkan Lynx Recovery Programme, we have collected enough data to assess the status of the lynx according to IUCN standards and we have realized that its status is Critically Endangered,” said Dime Melovski, MES (BirdLife in Macedonia) project manager, at a press conference in Skopje.

“We are saddened to acknowledge just how dire is its current condition. We hope that by being added to the Red List, the Balkan Lynx will become more visible and recognized as a species in need of very concrete conservation measures.”

The Balkan lynx is a subspecies of the Eurasian Lynx and its current population is estimated at 19 to 36 adult individuals. Its only confirmed breeding grounds are located within the Mavrovo National Park in Macedonia. Threats include hunting and illegal killing, decline of prey populations, and loss and fragmentation of habitat.

There are no Balkan Lynx in captivity and thus if its designation is uplisted from Critically Endangered, it will mean complete extinction.

The Balkan Lynx Recovery Programme is implemented by several civil society organizations and volunteers from the Balkan region (MES in Macedonia, CZIP in Montenegro, PPNEA in Albania, ERA and Finch in Kosovo) as well as organizations from Germany (EuroNatur), Switzerland (KORA) and Norway (NINA). The programme is funded by the Swiss Foundation MAVA.

The aim of the Balkan Lynx Recovery Programme is to secure the survival of the population through a series of protected areas and better management of protected areas along the borders of Albania and Macedonia, Albania and Montenegro as well as Albania, Macedonia and Kosovo. The protected areas will be established in areas where there are strongholds of the Balkan Lynx.

The programme was the catalyst for the proclamation of new national parks in Albania and Kosovo and our BirdLife partner in Macedonia is awaiting the proclamation of a new national park in Macedonia as well.

“Until a decade ago the lynx in Macedonia was almost a myth. Nobody knew much about it, but our cooperation with local stakeholders, especially hunters, opened the door to a very detailed study of this secretive animal, its status and its prey,” Melovski added. “Of course, our next step will be to downlist the lynx on the Red List. But that is no easy task, since it means increasing the current population of approximately 30 individuals to over 50.”

Thirsty Indian leopard gets head stuck in pot

This video says about itself:

30 September 2015

A thirsty leopard found itself in a tight spot after he went foraging for water in an Indian mining dump.

The wild animal was found with its head stuck in a metal pot in the Indian village of Sardul Kheda in Rajasthan in the country’s north-west.

The agitated leopard wandered around as it struggled to get rid of the vessel, with onlookers recording and photographing the scene.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Forest officials eventually tranquilised the animal and sawed the pot off.

It was then taken to an enclosure a safe distance from the village.

District forest officer Kapil Chandrawal said: “It has been brought to a safe place.

“We have also called veterinarians to assess its health, which is in good condition. We have also tranquilised the animal.”

Mr Chandrawal said the leopard was around three and a half years old.

Disruption to wild habitats have led to increasing numbers of wild animals straying into inhabited areas in search of food.

According to the BBC, a recent wildlife estimate puts the leopard population of India at between 12,000 and 14,000.

Endangered fishing cat discovery in Cambodia

This video says about itself:

2 September 2015

Pictures of the Endangered fishing cat (Prionailurus viverrinus) – the first in Cambodia for more than a decade – provide welcome evidence that these elusive felines still survive in some parts of the country.

From Wildlife Extra:

Fishing cat found in coastal Cambodia for first time in 12 years

Camera traps have captured footage and images of the endangered fishing cat (Prionailurus viverrinus) in Cambodia for the first time since 2003.

Researchers from the CBC, a partnership between Fauna & Flora International (FFI) and the Royal University of Phnom Penh, were thrilled by the findings which have allayed grave fears about the status of these animals in Cambodia.

FFI project leader, Ms Ret Thaung said that the fishing cat’s preference for wetland habitat had led to severe population declines throughout much of its Asian range.

Asian wetland habitats are rapidly disappearing or being modified by human activity, so fishing cat numbers have declined dramatically over the last decade and the remaining population is thought to be small,” she said.

“Fishing cats are believed to be extinct in Vietnam, while there are no confirmed records in Lao PDR and only scarce information about the species in Thailand and Cambodia.

“It is clear that urgent steps are needed to protect these cats from snaring and trapping and to conserve their wetland habitats – but to do this effectively we needed to get a better idea of where they live.”

The team discovered fishing cats at two sites in south-west Cambodia: Peam Krosaop Wildlife Sanctuary (Koh Kong Province) and Ream National Park (Sihanoukville Province).

“This is a remarkable discovery as fishing cats are very vulnerable to human persecution,” Ms Thaung said. “We are especially pleased to see both a male and female cat from Peam Krosaop Wildlife Sanctuary. When working with Endangered species, every animal is important and the excitement of such a discovery is overwhelming.”

As both of these sites are protected areas, the resident fishing cats should be afforded some protection.

Alongside the fishing cats, the cameras also recorded a variety of other threatened species including the Critically Endangered Sunda pangolin, the Endangered hog deer, and the Vulnerable smooth-coated otter, large-spotted civet and sambar deer.

