Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Missing Lynx – How You Can Help

Cameras - an essential tool in the safe recovery of Flaviu
Efforts to secure the safe return of Flaviu are entering Day 13. Since his escape, we’ve been incredibly encouraged by the many offers of help and support for his recovery. As we strive to improve our resources in the search area, there is a way you can help.

Recently, most of our time has been dedicated to building larger humane traps, searching for physical evidence and deploying more day/night vision equipment.

The humane traps are spacious and sturdy with a large entrance. They employ a bait-trigger and are designed to ensure that Flaviu will be well away from the door when he triggers the trap by grabbing the bait.

Inside, he’ll be comfortable with lots of bedding and a nice meal to keep him busy until the recovery team come to collect.

Positioning the traps is based on what we know about his territory and his movements. Once he’s comfortable with the territory he’ll have areas he favours for rest and relaxation, areas for keeping an eye out for trouble and areas for hunting. We hope that he’ll eventually develop a fairly predictable routine which will further inform our choices for humane traps and tracking.

Camera traps are vital, but so far he’s evaded them. They were placed according to the physical evidence we had gathered including footprints, fur on gates and fences, as well as trails and ‘rings’ in the tall grass where he’s stopped to take a nap. We’ve also used input from the landowners who have observed evidence in the unusual behaviour of their livestock.

His ability to avoid the cameras suggests that he has still yet to decide on the boundaries of his territory which means he’s a lot more mobile and his territory is larger than we thought.

This really stretches our resources, but is not all bad news because this is based on sound evidence which also gives us good reason to believe that he hasn’t left the area entirely; a real danger, made all the more possible by recent interference with our efforts.

A number of photographers and animal trackers (at least one claiming professional experience), have entered the area without authorisation and despite warnings from police. It is hard to know what they hope to achieve, arriving mostly after dark, but one thing is certain; their presence in the area significantly increases the chances of Flaviu leaving to find another territory.

One thing that has been a huge help in both assisting the tracking of Flaviu and deterring the uninvited visitors is the presence of the camera traps. People tend to think twice before getting themselves on camera during an act of aggravated trespass.

However, given that the area is now significantly larger than we had first thought, we desperately need more cameras. In addition to securing the area from visitors, it will give us the opportunity to track Flaviu and make sure he’s safe, whilst keeping human activity in the area to an absolute minimum.

The cameras we have deployed have been lent or donated by our supporters and they play a hugely important role in the effort to safely recover Flaviu. We’re hoping that some of you will be able assist us in obtaining more.

Cameras come in a variety of technical specifications offering different levels of functionality on stills, video, motion sensitivity, programming, thermal or infrared, etc., According to the task at hand we’ve identified two models which offer good functionality in the £120 to £150 range. Given the size of the area we will need at least 30 units to add to the cameras already deployed.

In addition to helping us find Flaviu, these cameras are an essential conservation tool which means that once the job is done, they will have a full and useful life tracking wildlife on conservation projects both here and abroad, including our Iberian Wolf project in Portugal.

Once again, the support we've received so far during this challenging time has been overwhelming. Any help you are able to give with this important project is greatly appreciated by the entire team.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Missing Lynx Up-Date

We’re now entering day seven of the effort to recover our missing lynx, Flaviu. Since he escaped from his house overnight last Wednesday, we’ve been working around the clock to ensure his safe recovery.

In the early stages of the operation, this involved over 30 staff and volunteers dealing with intense media interest, evaluating reports of possible sightings, deploying humane traps and patrolling the area through the night.

Based on what we know of the animal’s behavioural characteristics, coupled with reports from landowners, we were able to establish his location within hours of the escape. Whilst deploying the humane traps we were delighted to get firm confirmation by means of a positive sighting of Flaviu by one of our staff.

The key to a successful recovery at this stage is to allow Flaviu to settle in his new territory and ensure that human activity in the area is kept to an absolute minimum. To this end we have reduced the active team from over 30 people to just four.

We have also deployed a number of day and night vision cameras throughout the territory. These will enable us to confirm our assumptions about his movements and behaviour and identify opportunities to increase the chances of a safe recovery.

We’ve also taken steps to provide Flaviu with reasons to remain in the area.  These include ensuring that there are small amounts of food available outside the humane traps and playing audio recordings of other lynx. We’re also considering using his mother’s scent from bedding obtained from Port Lympne to provide him with some reassuring and familiar smells.

Some people have expressed concern that Flaviu has been separated from his mother and have questioned the ethics of doing so.

We can fully understand how the implications of separating the mother/child bond would inspire feelings of anxiety in people; some have assumed that his escape was an attempt to get back to his mother. However, with regard to animals, and the lynx in particular, the opposite is actually true.

Flaviu is a two year old male approaching sexual maturity. It is at this age, and often earlier, that we would expect him to be leaving the immediate care of his parents and setting off to establish a territory of his own. In the wild, there would be no further contact with the parents and any close proximity might well lead to territorial conflict.

Throughout this operation we have been in close contact with the keepers at Port Lympne who are of course very familiar with Flaviu and his mum Klementyna.

They have assured us that while mum and dad were very patient caring parents they are likely pleased that he has now moved on.

