Working outside the fence to protect what’s inside

by Michael Grover – director @ Activating Africa

“Four years after leaving my work as the Ecologist in a part of the Greater Kruger National Park in South Africa, I look back and reflect on the impacts and the people that made it happen. It all started with Rewilding Foundation’s Koen Cuyten and two of his close friends from the Netherlands, keen to take on South Africa’s ‘iSimangaliso 4-day MTB challenge‘ 2015 for a good cause. The Rewilding Foundation had supported Activating Africa’s anti-poaching activities before and the dream of Riding for Rhinos was born.

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Through hard work and many long hours in the saddle (and behind the computer) Koen Cuyten, together with his donors were able to raise almost €4,000 Euros for the communities living on the boundary of the national park. Through the generous donation community members (mainly children) were able to experience the beauty of wildlife for themselves and in doing so, go through a process of education about the rhino poaching crisis at hand. The dissemination of Bongi’s Quest (a children’s book written about a rhino trying to understand rhino poaching) the education about poaching did not stop with those that had access to the game drives, but to all of those that interacted and found enthusiasm from their story.

Community kids going on a game drive

As an organisation Activating Africa continued to work with partners on developing smartphone tools to collect data on endangered wildlife and to use that data to educate people on the border of the reserves.

As time went on, other major threats to wildlife other than poaching started to get noticed. One of the most concerning was the high number of domestic dogs entering the wildlife areas, infected with Rabies. A local study showed over four years 172 domestic dogs found their way through wildlife fencing and entered the conservation area. An alarming 68% of these dogs tested positive for rabies with multiple interactions with wildlife carnivores inside the reserve, causing a major concern for the spread of the virus.

At this time it was when Koen and his passion for mountainbiking and the African bush began working on the second fundraiser, Riding for African Wild Dogs set against the rocky shores of the Mediterranean coast of Croatia: the 4 Islands MTB Stage Race in 2016.

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African Wild Dogs (Lycaon pictus) are listed as Endangered (IUCN Red List) with fewer than 450 in South Africa, of which some 200 presently occur in the Greater Kruger area. Social structure and large home ranges puts Wild Dogs at high risk for Rabies. The solution did not lie within the boundaries of the protected areas that Wild Dogs roam, but actually outside in the villages along the boundaries where this deadly virus was spreading rapidly. Rabies is an acute, typically fatal, encephalomyelitis caused by infection of the Rabies virus (RABV). Rabies affects the central nervous system of most mammals and is generally fatal, therefore the spread of Rabies to wildlife that was previously excluded from contact was highly likely with the number of domestic dogs entering the conservation areas. The focus of the project needed to be three phased, initially it would be an identification of the wildlife most at risk and begin to intervene by vaccination. This approach was only to buy time as the other two processes were put in place. It is not practical, economically feasible or sustainable to continually vaccinate a free roaming predator, so the solution had to be in combatting the root cause; the spread of Rabies in domestic dogs outside in the villages.

This is where the biggest impact could be made. Human deaths due to Rabies are poorly recorded in rural areas but statistics from the World Health Organisation (2012) estimates that more than 55,000 people die each year from Rabies in Africa and Asia alone! This project had grown in great proportion with not only prevention of wildlife loss, but prevention of loss of human lives as well. The 2nd phase approach was education of communities outside the conservation areas about the risks of Rabies to both humans and animals and spreading the word of the need for embracing the State Veterinary vaccination programs. This is easier said than done and due to the pure magnitude of the task has caused the project to grow in vision and scope to include many more partners that have the tools and resources to reach the 1.5 million people in the area.

Without losing focus on Activating Africa’s vision of community conscious conservation through innovation, the 3rd phase was initiated and research into the opportunity to use oral baited Rabies vaccines for both domestic dogs outside the conservation areas as well as on carnivores within the protected area to limit the human contact needed for the current vaccination method of darting through immobilization.

