Showing posts with label tigers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label tigers. Show all posts

Thursday 19 August 2021

The empty, hollow pledges by governments to increase wild tiger populations

I'm told that in 2010 ministers from the governments of 13 countries in south-east Asia made a pledge to implement measures to double the wild population of tigers by 2022. That was impossible and they probably realised it when they made the commitment. And this is the way it has transpired.

Tiger in a reserve in India
Bengal tiger in reserve in India. Photo in public domain.

It is now reported that in south-east Asia it is highly unlikely that this goal will be met. I would go a step further and say that it will not be met. In fact, the numbers of tigers will go down and they will consistently go down into the indefinite future. There is no question in my mind about that.

It is said that tigers have become extinct in the recent past in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. Wild tiger populations over the past 20 years have shrunk in Myanmar, Malaysia, Indonesia and to a lesser extent in Thailand.

Occasionally politicians try to present an optimistic viewpoint about tiger populations in the wild. They say that there has been a new count of tigers and declare to the world that the numbers have gone up. This simply isn't true. They've just changed the way they count tigers which results in a slightly higher figure but the truth of the matter is that the numbers are going down and the main reason is always the same: habitat loss due to human population growth resulting in more commercial activity which destroys the habitat.


There are other reasons such as retaliatory killings but the bottom line is that the tiger is being squeezed out of their historical range; the place where they live. The human population is consistently expanding in Asia and Africa. Nothing is being done to curb this in the interests of wildlife conservation.

It is actually worse than that; the governments of these countries need to expand their human population to expand their economic growth. A country can't earn more money with less people because they need the workforce. That is why Germany allowed 1 million illegal immigrants into the country because at that time native Germans were not having families and they were looking at a shrinking workforce which would damage their economic growth.

This fundamental economic model demanding growth has to be changed to a new one which demands sustainability and stability in human population numbers. And then there should be gradual shrinkage with a parallel increase in habitat for wild species including the precious tiger.

Postscript: I have to mention, as an afterthought, another major reason why tigers are dying out in the wild and it is this; China's greed for tiger body parts which means that they are poached in the wild or they are farmed in China. When you farm tigers, you totally devalue the animal to the point where they become livestock. There is no possibility that you can have a proper attitude towards conservation if you are treating the animal concerned as livestock. That is common sense. So poaching is a massive problem thanks to China.

And apparently in Vietnam they snare animals and there are 12 million snares dotted around the countryside which sometimes trapped tigers and kill them. There are countless other reasons but they all boil down to one thing: human behaviour in all its guises. I suppose that's obvious but it seems that we have to state it because very little is done by the conservationist to change fundamental human behaviour which conflicts with the conservation of the tiger.

Wednesday 28 July 2021

You can't keep a cougar or a tiger as a pet in Marysville, Michigan, USA

I think it's great that a city (I think we can call it a city) with about 9,600 residents can make a law (an ordinance in the USA) which bans cougars and tigers as pets. They've also banned chickens and coyotes as pets but it is the cougars and tigers which interest me more. 

Marysville. Photo in public domain.

It's hard to imagine a cougar or a tiger being a good pet but some Americans do like to live with very exotic pets. They are not that uncommon. Perhaps the best-known celebrity to have a big cat pet is Tippi Hedren, the mother of Melanie Griffith (Hedren is still alive at the date of this post - she is 91). They kept a lion called Neil in the home. He looks truly domesticated in the photographs. But I believe that wild cats never make the same sort of pet as a domestic cat.

Back to Marysville. This town is about 65 miles north-east of Detroit. The new ordinance comes into effect in mid-August. It comes after some residents complained about neighbours owning chickens and roosters who crowed. I guess they went a bit further than banning roosters and chickens. The current ordinance bans "animals or domestic fowl within the city except dogs, cats, birds, fowl, or animals commonly classified as pets".

So, they've tightened up what is and what isn't allowed to be kept as a pet. And they have decided that chickens should be regarded as livestock and they do not belong in the city but on farms in the countryside.

Comment: I'm not sure about banning chickens as pets because I've seen some very nice relationships between kids and chickens. However, I'm certain that banning tigers and mountain lions as pets is an excellent idea. Although I would doubt that there were many tigers in their community! In fact, there must be none but it's nice to take proactive steps to prevent any possibility of that happening in the future.

Thursday 15 July 2021

Do lions and tigers get along?

