Stop lion killing, USA, European Union


This video is called African Lions: National Geographic Documentary.

From Wildlife Extra:

Call to US and EU governments to ban trophy hunting following the death of two Zimbabwean lions

Following the tragic and reportedly illegal killing of two lions in Zimbabwe, the Born Free Foundation and Born Free USA have called on the US Government and the European Union to take urgent steps to end the import of lion trophies and for an international moratorium on lion hunting.

There has been a global outcry following the killing of the first lion, nicknamed Cecil, by American dentist Walter Palmer, which has further fuelled the political and public debate on trophy hunting and the plight of wild lions in Africa.

President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron have both made very public declarations on the need to stop the illegal wildlife trade, but there are concerns that these intentions may not be implemented fast enough.

Current estimates suggest there are barely more than 30,000 lions remaining across Africa and localised or regionalised extinctions are a real possibility in the next 10 years.

Across Africa, lion populations have reduced by more than 50 per cent since 1980. They have disappeared altogether from at least 12 African countries, and possibly as many as 16, and only inhabit a fragmented 8 per cent of their historic range.

President of the Born Free Foundation, Will Travers OBE, says: “Cecil’s story has sickened and saddened us all.

“We can no longer accept that hunting magnificent wild animals for ‘sport’ can be deemed acceptable.

Trophy hunting is no sport; it is merely a disguise for killing to massage an ego.”

Born Free is calling on the United States Fish and Wildlife Service to release its Final Rule on the petition to list the lion as ‘endangered’ under the United States Endangered Species Act (ESA), first submitted in March 2011.

Listing under the ESA would prohibit wounding, harming, harassing, killing, or trading in lions, except under certain very limited conditions, and would add significant protection for lions across their range.

Further, Born Free is calling on US Government prosecutors to explore whether legal action against Walter Palmer is warranted under the Lacey Act, which prohibits transport of wildlife specimens if they were taken illegally in their place of origin.

According to Adam M Roberts, CEO of Born Free Foundation and Born Free USA, “The US Government has a responsibility to take decisive action to prevent another incident such as this from ever happening again.

“For four years we have waited for a final decision on our petition to list the lion – there is no more time to wait.”

Roberts addressed the issue of trophy hunting specifically, saying, “The figures don’t stack up. The value to Africa’s economy from wildlife tourism vastly outpaces any sum accrued from hunting.

“Trophy hunting is an elitist activity practiced by very wealthy people, with the income benefiting a small number of stakeholders. The future is in conserving Africa’s wildlife, not destroying it.”

There is very little evidence that the proceeds of trophy hunting benefits conservation or local communities in the hunting areas, with as little as 3 per cent or less of the revenue generated trickling down.

Lions and other charismatic wildlife are worth far more alive than dead to Zimbabwe’s tourism industry. In Zimbabwe it is estimated that trophy hunting generates only 3.2 per cent of total tourism revenue.

Virginia McKenna OBE, a name synonymous with lions and star of the wildlife classic Born Free summed up the feelings of millions around the world: “This whole story is like some terrible nightmare.

“The power of money, the ego of man, the lack of compassion for and real understanding of wild creatures, the concept of hunting as a “sport”.

“I thought we tried to instil kindness and respect in our children. Perhaps Mr. Palmer thinks differently.

“But if what I heard today is true – that after killing Cecil he asked if they could find him an elephant – the future he faces is bleak indeed.”

DELTA AND AMERICAN AIRLINES WILL BAN THE SHIPMENT OF BIG GAME TROPHIES The two airlines have said they will no longer fly buffalo, elephant, leopard, lion and rhino trophies. [Alexander Kaufman, HuffPost]

Cougars of Wyoming, USA on the Internet


This video is called Mountain lion (Felis concolor).

From Wildlife Extra:

Wild American cougars to become internet stars

Panthera, a wild cat conservation organisation, has launched The Cougar Channel – an interactive website that is uncovering the secret lives of the ‘American lion’ by sharing never-before-seen footage and photographs with the world.

The cougar channel provides an intimate glimpse into the day-to-day encounters, threats and behaviours of the individual cougars monitored through Panthera’s Teton Cougar Project in northwestern Wyoming. Placing cameras in natal dens and on cougar kills, Panthera’s scientists have captured footage of kittens playing and nursing; cougar families feeding, grooming and curiously inspecting Panthera’s cameras; and Panthera’s scientists tracking and collaring cougars to reveal how to better protect the species.