To date the Riding for African Wild Dogs team have secured €3,700 Euros which has been earmarked for the purchase of oral vaccines for trials early in 2017. The process has been done in the US and Europe before, but not to this scale in Africa and therefore the project is reviewing every process thoroughly before implementing. Luckily this does not mean that phase 1 has been forgotten and project partners, the EWT and veterinary staff of the Greater Kruger have been tirelessly vaccinating Wild Dogs over the past six months with a combination Rabies and Distemper vaccination.

The picture story of photos below, taken by Grant Beverley of the EWT, tells of the great work happening to buy more time till the full 3 phase project can be implemented.

Darting the dogs

© Grant Beverley – EWT

Free roaming Wild Dogs in the Greater Kruger are identified through the EWT Wild Dog Monitoring Specialist and vets are called out to immobilize the Wild Dogs by darting them.

Wild dogs being vaccinated

© Grant Beverley – EWT

Wild Dogs are then vaccinated and photographed on their left side for identification through individual coat patterns, this ensures good record keeping and monitoring.

Darted dog

© Grant Beverley – EWT

Blood samples for research of the diseases are taken from the dogs before they are given the reversal for the immobilization.

This project looks to be a catalyst for similar projects looking at not only the wildlife inside the protected area, but the major pressures they face from outside the fence and how education and collaboration can pave way for success.

For now jump on that bike to raise some funds and watch this space!”

In 2017 Koen and his mates will ride again for the African Wild Dogs, this time they will travel to Kenya to race the Rift Valley Odyssey!

Launch of a Dutch wolf book coincides with return of the wolf

Perfect timing!

Erwin9200000036494981 van Maanen of the Rewilding Foundation co-authored a new Dutch book on the wolf within a collaborative frame of Wolves in the Netherlands foundation. The book is titled The wolf back; scary or exciting? It is aimed at informing the general public on the mythology, historical relationship with humans, ecology, human dimensions, environmental philosophy and rewilding with the wolf. The book collates various literature findings and thoughts on the wolf in the context of the Dutch and Flemish lowlands, placed in historical and modern perspective. It contains a number of illustrations (including a painting by contemporary artist Walton Ford) and photo’s.

The book was published at the end of February and the timing couldn’t be better, as two weeks later a lone wolf walked from Germany into the Netherlands. It is the first wolf recorded in the Netherlands with absolute certainty, since the last wolf was shot in the mid-nineteenth Century.

It was a bit of an odd case, as the animal showed indifference toward humans and appeared to be determined and fixed to ‘go west’. The animal first appeared in the open in western Germany at the end of February and walked along roads, in open fields and through villages. Many people saw the animal. It then walked into the Netherlands near a place called Sleen, in the province of Drenthe. It created tremendous media and public attention. And the wolf was much displayed as a caricature, even in the political playing field of the coinciding provincial elections. Much of what is described in the new wolfbook about human thoughts on the wolf is still applicable in modern times, as this lone wolf aroused. The authorities wanted to catch the animal and radio-collar it, to the dislike of many citizens. But the wolf was evasive enough, walking continuously out of reach across the open (polder) or thinly wooded country side and again passing through villages; occasionally appearing disoriented and stressed by so much attention. It posed no danger to humans, but did try to catch a sheep and was chased away by the farmer. The ‘polder wolf’ was recorded on image by many.

It then went up north into the province of Groningen and eventually hit the coastline. The day afterward it went back east into northern Germany, were it was again chased by the authorities, to then vanish, perhaps finally finding a proper area to settle and with a bit of rest. This ‘first wolf’ since eons raised a lot of questions of whether the Netherlands is a suitable country for large carnivores like the wolf or lynx to settle.

The wandering animal is thought to be a juvenile she-wolf originating from a recently established pack on a military practice site near Munster. Some German wolf experts attribute the “lack of fear” or indifference of the animal toward humans to habituation by military personnel. Wolves are now increasingly settling in many places in Germany, particularly along a east to nortwest line. They seem to favor the seclusion of military practice sites. There is a core area of clustered packs (a little more than 16 packs at present) in the region of Lausitz, on the border with the Tjech Republic.

See our previous post on another presumed wolf in the Netherlands in 2011

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Image compilation of the lone wolf on dispersal from Germany into the Netherlands and then back. With thanks to many photographers.

