Volume 9, Issue 119, September 2014

SAFHOWL

The Monthly Free E-Newsletter of South African Friends of Wolves
Volume 9, Issue 119, September 2014

From the Editor’s Desk

As sure as middle of the month will repeat itself every four weeks or so, my blood pressure goes through the roof when I have to read and edit the latest news on wolf slaughter in the US. This September of 2014 is not any different, and once you have read the respective accounts you will know why. The everything but independent position of the agencies supposedly in charge there is particularly critical for the Red Wolf, as this is an animal of which less than 100 individuals persist in the wild. Yet for the largest part, the conservationists of the world stand by, don’t even seem to take notice, and instead bemoan that there are only 3000 tigers left. Well, tigers may be more of a flagship species, prettier to look at, and saving one may yield more prestige, just as saving a whale is seemingly more prestigious than saving a shark. Saying something unfavourable about India or Indonesia may also be less risky than doing so about the oh-so-mighty USA. I beg to differ in firmly believing and saying aloud that the US are the # 1 threat to our planet.

Scandalous news also continues to abound from Zimbabwe, which you can be read about in the Next Door section below.

Triggered by a TV documentary we recently had the pleasure of watching, we have a rather interesting updated summary on the desert wolves of India. This is followed by a tale with an ending (you may need to think a little to find out what really happened) I particularly like. And dear Erin adds another chapter of her pack chronicles.

Till next month,
Ed.

News from the Wolf Front

National

Nothing new to report.

International

From Defenders of Wildlife (http://www.defenders.org)

 1.     USA: Listen to our town hall on Wolves

 Last month, Defenders’ Senior Vice President for Conservation Programs, Donald Barry, was joined by several hundred Defenders members for a telephone town hall on the state of wolves and wolf conservation.

An archive version of the gathering is now available for listening.

Usually we limit access to these events to donors only. But just this once, we’re opening this one up to all wildlife lovers.

Click here to listen for FREE to the town hall meeting:
http://action.defenders.org/site/R?i=upbvz4cJEN8fTnxp44ycjA

Don shared recent developments affecting wolves and took questions both live over the phone and by email. The resulting call was lively, informative and inspiring. Those who attended gave it rave reviews.

If you love wolves, you won’t want to miss it.

This is just one example of Defenders’ commitment to keeping its members in the know about saving the wildlife you and I love. I hope you enjoy it!

2. USA: When we go to court for Wolves, we win – double your donation

A dream you and I share – recovery of gray wolves in the Lower 48 – will become a nightmare unless we act now.

Hatred and ignorance have driven the persecution and demonization of wolves to new heights. And the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) – the federal agency that’s still legally obliged to protect these remarkable animals across much of the country – is chronically failing to do its job.

When the government won’t do its job to conserve and restore endangered species like wolves, we go to court.

That’s why we’ve launched the Defenders of Wildlife Wolf Defence Initiative.

Become a founding supporter of the Initiative.
http://action.defenders.org/site/R?i=klKNXiJ07bQhW4CDnVSAaA

Our legal docket for wolves is already crowded. And unfortunately, we see more lawsuits on the horizon. That is why we are turning to wolf lovers like you.

  • Current wolf actions include a suit against the Fish and Wildlife Service to reverse the unjustified delisting of Wyoming’s wolves. Since the delisting in 2012 more than 200 Wyoming wolves, originating from Yellowstone National Park, have been killed.
  • Also pending is a suit in North Carolina to protect critically endangered red wolves. Only about 100 of these beautiful animals cling to survival in the wild.
  • When Idaho tried to eradicate two wolf packson national forest wilderness land in order to boost elk populations, we went to court to block it.  Under a recent court settlement of this case, Idaho has agreed to forego this sort of persecution of wolves in the affected wilderness area for a year and if they ultimately try to resume this sort of illegal activity, we will take them to court again.

Wolves Can Win When They Get Their Day in Court

Protecting federally listed wolves and other endangered species is the law – and when the law is ignored, Defenders will step in.

Support our critical legal efforts to protect wolves and other vulnerable wildlife:
http://action.defenders.org/site/R?i=EYENXYhIXO6knM2oIXwrHw

Defenders goes to court only after all other efforts have failed – and sadly, when it comes to wolves and the threats they face, we often have no choice but to turn to legal action to stop illegal activities.

I know you share the dream of wolf recovery. Your generous support will never make a bigger difference.

Thank you for your compassion and your help.

3. USA: URGENT: Idaho Wolves may die TOMORROW

Tomorrow is the opening day of wolf hunting season in Idaho. Over the coming months, hundreds of wolves will be shot or trapped, driving the state’s wolf population to alarming new lows as the state pursues its goal of reducing its wolf population by 80 percent.

But I have to tell you – the real story in Idaho is even bleaker than those numbers suggest. Idaho’s bloody war on wolves has driven the number of pack breeding pairs down to critical levels.

I hope you agree that unprecedented threats require an unprecedented response. That’s why we’ve launched the Defenders of Wildlife Wolf Defence Initiative.

Become a founding supporter of the Initiative:
http://action.defenders.org/site/R?i=gemMlb-mhw4AWqMufeA8mQ

The number of breeding wolf pairs in Idaho has plummeted by nearly 60 percent since Idaho took over management of wolves. Killing off breeding pairs not only disrupts wolf pack stability; it could even jeopardize the future of the population.

And Idaho is not the only problem.

  • The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has wrongly proposed stripping nearly all gray wolves in the Lower 48 of protection under the Endangered Species Act.
  • In the south-western U.S., FWS is failing to act on behalf of the critically endangered Mexican gray wolf.
  • And in North Carolina, FWS is under pressure to walk away from recovery efforts for the last remaining population of red wolves. Only about 100 of these beautiful animals cling to survival in the wild.

Wolves Can Win When They Get Their Day in Court

Protecting wolves and other vulnerable wildlife requires the creative use of every law that is available – and when the law is ignored, Defenders will step in.

Support our critical legal efforts to protect wolves and other vulnerable wildlife!
http://action.defenders.org/site/R?i=cxow5Y9J_-p_Bbm49SiK-w

Defenders goes to court only after all other efforts have failed – and sadly, when it comes to wolves and the threats they face, we often have no choice but to turn to legal action to stop illegal activities.

A dream you and I share – recovery of gray wolves in the Lower 48 – will become a nightmare unless we act now.

