“Distinctive bite marks on the skulls of cat-like saber-toothed predators that once skulked about North America have revealed a nasty family secret: these felines often ambushed and killed each other.
The discovery came as a result of the accidental unearthing of a new skull of what’s called a nimravid — not a true cat, but a group of cougar-like animals with large saber-like canine teeth that lived from 32 to 34 million years ago. The skull had clear signs of being mortally bitten by another nimravid.
"The nimravid skull was found in 2010 in Badlands National Park by a girl during a Junior Ranger activity right next to the visitor center," said paleontologist Clint Boyd of the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, who was working in the park at the time. "It had a magnificent set of bite marks on it."
The skull brought to mind another found in 1936 that also had nimravid bite marks which had long been interpreted as a rare case. But the new skull raised the question of just how common these bite marks are on nimravids...
Habitat research methods give a new peek at tiger life with conservation
by Sue Nichols, Michigan State Univ.
From a tiger’s point of view, yesterday’s thoughtful conservation plans might be today’s reason to branch out. An international team of researchers has found a useful way to better understand the tiger’s take on policy.
Twelve years ago, a team led by Jianguo “Jack” Liu at Michigan State University (MSU) showed that China needed to revisit how it was protecting its pandas. Now research on tiger habitat in Nepal, published this week’s Ecosphere journal of the Ecological Society of America, again shows that conservation demands not only good policy, but monitoring even years down the road.
"Understanding long-term outcomes of conservation programs is crucial and requires innovative methods," Liu said. "Now we’re learning that Nepal’s outstanding efforts to protect tigers are best supported with close monitoring because conservation situations are so dynamic. In both cases, the key is to understand how the people who live near the valued wildlife are faring as well."…
Conserving snow leopards through sustainable use of mountain ungulates in Tajikistan
by Tanya Rosen
The sight of one’s first snow leopard is like a dream. For me it started at 5 o’clock on a cold Friday afternoon in February while we were finishing a markhor survey in the Darvaz range in Tajikistan. Suddenly a group of markhor became very agitated and soon with our spotting scopes we zoomed in on the source of distress: a beautiful snow leopard slowly approaching the markhor herd. Little did I know that the dream would continue the next day, when again I looked into the spotting scope and saw a snow leopard leaping on a markhor.
Panthera, a US-based NGO dedicated to the conservation of wild cats, is engaged in snow leopard conservation efforts in Tajikistan. Loss of prey together with illegal trade, conflict with humans and lack of conservation capacity have been identified as the main threats to snow leopards. The reduction of Marco Polo sheep, ibex and markhor, the natural prey of the snow leopard, due to poaching and competition with livestock, has had a negative impact on the status of snow leopards in many locations across the Pamirs.
This is particularly evident in unmanaged areas where poaching and grazing are prevalent. To the contrary, well-regulated sustainable trophy hunting programs and other forms of hunting can contribute to the conservation of mountain ungulates and indirectly to that of the snow leopard…
For male Serengeti lions like Hildur and C-Boy, teamwork is essential. Here, Hildur shakes the rain from his mane. He and C-Boy work together to retain control over two prides: the Vumbi, consisting of five adult lionesses, and Simba East, a pride now also with five.
See more pictures from the August 2013 feature story “The Short Happy Life of a Serengeti Lion.”
You’ll Never Guess How Biologists Lure Jaguars To Camera Traps
by Jason G. Goldman
Field biologists are increasingly turning to camera traps to collect data. The set-up is really simple: when an animal passes in front of a camera, an infrared sensor becomes activated, and the camera silently snaps a photo. Sometimes – especially for camera traps designed to detect nocturnal species – an infrared flash, invisible to most mammals and birds, is used.
The photographs generated from camera traps can then provide researchers with far more data than they would be able to collect themselves with more traditional field observations. Often, this allows them to generate photographic evidence of a species’ natural behaviors without the confounding effects of direct human observation. It allows them to collect data continuously, throughout the day and night. And a camera trap can help researchers collect evidence of rare species or rare behaviors, as was demonstrated last week when a camera trap captured a golden eagle preying upon a sika deer.
Or they could help researchers come face-to-face with an animal that might otherwise be dangerous or harmful. An array of camera traps is also more cost efficient than paying an army of field assistants to observe animal behavio or to conduct a census…
Young Mountain Lion Caught on Camera Teasing Teasing Its Caged Brother, Caught in Wildlife Study
by Nadia Drake
If you’re a young mountain lion, a fresh deer carcass is probably among the better things you could find in a forest. But eating it could mean you end up spending some time in a cage, getting teased by your sibling, and emerging from the experience wearing a new, blingy techno-collar.
On Sept. 30, this is exactly what happened in the Santa Cruz mountains to a young puma now known as 41M. Around 6:30 p.m., the 84-pound cat ventured into a cage trap set by a group of UC Santa Cruz biologists. Lured by the tantalizing scent of dead deer and the recorded calls of dying animals (so tempting), the 14-month-old male tiptoed into the cage and promptly found himself locked inside with a tasty meal. Not far behind? His sibling, another young cat, who sprang atop the cage and started playing with its littermate inside.
