SUPER AIR NAUTIQUE G23

The 2019 G23 Stands Alone

To be a true icon, you need to respect all others that came before you. To be a true innovator, you need to see and understand the space that others don’t. Recognized as the boat that leads the industry in terms of wake and surf wave performance, the G23 stands alone as the number one choice for riders around the world. Over the past five years, the G23 has been awarded the Rider’s Choice Award as the 5X Wakeboard and 4X Wakesurf Boat of the Year. Quality, innovation, and luxury go hand-in-hand with this revolutionary model that is designed to maximize the fun during your days on the water. The best wakes, the best surf waves and all the high-end refinements you’ve come to know from a Super Air Nautique, that’s the G23.

The G23 hull is the winner of the 5X Wakeboard and 4X Wakesurf Boat of the Year. With 2,850 pounds of sub-floor ballast and the ability to customize your wakesurf waves and wakeboard wakes, it stands alone at the top of the wake boat market. The integration of the Nautique Configurable Running Surface® (NCRS) and the Nautique Surf System (NSS) right into the design of the hull allows this legendary model to outperform the rest with its ability to be completely adjustable. Dish out perfect wakeboard wakes for beginners, experts and everything in between, or set up a surf wave exactly the way you want it, the G23 does it all.

The Nautique Surf System (NSS) with WAVEPLATE® technology is seamlessly integrated into the hull of the G23. Engaging on either side of the transom at surf speeds, the WAVEPLATE extends outward and down from the transom to redirect the flow of water forming the perfect wave. NSS allows surfers to switch sides instantly without the need to change up ballast or shift people in the boat, and it also incorporates variable settings that can adjust the steepness and shape of your wave. To be in full control while you’re surfing, opt for the Nautique Surf Switch so you can change which side the wave is on whenever you’d like.

What Customers are Saying:

2019 G23 FROM BOATHOUSE CO

Anthony S
Antioch, IL

My new G23 is stunning. Ordering a new boat is very exciting but can also be frightening. Eric at the boathouse helped me through the entire process. Dealer communication was great, the timing of delivery was perfect for me and I got the boat of my dreams. The quality, fit and finish of the boat exceeded expectations. I absolutely love it? Thank you boathouse co and thank you Nautique!!

Source: nautique.com

Say Hello To The New Lamborghini Huracan Evo

The updated Lamborghini Huracan is here with more power, aggressive styling, and a new name.

The Huracan Evo also features new rear-wheel steering for extra agility and a four-wheel torque vectoring system. At its heart is a new Central Processing Unit that “controls every aspect of the car’s dynamic behavior, fully integrating all of the car’s dynamic systems and set-up to anticipate the next move and needs of the driver, interpreting this into perfect driving dynamics”.

The active suspension has also been updated with instantly adaptable dampers and the all-wheel-drive system now supports power transfer to only one wheel.

As we saw from the leaked photos, the Lamborghini Huracan Evo looks more aggressive than its predecessor thanks to a new front bumper with a splitter that features an aero-enhancing built-in wing. There’s also larger, reshaped air intakes, and the twin exhaust tips are now positioned higher up the car’s rear bumper for a meaner look. An integrated ducktail spoiler further enhances the air flow. Amazingly, Lamborghini claims these styling changes improve the downforce and aerodynamic efficiency more than five times over the first generation Huracan. Rounding off the exterior changes is a new four-layer color called Arancio Xanto and 20-inch Aesir wheels exclusive to the Evo wrapped in Pirelli P Zero tires.

Big changes can also be found in the cabin. The center console now incorporates a new 8.4-inch touchscreen with multi-finger gesture control, which can operate functions such as the seats, climate control, and Apple CarPlay. The intuitive interface also supports voice commands and an optional dual-camera telemetry system, while the new Evo trim features a mix of Alcantara and leather, with Arancio Dryope details matching the exterior.

“Lamborghini is intent on leading the advance to the highest level of super sports car technologies and driving emotion. This is the essence of the new Huracán Evo. It takes the extraordinary abilities of the Huracán Performante and combines state-of-the-art vehicle dynamic control to amplify the everyday Huracán driving experience,” said Stefano Domenicali, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Automobili Lamborghini.

“The Huracán Evo is the very definition of evolution: it is a step ahead, redefining the segment parameters. It is remarkably easy to drive, while delivering the most responsive, sensory and agile driving experience, in every environment.”

Deliveries of the Lamborghini Huracan Evo will start in the spring, with prices starting at $261,274 in the US. Additional Style Packs will be available at an additional cost.

Credit:
BY MARTIN BIGG, CarBuzz.com

Goldwiser Conroe

The 2019 Lamborghini Aventador SVJ Proves Time Can Fix Anything

When the Aventador came out, it was fast and loud, but not a track monster. Now the final variant holds a Nurburgring record. What a world.

The best barbecue is cooked slowly, over a low fire, where the meat changes just, incrementally over time. Most people don’t cook their brisket long enough; conventional wisdom says beef is finished cooking at around 135 degrees, and chicken finishes up in the 160’s. But brisket is a different kind of meat. When it gets to around 165, it stays there, for what seems like forever, and folks will call that done and remove it.

But this phase of the cooking is actually called “the stall” and you have to push through that, keep cooking slowly, for a few more hours, and the temperature will rise to the finished 205 degrees, for a perfect brisket. If you don’t make it through the stall, expect an underdeveloped end product. Low and slow, with lots of patience, and the forethought to push through the stall – that’s how legends like Aaron Franklin do it. Same goes for supercar manufacturers, who, despite the flash of selling six-figure machinery, operate on tight budgets and frequently serve up half-baked product for a few years before getting it right.

The Lamborghini Aventador is on its eighth year now, and for most of those years, it was served undercooked. While the aggressive styling is unquestionably Lambo, and was utterly stunning on arrival, the dynamics left a lot to be desired. I recall remarking, while driving the original in the canyons, how it had to be driven like a front-wheel drive car, with heavy trail braking, summoning all your “anti-understeer” techniques. The SV version, in 2015, was better, a bit livelier, a bit lighter and tighter, but honestly, not by much.

The Aventador S, in 2016, brought with it a rear-wheel-steering system, which, though not a true substitute for svelte proportions, certainly was a large improvement in the handling department, especially in low-to-medium speed corners, where the car’s massive stagger and rear-biased weight proportions fought corner entry tooth-and-nail. Rear steer also helped to improve the Aventador’s maneuverability in urban driving and parking, as a nice bonus. Still, after five days with that product, I saw it was closer, but not all the way there–if it were a brisket, we could take the Aventador S’s temperature around 190.

Now, we find ourselves at the legendary Estoril Circuit in Portugal with the latest, and presumably, final iteration of the Aventador, the SVJ. The ‘J’ if you know your Lamborghini history, stands for “Jota,” the most extreme version of any Lamborghini model. In the past, privateers, under authorization from the factory to take the cars beyond their production limits, have built the “J” spec cars.

This one is a full factory effort, one that the Italians seem incredibly proud to show off, and which has already rewarded Lamborghini with a Nurburgring production car record, an astonishing 6 minutes, 44 seconds–three seconds quicker than Porsche’s GT2 RS. The Aventador has always had the power to put up impressive numbers in a straight line, running in the high-160’s in the standing half mile, but to anyone who drove the original Aventador in 2011, the idea that this platform could, in seven years, be a ‘Ring record holder, is truly impressive. I would have told you the agility not only wasn’t there, but also that it never could be. I now stand corrected.

To build an Aventador SVJ, almost everything in the car has been massaged, starting with the V12 Engine. In Lambo’s opinion, a naturally aspirated V12 is the perfect engine for a super sports car, and while this author can’t deny the effectiveness of, say McLaren’s 3.8L twin-turbo V8, I have to agree, on sound alone. We’ll get to that. To extract more power out of the already potent 6.5L naturally-aspirated engine, Lambo went old school: lighter flywheel and clutch assembly for more revs, titanium valve springs and new cam profiles, longer intake runners, and a shorter, louder, lighter exhaust. The result is 770 horsepower and 531 lb/ft of torque. While the peak torque occurs higher than in the previous engine, that doesn’t tell the whole story–there is more torque all over the entire power band, not just at the peak. The new engine makes more power everywhere.

The sound is, frankly, without peer. Listening to a pair of SVJ’s running nose to tail down Estoril’s front straight is more like sitting front row at LeMans than at your average California track day. It’s a piercing howl, one that no amount of turbocharged horsepower could possibly reproduce. While Lamborghini is clearly trying to build the highest performing car they can, equally, if not more important, is the theater of it, and the sheer volume and pitch of the SVJ screams exotica.

Lambo’s chassis engineers have gone all the way in order to cut weight from the SVJ, and it seems they have done so from, basically, everywhere. From the extensive use of carbon fiber in the body and interior, to lightweight, center-locking wheels, lightened suspension and exhaust components, and an engine bonnet without struts or a power latch, (meaning lift-off), they have touched it all, and done weight reduction in such a way that the car’s center of mass is exactly the same as before, but with rear steer and the ALA active aero system added in.

Speaking of ALA, Lamborghini’s Active Aerodynamics system on the SVJ is advanced and yet, charmingly simple. Unlike Pagani, McLaren, or Ford, with hydraulically operated wings and air brakes, Lamborghini’s system is comprised of a flat undertray, additional nostrils in the snout, and just a couple simple flaps to direct key bits of air to key places. In the front, a notable splitter has two small flaps, and in the rear, an air intake at the base of the large wing’s center stanchion has two small flaps, both electronically, not hydraulically, activated.

GoldWiser Conroe

The rear flaps send air either around or inside the wing. Yes, inside the wing. When opened, the air flows through the center stanchion, and out of a small slot on the underside of the wing. In ‘strada’ driving modes, the flaps are closed, and the wing is maximally effective across the entire surface. In corsa mode, the flaps selectively open, allowing air into the wing, which trickles out the back just such so that it stalls the aero effect, for maximum slipperiness and minimum drag on straightaways. It’s incredibly trick, but that’s just half of it. The other half is to remember that there are two flaps, left and right, on both front and rear. In high-G cornering, the SVJ can stall just one half of the wing, by opening or closing just one side, to add downforce or stall as needed for a particular corner. Given that the wing itself doesn’t move, like the ‘Aeromotions’ aftermarket units or previously mentioned hydraulic wings do, you approach the car with some level of skepticism–these flaps, and the “out” slits are quite small–could it really work that well?

Short answer: yes; much better than you’d think. You see, the entire car has been engineered to optimize ALA. The magnetic shock settings, the spec-compound Pirelli Corsa (or optional Trofeo R tires), the gearbox tune, power curve, and front & rear steering settings all work in conjunction with ALA to make the SVJ dance. And that’s good, because of what we were told in the morning briefing.

“So, there’s a bit of an issue,” Maurizio Reggiani, head of Lamborghini R&D says, as we get to the track. “We came here a month ago to figure out tire pressures for the track day, and it was perfect. And then we got here, and something was different. Turns out, they repaved the entire surface two weeks ago. And it is, uh, very slippery. No rubber on the track at all, and lots of fresh oils from the asphalt.”

He wasn’t kidding. Though I don’t have a “before” lap of Estoril to compare it to, I know slick when I feel it, and this track was slick, especially with the morning chill. In my first of three four-lap sessions, I left the SVJ in ‘Sport’ while I got my bearings, and found that on the less-than-ideal surface, it moved around a lot. While the Lambo folks were apologetic about the track conditions, I actually found it interesting to note that “moved around a lot” didn’t mean “terminal understeer,” older Aventador models’ prevailing handling characteristic.

While, yes, it would push if you mashed the throttle with the wheel turned, a sharp lift off the throttle wouldn’t just tuck the nose, it would actually induce mild oversteer and require a correction, first with the steering, then back on the throttle to straighten. This, this rotation, is new. But with 770 horsepower on tap, the first session required real focus, which, considering the intentional sensory overload of the SVJ, is a challenge.