Your generous support will never make a bigger difference – please donate today:
http://action.defenders.org/site/R?i=dj-E8CZ2eI2QuFWENWtEIA

4. USA: URGENT ACTION: Save these Wolves!

 The kill order on wolves in the Huckleberry pack is still in effect.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), as well as ranch staff, continue to have authorization to remove up to three more wolves from the pack, even if no further livestock loss occurs.

Tell the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission to direct WDFW to rescind the kill order NOW!
http://action.defenders.org/site/R?i=GPCXWrHQVKUxr5A7_Rrenw

Recently, Director of WDFW Phil Anderson issued a kill order for up to four members of the Huckleberry wolf pack. The order was originally issued because several sheep were killed after being placed directly in the middle of where wolves were caring for their young.

Poorly implemented attempts were made to use basic non-lethal methods for avoiding conflict between wolves and these sheep but only after problems started. The state all too quickly resorted to killing the wolves.

Sharpshooters have already shot and killed at least one wolf from the pack.

Demand that the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission tell Director Phil Anderson to pull the kill order on wolves in the Huckleberry pack TODAY! http://action.defenders.org/site/R?i=JkY8ooCPe2pxWJ0lspczBg

These wolves don’t have to die. Defenders recently sent the state brand new non-lethal control equipment that has already worked in the U.S. and abroad, protecting livestock from predators – and even offered to assist the state in setting it up.

Wolves are only now starting to regain a foothold in Washington State. By killing these wolves, the state is acting prematurely and damaging wolf recovery efforts in Washington.

Please take action today to save these wolves:
http://action.defenders.org/site/R?i=G6e2UEP768LSBoSL4fPbJA

Thank you for all you do.

5. USA: What will her pack do without her?

With this tragic loss, the future of the Huckleberry pack is highly uncertain. Young pups are left motherless and the pack has no matriarch – these wolves need to be kept safe, now more than ever.

That’s why Defenders of Wildlife is on the ground in Washington state calling for an immediate end to the killing of other pack members and restrictions on future lethal actions.

Please donate today to save these wolves and other vulnerable creatures:
http://action.defenders.org/site/R?i=Wzq911By0BYCSZapcFCMaA

Until we get the kill order for the Huckleberry pack lifted, these wolves are not safe.

Two years ago, WDFW killed every single member of the Wedge pack in a highly controversial lethal control action. We are doing everything we can to make sure this gross mismanagement doesn’t happen again.

With your help, Defenders remains the nation’s premier voice for wolf conservation and other imperilled wildlife.

Thank you in advance for your continued support at this crucial moment!
http://action.defenders.org/site/R?i=09cIUGQnWolcgN6hes7Qrw

6. USA: Red Wolves in trouble!

With fewer than 100 wild red wolves clinging to survival, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) recently announced that it will complete an evaluation of the Red Wolf Recovery Program.

But there are very serious problems with how they are proceeding:

  • This evaluation does not meet legal requirements that govern completion of status reviews for endangered species, including adequate public notice and opportunity to comment;
  • They’re giving the public less than two weeks notice about public meetings which have been scheduled in remote and hard to access  places; and,
  • FWS has publicly stated that terminating the Red Wolf Recovery Program is an option!

Tell FWS to give red wolves a fighting chance and do a thorough and fair evaluation!
http://action.defenders.org/site/R?i=7BymnI6Dn9w2v-n2J38IQQ

Intentionally hidden amongst the distraction of Labor Day weekend, FWS announced the review via press release – not through the Federal Register, as required by law under the Endangered Species Act. They also announced that under a rushed timeframe, they’ve hired a third party contractor to conduct the review.

Demand that FWS take red wolf recovery seriously:
http://action.defenders.org/site/R?i=7ObsTVQPpH2J-As5-0Qacg

Red wolves once roamed across the southeastern United States. Today, the last remaining wild population on Earth is making its last stand in the scrub forests of eastern North Carolina. With fewer than 100 left in the wild, they need all the help they can get.

FWS is under increased pressure from anti-wolf groups to walk away from recovery efforts – making it more important than ever to make our voices heard.

Tell FWS not give up on red wolf recovery:
http://action.defenders.org/site/R?i=gGr5f2UGg1rG1rYkqJ4V6Q

Thank you for all you do.

From California Wolfcenter (californiawolfcenter@yahoogroups.com)

Mexican Wolf Blue Range Reintroduction Project Monthly Update

August 1-31, 2014

The following is a summary of Mexican Wolf Reintroduction Project (Project) activities in Arizona on the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests (ASNF) and Fort Apache Indian Reservation (FAIR) and in New Mexico on the Apache National Forest (ANF) and Gila National Forest (GNF).  Non-tribal lands involved in this Project are collectively known as the Blue Range Wolf Recovery Area (BRWRA).  Additional Project information can be obtained by calling (928) 339-4329 or toll free at (888) 459-9653, or by visiting the Arizona Game and Fish Department website at http://www.azgfd.gov/wolf or by visiting the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website at http://www.fws.gov/southwest/es/mexicanwolf.  Past updates may be viewed on either website, or interested parties may sign up to receive this update electronically by visiting http://www.azgfd.gov/signup.  This update is a public document and information in it can be used for any purpose.  The Reintroduction Project is a multi-agency cooperative effort among the Arizona Game and Fish Department (AGFD), USDA Forest Service (USFS), USDA-Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Wildlife Services (USDA-APHIS WS), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the White Mountain Apache Tribe (WMAT).To view weekly wolf telemetry flight location information or the 3-month wolf distribution map, please visit http://www.azgfd.gov/wolf.  On the home page, go to the “Wolf Location Information” heading on the right side of the page near the top and scroll to the specific location information you seek.

Please report any wolf sightings or suspected livestock depredations to:  (928) 339-4329 or toll free at (888) 459-9653.  To report incidents of take or harassment of wolves, please call the AGFD 24-hour dispatch (Operation Game Thief) at (800) 352-0700.

Numbering System:  Mexican wolves are given an identification number recorded in an official studbook that tracks their history.  Capital letters (M = Male, F = Female) preceding the number indicate adult animals 24 months or older.  Lower case letters (m = male, f = female) indicate wolves younger than 24 months or pups.  The capital letter “A” preceding the letter and number indicate breeding wolves.