The encounter was caught by a trail camera monitoring the cage trap. Soon after, members of the UCSC team came by to check on the cat in the cage; they then sedated him and attached a tracking collar, making him the 41st animal participant in a long-term study known as the UC Santa Cruz Puma Project…
The margay, Leopardus wiedii, is rarely observed at close quarters. Bird-watching scientists in Suriname spotted this shy cat near dawn—at a distance of just 13 feet (4 meters). The margay is adapted to live in the trees, unlike most cats, and prowls aloft to hunt birds, rodents, and even monkeys.
Scientists track cougar’s wild nightlife above Hollywood
The mountain lion — known as P-22 — living in Griffith Park is giving scientists insight into the behavior of an urban puma on the prowl.
by Martha Groves
For more than a year and a half, the solitary mountain lion known as P-22 has made himself right at home in Griffith Park within view of Hollywood’s Capitol Records building.
By night, he cruises the chaparral-covered canyons, dining on mule deer, raccoon and coyote. By day, while tots ride the Travel Town train and hikers hit the trails, he hunkers down amid dense vegetation.
To researchers’ knowledge, the 125-pound 4-year-old is the most urban mountain lion in Southern California and possibly beyond — surviving and thriving in a small patch of habitat surrounded by freeways and densely packed human beings that he reached, somewhat miraculously, by crossing the 101 and 405 freeways…
Critically Endangered Dama Gazelle Caught on Camera in Sahara
via: Wildlife Extra
Barbary sheep, caracal and poachers also caught on camera
Listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, the Dama gazelle is one of the world’s rarest and most endangered antelopes. Formerly common across its grassland habitats of the Sahelian zone of Africa, it now only exists in a small handful of tiny, isolated populations in Niger and Chad.
Overhunting means just 300 Dama gazelle left in the wild
With overhunting by far the major cause for its demise, the Dama gazelle is also prone to encroachment of its preferred habitats by livestock development and agriculture, as well by severe drought and desertification. In all, there are probably no more than 300 Dama gazelles in the wild today…
The Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx) is a medium-sized cat native to European and Siberian forests, South Asia and East Asia. It is also known as the European lynx, common lynx, the northern lynx, and the Siberian or Russian lynx. While its conservation status has been classified as “Least Concern”, populations of Eurasian lynx have been reduced or extirpated from western Europe, where it is now being reintroduced.
The Eurasian lynx inhabits rugged forested country providing plenty of hideouts and stalking opportunities. Depending on the locality, this may include forest-steppe, boreal forest, and montane forest. In the more mountainous parts of their range, Eurasian lynx will descend into the lowlands in winter, following their prey, and avoiding the deepest snows. They tend to be less common where wolves are abundant, and wolves have been reported to attack and even eat lynx. In Russian forests, the most important predators of the Eurasian lynx are the gray wolf and the wolverine.
Camera-traps reveal surprising mammals at remote site in Honduras
by Mrinalini Erkenswick Watsa
A camera trap survey along the Sikre River in Honduras has discovered that the region is home to a menagerie of rare mammals, including giant anteaters. The survey, published in mongabay.com’s open access journal, Tropical Conservation Science, recorded five cat species in 70 square kilometers.
The Rio Plátano Biosphere Reserve (RPBR), through which the Sikre River flows, covers 8,300 square kilometers of land and is host to five indigenous groups—Miskitos, Pech, Tawahkas, Garifu and Mestizos. However, few studies have systematically documented the large mammals within the reserve.
Camera-trap technology, an effective and noninvasive way to monitor biodiversity, has become a hugely popular tool for researchers in recent years who have used it in a wide array of habitats to record the movements of animals. David Gonthier and Franklin Castañeda, the authors of this study, ran camera traps for 2,040 nights in the RPBR, recording a total of 116 animal sightings…
A few days ago, we posted a sweet pic of a leopard carrying her tiny cub in S. Africa’s Welgevonden Game Reserve, taken as part of Panthera’s leopard conservation & monitoring work in Limpopo province.
To start your wkend, we wanted to share a sweet camera trap photo of the OTHER side of this couple. Learn more @ http://bit.ly/flEZT1 & make a donation to support the future of the leopard @ http://bit.ly/MmCOWU.
A new action plan to reverse the decline of the Scottish wildcat within six years has been launched by Scottish Environment Minister Paul Wheelhouse. It sets out for the first time a package of measures that a range of land managers, conservationists, and researchers agree has the best prospect for the ‘Highland Tiger.’
The aim is to conserve Scottish wildcats by reducing the chances of cross breeding with domestic and feral cats and by lowering the risk to wildcats from feline diseases. Efforts will be targeted in areas which support the most viable wildcat populations. And a conservation breeding programme will be set up to reinforce wild populations in the future. Scientists will also carry out further research to improve understanding of wildcat ecology and genetics…
Check out the Wildlife Research & Conservation site’s profile of Panthera’s Pantanal Jaguar Project @ http://bit.ly/1eSIXr9 to learn about the jaguar conservation work carried out by Panthera’s scientists in the world’s largest wetland. Also read up on the ecological research conducted by Panthera’s VP Dr. George Schaller & Jaguar Program Executive Director Dr. Howard Quigley on jaguars in the Pantanal in the 1970s.