Kudos to the World Wildlife fund for kick starting a program tin 2010 with the goal of doubling the number of wild tigers by 2022. To see how the plan was working, 120 tiger researchers explored across some of the wildest sections of India and Nepal to assess the status of the project. By using camera traps and lots of legwork, the scientists identified individual tigers by their unique stripe patterns and discovered something amazing: Tiger numbers in Nepal have risen by an estimated 63% in four years!
They concluded the success was due to three main factors: political enlightenment in the region, supported by the Global Tiger Recovery Program which was started at the tiger summit in 2010; the dedicated work of many rangers, forest guards and soldiers protecting tigers and their prey; and the tigers’ increasing birth rate.
“The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation has awarded WWF a $3 million grant ( in November of 2013) for tiger conservation in Nepal. The grant demonstrates the foundation’s commitment to saving one of nature’s most iconic species and strengthens WWF’s tiger conservation gains in Nepal, where we work with the government, other partners and local communities in the Terai Arc Landscape.
This generous conservation grant will toughen anti-poaching efforts, protect core areas for tiger conservation and restore critical wildlife corridors. It will also help local communities by offering support through ecotourism and other economic opportunities in an effort to safeguard tigers and their habitats.
The grant comes on the third anniversary of the historic Global Tiger Summit and its bold initiative to double the number of wild tigers by 2022—the next Chinese Year of the Tiger.
“Time is running out for the world’s remaining 3,200 tigers, largely the result of habitat destruction and escalating illegal poaching,” said Leonardo DiCaprio, a WWF board member. “WWF, the government of Nepal and local communities are on the front lines of this battle and I am hopeful this grant will help them exceed the goal of doubling the number of these noble creatures in the wild. I am grateful for the amazing support our Foundation has received — especially to our partners at Christie’s who helped create an historic night for conservation fundraising with the 11th Hour Auction.”
The grant represents the first funds awarded from the successful Christie’s 11th Hour Charity Auction in May 2013, created by DiCaprio, which raised a record $38.8 million for conservation in a single night. DiCaprio has long been a passionate advocate for the environment and joined forces with WWF beginning in 2010 to launch Save Tigers Now, a global campaign to raise political, financial and public support to save tigers in the wild.
“Leonardo DiCaprio defies expectations in leveraging his voice and influence to restore tigers and their habitat in one of the most hopeful places on Earth,” said Carter Roberts, president and CEO of World Wildlife Fund (WWF). “His foundation is all about delivering real results for conservation on the ground and empowering local communities; nowhere is that more evident than in Nepal. The numbers speak for themselves and we are grateful for our partnership.”
WWF’s partnership with the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation has already yielded results in places like Nepal’s Bardia National Park. Just this year, WWF was part of a government-led tiger monitoring exercise where we found tiger numbers in Bardia had increased significantly from an estimated 18 tigers in 2009 to approximately 50 tigers today.” From; https://www.worldwildlife.org/stories/leonardo-dicaprio-foundation-awards-3-million-for-tigers
We are very fortunate that we live in an age where some courageous people have dedicated themselves to preserving these endangered creatures, so we can hand them down to future generations.
During the late 90’s deep in the Okavango delta region of Botswana, investigators discovered a small pride of lions which they named the Western Pride.
Before we go further , you need to know some facts about lion social behavior. The basic social structure of lions is the Pride: a group of several females and their cubs, all protected by an alpha male and sometimes a few lesser males. Although the females actually do most of the hunting for the group; they all depend on the protection provided by the larger and more powerful males. The more males the pride has, the larger territory they can defend. Lions do have enemies; hippos, rhinos, jackals, hyenas, and even other prides of lions.
What scientists found in the Western pride was a special lioness with a large dark and full mane, and moves almost identically to a mature male lion. They named her Martina; although she has passed on, she has been replaced by another such special lioness known as Mmamoriri, who has been observed to exhibit strong male behavior; including attempting to mount other females. During a battle with another pride, over a buffalo carcass, she was seen to hold off ten other lionesses for four hours, until two large males arrived, attacked her as a male, forcing her retreat.