Definitions:  A “wolf pack” is defined as two or more wolves that maintain an established territory.  In the event that one of the two alpha (dominant) wolves dies, the remaining alpha wolf, regardless of pack size, retains the pack status.  The packs referenced in this update contain at least one wolf with a radio telemetry collar attached to it.  The Interagency Field Team (IFT) recognizes that wolves without radio telemetry collars may also form packs.  If the IFT confirms that wolves are associating with each other and are resident within the same home range, they will be referenced as a pack.

CURRENT POPULATION STATUS

At the end of August 2014, the collared population consisted of 55 wolves with functional radio collars.  On August 7, the IFT captured and collared a male wolf pup from the Bluestem Pack in Arizona.  The wolf was designated mp1382 and released on site.  On August 24, 2014 the IFT captured collared and released a male wolf pup from the Hawks Nest Pack.  The wolf was designated mp1383 and released on site. On August 25, the IFT captured and collared mp1354 from the Dark Canyon Pack in New Mexico.  There are currently 18 packs and 4 single wolves in the BRWRA.

IN ARIZONA:

Bluestem Pack (collared AF1042, AM1341, m1330, m1331, f1332, f1333, f1339, f1340 and mp1382)

During August, the Bluestem Pack continued to use their traditional territory in the central portion of the ASNF.  On August 7, the IFT captured a male pup from the Bluestem Pack.  The pup was collared, designated mp1382 and released on site.  The Pack has moved from the den site and is using several rendezvous sites in the Packs’ traditional territory.  The IFT continued to document three pups with the Bluestem Pack throughout August.

Elk Horn Pack (collared AM1287 and F1294)

In August, the Elk Horn Pack has moved to a rendezvous site in their traditional territory in the northeast portion of the ASNF in Arizona. The IFT documented AM1287 with F1294 with the use of a trail camera this month.  The IFT has been receiving GPS points from AM1287’s collar in spite of the VHF not working.  One pup has been documented with the Elk Horn Pack.

Hawks Nest Pack (collared AM1038, AF1280 and mp1383)

During August, the Hawks Nest Pack was located within their traditional territory in the north central portion of the ASNF.  The Hawks Nest Pack continues to exhibit denning behaviour. AM1038 has been documented traveling with AF1280 even though the collar on AM1038 has malfunctioned.  On August 24, the IFT captured a male pup associated with the Hawks Nest Pack.  The pup was collared, designated mp1383 and released on site. The IFT has documented 1-2 pups with Hawks Nest Pack in August.

Maverick Pack (collared AM1183, AF1291, f1335, m1336, and m1342)

During August, the Maverick Pack was located within their traditional territory both on the FAIR and the central portion of the ASNF.  The Maverick is currently using several rendezvous sites both on and off of the FAIR.

Rim Pack (collared AM1107 and AF1305)

In August, the Rim Pack was located in the south-central portion of the ASNF. The Rim Pack has moved periodically from one location to another during August, and maybe using rendezvous sites.  The IFT continues to document one pup with the Rim Pack.

ON THE FAIR:

Tsay o Ah Pack (collared AM1343 and AF1283)

The Tsay o Ah Pack was located on the FAIR throughout the month of August.

Hoodoo Pack (collared M1290)

M1290 was located on the FAIR throughout the month of August.

M1249 (collared)

M1249 was located on the FAIR throughout the month of August.

IN NEW MEXICO:

Canyon Creek Pack (collared AM1252 and AF1246)

During August, the IFT located these wolves within their traditional territory in the central portion of the GNF.

Coronado Pack (collared AM1051, AF1126, and fp1348)

In August, the Coronado Pack has remained in the vicinity of the release site within the Gila Wilderness. Following the packs self-release from the pen, the three male pup’s radio collars were retrieved; the pups had slipped their collars off.  Throughout August, fp1348 remained collared.

Dark Canyon Pack (collared AM992, AF923, M1293, and mp1354)

The IFT located this pack within its traditional territory in the west-central portion of the GNF throughout August.  In August, the IFT continued to document all five pups utilizing the food cache indicating that the cross-fostering operation conducted in May 2014 was successful.  On August 25, the IFT captured and collared a male wolf pup (mp1354) associated with the Dark Canyon Pack; all pups were assigned stud book numbers during the cross-fostering event.  mp1354 is one of the three offspring of AM992 and AF923, not one of the two pups cross-fostered into the Dark Canyon Pack den in May.

Fox Mountain Pack (collared AM1158, AF1212 and m1345)

During August, the IFT documented these wolves within the northwest portion of the GNF.  The Fox Mountain Pack continues to display denning behavior.  A food cache was established by the IFT to help deter the pack from depredating on livestock and no depredations have resulted since the food cache has been established.  The IFT continues to document four pups associated with the Fox Mountain Pack.

Lava Pack (collared M1282 and F1295)

Throughout August, the Lava Pack pair remained separate. Wolf F1295 has remained in the Gila Wilderness and was located with single wolf M1285 on August 25.  M1282 has been located with the San Mateo Pack (M1282’s natal pack) throughout August.

Luna Pack (collared AM1155, AF1115, and m1337)

In August, the IFT located the alpha pair within their traditional territory in the north-central portion of the GNF.  On August 20, the IFT documented three pups associated with the Luna Pack.  On August 11, M1284 was located with the Luna Pack (its natal pack) and was located with the Pack throughout the remainder of August.

Prieto Pack (collared AF1251)

In August, the IFT located this wolf within its traditional territory in the north-central portion of the GNF.  The IFT documented denning behaviour this year with this pack.  A food cache has been established to help prevent livestock depredations by the Prieto Pack.  Both adult wolves associated with the Prieto pack have been documented using this food cache.  No pups have been documented.

Mangas Pack (collared AM1296)

In August, the Mangas Pack utilized the area in the north-eastern portion of the GNF.  The IFT has not documented any pups associated with AM1296 during the month of August.

San Mateo Pack (collared AM1157 and AF903)

In August, the IFT located AM1157 and AF903 in the Pack’s traditional territory in the northern portion of the GNF.  M1282 is still travelling with the San Mateo Pack (1282’s natal pack) after it was released with F1295 in the Gila Wilderness in July.  F1295 remains in the Gila wilderness.  On August 19, the IFT documented one pup with the San Mateo Pack.

Willow Springs Pack (collared AM1185, AF1279, and m1338)

In August, the Willow Springs Pack used their traditional territory in the north central portion of the GNF.  The Willow Springs Pack continues to display denning behaviour.

