Wild Tracks

On behalf of the world's wild species

Category Archives: Carnivores

The Week In Carnivores #1

This is a weekly roundup of news items featuring the wild carnivores of the world. If you miss the news during the week, check our blog on Fridays.

Felidae (Cats)

Canidae (Dogs)

Ursidae (Bears)

Mustelidae (Weasels)

English badgers set for targeted culls

Viverridae (Mongoose)

Zimbabwe plans to sell wild animals, including civet cats to North Korea


Carnivore monitoring provides valuable data


Otterly Adorable

Did you know baby otters have to be taught to swim? The great folks at the Columbus Zoo have filmed a patient mother teaching her baby to enjoy the water, and he doesn’t look too thrilled with his lessons.

Columbus Zoo & Aquarium

Eco Tuesday: Andean Bear Conservation

The Andean Bear Conservation Project is based in Ecuador. Their goal is to save the Andean (Spectacled) Bear Tremarctos ornatus from extinction through in-field scientific studies and the rehabilitation and release of captive bears.

They monitor both wild and rehabilitated bears, by direct observation and through the use of radio tracking equipment. Their aim is to improve human understanding of these gentle creatures by gathering data on their diet, behaviours and social interaction.

Andean bears are an endangered species vulnerable to extinction and there are thought to be fewer than 20,000 in the wild. In order to save the bears, they work in several different aspects of bear conservation.

  • Bear Rescue is unfortunately necessary when local people illegally take bears into captivity – usually cubs orphaned when their mothers are shot.
  • Bear Rehab & Release rehabilitates and liberates rescued Andean bears so that they can go on to breed and strengthen the genetic diversity of this endangered bear species.
  • Bear Capture & Tracking captures and radio-collars bears to track their movements and understand more about their needs, in order to produce an effective bear conservation plan.
  • Community Involvement includes the local community, working with communities living in bear country to encourage them in habitat conservation and protecting the bears.
  • Bear Sanctuary will provide a home for bears which are bears too old, habituated or disabled to return back to the wild.

Time is running out for the Andean Bear. The tranquil cloud forests of the Andean mountain ranges, where these bears live, are rapidly disappearing. Without a better understanding of the bears’ needs there is no way to implement a strategy for their survival.

The Andean Bear Foundation is a 501(c)(3) registered non-profit in the USA. They are a small, grass-roots operation with little funding, depending on volunteers and donations to survive. Visit their website to see how you can help these gentle little bears.

Andean Bear Conservation Project

Meet The Carnivore #4

Our Friday mystery creature was a Zorilla (Ictonyx striatus)

The Zorilla, also called a Striped Polecat or African Polecat is a member of the Mustelidae family, and really does resemble a skunk. The animal is mainly black but has four prominent white stripes running from the head, along the back to the tail. The Striped Polecat is typically 60 centimeters long including a 20-centimeter tail.

Striped polecats are found throughout the African continent. They are distributed in all habitats occurring between the Mauritanian coast and the coast of Sudan, and southward to the South African coast.

Zorillas are almost strictly nocturnal, but some have been seen foraging around dusk and dawn. They seem to lead fairly nomadic lives, and sleep in hollow trees and rock crevices. They may also dig burrows or cover themselves with twigs and leaves when other suitable sleeping places are not present.

Although polecats are efficient swimmers and climbers, they prefer the terrestrial life. When foraging, a zorilla will walk or run with its backs held in a firm arch and its tail in the vertical position with the tip bent down. This loping gate is something like that of a mongoose.

Very little is known about the social life of wild zorillas, and they appear to be mainly solitary. In captivity, but several families have been kept together and grooming appears to be common among them. Some will roll over and present their dark undersides for grooming. Even though large numbers are seldom encountered together in the wild, their captive behavior suggests that they may not be highly territorial.

The Striped Polecat is solitary, tolerating contact with others only to mate. Young are generally born between September and December, with one to three young per litter.

Sunda Clouded Leopard

Until 2006, there was believed to be four sub-species of the beautiful Clouded Leopard (Neofelis nebulosa), one of which was Neofelis nebulosa diardi, found only in Sumatra, Borneo and Java.

Molecular evidence suggested that the Sumatran sub-species was actually a distinct species in its own right. This has now been confirmed by genetic testing, but experts agree that more research is needed.

By splitting the Clouded Leopard population into five species, each species became even more endangered with the smaller population numbers.

The new wild cat species has been renamed Neofelis diardi, and is referred to as the Sunda or Sundaland Clouded Leopard.

Eco Tuesday: The Wolverine Foundation

The largest member of the vast Weasel (Mustelidae) Family is the Wolverine (Gulo gulo). They are found in remote reaches of the boreal forests and subarctic and alpine tundra of the Northern hemisphere, with the greatest numbers in Alaska, Canada, the Nordic countries of Europe and western Russia. Their populations have experienced a steady decline since the 19th century.

