Like we always say: the small(est) cats are as important as the big(gest) ones. Rusty spotted cats, one of the gorgeous smaller species, smallest cat of Asia, like the black-footed cats are of South Africa… smallest of the world!
A Leopard may not be able to change its spots, but new research from a World Heritage site in Nepal indicates that leopards do change their activity patterns in response to tigers and humans — but in different ways.
The study is the first of its kind to look at how leopards respond to the presence of both tigers and humans simultaneously. Its findings suggest that leopards in and around Nepal’s Chitwan National Park avoid tigers by seeking out different locations to live and hunt.
Since tigers — the socially dominant feline — prefer areas less disturbed by people, leopards are displaced closer to humans. Though they may share some of the same spaces, leopards avoid people on foot and vehicles by shifting their activity to the night.
A scientific paper based on the study, led by Neil Carter, postdoctoral fellow at the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC), was published this week in the journal Global Ecology and Conservation. In addition to Carter, the co-authors are Micah Jasny of Duke University, Bhim Gurung of the Nepal Tiger Trust in Chitwan, and Jianguo “Jack” Liu of Michigan State University.
“This study shows the complexity of coupled human and natural systems,” said Liu, director of the Michigan State University Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability. “It also demonstrates the challenge of conserving multiple endangered species simultaneously.”
Most areas where leopards and tigers co-exist are human-dominated. Accounting for the multi-layered interactions between leopards, tigers, and people is therefore key to understanding the ripple effects of human activities such as conservation actions, the researchers say.
The study has important implications in light of the Global Tiger Recovery Program, which is committed to doubling the worldwide tiger population by 2022. As tiger populations — and the territories they occupy — grow, leopards are increasingly likely to be pushed into areas where people live. The jostling of wildlife occupancy may open the door to more conflicts between people and leopards that could include leopard attacks on both people and livestock, as well as retaliatory killings of leopards.
The researchers’ findings underscore how successful conservation efforts need science that takes into account the complex feedbacks between humans and nature.
“We want to see increased tiger numbers — that’s a great outcome from a conservation perspective. But we also need to anticipate reverberations throughout other parts of the coupled human and natural systems in which tigers are moving into,” said Carter, “such as the ways leopards respond to their new cohabitants, and in turn how humans respond to their new cohabitants.”
While working on his doctoral degree at Michigan State, Carter spent two seasons setting motion-detecting camera traps for leopards, tigers, their prey, and the people who walk the roads and trails of Chitwan, both in and around the park. Chitwan, nestled in a valley along the lowlands of the Himalayas, is home to high numbers of leopards and tigers. People live on the park’s borders, but rely on the forests for ecosystem services such as wood and grasses. They venture in on dirt roads and narrow footpaths to be ‘snared’ on Carter’s digital memory cards. The roads also are used by military patrols to thwart would-be poachers.
Analyses of the thousands of camera trap images begin to tell the story of who is using which spaces and when they’re using them. Sometimes, though, ‘seeing’ isn’t enough.
“People who use camera traps and other kinds of related monitoring tools realize there’s a possibility that the animal is there, but you just didn’t detect it,” said Carter. “For example, your area of interest may be too large to set up cameras everywhere. Or, it’s harder to detect animals in certain forest types if there are a lot of leafy trees blocking the camera’s field of view — even if the animal is right there.”
Because traditional field-based research can be logistically restrictive, time-intensive, and expensive, the researchers used cutting-edge computational models to fill in data gaps and statistically estimate the location and timing of leopard-tiger-human activity.
“The computational component of this research is essential since it allows us to make strong inferences about leopard behavior in Chitwan based on a small sample,” said Jasny, who spent an internship at CSIS working on the leopard-tiger-human data with Carter.
Carter says that while there are many models that look quantitatively at the relationships amongst ecological components of an ecosystem, those models rarely consider humans. Integrating human activity adds a layer of real-world complexity that is more representative of the ecosystem as a whole — providing insights that can help researchers better understand how people and wildlife mutually influence one another.
The above story is based on materials provided by Michigan State University.
Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.
Image Credit: Image courtesy of Michigan State University
This picture from the Mara Cheetah project shows the reality of nature. This leopard killed the cheetah and is actually treating it like any other prey: hanging it in the tree and eating it. The strength of a leopard, leaving no chance to eat and food go to waste, even if this means (or even so!) eating another predator.
It is difficult to see, also for us working with/for both species, but we have to be realistic here too. It shouldn’t affect us more than any other prey animal that gets killed and hang in the tree to serve for dinner, but it still does? It is luckily an unusual sight, not happening too often, but with the cheetah having difficulties to survive in the wild we hope this will stay a rare occasion. Even though we also agree: the leopard has to eat (every coin has two sides)!
