Camera spies Siberian tiger strolling into China
Russian Tiger Heads To China
Evidence suggests endangered species may be expanding range from Russia
Photos of the endangered Amur, or Siberian tiger, have been taken for the first time by a camera trap in a nature reserve in northeast China, suggesting that the cats are expanding their range south from Russia where they are more plentiful.
The two photos were taken in April in the Wangqing Nature Reserve in northeast China’s Changbai Mountains. The tiger likely came from Hunchun, close to the Russian border, where multiple images of Siberian tigers were taken in March. Several Amur leopards, which are even more endangered, were also spotted at that time in the Hunchun reserve.
Although footprints of the Amur tiger have been discovered many times in the Wangqing area since 2008, this is the first time that a camera trap set up in the reserve has captured photos of the rare species. Experts will try to identify the individual tiger photographed by comparing it with the Hunchun photos, according to a statement from the conservation organization WWF, which helped set up the cameras.
“The photos give hope of the real possibility that tigers could return to their previous habitat if steps are taken to manage it,” said Zhu Jiang, head of WWF-China’s Northeast Program Office, in the statement. “It shows that the camera trap is a very effective tool in monitoring rare wildlife species. We have to expand its use.”
The WWF and other groups are working together to set up automatic infrared cameras to build the monitoring platform to cover areas of Amur tiger habitat elsewhere in the Changbai and nearby Wanda mountains.
“Data collected through this technology will help greatly in monitoring the Amur tiger population and its distribution,” said Jiang Jinsong, Jilin Forestry Department’s tiger and leopard program officer. “It would also help us determine whether there are settled individuals or breeding families, and therefore support conservation measures.”
Amur tigers were once widespread in northeast China, but have declined due to habitat degradation and fragmentation, poaching and a small prey base. Estimates put the current wild Amur tiger population in northeast China, mostly confined to the Changbai Mountains in Jilin province and the Wanda mountains in Heilongjian province, at about 18 to 24 individuals. About 430 to 500 live in the forests to the north in Russia.
Kenya Wildlife Service have recaptured a lioness and her two cubs found roaming in Mukoma Road area in Lang’ata. Reliable sources said the lioness is the same one captured in early May. She escaped from the holding pen at the KWS headquarters after chewing through the wiring two weeks ago. Once she escaped, she returned to Mukoma road in an effort to reunite with her cubs and was subsequently spotted.
Michael Mbithi of the Nairobi Park Lions project said: “This is actually the second time such a thing has happened. In 2005 a lion named Adimu also escaped from the vet holding facility and made his way through the Safari Walk all the way to Athi Kapiti plains in 24 hours.” The lioness and her two cubs are currently at the veterinary holding facility awaiting a decision on relocation. In the meantime, a search is ongoing for a suspected third cub that was with the lioness that wasn’t captured.
The Nairobi National Park fence line has been breached by lions in the recent past as they seek safer territory for their cubs. The fence line has been vandalised in some areas, according to sources, and in other cases warthogs have dug under the fence, leaving open spaces for the lions to roam out.Elsewhere, farmers in Empakasi, Kitengela plains, Kajiado County, are counting loses after some 20 stray lions from the Nairobi National Park invaded their farms and ate more than 80 goats and eight cows in the last three weeks.
The lions attempted again to kill many more yesterday morning but they were driven away by Maasai morans after the big cats killed one heifer belonging to Joseph Matunke. Mzee Matunke said the lions descended on his home in Empakasi as early as 5am and broke open the gates into his cow shed but morans who have taken to guarding their livestock arrived almost immediately and fought off the cats. Already one of the lions had killed one heifer.
Residents said the lions have been attacking the livestock since the end of last month and that their attempts to deliver their grievances to the Kenya Wildlife Service has never materialised. “We have been calling them but they do not respond to our grievances. What we want is the protection of our livestock,” said Peter Senteu. James Turere, the chairman of Kitengela Elparkuo Land Owners Association, who was present at Mzee Matunke’s home warned KWS that the farmers will be forced to act against the lions if they will not come and protect their livestock. “We have waited for so long for the government to pass a Wildlife Bill on compensation that is expected to help the farmers living along the wildlife corridors. Our people solely depend on livestock and if the big cats are left to kill their cows and goats at that rate, then their lives will be in danger,” said Turere.