The answer as to whether lions and tigers get along can probably be obtained by referring to domestic cats. If a single domestic cat in someone's home sees a strange cat in their backyard, they will normally chase it away. When you introduce a new cat to a resident cat the likelihood is that they will not get along. They might accept each other and they might even make friends but generally speaking, because of their inherently solitary nature, domestic cats don't, in general, get along with other domestic cats.

This even applies to siblings who at one time were great friends until they grew up and became great enemies! This is because when they become independent, they want their own home range and the other encroaches upon it. But this is not a 100% outcome. There is variability due to variations in cat personality and gender. And some grown siblings do get along.

Captive tiger and lion are best friends
Captive tiger and lion are best friends. Screenshot.

I've seen lions and tigers get along in captivity within private zoos. But these lions and tigers are semi-domesticated and pacified by their captivity. Sometimes they may even be drugged. Or they may have been chosen by the zoo owner to get along. There can be a certain amount of chemistry between cats just like people (see video below). There may be harmony. You'll see it in videos by high-profile private zoo owners. They'll have leopards in there as well looking like a big happy family of big cats. So, it does happen.

The caption to the video below states:
A social 6-year-old lion and an old solitary tiger are putting their differences aside to be life-long friends at Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary in Georgia....In nature, what you’re seeing here is as unlikely sight as you’ll ever see. But at this sanctuary in Georgia, it’s an odd pairing that, actually, came naturally.
But in general lions and tigers don't get along. They may fight and one may kill the other. The default position, in short, is that they won't get along. The same, I would argue, could be said about a couple of adult tigers. They won't get along either.

Lions as we know live in groups called prides and you get coalitions of outsider male lions roaming around waiting to take over a pride. These related male lions (brothers and/or cousins) get along because they work in a group but this is highly unusual in the cat world.

The domestic cat is quite sociable after 10,000 years of domestication but still this inherent anti-social behaviour can come to the surface in respect of territorial rights and ownership.


The problem really is that it is difficult to answer the question in a clear manner which is what people want. It depends on various circumstances. An interesting thought, however, is that there is no need for tigers and lions to get along because they never meet in the wild. They live on different continents. It is only in captivity that they meet at which point the question in the title becomes relevant.

But you don't put tigers together in captivity unless they have been 'domesticated' and even then, fights break out. There was a recent story of a male tiger in a private zoo getting into another male tiger's enclosure to kill that tiger with the intention of freeing up access to a female to mate. In other words, the male tiger killed the male partner of a female tiger to have her for himself. That's how friendly the tiger world is.

Friday 9 July 2021

Are domestic cats related to lions and tigers?

Yes, domestic cats are related to lions and tigers and all the other cats because they all started off at the same source. This is about evolution and taxonomy. But you have to go back about 40 million years to Miacoids (miacids) which appear to be the first cats on the planet although they did not look like modern day cats. 

Tiger and domestic cat. Collage: PoC.
Tiger and domestic cat. Collage: PoC.

It is currently believed that from that start all the cat species evolved in different places and at different times. Miacids evolved into the Proailurus (a civet/cat creature) and that creature evolved into prehistoric cats which walked on their toes like modern day cats. 

An example was a species called Pseudaelurus. This creature was the size of a modern-day cat. It evolved into two main groups one of which was Schizailurus which in turn evolved into the Felidae (the family of cats). Martelli's cat was a species which inhabited Europe about 2.4 million years ago and which is believed to be the ancestor of today's wildcat, a species of cat which is still present in Europe. Apparently the first modern day cats were cheetahs.

Cat history from the start to modern day
Cat history from the start to modern day. Cat History For Kids. Credits: Landscape of N.America 10m years ago Wikimedia Commons author Jay Matternes. In public domain USA. Fair use pleaded. Pseudaelurus in public domain USA and fair use pleaded. USA 1945 by army.arch creative commons. Snowshoe cat copyright Helmi Flick. Note: there is one small deliberate mistake in the picture. Can you spot it and leave a comment?

You have to believe in evolution to believe that domestic cats are related to lions and tigers. But science supports evolution. It is through evolution that domestic cats are related to lions and tigers. Domestic cats are very, very similar in every respect to lions and tigers. There is not much difference which is apparent because they both look like cats! There's a massive size difference but the domestic cat, in its mind, thinks just like a tiger or lion. And their behaviour is incredibly similar. That alone tells you that they are related.