 

 

Bringing back the lynx to the British Isles

Collaboration with the lynx reintroduction project in the UK

It is a pleasure to announce our collaboration with the lynx reintroduction project run by the recently established Lynx UK Trust.  The aim of the project is to restore a sustainable lynx population in Britain. The lynx went extinct there hundred’s of years ago.

Return of the lynx also presents the return of a key ecological component to enrich Britain’s still sizeable nature reserves. The lynx can be beneficial to the management of wild herbivore populations (e.g. of red deer and invasive muntjac), nature development and to forestry, as well as bring more wildness or wilderness appeal for ecotourism to certain regions, like in Scotland or Wales.

The project was recently launched publicly and has thus far received tremendous positive feedback and consent from the public, including key stakeholders. It is currently in the process of establishing proper reintroduction areas for the Eurasian lynx in the UK, a collaboration with other lynx reintroduction projects and lynx stock providers in Europe, and a lynx education center for the British public.

The Rewilding Foundation is glad to be able to facilitate this project with a base on the European mainland. And we look forward to keep you up to date on progress. For more and first hand information on the project please visit the Lynx UK Trust.

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Support for information technology to counter poaching of South Africa’s Rhinos

De Rewilding Foundation (RF) works together with others in safeguarding or restoring wilderness areas around the globe. Its focus is not only on big carnivores as keystone species, but also species which are key in preserving the wild nature of areas. In this case the rhinoceros in southern Africa, holding 74%  of the World’s population of black and white rhinos. In the last couple of years an exponential growth in poaching for ‘medicinal’ rhino horn sold on Asian markets is now pushing these animals to the brink of extinction. In 2008 83 rhinos were killed, in 2010 333, in 2012 668, in 2013 1004 and in 2014 1215 animals! Black and white rhinos in Kruger National Park (KNP) are hardest hit by poachers, mostly coming from Mozambique. The private reserves bordering on the west side of KNP have collaborated intensively the last two years under the name Game Reserves United (GRU) to defeat the poachers.

The black rhino is pushed to brink of extinction by relentless poaching (Photo: Koen Cuyten)

The primary objective of GRU is to effectuate common strategies and effectively share information on poaching activities between the reserves. The Rewilding Foundation is supporting the technical unit of GRU, called Activating Africa in developing information exchange technology to achieve the above goal and more effectively mobilize field personnel in countering poaching activity .

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Anti-poaching patrol by field personnel of GRU (courtesy of GRU)

 

Support for strengthening of the Dinaric lynx population in Croatia

The Rewilding Foundation is currently supporting the Dinaric lynx project in Croatia. Here’s the background story.

The Dinaric Mountains, extending along the coast of the Adriatic Sea from Slovenia to Albania, host a rich fauna, including European largest carnivores – brown bear, grey wolf, golden jackal and Eurasian lynx. While bear, wolf and jackal populations are stable or even increasing, lynx population is unfortunately facing another extinction. Severe human prosecution caused extinction of autochthonous lynx population from the Dinaric Mountains in the beginning of the 20th century. Present, reintroduced Dinaric lynx population was founded by six animals reintroduced from Slovakia to Slovenia in 1973. Their offspring expanded from Slovenia, through Croatia and all the way to Bosnia and Herzegovina. But after initial success and a period of stabilization, during the last 10 – 15 years size of the reintroduced population is decreasing and it is estimated that today about 15 – 20 lynx are present in Slovenia, 30 – 40 in Croatia, while population size in Bosnia and Herzegovina is unknown. Low genetic diversity and inbreeding, consequences of the fact that population was founded by six animals, are the main threat for the survival of the population.