Don’t take wildcats home

This video is called European Wildcats (Felis silvestris silvestris).

Translated from the Dutch ARK conservationists:

Friday, September 4th, 2015

Whoever finds a young cat in the forests of the south of Limburg province should not just take that animal home. It could be a wildcat. Just over the border in Belgium, in Opglabbeek, last weekend, at a shelter for sick and injured wild animals, a young wildcat was brought which earlier had been found in the woods.

Wildcat in shelter

The young cat which arrived in the Natuurhulpcentrum in Opglabbeek two weeks ago had been found by people in the east of Liège province, the transition between the Ardennes and the Eifel mountains, in the center of a forest. The young animal was taken home in the belief that it was a dumped or escaped domestic cat. Because it continued to be aggressive and skittish specialists were contacted who are pretty sure it is a wildcat.

Save Scottish wildcats, new website

This 2012 video is called The making of wildlife documentary Last of the Scottish Wildcats.

From Wildlife Extra:

Scottish Wildcat Action website launched

A new Scottish Wildcat Action website has been launched as part of the first national conservation plan to bring back viable populations of Scottish wildcats

Scottish Wildcat Action, supported by the Scottish Government and Heritage Lottery Fund, and its new website has easy-to-use features which encourage people in the Scottish Highlands to report sightings, volunteer with fieldwork, and register their interest to help.

Labour MSP and wildcat champion Rhoda Grant said: “The Scottish Wildcat is part of our heritage that we are desperately seeking to protect. We have a limited time to stop wildcats from disappearing but we also need to reduce the risks from hybridisation and disease from feral cats in the meantime. The launch of the website today will not only help to identify where our remaining wildcats are but it will also help to glean invaluable information on hybrids and feral cat sightings which will allow for the required action to be taken to reduce the hybrids and combat the transmission of disease.

“The website will offer members of the public the opportunity to be involved in this fantastic project to save this most beautiful of species and will, I am sure, prove to be an invaluable resource in ensuring the wildcat’s survival.”

Dr Roo Campbell, Scottish Wildcat Action Project Manager for the work in wildcat priority areas, said: “Local sightings of all wild-living cats are key in our efforts to save Scottish wildcats and the new website will allow our local communities to report sightings.

“As part of our national work, our team of staff and volunteers will set up more than 400 trail cameras in wildcat priority areas to build up a picture of what’s out there, but public sightings will add valuable intelligence to this standardised monitoring.”

Trail cameras are motion-sensitive field cameras used for monitoring shy species that live in remote places.

The website gives users further tips on how to identify a Scottish wildcat, but the general advice is if it looks like a large tabby cat with a thick ringed tail with a black blunt tip, it could be one of few remaining wildcats.

Hybrid and feral cat sightings are also important to the project, which aims to reduce risks of hybridisation and disease transmission through a co-ordinated Trap-Neuter (vaccinate) and Release (TNR) programme in the priority areas.

Numbers of Scottish wildcat are now so low that it is difficult for them to find and mate with other wildcats, so inevitably they have hybrid kittens with unneutered domestic cats.

This inter-breeding is contributing to the attrition of Scottish wildcats as a distinctive native species. The presence of unvaccinated feral cats, often in poor condition, can also lead to diseases, such as feline leukaemia virus (FeLV), being passed on to wildcats.

Wildcat priority areas identified by Scottish Wildcat Action are Strathpeffer, Strathbogie, Northern Strathspey, the Angus Glens, Strathavon and Morvern. Sightings and volunteers within these areas are particularly important to the conservation of the species but sightings from across Scotland are also welcomed.

Colin McLean, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Scotland, said: “By working together as organisations and individuals we have a better chance of saving this rare native creature. It is thanks to players of the National Lottery that volunteers will be trained and cameras installed to track the elusive Scottish wildcat. However, it is down to us all to keep our eyes peeled, report any sightings, and give this species a brighter future.”

Behind the scenes at Aigas wildcat breeding centre. Louise Hughes of Aigas Field Centre reveals how she cares for her three wildcat pairs and encourages them to breed: here.

Good tiger news from Bhutan

This is a Siberian tiger video.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Bhutan tiger population higher than previously thought, survey reveals

Himalayan country’s first nationwide survey finds 103 tigers, but WWF warns big cat was facing a crisis elsewhere south-east Asia

Wednesday 29 July 2015 10.50 BST

Bhutan is home to more than 100 tigers, a rise of more than a third on the previous population estimate, a survey has revealed.

The first national tiger survey in the tiny Himalayan country, conducted entirely by Bhutanese nationals, has found there are 103 tigers, up from the previous estimate of 75.

But while conservationists welcomed the news from Bhutan’s first nationwide tiger survey, they warned the big cat was facing a crisis in south-east Asia where some countries are failing to assess populations.

Countries need to carry out national surveys as a crucial step in the “Tx2” goal agreed in 2010 by tiger range nations to double numbers of the endangered cat by 2022, wildlife charity WWF said.

Dechen Dorji, WWF Bhutan country representative, said: “The roaring success of Bhutan’s first ever nationwide survey gives us a rare look into the lives of the magnificent tigers roaming across the entire country.

