Wednesday, 27 May 2015

NEWSLINK: Panther killer wanted by state, feds

CHAD GILLIS, CGILLIS@NEWS-PRESS.COM2:14 p.m. EDT May 13, 2015

Who would be bold enough to shoot a Florida panther at the edge of a national wildlife refuge that bears the animal's name?

Federal and state investigators want to know the same thing, and they, along with animal advocacy groups, are offering a $15,000 reward for anyone who can help identify the shooter — someone who may have also shot other panthers just north of the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge in Collier County.

The panther was killed in March, and the death was initially reported as a road kill. Biologists later confirmed the death was the result of a gunshot, not blunt trauma associated with vehicle collisions. The investigation is being conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the federal agency charged with enforcing the Endangered Species Act.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

NEWSLINK: Kapata lifts ban on hunting big cats

Tourism and arts minister Jean Kapata has with immediate effect lifted the ban on hunting of lions and other big cats enforced in January 2013, but cautioned that hunting should only resume next year. 

Kapata said safari hunting was profitable and good for off-take of wildlife and could benefit the whole country if well nurtured. 

 “The main thrust to safari hunting in Zambia is the cat hunting, which involves the hunting of the lion and leopard and that suspension of the hunting in the 19 blocs greatly affected the wildlife resources as well as the livelihood of the locals in the game management,” she said in a statement issued by ZAWA public relations officer Sakabilo Kalembwe. 

Kapata said government’s move to ban the hunting of lions and other cats in 2013 had a good basis with a background of weak regulatory mechanisms. 

 “Some problems that led to the ban included declining lion populations in some areas due to over-harvesting, hunting of underage lions and depleting of the lion habitats,” she explained.  “I am lifting the ban on the following conditions; the guidelines are drafted into statutory instrument so that they become part of the wildlife law; lion hunting should only resume in the 2016-2017 hunting season and not this year.” 

Kapata said only leopard hunting would resume this 2015-2016 hunting season but with “very cautionary quotas”. 

She noted that the leopard population was and is still healthy, but that hunting of this type of cat was equally stopped because lapses in monitoring aspects, hitches which have now been rectified.  

“Government convened experts in the region to assess the status of cats in Zambia and advise on the way forward. 

Based on the advice given and fresh information from the field, ZAWA has produced documentation that describes the status of the lions in Zambia and prescribed guidelines that will be used to regulate cat hunting in Zambia,” said Kapata. 

“Some of the regulatory methods are currently being used in Tanzania, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. 

These have been found to be effective. We are certain as a government that the methods will be useful in the regulation of cat hunting in Zambia.”

Article here

NEWSLINK: Vietnamese man arrested in Russia with body of Siberian tiger

Posted on May 16, 2015 by Leya Musa


Russian police have raided premises in Moscow and arrested a Vietnamese citizen with the head and skin of a critically endangered Siberian tiger.

Following a search of the property they also found 59 big cat teeth and four bones. They are currently awaiting expert identification on these body parts to determine if they came from a tiger or from the critically endangered amur leopard.

If suspicions that the teeth have come from an amur leopard this would be devastating for conservation plans as less than 50 are thought to remain in the wild.

Vietnam is a major consumer country that is leading to large losses of wildlife across the world.

CITES 2016 should not be a time for discussion of a legal rhino horn trade but for the CITES community to pull together and issue an immediate trade ban against Vietnam until it is able to control the demand of illegal wildlife products and body parts of endangered wildlife in it’s borders.



NEWSLINK: Zambia begins hunting of big cats again


On Friday, Tourism and Arts Minister, Jean Kapata announced that the ban on hunting of lions and leopards is to be lifted in the country. The ban has been in place since 2013. Lion can be hunted again from next year and leopards can be hunted and killed from later this year.

The ban on lion hunting was established in Zambia when surveys showed that there could be as few as 2,500 wild lions left in the country. The number of leopards is not known as there has been no recent survey undertaken.

Kapata announced at the press conference that “I am lifting the ban on the following conditions, the guidelines are drafted into a statutory instrument so that they become part of the wildlife law. Lion hunting should only resume in the 2016/2017 hunting season and not this year.

“Leopard hunting can resume this year 2015/2016 season, but with very cautionary quotas”.

Monday, 25 May 2015

NEWSLINK: Miscalculated Tiger Census Numbers

Believe it or not, there's a right way and a wrong way to count tigers.

So when India announced recently that it’s most recent tiger survey revealed that the endangered big cats had increased by a whopping 30 percent to 2,226, Ullas Karanth, one of the most revered tiger experts in the world didn’t disagree with the enthusiasm or optimism over the future of the country’s iconic cat.

But he did disagree with the numbers. And that’s not just a quibble. It’s a belief that a miscalculation over how many tigers there are, and, just as important, where exactly they live, could botch the chances for what can be a population in ascendance.

