Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Snow Leopards -- Precious Felines of Asia's Snow Bound Mountains

Introduction :

It is with a heavy heart that I am writing about Snow Leopards and their Conservation.

Bound to Craggy Cliffs, Snow Leopards have always been present at "Low Densities" but what is shocking is their "Mass Slaughter" by Poachers in recent years in India, China, and Mongolia.

The Daily Mail -- A British Tabloid reported in March 2017 that Poachers in India kill 45 Snow Leopards a Year.

That is "Terrible". It is bad enough that there are only 500-600 Snow Leopards at the most in the Wild in India specially in the States of Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and Jammu and Kashmir to mention a few.

These Wild Cats continue to be killed for their "Magnificent Coats" worth a fortune in the Black Market and for their Bones which are promoted as "Tonics" in South - East Asia.

Their Prey :

Snow Leopards prey on Herbivorous Hoofed Wildlife such as Ibex, Argali, Urial Sheep, Blue Sheep, as well as Goat Antelopes known as Gorals and Serows as well as Tibetan Antelopes, numerous Gazelles, Musk Deer etc.

Snow Leopards are a "Key Indicator" of the well being of the Alpine and Sub- Alpine Ecosystem.

They influence the numbers and whereabouts of "Hoofed Herbivorous Herds" over a long period of time.

Thus, It can be said that the Snow Leopard is a "Keystone Species" in more ways than one.

Conclusion :

It has to be said right here and now that Snow Leopards control the number of Wild Sheep and Wild Goats that otherwise might overrun and overgraze Grasslands within Snow Bound Mountains.

Is there a Future for Wild Snow Leopards particularly in India ??

Going by reports concerning their poaching, It does not seem like. Yet, Snow Leopards have that uncanny ability to survive in dire circumstances.

Only Strict Conservation and Strict Protection can protect them for future generations to come.

We should have a "Vested Interest" in keeping Snow Leopards alive simply and solely for the reason that they control the population of Wild Herbivores.

Credits :

Out of the Shadows by Douglas Chadwick
Pages 114-120, National Geographic Magazine
June 2008, Vol -213, N0-6

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

SriLankan Leopards -- Big Cat Predators of the Emerald Isles

Introduction :

The SriLankan Leopard is one of 8-9 recognized Subspecies of Leopard.

It is an Apex Predator in the Island of Sri Lanka, meaning to say it has no natural foes that compete with it for food.

The SriLankan Leopard has existed for Thousands of Years in Sri Lanka making it "Endemic" to the Island. It is a distinct species as compared to Leopards elsewhere.

Biologists now say that the SriLankan Leopard living in Yala National Park in Sri Lanka is the biggest of all Leopards that exist on Planet Earth.

SriLankan Leopards have a presence in all National Parks and Forest Reserves in the Island, but it is in Yala National Park where their "Density" is the highest.

This is probably due to the fact that in Yala National Park, Prey in the form of Spotted Deer is available in plenty.

Prey :

The SriLankan Leopard has the most varied diet, A Big Cat Predator can have.

In Sri Lanka's South, namely in Yala National Park -- Herds of Spotted Deer make up its diet.

But, that is not to say it cannot tackle bigger prey like Water Buffalo.

This shows us that the SriLankan Leopard has a "Unique Position" at the top of the food chain in the Forest Ecosystem in Sri Lanka.

There are currently 900 SriLankan Leopards in the Wild on the Island of SriLanka.

Threats :

The Biggest Threat to the safety of SriLankan Leopards is Poaching and Habitat Degradation.

Poisoning of Leopards is quite common in areas with High Human Habitation.

This must stop immediately.

Conclusion :

These Magnificent Mammals are mostly arboreal that is they live on trees and are usually nocturnal and solitary with the exception of Females with Cubs.

Both Sexes of Leopards are "Highly Territorial" but territories of Males tend to overlap with some Females.

The Breeding Season of SriLankan Leopards is usually from May to July and the litter size is usually 2-3 Cubs.

The need of the Hour in SriLanka is strict conservation with regard to this Big Cat Predator and specially strict protection in unprotected areas throughout the length and breadth of Sri Lanka.

