All posts tagged: animals

Shoestring expedition returns with wild photos of Sumatra

No comments

A shoestring expedition to one of the remotest places in Sumatra has returned with stunning photos of tigers, tapirs, clouded leopards among other rare species, large and small. Will they find orangutans next?

Last year a motley crew of conservationists, adventurers and locals trekked into one of the last unexplored regions of Sumatra. They did so with a mission: check camera traps and see what they could find. The team organized by the small NGO, Habitat ID came back with biological gold: photos of Sumatran tigers, Malayan tapirs, and sun bears. They also got the first record of the Sunda clouded leopard in the area and found a specimen of a little-known legless reptile called Wegners glass lizard. But most tantalizingly of all is what they didnt find, but still suspect is there: a hidden population of orangutans that would belong to the newly described species, Tapanuli orangutan (Pongo tapanuliensis).

The trek into the interior was fraught with hordes of leaches, wasps, cliffs, river-crossings, and trackless jungle, and it pushed everyone on the team to their limits, Greg McCann, the head of Habitat ID and a team member, said, clearly relishing the adventure to an undisclosed area they call Hadabaun Hills.

The plateau, called Dolok Silang Liyang in the ethnic Batak language, means the mountain where the wind rustles the leaves of the trees, he continues. What we found there was a wet and misty world of mosses, lichens, and liverworts, of fallen trees and rotten logs and eerie silence. Sometimes we would fall up to our waists into bog-like earth of organic matter.

A
A Sumatran tiger caught on camera trap in Hadabuan Hills. There are only a few hundred Sumatran tigers left on Earth. Photograph: Habitat ID

The team found that this remote area is especially important for Sumatras wild predators. In addition to tigers and clouded leopards, they recorded golden cats and marble cats.

The single game trail that rings the 1,300-meter plateau seems to have been formed almost purely by the heavy footpads of tigers and also those of sun bears and golden cats, says McCann.

McCann who headed the expedition along with tiger expert and local conservationist, Haray Sam Munthe, said they believe there might be 20-25 tigers in the region.

The
The team climbs treacherous terrain. Photograph: Arky

The Sumatran tiger is listed as critically endangered and is believed to have a global population of less than 600. But that estimate is eight years old and recent years havent been good to Sumatran tiger as there are continual records of poaching and ongoing habitat destruction.

Considering the perilous state of the Sumatran tiger today, as well as that of many other wild cats, the photographic evidence obtained by these camera traps set up in an ecosystem that has no official status should constitute a major discovery, McCann said.

Few places have changed more radically in the last few decades than Sumatra. Half the island lowland forest has been lost, largely due to ever-expanding oil palm and pulp-and-paper plantations. Meanwhile, its species are declining to near-extinction levels. The Sumatran rhino only survives in a few tiny populations that, in total, numbers anywhere from 30 to 100 animals. In recent years, the Sumatran tiger, the Sumatran elephant and the Sumatran orangutan have all been uplisted to critically endangered.

The newly-uncovered Tapanuli orangutan is also desperately close to extinction. Experts estimate there are fewer than 800 left. Given this, a hidden population in Hadabaun would be very welcome news.

Julia Mrchen, an orangutan expert who accompanied the expedition, said the probability of orangutans in Hadabaun Hills was high. And she believes, if there, they probably belong to the newly described species though they may no longer be able to connect with the main population.

It is likely that during the increasing agricultural development and human encroachment of the past decades in North Sumatra, the fragmentation of forests have led to the isolation of a small portion of orangutans, she said.

Mrchen has spoken to two local individuals who have said theyve seen orangutans, heard their calls and spotted their nests.

Two
Two Malayan tapirs in one photo one of them is possibly pregnant. The Malayan tapir is listed as endangered. Photograph: Habitat ID

Hadabaun Hills home to at least seven other primates, seventy bird species (so far recorded) and ample fruit-bearing trees is also prime habitat for orangutans, albeit at upper limits of their elevation preferences, according to Mrchen.

To find out if orangutans are really there, Mrchen says they need funding for an orangutan-specific expedition, which would include following local people to areas where the great apes have allegedly been encountered.

The more time we have, the higher the chances to encounter them. I suggest a minimum of fourteen days, better to spend a month in the area, she said.

Yet, even as we study Sumatras great mammals, we know next to nothing about many of the islands smaller animals, such as Wegners glass lizard. Currently, Wegners glass lizard is listed as data deficient by the IUCN Red List, which means scientists dont have enough information to even determine if the species is at risk of extinction. But given that its only found in Sumatra and rarely encountered, its likely imperiled. This makes the discovery of this species on Hadabaun Hills all the more important.