“This is an incredible achievement with great teamwork and leadership from the Royal Government of Bhutan.”

The news, on Global Tiger Day, comes after Bangladesh announced the results from its first national tiger survey which revealed there were 106 wild tigers in the country, a lower figure than the previous estimate.

But WWF said the previous figure was based on less reliable methodology than the new systematic survey which included the use of camera traps, and could have led to overestimates for the number of tigers in Bangladesh.

Experts from Malaysia have suggested that tiger numbers in the country have as much as halved from the previous estimate of 500 in 2010 to as few as 250, and the government has announced its intention to conduct its first national tiger survey.

But tiger numbers are unknown in Indonesia, Thailand and Burma, and there are thought to be no breeding populations in Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos, WWF said.

Mike Baltzer, WWF Tigers Alive initiative leader said: “There is a tiger crisis in south-east Asia.

“Countries are not counting their tigers and are at risk of losing them if immediate action isn’t taken. Political support is weaker and resources are fewer, while poaching and habitat loss are at critical levels.

“Until countries know the reality on the ground they can’t take appropriate action to protect their tigers.

“WWF is calling on all south-east Asian tiger countries to count their tigers and on the global tiger conservation community to focus efforts in these critical south-east Asian countries.”

There has been some good news for tigers across their range, with figures released earlier this year showing an increase in numbers in India, while Amur tigers are on the rise in their Russian Far East home, according to the latest census results.

Nepal’s last survey in 2013 found tiger numbers had increased there and there are indications that tigers are settling and breeding in north eastern China, WWF said.

Killing Californian bobcats like lion Cecil becomes illegal

This video is called Bobcat Stalks a Pocket Gopher | North America.

From in the USA:

California Bobcats Will Avoid Cecil’s Fate Thanks to New Baiting Ban

Wildlife officials end the commercial bait-and-trap industry that fed the overseas demand for bobcat pelts.

Aug 6, 2015

by Taylor Hill

California bobcats are smaller and more abundant than the threatened lions of Africa.

But the native North American predators will be spared the fate of Cecil, Zimbabwe’s most famous lion, now that California has become the first state in the nation to ban commercial and sport bobcat trapping.

The public largely ignored California’s centuries-old legal bobcat hunting until 2013, when reports surfaced that the population in the community of Joshua Tree—just outside the national park boundaries—was disappearing.

It emerged that bobcat hunters—in a practice similar to that employed by the now-infamous Minnesota dentist to lure Cecil out of a protected park and turn him into a game trophy—were using scent pheromones and even battery-powered fake birds to entice bobcats beyond the park border, then killing them for their fur pelts.

RELATED: Feeding Russia’s and China’s Fur Fixation, American Trappers Make a Killing With Bobcat Pelts

One commercial trapper working on private land baited and killed 50 Joshua Tree bobcats in one year alone, according to the conservation group the Center for Biological Diversity, effectively eliminating the population from a 100-square-mile area just outside the park. While losses like these have not threatened the species’ health or survival statewide, concentrated killing can devastate regional populations beyond recovery, removing an important predator from local and regional ecosystems.

The California hunt in recent years fed increasing demand for the diminutive, 20-pound cat’s fur in China, Russia, and other countries, where one white-bellied bobcat pelt can sell for $200 to $600.

While the state legislature reined in the bobcat hunt in 2013, the law left 40 percent of state-owned land available to licensed hunters. But with only about 100 commercial bobcat trappers working in California, the commission’s 3–2 vote on Wednesday reflected its uncertainty that revenues from sales of $1,325 bobcat hunting licenses, as well as tagging fees of $35 per pelt, would be enough to cover the costs of regulating the hunt.

“The failure by the trappers association to show that they could adequately pay for the trapping program was one problem,” said Jean Su, a staff attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. “But the bigger issue was the fundamental shift that has taken place in how we, as people, are viewing wildlife.”

That shift, she said, was evident in how the commission approached its decision. Instead of requiring conservationists to show scientifically that hunting the bobcats would be harmful to the species or the environment, they laid the onus on bobcat trappers to show that trapping the species would not be harmful.

“Before we make a decision to allow destruction of a natural resource, we should have the science to support that as a practice,” Commissioner Anthony Williams said during the Wednesday public hearing. “I don’t think that burden has been met.”

Bobcat-trapping totals in California have diminished in the past 35 years: Nearly 28,000 cats were killed in 1978, compared with 1,639 in 2013. But the state’s last bobcat population census was made 36 years ago, leaving both commissioners and trappers in the dark about how commercial hunting has affected the population.

“The trappers argue that without the science, you keep everything status quo, keep trapping bobcats. Our argument is the flip side of that,” Ju said. “Without the science, you really can’t have a limited take. It’s like having a bank account, and you have no idea how much is in the account, and you just go start spending money.”

Ju said more than 25,000 letters representing more than 1 million Californians were sent to the commission calling for the ban.

“What happened to Cecil is absolutely what was happening to these bobcats,” Ju said. “This public’s involvement in this shows people are not seeing wildlife as a commodity—that’s a minority view now.”