As part of Big Cat Week on Nat Geo Wild, several National Geographic big cat researchers, photographers, and conservationists (including me) are joining together for a live video chat via Google+ Hangout Wednesday, December 3rd at 1 p.m. EST (6 p.m. UTC).
This is your chance to get your questions about these beautiful, fascinating, and highly endangered animals answered by those of us who spend our lives living, working, and thinking about them all the time.
Our Projects in India
One of the most important tools we’re using for research and conservation in India is the camera trap.
Camera traps are commonly used by scientists to identify and assess populations of big cats in the wild. As global pioneers of scientific camera trapping, the Wildlife Conservation Society – India Program has a fabulous collection of tiger and leopard images dating back to 1989.
This rich repository includes more than 6,000 images of 765 individually identified tigers (Pictures 1-2) and more than 7,000 images of 825 individually identified leopards from the Western Ghats (Pictures 3-4). Individual animals are identified based on their unique stripe or rosette patterns using a pattern matching software called Extract Compare.
Cameras allow us to identify individual cats with distinct and interesting patterns (Pictures 5-6) and determining population sizes (Pictures 7-8-9). Apart from this the camera traps often capture fascinating glimpses into cat behavior including lounging, snarling, sniffing, mating, stalking and killing of prey (Pictures 10-18). As with people, some big cats seem to be more curious than others (Pictures 19-21).
My research has determined that over the last hundred years, wild tigers have disappeared from 67 percent of their historic range while leopards have disappeared from 36 percent of their historical range in India. With fewer than 2,000 wild tigers and 10,000 wild leopards left in India, it is imperative that we act now to save these amazing big cats.
How to Participate in the Hangout
You can help us Cause an Uproar for big cats, and get answers to your burning questions about tigers, leopards, other wild felines, and their world by taking part in our Google+ Hangout. Submit your questions by posting a question on Google+ or Twitter using #bigcats or by commenting below.
Join us for the Google+ Hangout Wednesday, December 3rd at 1 p.m. EST (6 p.m. UTC).