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Survival factors in living with lions

Cheetahs thrive, wild dogs don’t…

Increases in the number of top predators like lions do not always affect the number of cheetahs in the area. A recent study looked at the effects of lion populations on other hunters. The number of cheetahs was not affected by the increase in the lion population but wild dogs suffered to the point of local extinction.

The study used historical data accumulated in the Serengeti over a period of 30 years and study of individual animals via radio-collars. During the closing decades of the previous century the number of lions tripled. During the same period the wild dogs left the area or were killed outright while the cheetah population remained stable.
When comparing the findings with data from fenced areas in southern Africa showed the same pattern. Cheetahs can live with lions but wild dogs can’t.

What could be a factor is that lions do not exclusively hunt the same prey as cheetahs and therefore will not always compete at the dinner table. Wild dogs have a wider range of prey animals and can therefore be a greater threat to lions.

Of course the study only addresses certain aspects of inter-species dynamics and does not mention that all three species suffer most from the ultimate apex-predator, humans and their relentless expansion.

Read the study report in the Journal of Animal Ecology

Up-date Javan Leopard Release Program

On ground level they are still working hard to make the release of the wild leopards Sawal and Dimas a fact. Sadly things in Indonesia are not going fast, as you can expect of a country with an atti…tude “if not today, there’s always tomorrow!”

But currently there’s a meeting with Ciremai National Park to talk things through about the release and to put camera traps in the center of this Park to continue with the assessment in that area. It is a difficult project as there’s little info and experience in the release of Javan leopards and no knowledge of suitable areas to do a release as such in which the leopards will be safe.

The leopards are fine under the circumstances but the situation is far from ideal of course and we all cannot wait to give back their freedom. Help is offered now from a person experienced in surveys, camera trapping etc. so let’s hope this will speed up the assessment in the Ciremai National Park.

Our fund raising #3 is still on for 5 more days on Indiegogo, for everyone who still wants to support this release project and everything to do with it, a very valuable and time consuming operation. In the meantime we keep you up-dated whenever there’s news!!

Global March For Lions, 15 March 2014, Amsterdam

On 15 March 2014 the world united in a Global March for Lions. The March against Canned Hunting. These photos are taken during the participation (read: joining the march against Canned hunting) of Wild Cats World in the Amsterdam-March to give you all an impression of a very successful day, with many thanks to foundations Four Paws, SPOTS & WAR International for the organisation of this march. More..


Save Our Lions -  Ban Canned HuntingSaturday, March 15th 2014, is the day to show you truly care about the fate of the lions. The GLOBAL MARCH FOR LIONS, 62 cities around the world marching for the lions, against the ugly CANNED HUNTING. Wild Cats Magazine/World is joining the march in Amsterdam (NL), we hope you will give your support to the lions too, wherever in the world…!

Laurie Marker (CCF) in the Netherlands

PICT4025Tuesday, February 18th 2014 Laurie Marker, the ambassador of the cheetah from Namibia, will give a presentation about her work as founder/director of Cheetah Conservation Fund for the endangered cheetah. It will take place in Leeuwarden, Van Hall Institute, 19h15. Everybody who has a heart for the cheetah with a wish to meet and hear Laurie speak is welcome, entry is free. We hope to see many of you in Leeuwarden.

Also see Laurie marker (CCF) and Jonathan Scott in London

Laurie marker (CCF) and Jonathan Scott in London

London, 11 February 2014, a night with Laurie Marker (CCF) and Jonathan Scott for the cheetah.

Photos: Laurence Tressler (for Wild Cats World) meeting Laurie Marker & Jonathan Scott, presenting the Wild Cats Cheetah Book….. Fragile Strive to Survive, covering… this night for you all:


I was lucky to be able to join an audience at the Royal Institution of Great Britain in London on 11th February for an evening presentation devoted to the Cheetah, the challenges this beautiful animal has to face on a day to day basis and the work of the Cheetah Conservation Fund. (CCF).

Dr Laurie Marker Founder and Executive Director of CCF, who has dedicated her life to cheetah conservation, and Jonathan Scott TV presenter, author and photographer, each gave presentations to a captivated audience. They covered the stark realities facing the cheetah but also offered hope and optimism and raised a few laughs along the way. Their talks were accompanied by some stunning photography much of which Jonathan attributed to his wife Angela, who was also in attendance. Thank God there are people like this on the planet doing their bit.

Laurie talks with a rounded perspective helped perhaps by the fact that she is not only a leader in terms of her scientific research but she has also a distant background in farming. This greater understanding of the problems facing the local populations must help when communicating and putting in to practice, her conservation messages. She clearly has a talent for grasping the huge challenge facing the cheetah and then converting this into an achievable strategy at grass roots level. Providing dogs for the local African populations, to protect their domestic animals from cheetah attacks, is highly successful, presumably only limited by the level of funding available. We need to help promote her work to as large an audience as possible. As more people become informed, and become vocal, more funds are raised and politicians become more likely to sit up and take notice.

PICT4032It was clear from the audience that the Big Cat Diary series is still remembered fondly by a sizeable audience. Jonathan was regularly asked when mingling with the audience afterwards – “when is it coming back!?” Each time he politely answered that unfortunately it wasn’t up to him but he liked the idea. I had an opportunity to discuss with him my belief that the BBC should commission Big Cat Year and cover life in the Mara over a full 12 month period. Imagine the power of a series presenting the Mara during wet and dry seasons, births of big cats and wildebeest, the migration, crossing the Mara river, feast and famine and all the time the audience is willing the cubs to survive. There would be a few tears but that is the reality of life out there. If they take up the challenge I believe the BBC would be able to broadcast the greatest soap opera series of all time! Jonathan loved the idea! Here’s hoping!