Wolverine Gulo gulo

Wolverine (Gulo gulo) from Wikipedia Commons

While their populations appear able to support limited harvest, the status of the wolverine throughout its range is largely unknown. They are trapped and hunted for sport, and for their fur, throughout western Canada, Alaska and Montana, and are controlled as a predator of domestic livestock in Scandinavia.

The Wolverine Foundation, Inc. (TWF) is a non-profit organization comprised of wildlife scientists with a common interest in the wolverine. They have joined together not because they feel the wolverine is in danger of extinction, but because it is in need of attention.

Their objective is to promote awareness and direct resources for the benefit of this fascinating and mysterious creature.

Through their website, they offer information to the interested public as well as the science professional. Their website contains the most up-to-date bibliography available on wolverine literature; a comprehensive summary of wolverine life history; reviews of wolverine research; and management updates outlining current issues.

TWF is operated by a small administrative staff, and managed under the guidance of a world-wide directorship comprised of wildlife scientists. They operate solely on the voluntary efforts of  directors and staff, and with the help of private and public donations.

Through the sales of our wolverine t shirt, The Wild Carnivore annually sends funding to The Wolverine Foundation. Visit their website to see how you can help all of us learn more about the enigmatic wolverine, and make a tax-deductible donation today.

Meet The Carnivore #3

Our Friday What In The World Critter was an Ethiopian Wolf (Canis simensis)

Ethiopian wolf by Claudio Sillero

The Ethiopian Wolf, also known as the Abyssinian wolf, Abyssinian fox, red jackal, Simien fox, or Simien jackal is a canid native to Africa. The numerous names reflect previous uncertainty about its taxonomic position, but it is now thought to be related to the wolves of the genus Canis rather than the foxes it resembles.

The Ethiopian wolf is the top predator of their ecosystem. They are the most endangered canid species in the world, with roughly 550 animals surviving in seven small, isolated populations. The largest population is found in the Bale Mountains in southern Ethiopia, although there are also smaller populations in the Semien Mountains in the north of the country, and in a few other areas.

Claudio Sillero-Zubiri at the University of Oxford is the zoologist  most closely associated with efforts to save this species, particularly with his work for an oral rabies vaccine to protect them from the disease passed from local dogs. A rabies outbreak in 1990 reduced the largest known population, found in the Bale Mountains National Park, from about 440 wolves to less than 160 in only two weeks.

Currently, the Ethiopian wolf is a national symbol, having been used in two stamp series. There are not many traditional uses for the Ethiopian wolf, though its liver may be used for medicinal reasons in the northern regions of the country.

In the past the Ethiopian wolf was feared as a livestock predator, but today it is not considered a major threat to livestock, to the point where sheep and goats are sometimes left unattended in areas where wolves occur. In the southern highlands, losses caused by wolf predation are mostly dismissed due to the rarity of such events when compared to predation by the Spotted Hyena and jackals.

Read more at the IUCN Canid Specialist Group web page

Feature Tee: Wolverine (Gulo gulo)

Wild Wolverine T Shirt

The ultimate symbol of our wild areas, this ever cautious wolverine pauses to check his surroundings and see what’s to eat. Wolverine shirt also shows track marks, so you can have a look for them next time you’re in the woods. This Gulo gulo t shirt is a Wild Carnivore exclusive.

100% preshrunk cotton, black print, ash color tee. Adult sizes M, L, XL, XXL.

Item MT002 $16.95 US &  $18.25 US

What In The World #3

Each Friday we bring you another obscure member of The Carnivora Family. The posts will tell you about the animal, but won’t identify it – you’ll have until Monday to try and figure out what it is!

Our carnivore this week has a reddish coat with distinctive white markings, and long legs. Facial markings include a white crescent below the eyes. The face, ears and upper muzzle are red, and the fur is soft and short.

The contrast between the white markings and the red coat increases as the animal gets older. Thick underfur provides protection for laying on the ground during cold winter temperatures.

Confined to isolated pockets of habitat above the tree line, this animal hunts alone or in a group. They prefer open areas with small shrubs and grasses.

They weigh from 12-19 kg.

Hint: They are found only in Africa

If you’re really up on your carnivores and think you know what this is, drop us a line at bytes@wildcarnivore.com, or leave a comment below.

Walking The Binturong

A few years ago, I signed up to be a volunteer docent at our local zoo. We got to do a lot of wonderful things on our shifts – recording animal behavior, talking to kids about animals, exercising animals and even taking some animals to nursing homes.

One of our favorite animals to take to hospitals and nursing homes was a Binturong, or bear cat. Her name was Sarah, and her mission in life was to keep us on our toes. She was fond of sitting upright in a wheelchair while being pushed through the wards, looking for all the world like she should be giving a graceful wave to her supplicants.

No one we visited was familiar with a Binturong, and Sarah created a great deal of excitement wherever she went. She was also extraordinarily fond of apples, which the residents and staff were always giving her.

I’ve just come across this video from Cincinnati Zoo, where a staff member is exercising a Binturong out among the visitors. It made me miss Sarah all over again, but brought back some wonderful memories!

You can learn more about Binturongs on The Carnivore Preservation Trust website.