Credits :

1) Meet the Leopards of Sri Lanka
    By Chrissie Goldrick
    Australian Geographic
    December 05, 2013

2)  Lankan Leopard in the Spotlight
      By Himal Kotelawala

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Arabian Leopards -- Flagship Species of the Persian Gulf

Introduction :

Arabian Leopards were once found in plenty from Saudi Arabia to Oman and from Oman to Israel.

Today, They are restricted to "Protected Areas" in Southern Oman.

In Southern Oman, They can be found in Fair Numbers in "Jabal Samhan Nature Reserve" -- A Rugged Mountain Range comprising of plateaus and rocky paths where temperatures in Summer hover around 46 Degrees Celsius.

The "Arabian Leopard" is one of the Big Cat Predators that is extremely "Rare and Elusive".

The Arabian Leopard is considered to be a Beautiful and Magnificent Animal -- All in One.

It is 4 Feet 4 Inches Tall and considered to be one of the smallest leopards still living on Planet Earth.

Male Arabian Leopards are usually around 25-35 Kilos in Weight, While Female Arabian Leopards are around 20 Kilos in Weight.

The Habitat that Arabian Leopards prefer is Arid- Mountainous Areas with Oasis that have Permanent Drinking Water.

Prey of Arabian Leopards :

Arabian Leopards are the "Apex Predators" in the Arabian Desert Region. They prey exclusively on Desert Dwelling Gazelles as well as on Ibex that are found near Oasis in the form of "Mini- Herds".

What is most beautiful about Arabian Leopards are its black rosettes on its creamy yellow coloured skin. Isn't that Outstanding !!

Between 1997 - 2000 Camera Trap Images revealed that there were 15 Leopards at Jabal Samhan Nature Reserve as a Breeding Population.

They consisted of 9 Female Arabian Leopards, Five Male Arabian Leopards, and most interestingly a Cub.

Threats to Arabian Leopards :

The Biggest Threat to Arabian Leopards are "Habitat Degradation" and Poaching for their Skins by the local population. Often They are killed by local herdsmen when their livestock are killed and eaten by Arabian Leopards.

Conclusion :

Arabian Leopards need to win over the Hearts and Minds of the Local Population not only in Oman but elsewhere where they are found. They Should not be seen as Pests but rather as a vital part of the ecology of that region.

Credits :

The Last Lair of the Leopard
By Anna McKibbin

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Help Save The Last Saharan Cheetahs from Extinction

Introduction :

Deserts cover a large portion of the Earth's Mass.

There are Herbivorous and Carnivorous Species that live in Desert Areas, making some Deserts a "Potential Bio-Diversity Hotspot".

There are many species that live under "Harsh Conditions" in Desert Regions.

In an Environment, like the Sahara Desert in West Africa and North Africa "Low Precipitation" is the norm.

Herbivorous Prey are normally found in the Sahara Desert in small numbers.

Ditto is the case for Big Cat Predators that live on the periphery or in the Sahara Desert itself.

The Last Saharan Cheetahs :

One such Big Cat Predator that is rare, elusive, and found in the Sahara Desert is the "Saharan Cheetah".

It is a "Critically Endangered" Big Cat Predator mostly found in the Desert Regions of Algeria and Mali.

That, there exists Saharan Cheetahs in the Sahara Desert and in the neighboring Sahel Region is new to Scientists and Wildlife Biologists.

This Saharan Cheetah is a "Resilient" Big Cat Predator living in extremely harsh conditions where Herbivorous Prey and Water are hard to find.

Scientists, say that there are roughly 200 odd Saharan Cheetahs most of whom who live in Southern Algeria and in Mali.

The remainder live in arid areas of the Saharan Desert in countries such as Niger, Benin, and Burkina Faso.

Saharan Cheetahs in Algeria and Mali have been found to be active almost completely at night when temperatures in the Desert are at their lowest.

Saharan Cheetahs have been found preying on 2 Kinds of Desert Dwelling Gazelles.

They are Dama's Gazelle and Dorca's Gazelle. This has been conclusively established by Camera Traps.

Conclusion :

Saharan Cheetahs desperately need our help today. Let us do something constructive for them.

Credits :

1) The National Center for Biotechnology Information on the Saharan Cheetah.

2) Daily Kos -- "Ghost in the Sand Dunes, The Cheetahs of the Sahara.