Science Director for Panthera’s Puma and Jaguar Programs, Dr. Mark Elbroch, said: “Our goal is to provide a fascinating and engaging digital experience that will help demystify this elusive and often misunderstood big cat and spark interest in preserving the species.

Cougars play a critical role in the landscapes they occupy, so we are thrilled to give these wild cats the spotlight they deserve. Finally, people can see the natural behaviors and challenges cougars face…and the conservation efforts that are crucial to ensuring their survival.”

Often referred to as mountain lions, panthers, or pumas, cougars have the largest geographic range of any terrestrial mammal in the Western Hemisphere, from Alaska to the southern tip of Chile, yet little is known about the species. Today, the cougar is often mischaracterized as a vicious, solitary predator, leading to persecution across its range.

Dr. Howard Quigley, Director of Panthera’s Puma Program and Executive Director of Panthera’s Jaguar Program, shared, “The GPS collars, remote cameras and other research methods we are utilizing aren’t just helping us collect this fascinating footage – they enable us to track cougar movements, identify dens and monitor kittens from an early age. These data are expanding our scientific understanding of the species’ ecology, and ultimately allowing our scientists to better preserve the future of the wild cougar.”

Good Iberian lynx news from Spain


This video is called Spain’s Last Lynx – Nature Documentary.

From the BBC:

Iberian lynx returns to Spain from verge of extinction

25 July 2015

An intense conservation campaign has brought the Iberian lynx back to the south of Spain from the verge of extinction barely 10 years ago, Guy Hedgecoe reports from Spain.

At the La Olivilla lynx breeding centre in Santa Elena, in southern Spain, a group of conservationists are in an office, gathered around a TV monitor.

On it they watch an Iberian lynx cub learn to hunt by playing with a domestic rabbit in one of the centre’s compounds. The lynx, the size of a small cat, is only a few weeks old but already has the sharply pointed ears and mottled fur that make the species so recognisable.

It swipes playfully at the rabbit with its paws, but still has a long way to go before it graduates to killing its own prey.

When it does, it will probably be released into the wild, following in the tracks of many other animals born in captivity here.

Just over a decade ago, the Iberian lynx, also known as Lynx pardinus, was on the verge of extinction, with only 90 animals registered, in the Andujar and Donana areas of southern Spain.

‘Saving the species’

But an intense campaign over recent years has brought it back from the brink, with 327 lynxes believed to be roaming southern, central and western Spain, as well as parts of Portugal, last year.

“We’re on the way to saving the species,” says Miguel Simon, director of the Iberlince lynx conservation programme.

“Losing this unique natural treasure would have been as bad for us as losing the Great Mosque in Cordoba or the Alhambra in Granada.”

In June, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) improved the status of the Iberian lynx from “critically endangered” to “endangered”. In its appraisal, the organisation saw the mammal’s recovery as “excellent proof that conservation really works“.

Around 140 specimens have been released into the wild, with the Iberian wildcat programme borrowing reintroduction techniques used by German conservationists.

Not all good news

But this success has not been cheap. Between 2002 and 2018, the programme will have received €69m (£49m; $76m) in funding, mainly from the European Union.

Much of that money has gone into three breeding centres in Spain, including in Santa Elena and one in Portugal.

Teresa del Rey Wamba, a veterinarian who works on the conservation programme in southern Spain, says that prior to the animal’s recent comeback, a lack of appropriate prey was a major problem, as was illegal hunting.

Clamping down on poaching and encouraging the growth of rabbit populations – the lynx’s favoured food – were therefore key, with private landowners, local governments and hunting federations all supporting the programme.

But it is not all good news. Last year, 22 lynxes were killed by vehicles on Spanish roads.

Miguel Simon says that while this is a problem, it also reflects how the lynxes’ movement has increased as their numbers have risen.

His team has overseen the installation of underground tunnels, custom-built for the animals to cross busy roads, and more are planned.

Of greater concern however is a recent outbreak across southern Europe of rabbit haemorrhagic disease, a highly contagious virus that has been killing off the lynxes’ staple diet since 2011 and reducing their reproductive rate.

