Sunday, April 12, 2009

Weekly Feline News

Here are the cat-related news for the past week. As always, it's a mix of disconcerting and hopeful stories from across the globe. So, here they go...

First lions, and there's some very good news here. Thanks to the dedicated efforts of media and conservationists that brought to light the plight of wildlife in Africa, the pesticide Furadan has finally been banned from parts of Africa where wildlife exists. An extremely toxic chemical, Furadan is made of Carbofuran and is used to control insects in field crops. Unfortunately, it has also been widely used by villagers in parts of Africa to poison a variety of predators, including big cats and hyenas. The result has been catastrophic, particularly for lion populations across the continent. Scores have died in recent years after consuming carcasses of their prey that were poisoned by poachers or vengeful cattle herders. Now, however, after sustained efforts by the team at Wildlife Direct and a feature on CBS 60 Minutes, the deadly chemical has finally been withdrawn from a number of African countries where predators were being systemically poisoned. The manufacturing company of Furadan, FMC, is said to be discontinuing the export of the insecticide to South Africa and all of East Africa. Furthermore distributors are being directed to buy back all of the existing stock within the next eight weeks. So, great news and a victory for the threatened African lions and the scientists and conservationists working tirelessly for their protection. More here and here.

Now to Oxford, UK, where scientists working on fossil remains have concluded that the big cat specimens they have been studying recently belong to giant lions that used to roam Britain, Europe and North America as early as thirteen thousand years ago. Significantly larger than the modern lions, these big cats were thought to use endurance rather than the stalk and ambush technique of lions today to hunt down large animals. Their long legs are thought to be capable of propelling them to longer distances in pursuit of their prey. Classified differently as the European Lions, Cave Lions and American Lions, these 'super cats' are thought to have gone extinct as a result of loss of megafauna and expansion of human populations by the end of Pleistocene era. More here.

Now to the disconcerting news. Forest department staff in Gir forest, India, are worried after reports have emerged of the presence of poachers in the jungle. Gir is the sole home to Asiatic Lions in the world, an endangered lion subspecies comprising merely of three to four hundred individual animals. So disturbing news for the wildlife staff there. Hope they can arrest the poachers before they are able to snare or kill any lions. More here.

Back to Africa. A pride of lions is terrorizing villagers in Zimbabwe after it moved into their locality from Kruger National Park in South Africa. The lions of Kruger are known to kill and eat at times illegal immigrants who try to move into South Africa at night from neighbouring countries, across Kruger. This particular lion pride has so far confined its predatory activities to the livestock, but the villagers are terrified and appealing to the concerned authorities for assistance. More here. And to read some more reports of conflict between lions and people, and how conservationists are trying to limit it, you can visit this blog.

More news from South Africa. A man has been arrested after allegedly keeping a private slaughterhouse for wild animals. When police raided his property recently there were numerous animal bones lying around. The man is said to have kept and killed lions and rhinos on his premises. He has reportedly been arrested and presented before a court. More here. Sick!

But when it comes to lions, the most disturbing story of this week comes from the United States. For here, even though there are no lions in the forests, there still is occurring the phenomenon of man eating lions. That's right - man eating lions and not the other way around! Animal right groups in the US are horrified after a company began to offer on its website the sale of 'lion steaks and chops' through internet. The meat is said to come from 'lion farms' in the US, that, if they truly exist, must not be very different from the barbaric tiger farms in China and Southeast Asia. Very disturbing news. The company is Brentwood Trading Group and this is the exotic meat page on their website: And this is the lion meat's page on the site: Shockingly the company sells many other kinds of exotic meat products in the US, including tiger and crocodile meat. I'm just shocked to read this line on their lion meat website page: 'Lion meat to be a much better quality cat meat than Tiger meat.' Very disturbing indeed. Full report from Cape Argus here.

Now to tigers. Some good news first. Government in India plans to increase the area of Corbett Tiger Reserve to enhance the protection of wildlife there. Nestled in the foothills of Himalayas in India's north, Corbett National Park is named after Jim Corbett - the famed hunter turned conservationist of maneating tigers and leopards who used to live in those parts in the earlier half of twentieth century. It is also the forest which has the highest density of tigers in the world. So an increase in its reserve area for tigers is going to benefit greatly the population of the striped cats and their prey species there. More here.

More good news. Tigers have been sighted in two of India's forests after nearly two decades. Both sightings have been made recently, in Jalpaigur forest division and in Sikkim in the north. This bodes well for the repopulation of tigers in newer habitats across India, adding to the biodiversity of the bengal tigers as a subspecies. And in Sariska, where a male tiger and two tigresses were recently introduced, after all the resident tigers were lost to poaching a few years ago, there are signs that indicate one or both of the females may be pregnant. If true, the new cubs will be the first native tigers of Sariska in years, a landmark moment for the local conservationists. The three reports are here, here and here.