Iron Creek Pack (collared AM1240 and AF1278)

In August, the Iron Creek Pack utilized their territory in the northern portion of the Gila Wilderness and the southern portion of the Gila National Forest.  The pack has displayed denning behaviour this year and continues to be fairly localized suggestive of use of a rendezvous site.

M1254 (collared)

In August, M1254 moved through the eastern portion in the GNF of New Mexico including the northern portion of the Gila Wilderness.

M1284 (collared)

On August 11, during the weekly flight, M1284 was located with the Luna Pack in the northern-central portion of the Gila National forest.  The wolf has stayed with the Luna Pack (M1284’s natal pack) throughout August.

M1285 (collared)

In August, M1285 made wide dispersal movements in the GNF of New Mexico including the Gila Wilderness area.  On August 25, M1285 was located with F1295 from the Lava Pack in the Gila Wilderness.

M1286 (collared)

In August, M1286 made wide dispersal movements through the GNF.

MORTALITIES

No wolf mortalities were documented in August.

The IFT received the necropsy report for M1253, a wolf that was recovered from the FAIR in April 2014. The cause of death was due to stomach cancer. The necropsy results also yielded information that M1253 was actually a previously identified wolf with studbook M825.  M825 was a Hon-dah pup released on the FAIR in 2003.

INCIDENTS

During August there were eight livestock depredation reports involving nine animals and no nuisance reports in the BRWRA.

On August 3, Wildlife Services investigated 1 dead calf near O Bar O- New Mexico.  The investigation determined the calf was killed by wolves.  The depredation was assigned to 2 uncollared wolves loosely associated with the Luna Pack.

On August 6, Wildlife Services investigated 1 dead cow near Canyon Del Buey in New Mexico.  The investigation determined the cow was killed by wolves. The depredation was assigned to members of the San Mateo Pack.

On August 13, Wildlife Services investigated an injury to a cow near Dry Lakes in New Mexico.  The injury was confirmed as being caused by a wolf.

On August 20, Wildlife Services investigated a dead calf near Cox Canyon in New Mexico.  The investigation determined the calf was a probable wolf kill.

On August 21, Wildlife Services investigated a dead calf near Bill Knight Gap in New Mexico.  The investigation determined the calf was killed by a wolf. The depredation was assigned to an uncollared wolf or wolves.

On August 23, Wildlife Services investigated a dead calf near Pat Knoll in Arizona.  The investigation determined the calf was killed by a bear.

On August 26, Wildlife Services investigated a dead cow near Geneva Tank in Arizona.  The investigation determined the cow died of unknown causes.

On August 26, Wildlife Services investigated a dead cow near Big Lake in Arizona.  The investigation determined the cow died from being struck by lightning.

CAPTIVE MANAGEMENT

On August 14, project personnel transferred F1222 from the Sevilleta Wolf Management Facility to Wolf Haven International.

On August 14, project personnel transferred M1130 and F1226 from the Sevilleta Wolf Management Facility to the Ladder Ranch Wolf Management Facility to allow for maintenance at the Sevilleta.

On August 18, project personnel transferred M1274 and F1202 from the Sevilleta Wolf Management Facility to the Ladder Ranch Wolf Management Facility to allow for maintenance at the Sevilleta.

COMMUNICATION AND COORDINATION

On August 9, the IFT gave a project update to 50 members of the public at the Big Lake Campground in Arizona.

On August 30, IFT personnel attended the Wildlife and Science Festival in Woodland Park in Pinetop Arizona.  The Festival was attended by about 1,000 people.

PROJECT PERSONNEL

In August Charlotte Catalano concluded her internship with the USFWS.  Thanks for all your help Charlotte!

REWARDS OFFERED

The USFWS is offering a reward of up to $10,000; the AGFD Operation Game Thief is offering a reward of up to $1,000; and the NMDGF is offering a reward of up to $1,000 for information leading to the conviction of the individual(s) responsible for the shooting deaths of Mexican wolves.  A variety of non-governmental organizations and private individuals have pledged an additional $46,000 for a total reward amount of up to $58,000, depending on the information provided.

Individuals with information they believe may be helpful are urged to call one of the following agencies: USFWS special agents in Mesa, Arizona, at (480) 967-7900, in Alpine, Arizona, at (928) 339-4232, or in Albuquerque, New Mexico, at (505) 346-7828; the WMAT at (928) 338-1023 or (928) 338-4385; AGFD Operation Game Thief at (800) 352-0700; or NMDGF Operation Game Thief at(800) 432-4263.  Killing a Mexican wolf is a violation of the Federal Endangered Species Act and can result in criminal penalties of up to $50,000, and/or not more than one year in jail, and/or a civil penalty of up to $25,000.

Other News

National

From SanWild Wildlife Sanctuary (sanwild@gnetmail4.co.za)

A Dollar a Day keeps the Hunter away

Canned Lion Industry

Lions are an inspiration to so many people and these majestic cats have been admired for centuries. They are known as the King of Beasts and have served as icons to draw visitors to Africa when they have been depicted as the soul of our continent on glossy tourism brochures. Unfortunately as human populations continue to grow and man claims more and more lions are finding it increasingly difficult to survive. Their habitats are destroyed and the animals themselves are pushed into smaller and smaller pockets of land to continue their desperate fight for survival. Lions in Africa are under serious threat of extinction and their numbers continue to dwindle.

On the most southern tip of Africa some private landowners have found even more ways in which to exploit their majestic cats and South Africa has a growing captive lion breeding industry where at least 6000 lions are held and bred in camps pretty much like cattle in feeding lots or broiler chickens.

Known as the canned lion industry this method of farming wild animals; in particular lions and other predators supply large male and females lions to the trophy hunting industry.  But what exactly is canned lion hunting.  Click this link to learn more, but please beware it is not for sensitive viewers.

In addition to allowing the hunting of lions; this factory farming industry also supply the bones of hunted or unwanted lions to the east Asian market for the manufacture of lion wine which in recent years have become a replacement product for tiger wine. South African lion breeders also supply lion bones and claws to traditional African “sangomas” or witch doctors.  Small lion cubs are forcefully removed off their mothers within days of being born and are used to draw paying volunteers to South Africa to actively take part in what has become known as animal pimping.  Quite a few projects posed as wildlife rehabilitation centres are involved in a growing industry to provide so-called “conservation” volunteering opportunities for young people believing it their right to add to the abuse and exploitation of lion cubs forcefully removed from their mothers.