Unfortunately, in spite of the legal protection poaching is still present, and when combined with traffic mortality, prey base depilation and genetic problems, the future of this population is very questionable. Translocation of new animals from Carpathian Mountains is considered as the optimal (and only) solution for the survival of this wonderful animal in the Dinaric Mountains. Partners from Croatia, Slovenia, Austria, Italy, Slovakia and Romania united in a project entitled “Reinforcement, reintroduction and population level management of the dying out Dinaric – SE Alpine lynx population”. We hope that this project will be co-financed by European Commission trough LIFE program and that actions planned in this project will pave the way for long-term viability of lynx in the Alps and Dinaric Mountains.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the case of small, isolated and endangered populations, like reintroduced Dinaric lynx population, it is essential to use appropriate scientific methods to monitor population status. This way we gather data necessary for appropriate management and conservation actions. During the last few years, besides genetic research, camera-trapping is the main tool used for lynx monitoring in Croatia. Since 2011 about 500 lynx photos were collected and 19 individuals were identified. Our goal for 2015 is to increase the number of camera traps so we could monitor a larger area and estimate lynx population size.

– By Magda Sindicic – Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Zagreb

UPDATE ON THE TIGER REHABILITATION PROJECT

Early Summer 2014, our partner Phoenix Fund posted great news on their website regarding the rehab and release of the five cubs back into the wild:

http://fundphoenix.org/en/tigers-go-to-jao/

http://fundphoenix.org/en/three-tigers-released-into-the-wild/

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Two young tigresses of 9 and 11 months of age were transported and released into the enclosure of the Rehabilitation Centre for Rare Species near Alekseevka village in the Russian Far East. This was done under the watchful eye of Russian President Putin. The tigresses will eventually be released back into the wild, like Cinderella last May.

More information can be found on the website of our partner Phoenix Fund: http://fundphoenix.org/en/putin-in-rehab/

One of the sedated tiger cubs (c) Inspection Tiger

One of the sedated tiger cubs (c) Inspection Tiger

One of the cubs gets medical check-up (c) Inspection Tiger

One of the cubs gets medical check-up (c) Inspection Tiger

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At last, the long-awaited event has occurred! On May 9, 2013, young tigress named Cinderella was returned back to the wild in Bastak Nature Reserve in the Russian Far East.

Photos by the Phoenix Fund

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Now, the tigress weighs about 94 kg (207 lb) that is normal for her age. The animal is very active, and it took over two hours before the specialists could immobilize it with a tranquillizer dart. They checked animal’s teeth, took temperature, blood and other samples to test any disease. Then, the predator was put in a special trailer in order to be transported to Bastak Nature Reserve.

Cinderella_2

In the early-morning hours of May 9, 2013 (at 9 a.m.), an off-road jeep towing a trailer arrived to the place after an 18-hour drive and traveling 1,000 km (over 600 miles). After that, the trailer was attached to a cross-county vehicle that took the tigress and tiger specialists to the Upper Bastak River, a release site. Upon arriving, the specialists first checked an automatic remote control of cabin’s door, radio-locating system, instructed everyone around on safety rules, and then opened the door. After a 3-second pause, the tigress jumped out of the cabin and disappeared in thick forest.

Cinderella_3

At present, specialists of A.N Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution, Inspection Tiger and Wildlife Conservation Society are monitoring Cinderella’s movements with the use of radio telemetry, and have already received first signals from a radio collar. She is moving towards the area where the presence of an adult male tiger was recorded before. The scientists are hopeful that soon a new tiger couple will find each other, and Cinderella will found her new home there, taking into account that there is plenty of food in the protected area and the guards of Bastak Nature Reserve will ensure peace and good protection.

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The Phoenix Fund has been concerned about Cinderella’s future since the first days the tigress was found. We, together with International Fund for Animal Welfare decided to assist in her rehabilitation process’, says Sergei Bereznuk, Director of the Phoenix Fund. ‘We would like to thank all Russian people who responded to our call for help. Donations were coming from all parts of Russia and from abroad. Thanks to professionalism of specialists of the Rehabilitation Centre for Rare Species, we think, Cinderella is ready for a new stage in her life. At this very exciting moment we hope that it will not take her long time to get settled in her new home, and that she will increase wild tiger population by giving birth to young in the future’.

