A note about The Cuddlywumps Chronicles

This blog is written and maintained by Miss Cuddlywumps, a fluffy-tailed calico cat who is both classically educated and familiar with mysteries. Comments or complaints should be addressed to Miss C rather than to author Roby Sweet. Ms. Sweet accepts no responsibility for Miss C's opinions.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Big Cat News Roundup: May 2017

We’ve recently received several news releases concerning our big-cat cousins. Each one could be its own post, but we thought we’d condense them all into one news roundup.

Sunda clouded leopard
Sunda clouded leopard.
Photo by Spencer Wright, North Walsham, England [CC BY 2.0],
via Wikimedia Common

African lions, clouded leopards, and declining prey populations

 First, we learned that African lions and Sunda clouded leopards face the same threats that saber-toothed tigers faced. Researchers from several institutions looked into what caused the extinction of seven big cat species from the Ice Age and concluded that loss of prey was a major factor. They then looked at the prey species of modern big cats and discovered that the African lion and Sunda clouded leopard (found in Borneo and Sumatra) could be at risk. The researchers say that if prey species for these cats continue to decline, the cats could have “a high risk of extinction.”


Snow leopard, Hemis National Park, India
A snow leopard in India's Hemis National Park.
Photo by Snow Leopard Conservancy/Jammu & Kashmir Wildlife
Protection Department [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.



Three subspecies of snow leopard identified


Next, we learned that 3 new subspecies of snow leopard have been identified. In the first-ever genetic analysis across the snow leopard’s range, researchers used the cats’ scat (i.e., poop) and identified three “genetic clusters.” They recognize these clusters as subspecies, each inhabiting its own geographic region. Understanding the subspecies populations can both help scientists understand the snow leopard’s evolution and ecology and provide information that can be used to improve the cats’ conservation.


Tree-climbing lions now have smaller prides, larger ranges


Finally, we learned that Uganda’s tree-climbing lions are roaming farther as their prey animals decrease. Scientists compared the home ranges of lion prides in Uganda’s Ishasha district from the 1970s and today. They discovered that the tree-climbing lions of today live in smaller prides with larger home ranges. This change has happened at the same time that the lions’ main prey species, the Ugandan kob, has declined. (We're sure you don't need us to point out how this bit of news relates to the first story we shared.)

Tree-climbing lions of Uganda
Tree-climbing lions in Uganda's Ishasha district.
Photo by By Charlesjsharp, Sharp Photography [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons.




2 comments:

  1. What beautiful animals ! And what sad news.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Big cats are so beautiful. SO sad that so many are endangered.

    ReplyDelete