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Cat owners often wonder about their pets’ secret outdoor lives, but few are curious enough to actually follow them around the neighborhood. And thanks to a new study by the University of Georgia and National Geographic, that isn’t necessary: Researchers attached video cameras to 60 house cats that are allowed outside, hoping to learn how free-roaming felines spend their free time.
The answer? About a third of pet cats kill time by killing wildlife.
That may not surprise cat owners who regularly find tiny corpses on their doorsteps, but the study suggests house cats kill even more prolifically than many people realize. The researchers found they dispatch about 2.1 wild animals for every week they spend outside, but bring home fewer than 25 percent of their kills. That means U.S. cats likely kill more than the previous estimate of 1 billion native birds and other animals every year — possibly as many as 4 billion.
“The results were certainly surprising, if not startling,” says UGA researcher and lead author Kerrie Anne Loyd. ”In Athens-Clarke County, we found that about 30 percent of the sampled cats were successful in capturing and killing prey, and that those cats averaged about one kill for every 17 hours outdoors, or 2.1 kills per week. It was also surprising to learn that cats only brought 23 percent of their kills back to a residence.”
Working with National Geographic’s Remote Imaging Department, Loyd and her colleagues attached lightweight video cameras (known as Crittercams, or “KittyCams” in this case) to 60 outdoor house cats in Athens, Ga. The cats’ owners volunteered for the study by answering ads in local newspapers, and downloaded footage from the cameras at the end of each recording day. The study extended through all four seasons, and Loyd says the cats averaged five to six hours outside daily.
The cats killed a wide range of wild animals, including lizards, voles, chipmunks, birds, frogs and snakes (see the graph below). The study didn’t include feral cats, but previous research suggests ownerless felines are at least as deadly as their more coddled cousins. A 2010 study by the University of Nebraska, for example, found that feral cats have driven 33 bird species to extinction worldwide, and that they prey more on native than non-native wildlife. In fact, since domesticated cats aren’t native to North America, this leads some wildlife advocates to consider cats an invasive species themselves, on par with kudzu or Asian carp.
If we extrapolate the results of this study across the country and include feral cats, we find that cats are likely killing more than 4 billion animals per year, including at least 500 million birds,” says George Fenwick, president of the American Bird Conservancy, in a press release about the study. ”Cat predation is one of the reasons why one in three American bird species are in decline.”
“I think it will be impossible to deny the ongoing slaughter of wildlife by outdoor cats given the videotape documentation and the scientific credibility that this study brings,” adds Michael Hutchins, executive director and CEO of the Wildlife Society. ”There is a huge environmental price that we are paying every single day that we turn our backs on our native wildlife in favor of protecting non-native predatory cats at all costs, while ignoring the inconvenient truth about the mortality they inflict.”
See the KittyCams website for photos, videos and data from the study. To get tips on keeping cats indoors, check out Ohio State University’s Indoor Pet Initiative or the American Bird Conservancy’s Cats Indoors Program. And if you know a cat that just can’t be fenced in, you could at least attach a bell to its collar, or even dress it up in a bird-protecting “cat bib.” (Fair warning: The cat may then want to kill you instead).
Sustainable development cannot be achieved by government action alone. It requires the participation of all sectors of societies. At the first Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, a document called Agenda 21 was released that, among other things, formalized groups whose contribution is crucial to making sustainable development a reality. Since then, these nine groups have represented the voice of their respective constituencies within UN meetings, including all subsequent Earth Summits.
I have been following PRiMEtime's blog for a little while now, and thought Id share this as I still get questions about RIO +20. I hope you will enjoy Giselle's writing.
Published in guardian.co.uk, Saturday 2 June 2012
Project Pressure, a collaboration of photographers, scientists, web developers and cartographers, is working to document the terminal decline of many of the world’s glaciers as they slowly melt away. Here they trek to the slopes of the Rwenzori mountains in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo
See all 10 amazing photos at guardian.co.uk
Posted on the guardian.co.uk, Thursday 31 May 2012
CIWEM has began calling for photographers to submit entries for its 2012 award. Honouring amateurs and professionals alike, the contest is an international showcase for the very best in environmental photography and video. Here is a selection of past entries:
Every now and then, a product comes across my desk that catches my eye. When I first heard about this book, I have to admit that my interest was perked. After all, who isn’t interested in healthy remedies for what ails us?