“Kinda hairy, huh?” I remarked to two other journalists on the launch. They agreed, following up with a head-nodding “…at least this one rotates!”

A quick chat with Ugo, Lamborghini’s aero genius, revealed that by leaving the car in ‘Sport’ mode, rather than ‘Corsa,’ I wasn’t fully utilizing the active aero, and I should be sure to put the car in Corsa next time out.

I was glad for my initial mistake, because he was right: I could feel the added stability on the first lap back out, especially in Estoril’s turns 8 and 12, the fastest bends on the track. Granted, familiarity with the circuit and heat in the Corsa tires played a part as well, but still, there was a noticeable difference with the ALA working full kick. Same goes for the front straight, where I saw, repeatedly, top speeds between 275 and 285 KPH (170 & 174 mph) with extremely conservative braking points (Turn 1 is a 50 mph bend). Even on the short, bent, middle straight, I saw nearly 220 KPH.

The monstrous ceramic brakes did eventually fade, but only after dozens of track sessions with different drivers, and even then, they came back after cooling off. One of my very few criticisms about the inputs of the SVJ covers the brake pedal tip-in. I would prefer a firmer initial pedal. But Mr. Reggiani reminds me that the target customer isn’t exactly a racing driver; the target customer prefers a softer pedal for less jerkiness, as they are more likely to be lapping Knightsbridge than Silverstone.

It probably doesn’t need to be articulated again, a 6:44 Nordschliefe time says a lot, but the SVJ is crazy, crazy fast. I haven’t had a go in McLaren’s multimillion-dollar Senna, but lots of folks on the SVJ launch did, and reported an extra 10 mph on the front straight with the SVJ. (Though in fairness, those same folks reported how much later you can brake in the Senna). Lamborghini’s opinion that a naturally-aspirated V12 is the perfect engine for a supersports car would be hard to argue here, as there are very few cars on the road that offer this level of speed, with this level of theater, at any price. No turbocharged engine on the planet sounds as wild as the SVJ’s combination of a big-bore twelve and a short exhaust, not only inside, not only trackside, but also the far side.

I received a message from a fan that he could hear the SVJs lapping Estoril from his home, more than a kilometer away from the track. To say it sounds like a Formula One car would be underselling it; today’s F1 cars sound like garbage. Because of the displacement, it actually sounds better than F1, with a shrieking wail on the boil, and a cacophony of pops and bangs on the overrun.

The Aventador’s ‘ISR’ 7-speed, single-clutch gearbox carries over, albeit with new tuning, and aside from the comically ancient Audi-MMI system (circa 2010), it’s the only part of the car that feels old. Upshifts are long, and downshifts are dramatic. Lamborghini’s commitment to having the paddles fixed on the column rather than the wheel, if you listen to their pitch, is so that no matter where your hands are, you know where the paddles will be. I think they are on the column because this is one of the last cars on the road with gear changes so violent, you actually don’t want to perform them until the wheel is pretty much straight. Let’s hope they move on to a strong dual-clutch for the Aventador’s replacement, if one exists.

At $515,000 base price (more like $600,000 out the door with options), believe it or not, the SVJ feels like a value. Though Estoril’s slippery surface prevented us from seeing what this car can do in optimal conditions, it did demonstrate that this is the first and only V12 Lambo in the company’s entire history that can really, really dance. It’s the fastest, most powerful Lamborghini ever made, but also, one of the most agile, even compared to its excellent Performante little brother. And perhaps most shocking is that all the aggression, all the wings and scoops, the carbon fiber and the active aero, hasn’t ruined the ride, the comfort, or the usability of the car in any way. (Note: The carbon bucket seats sit about 1.5 inches higher than the “comfort” seats. It makes a big difference at the six-foot mark).It’s remarkable, really, how good the Aventador SVJ is to drive, knowing where it started back in 2011. And like any good barbecue chef will tell you, the secret to the perfect hunk of meat is doing it low and slow, making very small adjustments, then waiting to see what happens; working through the stall, and knowing when the right moment is to serve up a perfectly cooked cut. For Lamborghini, that time is 2018, because the balance of performance, (reasonable) streetability, theater, and tech has broken down the toughness and created the perfect piece of Italian murderous meat.

Source: roadandtrack.com

GoldWiser Conroe

MANSORY Builds One-Off-Super-Sports Car on behalf of James Stunt

When it comes to the hyper-elegant one-of-a-kind MANSORY J.S. 1 Edition based on the Lamborghini Aventador 750-4 Superveloce, it’s not just about the look. It’s really about the feeling. The exclusive carbon-clad street-hugger enthuses every car devotee. Among them is London art dealer and multi-billionaire James Stunt: the J.S.1 Edition designed just as he wanted it and stamped with his initials is the ultimate fulfillment of his automotive dreams.

Ultra-light, high strength and top-class – carbon is ideal for the automotive work of art that we call the J.S.1 Edition by MANSORY. The refined and enhanced-performance Lamborghini Aventador 750-4 Superveloce is a daunting road-cruising projectile built like a stealth bomber: black, wide, flat, angular and breathtakingly fast. Its owner, London multi-billionaire James Stunt, is always surrounded by bodyguards and a crowd of paparazzi – when, for instance, he parks one of his numerous automotive gems from MANSORY out front of Harrods, the world-famous luxury department store. Someone like Stunt is constantly on the lookout for something special owned by no one but him. And that’s why he comes to the high-class German customiser, MANSORY.Even before the first glimpse of the newest streak of genius from MANSORY besots James Stunt and anyone else who gazes upon it, the numbers alone stagger the comprehension: the standard 750 HP of the Italian super sportscar has been upped by MANSORY to 830 horsepower. The maximum thrust rises from an imposing 690 to a prodigious 750 nm. And the savvy engine tuner can still add a twist to the top speed: 355 km/h. The J.S.1 Edition now catapults from a standing start to 100 km/h in an incredible 2.7 s. To get to 200 km/h takes just 8.4 s, and in the sprint from 0 to 300 the MANSORY Lambo shaves the half-eternity of six tenths of a second off its Italian counterpart of the series: after only 23.4 s, the speedometer hits the magic three with two zeros.

In the fastidious eyes of James Stunt, the MANSORY sports car specialists from Brand in the Fichtelgebirge are the ideal partner when it comes to the proper refinement of an already elite-class jumping-off point such as the Aventador Superveloce. The best evidence of that: the prominent Londoner already has 20 MANSORY remakes parked in his garage – luxury vehicles from Range Rover, Bentley, Rolls Royce and Lamborghini that have been refined even further by MANSORY. One of the inspirations behind the sophisticated collector’s ideas and desires for the J.S.1 Edition was the Lamborghini Veneno, the brilliant anniversary model marking 50 years of Lamborghini.Now, with the brand-new J.S.1 Edition the London car connoisseur is aiming first and foremost not at maximum power, but at a deliberate increase in the impressive baseline data and a harmonious performance package. To get this, MANSORY has reached deep into the aerodynamic bag of tricks to make sure the enormous power of the Italian stealth bomber always stays under control. The entire carbon aerodynamic design has been carried out by MANSORY with the greatest of care and forethought. “Prepreg-autoclave” is the magic phrase here for the method that distinguishes such exclusive carbon from similar materials, leaving it absolutely flawless in surface quality and precision. The J.S.1 Edition by MANSORY is thus covered by a tailor-made carbon fibre shell that meets the highest demands on looks and aerodynamics – and meets in full the strict demands of James Stunt.The carbon fabric in the stealth look is a MANSORY exclusive in vehicle construction. The redesigned front of the Aventador of the J.S.1 Edition by MANSORY is also crafted from the same material, which is as top-class as it is functional: a distinctive front bumper with optimised air intakes that guarantee better ventilation of the engine’s radiator. Together with a new spoiler lip on the front, these aerodynamic parts provide additional downforce, which brings huge benefits  at the extremely high speeds the refined Superveloce hits.Both the front hood and the front fenders have been replaced with high-quality carbon parts from MANSORYs autoclave. New side skirts not only look bewitching, but shunt additional air to the engine and the high-performance brakes. At the same time, they smooth the airflow sweeping between the front and rear axles. A diffuser and an enlarged and more powerful spoiler at the back bring yet more aerodynamic advantages. These and many other full-carbon fibre elements in and on the J.S.1 Edition by MANSORY reduce the overall weight in comparison to the Lamborghini Aventador Superveloce by a total of 50 kg – apart from the design and the aerodynamics, a further advantage of the adept customisation by the company from the Fichtelgebirge.The significant extra power of the MANSORY one-off was gained by the engine tuner with the help of a power-box, as well as a complete new exhaust system including manifold, muffler and tailpipes. Aside from that, a sport air filter helps ensure that this refined and unique super sportscar has gained a significant boost in performance, torque, acceleration, and top speed. And the price? In the wealthiest London circles one doesn’t talk about money. The true gentleman merely enjoys, and is silent. And even if James Stunt would betray a secret: the J.S.1 Edition is unmistakably one of a kind, which is given away by the inscription on the front fender: “J.S.1 Edition 1/1 by MANSORY”

Lamborghini Aventador 750-4SV: J.S.1 Edition by MANSORY
750 BHP at 8,400 rpm 830 PS at 8,600 rpm
690 NM at 5,500 rpm 750 NM at 5,750 RPM
Top speed 350 km/h 355 km/h
0-100 = 2.8 s 0-100 = 2.7 s
0-200 = 8.6 s 0-200 = 8.4 s
0-300 = 24.0 s 0-300 = 23.4 s

Source: Mansory.com

Goldwiser Conroe

Foxen Wine, The Prince of Pinots (Wine Down Friday)

Bill Wathen and Dick Dore have been making wine together since 1985, when they founded Foxen at the historic Rancho Tinaquaic in northern Santa Barbara County. Their first Pinot Noir came in 1989. They create very small production, vineyard-designate wines and have become quite famous since the winery was featured in the movie ‘Sideways.’ A number of varieties are produced, but the three Pinot Noirs come from Bien Nacido Vineyard, Sea Smoke Vineyard, and Julia’s Vineyard. The wines are full-throttle, rich Pinot Noirs. The tasting room on Foxen Canyon Road is open daily.

Reviewed Wines

2007 Foxen Julia’s Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir

15.2% alc., $45. Unfined, unfiltered. · Deep color. Oak char and ash dominate the aromas. Impenetrable prodigious black fruits with a vein of citrus in the background and flamboyant dry tannins on the finish. This wine will need another 2 to 3 years at least to emerge, but will always be a big wine. Reviewed September 5, 2009 ARTICLE »

2007 Foxen Sea Smoke Vineyard Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir

15.5% alc., 475 cases, $63. · Unfined, unfiltered. Darkly colored. Enticing perfume of crushed sweet berries with an oak accent. A voluptuous wine of copious dark berry fruit framed by firm tannins that demands your attention. Veers toward Syrah and over time in the glass becomes jammy and bit tiring. This wine makes a statement and will have fans of its Parkeresque style but its over the top for me. POP 91, WS 94. Reviewed January 22, 2010 ARTICLE »

GoldWiser Conroe

2006 Foxen Winery Block 8 Bien Nacido Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir

14.6% alc., 480 cases, $54. Primarily Wädenswil with some Dijon 115 and Pommard. 100% whole berry de-stemmed, 4-5 day cold soak, 10-14 day active fermentation with punch down twice daily, partial lots undergo extended maceration for 30 days. Aged 16 months in 60% new French oak barrels. Bottled without fining or filtration. · The flavors trump the nose at this time. Rather subdued aromas of dark fruits, tobacco and fresh veggies. Intense and ripe dark raspberry flavor. Very smooth in the mouth with supple tannins and a mildly tart citric finish. This wine almost seems like a Pinot Noir in Rhone clothing. I like it for its individuality. The wine improved from the opened bottle later in the day indicating a long life ahead. Reviewed January 1, 2009 ARTICLE »

2006 Foxen Winery Julia’s Vineyard Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir

14.6% alc., 450 cases, $54. Pommard clone. 100% whole berry de-stemmed. 5 day cold soak, 10 day fermentation with punchdowns twice daily. Aged 16 months in 65% new French oak barrels. · Vigorous with flavor and character featuring herbinfused dark stone fruit with char and cola highlights. Packed and stacked with flavor but smooth and polished. The deep berry flavors leave a memorable impression on the lengthy finish. A delicious wine. Reviewed January 1, 2009 ARTICLE »

2003 Foxen Bien Nacido Vineyards Block Eight Pinot Noir

14.6% alc., 425 cases, $48. This block was planted in 1996 with clones 2A, Sanford & Benedict (Mt. Eden), 113, 115, and Pommard. · A very darkly-colored wine of great intensity. Plenty of sweet, fresh, vivid fruit with power to thrill. A bit of heat peaks out on the finish. Reviewed August 24, 2007 ARTICLE »

Source: PrinceOfPinot.com

GT R Pro headlines Mercedes-AMG GT updates at the LA Auto Show

Mercedes’ AMG GT 2-Door models get a number of performance and aesthetic improvements.

