|Birdman Of Pokhara|
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Monday, February 15, 2010 15:01 ISTBotengu (Kashmir): Wildlife wardens assisted by forest rangers rescued a three-month old snow leopard cub after it had strayed into a human habitation at Botengu village from Jammu and Kashmir on Sunday. “The cub was hiding in the kitchen of the house. We didn’t tranquillise it but we relied on certain medicines to cow it down,” said Mohammed Ashraf Khan, a wildlife warden.
The animal was later taken to the office of the Divisional Conservator of Forests where veterinarians examined it.After the vets declared it as a healthy cub, the rangers relocated at to the near by jungle.
Locals hailed the prompt action taken by the wildlife department.“Wildlife officials did a fantastic job…the cub strayed into the locality from the nearby area…we are happy after the forest officials captured it,” said Sabzaar Khan, a resident.
India has the third-largest population of these spotted wild cats after China and Mongolia — of which around half are inhabited in Kashmir. (ANI)
http://www.groundreport.com/Business/Snow-Leopard-Hunted-Markhot/2917960by G. H. Farooqui February 15, 2010
Snow leopard hunted Markhor CHITRAL: A snow Leopard successfully hunted a Markhor at Shahresham area of Toshi conservation territory
Editor, Earth NewsAn intimate portraitThe tiger may be more ancient and distinct than we thought. Tigers are less closely related to lions, leopards and jaguars than these other big cats are to each other, according to a new comprehensive study. The genetic analysis also reveals the tiger began evolving 3.2 million years ago, and its closest living relative is the equally endangered snow leopard. The discovery comes as the BBC launches a collection of intimate videos of wild tigers and the threats they face. Despite the popularity and endangered status of tigers, much remains to be discovered about them, including how they evolved. It has long been known that the five species of big cat – the tiger, lion, leopard, jaguar and snow leopard, which belong to the Panthera genus – and the two species of clouded leopard are more closely related to each other than to other smaller cats.
But it has been difficult to pin down the exact relationships between them. So to find out more, scientists Mr Brian Davis, Dr Gang Li and Professor William Murphy conducted an analysis of the DNA of all these species. By looking at similarities in DNA held in mitochondria and within the sex chromosomes among other places, the researchers found that the five big cat species are related to each other in a different way to previously thought. Their data strongly suggests that lions, leopards and jaguars are most closely related to each other. Their ancestor split from other cats around 4.3 to 3.8 million years ago. About 3.6 to 2.5 million years ago, the jaguar began to evolve, while lions and leopards split from one other about 3.1 to 1.95 million years ago. But the tiger had already emerged by this point. The ancestor of tigers and snow leopards also branched off around 3.9 million years ago. The tiger then began to evolve into a unique species toward the end of the Pliocene epoch, about 3.2 million years ago.
According to the study published in the journal Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, the tiger and snow leopard are “sister species.”
DNA studies revealed that tigers are more ancient than other big cats such as lions, leopards and jaguars, which belong to the Panthera genus, BBC reported.
Brian Davis, Gang Li and Professor William Murphy, who studied all these species, came to the conclusion that lions, leopards and jaguars are more closely related to each other than to tigers.
Their findings showed that the jaguar began to evolve about 3.6 to 2.5 million years ago and lions and leopards split from one other about 3.1 to 1.95 million years ago.
The tiger, however, began evolving 3.2 million years ago and therefore emerged by this point. http://news.softpedia.com/news/The-Origins-of-Tigers-Revealed-134874.shtml
The Origins of Tigers Revealed
New genetic study clears the mysteryBy Tudor Vieru, Science EditorFebruary 13th, 2010, 09:47 GMT
Tigers have a very weird situation right now, in the sense that they are some of the most popular and widely known animals in the world, while at the same time being severely endangered. Although many researchers have devoted years of their lives to studying these magnificent creatures, a lot of data about them still remains obscured. These missing pieces of information also include more details as to how the animals evolved.
Up until now, experts investigating big cats thought that tigers, lions, leopards, jaguars, snow leopards and two species of clouded leopards were more closely linked to each other genetically than to any other species of smaller cats. However, there appear to be intricate relationships between these predators, and experts have had a tough time figuring them out up to this point. The only way out was to conduct a DNA analysis of all these species, and this is precisely what researcher Brian Davis, Dr. Gang Li and professor William Murphy did.
They looked at the differences and similarities that existed between these species in terms of the genetic information stored in their mitochondrial DNA, and the gender chromosomes. This investigation revealed that the big cats are actually related to each other in different patterns than the ones researches had suggested in previous studies. Lions, leopards and jaguars were found to be the most tightly linked, with a common ancestor probably living about 4.3 to 3.8 million years ago. At around the same time, the common ancestor of snow leopards and tigers appeared, the experts write in the latest issue of the respected scientific journal Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution.
