World’s Tallest Pet Cat

World's tallest pet cat MAGIC

See the video in large format. The worlds tallest pet cat is MAGIC (see above) a female F1 Savannah bred and raised by A1 Savannahs which is owned and run by Martin (see video below) & Kathrin Stucki. Scarlett’s Magic now is now owned by Lee & Kim Draper of Bella Gattini Cattery. They were the first to open a very special shop where customers can interact with Savannah cats before purchasing. I made a post about it: The Savannah Cat Shoppe.

Above is a video of Martin Stucki of A1 Savannahs talking to Helmi Flick the world’s best cat photographer. A1 Savannahs bred and raised MAGIC. Martin is not holding Magic in this picture. The video is here because it shows the cattery and A1 Savannahs do a lot to ensure that their cats are extremely well socialised and it shows in MAGIC.

I have made a couple of videos of Magic, which were made before the Guinness World Records™ title of the worlds tallest pet cat was bestowed upon this magical cat. The title is breaking news as they say. You can see the videos in large format on these pages:

There are some outstanding issues though that I am waiting on and workingMAGIC with necklace on. Scarlett’s Magic may also be the largest or biggest pet cat but that depends on the other dimension: her length. I think this is currently being investigated.

Also I am not sure at the moment how the Guinness World Records™ people describe a “pet cat”. I presume they mean a domestic cat but even wild cats can be domesticated (or can they?); so this is an interesting subject.

As I understand it Scarlett’s Magic is 17.1 inches to the shoulder. That is the way you measure height in a cat, a bit like in a horse, I guess. By the way this just beats Motzie another very famous cat.

Motzie is an F2 Savannah cat also from A1 Savannahs and who lives with Deborah-Ann Milette. I think Motzie is 16+ inches to the shoulder. So I would say that Motzie is probably the world’s second tallest pet cat. Motzie is a great cat too and he does charity work! – Savannah Cat Assists Children.

Here is a picture of Motzie, the worlds tallest pet cat bar one:

motize on car

Some more reading:

Here is a map of some Savannah cat breeders. There are many more particularly in the USA. This is a bare bones map for others to add to if they want to be on it. The original can be adjusted. It is here: Google Savannah My Maps map.

Map Channels: free mapping tools

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World’s Tallest Domestic Cat

Is this Maine Coon cat the world’s tallest domestic cat? It is a strange question. What is the biggest and smallest cat are commonly asked questions, but the tallest? Weird. Until, that is, you see this Maine Coon cat who I believe is called Flash Fire after her tortie and white coat or in America a calico coat. Then all you can see is the height.

I know this is a bit tongue in cheek but what I mean is, is there a cat that is as tall as this when standing on the hind legs? I doubt it.

Please Note: this page is meant to be a bit of fun with a serious side to it. However, if you want to see the Guinness World Records tallest domestic cat (to the shoulder – 17.1 inches) – please click on this: F1 Savannah Cat MAGIC.

The picture looks extraordinary. The reason why this kind of cat picture is very rare is because three factors need to be present.

worlds tallest domestic cat maine coon standing

First, you have got to be photographing a Maine Coon cat. The Maine Coon is probably the breed with the longest body. They are big cats too. So length + big size = tall when standing up like this. Then you have to get the cat to go up on his or her hind legs naturally without any form of coercion and thirdly you have got to capture the moment that may be pretty fleeting.

All these factors are possible if you are with the Flicks because they photograph the best domestic cats and use the best cat photography techniques to capture the best pictures. Here are some more normal looking pictures of this fantastic Maine Coon cat, the world’s tallest domestic cat, or at least the tallest cat I have seen in a photograph and I think I have seem more cat photographs than anyone except Ken and Helmi Flick!

All the photographs are copyright Helmi Flick – please respect copyright, thank you. See the World’s Biggest Cat.

By the way her full name is “Witchcraft Flash Fire of Chemicoons” and she is a “Best Female Maine Coon International Lifetime Achievement Award Winner” (thanks to Finn Frode Hansen, a contributor, for this research).