The delightfully devilish Mercedes-AMG GT coupe and roadster are getting a number of updates as we head into 2019, most of which bring the two-door models in line with the recently released four-door variant. The changes are mostly limited to some restyled interior and exterior bits, as well as a couple of performance enhancements. But the big news is the addition of a limited-edition AMG GT R Pro model, which debuts alongside the updated GT range at the Los Angeles Auto Show this week.

You’ll recognize the GT R Pro thanks to its redesigned front fascia that improves overall aerodynamics. A good number of the exterior body panels are made from carbon fiber, including the roof, and the Pro wears a unique wrap design with racing stripes that run over the hood, roof and down the hatch. (And yes, you can forego the wrap if you want.)

Other Pro-specific tweaks include a revised AMG coilover suspension, where drivers can adjust not only the springs, but the compression and rebound of the dampers. Front and rear torsion bars are also adjustable, and the front unit is made of carbon fiber. The dynamic engine and transmission mounts have been retuned, and other minor tweaks were made throughout the car’s chassis. Carbon ceramic composite brakes come standard, as do lightweight AMG Performance wheels.

The Pro uses the same 4.0-liter, twin-turbocharged V8 as every other AMG GT model, and doesn’t offer any power increase over the GT R on which its based. Of course, with 577 horsepower, 516 pound-feet of torque and a 3.5-second 0-to-60 mile-per-hour time, you shouldn’t have any reason to complain.

In lesser GT and GT C specs (the GT S is discontinued), the 4.0-liter V8 makes 469 and 550 horsepower, respectively, as well as 465 and 502 pound-feet of torque. Those figures apply to both hardtop and convertible models.

The GT gets Mercedes’ AMG Dynamic Select system, with Slippery, Comfort, Sport, Sport Plus, Race and Individual driving modes. Additionally, the GT gets the AMG Dynamics stability control system, with Basic, Advanced, Pro and Master modes. That’s a lot to manage, and if the end result is anything like my recent experience in the new AMG C63 family, it might feel like drive-mode overkill.

Outside, all AMG GTs get redesigned headlights with a new LED light signature, as well as a slightly tweaked rear diffuser. Inside, the changes are more evident, where GT models get a fully digital instrument cluster, as well as a redesigned steering wheel with more prominent side controls — similar to what you’ll find in the AMG C63. Finally, a revised center console adapts the color-display control buttons seen in the four-door AMG GT.

Pricing hasn’t been announced just yet, but that should become available in the near future. Look for the updated AMG GT family to hit dealerships in the coming months.

Source: CNET.comSTEVEN EWING

The A. Lange & Söhne 1815 Annual Calendar – Watch Wednesday

A mid-tier complication, with a high caliber feel.

It’s no secret that A. Lange & Söhne makes a good watch. Heck, you could even go so far as to say they make a magnificent watch, and I don’t think anyone would argue with you. However, a byproduct of being among the highest echelons of watchmakers is that the focus tends to get put exclusively on their most exceptional pieces. But this year, my personal Lange highlight is not the grandest complication – it’s the 1815 Annual Calendar.

After SIHH 2017, this watch was something of a sleeper hit. While watches like the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Control, the Panthère de Cartier, the Vacheron Constantin Celestia, and even the Zeitwerk Decimal Strike from Lange were all getting lots of love, the 1815 Annual Calendar sort of slipped through the cracks. I listed it as my favorite grail watch at the time, but knew I needed to spend more time with it. Now, after spending a full week with the watch firmly on my wrist, I can say without question my instincts were right: this is one amazing watch. But, it’s not without its flaws, and there’s even a little bit of controversy about the 1815 Annual Calendar among Lange purists.

What Is An Annual Calendar?

“When was the first annual calendar introduced?” My colleague Ben Clymer once asked this question of our then-20-year-old intern, who fancied himself a pretty serious watch guy. This was, at one point, something of mild-mannered hazing from Ben to novice watch fans. Our intern’s response? “I’d guess mid 1800s sometime?”

The annual calendar was created just 21 years ago by Patek Phillippe, and first produced as the reference 5035. The concept, which was really one of the first “mid-tier” complications to come from a major brand, was a brilliant commercial step for Patek, if a bit ho-hum in terms of horological innovation. Instead of a simple calendar where one must manually adjust the date at the end of each month, the annual calendar compensates for those months with 30 days. That would be an incredible accomplishment! That is, of course, had the perpetual calendar, which compensates for not only shorter months but also for all leap years, had not been widely used in horology for the better part of two centuries.
Some dismiss it as a dumbed-down perpetual calendar, but that’s not to say it’s not a useful and welcome complication. The 5035 allowed Patek clients to get into complications without entering the stratosphere of both price and complexity, of perpetual calendars, tourbillons, minute repeaters, or even chronographs – remember, at this point, Patek did not make an automatic chronograph, and at the time, they didn’t even make a straight manually wound chronograph then either, in house or otherwise. The only way you could get a pure chronograph from Patek Philippe at the time was in the form of a perpetual chronograph, in the 3970. So, pickings for complicated Pateks at the time were slim.
The 37mm reference 5035 featured a self-winding caliber 315 S-QA and three sub-dials, one each for the day, date, and month. What the watch was missing when compared to a perpetual calendar, was a moon-phase display and of course, a leap year indicator. Unlike a perpetual, the annual calendar does not account for a Leap Year, so it must be adjusted once per year at the end of February (in both Leap Years and non-Leap Years; as we mentioned, the annual calendar only distinguishes between 30 and 31-day months).

Now, if you are a diehard calendar freak (bless you), then re-setting your watch at the end of every February might seem tedious, and if you therefore want to splurge for the mac-daddy perpetual calendar complication – fine. If you’re not, and you’re okay with the extra work that is required to find your setting pin (that always seems to go missing) and push a button twice, then the annual calendar is for you – though with the Lange we’re about to get into, no pin is necessary.

The ref. 5035 remained in production until 2005, when the reference 5146 was released as its successor. The annual calendar complication was, and is still, special because it is more accessible price-wise (with the understanding that “accessible” is a relative term) while allowing those who want to enter the world of complicated watches do so with dignity, and without having to sell their house or lose a spouse in the process. For Patek, the annual calendar is a cornerstone product, and has been used in countless watches, from elegant limited editions to sporty chronographs in multiple guises.

Other manufacturers soon followed suit and produced their own annual calendar wristwatches, with Bulgari, Breitling, Omega, and A. Lange & Söhne all making the complication over the years. Even Rolex makes an annual calendar in its Sky-Dweller.

Still, the annual calendar watch is still not nearly as prominent as its older, more complicated sibling. This is particularly true when it comes to A. Lange & Söhne – other than the watch we have here, the Saxonia Annual Calendar is the only other annual in Lange’s line-up. It was released in 2010 and nothing new had been introduced since then. That could very well be for a reason – the annual calendar is a vastly simpler complication to produce than a perpetual and many purists believe that it is beneath the level of refinement expected from the likes of Patek Philippe, Lange & Söhne, and Vacheron Constantin. An annual calendar makes sense for an Omega, a Rolex, and IWC, but not a top tier brand, is what they would argue. But, the wants of a purist is not what sells watches (at least, not exclusively) and the annual calendar remains a popular product in both high-end and mid-tier watch brands.

GoldWiser Conroe
The 1815 Family

To understand this new annual calendar, one must first understand the 1815 family. The 1815 collection was first introduced in 1996, and is a nod to the birth year of Ferdinand A. Lange, the brand’s original founder. It is characterized by the large, painted Arabic numerals that mimic those of early pocket watches. This design trait is repeated through the entire collection, which ranges from a time-only wristwatch to, well, much more. As you can see, the Annual Calendar fits nicely into this collection, with its well-balanced dial and pronounced Arabic numerals.

The 1815 Collection ranges from the super-simple time-only watch to the super-complicated Grand Complication. There is one time-only model; one up-down (power reserve); two chronographs; two tourbillons; one rattrapante chronograph perpetual calendar, one “Tourbograph” perpetual calendar, and one grand complication. Almost every complication has been addressed in this collection, so the annual calendar is a welcome addition in more ways than one. Not only is it more approachable from a technical standpoint, it fits nicely into the pricing structure of Lange and the 1815 Collection.

To put things in perspective, the 1815 Annual Calendar sits right between the 1815 Up-Down, which was released in 2013 and retails for $28,600 in white gold, and the 1815 Chronograph, which weighs in at $51,500. As you can see, the Annual Calendar fits in nicely, and closes the gap between the two watches within the collection.

The Case

The 1815 Annual Calendar comes in two metals – white and rose gold. As you may know, I’m a sucker for white metals and decided to go with the white gold model you see here. The case measures 40mm in diameter and 10.1mm thick. It is the only 40mm watch in the 1815 collection, with the rest ranging from 38.5mm for the time-only model, to 55mm for the Grand Complication.

Watches at 40mm can be many things to many people – too big for some, too small for others, and still yet just right for others. The exact proportions and the details can make a big difference. For example, Lange bezels tend to be on the thinner side, and the bezel here is no exception, making the watch wear a little large. However, the watch neatly balances being both slender and sturdy, and it feels a commanding presence in the palm of your hand, with the right bit of heft, as anyone who has had the opportunity to handle a Lange knows well.

One of the nicest things about the case is the brushed band around the sides. Not every manufacturer pays attention to details like this, but Lange does, and it help sets the German watchmaker’s creations apart from those of competitors. The mix of the polished, rounded bezel and the brushed case band adds contrast and depth to what would otherwise be a relatively traditional case.

The lugs are slightly on the small side for a 40mm case. While this could easily ruin the balance of an otherwise great watch, that is not the case for the 1815 Annual Calendar. The shorter lugs actually allow the case to feel smaller on the wrist, which is a plus for those who might be afraid to take the 40mm plunge. But the best part about this case? The day/date corrector button located at two o’clock.

With the 1815, you can just push the beautifully curved rectangular button at two o’clock and the date and day will advance simultaneously. Consider yourself #blessed for not having do deal with the hassle that is corrector pins.

The 1815 Annual Calendar is manually-wound, with a power reserve of 72 hours. That means if you let your watch go more than three days between windings (say you leave it on your dresser over a long weekend, for example), you’ll need to correct the day and date. Luckily, you can just push the beautifully curved rectangular button and the date and day will advance simultaneously. Consider yourself #blessed for saving the extra minute you’d otherwise spend fiddling with corrector buttons. For all other setting needs though you will have to switch over to the old-fashioned flush-set correctors (and a setting pin) which are fine, but not nearly as efficient – though with the 1815 Annual Calendar, you will only need to, in theory, use them once. This kind of quick-correction system sounds like something that should be common on calendar watches, but it’s actually anything but. I really appreciated having it here.

The Dial

The dial on the Annual Calendar is probably my favorite thing about the watch overall. It’s sleek, legible, and displays all the necessary information directly and clearly.

