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Tiger Poaching On The Rise In India

Tiger Poaching On The Rise

Whilst the numbers of tigers in the wild is rising, poaching has also risen at the same time says the Wildlife Protection Society of India. A recently released census report shows that the number of illegally poached tigers in the country this year is already higher than the total tally for 2015. The results of the survey show that as of April, there were at least 28 tigers that had been captured or killed which is 3 more than last year’s final count.

The results are alarming

Many conservation groups find the results extremely alarming and as a result they have intensified their efforts in the fight against illegal poaching. Guardians of the Wild an environmental agency launched an initiative to train as many as 7000 wildlife protection officers in 2011 which at the time was a third of India’s total anti-poaching forces. The guards had a mandate to investigate poaching activity in India, Bhutan and Nepal. Tito Joseph the group’s program manager said he was deeply troubled by the statistics.

The good news is tiger numbers are also rising

Tiger body parts are used in traditional Chinese medicine and are sold on the black market. The big cat’s pelts are also traded as a luxury good. The Wildlife Protection Society of India says that poachers use a number of techniques to kill their prey including guns, steel traps, electrocution and poison. The results of the census come less than a year after as another report claimed that the global population of wild tigers could be rising.  In 2015 conservation groups counted 3,890 wild tigers which is higher than the 2010 count which estimated there were just 3,200 wild tigers which was an all-time low.  To put that into context at the turn of the last century there were at least 100,000 wild tigers says WWF.

Coordinated enforcement is needed

As of the last census, India has the world’s largest wild tiger population with over 2,200 roaming the country. Penalties for poaching in India can include up to three years in prison and fines of as much as hundreds of thousands of dollars. For his part Mr. Joseph says that poaching can only be halted when there is a coordinated intelligence led enforcement operation. This is because the illegal wildlife trade involves citizens of many countries making it a transnational organised crime.

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Hugging Your Dog Causes It Stress

Hugging Your Dog Causes It Stress

New research suggests that dog lovers should stop cuddling their pets because the animals tend to find it uncomfortable and stressful. According to Dr Stanley Coren a canine behaviour scientist at the University of British Columbia, pet owners who regularly hug their pets are mistaking signs of anxiety for affection. Dr Coren said owners were blindly posting photos on social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram of themselves hugging their dogs without understanding their pets are displaying clear signs of discomfort.

Clear signs of distress

Dr Coren looked at 250 images and found that in 80 per cent of the pictures he looked at, the animals were displaying obvious signs of distress. In a paper published in Psychology Today, the researcher said that people posting such pictures online, tend to do so to demonstrate the love they feel for their pets, however it is clear that the dogs are looking into the camera and thinking they would really rather not participate.

Stifling evolution

The Canadian university professor says dog gestures such as raising a paw, yawning or even licking an owners face are often mistake for being affection when instead they were really signs of stress. Dr Coren adds that dogs feel uncomfortable when they are cuddled because the act prohibits their natural response to escape from danger. The basic animal response to situations which are considered stressful or threatening is to run away. When owners hug their dogs, they are taking away the ability of the animal to respond in the fashion that evolution designed them to respond, the professor said.

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Lion Shot Dead By Kenyan Wildlife Service

Lions On The Lose In Nairobi

A stray male lion that was wandering on the outskirts of Nairobi was shot dead by Kenyan wildlife rangers following an attack which resulted in a local resident getting injured according to Kenyan Wildlife Service. The agency said that a mob quickly formed around the animal which resulted in the rangers having to shoot the lion so that further injuries could be avoided.

“It had injured somebody. There was a crowd that had formed around it, so it was practically impossible to capture it the way we planned to,” Paul Udoto, communications manager for the wildlife service said.

Third incident

Over the last few months this was the third lion to wander outside Nairobi National Park which is located on the outskirts of the city. Whilst no one was injured in the first case, one man received injuries during the second incident. On the two previous occasions when lions have strayed, wildlife officials were able to capture the animals and return them to areas where they are protected. During the latest incident, images were uploaded to social media showing the lion walking in a grassy area next to the fence which separates the city from the national park. Images also show people gathering around the animal.