From the World’s Tallest Domestic Cat to Home Page

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Wildcat Distribution

August 2010: The distribution or range of the Wildcat is set out below. Please note: (1) the wildcat is a specific species of wild cat (2) ranges of wildcats are not precise even for an expert (3) the classification of the wildcats into 5 subspecies is still debated. This customised map is exclusive to PoC and free to use under a creative commons attribution no derivates license. In other words, anyone can download it and then upload it to their own server but it must be “as is” without modification unless you contact me and ask permission. The map is based on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species® map, which should be the most up to date and accurate as that is their role. I cover the range of the various subspecies of wildcats in words below the map.

Wildcat Distribution

Wildcat distribution is very wide when compared to some other wild cat species. This is because the wild cat is adaptable allowing a variety of habitats to be acceptable.

Wildcat Distribution – European wildcat – scientific name: felis silvestris silvestris (on the map this is indicated by the words: F.s.silvestris). Despite being persecuted by humankind this wily wildcat has survived across quite large areas of mainland Europe. The wildcat disappeared from all of the UK except in Scotland by the mid nineteenth century1. The reason being that Scotland is relatively remote (less human activity). Although the Scottish wildcat has integrated into human society to a certain extent. This is good for the survival of the individual cat and bad for survival of the species as hybridization takes place; the wildcat mating with the unneutered domestic cat.

Countries where the European wildcat is present include: Scotland, Spain, Portugal, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Poland, Switzerland, Italy, Sicily, Sardinia, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Yugoslavia, Romania, Bulgaria, Greece, and Turkey. In the former Soviet Union the European wildcat can be found in Moldova and “on the Romanian border”1, the Carpathian forests, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia1.

Wildcat Distribution – African, Southern African wildcat and Asian wildcat – These subspecies are indicated by F.s. lybica, F.s. cafra and F.s. ornata, respectively, on the map. As can be seen from the map the African wildcat range is both north and south of the Sahara and it extends to the eastern edge of the Mediterranean and diminishing parts of the Arabian Peninsula as can be seen. It is absent in true desert and tropical forest1. The wildcat is found in Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan and India. It would seem that there is a lack of clarity as to the exact ranges of the African and Asian wildcats. Do they overlap for example?

Wildcat Distribution – Chinese Desert Cat or Chinese Mountain Cat – Scientific name F.s bieti on the map. This cat was considered a separate species of wild cat in the book, Wild Cats Of The World (2002). I have listed it as a subspecies of the wildcat pusuant to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species® assessment due to studies published in 2009 ( (Kitchener and Rees 2009, Macdonald et al. in press). Things change. It is found in Shanxi, Gansu, Sichuan, Inner Mongolia, Xingjiang and Qjinghai1.

The total countries where the wildcat is considered native, extinct and presence uncertain as at 2010 and as listed by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species® are as follows: Wildcat distribution – Native (originating, indigenous): Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Benin, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, China, Congo, Croatia, Czech Republic, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, France, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Gibraltar, Greece, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Hungary, India, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, Slovenia, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Sudan, Swaziland, Switzerland, Syria, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, UAE, Scotland, Uzbekistan, Western Sahara, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe. Regionally extinct: Netherlands. Uncertain: Côte d’Ivoire, Qatar.

Wildcat Distribution – Notes:
1. Wild Cats Of The World by Mel and Fiona Sunquist 2002 page 86, page 93, page 58 for wildcat distribution. Published by The University of Chicago Press Ltd. London. ISBN 0-226-77999-8 (cloth).

From Wildcat Distribution to Wild Cat Species

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Where Do Cheetahs Live?

Date of posting: 17-9-09 – where do cheetahs live?: On the Cheetah Habitat page I discuss the type of landscape in which cheetahs live. Here, however, I discuss the location of that habitat. A bit of history first. The cheetah was found in Europe (believe it or not), Asia, Africa and North America (also rather hard to believe). About 400 years ago it was found in India (west and central India). It also occupied countries of the Middle East: Palestine, Syria, Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan.

It is hard to visualize the cheetah geographic range including some of these countries now. A lot of them are associated more with war that wildlife.

Today it is reduced to living in parts of Africa, many areas being fragmented. It also occupies an area where the boundaries between Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan intersect (but see Wikipedia map below). As at 2002 there were reports of the cheetah living in the Khosh Yeylagh Wildlife Refuge (NE Iran) (src: Wild Cats of the World). The Iranian Cheetah Society website (website down as at 28th Aug 2010 – is this due to the Iranian government?) refers to the Asiatic cheetah living in the Khosh Yeylagh, Khar Turan and Golestan as surrounding habitats to the Miandasht Wildlife Refuge (see map below – you may have to zoom out by using the controls on the left of the image). The Golestan National Park is about 30 miles north of the Miandasht Wildlife Refuge.

