Category Archives: Africa

Africa news and happenings

You can’t keep the cats swiped off the streets of Singapore

Natural attrition and the vacuum effect. These are very important concepts relating to TNRM for kitty minions. The reality is that there will always be people on both sides and the silent majority on the fence, taking the butt-poke, well, silently. But there is always the question of information and awareness too.

Marty, old-man-of-the-rails. 8 year Area3 alpha. Best friends with grand dame Henna.

As much as human-animal-issues can’t be legislated away, spreading the word is vital to get people to SEE. Some people will refuse to see, and in fact, take pleasure in perpetuating their misconceptions and taking matters into their own hands, sometimes even tag-teaming, but why should they be the only ones to shout out their misguidedness?

Benji. 3 year veteran resident in Area2. His best friend-brother Kenji disappeared in 2008

There are more humane ways to deal with cat issues than actively setting traps on one’s property and getting the cats so trapped to be put down by the government agency dealing with animal issues on the tax-payer’s tab.

We can shout back and louder because logic and reason is on our side. But we must know what we’re saying and why we’re saying what we say. Natural attrition and the vacuum effect are 2 important TNRM terms. In fact, they are on the tec library’s “coming soon” list. Of course I did not have the time to get round to it, but things do catch up in their own way. Filched here is a very nice blog from Dawn about both and why it’s important to understand the lingo of our own yammer:

Thursday, July 23, 2009
The vaccuum effect and natural attrition
Today’s post is about two phrases we bandy around a lot :- the ‘vacuum effect’ and ‘natural attrition’.

Here’s a definition of the vacuum effect from Alley Cat Allies. Here’s a definition of attrition. Now that we have our definitions out of the way, we can talk a bit about what they really mean to us in terms of TNRM 🙂

Some people deny that this happens – and most of the time it’s because they’ve never dealt with a colony being removed.

However, most people who DO work with cats, or who have had issues with the cats will have noticed that the vacuum effect is very real. This includes a condominium I know that used to spend a few thousand a year getting ‘rid’ of the cats or town councils that asked why there are new cats coming in when the existing ones were removed and killed. This also includes a caregiver I know who removed the cats from the area thinking it wasn’t safe on the streets. When she went by the next day, there were four new cats waiting.

We see how nature abhors a vacuum every day in nature. We see it when water floods in to fill an empty space, or when air does. I’m sure one day we may even understand WHY it happens, but we can already see its effects. We may not all understand how gravity works exactly (or maybe that’s just me:)), but we don’t deny it exists.

Many people may not have much exposure to cats – and that’s where caregivers like you guys come into play. That’s also why it is so important that caregivers are accurately able to explain concepts to people who may not know much about cats.

I spoke recently with a caregiver who said that natural attrition would kill off all the cats in the area. It’s natural (no pun intended) to be confused when so much literature tells us that natural attrition will kill off the cats. BUT, if you accept that the vacuum effect exists, then there is no way that natural attrition can kill off ALL the cats. Will natural attrition kill off cats? Yes, of course it will. Cats can’t live forever after all. It may even, when coupled with sterilisation, bring the population down dramatically depending on the size of your colony. But to have NO cats in the area? Not if you accept the vacuum effect because logically new cats will move in when there is a vacuum.

At some point, the colony numbers after the cats have been sterilised, will drop to such a point that the territory CAN accommodate more cats – note I said, territory, NOT food. Even if you try and remove all newcomers, new cats are going to keep showing up. Some of you may remember the analogy I once gave. If you have a castle with four entrances, and you have five or six guards posted at each door, chances are you’ll be able to defend the castle. If you have two guards, chances are that some intruders are going to sneak in. It’s the same with the cats.

The vacuum effect does not respect your intentions, good or otherwise. The vacuum effect does not care whether you removed the cats to adopt them or relocate them. It does not care if the cats died a natural death or were killed in animal control somewhere.

Some of you may wonder why I’m splitting hairs about this, but it’s very important that a person or organisation who agrees to a TNRM programme knows what to expect. Some expecting that all the cats will die out after they have lived out their natural lifespan and that there will be zero cats is going to be in for a big shock. They might well think the programme is a failure.

Some complainants may also ask why not just remove all the cats NOW. If they are all taken away, then why wait for them to be sterilised and eventually die. In other words why wait for natural attrition to kick in, when we can have UNnatural attrition?

I know some people will say that complainants may not want to hear that the cats are always going to be there. I believe that if you’re honest right up front, but say that a managed, sterilised, cared for colony will create less issues than an unmanaged, growing cat population, most people will see the sense in that. Yes, the colony may always be there – but it doesn’t NEED to cause any problems. Removing the cats and killing them just means the same issues come back over, and over again. It may of course take more than one conversation to get someone to agree but don’t give up. There’s tons of resources online and it’s a good idea to take the information with you – one good resource is ACA’s website.

At the end of the day, your argument has to be logically consistent to you, before you can convince someone else.

Posted by Dawn at 3:28 AM Comments

Mary, 5 year veteran Area3 resident


Dubai hotel ‘must free’ whale shark from aquarium

Interesting news on the captive whale shark at the Atlantis, the same Dubai casino mentioned in the Say “NO” To Whale Sharks In Captivity petition template. How much similarity might there be in Singaporean sentiment on keeping whale sharks captive post-opening?

The Telegraph, UK

Dubai hotel ‘must free’ whale shark from aquarium

Environmentalists are calling for a hotel resort in Dubai to free a whale shark from its aquarium.

