Sunday, December 27, 2009

Clouded Leopard Conservation in Assam, India

As we near the end of 2009, we have been receiving progress reports from several of our grant recipients. One is from Karabi Deka and Jimmy Borah whose project, “Status, distribution, and ecology of small cats in Assam, India with a focus on the clouded leopard as a flagship species,” received funding from the CLP. This is the first project we have supported outside of our usual area of emphasis in Southeast Asia. We received a number of requests for India-based projects this year. In fact, we had an all-time high number of proposals submitted in 2009. Although we wish we weren’t so limited in our ability to provide support, it’s exciting to see how the number of clouded leopard and small cat field efforts has boomed over the last few years. With such dedication to uncovering the ecology of these cats and bringing much needed awareness to local communities we are confident that the clouded leopard and other small felids have a promising future.

While the tiger and leopard have been long-studied in Northeast India, Karabi and Jimmy’s team has been investigating the six species of rarely-studied small wild cats in the region. Their work takes a multifaceted approach comprised of ecological research, conservation awareness, and training in field techniques. The team has already conducted educational presentations for elementary and college students as well as community members in areas surrounding protected areas in which their research is taking place. The college students are also trained in basic field techniques and provide assistance in the field.

The team has also produced and disseminated a Field Guide to the Small Cats of Assam and a poster to raise awareness of these species, most of which are completely unknown to local people. They also participated in a training program for members of the Assam Forest Department staff to learn wildlife monitoring techniques.

The team also initiated a camera trapping project in Nameri National Park. They are having some difficulty with access (no roads!) and interference by elephants (!) but trapping is ongoing. To augment the trapping data, Karabi and Jimmy have compiled secondary information from the Forest Department, local NGOs, and community members to document cat sightings. We will be posting their entire progress report on the website and wish them great success in the continuation of their conservation efforts.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Santa Claws

Hey guys Merry Christmas!!

I decided to have some fun with the staff and the cats with a very appropriate Santa Hat.It's hard to say if the cubs were reacting to it or just being themselves... yeah, just being themselves. Lets just say that Santa isn't Ho Ho-ing. It's more like OOOHHH OWW. Besides the one cat hanging from his claws on my shoulder there is one that you can't see right behind me...that's the face of getting bit where the good lord split me!!!

Merry Christmas!!

Andy (Santa Clawed)

Monday, December 21, 2009

I'm Back...Again!

CLP Vice President Andy Goldfarb has returned to Thailand for another stint as Manager of the Clouded Leopard Consortium, a breeding project based at the Khao Kheow Open Zoo. Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium sends Andy there annually in support of the project where he raises cubs and manages care of the adults. This is Andy's first report since his return:

Hey guys I'm back in Thailand again. This will make four months in under a year. Don't get me wrong, I know I should be bummed that I'm missing out on the 18 degree weather back at my home versus the 90 degree temp with a very low humidity here in Thailand, but I'm not! I was never a cold weather guy. I've been coming here for 6 years and this it the first time that I have come in December and January which I have to say is just awesome. It's still hot, but the humidity is very low so it's quite nice. There are still all the bugs to deal with but to a lesser degree.

Okay, when I left back in April there were three cubs that I had been working with: Mang Po, Dawk Mi and Taifun. Also there was a little girl named Ginnaree born while I was here and she lived with me for my last month. Everybody is still here except Taifun, he went to Chang Mi in northern Thailand to meet a girl. Mang Po is one of my favorite cubs, so it was incredible to see her again. She's a lot bigger but still a sweetie and just jumped in my arms when I showed up. Everybody is doing great. The big news is that in the time that I was gone we have had six more cubs born at the breeding center. That makes ten cubs in a year! So the place is over run with the spotted little rats! What a dream come true for me. I have to say that it's hard to pay attention to all of them, they're always screaming at you when you walk past the enclosures. So I spend a fair bit of time going from one area to another playing with the cubs.

I know you're thinking, "Oh how brutal is that, poor Andy, he's suffering" Okay I know you're not thinking that but it isn't as fun or easy as you might think. Only those brave enough to enter know the truth, that’s why the guys that work with me don't go in. In one area there are four cubs that are five months old, three boys (what a nightmare ) and one little cute, but semi-evil, girl. When you first enter the area there are heaps of cute squeaks, chuffs, and rubbing all over your legs for attention. This lasts for about a minute and then it starts. A flurry of spots start flying through the air. They take turns jumping on you from every direction. From below, one of them always strikes first, and while you're bent over to detach the little beast another one hits from behind and then you lurch backwards to try to remove that one and you get hit from the front that’s when the other moves in for the big prize, your head. Now for those of you that kept up with me last time know that I copped it good in the face. So far my face has remained un-scarred, the rest of me is in real rough shape; my arms, legs, back, neck and scalp look like I scrubbed them with a wire brush.

I do love these maniacs and I'll write more soon ….I promise….. kinda.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

First-ever Video Footage of Borneo Bay Cat!

Researchers and friends of the CLP, Andy Hearn and Joanna Ross have released the first video footage ever captured of the little known Borneo bay cat. This elusive cat is one research subject in their quest to study the ecology and status of Borneo's five wild cat species as part of Andy and Jo's work with the Global Canopy Programme.

To see the 7 second video clip and learn more about the exceptional bay cat, found nowhere else in the world but the island of Borneo,visit the story on Mongay Bay. We applaud the efforts of Andy and Jo to learn more about Borneo's threatened wild cats and are proud to support their work.