Who & What is Wild Cats World – background information

What is WCW? A non-profit foundation, based and registered in Holland (Europe). Who is WCW? Basically WCW is just one person, founder/director Babette de Jonge, idealistic wild cats enthusiast for ages (for background scroll down), started the foundation in 2010 together with Eva Julia Christiie, a Norwegian illusionist. This cooperation lasted for just a few months. Babette wanted to believe they shared the best interest for the wild cat species, so that together they would not only rescue the tigers Eva was working with, from a life in circus and small/unnatural environment as they intended to, but also to give the best of welfare to many other abused wild cats, and at the same time contribute to conservation of the wild species. This is still the mission of Wild Cats World.

Babette worked on alone and lifted the foundation WCW up to the current standard and has still been pursuing her dreams and passion to do what’s best for the wild cats, in captivity and in the wild. The past few years amazingly backed up by her boyfriend Anton Buijen van Weelden (also: Wild Cats Films), in spirit and sponsoring, who shares the same passion. In South Africa, Indonesia & Nepal associations, alliances/ partners are working closely with Wild Cats World on ground level, like Daniell Cheetah Project in Spotted Cats Conservation,Felidae CentreCat Conservation TrustWanicare Foundation and Jane Goodall Institute Nepal. These associations are essential for the work WCW has in mind for both captive and wild species, as well as the work in education, raising awareness, releasing some cats back to their natural habitat.

Without the ever growing network world-wide the foundation would be nowhere, but still stamina, fighting spirit and everlasting passion and love for the animals is most important, as well as to be able to give more than to get. And that includes the huge investments financially you have to keep on doing. Babette: “I am afraid I have to destroy the dream of many, thinking in this line of business you can do what you love best and earn a lot of money with it at the same time. Well: NO WAY! Not if you do it with the right intentions: welfare of the animals. Meaning: no exploitation, trading and hunting businesses but a trueconservation project!
We every now and then try to do some fund raising but it more than ever is a failure, as sadly most people do talk with no action (to judge is always the easiest way) but also because the bigger organizations and fake ones all the same, spoil it for the good ones. So apart from a few loyal “wild cats fans” who truly want to do something for the cats even though they often haven’t got much to spend either, and to whom we are very grateful, most of the investments are done by ourselves. Meaning: working your butt off, in several jobs outside the “conservation business”, and investing all we can in the projects and animals.

Conservation projects aren’t for free…. just for a start up capital you need around 1 million euro, and it keeps going. Also for a release program like we are working on with Wanicare foundation & Cikananga Wildlife Sanctuary, lots of expenses as nothing is for free: capture program, stay in captivity, habitat research, transport expenses, camera traps, collars & equipment, release cage, etc. etc. No support as promised by the government so every step of the way our foundation needs to see that the expenses are being dealt with. Also of the captive projects, WCW is only investing and not earning any money. Idealistic: yes? The right way? Yes, but only if you have a true heart for the animals, your projects and truly believe in your mission.

Of course our opinion and mission changes a bit from time to time in order to stay realistic and make things possible. Also mistakes are made on the way. Usually this involves: trusting the wrong humans/associations. You hope the people you intend to work with are having the same thoughts and passion, but sadly this often isn’t the case. Many people are in conservation for the wrong reasons. Besides, lots of envy and backstabbing…. and competition. Where we think projects and organizations with the same mission need to work together, it usually works the other way round. Lots of new projects want to do the same as WCW…. and wish only our projects will end up a failure out of envy, but as we said: stamina, etc. is the only way to survive in conservation, as well as trying to find the right people and projects to work with. All donations and sponsor money will go directly in the projects. People who have no trust can choose to which project they want to donate to, and they can follow their “investment” closely on ground level.”

Some background info of Babette de Jonge. Already from an early age (8) Babette was taking care of animals (firstly pets of course, essential for a future in wild cat(s) care) and interested in welfare organizations focusing on animals. First starting biology/ethology, tiger (clicker) training, etc. workshops, observation/photography in zoos/sanctuaries and natural habitat of the cats, Wild Cats Magazine was founded, for education and raising awareness of all the species and issues concerning them.
Babette organized “Wild Cats” photography trips to Masai Mara/Kenya and India for the tigers for a few years, gave lectures, wrote and still is writing articles for several magazines, websites and this year the first few “Wild Cats” books were released with text/photography by Babette. Volunteering in some sanctuaries was essential for the knowledge how to work best with the wild cats, big and small, and to learn how not to do it in the WCW projects.

After all great experiences, the biggest challenge for Babette is to keep on learning about the cats and how to do the work with/for them and in the projects the best. “They keep on surprising me and that is for me the biggest joy, apart from the fact that it is so rewarding to invest in a project and see how the cats are thriving because of your ideas and input. It is difficult to find the right balance between captivity and the wild. Of course our priority will always be the wild animals and to keep them safe in their natural habitat, but there’s also lots of captive born cats that cannot be released anymore. It maybe is wrong to (sometimes) buy them to get them out of the wrong hands but it is not all black and white.

We believe that what we are doing is the right thing and we will never do anything to harm an animal. We observe them and will think of a way to make the situation as good as possible. By giving them lots of natural space or whenever possible (our aim) to do some re-wilding and releases back into natural habitat.

It is sad that there’s so much envy and that people so easily judge on what you do, but we have to remember that we at least do something and usually the ones to judge are not doing more than sitting behind the computer safely at home. It would be great though if more organizations will see each other as associations and not as competitors, but then I will always be an idealistic person!” More info needed? write to info@wildcatsmagazine.nl or on our website WildCatsWorld.org.


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