View Larger Map

The Wild Cats of the World book (published 2002) states that they may still exist in the former Soviet Union.

In Africa the cheetah habitat has and continues to be reduced dramatically, it would seem. The Wikipedia author, a biologist, presents the range of the cheetah as much wider (see map below – yellow areas) it seems to me than as indicated by the authors of Wild Cats of the World and the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ (Red List). All three sources produce very different pictures.

The book, Wild Cats of the World presents a fragmented range in central Africa and a more continuous range in east and south Africa. While the Red List presents relatively small well fragmented ranges in east Africa with large ranges in Namibia and Niger and also in Iran as indicated above. Wikipedia sets out the range in their map below, published under license. This map appears to be out of date when compared to the Red List map or perhaps the criteria for its creation is different:

cheetah range

In answer to the question where do cheetahs live? — the Red List range map, which is no doubt the most trustworthy in terms of being up to date and cannot be reproduced here, provides the answer. The map below is a version of it. The gold areas are where the cheetah lives in Africa. In addition the cheetah (the Asiatic cheetah) as mentioned above can be found in Northern Iran (see Iranian Cheetah – new window).


Blank map from which the above was made by Andreas 06

Where Do Cheetahs Live – Notes on the above map

Firstly, the Red List map is not completely definitive as insufficient data exists to create truly accurate maps. The map should be qualified by these remarks made by the Red List authors:

  • cheetahs occur in 6% of their historical range in Eastern Africa.
  • they are probably extinct in Egypt and if not they are extremely rare
  • cheetah distribution in most in Sudan, Eritrea and Somalia are unknown
  • a considerable amount of the map is made up of assessments it seems as opposed to hard data. For example, “….Rosevear (1974) underlined the paucity of positive records for Nigeria” (Red List – I have taken the liberty to make this short quote for accuracy).

The map below is also taken directly from the Red List map but (and this is novel) it can be amended by anyone who has the knowledge and who wishes to contribute. Anyone can link to it at Google My Maps, Cheetah Geographic Range, (opens in new window) despite being made by me as it is a public document.

As stated you can go the original of this map and make it more accurate if you can but please explain yourself and respect the existing work.

New Page: Cheetah Geographic Range. A page devoted to discussing a larger version of the above map.

Where Do Cheetahs Live – names of countries:

Current: Ethiopia, Iran, Kenya, Mozambique (just), Namibia, Niger, Somalia (on the map the cheetah is not found in this country), South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, United Republic of Togo, Uganda, Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Zambia, Zimbabwe. There are some slight differences between this list (from Red List) and the map (also originating in Red List information) indicating the uncertain nature of the information.

Possibly extinct: Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Cameroon, Djibouti, Malawi, Pakistan, Senegal, Western Sahara, Egypt, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.

Extinct: Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, Burundi, Côte d’Ivoire, Eritrea, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, India, Iraq, Israel, Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Yemen.

Reintroduced: Swaziland

Where Do Cheetahs Live to Wild Cat Species

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Water Cats

Water cats in this context means cats that like water. Yes, some cats actively like water. That applies to some wild cat species, domestic cat breeds and many individual cats. It is simply not the case that cats hate water; that is far from the truth.

A lot of wild cats live next to water courses because prey is more abundant prey there. And a good number of domestic cats, usually wildcat hybrids like water. For example, Kathrin Stucki of A1 Savannahs says that her Savannah cats like to join family members in the shower etc. That said your typical domestic cat generally does not have much of an affinity for water.

But they rarely hate it. Three wild cat species swim in it, hunt in it and like it: the tiger, jaguar and fishing cat.

The domestic cats that come immediately to mind that like water are the Savannah and Bengal, both wildcat hybrids and, of course, the Turkish Van(known to be a good swimmer, the experts say) to name just three. The Turkish Van comes from the lake Van area of Turkey. Did it learn to swim in the lake?

Tigers often spend large parts of the day in water, half submerged, to keep cool. The tiger is a remarkably strong and competent swimmer (and all round athlete). It has been recorded swimming to islands in the Sunda Straight (between the Indonesian islands of Java and Sumatra). This is open sea and considerable distances are travelled.