Nigel Richardson heads to Ladakh in
to seek out the snow leopard, one of the planet’s most elusive – and endangered – creatures. India
By Nigel Richardson
Published: 10:12AM GMT 08 Feb 2010
She wasn’t visible at first. Then she moved, rippling silently down a gully of rocks and padding straight up to us. This was Uncia uncia, the snow leopard, one of the most endangered species on Earth and one of the most beautiful. She was certainly the most captivating creature I have ever seen: fur like mist, pale jade eyes, the regal and remote air of a monarch whose realm is the roof of the world.
“When you are an old man, remember this moment,” I said to my companion, a six-year-old relative called Elliot.
“Why?” said Elliot, licking his ice lolly.
“Because when you are an old man the snow leopard will not exist.”
The snow leopard, Yasmin, pressed her nose to the glass wall of her enclosure and Elliot pretended to stroke it. In this moment I became obsessed with the desire to see such a star in its natural firmament.
However enlightened and well run, zoos are ersatz. But imagine seeing a snow leopard in the wild rather than in captivity. My heart thumped at the thought – it would be like having cocktails with Marilyn Monroe compared to watching a DVD of Some Like It Hot.
Our encounter with Yasmin the snow leopard took place at Marwell Zoo in Hampshire, on a sticky afternoon in August. Three months later I was standing high on a Himalayan mountain in a temperature of 14F (-10C). In front of me was a powerful telescope and it was focused on snow leopard tracks on a distant peak. Marilyn, I felt, was just powdering her nose. Any minute now she would sashay into view.
In truth, you are scarcely more likely to spot a snow leopard in the wild than you are to see a unicorn, or indeed to shoot the breeze with a dead
But Steppes Discovery, the Cotswolds-based specialist in conservation and wildlife holidays, is deadly serious. It has found an expert partner on the ground in the Indian
The cat with the big tail (it doubles as a scarf) lives high in the mountains of Central Asia, from
It is also an appropriately other-worldly place to live out the dream of becoming one of just a handful of people on Earth to have seen a wild snow leopard. Cradled in the Himalayas, just an hour’s flying time north of Delhi, this high-altitude desert of crag-top temples and fluttering prayer flags is a stronghold of Tibetan Buddhism, oracles who babble in tongues and kindly, contemplative people.
When our flight touched down on a mid-November morning the temperature was 1F (-17C). The water pipes had frozen solid in our hotel in the Ladakhi capital, Leh, and hot water for washing was delivered to the room in steaming plastic buckets. For three days we gazed on a sunlit mountainscape from the south-facing windows of our rooms as we acclimatised to the altitude (Leh is 11,500ft above sea level).
On the third day we were driven south-west for an hour to the very mountain range we had been gazing on. This is
They share these valleys, ridges and peaks with more than a thousand people, 4,300 head of livestock and hundreds of wild bharal, or blue sheep, the snow leopard’s natural prey. The idea of coming at this time of year is that as the bharal seek warmth in the winter months by dropping into the valleys from those high peaks, so the snow leopard follow and make themselves more visible.
It’s a good theory. Walking up from the park entrance to our first camp we passed an American sunning himself against a drystone wall as he waited for his lift back to Leh. He had been in the park for nine days and had not seen a sausage. “I think they’re up there laughing at me,” he said ruefully.
But we felt different, chosen. Obsession has this effect. We were a trio of strangers brought together by the belief that the snow leopard would reveal itself to us. David was the retired MD of a trust company in the Cayman Islands and Gail was an engineer at a British nuclear power station. Here were, literally, Power and Money seeking something from life that is more precious than either of these things: a beautiful creature on the brink of extinction.
Our trek leader and main tracker was a pair of finely attuned eyes called Dorje Chitta, a 35-year-old snow leopard expert with many of the qualities of our quarry, being enigmatic, stealthy and short on unnecessary vocalisation.
“Now you can start looking,” he said, setting up one of the expedition’s three powerful telescopes. “On ridges, on ledges. He is sitting in the sun for hours, just looking around, thinking: ‘Where is my dinner?’ ”
We had just pitched camp at a confluence of valleys 12,000ft above sea level. Our tents were huddled among a grove of leafless willow trees and a Buddhist shrine fluttering with prayer flags. The mountain walls and fantastical rock formations that surrounded us climbed another 8,000ft into a sky that was dazzling blue by day and electrified with stars at night, when the mercury headed south like a runaway lift.
I spotted the snow leopard tracks on a high peak almost a mile to the north, looking like a zip fastener in the deep snow. It was an extraordinary-shaped mountain, like an Elizabethan ruff, and Chitta pointed out the snow leopard’s favoured route of descent, through the frills of the ruff. It had been at least a day since he passed that way, but it was a promising start.
And so the quest began. Each morning and afternoon we headed out from base camp to a different valley, took up position on a new ridge, clambered high onto a fresh saddle. And looked. Bent to the scope, Chitta would pore for many minutes over a single section of mountainside – cover one eye, rub his eyes, corroborate what he had seen through binoculars, go back to the scope. Ten minutes would pass. Twenty. The mountain silence was so pure and profound it sang in one’s ears.
Surely he had seen something? Then, before we knew it, he had lifted the scope and padded off silently through the snow.
