Fumbling Cougar Kittens: Learning to Hunt

F99, orphaned kitten, stretching near a successful kill. She’s wearing a new solar-assisted Iridium collar, which allows us to locate her kills more easily in the field. Photograph by Mark Elbroch / Panthera

We recently captured F99, a now 1-year old, orphaned, female cougar kitten followed by Panthera’s Teton Cougar Project (see post Why Adult Cougars Kill Each Other? for how she was orphaned and Orphaned Cougar Kittens and Their Inspiring Will to Survive for some of her adventures since). We swapped out the tiny, expandable collar that we’d given her at 5 weeks old, for a cutting-edge, solar-assisted, light-weight Iridium GPS collar. The Iridium collar is new technology—just 2/3 the weight of our lightest collar previously—and we programmed it to relay her location to our office computers every hour, on the hour, all day long.

We re-captured F99 with the hope that she would teach us something further about how kittens learn to hunt, even without a mother. She was just 36 pounds when we changed out her collar, which is about 20 pounds lighter than a typical 1-yr old female. She’d been physically stunted by her early period of starvation—she looked more like a 6-month old —> Read More Here

For Bhutan, it Takes a Community to Save the Snow Leopard

A map of the snow leopard's habitat covering a million square miles. Map copyright National Geographic.

The snow leopard, like most of the world’s big cats, survives by keeping a low profile. Yet its secretive nature and penchant for living among some of the steepest, remotest mountain ranges on the planet have not saved the cat from human intrusions throughout most of its range.

First listed as globally endangered in 1972, snow leopards have declined by 20 percent over the past two decades throughout most of the 12 Central Asian countries they inhabit, from Afghanistan in the west to Mongolia in the east. Human activities – primarily habitat destruction, poaching and retaliatory killings to avenge livestock losses – present the biggest threats to the species’ survival.

A map of the snow leopard’s habitat covering a million square miles. Map copyright National Geographic.

Yet the prospects for the so-called grey ghost of the Himalayas appear much brighter in Bhutan, the homeland of Tshewang Wangchuk, a biologist dedicated to keeping the elusive cat a permanent fixture on the landscape he knows so well. “Bhutan,” says Wangchuk, “tells a different story.”

Tracking through Genetics

To gauge the health of snow leopard populations, biologists often survey the landscape for scat, tracks, scrapes and other potential signs of their distribution —> Read More Here

Camera Trap Top 10

Gregg Treinish and his team at Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation bring us stories from around the world about adventuring with purpose. Here, ASC’s Alex Hamilton compiled our favorite 10 camera trap videos. Watch prairie dogs wrestle, an elk lick the camera lens, and ASC volunteers photo bomb the camera.

By Alex Hamilton

ASC collects a lot of video which won’t ever be edited or published. For projects like Landmark and our Olympic National Forest Pine Marten Survey, we work with a diligent team of videographers. They stay immobile, day and night, recording at the slightest hint of movement.

Our team receives little recognition and no credit when their film is actually watched. They don’t mind, though—they aren’t human.

The last decade has seen an increase in the use of automated camera traps in ecology and conservation biology. Camera traps are motion-activated, either firing off photos or recording a certain length of video when movement enters their frame. Sometimes they’re set off by nothing but wind rustling through the grass; other times it’s an entire herd of bison.

ASC crews regularly check camera traps and sort through what sometimes amounts to hours —> Read More Here

Rare Snow Leopards Seen on Mount Everest

Snow Leopard 14

To celebrate International Snow Leopard Day, today, October 23, National Geographic Cat Watch is publishing two images from camera traps set up to document the elusive and seldom-seen big cat on Mount Everest.

The Everest Snow Leopard Conservation Center is a partnership initiative of Vanke Foundation and Qomolangma (Mt. Everest) National Nature Reserve. The 34,000-square-kilometer (13,000-square-mile) sanctuary protects the highly unique and diverse ecosystem found along the border of China and Nepal, centered around the world’s highest mountain.

“It is home to many endangered species including the snow leopard. But very little is known about the distribution and population status of snow leopards in this area,” according to a statement released with these photos by the Everest Snow Leopard Conservation Center.

The statement added that in the early 1990s, snow leopard expert Rodney Jackson did a brief field study on the species in this area. “He estimated that there may possibly be in excess of 100 snow leopards within the reserve. Since then, no research or conservation projects on snow leopards have been carried out in this area.”

In May 2014, Vanke Foundation, a Chinese private foundation founded by China Vanke Co., Ltd, joined the Qomolangma Nature Reserve to establish the Everest Snow Leopard —> Read More Here

C40’s Mark Watts: Can Cities Carry the Weight of the World?

Response Magazine, a publication of pre-eminent engineering firm Ramboll, recently included C40 Executive Director Mark Watts in both a feature story and exclusive Q&A. The issue focuses on resource optimization, particularly how city officials and other decision-makers can ensure an approach that will sustain future generations.

In an article entitled “Call for Action: Cities Stepping Up,” which explores how cities are stepping up to support nations and the UN on the road to Paris COP 21 and beyond, Mark Watts shared his thoughts on the co-benefits of climate action in cities:

“The best city leaders have seen that the things that cut emissions also improve quality of life. For example: compact, dense city design where people can live near to the major amenities rather than suburban sprawl; making it easier, cheaper and safer to walk, cycle and take public transport rather than drive; more parks and green spaces; reducing waste, or providing better insulated buildings.”

The magazine also included a Q&A with Mark Watts, where he discusses the particular advantages cities hold in addressing climate change, as well as his answer to the bold question: when it comes to climate change, can cities carry the weight of the —> Read More Here

Unusual Distribution of Organics Found in Titan’s Atmosphere

The ALMA array, as it looks now completed and standing on a  Chilean high plateau at 5000 meters (16,400 ft) altitude. The first observations with ALMA of Titan have added to the Saturn moon's list of mysteries. {Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO) / L. Calçada (ESO)}

The ALMA array, as it looks completed and standing on a Chilean high plateau at 5000 meters (16,400 ft) altitude. The first observations with ALMA of Titan have added to the Saturn moon’s list of mysteries. {Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO) / L. Calçada (ESO)}

A new mystery of Titan has been uncovered by astronomers using their latest asset in the high altitude desert of Chile. Using the now fully deployed Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) telescope in Chile, astronomers moved from observing comets to Titan. A single 3 minute observation revealed organic molecules that are askew in the atmosphere of Titan. The molecules in question should be smoothly distributed across the atmosphere but they are not.
Read the rest of Unusual Distribution of Organics Found in Titan’s Atmosphere (1,263 words)

© Tim Reyes for Universe Today, 2014. |
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