It should be recalled that Cinderella’s story began in February 2012, when people found the young orphaned tigress in freezing conditions on the territory of Borisovskoye hunting lease. She was unable to survive for long on her own. The animal aged approximately 5-6 months was so exhausted that she could be easily handled. Her foreleg and tail were frostbitten. According to the vets, if the female tiger had not been rescued that day, she would have died the next. The cub weighed up to 16 kilograms (35 lbs). After a 3-week quarantine the young tigress was transported to the Rehabilitation Centre for Rare Species located in Alekseevka village, Primorsky krai, which construction was made possible thanks to the financial support from Russian Geographical Society. At the centre Cinderella was under constant control of veterinarians and specialists of Inspection Tiger and A.N Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution.

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PREVIOUS POSTS AND NEWS ON CINDERELLA AND THE OTHER 3 TIGER CUBS:

SPOTS Foundation together with the Rewilding Foundation made a donation in March of $2,000 USD to Phoenix Fund for the rehabilitation of Cinderella and the other Amur tiger cubs.

One of the three rescued cubs (c) Mark Wheeler

One of the three rescued cubs (c) Mark Wheeler

Another cub was found early January and captured by the team on the 9th! The 7-month old female underwent surgery on the 11th and has recovered since.

On November 27, 2012 three young tigers appeared near a military unit in Primorsky krai, Russian Far East. The small predators tried to kill a domestic dog, but a guard scared the animals away into the forest. Experts from the Wildlife Conservation Society, Inspection Tiger, and Primorsky Hunting Management Department tried to find out why the cubs walked alone and did their best to track the tigress. Unfortunately, the tigress mother was not found. The specialists then decided to capture and transfer the cubs to the Amur Tiger Rehabilitation Centre in Alekseyevka village, where the Phoenix Fund is helping to rehabilitate an orphan tigress named Cinderella.

The Rewilding Foundation and several other NGOs have gathered funds for Cinderella over the past months and she will be released back to the wild in May 2013!

An operation to capture the animals lasted from November 28 till December 6. The female cub was captured first, perhaps because of her obvious weakened condition compared to her two siblings. Two of the tiger cubs are male. The specialists immediately started providing care to the animals. Thanks to timely medical treatment the animals feel good now and vets are sure that they will grow into healthy tigers and learn the necessary survival skills to be released back to the wild. The three cubs spent 3 weeks in quarantine where vets kept a close eye on them. The cubs were named Businka (Little Bead), Boris, and Kuzya. Give Cinderella, Businka, Boris, and Kuzya the chance to live free in the wild.

Give a small gift of:

  • €15 to provide a cub with vitamin and mineral supplements for one month.
  • €30 to pay for average daily veterinary costs.
  • €75 to feed a cub for one day. 
  • €120 to pay for daily care.

With your help the tiger cubs could be successfully released back into the wild this spring (Cinderella) and autumn 2013 (the two brothers and sister).

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Young tigress called Cinderella needs our help fast! She is currently being prepared for her return to the wild, but lack of funding may leave her little chance for release back into her natural habitat. Cinderella will stay in a remote rehabilitation centre this winter; it is hoped that she will be released in early spring 2013.

Last year, after one-year construction works in Primorsky province (Russian Far East), a new rehabilitation centre for Amur tigers and other wildlife finally opened its doors. And in April 2012 a young Amur tigress named “Cinderella” has become the first resident of the centre.

Young Cinderella when she was found. Photo by WCS

Cinderella’s story began in February 2012, when people found the young orphaned Amur tigress in freezing conditions. She was unable to survive for long on her own. The animal aged approximately 5-6 months was so exhausted that she could be easily handled. Her foreleg and tail were frostbitten. According to the vets, if the female tiger had not been rescued that day, she would have died the next. The cub weighed up to 16 kilograms (35 lbs). First, it was decided to put the animal in quarantine for three weeks under constant control of veterinarians in an improvised shelter specially constructed by wildlife specialists. Then, after the tigress began to recover and gain weight, the specialists spent much time discussing the possibilities for her release back into the wild. A unanimous decision was to transport the female tiger to the rehabilitation centre where it would be taught hunting technics.

