Victory for jaguars in U.S. – N.Y. Times

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January 13, 2010

In Reversal, Jaguar Habitat Will Be Protected
By LESLIE KAUFMAN

After more than a decade of resistance, the Fish and Wildlife Service said Tuesday that it would reverse previous decisions and protect the habitat of the jaguar.

The sleek, ferocious cats have been listed since 1997 as endangered, the highest level of peril for a wild species. Still, the government has never designated critical habitat for the jaguar or come up with a formal recovery plan, steps that are commonly taken under the Endangered Species Act.

The federal government has given varying reasons for its refusal to act. In 1997, the Fish and Wildlife Service said that to protect the jaguar’s habitat, it would have to make public maps of its range. That would make the animals vulnerable to more poaching, already a primary cause of deaths, it said.

In 2006, the service argued that jaguars were primarily native to South and Central America and that their range in the United States was largely incidental to its survival.

Wildlife advocates sued to protest those findings, pointing out that jaguars were thought to have once ranged from Louisiana to California, although they had rarely been seen in recent decades.

Last March, the Federal District Court in Tucson told the government that it would have to come back with a decision that was soundly based in science.

In theory, the service could have sought again to rule out habitat conservation. But this time the government said it would move to protect critical habitat and would publish a description of the land proposed for the designation.

It also agreed to develop a formal recovery plan, which will envision how the jaguar might make a recovery.

The Fish and Wildlife Service says there are no known jaguars in the United States today. The last jaguar known to exist within the nation’s borders died last March.

However, there are nearly 5,000 in Mexico, and more ranging as far south as Argentina and Paraguay.

The notion behind a critical habitat designation is to enable the jaguar to survive if it ranges north again.

Protecting the jaguar’s habitat will be a complicated challenge. The cats can range over hundreds of square miles to hunt prey, and ranchers have fiercely opposed protection.

Conservationists were exultant on Tuesday, with some predicting that the protection of such a far-ranging species could have a broader impact.

“It will reorient land conservation in the Southwest,” said Michael J. Robinson, conservation advocate with the Center for Biological Diversity, a Tucson-based group that brought the lawsuit.

When the government weighs a plan to allow tree cutting or mining on public lands, for example, he said, it will have to ensure that it will not harm the jaguar’s critical habitat.

“We will see planning to ensure jaguars can reach each other,” he said.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/13/science/earth/13jaguar.html

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Nepal: Increase in number of rescued leopards, other wildlife strains resources

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No place for rescued animals

PRAGATI SHAHI

KATHMANDU, DEC 24 – Due to the lack of a refuge for wild animals found abandoned or injured, the Central Zoo located is having a hard time playing the role of an orphanage centre, officials said.

“Rescues of wild animals, especially leopards, are increasing in recent years inside the Capital due to fragmentation and habitat disturbance. Due to the lack of proper department for the animals, the zoo has become a dumping site for them,” says Sarita Jynwali, project manager at the Zoo.

Six common leopards were rescued this year from different parts of the Capital. Likewise, a Ghoral, a Large Indian Civet, a Eurasian Eagle Owl, a Dusk Eagle Owl, a Himalayan griffon, a Black Kite, and a Asiatic Rock Python were rescued from different parts of the Capital this year. “The man-leopard conflict is on the rise since the last three years due to habitat-disturbance and decrease in prey species,” Jynwali said.

Jynwali said the zoo already has four leopards and there is no space for any more rescued animals. The zoo also lacks wildlife technicians, veterinarinarians, and security personnel to deal with tranquilising and treating the injured animals, as well as adequate money needed for the animals’ treatment and rehabilitation, according to officials.

Interestingly, the zoo is ready to welcome an orphaned tigress, which will be used for breeding purposes, from Chitwan National Park in the next few weeks. Similarly, along with the tigress an orphan leopard from the Park will be rehabilitated inside the zoo due to lack of an animal rescue centre.

Shiv Raj Bhatt, spokesperson at the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation said that a plan to establish an orphanage centre at Godavari has not been finalised yet.

http://www.ekantipur.com/the-kathmandu-post/2009/12/24/Metro/No-place-for-rescued-animals/3365/

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Learn more about big cats and Big Cat Rescue at http://bigcatrescue.org

Young bobcat a star at South Georgia park

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By Mark Davis

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
12:47 p.m. Friday, November 27, 2009

Chet Powell, who knows a few things about animals, has a rule: Never, ever, bother May. Not while she’s eating, anyway.

If you do, make sure you count your fingers first. She’s quick, and unapologetic, just like any adolescent bobcat.

May the bobcat is the resident star of Reed Bingham State Park in South Georgia. She came to the park in spring, a tiny thing with eyes tightly shut, shaky and barely alive. But oh, what a difference a few months of hand-feedings make.

“She was kind of slow at first,” said Powell, the park’s director. “But not anymore.”

