Archive for the ‘feline conservation’ Category

Snow Leopard Day 2014   Leave a comment

Snow Leopard Family
I got my Snow Leopard Trust newsletter last week. There were several photos taken by camera traps of wild snow leopards. I stood in my kitchen staring at these photos. Here are these cats standing on a mountain. There are no bars to protect them, and no keepers to bring them their meal. They hunt on these rocky slopes, fearing nothing. Only one thought went through my head: our world is so very blessed to have these amazing creatures.

I had a similar experience watching a documentary about snow leopards. Researchers saw that a mother snow leopard went to hunt, leaving her two cubs in their den. Wait! I thought. They are so rare and tiny! What if something happens to them? But that’s life in the wild.

Today is International Snow Leopard Day, a day to call attention to the Ghost of the Mountain. We are left with between 4,000 and 6,500 wild snow leopards. This number is shrinking due to habitat loss and conflict with man. There are simple ways to protect these cats. For instance, the Snow Leopard Trust works with the people who share the snow leopard’s habitat. Where the people might do a “revenge killing” after one of their goats is taken by a snow leopard, now they are more likely to shoot pictures with a cell phone. Studies of snow leopard behavior also help reduce this conflict, giving a better idea to the impact they are having.

Snow leopards are my second favorite species of cat, and I hope they are around for future generations to be amazed by.

Posted 2014-10-23 by Mr. Guilt in cats, feline conservation, snow leopards

Evidence of Earlier Cat Domestication Found   Leave a comment

One of the fascinating things about house cats is that, while genetically identical to some wild subspecies (felis silvestris), they have adapted to live with humans. They did so not because man thought they’d be useful and bred them to accentuate such traits, but because cats chose to live with us. While selection favored traits that made them more suited to live with humans–cuter, tamer, fonder of boxes–it was not, until relatively recently, something man did.

It is generally held that cats domesticated themselves relatively recently. While dogs were domesticated as much as 15,000 years ago, cats have been living with us for roughly half that time. However, recent studies have pushed that out a bit:


Archaeologists once believed that cats were domesticated in the time of the pharaohs in ancient Egypt, approximately 4,000 years ago, between 2310 B.C. and 1950 B.C. But in 2004, researchers reported a 9,500-year-old joint burial of a cat and a human on the island of Cyprus.

Ancient Egyptian Kitten Skeletons Hint at Cat Domestication”

I think this is fascinating, both because it suggest humans have been living with cats for longer than previously thought, but also because the location. While most people associated cats with the Egyptians, these remains were found in Cyprus. Same general part of the world, but an island. I suspect the cats were brought with settlers.

A Visit from the Christmas Snow Leopard   Leave a comment

Christmas Snow Leopard tagWe started the Christmas Snow Leopard tradition for our cats two years ago. I had ordered a couple of plush mice from the Snow Leopard Trust. The Snow Leopard Trust works with folks living in areas where snow leopards like to roam. They provide income through the production of a variety of things, such as the felt mice, in exchange for protecting the cats. Where before the snow leopards were viewed as a threat to their flocks to be killed on sight, now they are guarded by the herders.

A good example of the effects of this program was recently demonstrated. A snow leopard cub was found on the roof of a home in Mongolia. Before it would have been shot and killed on sight. Now, the only shooting took place with cell phone cameras. The cub was safely relocated to the mountains. I think it is great that this organization looks at how to look at the impact the endangered species is having on the humans it shares a territory with, and helping solve problems to minimize conflict, rather than dictating what should be done.

Last year, I gave to the Snow Leopard Trust through work, as the cats still had their mice. The Christmas Snow Leopard still came, bringing new Beastie Bands for the cats. This year, my wife actually adopted Devekh, a radio-collard wild snow leopard, for me. I have my very own snow leopard!

Adopted Snow Leopard
That’s not Devekh but another snow leopard on the cover of the folder–there was a good picture of him inside. Naturally, our new plush friend now shares that name.