A
A two hour boat journey up river. McCann said it felt like something out of Apocalypse Now. Photograph: Arky

The team also photographed the Sumatran laughingthrush on the forest floor a rare behavior for this endangered species.

However remote, there are few if any areas left in Sumatra untrodden by poachers. During their expedition the team came on a poachers camp. They also photographed hunting dogs on their camera traps.

Unlike many conservation groups, Habitat ID is largely self-funded and operates on next-to-nothing. But McCann, a professor who lives in Taiwan, has long had a passion for unexplored places in Asia. Hes conducted similar camera trap surveys in Virachey National Park Cambodia, where he found elephants, Sunda pangolins and dholes all in a protected area abandoned by bigger conservation groups.

I rely greatly on the generosity of people who I have never met and who have never been to the places where I work but who have a curiosity about these places and this planet, says McCann, who depends partially on crowdfunding to keep the camera trapping and expeditions going.

McCann is returning to Hadabaun Hills at the end of the month to check the cameras and set new ones. He hopes for photos of a tiger with cubs or a tapir with babies something that could rally the government to turn this place into a protected area. Habitat ID is also working the with the People Resources and Conservation Foundation to reach out to local people in the area, remove snares and stop further encroachment by the palm oil industry.

There are few places like this remaining in Southeast Asia, says McCann, places where the rarest of rare species still lurk and prowl in secret retreats that only the craziest of explorers would try to reach.

Mumbai’s leopards have killed humans but could they also be saving lives?

No comments

Leopards roaming the Sanjay Gandhi National Park could be helping to control the citys dangerous stray dog population, study suggests

A fleeting glimpse of the black spots and gold fur of a leopard is not an uncommon sight at Sanjay Gandhi National Park in the Indian city of Mumbai.

Leopards are often thought of as a threat to humans, but rather than being a problem in Mumbai, they may actually be helping their human neighbours even saving their lives as we argue in our paper published in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.

Recent studies suggest there may be as many as 41 leopards roaming the 40 square mile park. Thats about two to three times the leopard density youd find in some of the most productive savannahs in Africa or Sri Lanka.

Mumbais leopards live alongside people, mostly in informal settlements, and they hunt and kill dogs in and around their villages. On average, dogs make up about 40% of a Mumbai leopards diet.

Stray
There are an estimated 95,000 stray dogs in Mumbai. Nearly 75,000 dog bites are recorded annually. Photograph: Steve Winter/National Geographic/Getty Images

So what, you might ask. Leopards are one of the worlds most adaptable big cats, feeding on more than 100 prey items worldwide, so arent they just doing what an opportunist would do?

A city of dogs

If youve ever visited Mumbai, youll probably remember a few incredible sights: the Gateway of India, Mumbais bustling city, teeming traffic and its dogs.

Hundreds and thousands of dogs. On every street corner, in every alley. Recent surveys have shown that about 95,000 dogs roam Mumbai.

We wanted to delve deeper into the uncanny relationship Mumbais leopards have with the dogs. And what about bites, we asked. Do dogs bite people, and what about rabies risk?

After sifting through about 40 newspaper articles and online reports, we found that nearly 75,000 bites are recorded annually in the city (although many more are likely unreported). More than 420 people in Mumbai have died from rabies as a result of stray dog bites over a 20-year period.

It was at that point we wondered whether leopards help to protect people from dog bites by keeping the dog population down especially around the park where their diet is dominated by dogs.

A
Researchers suggest leopards who feed on dogs help keep the population down.
Photograph: Steve Winter/Getty Images/National Geographic Creative

Surveys performed by population biologist Lex Hiby and Nikit Surve of the Wildlife Institute of India around the park suggest that the answer is yes. Dog densities there are lower and, according to our analyses, citizens might experience only 11% of the bites compared with people who live further from the park.

Moreover, by consuming between 800 and 2,000 dogs per year, we calculate that the leopard population saves the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai about US$18,000 (13,000) in sterilisation costs (or 8% of the municipalitys annual sterilisation budget).

If you remove the leopards

The final piece of the puzzle was to model what a park with no leopards would look like a sad prediction if increased urbanisation, deforestation and conflict occur over future decades.

Under one set of assumptions, we found dog bites could increase by between 140 to more than 5,000 per year as dog populations would grow in and around the park area. The medical costs for these bites could total as much as $200,000 per year.