Having created the best possible circumstances for a safe recovery the team here are now playing the waiting game. It remains a round-the-clock operation and everyone here is dedicated to ensuring that Flaviu returns safe and sound.

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Flaviu the Lynx escapes from Dartmoor Zoo

Flaviu the Carpathian Lynx
At 10am this morning, 7th July 2016, Keepers at Dartmoor Zoo found that newly arrived Flaviu the Lynx had escaped from his new home at Dartmoor Zoo.

2 year old Flaviu arrived at Dartmoor Zoo last night, 6th July from Port Lympne and was settled into his new house at 7.30pm. 

The house into which he was released has successfully held Lynx for 8 years, however he managed to escape by chewing through a board in the wall of the house. 

This was discovered at 10am this morning when Keepers came to release him. A search party immediately set out and quickly established that it was extremely unlikely for the Lynx to still be on site and the local police and Radio Devon were informed at 10.20am.

Our main concerns now are for the safety of the public and for the welfare of Flaviu. He is extremely timid and his instinct will be to stay away from people so we are asking the public to be vigilant and inform the police on 999 if they see him.

Search teams are being organised for the local area and we have humane traps which we will be laying out in the vicinity. These are of ample size to fit a Lynx and will not hurt him. They will contain various types of meat from specialist suppliers to tempt him and the door will then close behind him, trapping him unharmed where he can safely be returned to the Zoo.

We will keep this blog updated so keep an eye out here for any more news.

Thank you to everyone for their support and we hope he will safely found soon.

UPDATE: 9.50pm - we can confirm that we've had a positive sighting in the area that we expected him to head and are hopeful of a positive conclusion within hours.

Monday, 6 June 2016

A Thank you to DZP Sponsors - My Claim Solved

From left to right: Kathryn, Michael, Ashley, Mr Pickles,
Benjamin, Jessica.
Dartmoor Zoo would like to extend a huge thank you to new sponsors My Claim Solved, who have sponsored the wonderful Mr Pickles!

Operations Manager Michael Cooke visited the Zoo to meet Mr Pickles with some of the members of their large and friendly Torquay based team.

He said:

“Sponsoring Zoological establishments has always been a passion of My Claim Solved, with a kind hearted ethos and a supportive and giving nature, it only feels right to give back to organisations who put others (the animals) at the forefront of their minds, by continually striving to provide and nurture such wonderful and amazing creatures.

Dartmoor Zoo especially touched our hearts, of course everyone has seen the Hollywood movie and fell in love with the story, but it’s the deep passion they have to rescue and care for animals, the enthusiasm of Benjamin Mee, witnessed both first hand and read about which led to My Claim Solved wanting to be a part of the zoo in any way it could.

We decided on sponsoring Mr Pickles because, well let’s face it he’s cute, and watching him wonder around the zoo just living in his element put a smile on the faces of everyone at the company, plus when we visit we can have photos and interact with him, we would have sponsored Hayley or Fudge but we couldn’t imagine getting a good photo opportunity!!!

My Claim Solved would love to continue helping the Zoo in any way it can and would recommend others to put their hand in their pocket for a great charity and a wonderful place.

We take our hats off to Mr Mee and the staff and volunteers working tirelessly to continually develop the Zoo”

Thank you so much to My Claim Solved for supporting us at the Zoo with their sponsorship of Mr. Pickles. It means a lot to us as it enables us to continue looking after our animals as well as move forward with our vital research and conservation projects.

Find out more about My Claim Solved by visiting their website: http://myclaimsolved.com/

Or if you'd like to find out more about sponsorship you can visit: http://www.dartmoorzoo.org.uk/getinvolved/corporatesponsorship

Thursday, 21 April 2016

A Thank you to DZP Sponsors - Devon Fit Camp

Claire Morgan-Hughes from Devon Fit Camp and
Dartmoor Zoo CEO Benjamin Mee
The Team at Dartmoor Zoo would like to extend a massive thank you to Devon Fit Camp for all their support over the years. Most recently they have sponsored the Dartmoor Zoo van, a vital vehicle for the Zoo which visits local supermarkets and picks up food for the animals, transports supplies, and has even been known to move the odd animal or two!

They have also very generously sponsored Vlad the Tiger, proceeds of which go towards the essential looking after of our animals on a day to day basis.

Claire Morgan-Hughes from Devon Fit Camp visited the Zoo to see the new sponsorship plaque and said:

“We have been proud supporters of Dartmoor Zoo for the last five years. As a local charity and a family attraction, it is close to my heart both personally and professionally. Over the years we have worked together on many projects and are excited to be planning some more for 2016. Being a business in the heart of Devon, I feel it is important to be as supportive as possible to both businesses and charities in our community. We are delighted to be sponsoring Dartmoor Zoo and in particular Vlad, for another year and thankful for the support that Ben and the Zoo give us time and time again.”

So thank you to Devon Fit Camp. Without support from partners like them, the vital work we do in conservation, education and research, as well as the day to day looking after the animals, couldn’t be done.

Watch this space for some upcoming collaborations…

You can find out more about Devon Fit Camp by visiting their website: www.devonfitcamp.co.uk
Or learn about Corporate Sponsorship opportunities by visiting: http://www.dartmoorzoo.org.uk/getinvolved/corporatesponsorship