Whale shark: Dubai hotel under pressure to free captive shark
Whale sharks are an endangered species Photo: Gary Cranitch, Queensland Museum, 2008

The Atlantis hotel, which opened last month, has been billed as the biggest and one of the best resorts in the country.

The 4m (13ft) whale shark can be seen circling the hotel’s aquarium – a tank built to invoke the ruins of Atlantis, the mythical Lost City.

The hotel, on the Palm Jumeirah island, originally said it had “rescued” the shark, which is protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites).

Campaigners and residents say the whale shark – named Sammy – should be released into its natural habitat.

The shark, which could grow up to 12m (39ft), was caught off the coast of Dubai six weeks ago.

The management of the hotel said they had “rescued” an animal, who was in distress, but former employees have told the local press that capturing a whale shark had always been planned as a tourist attraction.

An independent survey has shown more than a third of those questioned would be more likely to visit the resort to see it, but there is a growing swell of public opinion that the animal should be released and tagged.

The hotel has refused to comment on whether Sammy will be released.

The hotel was the first to open on The Palm, a man-made island off the coast of the United Arab Emirates that is shaped like a palm tree. It was touted as one of the emirate’s most extravagant hotels to date, featuring a water park, aquarium, 1,500 guest rooms and 16 restaurants.

The publicity surrounding Sammy is the latest in a string of problems faced by the hotel. Three weeks before the opening, a fire billowed smoke through the lobby and a week after its opening, one of its main water valves ruptured, cutting off the water supply in the hotel.

Related article:

The Telegraph, UK

Dubai’s Atlantis hotel opening marred by dolphin row

The world’s most lavish hotel has been condemned by environmentalists for shipping dolphins from the South Pacific to the Middle East to stock a marine attraction.

By Charles Starmer-Smith, Travel News Editor
Last Updated: 8:29PM GMT 20 Nov 2008

The Atlantis resort complex in Dubai
The Atlantis resort complex in Dubai where the dolphins will be kept Photo: EPA

The £950 million Atlantis hotel, which officially opens on Thursday, has been built by Sol Kerzner, a South African hotelier, on the Palm Jumeirah island in Dubai.

It boasts that its dolphin facility – Dolphin Bay – will be the first rescue and rehabilitation centre for injured or stranded dolphins in Dubai.

But the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS) has claimed that 24 bottlenose dolphins, used to stock the pools, were bought from a dealer in the Solomon Islands.

The WDCS claim that the dolphins, which had originally come from the waters surrounding the Solomon Islands, will now be used to entertain guests, who will be able to pay to swim with them. A 90-minute “shallow water interaction” experience with the dolphins costs visitors from around £75.

The row follows an order issued last month by the government of the United Arab Emirates to free a 13ft whale shark from a huge tank in the lobby of the 1,539-room hotel, after an international outcry.

Environmentalists claimed that the owners of the Atlantis hotel had disregarded international permit laws after capturing the shark in shallow waters off the Gulf coast in August and then used it as a display for hotel guests.

“It’s outrageous and hypocritical that Atlantis is claiming to be committed to conservation and to have a rescue and rehabilitation centre when they have supported the trade in dolphins by buying these animals,” said WDCS captivity campaigner, Cathy Williamson.

She added that life expectancy is shorter for animals in captivity and interaction with humans, such as the swimming with dolphin experiences offered at Dolphin Bay, puts the animals at risk of injury and infections.

Juan Vasquez, legal officer for CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), who looked at the legal issues surrounding the export of dolphins from the Solomon Islands, said that the species was not endangered but that for some people their export was an ethical issue.

A spokeswoman for Atlantis said it was entirely committed to the welfare of all marine life at the resort.

“The dolphins in residence at Dolphin Bay came from an existing facility in the Solomon Islands called the Solomon Islands Marine Mammal Education Centre. During the year they have been in residence in Dubai, two calves have been born, a sign of excellent acclimation and good health,” she said.

“Dolphin Bay’s 4.5 hectare lagoon maintains a covered and sound blocked area which was created to safeguard the animals from inclement weather. This area will be utilised during the Grand Opening evening for the assured safety and comfort of the animals.”

Marine expert and author Tim Ecott has been investigating the dolphin trade for several years.

“The morality of captive dolphin encounters for tourists is complex. Strictly speaking this species is not endangered, and Atlantis invests a lot of money in giving them a high standard of veterinary care and welfare,” he said.

“But people pay a lot of money to swim with dolphins – and this has generated a business in capturing and selling dolphins to places like Atlantis. It’s up to tourists to decide whether they want to exploit an intelligent species in this way.”

The row will cause further embarrassment to the resort owners ahead of the star-studded launch party tomorrow, which includes Oprah Winfrey, Robert DeNiro, Janet Jackson and the Duchess of York among its guests, as well as performances from singer Kylie Minogue.

The Solomon Islands Marine Mammal Centre was not available for comment.

SOS: Oppose South Africa’s elephant culling

“How much like us do elephants have to be before killing them becomes murder?”

Here, we work to oppose kitty culling

In South Africa, elephants who had been safe from this arbitrary and terminal judgment on their right to live, are once again threatened by culling too. Elephants are highly intelligent and social animals. Culling disrupts their social hierarchy and may erode their gene pool as entire families, from grandmothers to grandsons and granddaughters are wiped out.

Please read this article and then go here to register your opposition to South Africa’ plan to allow elephant culling.

Thank you.