Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Happy Halloween!
Pumpkin carving isn't just for people as Raja demonstrates with his Halloween treat.

Is it really October again?? Yippee!

MY pumpkin!

Planning the design...

Getting a little carried away...

A born carver!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Russian Cat Artist

We've received this beautiful painting of a clouded leopard cub from Tania, a young woman living in Moscow. Tania has been sketching and painting nature and animals since her childhood. She sent us other examples of her fine work, including drawings of cheetahs and leopards. Tania's talent has been recognized with several exhibitions in Moscow as well as ones in Japan and Norway. She is obviously a gifted artist and we wish her great success with her work. Thanks for sharing, Tania!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Cats of the Canopy

After years of aniticipation, staff members at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium are embarking on the planning for a brand new clouded leopard exhibit as a component of the Zoo's Asian Forest Sanctuary. This will be one of the few exhibits in North American AZA-accredited zoos custom-designed specifically for the special needs of clouded leopards. The image above is a schematic used for fund-raising purposes during the current capital campaign managed by The Point Defiance Zoological Society. The actual exhibit design process should begin in mid-November. We hope to open the exhibit in 2010. Despite the "herd" of clouded leopards represented in the schematic, the exhibit will house two breeding pairs. The Zoo's two clouded leopards currently reside in off-exhibit housing so we are excited for the prospect of once again having these amazing cats on display. The exhibit will greatly enhance opportunities to engage visitors about our conservation efforts. I'll share updates as the project progresses.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Bone Day!
After having been out of large bones for the cats at the Zoo for a while, we received a shipment of giant leg bones. As you can imagine, the cats enjoy them very much! One look and Josie was a drooling maniac, pleading with her eyes to be served first!

Unable to resist that face, we placed Josie's bone up on her branch and let her have at it.

And before anyone could try to steal it, Josie made a beeline for the security of her den box where serious munching ensued!

Everyone loves bone day!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Aly is Found!

Andy Hearn and Jo Ross report some good news from Borneo's Danum Valley. After many months of not receiving a signal, the team has once again located Aly, the first-ever radio-collared Bornean clouded leopard. To track her down, Andy and Jo hired a helicopter to better search for signals over the rough terrain and forest cover of Danum. Aly was found 3km from the edge of her previous range. This positive development has a downside - the signal was very weak, suggesting that the collar's batteries are running low. Hopefully the collar will transmit long enough to gain more valuable data on Aly's movements.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

What's Driving the Wildlife Trade?

A report issued by TRAFFIC and the World Bank examines the factors influencing the illegal and unsustainable wildlife trade in Southeast Asia. Most of the experts consulted in the study cite the rising affluence of Asian consumers as a major driver in the demand for wildlife products. The results of the study show that expert opinion is mixed on the best ways to solve the complex problem. Some believe that greater enforcement is key, while others believe that reducing demand by influencing buyers' perceptions is the way to ultimately reduce trade. The entire report is available for download on the TRAFFIC website.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Storybook Art Update
I realized I haven't provided an update lately on our progress with The Clouded Leopard's Secret, the bilingual storybook we are producing for use in Thailand. Our artist, Heather Hudson, is making good progress with the illustrations. Isn't she doing a great job?! I can't wait for the finished product. After meeting with conservationists in Borneo this summer we now hope to produce the book in Malay too for use in Sabah. It will be exciting to get the book into the hands of students in Asia to help teach them more about the science of wildlife research.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Wild Cat Trade in Myanmar

Photos by Chris Shepherd, TRAFFIC Southeast Asia

A new report issued today by TRAFFIC Southeast Asia documents the trade in wild cat parts in four markets in Myanmar. The results of twelve surveys of these markets from 1991-1998 uncovered 1320 items representing all eight of the wild cat species found in Myanmar. These items represented a minimum of 1158 individual animals. The most frequently found items were whole skins followed by canine teeth and skulls. The majority of the cat parts were found in the notorious Tachilek Market at the border of Myanmar and Thailand. This has long been a hot spot of illegal wildlife trade. Among the cat parts identified were 301 from clouded leopards, representing a minimum of 279 individuals. The entire report, The Wild Cat Trade in Myanmar, can be downloaded on the TRAFFIC website.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Mysterious Bay Cat

Exciting photos from CLP-supported research in Borneo reveal a glimpse of one of the world's least understood felids, the Borneo bay cat (Catopuma badia). Andy Hearn and Joanna Ross have been fortunate enough to obtain a half dozen photos of bay cats representing at least three individuals in their study site in the Danum Valley. This photo documentation is critical as the bay cat is one of the world's least understood felids. Until recently, the only images of the bay cat in literature were of dessicated, preserved specimens or crude drawings from long ago (likely based on skins or mounts). These representations did nothing to capture the athletic grace and beauty of this species that can be seen in the recent photos.

Bay cats occur in two color phases: the more common reddish and gray. They resemble the Asian golden cat with which they share their genus, Catopuma. Golden cats are absent on Borneo and bay cats are found nowhere else, suggesting the bay cat may have evolved from the golden cat in isolation in Borneo over the past 10,000-15,000 years that Borneo has been separate from its neighboring island of Sumatra. Genetic analysis indicates that the two species are closely related.

We anticipate that recent data on bay cat sightings will be compiled as a result of the workshop we are coordinating in Thailand in January. This will be an important first step toward identifying other research and conservation priorities for this mysterious cat.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Spreading the Word in San Francisco

We had a great time at this year's Wildlife Expo organized by Wildlife Conservation Network. We are so grateful for all the hard work it takes them to put on such a unique event bringing together a wide-ranging group of grassroots conservationists and people interested in learning about and supporting our causes. This is always our favorite event of the year as we re-connect with old friends and make new contacts with people who share our vision for improving the plight of endangered species and habitats. In addition to visiting all the organization's booths we were able to attend many of the fascinating presentations about projects to preserve species as varied as African wild dogs, snow leopards, saiga antelope, sun bears, and elephants. Thanks again WCN and we'll see you next year!