Africa is no longer the Kingdom of Lions; it has become a dangerous place where lions are in a daily battle for their very survival and South Africa sadly has devised cruel ways in which to take the exploitation of the King of the Beasts to a new level.

However there are at least some NGO’s and individuals who have taken on the odds to fight for a better world for lions and to educate the global community about the level of exploitation on South African lion breeding farms. In South Africa’s Limpopo Province you will find a unique wildlife sanctuary; a sanctuary where previously abused or injured lions has found a new safe home. Although these lions can unfortunately not be set free as the land available to them as a safe haven is simply not large enough they have found safety and love amongst their respective prides in large natural habitat enclosures where they spend their days interacting with family members as lions will do in the wild. There are even the occasional skirmishes to settle scores and restore the delicate balance and respect between pride members in a manner only lions understand. Most of the lions arrived at the SanWild Wildlife Sanctuary in 2003/2004.  Read more about their background and the history of these particular lions.

Our lion prides are fed every 4 days and the lions consume 320kgs of meat during a single feeding session. The total lion feeding budget for a year comes close to R500 000 a year.  The SanWild Wildlife Trust; a registered non profit animal welfare charity is totally reliant on donor funding to care for these very special animals.

•         If you would like to make a small donation towards helping to feed the lions please go to our on-line donation gateway and make a donation of your choice with PayPal, or PayFast.•On-line direct banking transfer to our SanWild Wildlife Trust Account no 9111221180, branch code 334349, Swift code ABSAZAJJ.

•         Kindly please email us with your payment details in order for us to enter your name into our lucky draw on sanwild@pixie.co.za

This is also your chance to win a free holiday at the SanWild Wildlife Sanctuary where you will stay at our Savannah Private Bush Camp.

If you make a donation of any nomination between 21 – 31st August 2014 your name will be entered into a lucky draw on the 1st September 2014 in which the winner will receive a 7 day stay for two people.  Fully inclusive of:

•         Daily game drive.

•         Brunch and supper.

•         Accommodation

•         Subject to availability.

For more information please email reservations@sanwild.org

2. Time to take a break and meet our Lions

LIMITED OFFER: To help us raise the necessary funding to continue to provide for the SanWild lions we have just 4 discounted accommodation vouchers available @ R10 000 each for 8 people for 4 nights.

Redeemable up to the 15th December 2014 or anytime in 2015 we will give 8 people the opportunity to book into our stylish private bush camp for only R312.50 per person per night, fully inclusive of all meals and accommodation. Only drinks from our courtesy bar are excluded. *Subject to availability.

Terms & Conditions apply.

You can view the Savannah Private Bush Camp here
http://www.sanwild.org/services.html

If you want to snatch up this fantastic break-away offer and ensure you are one of only four lucky people to get this hugely discounted accommodation offer please email Lizel Kachelhoffer without delay on lizel@sanwild.org to claim your voucher.

Kind regards

The SanWild Team
SanWild Wildlife Trust

Next Door

From Johnny Rodrigues, Chairman for Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force (www.zctfofficialsite.org)

Yet another barbaric “Mugabe Era” politically motivated farm attack

24th August 2014

At around midnight on the 19th August, Dave and Mary Ann Passapoortis were viciously attacked in their home in Darwendale – a game farm called Chirawanoo. The attackers came in through the burglar bars straight into their bedroom and severely assaulted Dave and his wife Mary Ann. Nothing was stolen. Mary Ann was threatened with rape and sustained a broken hand and head injuries. Dave is in a very serious condition after being beaten repeatedly around the head with a knobkerrie. He was in the operating theatre from 3pm until 11pm while the neurosurgeon tried to repair the damage. He has a crushed skull and injuries to his face and eye sockets. After the attack, Dave and Mary Ann were tied up with barbed wire and their small daughter, 4 year old Hailey, untied her mother from the wire.

Apparently in the past week, a lot of game has been killed on their game farm and it is believed that some ZANU “big wigs” are after the game farm so this leads us to believe that the attack was politically motivated. A few weeks ago, Mugabe stated that the farm invasions had stopped and no more offer letters would be accepted. In fact, it appears that the farm invasions have not stopped at all.

Thanks to the police, National Parks and the MP for the area who have been helping.

ATTEMPTED TAKE OVER OF CENTENARY FARM, FIGTREE

On the 1st August 2014, David Conolly received a phone call from the Officer Commanding Bullilima Mangwe District informing him that he was “observing the takeover” of his property by a Dr. R. C. Ndhlukula, Deputy Chief Secretary in the President’s Office. Mr. Conolly told him that there is a recent valid High Court order preventing this from happening. The Superintendent agreed to meet Mr. Conolly at his farm where he wanted to read the Court Order. Mr. Conolly gave him the Court Order to read and then asked him if he understood it. He said he did.

The Superintendent then presented the High Court Order to Dr. Ndhlukula who refused to accept it and told Mr. Conolly that he was a Senior Civil Servant in the Office of the President and that the Chief Justice had said that “white people could not come before the courts of Zimbabwe regarding land matters.” He then added that he was not going to abide by the court and he would do things his way. He said he would take all the cattle, vegetables, household contents and farm equipment. His wife said that her people would sleep in Mr. Conolly’s house that night. Dr. Ndhlukula said the no messenger of the court would evict his workers from the property.

Over the next 2 days, various vehicles arrived at the farm dropping off a tractor, personal belongings and farm equipment. Dr. Ndhlukulu instructed his workers to round up Mr. Conolly’s cattle and remove them from the property. This amounted to 94 head of cattle, which were moved to the adjoining property. He then instructed the man in charge of irrigation to turn off the irrigation pump, which at the time was irrigating 65 tons of tomatoes, 19.000 cabbages and 500.000 onions. Mrs. Ndhlukula then went to the farm village and instructed them to move out by the 6th August. This involved 14 men, 9 women and their families – a total of 75 dependants. Amongst these workers were people who had resided there since 1963.

GWAYI CONSERVANCY

I have just done a trip to Hwange and whilst there, I discovered that a group of Chinese people are living in an old house on Gwayi Conservancy. Apparently they moved in there in 2011 because they are planning on building a hydro-electric dam on the Gwayi River. To date, all they have done is cleared the land and decimated the wildlife. There is no sign of a hydro-electric dam there and there have been numerous complaints about the lack of wildlife there.

