“Secretive, silent, smooth and supple as a piece of silk, he is an animal of darkness, and even in the dark he travels alone.”
New Global Alliance with Panthera
Spring Backyard Bird Observation is in Full Swing
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.
Panthera’s Leopard Program Is Saving Lives
Two years ago we wrote about a new idea to help save the wild leopard, one of the world’s most persecuted big cats. The beautiful fur of the leopard is highly sought after and to make matters worse, today the demand for leopard skin is increasing among members of South Africa’s Shembe Baptist Church, which has adopted the Zulu practice of wearing spotted cat fur, mostly leopard, during religious celebrations. Even though trade in leopard skins is illegal in South Africa, the Shembe’s estimated 5 million members were spreading the practice.
Tristan Dickerson, Panthera’s Leopard Program Coordinator visited several Shembe gatherings to research the amount of leopard skins being used at these events. It was estimated that nearly 1,000 leopard skins were either worn or being sold at just one of the gatherings that he attended.
Tristan spent a year working with designers and clothing companies to create high quality and affordable fake leopard skins, which he presented at Shembe gatherings. At one event, there was a large number of fake leopard skins being worn by children and elders, and this was a sign of hope for Africa’s leopard populations.
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?
Kabin and watch from down low. I like having both options available to me at all times in my habitat. When the sun room doors are closed and I can’t get access to my tower, I resort to jumping up behind the sofa and watching the front yard birds from the bay window. Because of my love of both high and low places, I think I might be part leopard.
Leopards are Both Tree and Cave Dwellers
The leopard uses trees as observation posts, and has been observed dragging prey several times its own weight up into a tree to cache the carcass for later meals. The leopards’ scapula is uniquely attached to its muscles allowing the spotted cat to be proficient at climbing and has a locking wrist enabling the cats superior tree climbing ability.
Even though I am not as good a climber as my big cat cousin, I like to think of myself as a leopard when I am sunning myself while napping on top of my tower. There are times that I prefer to observe from the ground and our leopard cousins also prefer lower level living at times.
While leopards are able to haul their prey up into a tree, perhaps a more preferred method is one in which gravity works in the cats favor, and that would be dragging the carcass down into a cave. There have been references made in scientific literature about leopards using caves, including specific descriptions of caves that are leopards lairs. According to Charles Brain, author of the book The Hunters or the Hunted? An Introduction to African Cave Taphonomy, leopards use caves as retreats, feeding places, and breeding lairs.
I Feel Like a Bobcat in my Kat Kabin
Even though leopards also lurk about the ground, when I decide to curl up inside my Scratch Kabin I imagine that I am a bobcat out in the wild.
Friends, did you know that you can identify a lion from the whisker spots that are found in rows on each side of the face? We learned that we can also identify a male lion by his mane in our post Lion Guardians Give Each Lion a Maasai Name, but a mane can change throughout the lion’s life depending upon age and health. Only the whisker spots remain unchanged throughout a lion’s life.