Monday, January 5, 2009

Weekly Feline News

Gosh I really am quite late with this week's feline news. A whole day late in fact. I thought initially of cheating and backdating the post to Sunday but by now it's Monday in all the time zones I think - so can't kid anyone ;) Anyways here are the cat-related news from this past week..

No news yet of the capture and relocation of the bengal tiger that has gone astray in the north of India. Still some interesting reports have cropped up in the past week that might suggest as to why the forest officials have been unable to track and trap the animal successfully so far. Apart from the fact that the local wildlife staff is perhaps not ideally trained for this particular task there is also a sense that the approach adopted by the authorities so far has not been the right one. Tigers are secretive animals and try to avoid humans in the first place. A tiger that has ventured miles out of his territory will be scared, defensive and try his level best to shun human presence and avoid detection. Tracking such an animal obviously requires patience and a measure of stealth on part of the pursuers. And yet it seems the approach by the local staff has been opposite of this. The animal has literally been herded and followed relentlessly without allowing the big cat to habituate itself to any part of the jungles it has ventured through for the past month. And since a tiger can move through a forest with far greater ease, pace and endurance than human beings, the big cat has constantly stayed ahead of his pursuers by several kilometers throughout the past few weeks - resting during the day and moving at nighttime. To date it has covered a total distance of over four hundred kilometers - a unique feat for a tiger in any part of the world. What is also incredible is that the felid has been able to find and take down prey animals regularly during all this mayhem and has subsisted largely on wild herbivores, except for that unfortunate fatal attack on a boy. And now it seems that it is residing in a particular stretch of forest that might host a ecosystem close to the animal's natural habitat. The trained team from Wildlife Institute of India has apparently left after waiting out for the tiger for a couple of weeks, giving instructions to the local authorities as they departed. So we'll just have to continue to wait it appears before this whole episode concludes, hopefully on a happy note! The local media reports about the situation can be found here, here and here.

Tiger straying is a problem in Sunderban too - the world's largest mangrove delta that borders India and Bangladesh in the subcontinent's northeast. The consequences there though are often more serious for both people and the tiger. For many the Sunderban tigers are notorious man-eaters who don't hesitate to attack people and stray into their villages. In truth most human lives are lost when people move into the core area designated for tigers - driven by poverty in search of fish and honey from the riverine woodlands. Still the incidence of tigers wandering into human habitats is on the rise - something that prompted the chief minister of the state to hold a meeting and order a probe into this matter. And even though the results of the probe are awaited it seems that the usual causes of loss of prey and habitat might not be behind the situation in this watery habitat - rather the ongoing climate change and rising water levels might account for this phenomenon. Here is an interesting article on the issue of straying tigers.

Straying is not a good thing for other big cats too. A leopard found that out when it trespassed onto a tiger's turf in the Lucknow district of India. The spotted cat was killed by its striped cousin. Bengal tigers are three to four times the size of an average leopard and don't hesitate to attack them and other smaller carnivores in order to eliminate competition - akin to what lions do in Africa - should the opportunity present itself. Asiatic lions don't think twice about attacking leopards either. This was emphasized over the last weekend after an account emerged of a leopardess having been killed by some lionesses in the Gir Forest. Still interspecies conflict is not regularly documented amongst big cats. The reports of the two occurrences are here and here. Here is a video from you tube of a similar incident in the past.

A little disturbing I know - but not much when it is compared to the recent revelation that the people behind the poaching of tigers in the Kanha national park of India are actually the local police officers who are supposed to protect the very tigers they are killing. The policemen have apparently come up with a devious plan in which they initially fund the killing of the endangered cats and later on claim the reward set by authorities for the subsequent operation by coming up with the dead animals' skins. This has been alleged by the park officials and even as the police have issued a denial the National Tiger Conservation Authority of India (NTCA) is looking into the matter. A full report of this shocking situation is here.

Here is something even more disturbing. Animal lovers in China and across the world are irate after thousands of cats are being captured and transported to the southern Guangdong province of China - to be used as a food item!!! Cats are skinned alive and slaughtered daily in the thousands in this province where people have no qualms about eating them! You can read more about this horrible situation on the mad bush farm blog.

Quite sobering. Still there remain many people in China who are passionate about their wildlife and its conservation. Here is an account of one such brave person. And before I go I'll leave you with something else that might lighten your mood a little. It is a site with lots of exquisite pictures of cats - many of which call out for a lolcat caption in my opinion ;) You can reach it here.

So that's it for this week. I'll be back the coming Sunday. Wishing everybody the best for the upcoming six days!


Sandee said...

I've thought about this hunted tiger quite a bit of late. Thanks for the update. I'm hoping for a happy ending too.

Have a terrific day and week. :)

Anonymous said...

I've heard before about China and cats...or was it dogs? Anyway, thanks for the update.

Duni said...

This post was incredibly interesting and informative.
I'm praying the tiger is okay.
I have a small 'tiger' at home, well actually Sammy, the house cat. He follows me everywhere!

Black Cat said...

Great update! That is one very resourceful tiger. I, too, have been thinking about him quite a bit and from the very beginning I have felt that he was not the one who killed that boy, as he seems to be doing all he can to keep away from humans and I think he will be aware that where there is one human there are likely to be more.

I am horrified about the attitude to cats by some Chinese. I eat meat and can understand that different cultures have different tastes in food, but to skin any animal alive I personally find totally abhorrent. I saw a good deal of evidence that cats were rounded up in Beijing before the Olympics and put in cages piled one on another and left to die of starvation. The images kept coming into my mind all the time the Olympics were on and put me right off.

Anyhoo, Happy New Year! :) xxx

MaoMao said...

As always, an interesting and informative post -- and very sobering. Thank you for keeping us all abreast of these situations.

Kittyhugs and purrs from MaoMao!

Unknown said...

Thanks for the update, I get WAY too emotional with troubling kitty stories. I'm going to love up on my own little tiger now.

PurrPrints said...

Thanks for the further update about the migratory tiger...

I'm even more distressed to hear about all the cats that are being gathered and there anything we can do over here in the states about that?

Everycat said...

What chance do the tigers of Kanha have if the very people who are supposed to be fighting poaching are behind the actual poaching? Corruption of authority is such a difficult thing to fight. Thank you for posting about the plight of the cats in Guangdong and the link to Mad Bush Farm's post about it. This example of hideous barbarity crops up every few years in the news, but sadly nothing has stopped it yet. Humans can find it hard to view such extremes of cruelty, probably because it touches them inside profoundly and that is always hard to deal with. Sadly there seems no "pleasant" way to recount the torture of these cats so it's an issue that doesn't often get an airing.

We hope your holidays were good Omer and we wish you all a very Happy New Year!

Whicky Wuudler

Skeezix the Cat said...

Happy New Yeer!

Liz said...

My kids are very concerned about the tiger ending up getting shot. Hopefully this will be resolved and a good outcome for the tiger will happen. We have too few as it is.

Thanks for posting up about the Cat slaughter in China. I'll be following the issue up shortly and seeing if there has been any further updates on this awefrul situation. So so wrong and sad.

Sad stories told about human vs animal conflict again.

Purrs and hugs to you and the kitties

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