Since then there has been great speculation as to the cause of this phenomenon, but the effects of this aberration are quite easy to understand. More males enable the pride to be more resistant to attack, defend a larger territory, and improve their chance of survival.
I’ve always enjoyed painting lions. To see more Click Here.
I always enjoy painting a grizzly bear, a magnificent animal living in North America. Did you know that grizzlies once roamed most of western North America extending to the Great Plains? Then humans arrived and gradually eliminated the bears from much of their range. Today only about 1,000 grizzlies remain in the Northwestern U.S., however, they are protected by law. Many grizzlies still inhabit the wilds of Canada and Alaska, but hunters continue to bag them for big game trophies.
Grizzly bears are very rare, and live in remote areas. In Denali National Park (Alaska) I was able to excitedly watch a very large grizzly dig out a ground squirrel from its underground den. It is surprising that the bear would put so much effort into hunting such a small animal. They are omnivorous, eating all sorts of berries, nuts, fruit, and roots, as well as any other animal they can find.
Creating his painting was challenging, since includes a water element, rocks, vegetation and a cute furry critter; a young grizzly bear playfully holding a stick in its mouth. He has an appealing expression on his face. I especially enjoy depicting the interesting fur pattern of the grizzly, the color of which can vary from dark brown to almost blonde.
To see a larger version of this painting and learn more Click Here
I have enjoyed painting all big cats, but one of my favorite big cats is the Snow Leopard. Snow leopards are not really leopards, but are more closely related to tigers. They live in one of the world’s most harsh environments, the Himalayan mountains.
The snow leopard hunts the wild Himalayan goat, called a Markor. Snow leopards are very agile; they need to be in order to catch the equally athletic Markor.
What I appreciate about the snow leopard is its beautiful fur. It has lovely markings, and a very long and fluffy tail, which it wraps around itself to help it keep warm. In my view, the eyes of the snow leopard are among the most beautiful of the big cats, greenish blue, and luminous.
I will continue to paint these wonderful big cats; they are an endangered species, and few remain in the wild.
To see some of my Big Cat Paintings Click Here
As long as I can remember Cheetahs have had a special place in my heart. I admire their beauty , grace and speed. They are the fastest animal on the land, capable of accelerating from zero to 60 miles or 96 kilometers in 3 seconds. Even at these high speeds they can
make sharp and sudden turns to get their prey. However, they can only sprint this fast for short distances and must sneak up on their prey to get close enough to catch it with their short burst of speed. Their chases are over in less than one minute.
Their beautiful spotted coat serves to permit them to blend into the grasses, making them hard to see. They also have excellent eye sight enabling them to find their prey which is often well camouflaged by the grasslands, requiring them to hunt solely during the daylight hours.
After making a kill cheetahs need to drag their prey into a hiding place or risk it being stolen by hyenas, lions, leopards or several other creatures. Cheetahs are pretty tough and can survive without water for up to four days.
Cheetahs usually have litters of 2 or 3 cubs, and raise them for about 2 years, during which they learn how to hunt for themselves. They have a life span of 10 tom 12 years in the wild. Males live alone or in small groups, often with their brothers.
Cheetahs are found in central and southeastern Africa, but only less than 10,000 are estimated to be left today. These numbers continue to decrease as more and more land is devastated by humans.
My latest cheetah painting (on the right) can be seen at my website. Click to View.
On May 8th, in Ranthambore Park in India Ustad ( or T-24) allegedly mauled and killed a
forest guard. Days later he was tranquilized and moved to Udaipur Park about 530 Km away. Fortunately the authorities have stepped in and prevented any further action until
this case is decided by the Supreme court. For the time being he is OK until the court decides his fate.
He was saved by a petition that was flied by Chandra Bhal Singh a sincere tiger lover.