In light of this threat, the IUCN decision to take the lynx off the “critically endangered” list was incorrect, according to Emilio Virgos, a lynx expert at Rey Juan Carlos University in Madrid.

“If all the data we have so far about how lynxes live and survive and reproduce are correct, and we have no reason to think otherwise, the number of lynxes… will drop drastically,” he says of the outlook for the next few years.

He warns that extinction is still a possibility within decades.

While Mr Simon is worried about the rabbit virus, he describes such forecasts as “alarmist” and points to an emergency plan to boost rabbit numbers. Its success, he says, will depend in great part on continued funding.

“The battle for conservation of the lynx is never-ending,” he says.

What is a lynx?

A medium-sized cat which lives in the wild
There are four different species – Eurasian, Iberian, Canada and Bobcat
The Eurasian lynx is the biggest – about 60cm tall – roughly the same size as a Labrador
The Iberian lynx is one of the rarest smaller wildcats in the world – mainly found in parts of Spain and Portugal
The Bobcat is found in North America while the Canada lynx lives in Canada and Alaska
Most lynxes are listed as threatened or endangered and are prized by poachers for their fur
Lynxes are usually only active at night and hunt deer, rabbits and hares for food

Big cats in Britain


This 2014 video is called Lions Documentary: BIG CATS Deepest Secrets – Lions, Tigers & Ligers | NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC – SPECIAL.

By Peter Frost in Britain:

Do we need big cats to roam our countryside?

Friday 3rd July 2015

PETER FROST asks whether it’s time to bring the wild lynx back to Britain

BIG cat sighting are a staple of local papers and TV reports. Remember the Essex lion? Most are hoaxes or misidentifications, usually of domestic cats or domestic cats turned feral.

Substantiated reports refer to feral domestic cats, bigger, fitter and stronger than their home-loving cousins, leaping a five-bar gate with a full-grown rabbit in their jaws.

Some big cat sightings are undoubtedly genuine but in a nation where most people now carry a phone with a good camera, it is surprising how few sightings are backed up with good photos or video. Actual captures or dead animals are even rarer.

Many of these big cats are certainly escaped pets or captive animals released when they get too big or to troublesome to keep.

Many big cats are available on the pet black market and exotic leopard cubs and similar are often bought by people with more money than sense. The cubs grow fast and the next thing you know they are in the boot of the Jaguar — what else — and being dumped in the nearest woodland.

Let’s look at the suspects: the leopard (Panthera pardus) is widespread and adaptable. This sleek, athletic big cat can range from greyish yellow to a rich buff or chestnut, with black spots and rosettes. Black panthers — a type of leopard — are very common. Leopards can grow up to six feet and weigh 200lb.

The puma (Felis concolor) has many different names including cougar and mountain lion. Its fur is buff or sandy brown to reddish brown, sometimes light silver and slate grey or black, usually with no markings. This big cat is nocturnal. Pumas can be as big and heavy as leopards.

The jungle cat (Felis chaus) is misnamed. It lives in moist reedy areas and among agricultural crops. It is sandy or yellowish-grey to a greyish brown or tawny red, cream underparts and striped legs, 33” and 30lb.

Caracal (Felis caracal) — sometimes mistakenly classified as a desert lynx — has large pointed black ear tufts of black hair. Its coat is tawny brown to brick red. Nocturnal, it hunts birds, rodents and reptiles. It can jump several feet into the air to catch birds. It is three feet long plus tail and weighs up to 40lb.

The British wildcat looks like a larger and heavier version of the domestic tabby cat but is a distinct species. It has a broad face, very obvious body stripes and a thick, striped, blunt tail. Mainly nocturnal, the wildcat is secretive and very rarely seen. It often interbreeds with feral domestic cats.

Britain once had its own native big cat, a species of lynx, but it was hunted to extinction centuries ago. Now some naturalists are suggesting we bring back wild lynx to our countryside. There are a number of lynx species that might qualify. Lynx look like domestic tabby cats on steroids and all have distinctive ear tufts.

Largest is the Eurasian lynx, with males averaging 45lb and females a little less. Iberian lynx are smaller, with males weighing in at 26lb and females slightly smaller. The Canadian lynx is the smallest, with males averaging just 22lb and females even less.

