The Lion and The Leopard

For those of you who follow Purr and Roar on Facebook you would have seen this post this morning. At first glance I thought it was fake, but turns out to be an unbelievable, legitimate, sighting. If there weren’t the photos to back it up no one would believe it. Article as published in BBC News. Enjoy!

A never before seen sighting of a lioness, called Nosikitok, a mother to her own three cubs born in June, spotted nursing a leopard cub thought to be about the same age as her own cubs.

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Lion expert Dr Luke Hunter told the BBC the images are a once-in-a-lifetime sight– Image © Joop Van Der Linde/Ndutu Lodge

This is unheard of as lions and leopards are natural mortal enemies, most lions will kill leopard cubs if given the chance as a way of eliminating the competition. The lucky person who photographed the pair was Joop Van Der Linde, a guest at Ndutu Safari Lodge in Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Conservation Area.

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Lion expert Dr Luke Hunter told the BBC the images are a once-in-a-lifetime sight – Image © Joop Van Der Linde/Ndutu Lodge

The lioness is fitted with a GPS collar and is part of the KopeLion project which aims to “to foster human-lion coexistence in Ngorongoro Conservation Area.” Unusual animal pairs are not uncommon but this is something that has baffled and surprised the experts.

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The lioness Nosikitok recently had her second litter of cubs
– Image © Joop Van Der Linde/Ndutu Lodge

Dr Luke Hunter, President and Chief Conservation Officer for Panthera, a global wild cat conservation organization which supports Kope Lion, told the BBC the incident was “truly unique”. He also goes on to say that he is not aware of this type of relationship having ever occurred between different species of big cats.

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The local safari lodge says that there is a resident female leopard in the area who they think may have cubs. With luck, the tiny leopard will soon be back with its natural mother – Image © Joop Van Der Linde/Ndutu Lodge

Dr Hunter says that she found the leopard cub not far, about a kilometer, from where here own cubs are hidden. “She’s encountered this little cub, and she’s treated it as her own. She’s awash with maternal hormones, and this fierce, protective drive that all lionesses have – they’re formidable mums.”

They are anxiously awaiting the outcome and, fingers are crossed that this little leopard finds his or her way safely back to mum.

The Big Cat Man: An Autobiography

I am really excited to start off my recommended summer reading with The Big Cat Man: An Autobiography by Jonathan Scott who you may know as one of the presenters of BBC’s popular TV series Big Cat Diary, the long time running nature show that followed the lives of Africa’s big cats in Kenya’s Maasai Mara.

I have always had an inherent love for the big cats and Africa, as a child I wanted nothing more than to see in person all that I had read about or had seen on TV. While I was still dreaming of Africa (I wouldn’t take my first trip through Kenya and Tanzania until the late 90’s) Jonathan Scott had already been on a path that would change his life forever, a path that would bind his heart and soul permanently to a continent that had called to him since childhood.

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Big Cat Diary aired from 1996 to 2008 leaving a lasting impression on wildlife lovers from all over the world. It gave the viewer an intimate look into the lives and social structure of lions, leopards and cheetahs like never seen before creating an emotional connection between the average person at home and Africa’s most iconic and beautiful animals. Whether or not you have seen the TV series, if you love the big cats and have ever wondered what life was like behind the lens for a wildlife photographer, you will most definitely enjoy reading The Big Cat Man.

Jonathan provides a fascinating and candid look at his life including his childhood, travels, his time in Africa, his accomplishments as a wildlife artist and photographer, TV show presenter and, as an advocate for the animals he spent years filming and photographing. He talks about the success and the challenges, both personal and professional, encountered along the way as well as the one event that would change everything for the better – meeting his wife and partner, Angela Scott, who equally shared his passion for Africa and its wildlife.

The Big Cat Man is full of interesting and inspirational accounts about his experiences with wildlife, including the time spent with the feline characters from Big Cat Diary and wild dogs. In addition there are stories of formidable sea lions, that weigh twice as much and are longer than a male lion, from Jonathan and Angela’s trip to Antarctica.  Accompanying the writing are many wonderful photographs as well as superb wildlife illustrations that appear like little treasures throughout the book.

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Jonathan Scott with Kike the Cheetah – Image © BBC Big Cat Live

The book also touches on some of the harsh realities facing wildlife, as much has changed since Jonathan took his first his overland journey through Africa many years ago. Lion and cheetah numbers have dropped to the point where their future is questionable (there are estimated between 15,000-20,000 Lions and about 7,000 cheetahs left in all of Africa), and poaching, poisoning, illegal wildlife trade, hunting, animal agriculture, the growing human population, corruption and even development threaten wildlife. All odds seem stacked against the animals and the environment, yet Jonathan says that despite this “you cannot give up hope”. The key is to act now while we still can.

There is a lot to take away from this book including the message that the journey is just as important as where we ultimately end up and, the risks we take in order to pursue our dreams and what we love, are worth it.