Early in the year, morans from a neighbouring village of Shorinke killed three lions after they had attacked their livestock. Their action caused the KWS officials to act immediately. At that time officials from the KWS visited the scene and promised the farmers that they will be paid consolation fees for the loses they incurred after the lion attacks on their livestock. They were later paid some Sh5 million which the KWS said was a consolation fee.
Currently, there is no law that governs compensation of eaten livestock by wildlife and the KWS and their friends from the diaspora have been engaged in raising funds abroad for the purposes of consolation fees for farmers in Kajiado county and other parts where wildlife share water and grazing resources.
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Akash, one of Thiruvananthapuram zoo’s most pampered possessions, won’t walk again. The one-year-old male lion cub has been paralyzed after both its hind legs weakened irremediably.
The cub, which used to hop around jauntily, began to wobble a week ago. Two days back things worsened. Akash would try every now and then to lift himself only to collapse on the floor of the cage. He visibly writhes in pain every time he strains to stand up and play with his sister Aradhana, who is of the same age.
“He was born with defective limbs. But we never expected this to happen so suddenly. Now all we can do is administer some pain killers just to make him feel good,” a zoo official said. Although the zoo officials mulled over physiotherapy, they dismissed the idea due to the genetic nature of the defect. ”Since it is congenital there is nothing much we can do. Even physiotherapy is unlikely to produce any fruitful results,” the official added.It is learnt that a few weeks ago, the cub suffered an injury on its leg after a fall that . ”The fall might have hastened the paralysis.
We had always taken special care of Akash. We had even separated him from Aradhana for sometime and fed it separately,” another zoo official said.
The paralyzed lion cub will soon be made an off-exhibit and shifted to a separate enclosure.
The sorry fate of the cub has of course put the authorities in a serious dilemma. As per the guidelines of Central Zoo Authority, euthanasia or mercy killing is not allowed for animals in a zoo. Zoo rules, 2009, however, says that euthanasia is allowed in certain cases.
In case the authorities desist from mercy killing, it is likely that Akash will have to spend the rest of his life prone on a cage floor, without being able to stand or walk.
The Tata Zoological Park on Thursday became the only Indian zoo to house lions of pure African origin with the National Zoological Gardens (NSG) at Pretoria in South Africa sending it five one-year-old African cubs, two of whom are males and three females.
All the five lions arrived safely at the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport Kolkata and were received by a four-member team of the zoological park. Later the cubs were taken to Jamshedpur in a truck.
The zoo authorities said the cubs would be kept in a special enclosure for 30 days after which they would be open to visitors.
The National Zoological Garden in Pretoria and the Zoological Society in Jamshedpur signed the pact for the cubs’ transfer as part of an exchange programme last year.”It is a long-term collaboration for exchanging surplus animals,”said Bipul Chakraborty, director, Tata Zoological Park.
ILKEEK-LEMEDUNG’I, Kenya — Crouching at dawn in the savannah’s tall grass, the lions tore through the flesh of eight goats. Dogs barked, women screamed and men with the rank of warrior in this village of Maasai tribesman gathered their spears.
Kenya Wildlife Service rangers responded to the attack, but arrived without a veterinarian and no way to tranquilize the eight lions and remove them from Ilkeek-Lemedung’I, a settlement of mud and stone homes not far from the edges of Nairobi National Park.
In the end, the Maasai men — who come from a tribe renowned for its hunting skills — grew tired of waiting, said Charity Kingangir, whose father’s goats were attacked Wednesday. The men speared the lions, killing six: two adult lionesses, two younger lions and two cubs.
The lions had killed eight goats, each worth about $60.
Wednesday’s killings highlight the growing threat to Kenya’s wildlife posed by the rapid expansion of its capital. A week earlier, residents from another village on Nairobi’s outskirts killed a leopard that had eaten a goat. Last month, wildlife service agents shot and killed a lion moving around the Nairobi suburb of Karen. On Thursday, three lions attacked and killed three goats outside Nairobi National Park. Rangers chased the lions back to the park.