The dial on the Annual Calendar is probably my favorite thing about the watch overall. It’s sleek, legible, and displays all the necessary information directly and clearly. Everything has a purpose and a place. First things first: the dial color is a matte silver, with brushing so fine you can’t even detect the texture in most lighting conditions. It still has a sort of special glow though, radiating in the light and maintaining a subtle luster in darker conditions.

There are three sub-dials; one for the month, another for the moonphase and running seconds, and a third for the day and date. Each sub-dial is meticulously crafted, with the text laid out with incredible balance. A continuous theme on the dial is concentric circles. The center of the dial is recessed, with the sub-dials placed centrally over the recessed line, all appearing to be on the same plane. This gives the dial depth, and makes it all the more interesting to gaze at throughout the day.

The hands are bright blued steel that contrasts nicely against the cool silvered dial. The same blue is reflected in the moonphase (accurate for up to 122 years, mind you) which is dusted with stars too. But I think the thing I love the most is the way that the text is laid out throughout. The two sub-dials for the day/date and the month both feature a lot of text – so much in fact that many watchmakers would end up with a total mess. Not Lange, though. No, they have managed to create a pleasing display of information that is both visually striking and practical, though when the watch was launched, the same purists that likely protested Patek making an annual calendar in 1996 complained against “Annual Calendar” being written on the right sub-dial. Meh, whatever.

The Movement

The only previous Lange Annual Calendar, the aforementioned Saxonia Annual Calendar, uses the caliber L085.1, which is automatic and features a micro-rotor (yay!). The 1815 uses a brand new caliber, the L051.3, which is both larger in size and manually-wound. The caliber L051.3 is comprised of 346 components and is 30.6mm in diameter and 5.7mm thick, with the calendar module itself is only 1.4mm thick. As mentioned, the power reserve is 72 hours, up from the 46 hours of the 476-component L085.1 found in the Saxonia.

The question of having a manually-winding movement instead of an automatic movement, is a time-old watch tale and is much debated about amongst purists (more on that later). While I am typically an automatic gal (I confess, I like to grab and go), I think there is a time and place for every kind of movement. For the 1815 Annual Calendar, I think the manual-winding movement is necessary for many reasons. One, with no rotor or cute micro-rotor, the watch has a thinner profile which ultimately means it’s more comfortable.  Secondly, having a hand-wound movement allows one to enjoy this watch every day while winding it, and let’s get real, if you are going to spend $40,400 you should be enjoying this watch all the time. Thirdly, Lange makes an exceptional manual-winding movement and I mean exceptional. The story doesn’t end here, and I’ll bring up the whole manual versus automatic again later.

The caliber L051.3 is stunning. With this manual-winding movement you get the beautifully hand-finished German silver three-quarter plated movement with over-sized rubies set in gold screwed chatons, a subtle but meaningful aesthetic. Another thing I love about the Lange movements are the hand-engraved balance-cocks, they add a nice flourish of detail that is often overlooked. But the thing I love most about this movement is the 1.4mm thick annual calendar module, which further allows the watch to measure 10.10mm thick, which again allows for easy wearing. This just goes to show how Lange always wins at marrying form and high-performing function.

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the SOURCE: Hodinkee.com

Zebra

Image result for Zebra

Zebras (/ˈzbrə/ ZEE-brə, UK also /ˈzɛbrə/ ZEB-rə) are several species of African equids (horse family) united by their distinctive black and white striped coats. Their stripes come in different patterns, unique to each individual. They are generally social animals that live in small harems to large herds. Unlike their closest relatives, horses and donkeys, zebras have never been truly domesticated.

There are three species of zebras: the plains zebra, the mountain zebra and the Grévy’s zebra. The plains zebra and the mountain zebra belong to the subgenus Hippotigris, but Grévy’s zebra is the sole species of subgenus Dolichohippus. The latter resembles an ass, to which zebras are closely related, while the former two look more horse-like. All three belong to the genus Equus, along with other living equids.

The unique stripes of zebras make them one of the animals most familiar to people. They occur in a variety of habitats, such as grasslandssavannaswoodlands, thorny scrublandsmountains, and coastal hills. However, various anthropogenic factors have had a severe impact on zebra populations, in particular hunting for skins and habitat destruction. Grévy’s zebra and the mountain zebra are endangered. While plains zebras are much more plentiful, one subspecies, the quagga, became extinct in the late 19th century – though there is currently a plan, called the Quagga Project, that aims to breed zebras that are phenotypically similar to the quagga in a process called breeding back.

The name “zebra” in English dates back to c. 1600, from Italian zebra, perhaps from Portuguese, which in turn is said to be Congolese (as stated in the Oxford English Dictionary). The Encarta Dictionary says its ultimate origin is uncertain, but perhaps it may come from Latin equiferus meaning “wild horse”; from equus (“horse”) and ferus (“wild, untamed”). The word was traditionally pronounced with a long initial vowel, but over the course of the 20th century, the pronunciation with the short initial vowel became the usual one in the UK and Commonwealth. The pronunciation with a long initial vowel remains standard in the United States.

A group of zebras are referred to as a herd, dazzle, or zeal.

The plains zebra (Equus quagga, formerly Equus burchelli) is the most common, and has or had about six subspecies distributed across much of southern and eastern Africa. It, or particular subspecies of it, have also been known as the common zebra, the dauwBurchell’s zebra (actually the subspecies Equus quagga burchellii), Chapman’s zebra, Wahlberg‘s zebra, Selous‘ zebra, Grant’s zebra, Boehm’s zebra and the quagga (another extinct subspecies, Equus quagga quagga).

The mountain zebra (Equus zebra) of southwest Africa tends to have a sleek coat with a white belly and narrower stripes than the plains zebra. It has two subspecies and is classified as vulnerable.

Grévy’s zebra (Equus grevyi) is the largest type, with a long, narrow head, making it appear rather mule-like. It is an inhabitant of the semi-arid grasslands of Ethiopia and northern Kenya. Grévy’s zebra is the rarest species, and is classified as endangered.

Although zebra species may have overlapping ranges, they do not interbreed. In captivity, plains zebras have been crossed with mountain zebras. The hybrid foals lacked a dewlap and resembled the plains zebra apart from their larger ears and their hindquarters pattern. Attempts to breed a Grévy’s zebra stallion to mountain zebra mares resulted in a high rate of miscarriage. In captivity, crosses between zebras and other (non-zebra) equines have produced several distinct hybrids, including the zebroid, zeedonk, zony, and zorse. In certain regions of Kenya, plains zebras and Grévy’s zebra coexist, and fertile hybrids occur.

The Hagerman horse (Equus simplicidens) is sometimes referred to as the American zebra due to perceived similarities to the plains zebra, and sometimes depicted as striped. However, consensus appears to be that it wasn’t particularly closely related to either Hippotigiris nor Dolichohippus, nor is there unambiguous evidence that it had stripes.

Size and weight

The skull of a Grant’s zebra.

The common plains zebra is about 1.2–1.3 m (47–51 in) at the shoulder with a body ranging from 2–2.6 m (6.6–8.5 ft) long with a 0.5 m (20 in) tail. It can weigh up to 350 kg (770 lb), males being slightly bigger than females. Grévy’s zebra is considerably larger, while the mountain zebra is somewhat smaller.

Stripes

The black and white stripes may have one or several functions.

Zebra striping patterns are unique to each individual.

It was previously believed that zebras were white animals with black stripes, since some zebras have white underbellies. Embryological evidence, however, shows that the animal’s background color is black and the white stripes and bellies are additions. It is likely that the stripes are caused by a combination of factors.

The stripes are typically vertical on the head, neck, forequarters, and main body, with horizontal stripes at the rear and on the legs of the animal.

A wide variety of hypotheses have been proposed to account for the evolution of the striking stripes of zebras. The more traditional of these (1 and 2, below) relate to camouflage.

  1. The vertical striping may help the zebra hide in the grass by disrupting its outline. In addition, even at moderate distances, the striking striping merges to an apparent grey. However, the camouflage has been contested with arguments that most of a zebra’s predators (such as lions and hyenas) cannot see well at a distance, and are more likely to have smelled or heard a zebra before seeing it from a distance, especially at night.
  2. The stripes may help to confuse predators by motion dazzle—a group of zebras standing or moving close together may appear as one large mass of flickering stripes, making it more difficult for the lion to pick out a target. It has been suggested that when moving, the stripes may confuse observers, such as mammalian predators and biting insects, by two visual illusions: the wagon-wheel effect, where the perceived motion is inverted, and the barberpole illusion, where the perceived motion is in a wrong direction.
  3. The stripes may serve as visual cues and identification. Although the striping pattern is unique to each individual, it is not known whether zebras can recognize one another by their stripes.
  4. Experiments by different researchers indicate that the stripes are effective in attracting fewer flies, including blood-sucking tsetse flies and tabanid horseflies. A 2012 experiment in Hungary showed that zebra-striped models were nearly minimally attractive to tabanid horseflies. These flies are attracted to linearly polarized light, and the study showed that black and white stripes disrupt the attractive pattern. Further, attractiveness increases with stripe width, so the relatively narrow stripes of the three living species of zebras should be unattractive to horseflies.
  5. Stripes may be used to cool the zebra. Air may move more quickly over black light-absorbing stripes while moving more slowly over white stripes. This would create convection currents around the zebra that would cool it. One study analyzes that zebras have more stripes in hotter habitats.

Gaits

Zebras have four gaits: walk, trotcanter and gallop. They are generally slower than horses, but their great stamina helps them outrun predators. When chased, a zebra will zig-zag from side to side, making it more difficult for the predator to attack. When cornered, the zebra will rear up and kick or bite its attacker.

Senses

Zebras have excellent eyesight. Like most ungulates, the zebra’s eyes are on the sides of its head, giving it a wide field of view. Zebras also have night vision, although not as advanced as that of most of their predators.

Zebras have excellent hearing and have larger, rounder ears than horses; like other ungulates, zebras can turn their ears in almost any direction. In addition to superb eyesight and hearing, zebras also have acute senses of smell and taste.

Diseases

Being an equid, zebras are subject to many of the same common infections and diseases of the domestic horse.

Two Grévy’s zebras were poisoned in 1995 by leaves from a hybrid red maple tree (acer rubrum) at the St. Louis Zoo. Horses were first reported in 1981 to be susceptible and even a small amount of the leaves can be toxic to ponies. In 2000, a zebra was reported to be infected with a nematode, halicephalobus, usually associated with decaying plant material.

Harems

Zebras

Like most members of the horse family, zebras are highly social. Their social structure, however, depends on the species. Mountain zebras and plains zebras live in groups, known as ‘harems’, consisting of one stallion with up to six mares and their foals. Bachelor males either live alone or with groups of other bachelors until they are old enough to challenge a breeding stallion. When attacked by packs of hyenas or wild dogs a zebra group will huddle together with the foals in the middle while the stallion tries to ward them off.

Unlike the other zebra species, Grévy’s zebras do not have permanent social bonds. A group of these zebras rarely stays together for more than a few months. The foals stay with their mothers, while adult males live alone. Like the other two zebra species, bachelor male zebras will organize in groups.

Like horses, zebras sleep standing up, and only sleep when neighbors are around to warn them of predators.

Communication

Zebra feeding on grass

Zebras communicate with each other with high-pitched barks and whinnying. Grévy’s zebras make mulelike brays. A zebra’s ears signify its mood. When a zebra is in a calm, tense or friendly mood, its ears stand erect. When it is frightened, its ears are pushed forward. When angry, the ears are pulled backward. When surveying an area for predators, zebras will stand in an alert posture with ears erect, head held high, and staring. When tense, they will also snort. When a predator is spotted or sensed, a zebra will bark (or bray) loudly.

Food and foraging

Burchell’s zebra drinking at a waterhole at Etosha National Park

Zebras feed almost entirely on grasses, but may occasionally eat shrubs, herbs, twigs, leaves and bark. Their digestive systems allow them to subsist on diets of lower nutritional quality than that necessary for other herbivores.