2. MINING IN PRESIDENTIAL ELEPHANT AREAS

4th September 2014

In July 2012, after becoming aware of mining pegs in the ground, Sharon Pincott wrote and spoke on numerous occasions to the Minister of Natural Resources and Environment with a plea to halt all mining within the key home-range of the Presidential Elephants. Sharon requested, on behalf of the Presidential Elephants of Zimbabwe, to declare a no mining zone within a sensible radius of the Hwange National Park Main Camp. In 2011, President Mugabe had reaffirmed his commitment to protect Zimbabwe’s flagship herd of elephants by way of a Presidential Elephant Decree Reaffirmation certificate. To date, this has still not happened. Now, agreements have been signed in China to commence coal and methane gas mining.

GWANGO LODGE

I was recently in Hwange National Park and I saw the state of Kanondo pan in the grabbed Gwango Elephant Lodge area. With the water now being diverted to this new private and highly controversial lodge – built now under separate ownership built on land only a mere couple of kilometres from Hwange Safari Lodge – the animals and elephants are suffering even more now than in past years with the pan looking worse than ever. Water for people and business is taking precedence over water for the wildlife.

We are also hearing endless complaints from tourists about no longer being able to get on Presidential Elephant game drives as they used to and there would certainly appear to be good reasons why this land claimant, Elisabeth Pasalk-Freeman does not want people seeing this disaster. In addition, talk of hunting in this area persists in the township despite Pasalk-Freeman purporting to be the one chasing off the hunters.

If Minister Kasukwere refuses to intervene for the wildlife in this ongoing and concerning problem, then we implore the tourism Minister Mzembi to do so urgently. A petition with over 8 000 signatures called for the eviction of Elisabeth Pasalk-Freeman and for tourist traffic to be able to return to help keep a close eye on this once important area. That dedicated Presidential Elephant Conservation efforts were halted by this land claimant is also very telling of the calibre and motives of this person who is holding an “inherited” offer letter from government for this land, in an area where an offer letter should never have been issued. This all occurred following the correction and withdrawal of Cabinet Minister Orbert Mpofu’s offer letter for the same piece of land in 2005. Yet Pasalk-Freeman, defying a 2013 Cabinet Directive to remove her, has so far been allowed to stay put.

2 POACHERS SHOT DEAD

Two poachers were shot dead by National Parks and the police in Zambezi National Park in Victoria Falls on Monday. The commanding police officer confirmed the shooting adding that they were still hunting for the other poachers who had fled.

The dead poachers have been identified as Christopher Muleya and Isaiah Sibanda.

On 23rd August, Zimparks rangers found an elephant carcass around Liungu Spring. At 2am the following morning, the rangers and the police were patrolling Liungu Springs and encountered the gang of poachers which ended in a shootout.

TWO MEN FINED FOR SELLING CYANIDE TO POISON ELEPHANTS

Two Victoria Falls men appeared in court yesterday facing allegations of selling cyanide to kill elephants. Namatani Ndlovu, a hunter and former National Parks ranger and Calvin Murapata, a commuter omnibus driver pleaded not guilty to “selling to any person any pesticide or toxic substance that one knows is not registered”. The court was told that the two made a deal to sell cyanide granules weighing 340 grams to Norest Makuyana.

POACHER GETS 10 YEARS FOR POSSESSION OF 37 ELEPHANT TUSKS

A Zambian poacher who was shot by National Parks rangers in Siamungu, Binga in March was sentenced to 10 years in prison. The poacher, Siamungu Makina admitted to unlawful possession of elephant tusks and to illegally entering and hunting in Zimbabwe. He, however, denied that he was armed, saying that it was his accomplice who was shot down by the rangers who was armed. He claimed that they did not shoot the elephants in Zimbabwe. He said they shot them in Botswana and were just passing through Zimbabwe. When the rangers searched the area, they found 37 tusks valued at $174 000 as well as a rifle, knives and ammunition.

HELICOPTER AND LANDROVER AUCTIONED FOR PAY

We have had a report of a helicopter and a Landover being auctioned to pay a National Parks Director his termination package. The helicopter was confiscated from a game capture unit and we can’t understand why it wasn’t used for anti-poaching. It has been reported that the National Parks staff haven’t received their salaries for several month so we wonder why the money raised from the auction wasn’t used to pay them instead. 

Wolves and Wolfdogs

The Desert Wolves of India

The Rhann of Kutch grasslands are the last refuge of the Indian wolf. The local people, the Rabari, and the wolves have a surprising, ancient relationship that changes from love to hate and back again, but is the key to their survival. Only if this fluctuating relationship can be maintained, the wolves may be able to remain and survive in this wilderness. But as the wolves upset the Rabari by killing their livestock, could the erosion of an ancient, delicate balance see the Indian wolf become extinct?

The Indian wolf (Canis lupus pallipes), also known as the Iranian Wolf, Southern Asian Wolf and Asian Wolf, is a grey wolf subspecies that inhabits southern and southwestern Asia. Some experts have suggested that at least some C. lupus pallipes populations should be reclassified as Canis indica, a separate canid species distinct from C. lupus, while other experts believe that this could be the wolf subspecies from which “Men’s best Friend”, the dog, was originally domesticated. They are pointing out its small size and comparatively docile behaviour, although it is also known as a maneater. While their populations are stable or increasing in some countries, they may be highly endangered in others. C. l. pallipes has featured in different roles in different western Asian cultures where these wolves are treated as either vermin or menace at times in some places, while respected and protected in others.

Measuring up to 91 cm in length at a shoulder height of just 66 cm and a tail length of 41 to 46 cm, Indian wolves are generally smaller than Eurasian wolves. The pelage is shorter than that of northern wolves, and they have little to no undercoat. The fur colour ranges from greyish red to reddish white with black tipped hairs. The dark, V-shaped stripe across the shoulders is much more distinct than in northern wolves, and the lower parts and legs are more or less white. The skin of the Indian wolf is almost invariably a deeper shade of brown than that of European wolves. Indian wolves, like Arabian wolves, have a short, thin summer coat, although their back hair remains long, which is thought to be an protective adaptation against solar radiation. The winter coat is long, but still shorter than in the northern subspecies. The contour hairs measure 50-85 mm in length on the shoulders and 35-65 mm on the flanks. Even the longest hairs never reach the length of those of the Tibetan wolf.