The fishing cat, as the name implies, is at home in the water and can swim for long distances in water and under water. They keep their head above water when swimming and propel themslves forward doggy paddle style. The fishing cat catches fish as well as animals on land. They are true water cats.

The jaguar is associated with water courses and streams in a wide range of habitats. They are excellent swimmers and have been recorded swimming across wide rivers. They also like to spend time in the water half submerged when it is hot.

Jaguarudis love water (ref: Hand-raising jaguarundis (puma yagouaroundi) by Buzas and Guylas FCF magazine vol 56, issue 2). Observed to love to be in water from aged 5 weeks. Played in drinking bowl. Defecated in bowl.

Apparently, there are (or were) rumors that leopards don’t like water to the point of not getting their feet wet. This is incorrect as they are good swimmers and enjoy the water. They are very adaptable cats and what is called “generalists” meaning they can cope with a wide range of environments and don’t mind what they eat.

The Asian leopard cat is the wild parent of the Bengal cat and I have already said that Bengal cats like water so it is no surprise that the leopard cat likes it too, even moreso. In fact, they are excellent swimmers and have an affinity for water and an ease in it (many a Bengal cat keeper will attest that). Captive leopard cats can be seen to spend a considerable amount of time playing in water.

We don’t really think of a lion swimming across rivers. We normally see them on pretty arid and hot plains. Yet the lion is a capable swimmer and they have been observed swimming across large rivers.

Finally, the flat-headed cat is a fishing type cat like the fishing cat. A large part of its diet is composed of fish. The distribution of the flat-headed cat linked to water.

From Water Cats to Wild Cat Species — Sources: YouTube, Wild Cats Of The World (Sunquists) and PoC.

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UK Code of Practice for the Welfare of Cats

Cat travel in car

Winston in a Prius – safe transport
photo by toastiest


Contents UK Code of Practice for the Welfare of Cats


Code of Practice


The UK Code of Practice for the Welfare of Cats (the Code) is a fantastic document. I think that it is a world first but I am not sure. It is proactive and enlightened and I hope that it leads to less cat cruelty and a better understanding of cats generally.

It has been prepared by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) as a guide/standard upon which the duty of care towards a cat can be measured.

There are 5 headings, areas where the duty of care needs to be discharged. These come from the Animal Welfare Act 2006 (the Act) itself at section 9 (2) – Duty of person responsible for animal to ensure welfare. The headings are taken directly from the Act are (these can be published verbatim as the Crown has waived copyright on legislation):

Section 1: Environment
Its need for a suitable environment

Section 2: Diet
Its need for a suitable diet

Section 3: Behaviour
Its need to be able to exhibit normal behaviour patterns

Section 4: Company
Any need it has to be housed with, or apart from, other animals

Section 5: Health & Welfare
Its need to be protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease

The UK Code of Practice for the Welfare of Cats is not part of the Act but provides a guide to which the courts might refer when deciding if there has been cat cruelty. It is therefore important that a person who has permanent or temporary responsibility for a cat reads the Code. This page is a good starting point!

Note: I am not following the UK Code of Practice for the Welfare of Cats verbatim (I can’t as it is copyright). I summarize, use the Defra recommendations as a framework and if appropriate add some of my thoughts to expand the discussion. I also link in to some more information to expand it further. If you’d like to see the full Defra version, click here.

Section 1 – Suitable environment

This heading is broken down into 4 sub-headings:

  • Sleeping and resting – cats need a place to go to rest or sit still and a place to hide (under or in some safe enclosed space). They find their place or places. It needs to be cat friendly, warm, dry and draft free and with full-time access. Cats like to jump up to high vantage points sometimes. Some cats like this more than others (e.g. Norwegian Forest cat and Bengal cat). We should get to know our cat’s likes, dislikes and habits and provide for them. Rarely in the UK some cats might like to live outdoors. This type of cat will require care of a different sort but care nonetheless. It should go without saying that the environment should be hygenic and clean.
  • Hazards – there are quite a lot of potentially harmful substances in and around the home. Cats are inquisitive and explore. They may get a poisonous substance on their coat and lick it off. One source of poison is house plants poisonous to a cat, for example. Garages have some things in them that can be harmful such as antifreeze (see cat poison). Garages should be out of bounds in my view. Quick action is important if we suspect poisoning. Medicine should not be given to a cat without veterinarian advice, particularly pain killers. See feline pain relief. Other hazards are high places (high apartments with balconies). Great care is required. Cats will live dangerously and can fall off. Washing machines are potential hazards – nice warm place and a dangerous place for a cat. 
  • Travel – cats often dislike travel and should be transported safely. This will usually mean in a cat container. Cats can become hot in a car exacerbated by the stress of the environment (leading to panting). This should be taken into account. For long journeys food, water and litter should be available. In warm weather cats should not be left in car. The car interior becomes very hot and can kill.
  • Going to the toilet – a clean, well set up, cat litter tray is important for both the cat and the person responsible for the cat. It should be well sited away from cat food, quiet and be cleaned frequently. When there is more than one cat each should have an individual tray well separated (Defra says in different parts of the house). Handling of cat litter needs to be sensible. Washing hands afterwards is sensible and children should avoid it as should pregnant women. See cat feces and pregnancy. If a cat goes to the toilet outside the litter it is probably due to either stress, a poor litter tray or illness or a combination of these.

Section 2 – Diet  –

  • Dietthe diet should meet a cat’s nutritional requirements. Cats are “obligate” carnivores. They have to eat meat and can’t be vegetarian. We musn’t impose our vegetarian principles on cats no matter how well founded they are. The question of diet can be confusing. I personally would not recommend just feeding dry food. There are arguments that it contains too much carbohydrate. I think a mix of quality dry food (good for grazing at night), quality wet food and raw food (fish, boiled chicken) and plenty of fresh water to hand is about as good as we can do. Providing just raw food prepared at home requies care as supplements are needed (e.g. taurine – see Bengal cats and taurine). Cats eat regularly so food should be available and our cat will ask. Here is a series of posts (18 in all and growing) on cat food.
  • Weight – A cat’s weight should be monitored and steps taken if needed (e.g. supplying smaller quantities). It is normally a matter of commonsense when deciding if our cat is over or under weight. If we can feel the back bone and ribs easily our cat is probably underweight. This might be a sign of illness. Overweight cats are predisposed to contract certain diseases such as diabetes (see symptoms of feline diabetes). Exercise (for the cat!) if possible should be organized. Vets routinely weigh cats and can advise.
  • Other dietary needs – some cats might have different dietary needs. This is for the veterinarian to decide, of course.

Section 3- Behavior

As stated a cat needs to be in an environment where normal behavior can take place. In the USA cats are more frequently kept in permanently. This is safer but places an extra burden on the person responsible to ensure that normal behavior can take place and mental stimulation provided (see cat indoors or out this talks about whether we should or shouldn’t). If appropriate, possible and practical I favor cat enclosures in the modern world (this is not a Defra recommendation, just my thoughts).

Examples of cat behavior are:

  • hunting – substitutes can be utilized (i.e. play)
  • scratching – a necessity for a cat – a suitable object is sometimes needed or if you don’t mind your furniture being scratched that’s fine (see thoughts about scratched furniture). Declawing is not an option and in the UK might be considered an offence under this legislation. Here is a post about trimming cat claws.

A cat needs exercise. This may occur naturally if he/she is able to get out safely. I don’t actually believe that there are any really safe places left in Britain but it is a risk-to-benefit decision if we let our cat roam or not. The area should be suitable and certainly away from roads. If we keep our cat in that must mean good substitutes are available in lieu of natural exercise. Some people in the United States provide treadmills for example. Our input for play will be required.

Defra advise that we watch for signs of stress. One such sign is inappropriate elimination (peeing in the wrong place – see e.g. cat pee on the bed). Here are some more signs (provided by Defra):

  • subdued and going missing (if let out to roam)
  • nervous
  • aggressive to people and other animals
  • stops eating, drinking or grooming
  • over grooms – see feline endocrine alopecia
  • overeating
  • restless or over sleeping
  • panting (this can happen when travelling in car for example)
  • being unusually affectionate
  • patrolling
  • over reactive

Most cat stress is caused by us in various ways, in my view. See cat scratching for example. Here’s 2 posts on aggressive cat behavior. See happy cat  |  Cat prefer soft voices  |  Referred cat aggression  |  Cat behavior explained.