The supreme court usually only considers urgent matters during the summer; but this case has drawn world-wide attention. He believes the tiger only acted to protect his family when the guard entered his territory.
He also believes the National Tiger Conservation Authority acted hastily, due to the pressure of public opinion, without any scientific inveastigation, or studying the details of the attack.
For the moment he remains at Udaipur, awaiting the final decision of the Supreme Court.
What do you think?
Samara Private Game Reserve / September 11, 2015
It is with great sadness that we share with you the devastating news of the passing of Sibella, a cheetah whose story and legacy had captured hearts and minds throughout the world. As the first wild cheetah reintroduced into South Africa’s Great Karoo region in 125 years, and contributing 3% to the wild cheetah population in South Africa through her various litters, Sibella had become an internationally-recognised ambassador for cheetah conservation.
She died aged fourteen in the early hours of Friday 11th September 2015 after an altercation with a duiker during a hunt, which left her with a gaping hole in her abdomen. Despite the vet’s best efforts, she did not make it through the night.
Sibella leaves behind an extraordinary legacy. A powerful symbol of the special relationship between man and wild beast, this exceptional cat has done more than merely touch our hearts and allow us to marvel at her beauty. Her story embodies not only the plight of the cheetah, but the immense potential for successful conservation of a species on the precipice of extinction.
Born wild in South Africa’s North West province, Sibella’s life nearly ended at the hands of hunters when she was only two years old. Set upon by dogs that tore the flesh from her hind legs, she was savagely beaten and locked in a cage. Lying at death’s door, she was fortunate enough to be rescued by the De Wildt Cheetah and Wildlife Trust. She owes her life to the five-hour surgery and dedicated rehabilitation that ensued.
In December 2003, she began a new chapter in her life when she was released onto Samara Private Game Reserve near Graaff-Reinet. Since then, she has surpassed all expectations. Outliving most cheetah in the wild, she has proved herself to be a capable hunter despite her previous injuries. Successfully rearing an astonishing 20 cubs in four litters since her release, she has also been an exemplary mother – giving birth on steep mountain slopes to avoid potential predators and eating only after her young have had their fill.
The unspoken bond she shared with the humans in her new home was extraordinary – with the birth of each new litter, when the cubs were old enough to leave their den, this wild cat dutifully presented to her human guardians her latest bundles of fur. The degree of trust she vested in human beings, walking to within just a few metres of them, was simply astounding – her past suffering at the hands of her tormentors all but forgotten.
Sibella’s story, from tortured to treasured, is symbolic of the change in mindset required to conserve our planet’s biodiversity. We mourn her loss but seek comfort in knowing that she lived and died in a wild environment. We feel incredibly privileged to have been witness to the life of this exceptional cat.
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The San Diego Wild Animal Park has discovered breeding cheetahs to be a challenge, because the females do not show any obvious behaviors revealing their reproductive state. But they did find when males sniff areas where female cheetahs have been, they sometimes utter a unique call known as: the stutterbark.
Males will emit this call again and again and again while they pace their enclosure and check out the female cheetahs in the nearby enclosures. When the females hear the calls, they don’t respond at first. But when they hear some of the males call, it seems to trigger their hormone system and turn on some special behaviors.
So they used some software to create a brand-new stutterbark that they played to the cheetahs at the Zoo’s Wild Animal Park research area.
After hearing the sound of this “new male,” one of the cheetahs, Kenya, became very, very excited. She started rolling around in the grass on her back, lifted up her tail tip and wagged it, and seemed to be checking out the male cheetahs nearby. When she was placed with a male named Quando, the two of them proceeded to mate. This was good news and the first time that cheetah breeding had resulted from using a sound recording.
Afterwards, Kenya’s fecal samples were regularly checked for specific hormones to see if she was pregnant. Cheetahs are pregnant for about three months, and it looked like the breeding took. With great anticipation they monitored her reproductive state and hoped for a new cheetah cub or a litter of cubs, since cheetahs often have three to four babies at a time. Kenya did not disappoint. She produced a daughter, but because it was only a single baby, and her first cub, caretaking was a bit of a problem. So the baby was brought to the Park’s Animal Care Center and was incorporated into their cheetah education program.