Cinderella in her temporary enclosure. Photo by Inspection Tiger

At first, small animals like hares and badgers were to be put in a special enclosure with the tigress. Then, the predator would learn to hunt Sika deer. During this “training course” the tigress must be completely isolated from people, so that the animal can develop a fear of humans.With her first days in the centre, Cinderella felt herself at home. She liked a cool den artificially made of rocks which gives her shelter at sunny and hot days. Also, Cinderella enjoys cooling down in a small pond near the den. Animal care staff can keep an eye on all her movements from an observation tower or by watching on-line videos from video cameras installed along the perimeter of the enclosure. The tigress has already learned to hunt hares, and now is gaining skills to hunt deer. The centre’s caretakers do their best to increase her chances for release in the wild. Cinderella will stay in the centre this winter and has a good chance of being released in March-April 2013.

But Phoenix Fund, partner of the Rewilding Foundation in the Russian Far East, desperately needs funding for her care over the winter. Your help would give Cinderella a better chance of returning to the taiga and potentially having her own cubs in the future. PLEASE DONATE NOW! Whatever you can give would be gratefully received. You can donate via us, please visit this page for details. Make sure you specifically mention “CINDERELLA” and we will transfer all donations to Phoenix Fund. If you want to donate directly to Phoenix, visit their website for details. Thank you!

Cinderella, 1st of December 2012. Photo by Phoenix Fund

Hot unfortunate news: A young leopard was shot at Diyarbakır in south-eastern Turkey!

A Diyarbakır man shot and killed a leopard on Sunday, believed to be a member of a critically endangered leopard subspecies unique to Anatolia. (Photo: İHA)

News taken from Todays’ Zaman

A Diyarbakır man shot and killed a leopard on Sunday, one which is believed to be a member of a critically endangered leopard subspecies unique to Anatolia, saying the animal attacked him, as ecologists and scientists call for a conservation zone for the critically endangered Anatolian leopard.
The last confirmed sighting of a leopard in Turkey was in 2010 when a hunter shot a leopard in Siirt. A university research team photographed a leopard in the Black Sea region earlier this year; however, the exact location has not been disclosed.

In the latest case, Mahmut Kaplan and his cousin Kasım Kaplan from the Solmaz village of Diyarbakır’s Çınar district said they were attacked by a leopard while herding sheep near their village on Sunday. According to the two men, the animal attacked Kasım Kaplan and Mahmut Kaplan shot the animal with a hunting rifle.

“It came out of nowhere and attacked me. Its roar really frightened me. I tried to push it back but it had me on the ground. Then my uncle’s son, Mahmut, killed it.” Kasım Kaplan was treated for injuries at Çınar State Hospital in Diyarbakır.

The leopard’s body was taken to Diyarbakır Dicle University’s department of veterinary medicine. Dicle University Professor Ahmet Kılıç said he suspected the leopard was an Anatolian leopard, or the Panthera pardus tulliana.

“I had never seen one before; it is an extremely rare species. Even if we see one or two of these, it is extremely important because it means they are still around. Officials should act immediately and take measures to protect them because when the word gets out, hunters and collectors will go to the area and loot the place [killing any remaining leopards].”

A Panthera pardus tulliana, a subspecies native to Turkey, was photographed by researchers from Karadeniz Technical University (KTÜ) in September after years of research. Professor Şağdan Başkaya of KTÜ, when sharing the images with the press, said the university had been conducting field research in hopes of establishing a conservation zone. He also refused to provide the exact location where the leopard was filmed. The Panthera pardus’ conservation status is “endangered.”

In a telephone interview, Başkaya told Today’s Zaman that the shooting was very “unfortunate,” as it comes at a time when his team and officials were close to declaring conservation zones for the Panthera pardus. “We have been working very closely with General Directorate for Nature Conservation and National Parks (DKMP) of the Ministry of Forestry and Water Affairs over the past three to five months to announce conservation sites for the Anatolian leopard; the ministry is actively working on a leopard action plan. We also recently presented a project to the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK). This happened at a time when we are very close to beginning these projects.”

Başkaya said the Anatolian leopard does not only live in southeastern Turkey. “It exists across a wide range; it is in the Southeast, the East, eastern parts of the Black Sea and other parts.”