The cats, however, got three cool gifts from a local store called Confetti Cats, specializing in cat toys and products. They had a grand time unwrapping everything.


Unwrapping

One, a “Luna Loop,” was a small, simple toy. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any good pictures of it. The other two were well received and photographed.

My wife noticed Eddy really liked this shaggy plume on te top of one of the other toys, which also had a big base. We sound something similar but lighter.

Eddy Loves His Toy

He loved it!

Cuddlin' His Toy

We also got a Cat Crib, a hammock designed to attach under chairs. The box was the first part of that toy.

Boxes Make Good Toys

Then they each took a turn sitting in it.

Beso in the Crib

Eddy in the Crib

Luna in the Cat Crib

Beso eventually figured out he could play with both toys at once, while Eddy sat up top.

Beso Hogs the Toys

It was a great Christmas, and a fun continuation of our little tradition.

Devekh in the Crib

Blythe’s Panther   Leave a comment

This month, scientists announced the discovery Panthera blytheae, the oldest member of the big cat family. The modern big cats include tigers, lions, jaguars, leopards, and, by most accounts, snow leopards. It is snow leopards that Blythe’s panther, as it is know, is most closely related to. As you may recall, snow leopards make their home in Asia, which is where Blythe’s panther was discovered (Tibet, to be exact). This puts the origin of modern big cats in Asia, rather than Africa, as was previously thought.

Fossils of seven individuals have been found, dating back to around five million years ago. In contrast, saber-toothed cats such as smilodon, go back around two-and-a-half million years ago.

This is a fascinating find, and helps clarify how the cat family evolved. I’m particularly interested, as it now shows a relative of one of my favorite cats, the snow leopard.

Posted 2013-11-22 by Mr. Guilt in cats, feline conservation, Interesting

Virtual Cat Name for Mac OS X 10.9   Leave a comment

As I previously mentioned, Apple decided to change their standard, and not use a cat name for the latest version of their desktop operating system, OS X.

In my opinion, OS X is the best desktop version of UNIX. It can use standard tools at a prompt when you want to geek out, but has good tools, such as a native version of Microsoft Office. Using cat names for this was a great way to show the power of the OS, while also creating awareness around our endangered felines.

10.9 was released yesterday (October 22), and I think we can do something about this. I’m calling for OS X using cat fans to help select the “Virtual Cat Name.” I’ll leave voting open until Wednesday, October 30. On November 4, I’ll reveal the winner, and, we’ll all start referring to “10.9 felid” as opposed to…whatever that place in California is. I’ll even make a wallpaper.

Please vote below, and tell your friends!

96% Tiger   Leave a comment

It was announced that the genomes for tigers, lions, and snow leopards were sequenced. This helps scientists learn a lot about these cats, such has how a snow leopard can survive in high altitudes.

It was also determined that tigers and house cats share 95.6% of their DNA in common. If anything, I’m a bit surprised by how small that figure is. However, as I’ve often noted, it’s the diversity among the cat species–how a single platform has evolved a variety of capabilities–that fascinates me.
95.6% Tiger

Posted 2013-09-19 by Mr. Guilt in cats, feline conservation, Interesting

International Tiger Day   1 comment

Tiger StareSince 2010, July 29 has been observed as International Tiger Day. It is a day to call attention to the plight of wild tigers, which may be my favorite big cat species*. In the past hundred years the planet has lost 97% of the tiger population, going down to just over three thousand of these cats today. In fact, there are more tigers in captivity in the United States than in the wild (though only a small percentage are in AZA accredited zoos).

Why have we lost so many tigers? A number of reasons. Climate change and habitat lose are key factors. The cats have lost 97% of their habitat over the last century. Tigers are finding fewer and fewer places to live. Poaching is another factor. The parts of the tiger are used as trophies, as well as in “traditional” medicine.

I encourage you to support conservation efforts for these wonderful cats! The world would be much worse off without them.