Bringing back the lynx is, as you would expect, a controversial idea. Sorry Ukip, but under the European Habitats Directive we have a legal obligation to study the desirability of reintroducing species that have become extinct from our countryside.

Some people, me included, would love to see these elegant tiny tigers wandering our woods and hills and controlling the plagues of escaped ornamental deer that are destroying our woodlands. It would boost wildlife tourism in many areas too.

Others fear that these carnivores would kill our sheep and lambs, threaten the livelihoods of farmers, endanger other native British species and terrorise both pet owners and parents.

One favourite for any re-introduction is the Iberian lynx, which is the most threatened species of wildcat on Earth — down to just 300 animals in the wild. If this animal becomes extinct it will be the first lost feline since prehistoric times.

The Iberian lynx is the closest surviving relative of the original British lynx. Its main diet is rabbits and Britain has often had a problem controlling populations of rabbit — a non-native species. Sadly the Iberian lynx is not really big enough to have much effect on our plague of small muntjac deer.

An alternative is the bigger Eurasian lynx. This would make the British food chain more natural, boost tourism and control muntjac deer. European studies have found little risk to domestic livestock from lynx. They sometimes eat grouse and pheasants, which will bring them into conflict with landowners and our Tory government.

We are all concerned when we read of world problems threatening the continued existence of the tiger all around the world. Should we not encourage our own miniature tigers in this green and pleasant land?

Rare Amur leopards, from zoos to the wild


This is a Amur leopard video.

From Wildlife Extra:

Captive Amur Leopards to be released into the Russian Far East

A plan to reintroduce captive Amur Leopards into the Russian Far East has been formally approved by Russia’s Ministry of Natural Resources, the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) has announced

The site for the reintroduction has been agreed as Lazovsky Zapovednik (State Nature Reserve) in the South-Eastern-most tip of Russia.

The Critically Endangered Amur leopard (Panthera pardus orientalis) is probably the only large cat for which a reintroduction programme using zoo stock is considered a necessary conservation action.

There are currently estimated to be between 50-70 left in the wild, in a small pocket of Russia between Vladivostok and the Sino-Russian border. Around 220 Amur leopards are currently in zoos throughout Europe, Russia, North America and Japan, as part of a global conservation breeding programme jointly coordinated by ZSL and Moscow Zoo.

Established pairs of breeding leopards from the breeding programme will be transported to Russia where they will live in specially constructed enclosures. Here they will be allowed to breed and rear cubs, which will learn to live in that environment from the very start of their lives. Once they are suitably mature, the cubs will be released.

There is no fixed timeframe in place as yet but it has been suggested that construction of the facilities may start in spring 2016, and leopards could be released in 2017.

ZSL will soon start analysis of which leopards will be initially used.

More information about the reintroduction programme, including the approved plan, can be found on the Amur Leopard and Tiger Alliance website.

Amur tiger back in the wild


This video says about itself:

19 June 2015

A three year old Amur tiger has been successfully captured, collared and released into a mountainous region in the Russian Far East. The young male was identified as a ‘conflict tiger’ in a prey depleted area but rather than confining him to a life of captivity, the Russian government opted to give him a second chance. – See more here.

From Wildlife Extra about this:

WWF films tiger being released back to the wild

WWF has filmed an Amur Tiger being released back into the wild after spending time in a wild animal rehabilitation centre in the Russian Far East.

The tiger is a young male called Uporny, who was captured in November 2014 after being identified as a ‘conflict’ tiger.

He had been living in an area where there was a lack of prey and had killed dogs to survive. There were also fears that he could come into conflict with humans in a nearby town.

After undergoing the necessary health checks in a wild animal rehabilitation centre in the Russian Far East, Uporny was released into a sparsely inhabited mountainous area.

Uporny’s new home is an area with a good source of prey. It’s also home to a female Amur tiger, which provides hope that Uporny will not only continue to live wild and free, but also breed – contributing to the recovering tiger population in Russia.

The Russian government Forest Department (Ministry of Natural Resource of Khabarovsky Province) organised and implemented the translocation operation with the help of WWF and the Amur Tiger Center.

“This is a very rare piece of footage, showing the release of a healthy, powerful male tiger back into the wild, where he belongs,” says Rebecca May, Asia Regional Manager at WWF-UK.