He also criticized media stories suggesting that the animal had come from Iran. “That is unlikely, but even if it had, it is not important.” He said there are various subspecies of the Panthera pardus such as the Iranian or Caucasian leopards, but added that they are very closely related and essentially members of the same species. He said it is possible that these animals frequently move across national borders. “The difference [between subspecies] is really small,” he said, adding that the press should be concentrating on the fact that an animal that should be protected is dead.

Erdal Seven, a local Nature Conservation and National Parks director in Diyarbakır, told reporters that tissue samples from the leopard had been sent to a TÜBİTAK lab to ascertain its subspecies. Experts at Dicle University’s faculty of veterinary medicine were studying the body on Monday.

He said it is good news that the animal was sighted in Diyarbakır, in terms of biodiversity and the resilience of wildlife, but he said it was equally saddening that the animal had been killed.

“We will do as the law dictates following an investigation. This is an animal that was killed. This should be investigated properly.”

He said, “It would have been great if it hadn’t been killed.” A team of experts from WWF Turkey visited Solmaz on Monday.

Turan Çetin, the WWF’s regional representative for the Southeast, told Today’s Zaman that the leopard sighting has given researchers significant clues about the current state of these animals. “This was a male, about two-and-a-half years old. Males roam across wide distances; they are mobile and do not live in a fixed spot. Judging by his age, he must have left his litter recently since mothers usually kick the males out at around that age.” He said WWF experts had spoken with elderly residents of Solmaz who had no recollection of any leopards in their area. “This means that the leopard didn’t live in that area.”

“In 2010, a leopard was killed this way and one in 2005 in Bitlis. There was another killing in 1974, in Beypazarı, Ankara. Roughly every five years an Anatolian leopard is killed the same way, by a shepherd or a hunter. This shows that the best way to protect this animal is to inform the villagers.” He said there is a project being conducted by the WWF and other civil society organizations and financed by the UN’s Small Grants Program (SGP). The project’s two main purposes are to define the boundaries of a protected habitat for these animals – since leopards change places across areas as wide as 10,000 hectares — and together with officials, declare that a conservation zone and create greater awareness among the people of the area.

He said the animal that was shot by the Diyarbakır shepherd was not in a good place for leopards. “It normally should be living further east.” He said human encroachment, particularly in the form of hydroelectric power plants in the East and the Southeast that are built on nearly every river in the region, was forcing animals to change locations, often resulting in greater contact with humans.

More on leopards in Anatolia.

Counting down to WILD10 in Salamanca, Spain

WILD10, the 10th World Wilderness Congress (WWC), will convene this October in Spain to “Make the World a Wilder Place.” Involving up to 1200 delegates from over 50 nations, with an estimated 30,000 on-line, WILD10 is focused on state-of-the-art information, inspiration, and practical, positive results in policy, protected areas, economics, business, communications, and more. Visit the WILD10 website for more information.

Two members of the Rewilding Foundation will participate in this exciting event.

The spine of the continent: Mary Ellen Hannibal on her new book

The Spine of the Continent reveals the importance of connecting landscapes, people, and ecosystems.

The bad news is that human impacts are tearing nature apart at the seams. The good news is that conservation biology has quantified why we have to heal these wounds in our life-support systems, and how to do it. Scientists, NGOs, and regular people are joining in a geographical, social, and political effort to sustain wilderness along the Rocky Mountains—the most significant stretch of wilderness left on the continent. If we are to get any kind of handle on the extinction crisis that is decimating biodiversity, it will be by protecting the habitats that sustain it, along the Spine of the Continent. This is an engaging and entertaining book, and it is an important one.
–Paul R. Ehrlich, Bing Professor of Population Studies, Stanford University and author of The Dominant Animal

Mary Ellen Hannibal has brought a critical issue to light, and her insightful book deserves a wide audience. The Spine of the Continent should mark an epoch in conservation history—the moment, perhaps, let us hope, when large-scale thinking is at last brought to bear on our most precious landscapes.    
–Thomas McNamee, author of The Grizzly Bear and The Man Who Changed the Way We Eat