Sleeping in the Snow

Bathing Texas Beauty

Tiger Buddies

*Snow leopards have characteristics of both small and big cats, so it makes that murky.

Posted 2013-07-29 by Mr. Guilt in cats, feline conservation, tigers

Apple Running Out of Cat Names?!?   1 comment

“We don’t want to be delayed due to a dwindling supply of cats.”
–Craig Federighi, Apple, on OS X 10.9 naming

There are over thirty species of cats:

  • African Golden Cat
  • Andean Cat
  • Asiatic Golden
  • Black-footed Cat
  • Bobcat
  • Bay Cat
  • Canada Lynx
  • Caracal
  • Cheetah 10.0
  • Clouded Leopard
  • Eurasian Lynx
  • Fishing Cat
  • Flat-headed Cat
  • Geoffroy’s Cat
  • Iberian Lynx
  • Jaguar 10.2
  • Jaguarundi
  • Jungle Cat
  • Guina (Kodkod)
  • Leopard 10.5
  • Leopard Cat
  • Lion 10.7
  • Manul (Pallas’)
  • Marbled Cat
  • Margay
  • Ocelot
  • Oncilla
  • Pampas Cat
  • Puma 10.1/Cougar/Mountain Lion 10.8/Catamount/Painter/Ghost Cat…
  • Rusty-spotted Cat
  • Sand Cat
  • Serval
  • Snow Leopard 10.6
  • Tiger 10.4
  • Wildcat/Scottish Wildcat/European Wildcat/African Wildcat/Arabian Wildcat/Domestic Cat
  • Panther 10.3 (not a distinct species)

from ISEC

We’re running out of cats quicker than you’re running out of names for Apple operating systems. Sad that this little bit of advocacy (and class) is going away. Especially given the lack of small (yet no less wild) cat names among versions of OS X.

Have You Gotten Your ISEC Calendar Yet?   1 comment

Mine arrived yesterday. There are some really awesome photos in it. You can get your copy here!

ISEC Calender

Posted 2012-12-19 by Mr. Guilt in cats, feline conservation

My Cat Writings Around the Web   1 comment

Cat BloggerIf you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you know I have a slight fondness for cats of all sorts. I’m particularly interested in small cat species, such as fishing cats, clouded leopards, caracals and sand cats. Small cats are simply not as well known as their larger cousins (tigers, lions, jaguars, and leopards), which makes conservation efforts that much more difficult–you can’t save what you don’t know about. It’s a pity, because you can see a lot of very interesting adaptations among the small cats.

I also follow the blogs of other people working to save wild cats through raising awareness. As a result of the relationships I’ve developed, I’ve been asked to contribute to two blogs.

I’ve been contributing regularly to the blog of the International Society for Endangered Cats (ISEC). I started in September, and post most Friday mornings. Many of the posts incorporate things I post here as well, such as about fishing kittens or pallas cats, but I have posted some unique content, such as my reaction to the tragic lose of some privately held big cats in Zanesville, Ohio. It’s been quite interesting–some of the comments on my posts have included professional wild cat researchers admiring some of my photographs. That is rather exciting. If you are interested in small cats, I do recommend following their blog.

Cat in Water is a documentary being produced about fishing cats, my second favorite feline species. Two journalists went to Thailand to meet fishing cat researchers, as well as set up their own photo trap. They asked me to contribute a post about fishing cats, and why they need to be saved. On Wednesday (March 7), they published it. They gave it the title “A True Friend of the Fishing Cat,” which is incredibly flattering. It is definitely a project worth checking out, and I cannot wait until the film is complete.

My degree is in Political Science; my profession, Information Technology. Given that I really hold amateur status in conservation, I am tremendously honored to be asked to contribute to wild cat advocacy in this fashion. I wanted to share this in part because I am proud of this contribution, as well as to further draw attention to these magnificent creatures.

Posted 2012-03-09 by Mr. Guilt in feline conservation, rant

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