Our research puts a new twist on a large predator that has been persecuted for millennia, and which has generally been viewed as a nuisance to stock farmers globally and those living on the edge of Sanjay Gandhi National Park.

Leopards are believed to have disappeared from about 63-75% of their global range. We have to think of large predators in a broader sense they can at times be helpful to farmers, ecosystems and even insurance companies.

Over
Over the last 20 years, more than 420 people in Mumbai have died from rabies as the result of a dog bite. Photograph: Steve Winter/Getty Images/National Geographic Creative

The big challenge in Sanjay Gandhi National Park is not only leopard attacks on the odd pig or cattle calf leopards here sometimes kill people. Leopard attacks on people peaked at 25 cases in 2002. Most of these were attributed to leopards who moved from other forest patches into Sanjay Gandhi, a kind of catch-and-dump scheme by local governments for problem animals.

Its thought this had a chaotic effect on leopard home ranges and social structures as leopards are territorial. But leopard attacks came to an almost complete halt for four years until 2017 when residents were angered by a spate of new attacks.

The big challenge is to evaluate the benefits of these leopards and similar large carnivores; its equally important to assess the costs of these species to local communities. The real issue is navigating the costs with the benefits, and identifying those cases of net benefit.

Christopher OBryan is a PhD candidate in the school of earth and environmental sciences at the University of Queensland. Alexander Richard Braczkowski is a PhD candidate and wildlife cameraman at the University of Queensland.

This article was originally published on The Conversation, where you can read the original article.

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/us

adminadminMumbai’s leopards have killed humans but could they also be saving lives?
read more

Jaguars killed for fangs to supply growing Chinese medicine trade

No comments

Demand from Chinese workers raises demand for skin and body parts of endangered species

Conservationists who have uncovered a growing illegal trade in jaguar fangs in South America are linking it to Chinese construction projects that could be threatening wildlife globally.

Experts say major Chinese power plant, road and rail works in developing nations are key stimulants of illicit trade in the skins, bones and horns of endangered animals.

Local people find out that Chinese construction workers have an interest in buying animal bones, horns and body parts for their supposed medical properties and an illicit trade is established. Essentially, these projects act like giant vacuum cleaners of wildlife that suck everything back to China, a conservation researcher, Vincent Nijman, of Oxford Brookes University, said last week. It is a realworry.

The problem in South America is of particular concern. More than 100 jaguars a species whose numbers are dwindling may have been killed in less than a year to supply a trade in their body parts with China. As tiger parts which are prized by practitioners of Chinese traditional medicine are becoming scarcer, so a market is opening up for organs from other big cats, including the jaguar.

Two examples of jaguar deaths are given in the current issue of Nature. It reports that on Boxing Day last year, the body of a jaguar was found floating in a drainage canal in Belize in central America.

Its body was mostly intact, but the head was missing its fangs, says the report. Then, on 10 January, a second cat this time an ocelot that may have been mistaken for a young jaguar turned up headless in the same channel.

The extent of the trade was also highlighted by Thas Morcatty, a wildlife researcher based at Oxford Brookes University who has worked in South America. Last year, there were more than 50 seizures of packages that contained jaguar parts in Brazil. Most of them appear to have been destined for Asia and China in particular. It is also worth noting there are major Chinese communities in Brazil, she added.

Jaguars once roamed across much of the southern US, central America and South America. Today their numbers have been drastically reduced because of deforestation and by farmers shooting animals that attack their livestock. The prospect of them being used to supplement Chinese traditional medicine now threatens to reduce their numbers even further.

However, it is the global threat posed by this sort of trade that worries conservationists. For years, Chinese companies have been setting up vast construction project deals with more than 60 countries to construct ports, power stations, rail lines, roads, tunnels and bridges in the developing world. Examples include a $5.8bn power planet in Nigeria, an 835-mile-long railway in Angola and a six-lane, 680-metre-long bridge in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

These projects are manned by Chinese workers and they go back and forth with local people and also send things back to their families in China, said Nijman. Among the things they send back are illicit bones, horns and skin valued by traditional medicine. There is not much sign of them using restraint. At the end of the day, almost anything that can be killed and traded will be.

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/us

adminadminJaguars killed for fangs to supply growing Chinese medicine trade
read more

Bento the Keyboard Cat, internet sensation and YouTube star, dies

No comments

The beloved feline star of the popular meme has died age nine. But does this really mean the end?

