From my Hide: Rats ‘n’ cats…

David Holt-Biddle

NEWS from New Zealand is that the government has announced that it intends wiping out the islands’ entire rat population, as well as other ‘invasive predators’, because of the damage being done to the indigenous bird population.

It has been calculated that rats, stoats, possums and feral cats are killing 25-million New Zealand birds a year and also threaten the future of the country’s national bird and famous emblem, the kiwi.

New Zealand has a reputation for very effective pest control – recently it managed to contain possum populations using aerial bombardment with pesticides.

One wonders if they will use that particular method on urban rats.

Not rats, but close. Rare water voles have returned to an English lake for the first time in 50 years.

The voles, once common but now one of the most endangered mammals in the UK, have been reintroduced to England’s highest lake, Malham Tarn in Yorkshire.

HERE’S MORE FROM DAVID HOLT-BIDDLE : From my hide: The water news, of lakes and oceans…

One of the main threats to the water vole is the alien American mink, but mink control programmes are beginning to pay dividends.

This next item is not for cat lovers.

An independent study conducted in the United States says that domestic cats kill an estimated 2.4-billion birds a year in America alone, as well as 22-billion small mammals.

An American ornithologist, Dr Peter Marra, says the only solution is much greater control of cats, like domestic cats on leashes when allowed outdoors, and a huge cull of feral cats.

In the UK, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds says that Britain’s 7.4-million domestic cats and 9-million strays are indeed a problem, but as they tend to prey on the weak and the sick it is not having that much of an environmental impact.

Whoever is right, it certainly makes one ponder what you pet moggie is up to when you’re not watching.

And cats of a different sort – most readers will be familiar with the glorious music from that wonderful show, Cats, and some of us have been fortunate enough to have seen it on stage.

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The show is the ultimate entertainment of humans by cats, and, well, the tables have been turned.

Universal Music, an American-French company has released an album of music and sound effects for cats.

Composed by American musician, David Teie, the album includes purring, naturally, as well as what are described as the soothing sound of the cello (Teie is a cellist).

It is designed to have a calming effect on cat listeners.

How interesting. The cello, which is our favourite instrument, certainly has a calming effect on us.

And finally, one of the big cats.

The extremely rare snow leopard is reported to be under increasing threat in its habitat in the mountain ranges of Asia.

A report released by TRAFFIC (Trade Records Analysis of Flora and Fauna in Commerce) says there are now no more than 4 000 left in the wild, mainly in the Himalayas, the biggest threat being from farmers protecting their stock.

Source: The Week: The Best of the British and foreign Media.

David Holt-Biddle

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