Reproduction

Female zebras mature earlier than the males, and a mare may have her first foal by the age of three. Males are not able to breed until the age of five or six. Mares may give birth to one foal every twelve months. She nurses the foal for up to a year. Like horses, zebras are able to stand, walk and suckle shortly after they are born. A zebra foal is brown and white instead of black and white at birth.

Plains and mountain zebra foals are protected by their mothers, as well as the head stallion and the other mares in their group. Grévy’s zebra foals have only their mother as a regular protector, since, as noted above, Grévy’s zebra groups often disband after a few months.

Interaction with humans

Domestication

Lord Rothschild with his famed zebra carriage (sp. Equus quagga burchellii), which he frequently drove through London

Cavallery of Schutztruppe in German East Africa (1911)

Attempts have been made to train zebras for riding, since they have better resistance than horses to African diseases. While occasionally successful, most of these attempts failed due to the zebra’s more unpredictable nature and tendency to panic under stress. For this reason, zebra-mules or zebroids (crosses between any species of zebra and a horse, pony, donkey or ass) are preferred over purebred zebras.

In England, the zoological collector Walter Rothschild frequently used zebras to draw a carriage. In 1907, Rosendo Ribeiro, the first doctor in Nairobi, Kenya, used a riding zebra for house calls. In the mid-19th century, Governor George Grey imported zebras to New Zealand from his previous posting in South Africa, and used them to pull his carriage on his privately owned Kawau Island.

Jumping an obstacle: riding a zebra in East Africa, about 1900

Captain Horace Hayes, in “Points of the Horse” (circa 1893), compared the usefulness of different zebra species. In 1891, Hayes broke a mature, intact mountain zebra stallion to ride in two days’ time, and the animal was quiet enough for his wife to ride and be photographed upon. He found the Burchell’s zebra easy to break, and considered it ideal for domestication, as it was immune to the bite of the tsetse fly. He considered the quagga (now extinct) well-suited to domestication due to being easy to train to saddle and harness.

Conservation

Modern man has had great impact on the zebra population. Zebras were, and still are, hunted for their skins, and for meat. They also compete with livestock for forage and are sometimes culled.

The Cape mountain zebra was hunted to near extinction, with less than 100 individuals by the 1930s. The population has since increased to about 700 due to conservation efforts. Both mountain zebra subspecies are currently protected in national parks, but are still endangered.

Zebras on the Botswana coat of arms.

The Grévy’s zebra is also endangered. Hunting and competition from livestock have greatly decreased their population. Because of the population’s small size, environmental hazards, such as drought, are capable of affecting the entire species. Plains zebras are much more numerous and have a healthy population. Nevertheless, they too have been reduced by hunting and loss of habitat to farming. One subspecies, the quagga, is now extinct.

Cultural depictions

Zebras have been the subject of African folk tales which tell how they got their stripes. According to a San folk tale of Namibia, the zebra was once all white, but acquired its black stripes after a fight with a baboon over a waterhole. After kicking the baboon so hard, the zebra lost his balance and tripped over a fire, and the fire sticks left scorch marks all over his white coat. In the film Fantasia, two centaurs are depicted being half human and half zebra, instead of the typical half human and half horse.

Illustration of a zebra from Ludolphus A new History of Ethiopia(1682).

Zebras are a popular subject in art. The fourth Mughal emperor Jahangir (r.1605–24), commissioned a painting of the zebra, which was completed by Ustad Mansur. Zebra stripes are also a popular style for furniture, carpets and fashion.

When depicted in movies and cartoons, zebras are most often miscellaneous characters, but have had some starring roles, notably in MadagascarRacing Stripes and Khumba. One of the recurring characters in My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is a zebra named Zecora. Zebras also serve as mascots and symbols for products and corporations, notably Zebra Technologies and Fruit Stripe gum as well as Investec. Zebras are featured on the coat of arms of Botswana.

Some on-field officials in various sports, especially American footballbasketball, and ice hockey, may be nicknamed “zebras” due to the resemblance of their uniforms (which feature alternating black and white stripes) to the animal’s markings.

Biofuel

Recent research has shown that TU-103, a strain of Clostridium bacteria found in zebra feces, can convert nearly any form of cellulose into butanol fuel.

H/T Wikipedia

Bengal Tiger

Image result for bengal tiger

The Bengal tiger is a Panthera tigris tigris population in the Indian subcontinent. It was treated as the nominate tiger subspecies prior to 2017.[3] This tiger population was estimated at fewer than 2,500 individuals by 2011. Since 2008, it is listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List and is threatened by poachingloss and fragmentation of habitat. None of the Tiger Conservation Landscapes within its range is considered large enough to support an effective population of more than 250 adult individuals.[1] India‘s tiger population was estimated at 1,706–1,909 individuals in 2010.[4] By 2014, the population had reputedly increased to an estimated 2,226 individuals.[5] Around 440 tigers are estimated in Bangladesh, 163–253 tigers in Nepal and 103 tigers in Bhutan.[6][7][8][9]

The tiger arrived in the Indian subcontinent about 12,000 years ago.[10] The Bengal tiger ranks among the biggest wild cats alive today.[2][11] It is considered to belong to the world’s charismatic megafauna.[12]

The Bengal tiger is the national animal of both India and Bangladesh.[13] It is also known as the Royal Bengal tiger.

Taxonomy

The Bengal is the traditional type locality for the binomen Panthera tigris, to which the British taxonomist Reginald Innes Pocock subordinated the Bengal tiger in 1929 under the trinomen Panthera tigris tigris.[2][15]

The validity of several tiger subspecies in continental Asia was questioned in 1999. Morphologically, tigers from different regions vary little, and gene flow between populations in those regions is considered to have been possible during the Pleistocene. Therefore, it was proposed to recognize only two subspecies as valid, namely P. t. tigris in mainland Asia, and P. t. sondaica in the Greater Sunda Islands and possibly in Sundaland.[16] In 2017, the Cat Classification Task Force of the Cat Specialist Group revised felid taxonomy and now recognizes the extinct and living tiger populations in continental Asia as P. t. tigris.[3]

Genetic ancestry

The Bengal tiger is defined by three distinct mitochondrial nucleotide sites and 12 unique microsatellite alleles. The pattern of genetic variation in the Bengal tiger corresponds to the premise that it arrived in India approximately 12,000 years ago.[17] This is consistent with the lack of tiger fossils from the Indian subcontinent prior to the late Pleistocene, and the absence of tigers from Sri Lanka, which was separated from the subcontinent by rising sea levels in the early Holocene.[10]

Characteristics

A male tiger in Ranthambore National Park
Facial close up of Sultan, a male in Ranthambore National Park

The Bengal tiger’s coat is yellow to light orange, with stripes ranging from dark brown to black; the belly and the interior parts of the limbs are white, and the tail is orange with black rings. The white tiger is a recessive mutant of the tiger, which is reported in the wild from time to time in Assam, Bengal, Bihar, and especially from the former State of Rewa. However, it is not to be mistaken as an occurrence of albinism. In fact, there is only one fully authenticated case of a true albino tiger, and none of black tigers, with the possible exception of one dead specimen examined in Chittagong in 1846.[18]

Males have an average total length of 270 to 310 cm (110 to 120 in) including the tail, while females measure 240 to 265 cm (94 to 104 in) on average.[2] The tail is typically 85 to 110 cm (33 to 43 in) long, and on average, tigers are 90 to 110 cm (35 to 43 in) in height at the shoulders.[19] The weight of males ranges from 180 to 258 kg (397 to 569 lb), while that of the females ranges from 100 to 160 kg (220 to 350 lb).[2] The smallest recorded weights for Bengal tigers are from the Bangladesh Sundarbans, where adult females are 75 to 80 kg (165 to 176 lb).[20]

The tiger has exceptionally stout teeth. Its canines are 7.5 to 10 cm (3.0 to 3.9 in) long and thus the longest among all cats.[21] The greatest length of its skull is 332 to 376 mm (13.1 to 14.8 in).[16]

Body weight

Bengal tigers weigh up to 325 kg (717 lb), and reach a head and body length of 320 cm (130 in).[21] Several scientists indicated that adult male Bengal tigers from the Terai in Nepal and Bhutan, and Assam, Uttarakhand and West Bengal in north India consistently attain more than 227 kg (500 lb) of body weight. Seven adult males captured in Chitwan National Park in the early 1970s had an average weight of 235 kg (518 lb) ranging from 200 to 261 kg (441 to 575 lb), and that of the females was 140 kg (310 lb) ranging from 116 to 164 kg (256 to 362 lb).[22] Thus, the Bengal tiger rivals the Amur tiger in average weight.[23] In addition, the record for the greatest length of skulls of tigers was an “over the bone” length of 16.25 in (413 mm) for a tiger shot in the vicinity of Nagina in northern India.[24]

Verifiable Sundarbans tiger weights are not found in any scientific literature. Forest Department records list weight measurements, but all are guesstimates and not verifiable. There are also reports of head and body lengths, some of which are listed as over 366 cm (144 in). More recently, researchers from the University of Minnesota and the Bangladesh Forest Department carried out a study for the US Fish and Wildlife Service and weighed three Sundarbans tigresses from Bangladesh. Two of them were captured and sedated for radio-collaring, the other one had been killed by local villagers. The two collared tigresses were weighed using 150 kg (330 lb) scales, and the tigress killed by villagers was weighed using a balance scale and weights. The three tigresses had a mean weight of 76.7 kg (169 lb). One of the two older female’s weight 75 kg (165 lb) weighed slightly less than the mean because of her old age and relatively poor condition at the time of capture. The teeth wear of the two radio-collared females indicated that they were between 12 and 14 years old. The tigress killed by the villagers was a young adult, probably between 3 and 4 years old, and she was likely a pre-territorial transient. Skulls and body weights of Sundarbans tigers were found to be distinct from tigers in other habitats, indicating that they may have adapted to the unique conditions of the mangrove habitat. Their small sizes are probably due to a combination of intense intraspecific competition and small size of prey available to tigers in the Sundarbans, compared to the larger deer and other prey available to tigers in other parts.[25]

Records

Two tigers shot in Kumaon and near Oude at the end of the 19th century allegedly measured more than 12 ft (366 cm). But at the time, sportsmen had not yet adopted a standard system of measurement; some measured ‘between the pegs’ while others measured ‘over the curves’.[26]

In the beginning of the 20th century, a male tiger was shot in central India with a head and body length of 221 cm (87 in) between pegs, a chest girth of 150 cm (59 in), a shoulder height of 109 cm (43 in) and a tail length of 81 cm (32 in), which was perhaps bitten off by a rival male. This specimen could not be weighed, but it was calculated to weigh no less than 272 kg (600 lb).[27] A heavy male weighing 570 lb (259 kg) was shot in northern India in the 1930s.[24] In 1980 and 1984, scientists captured and tagged two male tigers in Chitwan National Park that weighed more than 270 kg (595 lb).[28]

The heaviest wild tiger was disputably a huge male killed in 1967 by David Hassinger at the foothills of the Himalayas.[29][30] It weighed 388.7 kg (857 lb) after eating a buffalo calf, and measured 323 cm (127 in) in total length between pegs, and 338 cm (133 in) over curves. Without eating the calf beforehand, it would have likely weighed at least 324.3 kilograms (715 lb). This specimen is on exhibition in the Mammals Hall of the Smithsonian Institution.[31]

Distribution and habitat

In 1982, a sub-fossil right middle phalanx was found in a prehistoric midden near Kuruwita in Sri Lanka, which is dated to about 16,500 ybp and tentatively considered to be of a tiger. Tigers appear to have arrived in Sri Lanka during a pluvial period, during which sea levels were depressed, evidently prior to the last glacial maximum about 20,000 years ago.[32] In 1929, the British taxonomist Pocock assumed that tigers arrived in southern India too late to colonize Sri Lanka, which earlier had been connected to India by a land bridge.[15]

