Man-eating Lions and Tigers

Many people remember the movie The Ghost and The Darkness about the man-eating lions of Tsavo which was based on the real events that took place in Kenya, Africa. This occurred in 1898 when Lieutenant-Colonel John Henry Patterson, a British engineer, was assigned to build a bridge over the Tsavo River and encountered the two lions. Since there was a two-year drought and a rinderpest epidemic which killed a large number of the local wildlife, the theory was that the lions killed humans out of desperation.

However, the latest research conducted by Larisa DeSantic, assistant professor of earth and environmental studies at Vanderbilt University and Bruce Patterson MacArthur, Curator of Mammals at The Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, Ill, tells a different story.

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The photo of the Tsavo lions was taken from the book The Man-Eating Lions of Tsavo printed in 1925 and reprinted in 1996 by the Field Museum.

DeSantic has studied the teeth of the Tsavo lions, other man-eating lions and tigers and believes that dental issues caused them to turn to humans as prey. DeSantic’s study showed that one of the Tsavo lions, the one who killed and ate the largest number of humans, suffered from a severe dental disease that made normal hunting impossible. The other lion in the pair ate a larger quantity of normal prey such as zebra’s, than the one with the dental disease.

These findings substantiate the conclusions of a famous hunter, Major Jim Corbett who hunted man-eating tigers in Kumaon, India in the 1930’s – 1940’s. In his book, Man-Eaters of Kumaon, Major Corbett says, “A man-eating tiger is a tiger that has been compelled, through stress of circumstances beyond its control, to adopt a diet alien to it.”

Major Corbett used his famous dog Robin to help track the man-eaters he hunted. Below is a picture of Robin and one of the man-eating tigers known as the Bachelor. The photo below was taken from his book, Man-Eaters of Kumaon, printed in 1946.

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Again, modern science has helped unravel mysteries from the past and help scientists understand the unusual behavior of wild animals. This information hopefully will benefit animals and humans today.

Both Lieutenant-Colonel John Henry Patterson and Major Jim Corbett have written books about their experiences with man-eating cats. Both are interesting to read.

www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/04/170419091626.htm

Birds nest near friends that they made during the winter- new study shows

Birds in general are much smarter than previously thought. They form friendships, work together and protect each other.

Most people have seen flocks of geese grazing in a field or by the water. If you look closely you will see one or two geese standing with their heads held high scanning the area for danger. They are the geese on guard.

Crows will have meetings to learn who had the best success in finding food that day. The next day some of the members of the flock will follow the successful crows.

Certain types of birds, such as Chickadees, Titmouse, and others will let birds in the area know that they have found a well-stocked bird feeder, especially in the winter. The other birds learn to listen for the announcement.

New research shows that some birds will establish their spring nesting sites near the birds they made friends with during the winter. They seem to share boundaries with the birds that they are closest too. What is interesting is that the birds will form friendships. This indicates that the birds have social interactions with each other, perhaps more than we humans suspected.

Even birds that typically live a solitary life, such as Robins, will join together and flock to migrate. Sometimes a person is able to predict the weather by the behavior of the wild birds. The birds seem to  know when a storm is coming, sometimes a day before.

How fascinating it is to learn about wild animals. Birds are easy to watch if you put up a few bird feeders. It is wonderful that scientists are learning how smart animals really are.

www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/09/160914143538.htm

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/backyard-food-scouts-titmice-chickadees-sherry-thornburg

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Canine Parvovirus Mutated from Domestic Cats

Those of us who have been involved with dogs for many years may recall the terrible outbreak of Canine Parvovirus in the 1970’s. Many puppies and dogs died as a result. In some cases, whole litters died.

What most people do not realize is that according to a study conducted by Colin Parrish, the John M. Olin Professor of Virology and director of the Baker Institute for Animal Health at Cornell University and Susan Daniel, associate professor in Cornell’s Robert Frederick Smith School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, is that the virus most likely was transferred from the feline panueukopenia or a similar virus from domesticated cats.

According to their study the virus can jump from one species to another because of a mutation in its protein shell. As a result, the virus has since infected a variety of wild carnivores including the raccoon.

This is why it is very important to vaccinate pet dogs and cats. This not only protects them from the virus, but can help prevent the virus from spreading to wildlife.

FMI: www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/04/160414122007.htm

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Has the Grey Wolf and Striped Hyena Joined Forces in Israel for Survival?

A study conducted by Vladimire Dinets, UT Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and Benjamin Eligulashvili, an Israel-based zoologist, seems to imply that these two enemies may have joined together for survival in the harsh Israeli desert.

Striped Hyenas were observed in the middle of grey wolf packs as they traveled together through a maze of canyons in the southern part of the Negev desert.

Why would they do this? The theory is that the hyenas have a better sense of smell and the ability to locate carrion miles away. They can also dig and crack bones better than wolves. The wolves are more agile and can bring down large game. Together they both have a greater chance of survival.

What is not known is if this is a common occurrence that has not been observed before, or an unusual event.

What is nice about their unity, as Dinets commented, it is an example for humans about overcoming differences and learning to get along.

It is always refreshing to learn more about the behavior of wild animals and studies like this make you wonder how much more there is to learn.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/03/160317151307.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sciencedaily%2Fplants_animals%2Fdogs+%28Dogs+News+–+ScienceDaily%29