Archive for April, 2010

Cat voted leader of UK political party : policy change follows

April 18th, 2010

One cat has risen to lead one of the United Kingdom’s most colourful political parties. The Monster Raving Loony Party was set up in 1983 by a rock musician David Sutch, who was better-known to the public as Screaming Lord Sutch, and campaigned hard at various elections on policies including the abolition of income tax. Following the death of the party founder in 1999, the membership then met to vote for a successor.

The result was a tie between Alan “Howling Laud” Hope, who was acting leader, and his cherished pet, Cat Mandu. The cat was hailed as being responsible for producing the party’s manifesto for the general election of 2001, which consisted of a blank sheet of paper. Sadly, this new era of co-operation in British politics came to a premature end in July 2002, when Cat Mandu was killed by a car crossing the street.

But Cat Mandu lived long enough to see a lasting policy change affecting cats, arising from a proposal put forward by the Monster Raving Loony Party in 1984. Their proposal for pet passports was laughed at by all the mainstream parties at that stage. And yet these were introduced by the British government in 2001 and now cats can travel to the United Kingdom from Europe and a number of other countries without having to spend time in quarantine.

Cat Mandu is just one of cats featured in my book Famous Felines available here from the Pet Info Club shop.

Environmental vandalism in Brighton

April 16th, 2010

When BBC’s Countryfile programme visited the English city of Brighton and Hove recently to cover the urban shepherd scheme, focusing on how sheep are being allowed to graze in the confines of the city’s parkland, they didn’t record the massive habitat damage taking place in another area of the city directly because of this programme.

Huge swathes of mature woodland which are home to a wide variety of species ranging from jays to pheasants, are being felled and burnt to create new sheep habitat. Yet this has never even been a sheep grazing area – at least for the past half century. If sheep habitat was required, there is a downland field just five minutes walk away, which has been left fallow, and so could have been used very easily.

It’s hard to understand how a Council where the Greens have a very significant influence, and hope to return a Green Member of Parliament for the first time in the forthcoming General Election could allow this wanton act of enviromental vandalism to occur. This is no different from clearing rainforest for agriculture. Furthermore, disturbing the habitat of breeding birds at this time of year is also a criminal offence, but in spite of being aware of this, the council workers have carried on regardless.

Some of the destroyed area of woodland.

Some of the destroyed area of woodland

Monstrous molluscs

April 11th, 2010

These are some numbers which may help to make you feel better about the scale of the recent world banking crisis, and definitely something to bear in mind if you’re thinking of acquiring African giant land snails (Achatina species) as pets!

Since these massive snails are hermaphrodite, with each having male and female sex organs in their bodies, so keeping two together will inevitably result in fertile eggs. Each snail may lay four batches of around 150 eggs through the year, which adds up to potentially 600 offspring each.

Biologists have calculated that theoretically, if all the descendants of just a single individual lived and bred, then by the time that the original snail died at five years old, the world would be over-run with more than 16 quadrillion of its descendants! You can find out more about these monstrous molluscs here.

Wolves Deserve Better

April 4th, 2010

It’s always struck me as amazing what bad press wolves get, and how little they’ve done to deserve it! The number of wolf attacks on people is miniscule, and these are usually linked with rabid individuals. It’s ironic that while we’ve sought to eliminate wolves from wherever they may come into contact with us, so we’ve taken their descendant, in the guise of the domestic dog, to all four corners of the globe. In some instances, people have then literally depended on dogs for their survival.

Anyone who has been to Rome will know the legend about two twins, called Romulus and Remus, who were the illegitimate twins of the god Mars and the vestal virgin Rhea. Unwanted, they were hurled into the River Tiber where it was presumed they would drown.

The current carried them ashore in a remote spot however, and their cries then attracted a female wolf. Rather than killing the babies, she carried them back to a cave which overlooked the locality of Rome, and suckled them. They stayed with her until rescued by a shepherd, and then founded the city here.

This tale is very easily dismissed as a myth, but in fact, there are over fifty recorded cases of both wolves and feral dogs caring for abandoned children. Some, especially from India are surprisingly well-documented.

Such reports include the case of two girls rescued in the 1920s by a Dr. Singh, who ran an orphanage in Mindapore and was alerted to their presence in the area by villagers who had observed the children with the wolves. The youngsters displayed distinctive wolf-like behaviour, which included walking on all fours and lapping up water. The natural world is not as ordered as people frequently believe to be the case ….