Two days passed. Three. Then I spotted a soft, roundish object on a sunlit ledge half a mile above us. It was, I convinced myself, a snow leopard’s head. Any second now it would move. Those vertical pupils would be locked on to us, far below. “Hey Chitta!” I could hardly get the words out. He crouched and looked.
“It’s a bush,” he said.
On the fourth morning, having got no nearer to a sighting than old pug marks in the snow, I arrived in the mess tent with a thought that conveyed the scale of our task. “You know what we’re doing?” I said. “We’re looking for a cathedral-coloured beetle in a cathedral.” My fellow obsessives, David and Gail, barely looked up from their breakfast omelettes.
That morning our team of four guides and cooks struck camp, loaded our gear on to mules and moved higher up the valley to a site at 12,500ft. This brought us near to the village of Rumbak, an area rich in snow leopard where many researchers and film teams have stayed over the past 15 years.
This was a last throw of the dice. By now I was trying to adjust to the possibility of failure but, goodness knows, it was a hard thing to accept given that we were currently existing at the extremes of human endurance for the sake of just a flash of that ermine-like fur. The next day, like half-mad mystics, all three of us started beseeching the mountains to reveal their feline fugitives. “Just once, dear God,” I found myself murmuring.
On the penultimate day Chitta found pug marks that were only a few hours old and beetled off across the valley like a bloodhound as we returned to camp in deep snow. But he lost the trail among rocks and returned with an expressionless face. That evening we drowned our disappointments with a bit of a knees-up in Rumbak.
Over momos – spicy dumplings – and army-issue rum the villagers talked about snow leopards. In the winter, they said, they bring their livestock down from the high pastures and corral them in front yards and in the ground floors of their flat-roofed, mud-brick houses. Last year, while a party was going on (there is little else to do in these ferocious winters), they had a visitor. And if you subscribe to the local conviction that the snow leopard is uncannily clever you will believe that his choice of evening to come down off the mountain and raid the village was not random.
“The leopard came inside the yard,” explained a leather-faced man, making stealthy swoops with his hand. “He kill 12 out of 19 goats and sheep.”
Snow leopards, like foxes, have a predilection for committing what is known as “surplus killing”, especially in confined spaces. “He drinks so much blood, he gets drunk,” Chitta said. The woman who owned the slaughtered livestock said the snow leopard had made its escape before the villagers discovered the bloodbath.
In times past, the village would have made a trap for the snow leopard and stoned it to death. Now they contact the local wildlife department and register for compensation. The scheme is not perfect but this and other educative measures have changed the attitude of villagers to the cats on their doorsteps.
Slithering back to camp that night beneath mountain walls and a waxing moon, I knew that failure was my friend, that I was not yet ready to see the snow leopard. But my obsession burns brightly and I will return to the snow leopards’ rocky domain. Meanwhile, one can dream. Bartender, another glass of Dom Perignon 53 for Miss Monroe.
On the trail
The 14-day expedition was arranged by Steppes Discovery (01285 643333; www.steppesdiscovery.co.uk) It costs from £2,720 per person including full board in tents and/or village accommodation on the week-long trek and four nights in a hotel in Leh, the services of expert guides and porters, sightseeing in Ladakh and internal flights from Delhi to Leh. Depending on internal flights, two or three nights will be spent in Delhi, where meals are not included. A percentage of the cost (depending on group size) is donated to the Snow Leopard Conservancy (www.snowleopardconservancy.org). International flights are extra. The next treks are March 7-21 and November 7-21. Steppes Discovery can also arrange a tour for a private group.
<By Indrajit Basu
UPI CorrespondentPublished: February 01, 2010
The call of Kashmir
How this troubled corner of the
Wow, life really can be a bummer. It’s 14 January and I’m sitting on the Heathrow Express, reading in the paper that
It’s a brilliant morning and monkeys are playing on the grass terraces just beyond our verandah. To the right, above the forest, the summit of
nd this troubled corner of
A national daily reported the other day that a leopard was shot dead in a village close to Pulwama, a town in western
It seems it strayed into the village and injured a female child and several other persons. The villagers were able to confine it into a cowshed and then they called for the wildlife officials. Since the latter couldn’t reach the village before sundown, afraid of further injuries to people the villagers persuaded the resident police officials to kill the big cat. The wildlife officials arrived from
A leopard was thus needlessly lost.
Pulwama is a pretty little town in Kashmir located 31 kms south of
The report in the newspaper did not indicate whether it was a snow leopard or an ordinary tropical leopard found in the jungles in
The leopard that was shot down was most probably of ordinary kind generally found all over
The inability of the wildlife officials to reach the village on account of traffic jams raises the third question. The report says they were repeatedly held up at various stages of their journey because of jams. Apparently, vehicular traffic that was sparse a few years ago has risen manifold causing traffic jams even in winters. Besides, the jams on way to a place which is not known for hectic industrial or commercial activities would seem to be alarming. Earlier only the army convoys would put a squeeze on the traffic. Are the roads in
January 27, 2010