Tonight hes jamming with Kurt and Jimi. Keyboard Cat, the internet meme that bookended a thousand pratfalls, is dead.

In April 2009, thanks in part to a single tweet by Ashton Kutcher, videos of a cat playing a junky little Casio riff became the de rigeur way to play out any footage of, say, a man falling down an escalator in a wheelchair, a singing woman collapsing a table, or just a mortar round misfiring.

The cats owner, Charlie Schmidt, posted the news on Keyboard Cats Facebook page, with its 820,000 followers.

The original Keyboard Cat.

Only, that isnt quite the story. Schmidts original clip of a musical cat the one youre most likely to have seen was shot in 1984. Hence the grainy VHS quality, which made the vaporwave-obsessed internet of 2009 fall in love with it. The cat in that video was called Fatso. He died in 1987.

The recently deceased Bento, born in April 2009, just as the Keyboard Cat phenomenon was hitting its peak, was already a remix. It seems that Keyboard Cats can spontaneously regenerate whenever a few million dollars are dangled in front of them.

Schmidt used Bento to make a second Keyboard Cat video, plus any number of side adventures: a parody of Miley Cyruss Wrecking Ball, an ad for Wonderful Pistachios, all the way up to a spoof on Banksys Exit Through The Pet Shop.

Bento taking on the starring role of Keyboard Cat.

You can hardly blame Schmidt for needing a physical product. Grumpy Cat is reputed to have a net worth of $100m. Within days of the first post to a Reddit thread, Grumpy Cats Red Lobster waitress owner was able to quit her job and go full-time. She shares a manager with Keyboard Cat, and with fellow celebrity felis catus, Lil Bub, and with animated cat meme Nyan Cat. Lil Bub generates enough that owner Mike Bridavsky can give away $200,000 a year to animal charities.

Hamilton, the moustache-toting Hipster Cat, had a web series, appeared in commercials, and had his own calendar line. Henri, a black cat, who appears, subtitled, in black-and-white, in French, like a cat Sartre, earns a $1,000 a week just from his online store. Appearance fees can be far greater. Maru, a Japanese-owned Scottish Fold, is the most watched cat of all time, with 325m YouTube views of him doing very basic cat stuff, like getting slightly freaked out by boxes.

Keyboard Cats spoof on Banksys Exit Through The Pet Shop.

The internet cat-industrial complex is vast. Cat food company Friskies flew Grumpy Cat, real name Tardar Sauce, first class, to South by Southwest. They paid for a chauffeur, a personal assistant, and unlimited food. At a conference with Al Gore and Elon Musk, she was the star. The 2013 documentary Lil Bub and Friendz began when the makers witnessed 10,000 people turn out to the Internet Cat Video Film Festival.

How do you make a smash like Keyboard Cat? You start with $850 of cat piano lessons, Schmidt once quipped. Certainly, it helps if the cat has bodily issues. Keyboard Cat is notable among the truly great cats of the internet for being just a standard moggy, who had to work his way up on his boogie-woogie skills alone. Grumpy Cat has an underbite and feline dwarfism. Lil Bub a short lower jaw, toothlessness and osteopetrosis. Pop Tart Cat (Nyan Cat) has a pop tart for a body. Hipster Cat has a strange white moustache.

Bentos generation is getting long in the tooth. Perhaps not for nothing has Marus owner adopted and begun showcasing a second cat in addition to the 10 year old. The death of a cat is a private tragedy. The death of an internet cat is an economic catastrophe.

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/us

adminadminBento the Keyboard Cat, internet sensation and YouTube star, dies
read more

Offended by Koreans eating dog? I trust youve never had a bacon butty | Chas Newkey-Burden

No comments

Frightened animals being caged, killed and turned into food wed never dream of such evils in the western world, writes journalist and author Chas Newkey-Burden

Offended by Koreans eating dog? I trust youve never had a bacon butty

Frightened animals being caged, killed and turned into food wed never dream of such evils in the west would we?

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/us

adminadminOffended by Koreans eating dog? I trust youve never had a bacon butty | Chas Newkey-Burden
read more

Carlton the cat wants your votes for university board of directors

No comments

Elections can be tumultuous and divisive at times, but Carlton the cat may be the voice of unity that we can all get behind. 

This campaign poster, shared by redditor Ynaffit96, announces Carlton’s bid for a seat on the University Board of Directors.

According to one of the comments, this university is Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Carlton lives around the area and likes to hang around campus, enjoying the attention of students — though he’s not an official therapy animal. 

