Monthly Archives: March 2016

Taxonomic uniqueness of the Javan Leopard

The Javan Leopard (Panthera pardus melas) is a distinct subspecies, basal to the phylogenetic tree of Asian Leopards. At present this taxon is not specifically managed in captive breeding programmes in America and Europe. As it is *endangered in the wild, and represents a genetically and morphologically unique and distinct taxon we recommend a more concerted effort to target this subspecies for captive breeding.

* The Javan Leopard (Panthera pardus melas) is classified as Critically Endangered by IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) since 2008.

Its classification as Endangered is due to the fact that the article was written and subsequently published in 2007.

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African wildcat, Milow, injured

We are often asked why we keep “domestic” cats in our project, referring to our African wild cats, with pure bloodline/genes. The African Wildcat (felis silvestris lybica) is under threat also due to breeding with domestic and feral cats in their territory, so they are important for a conservation program. That’s why we also have two kittens, of proud parents Max and Louise. That the ancestors of the domestic cats are wild indeed, was shown again recently at feeding time. Sadly this caused a broken leg to poor Milow, and injuries to the arm of our caretaker Betty.

The first time both wild cat females Sid and Louise were so fierce at feeding time, “attacking” the kittens. Maurice did run off and was fine, but sadly the less afraid (and more up front) Milow was being jumped on first by Sid and then by Louise. Interference by Betty to help out the unfortunate little boy was rewarded by another “attack”. We still don’t know what caused this sudden appearance of “aggression” as while eating and after eating it was all peace and quiet again and the females and kittens went relaxing together as normally.

Only, poor Milow’s leg seemed to be injured badly. It was broken we heard at the vet. He was in surgery and we just received the good news that he looks ok for now after operation, but bad news is that they couldn’t save his leg, a pin wouldn’t hold it. So another 3-legged cat, but if we see Beauty the black footed female (who was brought in after being injured in a gin trap) : she is rushing back and forth on 3 legs, even gave birth, and she seems not to be bothered. Cats are survivors, Milow gets another chance and he is still young.

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Artistic caretaker at WCW

We currently have a great artist in our (assisting) caretaker team. Sophia Schröder from Germany, when she finds time, often sits down near our ambassadors to make excellent drawings like this one of our proud male leopard Félipe in his famous pose. We for sure are impressed by her work, so we will share more of this brilliant work coming time.1-20160313_161232

Cheetah conservation….

Cheetah conservation…..

…has different aspects, and also in our project, however a small example of what is happening in the wild, shows e.g. the same importance to clear the many acacia thorn bushes invading in our cheetah camps, like it is in many wild areas such as Namibia. CCF Namibia has a focus on this in their special bush project. Herewith a bit of the info why it is so important to get rid of those, apart from the fact that they can cause real damage to the eyes of a cheetah, also to ours as they also ran full speed in their camps. So thanks a lot to Sophia and Edouardo (picture) for the hard work clearing the bushes. A forever returning job, but for a good cause. Nature in the Eastern Cape/South Africa where we are based can be compared to the situation in Namibia described down here. How to make use of the awful thorns you can read here: http://bushblok.com/

thornbushproject

Protecting the future
Approximately 14% of Namibia (25 million hectares) is now seriously infested with an overgrowth of thornbush species. Over past decades human activities such as grazing, fencing and wild fire suppression have caused a severe loss of grassland and productive farmland through a process called ‘bush encroachment’. Mostly various species of thorn bush, these plants have progressively entered then dominated these lands, severely changing the habitat. An acacia thornbush can consume up to 7 times the water of a desirable fodder species. This change in the water cycle increases the probability of an artificial drought event, a particular worry for a low-rainfall country like Namibia. The transformation from savanna to thick bush changes the mix of food available for wild animals, changes local soil temperature (affecting seed germination patterns) and ultimately changes the type of grass or bushes that thrive. Even the overall fertility of soil can change after the arrival of invader bush species. In short, bush encroachment causes widespread, severe, and negative impacts on the habitat.

speedyFor marquee predators such as the cheetah, bush encroachment causes specific habitat changes that affect their ability to survive. Since cheetah hunt using bursts of speed to overcome prey, the presence of thick bush hinders their ability to successfully hunt.

Co-mothering leopard females at Wild Cats World

When Feline gave birth to two cubs on November 4th, 2015, the other female Felicia was introduced already after a few days as part of the WCW leopardproject and “experiment” to have the leopards living as a group or Pride, to see what’s possible and what isn’t. To show the other side of the leopard.
1-ZA2015_4_095_P1070536Felicia Immediately started co-mothering Feline’s cubs and was allowed to do so. It happened so that Felicia also was pregnant herself. For almost 2 months they happily lived together (also the males were shortly introduced which went super as well), until disaster stroke and one of the cubs (Kali) sadly died due to an unfortunate incident. When Feline was occupied with the dead cub, first grooming it, then starting to pace up and down with it, and at last partly eating it (like always in nature) Felicia took Olive to the other side and kept her safe there. Felicia also clearly was not herself. After the remains of poor Kali were cleared, Feline started searching and calling for a long time and she clearly had a trauma, which sadly also resulted in her not being able to co-mother Felicia’s cub the first months (even though she was present at the birth, January 3rd 2016, and took care of Solo when Felicia’s second cub didn’t come out as well being a breech-birth…legs first), as she clearly wanted this little boy as a replacement for her lost Kali, so she kidnapped the boy whenever she got the chance. Felicia didn’t mind the first time but the next times Feline took off with little Solo, she got protective, and they were fighting over the little boy so that we were very worried it might get hurt. Felicia is still visiting Feline and little Olive but for a little while longer we keep Solo away from Feline, until he is big enough not to carry around (to be kidnapped..) any longer. The daddies Felipe and Felix are both very kind, gentle and patient to the little ones. Very exceptional to see.

1-1070833aAlso the two cubs do love to play with each other (both being “single kids”) and they do so daily now Solo is big enough to handle his bigger girlfiend Olive.
We will keep you up-dated about the leopard families, our observations

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Javan Leopard release program

The Javan leopard is an endemic species to Java and at present classified as critical endangered species on IUCN Red List. Categorized under Appendix I CITES.

The Population estimates are not certain, but certainly less than 250 mature individuals, possibly even less than 100 (IUCN Red List).

That the Javan Leopard is endangered is a result of pet trade, hunting, habitat loss and fragmentation but also a decline of prey makes that the Javan leopards enter villages to find food, which causes leopard-human conflict.

While research has shown the important role of leopards in the ecosystem and biodiversity in the rainforest and their role as top predators, the public in Java is not educated in this. Their lack of knowledge means they perceive the Javan Leopard as a threat and a risk to their wellbeing.

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