Not all forests in India are reporting a rise in their tiger count though. Kaziranga National Park has lost ten tigers in the past four months or so, to poaching, poisoning or natural causes. Not to mention the twenty endangered unihorn rhinos poached in Kaziranga in the last two years. Panna National Park has apparently lost its last tiger - a male that has not been sighted now for nearly two months. The sad news comes after two tigresses were relocated there recently. However, with no male tiger left, the officials might have to relocate more tigers to Panna to repopulate the reserve in the future. More here and here.

Reports continue to emerge of routine seizures of animal parts and skins in India, but hardcore poachers and kingpins of illegal wildlife trade and smuggling are seldom arrested. However, this changed recently when after some good detective work, officials arrested a notorious poacher who was responsible for the death of a bengal tiger in the Sunderban delta recently. The accused was involved in the shooting of a tiger in the mangrove delta of Sunderban nearly six months ago. Here is an account of his arrest and here, here and here are various reports of seizures of animal parts and skins.

Poachers are not the only growing threat to Sunderban tigers. Climate change and the rising sea levels are thought to have a drastic impact on tiger population in the delta in the long run. This is based upon the findings of a recent study by WWF in Bangladesh and India. Poaching, shrinking habitat and loss of prey are other factors that tigers will have to contend with if they are to continue to survive in this last bastion for truly wild bengal tigers in the world. More on the study here.

In Sumatra, tigers are fighting an uphill battle for their survival too. The sumatran tigers are amongst the most endangered in the world and are up against illegal logging, poaching and conflict against humans. Loss of prey and habitat means that tigers are increasingly coming into contact with people. As a result, tigers are killing humans and in retaliation people are killing tigers. The situation is quite desperate. More on this here. And if you want to sign a petition to help the cause of these beautiful great cats, you can go here.

Where humans and tigers coexist there's always a risk of confrontation and injury to either. However, more often than not, it's the livestock that is first attacked by hungry predators moving out of their territories in search for food. This is happening right now in Vietnam where a pair of Indochinese tigers are preying on people's goats in a village. Forest rangers are trying to help but it remains to be seen if a long term solution to the issue can be found in the country which has lost nearly half of its tigers to poaching and habitat loss in less than a decade. More on this here.

And another tiger is terrorizing villagers, this time in Colombia - a country not known to possess any wild tigers. The tiger in question is actually a 'pet' tiger of a former drug lord who was arrested by authorities four years ago. Never having lived in the wild and thus unable to hunt natural prey, the big cat is now fending for itself by preying upon the livestock of locals! More here.

Now to leopards - one of the spotted cats has also been responsible for attacking people in India. The incident occurred in a village in Uttarakhand province where a leopard entered a house and injured five people. The animal was later safely tranquilized and captured, and is being kept under observation. More here.

Again some good news too..a leopard has been spotted, among other endangered animals, in the famous Gola Forest in Sierra Leone after a gap of many years..raising calls by conservationists to protect this forest against mining ventures and the subsequent deforestation that will destroy the habitat. Full account here.

This is getting really long now!! There are some news about cheetahs and cougars but I'll share them in the next week's post. Until then, have a great time :)


Jans Funny Farm said...

That was a shock to read about lion meat being sold in the US.

Hope you had a nice Easter.

Liz said...

Omer I have never seen such a sickening thing as I have seen with that Exotic Meat Website. Tiger meat and Lion Meat? How can they legally sell it is what I want to know. I'm suprised WWF isn't aware of this. I'm so angry I'm going to email them and ask them how this is legal.

So much happening on the African front as well. This post will keep me occupied all week.

Purrs & Hugs from me and the kitties here on the farm

Dana Fredsti said...

What a great website!

The exotic meat website...ugh. I can't help but wish that the people who do this meet a poetically appropriate end.

My 13 cats send their greetings

Liz said...

I've just read the tiger meat of the website. It seems they're waiting USDA approval on this.

MISS PEACH ~(^.^)~ said...

Dearest Omer....thank you for your kind and loving comments. Our hearts just soar when we hear from you. Then it plummets when we read about mans inhuman cruel ways...our only hope for them is that in the end they reap what they deserve.
Mommy has me all ready for my trip to the vet in the morning for my surgery...there will be an update on my bloggy when I get home...
All my love...Miss Peach

Anya said...

Thank you for your sweet words on my blog :)
Your blog is very interesting and I like to reed it :))
My compliments !!!
We are coming back !!!!!

Ellen Whyte said...

Been a while since we heard from you. Good to see you again!