Results of a phylogeographic study using 134 samples from tigers across the global range suggest that the historical northeastern distribution limit of the Bengal tiger is the region in the Chittagong Hills and Brahmaputra River basin, bordering the historical range of the Indochinese tiger.[10][33]

In the Indian subcontinent, tigers inhabit tropical moist evergreen foreststropical dry forests, tropical and subtropical moist deciduous forestsmangroves, subtropical and temperate upland forests, and alluvial grasslands. Latter habitat once covered a huge swath of grassland, riverine and moist semi-deciduous forests along the major river system of the Gangetic and Brahmaputra plains, but has now been largely converted to agricultural land or severely degraded. Today, the best examples of this habitat type are limited to a few blocks at the base of the outer foothills of the Himalayas including the Tiger Conservation Units (TCUs) RajajiCorbettBardiaBanke, and the transboundary TCUs ChitwanParsaValmikiDudhwaKailali and ShuklaphantaKishanpur. Tiger densities in these TCUs are high, in part because of the extraordinary biomass of ungulate prey.[34]

The tigers in the Sundarbans in India and Bangladesh are the only ones in the world inhabiting mangrove forests. The population in the Indian Sundarbans is estimated as 70 tigers in total.[4]

India

Tigress with cubs in Kanha Tiger Reserve

In the past, Indian censuses of wild tigers relied on the individual identification of footprints known as pug marks — a method that has been criticised as deficient and inaccurate, though now camera traps are being used in many places.[35]

Good tiger habitats in subtropical and temperate upland forests include the Tiger Conservation Units (TCUs) ManasNamdapha. TCUs in tropical dry forest include Hazaribag Wildlife SanctuaryNagarjunsagar-Srisailam Tiger ReserveKanhaIndravati corridor, Orissa dry forestsPanna National ParkMelghat Tiger Reserve and Ratapani Tiger Reserve. The TCUs in tropical moist deciduous forest are probably some of the most productive habitats for tigers and their prey, and include KazirangaMeghalayaKanhaPenchSimlipal and Indravati Tiger Reserves. The TCUs in tropical moist evergreen forests represent the less common tiger habitats, being largely limited to the upland areas and wetter parts of the Western Ghats, and include the tiger reserves of PeriyarKalakad-MundathuraiBandipur and Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary.[34]

During the tiger census of 2008, camera trap and sign surveys using GIS were employed to project site-specific densities of tigers, their co-predators and prey. Based on the result of these surveys, the total tiger population was estimated at 1,411 individuals ranging from 1,165 to 1,657 adult and sub-adult tigers of more than 1.5 years of age. Across India, six landscape complexes were surveyed that host tigers and have the potential to be connected. These landscapes comprise the following:[36]

In May 2008, forest officials spotted 14 tiger cubs in Rajasthan‘s Ranthambore National Park.[37] In June 2008, a tiger from Ranthambore was relocated to Sariska Tiger Reserve, where all tigers had fallen victim to poachers and human encroachments since 2005.[38]

As of 2014, adult and subadult tigers at 1.5 years or older are estimated to number 408 in Karnataka, 340 in Uttarakhand, 308 in Madhya Pradesh, 229 in Tamil Nadu, 190 in Maharashtra, 167 in Assam, 136 in Kerala, and 117 in Uttar Pradesh.[39]

Bangladesh

A tiger in Bangladesh, 2015

Tigers in Bangladesh are now relegated to the forests of the Sundarbans and the Chittagong Hill Tracts.[40] The Chittagong forest is contiguous with tiger habitat in India and Myanmar, but the tiger population is of unknown status.[41]

As of 2004, population estimates in Bangladesh ranged from 200 to 419, mostly in the Sundarbans.[40][42] This region is the only mangrove habitat in this bioregion, where tigers survive, swimming between islands in the delta to hunt prey.[34] Bangladesh’s Forest Department is raising mangrove plantations supplying forage for spotted deer. Since 2001, afforestation has continued on a small scale in newly accreted lands and islands of the Sundarbans.[6]From October 2005 to January 2007, the first camera-trap survey was conducted across six sites in the Bangladesh Sundarbans to estimate tiger population density. The average of these six sites provided an estimate of 3.7 tigers per 100 km2 (39 sq mi). Since the Bangladesh Sundarbans is an area of 5,770 km2 (2,230 sq mi) it was inferred that the total tiger population comprised approximately 200 individuals.[43] In another study, home ranges of adult female tigers were recorded comprising between 12 and 14 km2 (4.6 and 5.4 sq mi), which would indicate an approximate carrying capacity of 150 adult females.[44][45] The small home range of adult female tigers (and consequent high density of tigers) in this habitat type relative to other areas may be related to both the high density of prey and the small size of the Sundarban tigers.[20]

Since 2007 tiger monitoring surveys have been carried out every year by WildTeam in the Bangladesh Sundarbans to monitor changes in the Bangladesh tiger population and assess the effectiveness of conservation actions. This survey measures changes in the frequency of tiger track sets along the sides of tidal waterways as an index of relative tiger abundance across the Sundarbans landscape.[46]

By 2009, the tiger population in the Bangladesh Sundarbans was estimated as 100–150 adult females or 335–500 tigers overall. Female home ranges, recorded using Global Positioning System collars, were some of the smallest recorded for tigers, indicating that the Bangladesh Sundarbans could have one of the highest densities and largest populations of tigers anywhere in the world. They are isolated from the next tiger population by a distance of up to 300 km (190 mi). Information is lacking on many aspects of Sundarbans tiger ecology, including relative abundance, population status, spatial dynamics, habitat selection, life history characteristics, taxonomy, genetics, and disease. There is also no monitoring program in place to track changes in the tiger population over time, and therefore no way of measuring the response of the population to conservation activities or threats. Most studies have focused on the tiger-human conflict in the area, but two studies in the Sundarbans East Wildlife sanctuary documented habitat-use patterns of tigers, and abundances of tiger prey, and another study investigated tiger parasite load. Some major threats to tigers have been identified. The tigers living in the Sundarbans are threatened by habitat destruction, prey depletion, highly aggressive and rampant intraspecific competition, tiger-human conflict, and direct tiger loss.[25]

Nepal

Tigers and a bear killed by King George V in Nepal, in 1911

The tiger population in the Terai of Nepal is split into three isolated subpopulations that are separated by cultivation and densely settled habitat. The largest population lives in Chitwan National Park and in the adjacent Parsa National Park encompassing an area of 2,543 km2 (982 sq mi) of prime lowland forest. To the west, the Chitwan population is isolated from the one in Bardia National Park and adjacent unprotected habitat farther west, extending to within 15 km (9.3 mi) of the Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve, which harbours the smallest population.[47] The bottleneck between the Chitwan-Parsa and Bardia-Sukla Phanta metapopulations is situated just north of the town of Butwal.

As of 2009, an estimated 121 breeding tigers lived in Nepal.[48] By 2010, the number of adult tigers had reached 155.[49] A survey conducted from December 2009 to March 2010 indicates that 125 adult tigers live in Chitwan National Park and its border areas covering 1,261 km2 (487 sq mi).[50]

From February to June 2013, a camera trapping survey was carried out in the Terai Arc Landscape, covering an area of 4,841 km2 (1,869 sq mi) in 14 districts. The country’s tiger population was estimated at 163–235 breeding adults comprising 102–152 tigers in the Chitwan-Parsa protected areas, 48–62 in the Bardia-Banke National Parks and 13–21 in the Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve.[51]

Bhutan

As of 2015, the population in Bhutan is estimated at 103 individuals.[9] Tigers occur from an altitude of 200 m (660 ft) in the subtropical Himalayan foothills in the south along the border with India to over 3,000 m (9,800 ft) in the temperate forests in the north, and are known from 17 of 18 districts. Their stronghold appears to be the central belt of the country ranging in altitude between 2,000 and 3,500 m (6,600 and 11,500 ft), between the Mo River in the west and the Kulong River in the east.[52] In 2010, camera traps recorded a pair of tigers at altitudes of 3,000 to 4,100 m (9,800 to 13,500 ft). The male was recorded scent-marking, and the female can also be seen to be lactating, confirming that the pair are living within their own territory, and strongly suggesting they are breeding at that altitude.[53]

Ecology and behavior

A tigress having a bath in the Ranthambhore Tiger ReserveRajasthan, India
A tigress with her cubs in the Bandhavgarh National Park, Madhya Pradesh

The basic social unit of the tiger is the elemental one of mother and offspring. Adult animals congregate only on an ad hoc and transitory basis when special conditions permit, such as plentiful supply of food. Otherwise they lead solitary lives, hunting individually for the dispersed forest and tall grassland animals, upon which they prey. They establish and maintain home ranges. Resident adults of either sex tend to confine their movements to a definite area of habitat within which they satisfy their needs, and in the case of tigresses, those of their growing cubs. Besides providing the requirements of an adequate food supply, sufficient water and shelter, and a modicum of peace and seclusion, this location must make it possible for the resident to maintain contact with other tigers, especially those of the opposite sex. Those sharing the same ground are well aware of each other’s movements and activities.[18]

In the Panna Tiger Reserve an adult radio-collared male tiger moved 1.7 to 10.5 km (1.1 to 6.5 mi) between locations on successive days in winter, and 1 to 13.9 km (0.62 to 8.64 mi) in summer. His home range was about 200 km2 (77 sq mi) in summer and 110 km2 (42 sq mi) in winter. Included in his home range were the much smaller home ranges of two females, a tigress with cubs and a sub-adult tigress. They occupied home ranges of 16 to 31 km2 (6.2 to 12.0 sq mi).[54]

The home ranges occupied by adult male residents tend to be mutually exclusive, even though one of these residents may tolerate a transient or sub-adult male at least for a time. A male tiger keeps a large territory in order to include the home ranges of several females within its bounds, so that he may maintain mating rights with them. Spacing among females is less complete. Typically there is partial overlap with neighboring female residents. They tend to have core areas, which are more exclusive, at least for most of the time. Home ranges of both males and females are not stable. The shift or alteration of a home range by one animal is correlated with a shift of another. Shifts from less suitable habitat to better ones are made by animals that are already resident. New animals become residents only as vacancies occur when a former resident moves out or dies. There are more places for resident females than for resident males.[18]

During seven years of camera trapping, tracking, and observational data in Chitwan National Park, 6 to 9 breeding tigers, 2 to 16 non-breeding tigers, and 6 to 20 young tigers of less than one year of age were detected in the study area of 100 km2 (39 sq mi). One of the resident females left her territory to one of her female offspring and took over an adjoining area by displacing another female; and a displaced female managed to re-establish herself in a neighboring territory made vacant by the death of the resident. Of 11 resident females, 7 were still alive at the end of the study period, 2 disappeared after losing their territories to rivals, and 2 died. The initial loss of two resident males and subsequent take over of their home ranges by new males caused social instability for two years. Of 4 resident males, 1 was still alive and 3 were displaced by rivals. Five litters of cubs were killed by infanticide, 2 litters died because they were too young to fend for themselves when their mothers died. One juvenile tiger was presumed dead after being photographed with severe injuries from a deer snare. The remaining young lived long enough to reach dispersal age, 2 of them becoming residents in the study area.[55]

Hunting and diet

A tiger attacking a Sambar deer in Ranthambore
Male tiger and mugger crocodile at Rajbaugh, Ranthambhore

The tiger is a carnivore. It prefers hunting large ungulates such as chitalsambargaur, and to a lesser extent also barasinghawater buffalonilgaiserow and takin. Among the medium-sized prey species it frequently kills wild boar, and occasionally hog deermuntjac and grey langur. Small prey species such as porcupinehares and peafowl form a very small part in its diet. Because of the encroachment of humans into tiger habitat, it also preys on domestic livestock.[56][57][58][59][60]