Section 4 – Company  

The domestic cat has adapted to live with humans but is essentially a solitary creature. Cats should be socialized and nearly all cat breeders will ensure that this is the case. Cats may become stressed in a multi cat household. A large number of cats in a household is unwise on several levels. There is added stress for one and transmission of disease for another (see cat health problems).

We as cat owners are the major influence on whether our cat is calm and content or stressed. Handling should be gentle and appropriate. Children should be taught how to handle cats. Dogs should be introduced carefully and sensibly (initially on a lead). Well socialized dogs and cats will get on fine but not all are (see dogs with cats images). Defra says that we must arrange for our cat’s needs to be met when we are away. Cats will become very accustomed to our presence. Going away can be stressful for the cat. We shouldn’t really keep cats if we are away a lot for in the long term.

Section 5 – Health and Welfare  

There are 4 subheadings:

  • health care – we should be aware of our cat’s health and act promptely when our cat is ill. See cat anatomy.
  • grooming  – regular grooming is good for us and our cat including flea combing and checking for fleas – see cat and dog parasite pictures, cat flea life cycle, cat flea treatment, cat fleas bite humans
  • identification  – our cat should be identified as belonging to us. This can be through microchipping or safe collars. (my personal thought is that neither is entirely safe). See:
  • If our cat goes missing, neigbors, local rescue centers and those further afield should be contacted including local vets. If microchipped that will greatly assist. People also put up notices and check outbuilding etc.
  • neutering – in the modern world all cats should be spayed (females) or neutered (males) unless you’re breeding cats (responsibly). See neutering cats.

UK Code of Practice for the Welfare of Cats to Cats and the Law

Photo:  published under a Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs creative commons License

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Trad_or_Mod_Siamese thankyou

Trad or Mod Siamese |  Home page & all links  |  Cat Breeds A-H |  Cat Breeds J-P   |  Cat Breeds R-T

Trad or Mod Siamese thank you

Thanks a lot for voting. The more the better. You can see that most people are like me and prefer the Traditional Siamese.
Here are the results currently. This is an embedded spreadsheet which is constantly being updated.

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Tiger Population in India

tiger cub by digitalART2

Thumbnail Photo by digitalART2 and published under a creative commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

It seems that is has always been a problem to accurately assess the wild (non-captive) tiger population in India. As I understand it, the estimate at the time of this article is 1,411 (how did they estimate down to the last one?). This figure is markedly lower than previous estimates indicating:

  • the rapidly dwindling numbers of tigers in the wild due to poaching and habitat loss/fragmentation.
  • the difficulty in counting numbers of tigers, a secretive animal trying to avoid people.
  • an overly optimistic view of the tiger population or an underestimate of the extent of poaching.
  • a muddled approach to the whole thing (new window).
  • a deliberate attempt by some to obscure the true position to serve their own interests (financial gain) – see, e.g. Poisoning Tigers (new window).

The map below shows us where the tigers are meant to be. You can click on the flags to see numbers. Some populations are incredibly small. Are these viable?

Please note: If the above map is not working (no blue markers) please refer to the one below, instead – thank you

It is, therefore, with excited anticipation that I have learnt on the internet that the people charged with conserving the tiger (and manifestly failing regrettably) are going to use  non invasive DNA based methods to assess the tiger population in India.  I presume that the government body organising this is the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) in cooperation with the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB).

The method has been used to assess lion populations and the populations of other animals (e.g. bison in America). The method works by (in this case) collected faecal samples, which determines the individual as all material is unique genetically (in this instance the epithelial cells in the sample will be analysed) . Then using computer run statistical models the population size can, apparently, be assessed. I am  not sure how accurate it is and its accuracy must depend to some extent on what happens on the ground in collecting samples and how the information is input.

Epithelial cells come from membranous tissue covering internal organs and other internal surfaces of the body (or epithelium. which is a tissue composed of cells that line the cavities and surfaces of structures throughout the body).

We await the results with anticipation but don’t hold your breath! Sorry to sound cynical but the track record is not good and it has been a long track with plenty of time to change course and actually do something to protect the tiger rather than watch and record events that lead to the extinction of this most popular animal.

From Tiger Population in India to Wild Cat Species

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