Now that we are a multi-cat household, it is important to make sure each cat has their own space and pathways around the house. Annie, Eddie and Mercy all get along but they still need alone time. The creation of routes or corridors for your cats will help them feel more at ease in the home. If your cats are spatting you might check to see if you can create a more cat-friendly home to ease the tension.
I wanted to take a moment to tell you about the Lion Guardian Project that we learned about while we were in Kenya.
Our big cat cousins, the African lions, are struggling for survival. This is hard to imagine when just 50 years ago, more than 450,000 lions roared across the African continent. The lion, an iconic symbol of wild Africa, has disappeared from over 80% of their historic range. Today with only 3500-5000 wild African male lions remaining the Lion Guardians might be one of the lion’s best hopes for survival.
The Lion Guardians project was started in 2006 in collaboration with local communities and the Maasailand Preservation Trust in response to the killing of over 200 lions in the Amboseli-Tsavo ecosystems since 2001. Lion Guardians across the ecosystem play a vital role in the monitoring of carnivores. They conduct weekly spoor surveys for density of predators and their prey, monitor lions in their areas using GPS units and telemetry receivers, and assist in lion hair and scat collection for DNA analysis. Each Lion Guardian uses a cell phone to report sightings of lions or any illegal activity.
I have been thinking about the film The Last Lions, An Incredible True Story of Survival from National Geographic Entertainment ever since I watched it for the first time. I was so moved by the film that I wrote a review here on our Conservation Cub Club. The film was made by Dereck and Beverly Joubert, award-winning filmmakers from Botswana, Africa. The Jouberts have been National Geographic explorers-in-residence for over four years. Their body of work has produced five Emmy’s, a Peabody, the World Ecology Award, and induction into the American Academy of Achievement.
I just can’t seem to get the film out of my mind. I was swept away from the opening scene and followed Ma di Tau’s struggle to survive throughout the film. A great documentary film with a message should leave the viewer thinking and I have been thinking about the lions in Africa ever since. Have you seen The Last Lions yet?
Friends, I have had some time to prepare for my latest tiger imitation. This particular imitation took longer than usual due to the inaccessibility of the plants in my habitat. All of the snow and rain of late, made me long for sunny days when the grass is green and the trees have leaves. One thing led to another and I now proudly present to you my Tiger Eyes through the Leaves imitation.
This morning I was a cat in a little bit of trouble when I threw a hissing fit about getting my blood glucose tested. Most days I just take getting my ear pricked in stride, but there are those days, and today was one of them, that I just didn’t feel like being tested. I admit that I behaved badly. To make matters worse, today it is raining and it is supposed to keep raining all day.
I needed a project to keep me busy and out of trouble. So Bad Kitty and I watched The Last Lions film again. Did you know that if you watch The Last Lions trailer on You Tube that National Geographic will contribute $.10 for each viewing up to one million views? Here is the trailer.
I loved this film for many reasons. To read my review of The Last Lions, click here.
Cat Obituary. Farewell Eastern Cougar
The Eastern Cougar, a subspecies of one of North America’s largest cats, was declared extinct by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) on March 2, 2011, after a very long and protracted review process. The USFWS gathered information on the elusive cat subspecies from both scientists and government authorities in the 21 states where the eastern cougar, also known as the eastern puma once lived. The private Eastern Cougar Foundation spent a decade looking for evidence and after finding none, changed its name to the Cougar Rewilding Foundation.
The historic distribution of the cougar was across lower Canada in the north, all the way to Patagonia, South America. The highly adaptable big cat was the most widely distributed land mammal in the Western Hemisphere. It could be found in tidal marshes, deserts, mountainous terrain and deciduous, coniferous and tropical forests. But the expanding human population reduced their distribution and they did not adapt well to areas with conflicting land uses.
The eastern cougar once roamed from Maine to South Carolina and as far west as Michigan and Tennessee. They were agile for such a big cat. The cougars had long slender bodies and small heads with short rounded ears. They sported a beautiful tawny coat, usually brownish red or grayish brown, that would be more tan in the summer months and more gray in the winter. Their muzzle, chin, and underbelly were a beautiful creamy white. They had a distinctive black tip on their tails and black coloring behind the ears, and at the base of their whiskers.
The eastern cougar was a solitary and territorial hunter whose job was to thin the deer herd through direct predation. The big cat was a “natural shepherd” forcing deer to be more vigilant and stop grazing like cattle so that the forest would have a chance to regenerate. There are no other species available to take over the eastern cougar’s position as a top-level predator. This leaves behind ecological consequences, including a population explosion of white -tailed deer and the Eastern forests in declining health.
The USFWS decision to declare the eastern cougar extinct does not affect the current status of the Florida Panther, another wild cat subspecies that is endangered. The Florida panther once roamed throughout the southeastern United States but now exists in less than 5% of its historic range. There are only an estimated 120-160 cats remaining in southwestern Florida.
Preparations are being made to remove the eastern cougar from the endangered species list, since extinct animals are not eligible for protection under the Endangered Species Act. The eastern cougar was considered a distinct subspecies, although it is now believed they had the same genetics as their western relatives. It is highly unlikely that there will be any attempt to reintroduce cougars to the eastern states, the required habitat is just not available .
The announcement of the extinction was made quietly and the cougar was put to rest without a ceremony. And that is fitting I suppose for a cat so elusive it was given the nickname “ghost cat”. Researchers believe the subspecies has been extinct since the 1930’s and was listed as an endangered species in 1973.
Even though the extinction conclusion was not unexpected, the official declaration of extinction, the acknowledgment that the big cat is gone forever still hurts.