Texas still allows unregulated hunting of cougar

The iconic and beautiful mountain lion (cougar) ranges widely across the Americas, but population estimates are often unreliable. In Texas, where unregulated hunting still exists, it’s a particular challenge.  We’ve just had a paper accepted by the Wild Felid Monitor on how footprint identification might help provide effective monitoring….http://wildtrack.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Monitoring-mountain-lion-using-footprints-WFM-March-2014.pdf

Fig 3

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FIT for Giant Panda monitoring!

How captive giant pandas are helping their wild counterparts.  Our super-effiicient Chinese colleagues have already started collecting panda footprints from the Ya’an centre near Chengdu.  These will form the foundation of the training dataset, from which we will develop the FIT algorithm that will help monitor pandas in the wild.

IMG_2935

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Panda feet …. and footprints!

China blog 7:  Many giant panda experts told us it would be impossible to get good panda footprints in the wild….either because of deep leaf litter, or deep snow, or uneven terrain….but we were not deterred.  Our experience has shown that unless biologists are specifically looking for footprints, they don’t always notice them.

panda cub showing foot

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Dressing up time….

China blog 6

In a bid to reintroduce some captive bred Pandas to wild protected areas, the animals are placed in a large natural fenced area and a strict no-contact with humans observed.  The keepers, and any visitors, must put on a panda costume so that the animals don’t regard them as ‘carers’.  Here is Sky, panda-style, with two of the dedicated staff at Wo Long research institute.  I remain unconvinced that they look (or smell!!) sufficiently panda-like to remain undetected….but then I’m not a panda (yet).

Sky +2 as panda