“The mob had formed and in the process somebody got injured, and by the time the veterinary and security teams got to the ground it was already beyond salvation,” Udoto said. “With that commotion we risked more injuries or even possible deaths.”

Human animal conflict

Nairobi National Park is located on the outskirts of the city and visitors are confronted by the strange juxtaposition of lions, zebras, giraffes and rhinos against a backdrop of skyscrapers. Occasionally lions are seen in the city very near the park after managing to get through the fences which separate the built up areas near the reserve.

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Female Tiger Dies During Mating Attempt

Tiger Poaching On The Rise

Mating is not easy for any species and this is especially the case for tigers. Recently a female tiger that was housed in California’s Sacramento Zoo died following an attack by a male tiger during a mating attempt that went horribly wrong. Mohan the male tiger was sent from the Memphis Zoo to mate with a female tiger Baha. However according to a statement by Sacramento Zoo, Mohan became aggressive with Baha during a physical introduction.

The first time the tigers met

This was the first physical meeting of the Sumatran tigers. The Zoo has been keeping an eye on the behaviour of the two tigers for a number of moths. Both the male and female had engaged in eye contact, however this was probably for all the wrong reasons. Officials from zoo decided the two tigers were ready to meet, but the male tiger Mohan became aggressive as soon as Baha entered the enclosure. Handlers of the animals quickly tried to separate the two tigers.

“As soon as staff (was) able to get the male tiger into a secure location veterinarians rushed to care for Baha, but unfortunately she had already passed,” the zoo said.

Successful breeding program

For its part Sacramento Zoo said it has successfully bred tigers since the 1960’s. Baha has been living at the zoo since 2002 and is survived by five offspring from earlier successful breeding attempts with the zoo’s former breeding male tiger named Castro. Castro however had to be euthanized in 2014 after being treated for Lymphoma. Castro was 16 ½ years old making him the oldest breeding male in the United States when he was alive.  Mohan has also participated in successful breeding attempts making the incident very unusual. He has been removed from the public viewing area and is now being monitored.

Over the last hundred years, four of nine tiger subspecies have become extinct in their natural habitats Sacramento Zoo said in a statement. It is believed that there are less than 500 Sumatran tigers left in the wild with a further 200 living in zoos around the world.

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New Video Footage Gets Animal Rights Activists Up In Arms Over Killer Whales In Captivity

Killer Whale

A video that was recently posted which appears to show a captive killer whale at SeaWorld beaching herself for over 10 minutes during a show has animal rights activists up in arms. Activists say they think the behaviour suggests the whale was trying to kill herself, however Sea World has shot back saying the behaviour is perfectly natural.

Potential suicide attempt

Rick O’ Barry of the Dolphin Project which is an animal rights group posted the video recently. The video shows a killer whale called Morgan lying motionless beside a tank following a performance at a water park in Tenarife Spain. The killer whale is currently on loan to the park from SeaWorld. Whales have been known to beach themselves whilst they are hunting on occasion, however if they stay on land for too long, they will die because their internal organs and muscles end up being crushed by their own weight.

The Dolphin Project released a statement saying they could not explain the reason for the orca’s behaviour, it was unsettling to say the least that a previously wild animal was now locked in park’s performance area.

The park itself shot back a response:

 “It is absolutely illogical and absurd to assume that the length and the quality of such video would be sufficient to make a conclusion and declaration of such nature,” the park said. “A voluntary stranding is a natural behaviour of orcas living in the wild. … The orcas at Loro Parque are trained to leave the water on their own accord. This behaviour is used for manifold purposes, for example, for presenting the animals to the public, for conducting corporal check-ups, for inspecting their blowholes, as well as for testing hearing abilities of the orcas.”

“There are no concerns with Morgan sliding out as shown in the video as the whales do this with some regularity,” SeaWorld told Fox News.

Target on its back

SeaWorld has long been a target for animal rights activists and just this year has yielded to pressure, deciding to phase out its killer whale show. The decision follows critics questioning the risks of keeping such large animals in captivity following the release of controversial documentary Blackfish.