A master of understatement, our Mr. Powell. In a race, this young Lynx rufus could make a neutron sweat. If she’s coming around the corner you should go ahead and look at the middle of the yard; she’ll be there momentarily. She’s lightning in a fur coat, trailed by a thunderous purr.

A South Georgia timber crew found her when it knocked down a dead tree. The fallen tree revealed three bobcat kittens, not even a week old, blind and helpless. One was dead. The crew stopped everything and hustled the two living kittens to an animal rescue group. That organization took them to Reed Bingham, where people are always saving something — possums, deer, birds. Powell once took a sick snake to the doctor.

A second bobcat died, leaving one. Employees bottle-fed her every morning, every night. She strained, wiggled, dug her claws into life and held on. The kitten opened her eyes, stretched her legs, learned to walk. Employees named her May, after the month she came to the park.

Now, she eats fancy, high-protein cat food from a bowl. Powell thinks he may use her for an educational exhibit. How many people have ever had a close encounter of the furred kind with a bobcat?

May is not the only draw at Reed Bingham, a 3 1/2-hour drive south of Atlanta. The 1,600-acre park is home to a variety of creatures, furry and otherwise. The limpkin, a rare wading bird with a dagger beak, stalks the edges of the Little River and park lake. Bald eagles build nests the size of Smart cars in its trees. The longest snake native to America, the Eastern indigo, is a Reed Bingham regular.

The park also is renowned for its annual release of baby gopher tortoises, the state reptile. Buzzard Day is another visitor favorite, and small wonder: Your Georgia experience isn’t complete until you’ve seen a tree sagging with carrion-eaters.

Other parks also use animals to educate visitors about Georgia’s nonhuman residents, according to the state Department of Natural Resources. Amicalola Falls, for example, frequently features birds and mammals in programs. Many parks bring out lizards, snakes and other things that crawl past your tent.

May, meantime, is learning the nuances of bobcat life, tracking stuffed animals in a grassy compound. The toys trigger a hunting instinct, preparing her for a life grabbing squirrels, rats, mice “and whatever she can catch,” Powell said.

Eventually, she’ll return to the forests. Bobcats, which aren’t endangered, thrive in the leafy tangles of South Georgia, and that’s where Powell will take her. She must go where the wild things are.

“Obviously,” he said, “a bobcat is not a pet.”

He probably will take her to a stand of distant woods, maybe the piney plains near the Georgia-Florida border. There, he’ll open a cage, bid her goodbye and watch her go, a bolt of lightning wearing a fur coat.

http://www.ajc.com/news/young-bobcat-a-star-216033.html

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Learn more about big cats and Big Cat Rescue at http://bigcatrescue.org

India: "Misplaced sympathy may cost us our leopards"

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Karnataka – Mysore

Special Correspondent

Two leopard cubs ‘rescued’ from sugarcane field

MYSORE: It is a plea that has fallen on deaf ears. Not to pick up leopard cubs left behind by the mother that may have gone foraging for food. But yet again, a few youngsters from Arasinakere in Jayapura hobli of Mysore taluk picked up two leopard cubs found in a sugarcane field and promptly brought them to the Mysore zoo on Thursday.

And the zoo authorities turned down the request to harbour the cubs following which the cubs were shifted to the Aranya Bhavan. The two cubs are reckoned to be around 15 days old and given their fragile health, as they are still in the suckling period, their chances of survival may be slim.

Wildlife conservationists have time and appealed to the public not to disturb the leopard cubs that may be found in sugarcane fields. Leopards are highly adaptable creatures and tend to keep the cubs in the perceived safety of sugarcane fields or shrub vegetation far from their habitat.

But as experts have pointed, shifting, if any, should be done only after carefully monitoring the movement of the cubs and ascertaining that the mother has indeed abandoned them.

But the tendency is to pick up the little cats and bring them to the zoo which does not have the authority to keep more than a stipulated number of animals per species.

Such “rescues” born out of misplaced sympathy are disconcerting as leopard population across the country is declining and such misplaced sympathies may hasten their march to extinction.

http://www.hindu.com/2009/11/27/stories/2009112751380200.htm

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Learn more about big cats and Big Cat Rescue at http://bigcatrescue.org

India: 3 leopard cubs will go to zoo if mother doesn’t turn up

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3 leopard cubs found abandoned
TNN 22 November 2009, 09:45pm IST

CHIKMAGALUR: Three leopard cubs were found abandoned at Ganeshapura near Hadikere in Tarikere taluk and was later rescued by the forest department.

The cubs, abandoned by its mother, was spotted by a villager on his way to his farm. He, along with some villagers, immediately informed the range forest officer Jayanna who rushed to the spot and rescued the spotted felony cubs.

The forest department staff placed the cubs in the same spot with a hope that its mother would return to find its cubs. The RFO said they will wait for the night and if the mother doesn’t turn up, the cubs will be sent to Tavarekoppa in Shimoga district or Mysore Zoo.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mysore/3-leopard-cubs-found-abandoned/articleshow/5258174.cms

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Learn more about big cats and Big Cat Rescue at http://bigcatrescue.org