Title aside, Carlton certainly has a compelling campaign slogan: “If I fits on the Board, I sits on the Board.” Considering that cats have been mayors, librarians, and train station masters, there’s no reason why Carlton cannot successfully serve on the University Board of Directors.

Of course, it would be wise to consider his policies: is he for or against the legalization of catnip? What are his feelings on emotional support animals being allowed on campus? Does he support equal opportunities for all felines?

One redditor, however, pointed out this formidable warning:

I, for one, welcome our feline overlords.

Vote Carlton for University Board of Directors! 

Read more: http://mashable.com/

adminadminCarlton the cat wants your votes for university board of directors
read more

Wine for you and your feline is on sale for National Drink Wine With Your Cat Week

No comments

Clink clink, y'all.
Image: petwinery

Heads up: All products featured here are selected by Mashable’s commerce team and meet our rigorous standards for awesomeness. If you buy something, Mashable may earn an affiliate commission.

Drinking wine alone with your cat is an unspoken rite of passage to becoming an adult. And if you find yourself turning down plans because you’re “busy” when in reality you’re just going home to sip Merlot while Fluffy snuggles into you on the couch, you might want to keep reading.

Offers.com is combining two post Valentine’s Day holidays, National Drink Wine Day on Feb. 18 and National Love Your Pet Day on Feb. 20, to create one massive holiday week that I personally have been waiting my entire life for: National Drink Wine With Your Cat Week. It’s running from Feb. 19 to Feb. 23, and it’s amazing.

Okay so it might be made up, but aren’t all holidays technically made up? And who cares, because wine is on sale at multiple retailers and that’s something we will never complain about. Remember the non-alcoholic cat wine trend from a few years back? It’s totally still a thing and it’s also on sale. 

Check out the best deals on wine for the upcoming week — we encourage stocking up as much as possible.

For your cat

The PetWinery is your cat’s best bet for Wine Wednesday as they stock all things animal mocktails at the Pet Bar. The menu includes cat champagne and cat wine, because after a long, hard day of being a cat, they need a little something to take the edge off, too.

The drinks are non-alcoholic, but they are rich in fish oil, which is said to have multiple health benefits for cats. Choose from flavors like Meowsling, Purrgundry, and Mëow & Chandon, and take 20% off any order with this exclusive coupon code.

For you

Image: martha stewart wine co.

Here’s the stuff you really care about. With five retailers offering discounts on wine from too many brands to count, we’d say the possibilities are truly endless. If you’re too impatient to wait for bottles to come in the mail, check out alcohol delivery services like Drizly and get a bottle or five delivered to your doorstep in an hour. 

More deals on wine for National Drink Wine With Your Cat Week:

Wine.com: On Feb. 18, take 10% off your first order and 10% off when you buy six bottles or more. Plus get $20 off orders over $100 for new customers.

Martha Stewart Wine Co: Save up to 25% on Martha’s picks including Sauvignon Blanc, Moscato, Malbec, and many types of Rosé.

WSJ Wine: Get dry reds and whites starting at $9.99.

Uncorked: Save 10% on all orders.

Minibar Delivery: Get $10 off any order for new customers.

Read more: http://mashable.com/

adminadminWine for you and your feline is on sale for National Drink Wine With Your Cat Week
read more

Gilbert the cat has mastered the cup game

No comments

Cats are the perfect predator, and have a knack for deterring rodents and hunting down pests. 

In Gilbert’s case, he can always find a bell. 

Redditor Dingingdonging posted a video of their cat, Gilbert, playing the classic cup game. They hid a small bell under a cup, and then shifted it around with other cups. Gilbert was able to expertly locate the bell each time, tapping the cup he thought the bell was inside.

The game shows just how precise a cat’s hearing is. 

And redditors were pretty amazed by Gilbert’s patience.

Some tried to teach their pets the same game, but it didn’t work out very well.

Keep it up, Gilbert!

Read more: http://mashable.com/

adminadminGilbert the cat has mastered the cup game
read more

Subway cat just wants to nap

This cat just wants to nap, even if it’s blocking a busy subway exit in Taksim, Instanbul.

The street cat seemed perfectly content relaxing in front of the escalator, despite multiple commuters almost tripping over it. 

In true cat fashion, the feline didn’t really care that it was getting in the way of others, as long as it was comfortable. 

Read more: http://mashable.com/

adminadminSubway cat just wants to nap
read more