Exotic meat and online!!!! Disgusted. Thanks for the headsup.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for visiting my blog!

Best wishes on bringing awareness to what is happening around the globe to these majestic animals!

Dora said...

Wow! Interesting info presented here. Thanks for sharing. ;)

Liz said...

Omer I've done some further research into that Lion meat website. Very interesting. Originally the meat was put on the website as coming from South Africa not the US. I've blogged about it with all the related links. Thanks for coming back to me on the Tiger Meat question.

Purrs & Hugs

PS Sasquatch is chasing a big bug

june said...

My goodness, that's a lot of news! Thanks for the updates. Sadly, it seems the disturbing parts have no trouble keeping in front of the good.

Duni said...

Why is it that humans feel so detached from nature and the animal world? Humans are part of nature and all living creatures in it. The report on 'exotic' meats is truly sickening. China has a lot to answer for, but a country of billions is hard to control. And there must obviously be a market for such meats - so shame on those people who encourage such a dubious trade. Also, it is said that Chinese believe animals have no 'soul', hence the cruelty.

I try to teach my pupils about respect for nature/animals as best I can.

Hope all is well your end; and your kitties are well too!

Duni and Sammy, the cat

Chris said...

what a relief that Furadan is finally banned. Disgusting about the lion and tiger meat being sold in the US too. Thanks for the great information.

Anonymous said...

Oh noes! Not Lion meat! Thank you for visiting our blog:) We were able to track you back to yours because cats have great tracking skills, of course! We've never visited you before, but now that we have learned about these wrongs, we'll keep informed.

Thomma Lyn said...

Wow, some really good news about lions. And so interesting about the fossil remains of the cave lions!

How horrible about the exotic meat -- it makes me heartsick how some people seek to profit from and exploit the amazing creatures who share our world with us.

Have a good week, and as always, thank you for being a treasure trove of information about what's going on with the big cats and giving us heads-up on what is being done to make this a better world for them.

The Ballicai send purrs and kitty hugs! :)

Black Cat said...

Great post as always dearest Omer. I am so sickened that Americans (or anyone for that matter) could even think of eating lion or tiger meat... or dog or cat meat like some people in our world do. Could say a lot more but... Luvya :) xxx

Tracey said...

Thanks for visiting my blog! Glad I came over for a visit here, I learned some things - good and bad! I can't believe the sale of Lion and Tiger meat here in the horrible!! I don't understand how this is legal?

Liz said...

Hi Omer

Yet again I'm back. I have complained to Yahoo concerning Brentwood Trading and their attempts to sell Tiger Meat on the internet. I have asked them to take the site down based on the fact that they are encouraging the illegal trade in endangered species. Also Patricia one of my blog friends has contacted a friend involved with C.I.T.E.S. This guy is not going to get away with it. If anyone wants to help encourage Yahoo to stamp this type of abuse out here is the link for the Customer Care Team. Report the site as Merchant Abuse. The guy is falsely claiming the meat is US Raised when in fact it has come from South Africa - without a permit.

And Omer thanks again for making us all aware of this terrible abuse of these magnificent animals.

Black Cat said...

You're very welcome dear Omer!

BTW, is your new profile pic from the film "Cat Woman"? :) xxx

Erin @ Furry Murray said...

Man I LOVE cats, this is my first time here and your site looks great! :) Thanks for visiting.

PurrPrints said...

I'm really glad to hear about the furadan thing...and glad that's there a least occasionally good news when it comes to big cats being protected

Our family cat-a-blog kitties said...

Tanks fer welkoming me to da kitty bloggys. I tink yer site is just special an' I will comin' back lots ta lern stuff.

Black Cat said...

Oh Omer, I'm laffin n laffin at your comment!

Much love from a Mad Copyright Infringer to an Art Copyist... ;-) xxx

P.S. I notice from your profile you've aged a year. I missed your birthday! I do hope it was a happy one :) xxx

MaoMao said...

Thankies fur alla the information you kollect about our big cuzzins! We Ballicai are sendin you lots of purrs and head rubbies.

Kittyhugs and purrs from MaoMao!

The Cat Realm said...

Thank you so much for coming to our blogoversary party! It sure wouldn't have been as much fun without you! We do hope you had a really good time too and not too much of a 'nipover'!
The Cat Realm

Mr. Hendrix said...

It seems like for every step forward, there is a step back. Thank goodness for humans like you and you and others on the cat blogosphere as well as around the world who are good humans and who make great efforts to save our wild brothers.

It is awful how inhumane these humans can be.

Sarah said...

Thanks for your comment on my blog. I absolutely love big cats and especially love the beauty of Tigers! I can't believe the info you posted in your news this week
I'm so glad you're getting the word out!

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