Thursday, May 25, 2017

Every day a bonus when you are a deer in tiger land...


As beautiful as they are I'm pretty sure I don't want to come back in my next life as a chital. Or for that matter any ungulate in Nepal (although it could actually be less dangerous than driving on the roads here). For spotted deer on the Terai to Himalayan tahr in the shadows of the world's loftiest peaks, all sorts of "tigers" await, hoofed animals are prey species for hungry big cats. Yesterday and today so far, ears, eyes, nose, sixth sense and technology have told me stories of chital coping with panthera tigris as wary movements, alarm calls and giant pug marks signal the drama of the jungle. Perhaps this deer was a scout? Tiger was nearby...
The word "tiger" in Nepal can mean leopard, snow leopard, smaller wild cats and of course the huge striped predator but to deer they all mean one thing, danger and the constant reminder that things could get messy...

These posts (and other updates) are at Facebook if you wish to comment.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

To a wildlife lover, a small gift for a friend in pain...


 I’ve written recently about using remote camera images as an art form to express coexistence in the areas the leopard roams, protected and unprotected zones, showing species from the high mountains to the boiling lowlands, such is the range of the leopard.
I want to dedicate this recent image to a dear lady who corresponds with me, she has a great love for wildlife. This woman is in a lot of pain, sadly at a time of life where she should be enjoying peace in twilight years, after raising children, living her life. Life is harsh in that respect, as it is in many ways. Another message today confirmed her pain and discomfort.
“I used to give away small elephants made of stone as gifts of good luck but for you dear friend, I send you the strength of this elephant as it wandered recently in the still of night, a fleeting moment when it allowed a little light to capture the journey. As I do for this magnificent animal, I wish you well in the days to come…”
A little note – for security reasons I turn off location settings in remote cameras and I crop off the image details before posting.
These posts (and other updates) are at Facebook should you wish to comment...

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Monitoring predator and prey...




I made a few posts at my personal Facebook page prior to this today but please also follow
Living with Leopards

And finally today (got some laptop time in during the oppressive heat but now it's back into the jungle), whether it be in mountain or lowland areas, the use of technology (remote cameras, GPS etc) is vital in this work for monitoring predator and prey, behaviour and movement, as well as working as a backup to one's own field notes. Tools to increase understanding are a huge help but every case is different, there are always unique dynamics, each individual animal has its own characteristics... all this elements have to stay front of mind... Jai Chituwa

Monday, May 22, 2017

Not just about #leopards, #tigers, it's about minimal disturbance...


A leopard or a tiger can't just pop down to the shops and order a chital (spotted deer) burger. Chital are fast, super fast. It's no wonder big cats will take dogs when they can, they are like tortoise when compared to deer. Hunting bigger prey is low percentage for leopards and tigers which is why they have to make it count when they can... especially in this pre monsoon heat where efficient energy use is vital. That being said, prey will make use of available water holes, the big cats know this...
I rarely carry a standard camera now. My focus (excuse the pun, intentional, attempted humour, I like it even if no one else does) is remote cameras and for the past six years I've been developing technique. If, like yesterday, I see animals like tiger and elephant while in the jungle, I enjoy the moment, confine it to the memory card in my mind (it still works) and the smile in my heart (also still works). High resolution remote cameras (RCs), placed in the right places at the right times, bring the reward of images of animals undisturbed, acting naturally. I've got ten of thousands of images both from still cameras and remote cameras. Just in the last 24 hours I've gone through over 4000 images from RCs placed for security (anti-poaching and leopard rehab zone) as well as monitoring. To understand predators you have to understand what they eat.
Anyone who has followed these blogs (my sincere thanks to those who do) knows I hate disturbing wildlife. If you disturb a deer it may well be that a tiger hiding in wait will go hungry. My philosophy as a conservationist is to move quickly and as quietly as possible in the jungle, look for and record sign, place cameras as needed... keep disturbance and footprint to an absolute minimum. My great wish is that one day the wildlife tourism sector will be more uniform in this thinking.
Using RCs for wildlife photography as an art form is something I have decided to concentrate on now more and more to deliver a message, particularly with regard to leopard conservation. One of my most important goals is to help the leopard get protected status in as many regions as possible. By bringing the story of how the leopard lives, its incredible importance as an ecological engineer and the fact that this apex predator covers regions far beyond tiger and other "hero" species, that will be another step towards the goal. The magnificent chital stag in the image is a part of the web of life in which the leopard plays its role...
FOOTNOTE: I have cropped the details of the photo out of the image for security reasons. The location (GPS) recorder was switched off in camera, that data is recorded manually.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

#People #Wildlife #Conservation - Images that tell stories...

These are two posts I've just made at Facebook...


WHEN A "BIG BOSS LEOPARD" VISITED LEOPARD CAMP - PREVIEW... I mentioned several months ago I would tell this story and on my recent leopard related trip to several other areas, quite a few people asked me about the big Annapurna leopard that Asa and I had to contend with in the mountains. Amusingly, since I published a post about a leopard I call "The Boss" here in Bardia, a few people have started talking about boss leopards, well, the cat you can see in the photo, he is a big boss, a very big cat. I will tell more of the story soon, the camera trap which took this image took over 1600, telling the story of the big boss, the leopard Asa and me over period of about 24 hours. More soon...



I really like this image for the story it tells. It was taken just a couple of hours ago by a camera in position to help protect people and wildlife, indeed the data it provided again over the last 24 hours did just that. In the image a National Park mahout returns from the jungle, you can see the time. People on elephant back is a controversial subject but for anti-poaching and some research situations there is simply no other option. I've realized more and more that there is not really a good understanding from the outside world of the realities of life and the effort in places like this. Military, NP staff and other anti-poaching and research units put in long hours in often dangerous conditions, the rewards are not material, they are of doing a vital job. Personally, although my focus is leopard, it is an eclectic undertaking, all wildlife and people falling under the conservation umbrella. I've thought deeply about this situation and although we are going to start garnering better support through the upcoming "Friends of the Leopard" program, it is really all about overall protection. I'll be bringing more stories and images to show that, hopefully to increase understanding which will turn into actual support...

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Rescued big cat relocation to places they need to be...


Great news. The concept of releasing rescued predators into areas where they are needed is something I firmly believe in and applies very much to our thinking with rehab leopards. Key is identifying ecosystems which need "rebuilding" with apex predators.

Via @WildTigerNews 


Vladik the tiger that stalked the city of Vladivostok is released back into the wild

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Crouching tiger, speeding monkey...

Sometime in the next few weeks I'm going to give a big shout out to PROSCHOICE AUSTRALIA for their help in technology and how that in itself is an essential tool in wildlife monitoring and anti-poaching. With regard to camera traps, they don't just place themselves, there's a lot of strategy and legwork involved. As part of my script here I'm training the Rapid Response Team to use cameras for anti-poaching mainly in buffer zone jungles. This can require twice daily patrolling and camera work in temperatures well over 40 degrees C. These electronic eyes in the jungle, with different types of cameras and communications for different situations are effective but not the only answer in wildlife protection, a broad methodology makes for long hours. At the end of these days buffalo milk never tasted so good. Then after that it's raw data to be sorted, images in their hundreds which tell stories of crouching tigers, speeding monkeys and so much more...