Wild Tracks

On behalf of the world's wild species

Wildlife Corridors Vital to Giant Panda Survival

Researchers in China have discovered that isolated populations of giant pandas are genetically different. Physical barriers such as areas lacking an adequate bamboo supply separate the population, making inbreeding a possibility.

The scientists recovered 192 fecal samples, which came from 53 unique genotypes, indicating a fragmentation of the giant panda population.

Wildlife corridors of sufficent bamboo forest are required for the continued survival of the panda, one of the most endangered animals in the world.

A wildlife corridor is a protected strip of land that allows wildlife to move (or migrate) from one area to another, linking habitat patches. The corridor allows animals to roam freely without coming into conflict with human development, and to locate other members of their species.

With the increased development in the world’s wild areas, wildlife corridors are vital to the survival of all wildlife. Setting aside large blocks of protected land for parks may look good on paper, but unless the animals have a way of traveling to the area, the parks serve only to save plants, not the wildlife.

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The Week In Carnivores #10

Carnivore Coffee

Are you a coffee gourmet? If you love a really good cup of java, you will probably like the world’s most expensive coffee – it is unique!

In Indonesia, ‘Kopi’ is the word for coffee, and ‘Luwak’ is the local name for a small carnivore called an Asian Palm Civet. Civets are in the same family as the Mongoose (Viverridae), and are found only in southeast Asia.

Although they are carnivores, Palm Civets also eat a lot of fruit. They’re especially fond of the bright red cherries (beans) of the coffee plant. The beans pass through the Civet’s digestive tract whole, after fermenting in their stomach. The animal then defecates the beans.

I cannot imagine the thought process of the first person to look at defecated coffee beans and decide ‘Hmm, I bet these would make a good drink’. (But then I can’t imagine what the first person to milk a cow was thinking either).

The nocturnal Civets eat only the ripest and sweetest berries, so coffee farmers would often find the best of their crop missing in the morning. The animals were hunted as pests, and featured often on the dinner menu.

Small coffee farmers often survive at a subsistence level, where every penny earned can make a difference in their lives. Hoping to salvage their crop, the farmers began picking up the defecated coffee beans. They discovered the resulting brew had a unique flavor and aroma, without a bitter taste.

In contrast to the earlier hunting of the Civets as pests, the animals are now working for the company. They are either caged and fed coffee cherries, or allowed to roam the coffee plantation inside a boundary. The beans take about a day and a half to pass through the animal.

Then they are gathered by hand.

After a wash in a forest stream, the beans are dried in the sun before being sold to a company that roasts and exports the coffee beans.

Kopi Luwak is the world’s rarest and most expensive coffee. In the Philippines, only 500 kg are produced each year, and once roasted, sells for $115US per kilogram.

In our crowded world, conservation only works if the wildlife has a value to man. With the rapidly increasing number of gourmet coffee drinkers around the world, I suspect the future of the Asian Palm Civet is pretty secure.

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If you’re the adventurous type, Kopi Luwak Arabica coffee is available from various US websites, ranging in price from $190.00 to $350.00 per pound. If anyone has tried this unique coffee, let us know what it was like in the comments below. We would love to give it a try, but at those prices, it’s going to have to be a gift from someone!

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The Week In Carnivores #9

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

Canidae

Ursidae

Mustelidae

Carnivora

Waterproof Cats

Of course cats like water. Just ask a jaguar, or a tiger, fishing cat, flat-headed cat…

I recently came across this absolutely stunning HD video from Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle. Woodland Park is far and away my favorite zoo, and I’ve visited over 30 in North America. At this zoo, the enclosures are designed from the animals’ point of view, not the publics’. I know a lot of zoos say they do this, but Woodland Park has truly mastered the art of putting the animals first, while still allowing the public to see them.

The jaguar is strongly associated with water, and thrives in riverine habitat along lakes, rivers and streams. They are also found in seasonally flooded lowland rainforest, so they’re no stranger to the wet stuff. And at this zoo they even have their own pool.

The keepers have put fish in places where the jaguar will have to work to get food, just like they do in the wild. This keeps them active, and makes them think, as they have to hunt for their meal.

Have a look as this beautiful spotted cat hunts for his dinner, and goes for a dip, all in complete safety from the poachers and rainforest destruction in his native habitat.

The Week In Carnivores #8

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

Canidae

Ursidae

Mustelidae

Viverridae

Carnivora

The Week In Carnivores #7

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