So here is the Good News: there is help being given to assist the survival of this magnificent creature. Several ongoing projects are doing some fine work to expand our knowledge and encourage the breeding of one of my favorite animals.
Find out more Tomorrow….. Jacquie
The world’s cheetah population in zoos is carefully monitored through an international studbook, a database of information about a species in zoos, including the gender, parentage, date of birth, and location of each individual. The North American population is managed by the Species Survival Plan (SSP).
Wildlife Safari in Oregon began breeding cheetahs in 1972 and successfully produced a litter the following year. Since then, 178 cheetahs have been born at the park, making them one of the top breeders of cheetahs in the U.S. and the western hemisphere. They have developed a partnership with the Association of Zoo and Aquarium’s Species Survival Plan for cheetahs, so that cubs born at that park have populated zoos across the U.S.
The addition of new genetics to the population and the promise of cubs are significant to the U.S. population of cheetahs, as according to the breeding recommendations from the American Zoo Association’s Cheetah SSP, the number of cubs born in the U.S. dropped significantly during the 1990s. If American zoos are to maintain a sustainable population of cheetahs, successful breeding must increase and remain at a high level through the rest of this decade. Having these amazing cats in zoo populations allows us to educate the pubic and conduct research that helps the endangered cheetah both in captivity and the wild.
The Species Survival Plan carefully investigates the genetics of each animal in the population and, working with a team of highly skilled managers, veterinarians, and scientists, makes breeding and transfer recommendations for all cheetahs in North American zoos. They also monitor research projects designed to investigate cheetah nutrition, disease, reproduction, behavior, and physiology. Investigations of cheetah physiology are conducted in a full and active collaboration with the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF), based in Namibia.
This research and education organization is devoted to conserving the wild cheetah and is recognized worldwide as a leader in cheetah conservation. The CCF works closely with Namibian veterinarians and government organizations to rehabilitate and house orphaned cheetahs, which are then studied to help answer research questions related to cheetah biology and become part of education programs passing information on to the public.
More tomorrow… Jacquie
The cheetah has always been one of my very favorite critters.
The ones I have met have been very docile and friendly;
unlike any of the other big cats.
Unfortunately, cheetahs in the wild have not fared so well.
Status of the Cheetah
Once widespread across the Africa and Asia, cheetah populations have plummeted, following decades of habitat loss and competition with rival carnivores, such as lions, leopards, and hyenas, and also persecution by farmers. Ancient Egyptians often kept cheetahs as pets, and also tamed and trained them for hunting, although they did not domesticate them. Cheetahs are still tamed in the modern world, much to their detriment as the demand in the illegal pet trade continues.
Today, only 12,000 to 15,000 cheetahs remain in Africa, and less than 100 may survive in Iran. The country with the largest population is Namibia, home to about 3,000 cheetahs.
Cheetahs are one of the most popular animals in zoos, serving as ambassadors for their wild counterparts. They are, however, a challenging species to manage in zoos because: they are difficult to breed due to their unique social and breeding behaviors: the adult females are solitary and adult males often live in social groups, and female cheetahs are very selective in choosing mates.
Cheetah Research Today
At the present time, promising new scientific investigations are being conducted to assist cheetah breeding including:
• Artificially inseminating zoo cheetahs with cryo-preserved sperm from cheetahs from the wild in Namibia to improve the genetics of the population
• Improving the breeding techniques and management of zoo animals to increase cub production and improved cub survival rates
• Improving in vitro fertilization and embryo culture techniques to consistently produce cheetah embryos for transfer
• Studying the relationship between cheetah age and subsequent reproductive ability
• Promoting veterinary investigations into kidney function and the causes and treatments of disease
I’ll have more for you tomorrow…