Homemade Health is a collection of home remedies straight from a time, not so long ago, when people went to their garden or kitchen pantry before going to a doctor. Some tried and true, some quirky, but all based on natural remedies your grandmother knew and most likely used on a regular basis.
The book highlights the healing properties of common culinary herbs and covers 43 common ailments. It boasts more than 160 remedies with recipes and uses both common & botanical names for easy use. It covers everything from harvesting & preserving herbs to making herbal remedies at home. In short, its your one stop natural health resource!
The idea behind Herbology at Home: Homemade Health is that it is stepping stone, giving you an insight into the type of remedies that used to be popular instead of their modern synthetic counter parts. Perhaps you already know some of these old world treatments from your own Grandmother, or maybe this book will inspire you to chat to her and learn more about what health measures she grew up with.
Book Exert: A tea made from apple skins is meant to induce sleep. Add dried apple skins to water and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes, sweeten to taste and drink 2 – 3 cups during the evening.
The author of the book, Anke Bialas from the Herbology website was lucky enough to have been raised with herbal traditions and has expanded her knowledge of herbs and their applications over the years which she now shares with those new to natural health. She encourages use of herbs in unconventional ways, advocating that even a little bit of Nature goes a long way. With a firm believe that herbal health can fit into even the most conventional home, she makes all things herbal appealing to everyone.
I am quite excited to announce that Anke has agreed to do a guest blog spot for my foodies blog Rhianna’s Guide to Ethical Eating on the 13th June. Anke will be also answering a herb Q&A on The Environmental Rhi-Source on the 26th June. The questions for the Q&A will come from you guys. If you would like to ask Anke a question, please leave a comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Exciting times ahead with guest blogs and a Q&A session! Who knows what else is install for us?
From the Sydney Morning Herald
ONE of the country’s rarest mammals and Victoria’s faunal emblem will be the subject of a captive breeding program – the first major breeding and release program for Leadbeater’s possums – as scientists intervene to build up the wild population and establish an insurance population in captivity.
The precarious state of the endangered possum – numbering less than 2000 in the wild – prompted Zoos Victoria to embark on the project after the Black Saturday bushfires destroyed 45 per cent of its habitat and roughly halved the wild population.
Last week Healesville Sanctuary’s threatened species biologist, Dan Harley, identified the ”male founder” of the program, which has passed health checks and had a microchip the size of a grain of rice inserted between his shoulder blades.
The tiny two-year-old, weighing in last Wednesday at 131 grams, hails from the Yellingbo Nature Conservation Reserve, 50 kilometres east of Melbourne. It’s here in the swampy forest – no more than four kilometres long and 120 metres wide – that the only population of lowland Leadbeater’s possums live. In the past eight years there has been a 40 per cent decline in population, with fewer than than 70 individuals remaining.
The animals are genetically distinct from their central highland cousins after thousands of years of isolation. But their low numbers mean the Yellingbo Leadbeater’s possums are considered most at risk of extinction. ”A single fire could wipe them out,” Dr Harley said.
This fragile existence has made them prime candidates for captive breeding and Dr Harley is now scouring the reserve for a suitable female mate. The task is easier said than done – the animals breed for life, so researchers have to be careful which they remove. And the breeding animals selected not only have to be single and healthy, they need a fair dollop of ”street cred” as well.
”An animal that has been able to cut it in the wild for a few years is far more valuable to us than a young animal just out of the pouch,” Dr Harley said.
Two breeding pairs a year will join the captive breeding program over the next three years, with scientists monitoring the genetic diversity and health of their offspring as they climb towards their target of 150 wild animals.
Melanie Lancaster, assistant curator for threatened species, said infrared cameras would monitor the founding animals in their enclosure, allowing researchers to ensure they retained key behaviours vital for their survival in the wild post-release.