Conservation programs that take into consideration the well-being and interests of the people that live with the big cats have the most chance of succeeding. In the past, there has been a conservation versus them approach and people were even removed from their homes as protected areas were off limits to local people. Projects that work with local people and give them an incentive to save the big cats have a much better chance of success. Here are three big cat conservation projects that help humans too.
I was recently having a chat with some friends about how we sometimes see big cats in the movies, or a magazine and at times they get the cats all wrong. For example, a person might say they love their cheetah print sweater but it is really a leopard print. I know this might not seem like a big deal but for big cat advocates, it makes us wince when we see or hear the cats thought of as interchangeable.
The Cheetah is Racing for Survival
Sophisticated Tracking Collars Show Surprising Results
Cheetahs might be the fastest land animal but a new study reveals it isn’t speed but extreme agility and maneuverability that’s key to bringing down their prey. A team from the Royal Veterinary College, UK, working with the Botswana Predator Conservation Trust, used custom-built tracking collars containing GPS and inertial measurement units to capture the locomotor dynamics of cheetahs hunting in the wild.
In the 1960’s cheetahs were clocked reaching speeds of 64 miles per hour, but research using modern technology shows the cheetah’s speed at 40 mph. These studies were carried out with captive cheetahs and could give little insight into how a cheetah uses their speed in the wild. So researchers collared five wild cheetahs and tracked their movement. These sophisticated collars are capable of of monitoring speed, acceleration, deceleration and location. Data was collected for 367 runs over 17 months.
Cheetahs Rely on Agility and Maneuverability
How The Tiniest Tiger Began
Over the last three weeks, we have spent some time reflecting on Gracey’s life with us and I couldn’t help but reminisce about the beginning of our The Tiniest Tiger community that started out on our facebook page. In those first days we talked a lot about the differences and similarities between Gracey and her big cat cousins. One of our first photo albums on Facebook was Compare and Contrast. Do you remember this post?
Compare and Contrast
This beautiful tiger lives at the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium
Notice the stains on her pink nose.
Notice my stains on my pink nose?
Burning Bushes to Restore Habitat Land and Save Cheetahs.
Most of us know our big cat cousins are struggling to survive in in the wild. You might even know that loss of habitat, human-wildlife conflict, loss of prey and poaching are among the biggest reasons the big cats are fighting for their lives. But did you know the loss of habitat is not just due to the increasing human population but due to another invasive species, the thorn-bush.
The acacia thorn bush overgrowth has claimed thousands of acres of savannah in Namibia where the largest number of wild cheetahs still live. Overgrazing, drought, extirpation of elephants are a few of the reasons for the bush encroachment. As the bush thickens and the sharp thorns of the acacia entwine to form a barrier, not only is the cheetah at risk but so are the prey species that thrive on the savannah.
December 4 is International Cheetah Day
Khayam was the inspiration for today.
The Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) has declared December 4 to be International Cheetah Day. The cheetah is not just the fastest, but the oldest of the big cats having survived over 3 million years of glaciations and warming cycles, and even its own genetic bottleneck. But with habitat destruction and conflict with humans, the cheetah could become extinct in less than 20 years.
In 1977, Dr. Laurie Marker traveled to Namibia with a female cheetah named Khayam. Dr. Marker wanted to see if it was possible for a cheetah that had lived their entire life in captivity to be released into the wild. But when Dr. Marker and Khayam arrived in Namibia, she learned the cheetahs needs were quite different from what the wildlife community had assumed.
Cheetahs were considered vermin, pests that should be shot on sight. The Namibian farmers worried about their small livestock herds, thought of the cheetah as a threat to their own livelihood. Dr. Marker soon realized that if the cheetah was to survive in Namibia, a solution must be found to enable the farmers and the cheetah to live side-by-side, allowing both to thrive. Shortly after the assessment of the cheetahs’ needs, Dr. Marker also realized there was no group working to find a solution to help the farmers that would in turn save the cheetah.
The Cheetah Conservation Fund
This past summer we had the honor of being able to speak with Dr. Marker as part of our course work in Namibia. When we were sitting in a meeting room at CCF, talking with Dr. Marker she explained that she realized “There is no “they” and if you want something done you have to do it yourself.”
We are truly honored.
We are truly honored to have won The Petties 2012 Best Blog Post Award. We were thrilled to be finalists and when we learned of the other finalists in our category, all super talented wonderful friends and fellow cat writers, we knew we would be thrilled no matter who won, because Dogtime Media makes a generous donation to a non-profit shelter and we knew that our cousins in need would be getting some much needed help.
Just a couple days after we returned home from the Cheetah Conservation Fund in Namibia, we received and email from The Petties, asking us:
What makes the post that you’re nominated for so important?
Having just spent time learning more about the plight of the wild cheetah, as well as leopards and lions, the article that was nominated meant even more to us, and this was the answer that we sent back to The Petties.
Loss and fragmentation of habitat and depletion of prey are leading to rapidly declining populations of wildlife and in particular predators. Ecosystems need predators to remain healthy, yet humans continue to persecute and eliminate them from our world. “Cat Obituary Farewell Eastern Cougar” is about the heartbreak of extinction and a reminder to care for all animals big and small.
If you would like to read our article here is the link: Cat Obituary Farewell Eastern Cougar.
A rare big cat was sighted by Guy Combes, a British Wildlife photographer after he had heard about several reported sightings of a lesser-spotted cheetah in the Kenyan plains. After looking high from an airplane and low from a Land Rover, Combes gave up trying and went back to Nairobi. After receiving a call that the unique cheetah had been seen, he decided to try again.
This time Combes came within fifty yards of the incredibly rare spotless adult cheetah with its spotted mother. Experts say the last recorded sighting of a cheetah with a plain tawny coat with freckles but no spots was in 1921, nearly one hundred years ago.