They rarely attack adult Indian elephant and Indian rhinoceros, but such extraordinarily rare events have been recorded.[2] In Kaziranga National Park, tigers killed 20 rhinoceros in 2007.[61] In the Sundarbans, venomous snakeshave been found in the bellies of tigers.[14]

Results of scat analyses indicate that the tigers in Nagarahole National Park preferred prey weighing more than 176 kg (388 lb) and that on average tiger prey weighed 91.5 kg (202 lb). The prey species included chital, sambar, wild pig and gaur. Gaur remains were found in 44.8% of all tiger scat samples, sambar remains in 28.6%, wild pig remains in 14.3% and chital remains in 10.4% of all scat samples.[62] In Bandipur National Park, gaur and sambar together also constituted 73% of tiger diet.[57]

In most cases, tigers approach their victim from the side or behind from as close a distance as possible and grasp the prey’s throat to kill it. Then they drag the carcass into cover, occasionally over several hundred meters, to consume it. The nature of the tiger’s hunting method and prey availability results in a “feast or famine” feeding style: they often consume 18–40 kilograms (40–88 lb) of meat at one time.[2] If injured, old or weak, or regular prey species are becoming scarce, tigers also attack humans and become man-eaters.[63]

Competition

Bengal tigers occasionally hunt and kill predators such as Indian leopardIndian wolfIndian jackalfoxmugger crocodileAsiatic black bearsloth bear, and dhole.[2]

Captive Asiatic lion and tigers at Bannerghatta National Park.[64] India is currently the only country with wild populations of both tiger and lion.[11]

Clashes between tigers and Asiatic lions have been reported, before humans extirpated either of them in a number of places.[65][66] Currently, the Asiatic lion occurs in Gir Forest National ParkGujarat.[67] The closest Bengal tiger population lives at the border triangle of Gujarat, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh.[36] The Gir Forest is in the same ecoregion as Ranthambore and Sariska National Parks: the Kathiawar-Gir dry deciduous forests.[11][36][68] The Dangs’ Forest in southeastern Gujarat is potential tiger habitat.[4] Before Indian independence, the Maharaja of Gwalior State introduced African lions in Madhya Pradesh.[4]

Reproduction and lifecycle

A male and female interact with each other in Karnataka, India

The tiger in India has no definite mating and birth seasons. Most young are born in December and April.[27] Young have also been found in March, May, October and November.[69] In the 1960s, certain aspects of tiger behaviour at Kanha National Park indicated that the peak of sexual activity was from November to about February, with some mating probably occurring throughout the year.[70]

Males reach maturity at 4–5 years of age, and females at 3–4 years. A Bengal comes into heat at intervals of about 3–9 weeks, and is receptive for 3–6 days. After a gestation period of 104–106 days, 1–4 cubs are born in a shelter situated in tall grass, thick bush or in caves. Newborn cubs weigh 780 to 1,600 g (1.72 to 3.53 lb) and they have a thick wooly fur that is shed after 3.5–5 months. Their eyes and ears are closed. Their milk teeth start to erupt at about 2–3 weeks after birth, and are slowly replaced by permanent dentition from 8.5–9.5 weeks of age onwards. They suckle for 3–6 months, and begin to eat small amounts of solid food at about 2 months of age. At this time, they follow their mother on her hunting expeditions and begin to take part in hunting at 5–6 months of age. At the age of 2–3 years, they slowly start to separate from the family group and become transient — looking out for an area, where they can establish their own territory. Young males move further away from their mother’s territory than young females. Once the family group has split, the mother comes into heat again.[2]

Threats

Over the past century tiger numbers have fallen dramatically, with a decreasing population trend. None of the Tiger Conservation Landscapes within the Bengal tiger range is large enough to support an effective population size of 250 individuals. Habitat losses and the extremely large-scale incidences of poaching are serious threats to the species’ survival.[1]

The challenge in the Western Ghats forest complex in western South India, an area of 14,400 square miles (37,000 km2) stretching across several protected areas is that people live within its borders. The Save the Tiger Fund Council estimates that 7,500 landless people live illegally inside the boundaries of the 386-square-mile (1,000 km2Nagarhole National Park in southwestern India. A voluntary if controversial resettlement is underway with the aid of the Karnataka Tiger Conservation Project led by K. Ullas Karanth of the Wildlife Conservation Society.[citation needed]

A 2007 report by UNESCO, “Case Studies on Climate Change and World Heritage” has stated that an anthropogenic 45-cm rise in sea level, likely by the end of the 21st century, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, combined with other forms of anthropogenic stress on the Sundarbans, could lead to the destruction of 75% of the Sundarbans mangroves.[citation needed] The Forest Rights Act passed by the Indian government in 2006 grants some of India’s most impoverished communities the right to own and live in the forests, which likely brings them into conflict with wildlife and under-resourced, under-trained, ill-equipped forest department staff. In the past, evidence showed that humans and tigers cannot co-exist.[71]

Poaching

A tiger in the area of Mangalore, Karnataka

The most significant immediate threat to the existence of wild tiger populations is the illegal trade in poached skins and body parts between India, Nepal and China. The governments of these countries have failed to implement adequate enforcement response, and wildlife crime remained a low priority in terms of political commitment and investment for years. There are well-organised gangs of professional poachers, who move from place to place and set up camp in vulnerable areas. Skins are rough-cured in the field and handed over to dealers, who send them for further treatment to Indian tanning centres. Buyers choose the skins from dealers or tanneries and smuggle them through a complex interlinking network to markets outside India, mainly in China. Other factors contributing to their loss are urbanization and revenge killing. Farmers blame tigers for killing cattle and shoot them. Their skins and body parts may however become a part of the illegal trade.[72] In Bangladesh, tigers are killed by professional poachers, local hunters, trappers, pirates and villagers. Each group of people has different motives for killing tigers, ranging from profit, excitement to safety concerns. All groups have access to the commercial trade in body parts.[73][74]

The illicit demand for bones and body parts from wild tigers for use in Traditional Chinese medicine is the reason for the unrelenting poaching pressure on tigers on the Indian subcontinent. For at least a thousand years, tiger bones have been an ingredient in traditional medicines that are prescribed as a muscle strengthener and treatment for rheumatism and body pain.[75]

Between 1994 and 2009, the Wildlife Protection Society of India has documented 893 cases of tigers killed in India, which is just a fraction of the actual poaching and trade in tiger parts during those years.[76]

In 2006, India’s Sariska Tiger Reserve lost all of its 26 tigers, mostly to poaching.[77] In 2007, police in Allahabad raided a meeting of suspected poachers, traders and couriers. One of the arrested persons was the biggest buyer of tiger parts in India who used to sell them off to the Chinese traditional medicinal market, using women from a nomadic tribe as couriers.[78] In 2009, none of the 24 tigers residing in the Panna Tiger Reserve were left because of excessive poaching.[79]

In November 2011, two tigers were found dead in Maharashtra: a male tiger was trapped and killed in a wire snare; a tigress died of electrocution after chewing at an electric cable supplying power to a water pump; another tigress was found dead in Kanha Tiger Reserve landscape — poisoning is suspected to be the cause of her death.[80]

Human–tiger conflict

The Indian subcontinent has served as a stage for intense human and tiger confrontations. The region affording habitat where tigers have achieved their highest densities is also one which has housed one of the most concentrated and rapidly expanding human populations. At the beginning of the 19th century tigers were so numerous it seemed to be a question as to whether man or tiger would survive. It became the official policy to encourage the killing of tigers as rapidly as possible, rewards being paid for their destruction in many localities. The United Provinces supported large numbers of tigers in the submontane Terai region, where man-eating had been uncommon. In the latter half of the 19th century, marauding tigers began to take a toll of human life. These animals were pushed into marginal habitat, where tigers had formerly not been known, or where they existed only in very low density, by an expanding population of more vigorous animals that occupied the prime habitat in the lowlands, where there was high prey density and good habitat for reproduction. The dispersers had nowhere else to go, since the prime habitat was bordered in the south by cultivation. They are thought to have followed back the herds of domestic livestock that wintered in the plains when they returned to the hills in the spring, and then being left without prey when the herds dispersed back to their respective villages. These tigers were the old, the young and the disabled. All suffered from some disability, mainly caused either by gunshot wounds or porcupine quills.[81]

In the Sundarbans, 10 out of 13 man-eaters recorded in the 1970s were males, and they accounted for 86% of the victims. These man-eaters have been grouped into the confirmed or dedicated ones who go hunting especially for human prey; and the opportunistic ones, who do not search for humans but will, if they encounter a man, attack, kill and devour him. In areas where opportunistic man-eaters were found, the killing of humans was correlated with their availability, most victims being claimed during the honey gathering season.[82]Tigers in the Sunderbans presumably attacked humans who entered their territories in search of wood, honey or fish, thus causing them to defend their territories. The number of tiger attacks on humans may be higher outside suitable areas for tigers, where numerous humans are present but which contain little wild prey for tigers.[83] Between 1999 and 2001, the highest concentration of tiger attacks on people occurred in the northern and western boundaries of the Bangladesh Sundarbans. Most people were attacked in the mornings while collecting fuel wood, timber, or other raw materials, or while fishing.[84]

In Nepal, the incidence of man-eating tigers has been only sporadic. In Chitwan National Park no cases were recorded before 1980. In the following few years, 13 people have been killed and eaten in the park and its environs. In the majority of cases, man-eating appeared to have been related to an intra-specific competition among male tigers.[81]

In December 2012, a tiger was shot by the Kerala Forest Department on a coffee plantation on the fringes of the Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary. Chief Wildlife Warden of Kerala ordered the hunt for the animal after mass protests erupted as the tiger had been carrying away livestock. The Forest Department had constituted a special task force to capture the animal with the assistance of a 10-member Special Tiger Protection Force and two trained elephants from the Bandipur Tiger Reserve in Karnataka.[85][86]

Conservation efforts

An area of special interest lies in the “Terai Arc Landscape” in the Himalayan foothills of northern India and southern Nepal, where 11 protected areas composed of dry forest foothills and tall-grass savannas harbor tigers in a 49,000 square kilometres (19,000 sq mi) landscape. The goals are to manage tigers as a single metapopulation, the dispersal of which between core refuges can help maintain genetic, demographic, and ecological integrity, and to ensure that species and habitat conservation becomes mainstreamed into the rural development agenda. In Nepal a community-based tourism model has been developed with a strong emphasis on sharing benefits with local people and on the regeneration of degraded forests. The approach has been successful in reducing poaching, restoring habitats, and creating a local constituency for conservation.[87]

WWF partnered with Leonardo DiCaprio to form a global campaign, “Save Tigers Now”, with the ambitious goal of building political, financial and public support to double the wild tiger population by 2022.[88] Save Tigers Now started its campaign in 12 different WWF Tiger priority landscapes, since May 2010.[89]

In India

In 1973, Project Tiger was launched aiming at ensuring a viable tiger population in the country and preserving areas of biological importance as a natural heritage for the people. The project’s task force visualised these tiger reserves as breeding nuclei, from which surplus animals would disperse to adjacent forests. The selection of areas for the reserves represented as close as possible the diversity of ecosystems across the tiger’s distribution in the country. Funds and commitment were mustered to support the intensive program of habitat protection and rehabilitation under the project. By the late 1980s, the initial nine reserves covering an area of 9,115 square kilometres (3,519 sq mi) had been increased to 15 reserves covering an area of 24,700 square kilometres (9,500 sq mi). More than 1100 tigers were estimated to inhabit the reserves by 1984.[90][91]

Through this initiative the population decline was reversed initially, but has resumed in recent years; India’s tiger population decreased from 3,642 in the 1990s to just over 1,400 from 2002 to 2008.[92]

The Indian Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 enables government agencies to take strict measures so as to ensure the conservation of the Bengal tigers. The Wildlife Institute of India estimates showed that tiger numbers had fallen in Madhya Pradesh by 61%, Maharashtra by 57%, and Rajasthan by 40%. The government’s first tiger census, conducted under the Project Tiger initiative begun in 1973, counted 1,827 tigers in the country that year. Using that methodology, the government observed a steady population increase, reaching 3,700 tigers in 2002. However, the use of more reliable and independent censusing technology (including camera traps) for the 2007–2008 all-India census has shown that the numbers were in fact less than half than originally claimed by the Forest Department.[93]

Following the revelation that only 1,411 Bengal tigers existed in the wild in India, down from 3,600 in 2003, the Indian government set up eight new tiger reserves.[94] Because of dwindling tiger numbers, the Indian government has pledged US$153 million to further fund the Project Tiger initiative, set up a Tiger Protection Force to combat poachers, and fund the relocation of up to 200,000 villagers to minimize human-tiger interaction.[95] Tiger scientists in India, such as Raghu Chundawat and Ullas Karanth have called for use of technology in the conservation efforts.[96]

George Schaller wrote:[97]

India has to decide whether it wants to keep the tiger or not. It has to decide if it is worthwhile to keep its National Symbol, its icon, representing wildlife. It has to decide if it wants to keep its natural heritage for future generations, a heritage more important than the cultural one, whether we speak of its temples, the Taj Mahal, or others, because once destroyed it cannot be replaced.

