Huntsville Big Cat Invitational - Meet Information
(The Guinness edition lists Trouble, also a Savannah, of Lodi, But when they meet Motzie, they realize they're just big – but not that big. His “Ghost Cats” story in the December issue of National Geographic opens with a surprising image of a big cat, not in the wilds of India. Catasaurus Rex: Meet Pickles, the three-foot rescue cat weighing 21 pounds . ' Everyone's obviously first reaction is like wow that cat is huge.
Alas, Trouble used up his nine lives before the book went to print.
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Which is what brings Milette to Albuquerque. That, and she loves showing off Motzie. They are beautiful creatures, cheetah-spotted and graceful and looking straight out of the African bush were it not for their harnesses and leashes. Savannahs, though, are a misunderstood breed, banned in several states because they are considered too wild, too exotic, too dangerous for personal possession. Yet a recent New York Times article dug up no reported incidents of injury attributed to a Savannah.
As Milette and I talk, Motzie and Peanut roam freely around us, lolling on the desk, pawing at my notebook and peering curiously out into the newsroom. They are cool cats, patient and apparently comfortable with the attention they attract. These boys come when they are called, are leash- litter box- and car-trained and, frankly, less aggressive and skittish than an average cat might be in similar situations.
That Savannahs are unique and misunderstood might be why Milette was drawn to them. She is like that, too. Her life has been both adventurous and harrowing and nearly unbelievable were it not for a scrapbook she keeps with news clippings and documents as proof.
She survived a sexually abusive childhood, leaving home at age She was the first woman assigned to the U. Department of Agriculture meat inspector in Rhode Island. How did you start the City Forest Initiative? From a young age, I was in awe of the forests of Mumbai and Thane.
As I grew older, I was drawn to nature conservation and started working with non-governmental organizations [working to preserve the forests].
When did you first see a leopard? I saw one in as an year-old boy. The leopard was old and sick. Some people pelted him with stones.
Eventually, it succumbed to these wounds and died. How dangerous are leopards to the human population? Leopards do kill humans when they are provoked, or when they mistake humans for other animals. But thousands of people die every year in road and rail accidents in Mumbai. And if you compare this with people being killed by leopards, the risk is negligible. In fact, it is the leopards that are in danger.
Heavy infrastructure growth and encroachment on nature has altered the habitats of these cats and depleted their prey base.
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This has threatened their future survival. Why are they coming so close to the human population lately? These are animals that live close to humans.
Are those people particularly at risk? The reason why is because tribals in SGNP and Aarey Milk Colony, part of which is forested, have been staying and living with leopards for years and know how to interact with them peacefully.
Leopards are worshipped as gods by certain tribes. That is why their attitude is positive and tolerant to the cats. The leopards can sense their discomfort.
Do you believe that humans can learn to coexist with leopards over time? Are leopards in Mumbai in danger of becoming extinct? But with the support and efforts from the people of Mumbai and the forest department, I believe that these cats can and will survive. If you see a leopard, how do you stop it attacking you? Understand that mere a sighting is not dangerous. Leopards are cautious and will avoid a confrontation with human beings.
The cat will come onto your land or property if there is food there.