In its western parts of the range, the Indian wolf can be distinguished from the Arabian wolf by its larger size, darker coat, and proportionately larger heads, and some specimens may exhibit fused pads on the third and fourth toes. The frequency of these fused paw pads can be as high as 100% in India, 80–90% in the western part of the Arabian Peninsula, and 20% in northern Palestine. In northern Israel, Indian wolves are split into two populations known as “Mediterranean pallipes” (those living in areas with more than 400 mm of rainfall), and “desert pallipes” (those living in areas with less precipitation), with the specimens from the former kind of habitat being the largest.

The distributional range of the Indian wolf extends from south of the Himalayas in India and Pakistan through Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Yemen, Syria, Turkey, and Israel, to the Sinai in Egypt.

Indian wolves do not form large packs like northern wolves, but in contrast have proven to be more tolerant of crowded conditions in captivity. Their social structure more resembles that of dingoes and coyotes than northern wolves. A typical pack consists of a nuclear family of up to eight animals, although pairs are more common. Their breeding season extends from mid-October to late December, and, like with all other wolves, cubs are born blind with floppy ears; they sport a white mark on the chest, which disappears with age.

The main prey of the Indian wolf consists of antelopes, rodents and hares, and they usually hunt in pairs or bands when targeting larger prey animals like antelopes. One wolf will then typically distract the herd with its presence, acting as a decoy, while its pack mate(s) attack(s) the prey from behind. Red deer, wild boar, golden jackal, ibex, fallow deer, chamois, and roe deer are also significant food sources in southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran.

Sir Walter Elliot noted a similar behaviour in wolves that attacked sheep: the main pack would kill and drag off a sheep while one or two others distracted the herding dogs. When working in packs, Indian wolves use ambush tactics: Elliot observed three wolves chasing a gazelle herd through a ravine where two other wolves were lying in wait. It was believed that prior to such a hunt, the ambushing wolves would dig holes and lie in them to conceal themselves from the approaching herd, and this theory was subsequently indeed confirmed by McMaster, who observed wolves lying in wait in holes while an antelope herd approached them. In India, wolves hunting alone are known as won-tola.

India has a decreasing population of roughly 1,000 wolves, which are legally protected and mainly distributed across the states of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. Because the Indian wolf predates on livestock and is believed to even attack children, it has long been hunted, although it is protected as an endangered species under Schedule 1 of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972. In India, the Indian wolf is mainly found outside of protected reserves, and feeds almost exclusively on domestic animals such as goats or sheep. However, in areas where natural prey is still abundant, for example in the Velavadar National Park or Panna Tiger Reserve, they prefer natural prey species.

The Indian wolf was first described in 1831 by the British ornithologist William Henry Sykes under the binomial Canis pallipes. In 1888, the British naturalist Blanford, working for the Geological Survey of India, added support for regarding the Indian wolf as a species distinct from both the Grey wolf and Canis laniger (the Himalayan wolf) by its smaller size, much shorter and thinner winter coat, and smaller skull and teeth. In 1941, the British taxonomist Pocock subordinated both taxa to Canis lupus under the trinomials Canis lupus pallipes and Canis lupus laniger, respectively. Today, the Himalayan wolf, initially described by Hodgson in 1847 (C. lupus laniger), is generally considered to form part of the Eurasian wolf subspecies, C. lupus lupus, whereas the Indian wolf (C. lupus pallipes) is varyingly considered to be a subspecies or a species in its own right.

Indian wolves are likely of a much older lineage than northern wolves, and morphologically bear a greater resemblance of the primitive European wolves from 500,000 years ago. Recent DNA research suggests that the Indian wolf populations in lowland peninsular India have not interbred significantly with any other wolf population for nearly 400,000 years, which alone could possibly make them an altogether separate species.

Indian, Arabian and Tibetan wolves are among the wolf subspecies that are generally suspected of having been the main ancestors of domestic dogs. This is based on the fact that Indian wolves share several characteristics with dogs, which are absent in northern wolves: their brains are proportionately smaller than those of northern wolves, their carnassials are weaker, and their eyes are larger and rounder. Their vocalisations also include a higher proportion of short, sharp barking, and their small size and less aggressive demeanour in captivity than that seen in northern wolves would have made them much easier to tame. Unlike northern wolves, they howl rather rarely. According to Robert Armitage Sterndale, wolves in India seldom attack adults, but they have a history of predating on children, a phenomenon called “child-lifting”. In 1878, 624 people were reportedly killed by wolves in Uttar Pradesh, and 14 others in Bengal during the same period. In 1900, 285 were killed in the Central Provinces, and between 1910 and 1915, 115 in Hazaribagh, and 122 in the same area from 1980 to 1986. In Jaunpur, Pratapgarh and Sultanpur in Uttar Pradesh, wolves were reported to have killed 21 children and mauled 16 others from 27 March through 1 July 1996. Between April 1993 and April 1995, five wolf packs attacked 80 children in Hazaribagh, West Koderma and Latehar Forest Divisions, of which 20 could be rescued. The children were taken primarily during summer and in the evening hours, often within human settlements.

In India, Hindus traditionally consider hunting wolves as a taboo, for fear of causing a bad harvest. The Santals, on the other hand, consider them as much fair game as every other forest-dwelling animal.

During British rule in India, wolves were not considered a game species and killed primarily in response to their attacking game herds, livestock, and people. In 1876, 2,825 wolves were killed in the Northwest Province and Bihar State in response to 721 fatal attacks on humans. Two years later, 2,600 wolves were killed in response to killing 624 humans. Through the1920s, wolf extermination remained a priority in the NWP and Awadh, because wolves were reportedly killing more people than any other predator in the region. Female cubs were bountied for 12 Indian Annas, male cubs for eight. In Jaunpur, rewards of five Rupees were offered for an adult and one for a cub, and in Gorakhpur, where human fatalities were highest in summer, the reward for an adult wolf was four Rupees and three for a cub. Acts of fraud were quite common, with some bounty hunters presenting golden jackals or simply exhuming the bodies of bountied wolves, and presenting them to unsuspecting magistrates for rewards. Overall, up to 100,000 wolves are thought to have been killed in British India between 1871 and 1916.

Wolves are occasionally mentioned in Hindu mythology. In the Harivamsa, Krishna creates hundreds of wolves from his hairs to frighten the inhabitants of Vraja and convince them migrate to Vrindavan.

In the Rig Veda, Rijrsava is blinded by his father as punishment for having given 101 of his family’s sheep to a she-wolf, who in turn prays to the Ashvins to restore his sight.