In January 2008, the Government of India launched a dedicated anti-poaching force composed of experts from Indian police, forest officials and various other environmental agencies.[98] Indian officials successfully started a project to reintroduce the tigers into the Sariska reserve.[99] The Ranthambore National Park is often cited as a major success by Indian officials against poaching.[100] The population increased to 1,706 in 2011 and 2,226 in 2014.[101] There are 48[102] tiger reserves in India[103]

Kuno-Palpur in Madhya Pradesh was supposed receive Asiatic lions from Gujarat. Since no lion has been transferred from Gujarat to Madhya Pradesh so far, it may be used as a sanctuary for the tiger instead.[104][105]

In Bangladesh

WildTeam is working with local communities and the Bangladesh Forest Department to reduce human-tiger conflict in the Bangladesh Sundarbans. For over 100 years people, tigers, and livestock have been injured and killed in the conflict; in recent decades up to 50 people, 80 livestock, and 3 tigers have been killed in a year. Now, through WildTeam’s work, there is a boat-based Tiger Response team that provides first aid, transport, and body retrieval support for people being killed in the forest by tigers. WildTeam has also set up 49 volunteer Village Response Teams that are trained to save tigers that have strayed into the village areas and would be otherwise killed. These village teams are made up of over 350 volunteers, who are also now supporting anti-poaching work and conservation education/awareness activities. WildTeam also works to empower local communities to access the government funds for compensating the loss/injury of livestock and people from the conflict. To monitor the conflict and assess the effectiveness of actions, WildTeam have also set up a human-tiger conflict data collection and reporting system.

In Nepal

The government aims at doubling the country’s tiger population by 2022, and in May 2010, decided to establish Banke National Park with a protected area of 550 square kilometres (210 sq mi), which bears good potential for tiger habitat.[106] It is protected in Chitwan National ParkBardiya National ParkSukla Phanta Wildlife Reserve, etc.

Ex situ

A captive tiger in Bannerghatta National Park
File:Panthera tigris1.ogv
Video

Bengal tigers have been captive bred since 1880 and widely crossed with other tiger subspecies.[107] Indian zoos have bred tigers for the first time at the Alipore Zoo in Kolkata. The 1997 International Tiger Studbook lists the global captive population of Bengal tigers at 210 individuals that are all kept in Indian zoos, except for one female in North America. Completion of the Indian Bengal Tiger Studbook is a necessary prerequisite to establishing a captive management program for tigers in India.[108]

Admixed genetic heritage

In July 1976, Billy Arjan Singh acquired a hand-reared tigress named Tara from Twycross Zoo in the United Kingdom, and reintroduced her to the wild in Dudhwa National Park with the permission of India’s then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.[109] In the 1990s, some tigers from this area were observed to have the typical appearance of Siberian tigers, namely a large head, pale fur, white complexion, and wide stripes, and were suspected to be Siberian–Bengal tiger hybrids. Billy Arjan Singh sent hair samples of tigers from the national park to the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology in Hyderabad where the samples were analysed using mitochondrial sequence analysis. Results revealed that the tigers in question had an Indian tiger mitochondrial haplotype indicating that their mother was an Indian tiger.[110] Skin, hair and blood samples from 71 tigers collected in various Indian zoos, in the National Museum in Kolkata and including two samples from Dudhwa National Park were prepared for microsatellite analysis that revealed that two tigers had alleles in two loci contributed by Bengal and Siberian tiger subspecies.[111] However, samples of two hybrid specimens constituted a too small sample base to conclusively assume that Tara was the source of the Siberian tiger genes.[112]

“Re-wilding” project in South Africa

In 2000, the Bengal tiger re-wilding project Tiger Canyons was started by John Varty, who together with the zoologist Dave Salmoni trained captive-bred tiger cubs how to stalk, hunt, associate hunting with food and regain their predatory instincts. They claimed that once the tigers proved that they can sustain themselves in the wild, they would be released into a free-range sanctuary of South Africa to fend for themselves.[113]

The project has received controversy after accusations by their investors and conservationists of manipulating the behaviour of the tigers for the purpose of a film production, Living with Tigers, with the tigers believed to be unable to hunt.[114][115] Stuart Bray, who had originally invested a large sum of money in the project, claimed that he and his wife, Li Quan, watched the film crew “[chase] the prey up against the fence and into the path of the tigers just for the sake of dramatic footage.”[114][115]

The four tigers involved in this project have been confirmed to be crossbred Siberian–Bengal tigers, which should neither be used for breeding nor being released into the Karoo. Tigers that are not genetically pure will not be able to participate in the tiger Species Survival Plan, as they are not used for breeding, and are not allowed to be released into the wild.[116]

In the United States of America

A white tiger at the Cougar Mountain ZooIssaquah, Washington

In October 2011, 18 Bengal tigers were among the exotic animals shot by the local sheriff’s department after the 2011 Ohio exotic animal release

Rabbits

Image result for Rabbits

Rabbits are small mammals in the family Leporidae of the order Lagomorpha (along with the hare and the pika). Oryctolagus cuniculus includes the European rabbit species and its descendants, the world’s 305 breeds[1] of domestic rabbitSylvilagus includes thirteen wild rabbit species, among them the seven types of cottontail. The European rabbit, which has been introduced on every continent except Antarctica, is familiar throughout the world as a wild prey animal and as a domesticated form of livestock and pet. With its widespread effect on ecologies and cultures, the rabbit (or bunny) is, in many areas of the world, a part of daily life—as food, clothing, and companion, and as a source of artistic inspiration.

Male rabbits are called bucks; females are called does. An older term for an adult rabbit is coney, while rabbit once referred only to the young animals. Another term for a young rabbit is bunny, though this term is often applied informally (especially by children) to rabbits generally, especially domestic ones. More recently, the term kit or kitten has been used to refer to a young rabbit.

A group of rabbits is known as a colony or nest (or, occasionally, a warren, though this more commonly refers to where the rabbits live). A group of baby rabbits produced from a single mating is referred to as a litter, and a group of domestic rabbits living together is sometimes called a herd

Rabbits and hares were formerly classified in the order Rodentia (rodent) until 1912, when they were moved into a new order, Lagomorpha (which also includes pikas). Below are some of the genera and species of the rabbit

Hares are precocial, born relatively mature and mobile with hair and good vision, while rabbits are altricial, born hairless and blind, and requiring closer care. Hares (and cottontail rabbits) live a relatively solitary life in a simple nest above the ground, while most rabbits live in social groups underground in burrows or warrens. Hares are generally larger than rabbits, with ears that are more elongated, and with hind legs that are larger and longer. Hares have not been domesticated, while descendants of the European rabbit are commonly bred as livestock and kept as pets

Rabbits have long been domesticated. Beginning in the Middle Ages, the European rabbit has been widely kept as livestock, starting in ancient RomeSelective breeding has generated a wide variety of rabbit breeds, many of which (since the early 19th century) are also kept as pets. Some strains of rabbit have been bred specifically as research subjects.

As livestock, rabbits are bred for their meat and fur. The earliest breeds were important sources of meat, and so became larger than wild rabbits, but domestic rabbits in modern times range in size from dwarf to giant. Rabbit fur, prized for its softness, can be found in a broad range of coat colors and patterns, as well as lengths. The Angora rabbit breed, for example, was developed for its long, silky fur, which is often hand-spun into yarn. Other domestic rabbit breeds have been developed primarily for the commercial fur trade, including the Rex, which has a short plush coat.

Because the rabbit’s epiglottis is engaged over the soft palate except when swallowing, the rabbit is an obligate nasal breather. Rabbits have two sets of incisor teeth, one behind the other. This way they can be distinguished from rodents, with which they are often confused.[6] Carl Linnaeus originally grouped rabbits and rodents under the class Glires; later, they were separated as the scientific consensus is that many of their similarities were a result of convergent evolution. However, recent DNA analysis and the discovery of a common ancestor has supported the view that they do share a common lineage, and thus rabbits and rodents are now often referred to together as members of the superorder Glires.

Since speed and agility are a rabbit’s main defenses against predators (including the swift fox), rabbits have large hind leg bones and well developed musculature. Though plantigrade at rest, rabbits are on their toes while running, assuming a more digitigrade form. Rabbits use their strong claws for digging and (along with their teeth) for defense.[8] Each front foot has four toes plus a dewclaw. Each hind foot has four toes (but no dewclaw).[9]

Most wild rabbits (especially compared to hares) have relatively full, egg-shaped bodies. The soft coat of the wild rabbit is agouti in coloration (or, rarely, melanistic), which aids in camouflage. The tail of the rabbit (with the exception of the cottontail species) is dark on top and white below. Cottontails have white on the top of their tails.

Rabbits have muscled hind legs that allow for maximum force, maneuverability, and acceleration that is divided into three main parts; foot, thigh, and leg. The hind limbs of a rabbit are an exaggerated feature, that are much longer than the forelimbs providing more force. Rabbits run on their toes to gain the optimal stride during locomotion. The force put out by the hind limbs is contributed to both the structural anatomy of the fusion tibia and fibula, and muscular features.[16] Bone formation and removal, from a cellular standpoint, is directly correlated to hind limb muscles. Action pressure from muscles creates force that is then distributed through the skeletal structures. Rabbits that generate less force, putting less stress on bones are more prone to osteoporosis due to bone rarefaction.[17] In rabbits, the more fibers in a muscle, the more resistant to fatigue. For example, hares have a greater resistant to fatigue than cottontails. The muscles of rabbit’s hind limbs can be classified into four main categories: hamstringsquadricepsdorsiflexors, or plantar flexors. The quadricep muscles are in charge of force production when jumping. Complimenting these muscles are the hamstrings which aid in short bursts of action. These muscles play off of one another in the same way as the plantar flexors and doriflexors, contributing to the generation and actions associated with force.

Within the order lagomorphs, the ears are utilized to detect and avoid predators. In the family leporidae, the ears are typically longer than they are wide. For example, in black tailed jack rabbits, their long ears cover a greater surface area relative to their body size that allow them to detect predators from far away. Contrasted to cotton tailed rabbits, their ears are smaller and shorter, requiring predators to be closer to detect them before fleeing. Evolution has favored rabbits to have shorter ears so the larger surface area does not cause them to lose heat in more temperate regions. The opposite can be seen in rabbits that live in hotter climates, mainly because they possess longer ears that have a larger surface area that help with dispersion of heat as well as the theory that sound does not travel well in more arid air, opposed to cooler air. Therefore, longer ears are meant to aid the organism in detecting prey sooner rather than later in warmer temperatures.[19] The rabbit is characterized by its shorter ears while hares are characterized by their longer ears.[20] Rabbits ears are an important structure to aid thermoregulation and detect predators due to how the outer, middle, and inner ear muscles coordinate with one another. The ear muscles also aid in maintaining balance and movement when fleeing predators.