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WILDLIFE

Two endangered leopard cubs born at French zoo

Two endangered clouded leopard cubs have been born at a zoo in eastern France, its director said on Tuesday.

Two endangered leopard cubs born at French zoo

The as-yet-unnamed pair were born on July 5 at Mulhouse Zoo near France's borders with Germany and Switzerland, and “are staying with their mother in the maternity den for the moment”, a statement said.

Dr Brice Lefaux, the zoo's director, said it has taken his teams nearly a year to encourage the cubs' parents, Mina and Awan, to mate, producing 
France's first clouded leopard cubs for four years.

“We are trying to get clouded leopards together as young as possible because they are very solitary individuals,” Lefaux said, adding that the 
pregnancy has been a stressful time for the keepers.

Video footage of the cubs shows them nestling up to their mother with their characteristic coats of light hair with dark spots resembling clouds.

 

It will be several months before the cubs can venture out into an enclosure where visitors can see them up close, but in the meantime images of them are being shown on a screen.

The sex of the cubs is yet to be confirmed by vets. 

Clouded leopards are a secretive, diminutive breed originally from the dense forests of southeast Asia and the eastern Himalayas. They grow to 
between 60 and 110 centimetres (24 to 43 inches) long and weigh between 11 and 20 kilos (24 to 44 pounds).

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ENVIRONMENT

No more shooting to scare Pyrenees bears, French court rules

Livestock owners in the French Pyrenees can no longer fire warning shots to scare off endangered bears, a court ruled on Friday, handing a victory to animal rights groups who warned of the risk of accidental deaths.

No more shooting to scare Pyrenees bears, French court rules
Tensions over the presence of brown bears in the Pyrenees have run high for decades. Photo: AFP

Tensions over the presence of brown bears in mountains separating France and Spain have run high since a re-introduction effort was launched in the mid-1990s.

Farmers were furious when the government stepped up its efforts with a 10-year “bear plan” in 2018, mounting fierce protests when the first female was brought in by helicopter that year.

They say the warning shots are needed to keep the predators from killing sheep and other livestock or destroying bee hives, and authorities began allowing them on a trial basis in 2019.

But the State Council, the country's top administrative court, struck down the measure after around a dozen pro-bear associations filed a complaint.

It said warning shots are not compatible with “maintaining the populations in their natural environment.”

Contacted by AFP, the environment ministry did not immediately comment.

In a joint statement, the associations welcomed the ruling, saying the decree “made it possible to get around the ban on intentionally disturbing a protected species.”

Three bears were killed in the Pyrenees last year, including one by a hunter who said he acted in self-defence.

In January, the European Commission called on France to rapidly carry out new re-introductions to replace them, as called for in its “bear plan.”

 
There are about 50 bears currently in the Pyrenees, and French officials have said early indications point to a reduction in the number of livestock killed by them last year, after 1,173 animals were killed and 36 bee hives destroyed in 2019.
 
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