Friday, February 26, 2010

Raja's Annual Physical

Today was Raja's annual physical exam so I thought I'd share a few photos. Each animal at the Zoo receives a yearly physical to review their health status and check for any potential problems. In Raja's case it is especially important to keep close tabs on his health as he has been under treatment for renal (kidney) disease for several years. We have been able to control it through diet and medication, but more problems will likely surface as he ages. At nearly twelve, he is still in great shape, but is definitely pushing past his prime.

To conduct Raja's physical, our vet immobilizes him by injecting him with an anesthetic. Fortunately, Raja is very comfortable working with us (well, me...not our vet!) so I can easily load him into a transport kennel to receive his injection. Once he is asleep we bring him in our van up to the Zoo's hospital where he is hooked up to the anesthesia machine to be sure he STAYS asleep. Believe me, as nice as Raja is, you DON'T want a clouded leopard to wake up during his exam!

Once he's immobilized, our vet and vet tech leap into action to collect all the samples they need, take radiographs, and do a full body exam. Today Taryn, our vet tech intern, had the honors of collecting a blood sample. She did an awesome job, getting his vein on her first time! Pretty nice way to cap the last day of her internship.

Our vet doesn't just serve as Raja's doctor, but his dentist as well. He had some tartar build up so he had a full cleaning. Here is the before photo:

Here's the cleaning:

And here is the sparkly result!

Another thing we often do when we have an animal immobilized is to make paw prints to give to donors, use in education programs, or just for keepers to have as momentos of the animals we work with. Sometimes we take casts, but more commonly (because it's way easier) we use washable paint to just print tracks. We got some nice ones from Raja today.

We'll get the results from his blood and urine tests in a few days. Hopefully the report will be a clean bill of health for our handsome boy!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Seven Wild Cat Species Photographed in Indian Forest

Photo by Kashmira Kakati

The BBC recently reported the results of wildlife researcher Kashmira Kakati's two year study in a 500 square kilometer section of rainforest in the Eastern Himalya. Camera trap images from this study showed that seven species of wild cats are found there, making it one of the highest areas of cat diversity on earth.

The seven species caught on camera include the rare and elusive clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa), marbled cat (Pardofelis marmorata), and golden cat (Catopuma temminckii), and four relatively widely distributed species — tiger (Panthera tigris), leopard (Panthera pardus), leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis), and jungle cat (Felis chaus).

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Yadav Ghimirey, a biologist working in Makalu-Barun National Park, one of the most remote national parks in Nepal, discovered this clouded leopard pelt in a nearby village. Yadav has been conducting a camera trapping survey in the park. So far 1000 trap nights has failed to yield a clouded leopard photo, but he has located two pelts in villages. Yadav says "We suspect that there are more pelts in the villages and less animals in the forest."

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Clouded Leopard Teachers' Guide Published in Sumatra

Communities in Sumatra will gain a better appreciation and knowledge of their island's rare wild cats through use of the new Indonesian version of the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium/CLP's Wild Cats Educators' Guide. The funding, translation, and publication of this guide was managed by felid biologist Iding Achmad Haidir who works in Kerinci Seblat National Park. I met Iding in January 2009 during the International Clouded Leopard Conservation Summit we organized in Bangkok. Funds raised for the Summit included support for bringing biologists conducting field studies on clouded leopards and other Southeast Asian felids; Iding was the recipient of one of those grants. It was great to meet Iding and observe his great enthusiasm for promoting wild cat conservation. With committed young conservationists like Iding on the job, clouded leopards and the other cats of Asia have a better shot at a secure future!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Wild Clouded Leopard Video Footage!
Our friends, researchers Andreas Wilting and Azlan Mohamed, have released the first video footage of the Sundaland clouded leopard in the wild to be made public.
The footage was captured during a night survey in their study area of the Dermakot Forest Reserve in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. I was fortunate to participate in night surveys at this same site in 2008, but never got lucky enough for a glimpse of a cloudie!

View the footage and learn more about their research by viewing the BBC's story, Clouded leopard: First film of new Asia big cat species. You can also find more detailed information of the project on the CLP website.

Thanks to CLP supporters for helping us contribute to this important project.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Thailand Small Carnivore and Clouded Leopard Workshop

The Clouded Leopard Project was pleased to sponsor an international workshop on the small carnivores of Thailand, November, 24-27, 2009 at Kasetsart University, Bangkok.

This meeting was a direct offshoot of the CLP-organized Clouded Leopard and Small Felid Summit held in Bangkok in January 2009. At that time, a group of researchers became interested in an analysis of the data that had been gathered from photo-trapping in Thailand, for (1) understanding the current status and distribution of small carnivores, (2) for exploring the possibility of improving and standardizing ecological survey methods across Thailand, (3) in prioritizing research needs within Thailand, and (4) integrating conservation efforts within Thailand with efforts in neighboring Laos and Myanmar.

According to one of the workshop organizers, Dr. David Reed Associate Professor, University of Louisville Louisville, KY, the meeting was even more successful than expected. There were some excellent discussions and the data set was quite impressive. Participants are currently working on papers to be published in the near future concerning what was learned about the status and distribution of all the mammalian carnivore species.

Based on the data, detailed habitat models are being constructed for dhole; clouded leopard, leopard, and tiger; and for numerous other small carnivores. The clouded leopard, leopard, and tiger are being modeled together. Preliminary analysis suggested very strongly that clouded leopard and tiger are found almost exclusively together and that leopard densities are strongly negatively correlated with tiger densities. Thus, researchers hypothesize that tigers deter leopards and that leopards depress clouded leopard densities, so that the presence of tigers and clouded leopards are strongly positively associated with each other. To fully document this, the species are being modeled together and researchers hope to tease apart whether the correlation is due to direct interaction between the species or if it is partly due to leopards having a preference for different habitat types.