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South Africa To Go High Tech In Fight Against Rhino Poachers

Three Rare Javan Rhino Calves Born

South Africa is expanding its use of technology to keep poachers away from rhinos. The country is keeping track of people coming in and out of a game reserve that is very near Kruger National Park. Authorities are tracking people regardless of how they enter and exit the park whether it be landing by helicopter, cutting through a fence or driving past a gate.

Project being tested

South African based Dimension Data has partnered with Cisco Systems in carrying out a test project. So far the two companies have finished the initial phase of rolling out a secure network in the reserve complete with Wi-Fi hotspots. The next stage will make use of infrared cameras, thermal imaging drones and vehicle tracking, so that even at night time, people’s movement can be tracked. The techniques being used will have no effect on the animals themselves such as darting rhinos to insert chips into their horns or under their skins.

Rhinos could be extinct in South Africa by 2025

In 2014 at least 1,215 rhinos were killed by poachers in South Africa said the country’s Department of Environmental Affairs. If poaching continues at that rate, by 2018, the number of rhino deaths will exceed the number of rhino births and by 2025, there could well be no rhinos left in South Africa according to a report.

“Every day, hundreds of staff, suppliers, contractors, security personnel and tourists enter and exit game reserves. The human activity in these environments is not monitored because, typically, the reserve is in a remote location with basic IT infrastructure and access control, manual security processes and very limited communication.” Dimension Data Group Executive Bruce Watson said in a statement.

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33 Lions Rescued From South American Circuses

Lions On The Lose In Nairobi

Last month, 33 lions that were rescued from circuses in Columbia and Peru were flown back to South Africa to live out the rest of their lives in a private sanctuary. This was the largest ever airlift of lions and the entire operation was funded by Animal Defenders International. The group which is headquartered in Los Angeles has been working with lawmakers in the two South American countries for years to ban the use of wildlife circuses where the animals are usually kept in terrible conditions.

Great suffering

The lions experienced great suffering in captivity, one animal had lost an eye, many were found with broken or rotting teeth whilst some were declawed. The first group of nine lions were collected using a McDonnell Douglas cargo plane in Bogota, Columbia, another 24 were picked up from Lima Peru and then the entire group headed to Johannesburg. From Johannesburg the lions were then transported by land to Emoya Big Cat Sanctuary which has large natural enclosures and will serve as their home.

Quarantine first

Upon their arrivals the lions were placed in quarantine at the 12,355-acre sanctuary which was established just 3 years ago. The 33 lions were monitored by vets during their first weeks in Africa and were then slowly introduced to one another in a 1-hectare bonding enclosure. Most of the lions had never experienced direct physical contact with other lions and had only ever been with other lions separated by a fence or cage.

Cannot hunt

The lion’s poor physical state means the lions simply do not have the ability to hunt again and will have to be cared for with the sanctuary providing food and water for the rest of their lives. The Emoya sanctuary purchases game meat in bulk to feed its residents. All the enclosures will be fitted with drinking pools and toys so that the lions can avoid boredom. Their enclosures will be expanded steadily the more familiar they grow with the territory.

“It will be hugely satisfying to see these lions walking into the African bush, it might be one of the finest rescues I’ve ever seen; it’s never happened before taking lions from circuses in South America all the way to Africa, It’s like a fairytale.” said Tom Phillips, ADI’s vice-president,

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Leopards Have Lost An Awful Lot Of Their Historic Range

Leopards Have Lost An Awful Lot Of Their Historic Range

Leopards all over the world have lost about 75 per cent of their historic range the results of a new survey suggest. The survey is the first effort at getting a sense of the leopard’s global paw print. The survey was conducted in collaboration with the Zoological Society of London, Panthera and National Geographic Society’s Big Cats Initiative. The researchers looked at over 1,300 sources of information regarding the leopard’s historic and current ranges.

Not a pleasant picture

The results of the survey did not present a pleasant picture for the Panthera Pardus and its nine subspecies. The survey results showed that today the leopard occupies a range of 3.3. million square miles which is substantially less than its historic range of 13.5 million square miles. Andrew Jacobson of ZSL who was the lead author of the study says the results challenge the conventional assumption that the species is relatively abundant and not seriously threatened.

