Right after the case of dogs being mistreated, now it is the turn of cats – or so it seems. Allegedly, the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation (MWF) is getting rid of cats in protected natural reserve areas by unethical means. Certain zones of Petrin forest, as well as islets like Ile Aux Aigrettes and Round Island, have designated as natural reserves whose flora and fauna are to be protected. It seems that cats are a threat to the survival of the precious endemic species. As a consequence, the MWF seems to be using questionable methods to tackle the problem: they are said to be attracting the cats with traps and then placing them into bags to dispose of. A member of the organisation supposedly later kills them by hitting them on the head with a hammer.
The Animal Welfare Unit of the Ministry of Agro Industry and the Mauritius Society for Animal Welfare have held a meeting bringing together MWF and PAWS as well to discuss the issue of such a practice.
Fact or Myth?
Now, from where has this news sprouted? Is it for real, or just a rumour? In fact, a UK-based organisation, the Durell Wildlife Conservation Trust stated that it had led an investigation which brought forth hints of such a practice by the MWF. The members of the MWF have now indeed confirmed the news: they do resort to this method to deal with the problem of cats on the premises of the natural reserves. They purport that the killing method is not painful as the animal dies instantly.
The other side of the coin
However, the president of PAWS, Moira Van Der Westhuizen, said that we cannot have the guarantee that the first blow itself would be fatal. She maintains that killing the cats is not a solution to the problem, adding that the MWF has been open to consider other methods to control the proliferation of cats in the preserved natural habitats. Moira Van Der Westhuizen thereafter proposed to have the cats sterilised.
As for the MWF, they explained that killing the cats is a necessary evil as the latter have led to the extinction of indigenous animals throughout the world and in our island as well. It was also said that they are in communication with veterinarians, scientists and both local and international associations to find more humane ways to minimise the suffering of the cats.
Ethics v/s endemic wealth of flora and fauna
Can the killing of innocent lives ever be justified by the need to keep those deemed more precious alive? Are those who wish to conserve the strictly Mauritian flora and fauna being unjust by doing away with stray animals? Some time back, the issue of the Mauritian macaques sold to international laboratories was in the news. Again, one of the reasons behind getting rid of them was to preserve them from damaging the endemic species. Is the life of some more valuable than that of others?