Cat’s are all the craze. Have been for a few years now (more like ten years with all the cheezburgrz etc.). However, cat is also something much worse than just a fluffy, cute and adorably playful critter that makes for good memes.
A small, domesticated feline, the house cat has spread all across the globe with humans, who have brought these animals with them to kill household pests such as mice and rats. For this purpose cat is perfect: fast, agile and well equipped with sharp retractable claws. Unfortunately, a cat does not discriminate between its targets: it hunts and kills pretty much everything that moves from lizards to squirrels to birds. The havoc a cat wreaks, especially during summer when the nature is full of nesting birds and other animals and their young, has a devastating effect on local populations of birds and other animals that already lose most of their offspring to natural predators, cold, disease and traffic. A cat is an unwanted addition to this list of dangers. A cat let loose moves over a wide area and when there are dozens of cats moving around the damage is multiplied. It has been estimated that house cats annually kill approximately 55 million birds in Britain alone and it is reasonable to believe that the picture is same wherever there are cats roaming free.
It is very important to understand certain facts about cats before saying that cats killing birds or other animals is the natural course of things: house cat is an introduced and invasive predator, thus it is not to be considered a natural predator of e.g. birds. It is also significantly different from natural feline predators, such as Eurasian lynx (Felis lynx) and European wild cat (Felis silvestris silvestris) in that it is essentially a domesticated animal, bred by humans in rather large numbers and usually looked after, at least to some extent by an owner. Even a stray cat has good chances of survival due to the fact that where there are humans is also food, some forms of shelter and other opportunities for living and multiplying with other strays.
It is very unfortunate that many people believe that it is perfectly alright to let a cat roam free. In Finland, at least, this is actually against the law, although this law is unfortunately very little obeyed and not even enforced. It is likewise illegal to keep dogs unleashed, unless the dog is performing some kind of work, such as aiding a hunter. It should be remembered that an animal is at the responsibility of its owner at all times: any damage an animal causes to humans, other house pets, livestock, material property or wildlife, is to be compensated by the animal’s owner. Letting any animal out alone is irresponsible and potentially dangerous to not only other creature but the animal itself; it may be injured, subjected to animal cruelty etc. I personally recommend that any pet owner that purposefully and repeatedly lets their pets loose into the wild should be severely fined for neglect and both the actual and possible damages to wildlife. I am pretty sure that those people that kick their cats out the door when they go for a three week vacation would think twice before letting the kitty wander lonely as a cloud if they knew that they’d be fined, say one thousand Euros or something as reasonable.
In the case of feral house pets, the animals are to be culled. Feral cats are easily disposed of with a .22 calibre rifle with no further harm to the local wildlife. It may sound cruel, but when we humans have caused an invasive species to attack an ecosystem, it is our responsibility to fix the problem in any way possible, even if it requires burning some gunpowder. Feral dogs, which present a clear danger not only to other animals but to humans too, should also be wiped out, should a pack form anywhere. Of course, as people still keep abandoning their pets both purposefully and by accident (a cat or dog does not return from its journeys), it might be a good idea to prevent feral populations from developing by permanently removing any stray animals.
Now, don’t get me wrong: I like animals, even cats, but I demand they be kept under control and supervision by their owners, who have by getting a pet accepted responsibility over its well-being and safety of both the animal and anything it may come in contact with. If people kept their pets appropriately we would not have cats killing hundreds of millions of birds in Europe alone every year, or dogs attacking livestock and people and scaring birds into abandoning their nests. If people did what is right we would not have grumpy guys like me writing these posts. Hell, I might even be watching some lolcats stuff.
Sources (also good for additional info):
Image taken from the above address.
What I am about to write here may offend somebody. That somebody may be you, so consider yourself as being warned.
I would like to discuss the revolting, and illegal, trade of rhinceros horns that still runs rampant in our civilised and sophisticated 21st century world. There are five extant species of rhinoceros: white, black, Indian, Javan and Sumatran. The populations of these animals have experienced a tremendous collapse. It is highly unlikely that for example the Javan rhino will survive to the next century, if even the next decade. And why is this? The cause for the destruction of rhinos is, yes, Homo Sapiens Sapiens. Humans are destroying the habitats of rhinos in Asia and Africa and, moreover, trade in their horns, blood and other body parts due to superstitious and obsolete beliefs about the perceived magical and healing properties of these commodities. It is believed, for example, that a rhinoceros horn increases the sexual capability in human males. If this was so, onychophagy and eating hair should have the same effect, as rhinoceros horn consists of ceratine. So, if a guy has a limp dick, he should ask if he could chew on someone’s hair. It might help. Never mind seeing a doctor…
Rhino’s horn is particularily sought after in traditional Chinese and other Asian alternative medicine, as are other ingredients pulled out of endangered species (tiger’s eyes and penises, bear bile etc.) The rarer, the better, it seems. It is even claimed that rhino’s horn is a cure-all medicine. But practicioners of traditional Chinese medicine are not only ones seeking after the omnipotent horns. There are also collectors, who just have to get the horn or head of an endangered animal on their wall. Again, the more endangered an animal is, the sweeter the trophy.
Protecting rhinos is as essential as saving the whales, elephants and other endangered species (whether flora or fauna). A rhino fertilizes the ground with its faeces that also provide food for numerous insects such as dung beetles and flies. Removing a species radically changes the ecosystem and plunges it into imbalance. This ecological perspective is not the only one supporting the view of protecting endangered species. There is also the moral aspect; slaughtering endangered species out of greed and in the name of “cultural tradition” is is indefensible. If a cultural practice, such as traditional (and in many cases ineffectual) medicine threatens a species, the practice is not worth maintaining. It should also be remembered that oftentimes the poachers are poor people who are lured to killing endangered animals for peanuts: the sums the poachers are paid for committing a severe crime and risking their freedom and health in the possible encountering of law enforcement or park rangers are very small in comparison to the black market prices of rhino horns, ivory and other body parts of endangered species. Poaching also greatly threatens other animals and humans, as poachers use a wide array of methods to kill their prey, ranging from poison baits to explosives, landmines and assault rifles. The black market trade also feeds the local conflicts, as guerrillas and militias fund their campaigns by poaching, thus bringning more chaos and suffering to areas already stricken with imbalance, conflict and insecurity.
It is therefore clear that whether looked from a humane/moralistic perspective or from a conservational, environmentalist angle, the poaching of rhinos or any other species is detestable and should be fought against more vigorously by law enforcement agencies, governments, grassroots organizations and individual people. It is our responsibility to make amends for the havoc our species is currently wreaking. Educating people about the balance of ecosystems and the endangered status of the rhinos and many other animals, improving the living standards of the local people in areas affected by poaching and meteing out severe punishments on the persons dealing in animal contraband are the methods we need to utilize, if we are to preserve at least some parts of wild nature for the future.
White rhino and young taken from: http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/white-rhinoceros/
The image depicting a rhino killed by poachers in Swaziland taken from www.swazitrails.co.sz
Horn tablet image taken from: gothunts.com
More info on the subject: http://www.savetherhino.org/rhino_info/threats_to_rhino/poaching_for_traditional_chinese_medicine