The Big Cat Man: An Autobiography is part of my Recommended Reading List and can be purchased at online retailers like Amazon.

For more on Jonathan and Angela Scott, be sure to visit: Big cat people. They can also be followed on Instagram @thebigcatpeople or Facebook @JonathanAngelaScott

Future Cats

Reconstructing what prehistoric big cats looked like, and to some extent how they lived, often relies on fossils finds that researchers and scientists use to piece together the past, but what if we wanted a glimpse into the distant future of big cats instead?

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From the past –  CGI recreates the famous Sabertooth cat confronted by the first humans. Image – Nat Geo WILD/National Geographic Channels

Future Cat by Nat Geo WILD has given us that glimpse by taking a different approach, using cutting-edge special effects, and creating new worlds with ‘evolved’ big cats to go along with them. The show examines how today’s Lions, Tigers, Jaguars and Leopards would live in drastically changed environments complete with ice, desserts, floods and shifting continents that could possibly have African, Asian and North America cats fighting for survival.

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CGI: The four big cats, Lions, Tigers, Jaguars, Leopards perched high above on a mountain. Image – Nat Geo Wild/National Geographic Channel

Although the show is pure fantasy with the help of CGI and imagination it manages to address some real questions of how big cats will adapt to a future earth with extreme climate changes.

Future Cat also touches on the present and how the perfect predator has inspired researchers in the lab to create a ‘robotic cat’ like the one at MIT which mimics the running of the cheetah.

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CGI: A futuristic robot cat stands in the rubble of Fukushima waiting to begin a search and rescue mission – Image Nat Geo Wild/National Geographic Channels

Big cats have been around for millions of years, they are highly adaptable and have survived some of the earth’s most extreme challenges. Researchers acknowledge that there is really nothing quit like them and that they will never be able to be completely replicated. Once big cats are gone, they are gone for good.

What does the future hold for the big cats? At present that is something only humans can answer, their future remains in our hands. Big cats have survived almost everything nature has thrown at them up until this point, however the greatest threat they face is still from us.

Future Cat has aired on Nat Geo WILD, however you can watch the show in it’s entirety here on dailymotion

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A future cat watches as comets streak through the night sky. What does Mother Nature have in store? Image – Nat Geo WILD/National Geographic Channels

Wildlife Photographer Of The Year

The Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibit, co-owned by BBC Worldwide and the Natural History Museum, is a competition that showcases the best of the best when it comes to nature and wildlife photography. For a second year, the exhibit is being shown at the ROM in Toronto and I made sure to stop by this past weekend before it closes on March 22.

Last years exhibit was pretty spectacular and this years did not disappoint with photographers of all ages and skill levels from around the world showcasing their talents.

Some photos make an impact simply because they are visually stunning and others because they also relay a message, reflect the times we live in or show us where we may be headed. There are too many to mention here, but I will narrow down a few of my favorites starting with the Grand title winner Michael ‘Nick’ Nichols and his ethereal black and white piece The Last Great Picture.

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Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2014, Grand title winner, Black and White, Michael ‘Nick’ Nichols, USA The last great pictureImage © Michael ‘Nick’ Nichols

Taken in Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park, 5 Lionesses part of the Vumbi pride are captured as they lay on a rocky outcrop called a Kopje resting with their cubs, exhausted after having driven off the prides two males.”  What makes this image even more poignant is that it would be the last time he would photograph them all together. A few months later he learned that they had ventured outside the park and that three of the five females had been killed.

Next is Finalist David Lloyd with his photo The enchanted woodland and I have to say the combination of Leopard and Yellow fever tree is captivating. Taken in Kenya’s Lake Nukuru National Park this is a perfectly timed photo of a Leopard looking as if he was just waiting to be photographed.

Among the finalists in the youth category I picked The watchful cheetah by Leon Petrinos ‘You can tell the animal’s feelings from the look in the eye, the way the fur lies and how the ears move,’ says Leon. He particularly likes portraits, he says, because ‘the animal’s feelings talk to you’.

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Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2014, Finalist, The Watchful Cheetah – Image © Leon Petrinos, Greece

Vanishing lions taken in Kenya’s Maasai Mara National Reserve by Skye Meaker another finalist in the youth category, gives us a picture with a strong message behind it. ‘I want the picture to raise awareness that lions are a vulnerable species,’ he says. ‘To me, this picture conveys the feeling that lions are fading from Africa.’  With fewer than 25,000 Lions estimated to be left across the continent, this young photography doesn’t realize how accurate his statement is.

Special Award: Wildlife Photojournalist of the year went to Brent Stirton from South Africa for his portfolio on how the lives of Lions are linked to humans in Bred to be killed which also highlights the practice of canned hunting. Hopefully having this appalling industry exposed through a mainstream exhibit will show thousands of people why the world has rallied to fight against it.

From the World in Our Hands category one of my all time favorites and finalist, Hollywood Cougar by photographer Steve Winter.

