The Risk of Captive Carnivores

I would like to share with you a very interesting article written by the The Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) about the risk of keeping carnivores in captivity and the bussiness behind. Many so-called NGO`S, Charities, etc which argue to work for carnivore conservation are part of one of the most unethical bussiness. Not only they keep wild animals in captivity as pets but also translocated what they call “problem animals” to new areas without monitoring the translocation, without a scientific protocol and viability study and sometimes (most of the times) without even a permit.. Please read and share the article, it would help you to identify who are this so called NGO´s and Charities:

captive cheetah

Picture above: Captive adult cheetah male showing submissive behavior

The Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) is growing increasingly concerned about the proliferation of captive facilities holding a range of carnivores in South Africa for the sole purpose of tourism and financial gain. We urge the public to consider a few facts when visiting any of a number of these facilities that hold lions, Cheetah, Leopards, Wild Dogs, hyena and even some exotic (non-native to South Africa) species such as tigers and panthers.

* No captive carnivore facility is breeding carnivores for release into the wild, despite what they may claim. Captive carnivores do not contribute to the conservation of free roaming populations; they are not releasable and they do not form part of any registered conservation or management plan for any carnivore in Africa.

* In many carnivore facilities, petting and bottle feeding of cubs is offered, for a fee. These cubs are often taken away from their mothers to stimulate faster reproduction and provide aconstant supply of petting carnivores. Visitors pay to pet the animal and have their photograph taken with it, as well as with their slightly older tame carnivore siblings.

* These carnivores become human imprinted, they do not grow up in a natural social group, and this makes it impossible to release them into a natural habitat for the long-term. This, coupled with the disease risk posed by captive bred animals, as well as their potentially dubious genetic lineage renders them a risk for release to not only themselves, but to other free roaming carnivores.

* Frequently the situation of a ‘paying volunteer’ is exploited for further financial gain, with volunteers being told that the carnivore mothers are not able to care for their offspring and that once they are old enough, hand-raised carnivores will be returned to the wild.

* “There are approximately 6 000 captive lions in South Africa bred for a variety of economic purposes”, as opposed to approximately 2 300 free roaming in reserves and parks. [Draft Biodiversity Management Plan (BMP) for Lions, 2015]. In fact the BMP defines Captive Lions as being “lions [that] are bred exclusively to generate money. Managers actively manipulate all vital rates and demographics.”

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Picture above: Captive adult cheetah male showing both aggressive and defensive behavior

The EWT’s concern relates to the public’s understanding of the role and the purpose of captive carnivores and these facilities in carnivore conservation and we urge the public to better understand the role of these facilities as well as the risk that these animals may pose to the public:

* Captive bred carnivores are always more dangerous than their wild counterparts. They lose their fear of humans and tend to associate humans with food providers. Their social structures are heavily interfered with and their natural cycles are often manipulated. A wild carnivore will usually steer away from humans but a captive bred carnivore may not feel the need for such caution.

*  A facility breeding carnivores will usually have to sell their offspring; it stands to reason that they cannot always have cubs and youngsters if they do not sell ‘excess’ animals.

* The captive bred lion hunting industry in South Africa has increased rapidly in recent years and South Africa is increasingly supplying captive bred lion bones for export to Asian markets.

* The Department of Environmental Affairs released figures in December 2013 that stated that “South Africa officially issued permits for the export of nearly (if not more than) 1 300 dead lions from South Africa to China, Lao PDR and Viet Nam from 2011 to 2012 inclusive.” BMP, 2015.

* “The so-called ‘canned hunting’ industry for lions has also increased in recent years and the total value generated from hunting captive lions amounted to about R98 million in 2006/2007.” Lion BMP, 2015.

* This raises the question: where do all these lions come from or go to? In South Africa, a thriving canned hunting industry can, in many cases, be linked to an equally thriving industry based on cub petting and commercial captive breeding centres.

Some may argue that there is educational value in allowing people to handle wild animals. Howeverthis kind of education provides the incorrect message that wild animals exist for human entertainment, that they can be petted like domestic animals. They also do not learn much about the natural behaviour, social structure or role of free roaming carnivores.
It is important to note that captive breeding is not a conservation recommendation for any carnivore species in South Africa. Carnivores in fact breed extremely well in the right conditions and for almostall our threatened carnivore species, the conservation priorities include reducing human-wildlife conflict, securing suitable habitat, reducing illegal offtake and maintaining balanced, functioning ecosystems. Without these in place, captive breeding leads to an over-supply of non-releasable animals which often end up as trophies. We also question that any funding generated from captive carnivore breeding goes to support the conservation of free roaming carnivores.

The EWT does not allege that any specific facility is breeding carnivores for the lion bone trade or forthe practice of ‘canned hunting’ but we do urge the public that visit these facilities to ask at the very least these critical questions:
· What is the plan for the long-term future of the animals in this facility?
· Where are the cubs’ mothers?
· Why are cubs not being raised by their mothers?
· What happens to the facility’s cubs when they grow up?
· If they are released into larger wildlife areas, where are these and can the facility provide documentation to prove a viable, ethical and successful release process?
· If the facility is breeding, do they have a management plan that determines responsible husbandry and management of all stock?
· Do any of the ‘stock’ have the opportunity to live out their natural lives, or are they hunted or bred with again?
· What happens to the facility’s surplus animals?
· Can the public inspect the record books of the facility and follow the life cycle of an individual animal?
· If these animals become part of another breeding programme, for what purpose?