Earlier this week, the Kenya Wildlife Service sent out a public notice pleading with people who encounter wild animals “to desist from killing them.”
It summed up the problem in a posting on its Facebook page: “Do animals invade human space, or do humans invade animal space? How can we find tolerance for our wild neighbors? And how can we humanely remove them when they get a bit too close?”
As Nairobi enjoys a boom in apartment and road construction, an expanding population center is putting heavy pressure on the animals, especially big cats. Nairobi National Park is the only wildlife park in the world that lies in a country’s capital.
Killing lions is a crime in Kenya, but those who lose livestock to big cats frequently retaliate. About 100 lions are killed each year, and the country’s lion population has dropped to about 2,000. Lions, especially ones who leave Nairobi National Park, which is not completely fenced in, are at risk. After Wednesday’s killings, the park had 37 left, KWS estimates.
As Nairobi continues to grow, small towns that cropped up on its outskirts expand, fueled by the demand for low-cost housing from the city’s working class.
People are settling in traditional migratory corridors that wildlife from Nairobi’s park have long used to access the plains to the south around Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro, or to travel to Kenya’s Maasai Mara in the country’s southwest, said Peter M. Ngau, a professor in the department of urban and regional planning at the University of Nairobi.
The herbivores migrate from the park in search of pasture during the dry season and the carnivores follow, KWS official Ann Kahihia said.
“Unfortunately the carnivores do not know the difference between livestock and wild animals. Once they get livestock they just kill them,” Kahihia said.
KWS Director Julius Kipngetich says the human population in the Kitengela area, where the six lions were killed, was low in the 1990s but has grown dramatically since the opening of an export processing zone there.
Even the annual migration of the wildebeests from Nairobi National Park to the Athi plains to Nairobi’s east has been squeezed by human settlement, he said.
If parliament approves, the Kenyan government will start compensating people whose livestock are maimed or killed as an incentive to spare the attacking animals. KWS spokesman Paul Udoto said the government stopped compensation for wildlife attacks in 1987 after the program was abused.
Kipngetich said other ways of avoiding human-wildlife conflict is to fence parks and compensate at market rates people whose land can be used for conservation purposes.
Jackson Sikeet, who was present during Wednesday’s killing of the lions, said the government should compensate the Maasai for the loss of the goats.
“Otherwise if they don’t, this problem is going to continue every other time,” he said.
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ONE of Dreamworld’s most famous stalwarts, Mohan the white bengal tiger, has passed away.
Mohan, 17, who came to the theme park’s Tiger Island as young cub from the United States, passed away on Wednesday.
Known as the “King of Tiger Island”, Mohan was one of the original tigers introduced to Dreamworld when Tiger Island opened in 1995.
As Mohan paced around his enclosure over the weekend, Tiger Island Manager Patrick Martin-Vegue – who raised him since he was young – said Mohan had been sick for some time.
Mr Martin-Vegue said Mohan had been off his food and had suspected renal failure.
Mohan, whose name meant “charming”, was born on November 2, 1994.
When full-grown he weighed an average of 180kg and was white with light stripes.
Mohan was father to Rama, Sita, Sultan and Tai who were born at Tiger Island in 1998.
Thousands of visitors to Dreamworld viewed or met Mohan during his 17 years at the park.
A portion of proceeds from photos taken with Mohan, and other Tiger Island tigers, go towards Dreamworld’s Wildlife Foundation’s Tiger Island Conservation Fund, which directly supports tigers in the wild.
Dreamworld has donated $1.4 million to saving tigers in the wild since 2006, making the theme park the world’s largest zoological contributor of funds to the 21st century tiger.
Funds raised help with anti-poaching measures, habitat restoration, education and monitoring in tiger populated countries.
Including Mohan, Dreamworld was home to 15 tigers, including nine bengals and six sumatran tigers, of which three litters have been born at Tiger Island.
The latest additions, rare Bengal tiger cubs, Baru and Ravi, arrived at Dreamworld from Sydney in April and are now 15 weeks old.