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Finalist 2014, World in our Hands, Steve Winter, USA,  Hollywood Cougar – Image © Steve Winter

For more award-winning images check out the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibit online or in person when it comes to your city.

Looking Purr Love

Valentines Day for humans means chocolates, flowers and dinner, but how about cats? The famous cartoon feline, Simon’s Cat shows us that he might be looking purr love in all the wrong places.

Maybe Simon should take a cue from some big cats and use a box in a slightly different way.

Jade and Armani, two rescued leopards from Big Cat Rescue check out a Valentine’s Day themed kissing booth for the first time.

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Big Cats on Holiday

Being able to take a break from things is a wonderful feeling, as is going on holiday, so for Feline Friday I though what better than to dedicate a post to some big cat themed fashion that is perfect to wear on vacation or to the beach. I have to say without a doubt these designers do the big cats like nobodies business.

We are Handsome (WAH), an Australian design team of husband and wife Jeremy and Katinka Somers, caught my eye a few years ago for the images of big cats used in their swimwear line, and since then I have been hooked or more like obsessed with their designs.

Besides swimwear they have a range of items, like leggings and dresses, all with bold digital prints – think of it like wearing a very beautiful photograph. I am always on the look out for fashion representing cats done well and it here it was, original and like nothing I had seen before… Hello WAH, yes I am shamelessly in love with your work.

They are best known for creating swimsuits that look good in the water, poolside or paired with a pair of jeans. The range includes a classic string bikini, one piece and  recently more sporty and modern looks. WAH breaks the various themes into collections each season and for me the animal prints are simply irresistible, I can’t seem to get enough.

Sadly living in the northern hemisphere dictates a short summer, but this didn’t discourage me envisioning wearing their suits on vacation – good mental motivation for planning some holiday time.

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My first The Stalker string bikini, this would not be my last.

Now realizing that my warm weather days were limited living in Toronto, I tried a pair of their leggings which I could wear pretty much all year round. Giddy with excitement I opened up the package to reveal a fun, bold statement piece to warm up any cold Canadian winter day.

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The Traveler – Northern Cats

From the leggings it was only a  matter of time until I thought about giving their dresses a try, I am wearing The King on my about page which is one of my favorite prints a majestic Lion covering the front and on the back, a woodland savannah with mountains and trees off in the horizon.

Once I had amassed a pretty nice collection, I admit to owning several images in various styles, I figured I should try their one piece 70’s style swimsuit. I have to say my aversion to wearing a one piece melted away when I tried it on. For my first foray into this style I choose The Fighter an image of a snow leopard with a fierce growl on it’s face. Go big or go home.

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The FIghter made me appreciate the one piece

A few of my other favorites pieces include

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The Victory

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The Impressor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What I would love to get my hands on is The Africa, unfortunately this piece is from a past collection, and as all their designs are limited, I may have to enjoy it only in my dreams.

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The Africa

What I am coveting from their upcoming collection is the 3 D layering image of a Cheetah that was seen at their recent Sydney fashion show. This is definitely a new take on prints and a really unique departure from their previous work. Some of the styles are out, but at time of writing, and my vacation, the Cheetah had not been released.

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Upcoming collection – 3D Cheetah

All of the WAH prints are equally as beautiful and there is definitively something for everyone. I find their pieces are like little pick me ups and one can’t help but have a good day or sport a smile when wearing them.

For your little piece of what I’d like to call big cat heaven, check them out online and be sure to follow my Cat-stagram where I often post my personal WAH pieces.

Caturday Travel Picks!

It’s been a very busy week but relief is insight as I get ready to take a short holiday. In preparation I was out picking up last-minute items and discovered some cat themed finds that would be perfect for vacation…well that’s my excuse, as these fun accessories would be good anytime!

Fall is in the air and that means sock season is back. Now I am not usually a fan of wearing socks but I would give some serious thought to wearing any of these to keep my feet snug and warm on a plane ride. What better reason to take your shoes off? They are just too perfect and thinking about them brings a smile to my face.

All socks by Living Royal $8.00 – $15.00

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Cats on a plane! Kitten and Mixed cats socks

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Tigers and Leopards -oh my!

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King of the Jungle and of your feet.

Another important necessity on holiday is sunglasses, and this means you need a cool case to put them in. These cases by CatsEye London provide the perfect protection for your shades or your reading glasses and come in three different images.

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Midnight: not a sound from the pavement…

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Look your best with this keen little kitty.

Also from CatsEye, makeup bags, just right for putting your travel size items in and passing the security check. I picked up the Silver Kitty pattern for myself.

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Tabby cat keeps your essential under you paw

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Big Cats guard your make up

Finally, ensuring your iPhone is ensconced in cats is that much easier with the Cat Riot, love the name, case by Zero Gravity. You will be sure not to misplace it when you have all these cat faces staring at you. Sorry iPhone 6 people, looks like for now you will have to wait for your case.

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Calling all Cat Ladies – $23.95 for iPhone 4 and 5

Be sure to follow my Cat-stagram feed for more feline fashion finds