The EWT calls for a more active participation from the public in questioning the role of all captive carnivore facilities and the management of the animals in their care. We also call on the tourism sector to recognise the role that they may be playing in supporting some facilities that cannot account for the conservation claims that they make. Find a pdf of the article HERE

Contact: Kelly Marnewick
Carnivore Conservation Programme Manager
The Endangered Wildlife Trust
Tel: +27 11 372 3600
kellym@ewt.org.za

Yolan Friedmann
CEO
The Endangered Wildlife Trust
Tel: +27 11 372 3600
yolanf@ewt.org.za
Lillian Mlambo
Communications Manager
The Endangered Wildlife Trust
Tel: +27 11 372 3600
lillianm@ewt.org.za

To this words, I would like to add a few links:

http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v425/n6957/full/425473a.html

http://www.catsg.org/cheetah/05_library/5_3_publications/I_and_J/Jule_et_al_2008_Effect_of_captive_experience_on_reintroduction_success_of_carnivores.pdf

Photo Competition

As mentioned in the inserted tweet, Our Cheetah research project is participating in a Photo Competition of Air Namibia Deutschland. Please help us and give a like to our pic on the following LINK.

Thank you for your help and support!

Monitoring Rarity: The Critically Endangered Saharan Cheetah as a Flagship Species for a Threatened Ecosystem

A paper on  the first survey of the critically endangered Saharan cheetah Acinonyx jubatus hecki was recently published in the Journal PlOS ONE. The study was carried out over two field seasons (August-October 2008 and August-November 2010) in Ahaggar Cultural Park, South Central Algeria by Farid Belbachir and his colleagues.

A rectangular trapping grid was designed and overlaid on a satellite image of the study area using 40 camera trap locations, spaced 10 km apart, covering a total area of 2,551 km2. The survey used camera-traps which use passive infra-red motion detectors that trigger a photograph when animals pass in front of the camera.

Cameras were usually placed under the nearest tree within 1km of each pre-allocated grid point. Trees were selected as they were likely to be attractive to passing cheetah; however they had the added advantage of providing shade for the camera traps, protecting them from the heat of the day.

1--saharan-cheetah-closeup

Photographs were obtained from 15 captures of cheetah in 2008 and 17 captures in 2010. The data in 2008 and 2010 yielded captures of four adult cheetah (3 males and 1 of unidentified sex) and two adult cheetah (2 males) and one subadult (unidentified sex) respectively. Camera-trap effort totaled 1862 trap-days in 2008 and 3367 trap-days in 2010. Overall, an average of 124.1 and 198.1 trap-days were necessary to capture a single cheetah picture in 2008 and 2010, respectively. Continue reading

Cheetah : Against All Odds

In the Serengeti, cheetahs live uneasy lives. Females with cubs must hunt. Left alone, their offspring are exposed to the savagery of more powerful predators. Even scavengers can gain the upper hand over these felines. Cheetahs are the fastest, but also the most vulnerable of the big cats. In this new film we follow two cheetah mothers, both with varying fortunes, as they struggle to raise their families against all the odds.

Dogs ease Namibia’s cheetah-farmer conflicts

Gobabis, Namibia – Winding through the parched Namibian farmland, Bonzo, an Anatolian shepherd dog, has a singular focus: protecting his herd of goats from lurking predators.

He pads along, sniffing the air and marking the scrubby landscape, just like a bodyguard ready to ward off any threat to his charges, which he considers family.

“They’re not pets. They’re not allowed to be pets,” said Bonzo’s owner farmer Retha Joubert.

The breed descends from ancient livestock dogs used thousands of years ago in what is now central Turkey. And they not only save sheep and goats, but have handed a lifeline to Namibia’s decimated cheetah numbers by reducing conflicts between farmers and predators.

“The dogs are protecting the flock in such a way that the farmers don’t have to kill predators,” said Laurie Marker of the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) which breeds the dogs near northern city Otjiwarongo.

“It’s a non-lethal predator control method so it is green, it’s happy, it’s win-win.”

The concept is simple.

The dogs are placed with a flock when a few weeks old to bond with the livestock. They live permanently with the animals, loyally heading out with them every day to deter hunters, and bedding down with them at night.

Marker’s centre started breeding the livestock dogs to promote cheetah-friendly farming after some 10 000 big cats – the current total worldwide population – were killed or moved off farms in the 1980s.

Up to 1 000 cheetahs were being killed a year, mostly by farmers who saw them as livestock killers.

But the use of dogs has slashed losses for sheep and goat farmers and led to less retaliation against the vulnerable cheetah.

‘Fight to the finish’

“We see about 80 to 100% decrease of livestock loss from any predator when the farmers have the dogs,” said Marker.