We are pretty sure our black-footed cat female Diva gave birth, 1-2 days ago, but she isn’t allowing any one to see just yet. Like a true protective mommy she is hiding in the dark end of the den. When there is more news we will let you know.
Our other female Beauty and her kitten are still doing great as well!!! Exciting times!
We are especially pleased with the recent births because black footed cats are a relatively rare species. Also, they are difficult to breed.
In an incredible wildlife moment a leopard leapt from a height of 40 feet to snare a spot of lunch.
The cunning big cat dives from a tree into a herd of startled impala, quickly pinning one of the animals down.
The African antelope moved to graze underneath the tree, unaware that the crafty predator was lurking in the branches several metres above them.
Full article: DailyMail.co.uk
September 2014 – Shocking video and photo’s of a tiger killing a 20-year boy who violated the Delhi Zoo’s rules by jumping over the fence inside the tiger enclosure.
The tiger did not instantly kill the boy, only after the people threw stones at him and the boy presented himself as prey. The tiger in the end only acted naturally. Dinner was served and it is not polite to refuse, right? Let this also be a lesson for the so many parents encouraging their children to climb the walls and fences of big predators during their visit to the zoo. Tigers are no pussycats…to them this is just another meal thrown in their enclosure… yesterday a cow, tomorrow a pig… today a child.
It is very sad for the family (and the boy) but still… let this be a very hard and tragic but also a good and final lesson!!!
See the Facebook video.
Of course you died far too young
But the memory to you is still so strong
You clearly came to us for a reason
We will remember you, throughout every season…
Showing us who were so wrong, and who were right
United we (WCW) will stand in the continuous fight
No one has the right to molest an innocent creature
A sweet lovely caracalgirl who had a bright future
Many of us did shed a tear
But some are still in denial and don’t want to hear
We know we are right and forever have to miss you
Somehow we believe in the end justice will prevail too.
No more free PR for the horrible place that took your life
Hurting us deeply like a deep cut from a knife
To destroy this so-called sanctuary they don’t need a helping hand
As clearly animal care and conservation is what they still don’t understand
We scattered your ashes at our project in South Africa
Your spirit will guard over the caracals Leo & Lea
Wild Cats World did a small “Tour de France” on kind invitation by Parc des Félins and Zoo de Maubeuge, to talk about (wild) cats conservation. The park is of course the dream of every wild catlover, as for space and species, while Maubeuge showed us how it is possible to provide an enriched life to the animals with little means and space.
Of course we kindly accepted to see the Sri Lanka leopardcubs with their (very protective!) mom, a special birth for the species and for a small park like this.
As for the sandcats (felis marguerita) we discussed the possibility to start with this gorgeous species at our WCW SA project. It would be great to have this species next to the Black footed Cats, the two smallest African wild catspecies. More about this later at a later stage. For now enjoy this photo and many more that will follow!
Sri Lanka leopard cubs, endangered subspecies of the leopard (panther).
We were kindly invited to get a first glimpse of the 6 weeks old cubs at Zoo Maubeuge, the first successful litter of Sri Lanka leopard cubs of 2014 in the world-wide breeding program. The leopardmom was very protective and was hiding the cubs in the straw so it was very difficult to get a glimpse and eventually a good picture. Aren’t they cute?
The Sri Lankan leopard (Panthera pardus kotiya) is a leopard subspecies native to Sri Lanka. Classified as Endangered by IUCN, the population is believed to be declining due to numerous threats including poaching for trade and human-leopard conflicts. No subpopulation is larger than 250 individuals.
The current WCW project are:
- Spotted Cats Conservation Project /WCW Leopard Conservation Project S.A.
Projects and investments in South Africa since 2011 for captive animals (leopard,cheetah, African wildcat, caracal, serval, black-footed cat).
Currently the project is situated on Daniell farm near Kirkwood, Holmes farm near Cradock (Black-footed cats).
- Javan leopard release program (JLRP), started in 2013
Cooperation with Wanicare foundation / Cikananga Sanctuary Java/Indonesia to release wild captured leopards (in conflicts with humans) in the wild again.
- Nepal Leopard Release Project
Educational and awareness project in association with Jane Goodall Institute.
- Madame “X” Project Huge semi-wild project for lions and cheetahs
This is a private project for celebrity Madame “X”; we respect her wishes not to reveal her name and location and are very honoured she asked Babette de Jonge & Wild Cats World to represent and help her in this wonderful project.