Bhima, the voracious son of the god Vayu, is described as Vrikodara, meaning “wolf-stomached”.

Even the Bible contains 13 references to wolves, which are usually used as metaphors for greed and destructiveness.

Indian wolves play a central role in Rudyard Kipling’s “The Jungle Books”, in which a pack in the Sioni area adopts a feral child, Mowgli, and teaches him how to survive in the jungle whilst protecting him from the tiger Shere Khan and the marauding dholes.

In this conjunction, we at SAFOW would like to recommend a TV documentary named “The Desert Wolves of India”. It represents a personal story told by Yadvendradev Jhala – an Indian scientist passionate about wolves. It tells the complex and intimate story of the Indian wolf and how it manages to survive amidst a dense population of desert people and their livestock, illustrating the importance of an age-old culture that ironically helps preserve the wildlife around it – even the wolves.

In the mid 1990s, the Indian wolf made the headlines for all the wrong reasons; it became a notorious maneater on a par with much larger and more dangerous predators such as leopard and tiger. Dr. Yadvendradev Jhala, a scientist from the Wildlife Institute of India, had been studying Indian wolves for 15 years and working to reveal the true nature of the Indian wolf.

The documentary is stunning – unique desert wolves, desert landscapes and colourful Rabari people, time-lapse and night photography provide novelty, and the story it tells is amazing.

Kutch (meaning turtle in Kutchi) is a dome-shaped landmass, cut off from mainland India by a swamp desert called the Little Rhann of Kutch, and from Pakistan by the Great Rhann of Kutch and the delta swamps of the River Indus. Here, most of the people are livestock herders or merchants. The majority of the herders are nomadic Rabari who move large numbers of camels, sheep and goats in search of pasture. The animals are used for the production of milk, ghee and manure (fertilizer etc.), or for use as pulling animals – not for human consumption. The main religions in this region are Hinduism and Jainism (and Islam in Kutch), and all Jains, as well as the majority of Hindus, are vegetarian; both religions prohibit the slaughter of cattle and other livestock. Malnourished and old cattle are kept in special camps and cared for.

India is a land well known for its tigers and elephants, but few people realise that wolves occur here too. The Rabari herdsmen of western India share their land with packs of wolves, but they have no love left or the animal – they are at war.

Wolf Myths and Legends, Part 107

The Huntress

by Rod_d_46

The night was brightly lit by the light of a full moon, so bright that only the brightest stars could be seen. The hunter set by his fire sipping his coffee. Looking out over the river before him, seeing the tree tops as if it were day, and the shadows they cast on the forest floor below. The hunter, a cruel man, who had befriended the Indian known as brother of the wolf, but only to learn his secrets of tracking the wolf, before killing him and dropping him from a cliff. Hired to hunt the wolf he had taken the life of all that lived on the mountain, all but the Grey wolf the one they called the huntress.

The night was alive with sounds of the small creatures, frog, raccoon, and the hunters like the owl. The hunter listened quietly, he had tracked his prey for months and knew her den was near and that she would not stray far from it for she cared for pups. So for now he waited to hear his prey, knowing the sight of the moon would be too much for her to bare, the urge to call the wind to strong. The hunter knew she was near. He thought of the reward the farmers put up on her head, not knowing that it was he, not the wolf, killing their chickens and their sheep, laughing at how easily they had believed that it was her. But his thoughts were abruptly interrupted by a piercing cry as the howl of the huntress breached the night. The hunter had known she was near, but he had never dreamed he was so close, the cry had come from the other side of the hill. The hunter grabbed his rifle and crawled his way to the top. Looking over the hill he saw his prey, the moonlight on her silver back made her shine in its light. The hunter eased the rifle up placing the cross-hairs on her head. Just as he was about to pull the trigger he realized she was hunting food, her nose to the ground making small circles, sniffing and tracking. The hunter thought I will follow her to her kill. Then to her den, there I will kill the huntress, I will show her body to the farmers and collect my reward and then skin her as a prize tack her hide to my cabin wall, and her pups I will chain to my porch and make guard dogs of them. Through the woods the huntress ran faster and faster, the hunter right behind her as she moved in and out of the shadows. The hunter began to struggle to keep up, but the huntress only quickened her pace till at last the hunter could go no more. He watched out of breath as the huntress went out of sight. How foolish he had been not taking his shot when he had the chance. As for the huntress, she moved in on her prey and with a quick snap of her sharp teeth the artery in the neck of her prey laid open. She set and watched as her prey slowly died, its lifeblood leaving it. The hunter would not see her again, or make a prize of her skin, and her pups would not be chained to his porch. For the hunter had learned much too late that the prey the huntress hunted that night was he.

Readers’ Contribution

A Wolfdog Diary, Part 98

By Erin

Do you know what it feels like to have a 36-kg canid sitting on your lap? Boy, it’s very warm in the first place and it takes your breath away in the second.

When Ascar II and Kajack II were still little cubs, I often took them onto my lap in the evenings while watching TV, and when they got a bit bigger, they managed to climb on my lap when they were looking for comfort or when I had something to eat they wanted. It would have been a good idea to wean them of this behaviour when they started to grow bigger, but somehow I could not bring it over me to deny them this demonstration of trust and affection. When they were smaller they would just curl up on my knees and spend a short period getting petted around the neck, but it did not take long before they started to fill out my whole lap and the side-rests of the one-seater. By now they are substantial in size, but they still come climbing onto my lap – Ascar II when he wants to take a position from which to look down on the others, sitting upright like a statue, so that the only parts of me still to be seen are my legs from the knees downward. For his part, Kajack II will come running and jump onto my lap when something is going on outside that makes him suspicious or scares him. In contrast to Ascar II, he will then try to make himself as small as possible. And sometimes one will try to climb onto my lap while the other is already there, out of jealousy. Luckily, this doesn’t work, so the most the second one manages to get up onto my lap is his front legs. Luckily they never stay on for long, because the days when my lap was a comfortable place to lie on are over for good. This made the two-seater a more popular place for them to cuddle up with each other or with one of the other two. Believe it or not, I still enjoy this kind of behaviour, no matter how heavy and warm they are, because it allows me to stick my nose into their fur to take in the incredibly nice smell of it, to feel the softness of their fur, and to be as close to them as possible, even though breathing may become a little difficult with such a heavy seat belt.

… will be continued