Read more...

Veteran's vision to save big cats lives on in Louisburg

Posted: Friday, May 15, 2015 1:01 am | Updated: 4:00 am, Fri May 15, 2015.


LOUISBURG, Kan. (AP) — The big cats probably no longer look for Billy Dean Pottorff.
Three years have passed since they last saw him. Some used to recognize the sound of his footsteps coming across the shaded brown dirt.

"Voodoo would raise his head and make that noise of his when he knew it was Billy," said Rebecca Shaffer, Pottorff's sister.
Voodoo is a male African spotted leopard, one of 25 big cats that live at Cedar Cove Feline Conservatory and Education Center, about 4 miles east of this town, The Kansas City Star (http://bit.ly/1KTuM3J ) reported.
Pottorff, who died of a heart attack on April 18, 2012, at age 60, started the place. He was a local boy who went off to war at 17, nearly died and brought home scars, medals and something else: witness to the decimation of jungle tigers by war and poaching.
Cedar Cove, his idea to show people how to save the world's big cats from extinction, drew only a handful of visitors at first. Last year, nearly 60,000 showed up, many on school buses, to see lions and tigers in the Kansas countryside.
Pottorff's legacy has lived on in the lives of close friends like BJ, Sarge and Too Tall - everyone got a nickname - who kept the place going and growing. Same for the volunteers, including high school students introduced to the cats on field trips.
The guy who took over for Pottorff? The one called Too Tall.
Steve Klein lived in Kansas City's River Market and worked in advertising when he took the Cedar Cove tour. He thought he knew spiel. Never had he heard anything like Pottorff's passion for big cats.
The 6-foot-7-inch Klein soon started volunteering and now is board president and lives in the small house at Cedar Cove.
"Billy made this place," he said. "When he died, my life began. Poaching and expanded agriculture is going to kill off the big cats if something's not done.
"Here, we can't save the tigers in Asia; we can't buy land for them. But we can educate kids about what needs to be done.
"That's what Billy set out to do. I'm trying to keep it going."
Shaffer, nine years younger than her brother, knew something was wrong when neighbors picked her and her sister up from school.
When they arrived home, two military cars were parked out front. It was April 26, 1970.
Pottorff's helicopter had taken fire and gone down in the Ben Tre province of Vietnam. Some crew members were dead. They didn't know what happened to Pottorff, who had been a door gunner.
"My mom was bent over a table like a weeping willow," she remembered.
Days passed before the family learned that Pottorff had been taken to a hospital in Japan. Severe burns covered more than a fourth of his body. He recovered, came home, then returned for a second tour in Vietnam.
When he came home for good in 1972, mostly he talked about the tigers. Casualties of war and greed. He heard them in the jungle. He saw their hides in the village markets. He saw their parts pickled in jars.
"He was a witness to the black market selling tiger parts, and he never forgot that," said Bettie Jean "BJ" Auch, vice president of the Cedar Cove board and a longtime friend.
After a mishmash of jobs - welder, county deputy, small engine repairman - Pottorff got the idea for his big cat conservatory.

NEWSLINK: FOUR PAWS transfers family of six tigers to a new life in South African sanctuary




International animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS has successfully transferred a family of six Siberian tigers from its Big Cat Centre FELIDA in the Netherlands to the vast plains of it big cat sanctuary LIONSROCK, in South Africa. 
At LIONSROCK, the six tigers –  two parents and their four offspring – will have the opportunity to live a life fit for a tiger in huge enclosures under the South African sun, feeling grass under their paws, having the opportunity to run, to play and to swim in the specially built pools.
Heli Dungler, founder and president of FOUR PAWS, was there to witness the happy moment as the tigers made their first steps into their new home. “The animals arrived safely at LIONSROCK,” Dungler said. “They originally come from very bad keeping conditions. The long trip from the Netherlands to South Africa was more than worth it. Here in LIONSROCK these tigers can start a second life appropriate to their needs.”
The story of the parents, Cromwell and Juno, began in 2000 in Britain, at Dartmoor Wildlife Park, where the two tigers, along with four other tigers and two jaguars, were bred to be sold. Due to unforeseen circumstances, the sale of the animals was no longer possible, and as the animals were kept in enclosures that were no longer safe, they were moved to a shelter in the Netherlands named Pantera (later taken over by FOUR PAWS and renamed FELIDA).
For the two jaguars a new home was quickly found, and the six tigers were supposed to move to a safari park in China. Then, with the outbreak of bird flu, the animals could not be transported. Finally in 2004 four tigers were allowed to leave for China. Cromwell and Juno stayed in the Netherlands and together they had two litters, three sons and a daughter, who also lived with them in the shelter.