“A huge team effort and great expertise was involved, including that of colleagues in WWF Russia. We wish him well in his new home.”

For his release into the wild, the tiger was fitted with a lightweight radio collar. The collar has a special function that allows it to drop off when the tracking team are satisfied with his progress.

Having been flagged as a potential conflict tiger, Uporny will be monitored until he is well established in his new area. For the first month, a team of specialists will be tracking his location and eating habits on a constant basis, using GPS data sent from the collar as well as tracking him on the ground.

Once the collar detaches, he will be monitored using camera traps and the recording of his pugmarks.

Lions back to Rwanda after fifteen years


This video is called Wild Botswana: Lion Brotherhood HD Documentary.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Lions to be reintroduced to Rwanda after 15-year absence following genocide

Seven big cats will be taken from South Africa to Akagera national park, where lion population was wiped out, in major conservation project

David Smith in Johannesburg

Sunday 28 June 2015 16.00 BST

Seven lions in South Africa are to be tranquillised, placed in steel crates and loaded on to a charter flight to Rwanda on Monday, restoring the predator to the east African country after a 15-year absence.

Cattle herders poisoned Rwanda’s last remaining lions after parks were left unmanaged and occupied by displaced people in the wake of the 1994 genocide, according to the conservation group African Parks, which is organising the repopulation drive.

It said two parks in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province with “relatively small, confined reserves where it is necessary to remove surplus lions” are donating the big cats to Rwanda. The seven – five females and two males – were chosen based on future reproductive potential and their ability to contribute to social cohesion, including a mix of ages and genetic makeup.

From Monday they will be transferred to Akagera national park in north-east Rwanda by truck and plane in a journey lasting about 26 hours. African Parks said: “They will be continually monitored by a veterinary team with experience in translocations. They will be kept tranquillised to reduce any stress and will have access to fresh water throughout their journey.”

Upon arrival at the 112,000-hectare park, which borders Tanzania, the lions will be kept in quarantine in a specially-erected 1,000m² enclosure with an electrified fence for at least two weeks before they are released into the wild.

The park is fenced, but the lions will be equipped with satellite collars to reduce the risk of them straying into inhabited areas. African Parks said: “The collars have a two-year life, by which time the park team will have evaluated the pride dynamics and only the dominant individuals in each pride will be re-collared.”

As a wildlife tourist destination, Rwanda is best known for its gorilla tracking safaris. But Akagera, a two-hour drive from the capital, Kigali, is home to various antelope species, buffaloes, giraffes and zebras, as well as elephants and leopards. It attracted 28,000 visitors in 2014.

Last year, as part of the preparations for the reintroduction, the Akagera team ran a sensitisation programme in communities surrounding the park to promote harmonious co-existence with lions.

Yamina Karitanyi, the head of tourism at the Rwanda Development Board, said: “It is a breakthrough in the rehabilitation of the park … Their return will encourage the natural balance of the ecosystem and enhance the tourism product to further contribute to Rwanda’s status as an all-in-one safari destination.”

The International Union for Conservation of Nature listed the lion as vulnerable in an update this month of its red list of species facing survival threats. It noted lion conservation successes in southern Africa, but said lions in west Africa were critically endangered and rapid population declines were also being recorded in east Africa.

African Parks cited human encroachment on lion habitats and a decline in lion prey as reasons for the population drop. It identified a trade in lion bones and other body parts for traditional medicine in Africa, as well as Asia, as a growing threat.

Peter Fearnhead, the chief executive of African Parks, which manages Akagera and seven other national parks on the continent, said: “The return of lions to Akagera is a conservation milestone for the park and the country.”

See also here.

Apparently Rwanda plans to reintroduce black rhino as well as lions to Akagera NP this year, to have the “big five”: here.

KILLER OF CECIL THE LION IDENTIFIED “An American dentist with an affinity for killing rare wildlife using a bow and arrow has been identified as the man who shot and killed Zimbabwe’s most famous lion earlier this month, local officials claim.” The Internet backlash has been swift. [HuffPost]

WHAT JANE GOODALL THINKS OF CECIL THE LION’S DEATH “Only one good thing comes out of this — thousands of people have read the story and have also been shocked. Their eyes opened to the dark side of human nature. Surely they will now be more prepared to fight for the protection of wild animals and the wild places where they live.” [The Dodo]