If you want to know a bit more about big cat history you can click on this link. And I cover the evolution of the cat species in a simplified way on this page (click link please). The science of taxonomy which is the classification of the species is evolving itself. It was enhanced through scientific knowledge of DNA. Before DNA scientists simply observed an animal undecided whether it was similar to another animal and therefore classified it as part of a species or subspecies. That proved to be imprecise whereas DNA testing is very precise because it gets to the core of the issue.

Friday 25 June 2021

How do cats cool down? 6 ways.

I'm going to refer to domestic cats mainly. I can think of 6 ways which help a cat to cool down. Cats do sweat but in a much more limited way than humans. They sweat from their paw pads and the latent heat of evaporation cools down their paw pads. You will see the sweaty pawprints of a cat in a veterinarian's consultation room on the table. This is because as they are nervous and agitated, they over heat and they sweat.

Licking helps to cool a cat as well as clean them
Licking helps to cool a cat as well as clean them. Photo: PDSA.

Another way is licking their coat. The saliva deposited on the coat evaporates and once again through the physical properties of the latent heat of evaporation, it's cools the cat down slightly. This is a substitute for sweating.

A third way is panting like a dog. I'm sure that you have seen this before. My female cat used to plant in the car in her cage when I took her to the veterinarian. She became agitated and overheated and so instinctively she panted to cool down. Panting as a cooling process works in the same way as sweating.

A fourth way is to find some shade! If a cat is lying in the sun, and they do like to lie in the sun as we know, after a while they will remove themselves from that hot spot and find some shade and a patch of cool ground to lie on to cool down.

In fact, using shade is the most natural and obvious way for a cat to cool down. You see the big cats like lions and tigers resting in shade, particular the lions because they live in quite open territory which is sunbaked and quite arid. They find a tree to rest and snooze under. Whereas tigers live in landscapes that are far lusher and more covered with vegetation and trees.

If a tiger wants to cool down, they jump into the water. Tigers love water and they often spend a long time in it because they live in parts of the world, Asia, where there are high temperatures. Jaguars also spend quite a lot of time in cool water. Domestic cats don't usually jump into water to cool down. Some individual cats might though such as an F1 Savannah cat.

Some lions rest on the branches of trees. This takes them off the ground where there are less flies and also where it is cooler. There might be more of a breeze 10 or 15 feet above the ground as well. This may help them keep cool.

I have just thought of a sixth way: drinking cool water from a faucet. Some domestic cats are particularly fond of this. It quenches the thirst and cools the insides a little bit.

The physics of the way sweat cools the body is quite technical. The latent heat of vaporization (evaporation) is the heat consumed or discharged when matter disintegrates, changing from fluid to gas.

Here is a video on the topic:

Note: This is a video from another website. Sometimes they are deleted at source which stops them working on this site. If that has happened, I apologise but I have no control over it.

Sunday 30 October 2011

Tigers as pets in UK

There would seem to be 14 tigers as pets in the UK. These are licensed under the Dangerous Wild Animal Act 1976. People keeping tigers as pets illegally cannot be counted as we don't know about them. The figure excludes zoos.

However, I would guess that there are probably no illegal tigers that are kept as pets in the UK. It is quite hard to keep a tiger secret from people in the UK as it is a relatively overcrowded country. I think the UK is the most crowded of all European countries. It would be quite hard to avoid neighbors noticing that you have a tiger in an enclosure. This would probably lead to the neighbor checking with the local authority.

The figure of 14 tigers in the UK being kept by licensed keepers comes from a freedom of information request made by the Big Cats in Britain research group. There are also 12 lions and 50 leopards - in all there are 154 wildcats kept as pets in the UK.

As a comparison, there are 164 tigers in Oklahoma, USA in USDA licensed facilities (10). The human population of Oklahoma is 3,687,05 (2009). The population of the UK is 61,838,154 (2009). There is a call for a ban on pet tigers in the USA especially after the recent gruesome killing of wildcats and other animals kept in a private facility. There is also a call to end the trade in generic tigers in the USA.

Note: Mr Joe Exotic has a big cat private zoo in Oklahoma. There are 176 tigers and I don't know how many ligers (lion/tiger hybrid) and lions at this zoo. I must presume that he is unlicensed as his zoo alone accounts for more than the total population of tigers in Oklahoma.

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