The species has all but disappeared in some parts of the world

The research team emphasised the fact the leopards have all but disappeared in several parts of Asia and the species continues to struggle throughout Africa. They add that more attention needs to be paid to subspecies which are most at-risk.

“We found that while leopard research was increasing, the research effort was primarily on the subspecies with the most remaining range, whereas subspecies that are most in need of urgent attention were neglected. Of these subspecies, the Javan leopard (P. p. melas) is currently classified as critically endangered by the IUCN, while another — the Sri Lankan leopard (P. p. kotiya) — is classified as endangered, highlighting the urgent need to understand what can be done to arrest these worrying declines.”the authors wrote

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Chacha The Chimp Attempts Daring Escape From Japanese Zoo

Chacha The Chimp Attempts Daring Escape From Japanese Zoo

A chimpanzee living in a zoo in Northern Japan made a daring escape and climbed up an electricity pole before he was hit by a sedative dart, falling harmlessly from the wires into a blanket held by rescue workers. Chacha the chimp survived falling from a great height with just a few minor cuts and bruises zoo officials said. The whole encounter thrilled Japan however, with television viewers glued to their screens as Chacha managed to evade capture and swung from power lines in a high state of agitation.

Didn’t get very far

Chacha’s escape lasted for nearly two hours following his disappearance from Sendai’s Yagiyama zoological park. The city is set to play host to the G7 finance minister’s meeting which will take place this month. Electricity to 1,848 homes had to be turned off briefly during the incident according to Tohoku Electric Power Company. Witnesses say the chimp was able to climb over the wall of his enclosure and then made a dash for freedom by climbing up a telephone pole and leaping on to power lines. Chacha didn’t get very far and was captured just 250 metres away from the zoo.

Shot by tranquilliser dart

Television footage showed the chimp sat atop a pole clearly agitated and screaming at his handlers below. One zoo worker shot Chacha in the back with a dart that sent him running along the wires. The chimp managed to pull the dart out but it had already delivered a dose of sedative. Chacha then appeared to lose his grip as the sedative began to take effect and suddenly fell head first into the blanket. Chacha is a middle aged chimp and zoo officials say he will feel the effects of the sedative for a couple of days but will completely recover.

Japanese television viewers captivated by great escape

Japanese viewers were transfixed by the entire episode which took place just a few weeks after another animal breakout which was also televised and occurred in Gifu prefecture. At the end of March, a zebra went on the rampage on a golf course, chased by portly policemen after breaking out of a nearby horse riding farm. That escape did not end well with the zebra drowning after falling into the water following being hit by a tranquilliser dart.

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Inky The Octopus Makes Daring Escape From Aquarium

Inky The Octopus Makes Daring Escape From Aquarium

An octopus living in a New Zealand aquarium has made a daring dash for freedom and is now believed to be roaming in the Pacific Ocean. Inky the octopus apparently took the opportunity to escape through a small gap in the enclosure he was being housed in at the National Aquarium in Napier. Remarkably Inky was able to squeeze himself out through the gap and then slide across the floor to a drainpipe that is 15cm wide which fortunately for him, ends up in the sea. Rob Yarrall who manages the aquarium said that following maintenance work, the lid of the tank was left ajar.

“He managed to make his way to one of the drain holes that go back to the ocean and off he went – didn’t even leave us a message,” Mr. Yarrall said in an interview with Radio New Zealand.

Octopuses have amazing ability to shrink

Following the great escape members of the aquarium staff found octopus tracks which revealed the route taken by Inky to escape. The breakout happened much earlier in the year but was only reported by the zoo recently. Inky has a body which is about the size of a rugby ball but he is extremely squishy which means he has the ability to pass through what seem like impossible gaps. Even large octopus have the ability to shrink right down to the size of their mouth which is the only hard part of the species body.

First time this has ever happened

Of the two octopuses housed at the aquarium, only Inky decide to attempt an escape which leaves his buddy behind. Mr. Yarrell said the situation was most unusual and this was the first time he had ever experienced an escape at the aquarium. Now he is a little wiser he says he will be keeping a closer eye on the other octopus.

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