In the last 19 years, around 450 dogs have been placed with farmers and more than 3 000 farmers trained.

There is now a two-year waiting list for the dogs – either stately Anatolian shepherds or Kangals – and the programme has expanded to other countries with predators.

For Joubert, staying up late at night worrying about her sheep and goats coming home is a thing of the past.

Her farm near Gobabis, east of the capital Windhoek, lost 60 animals in 2008.

But the arrival of Bonzo, her first Anatolian, as a puppy five years ago has slashed losses to just one animal last year.

Joubert is now training four-month-old Kangal !Nussie – whose name starts with the exclamation point typical of Namibia’s Nama people – to follow in Bonzo’s footsteps.

The fluffy-coated pup is learning the ropes by going out with a flock every day on a leash with a human herder and beds down in the animal enclosure at night. She gets half an hour in the evening to play in the yard.

“She must associate herself with the goats, she must be a goat, she’s part of a group, that’s the main thing I think to make them to protect the animals,” said Joubert, who is deeply proud of her dogs.

The dogs’ presence and intimidating bark is usually enough to deter predators, who would rather opt for prey that does not have a guardian.

But they will attack if a hunter does not back off.

Bonzo for example, has killed jackals, who attack in packs and a young, weak cheetah.

“If indeed they do come in, the dog could and would fight to the finish,” said Marker.

Altercations between the dogs and cheetahs, though, are rare and those who target livestock are usually desperate, such as being wounded.

But working in Namibia’s tough landscape takes its toll.

Bonzo has been bitten by snakes, stung by a scorpion, attacked by baboons and now has tongue cancer from exposure to the relentless sun.

Ironically, despite cheetahs being seen as livestock killers, analysis of their droppings has shown only five percent had preyed on farm animals.

“They do occasionally take livestock,” said Gail Potgieter, a human-wildlife conflict specialist at the Namibia Nature Foundation.

“But the perception that any cheetah is going to start killing livestock as its main diet is very wrong.”

Cheetah numbers hit a low of 2 500 in 1986. But the population has now potentially reached nearly 4 000 – the biggest wild cheetah population in the world.

Cheetahs still face threats on game ranches, where they eat valuable animals, and on cattle farms where the dogs are not suited.

But for small stock farmers, they have proven their worth.

“For the type of livestock farming that’s going on in Namibia, it’s definitely one of the most promising solutions that they have,” said Potgieter, who used to manage the CCF’s dog programme.

In Gobabis, Joubert, needs no convincing.

“I will always have dogs here,” she said

Source: http://www.news24.com/Green/News/Dogs-ease-Namibias-cheetah-farmer-conflicts-20130827

Cheetahs on the brink

Over the course of several thousand years, the cheetah served as an important status symbol in numerous civilizations including the Egyptian, Persian, Mughal, and Frankish Empires. Akbar the Great was said to have kept 1,000 cheetahs on his palace grounds, and Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia had an affinity for keeping them as pets.

But like many large African and Asiatic mammals, cheetahs are now threatened by a loss of habitat, genetic issues, poaching, and a range of other problems. The fastest land animal on earth is now threatened by extinction and is in a race against time as its numbers dwindle, with just over a few thousands remaining in the wild.

Photographer Frans Lanting and filmmaker Christine Eckstrom have spent years documenting the natural world and teaching people how they can coexist with wildlife. In the following film from National Geographic Live, Lanting and Eckstrom explain how they documented rare cheetahs in Africa and in Iran and what challenges lay ahead for these elusive felines.

Global cheetah populations have plummeted over the past century, from an estimated 100,000 cheetahs in 1900 to fewer than 10,000 today. And once upon a time, cheetahs roamed the deserts of Iran. But international scientificsurveys recently confirmed what Iranian biologists already suspected– today there are fewer than 100 Asiatic cheetahs left on earth.

The Iranian Cheetah Society, founded in 2001, has started using social media, including their youtube channel, to promote awareness about endangered Asiatic cheetahs in Iran. The organization posts short video clips from their research in northeastern Iran, both in the Miandasht Wildlife Refuge and the Behkadeh Reserve, featuring rare Iranian cheetahs in the wild.

The dwindling population of Persian gazelles, devastated by heavy poaching in previous decades, has negatively impacted Iran’s cheetahs. Poachers are a serious threat to many endangered species across the Middle East.

A recent picture we featured of Lebanese bird hunters and their kill in a national park sparked fiery debates on social media. And in the case of Iran, both their cheetah and leopard populations are teetering on the brink of extinction.

According to Wikipedia The Asiatic Cheetah is a critically endangered subspecies of the Cheetah found today only in Iran, with some occasional sightings in Balochistan, Pakistan.

It lives in its vast central desert in fragmented pieces of remaining suitable habitat. Although once common, the animal was driven to extinction in other parts of Southwest Asia from Arabia to India and Afghanistan.

Estimates based on field surveys over ten years indicate a remaining population of 70 to 100 Asiatic Cheetahs, most of them in Iran.

Source: http://www.greenprophet.com/2012/11/cheetahs-iran/