In the last week of every month we take a look back at the crazy creatures and amazing animals that have made the headlines in recent weeks. Here’s a reminder of what July’s headlines told us about some of the animals that share our planet:
Feline mayor of Alaskan town passes away
Saturday July 22nd 2017 marked the end of an era for the inhabitants of Talkeetna in Alaska, with the death of the town’s long-serving feline honorary mayor. Stubbs died peacefully in his sleep, having reached the grand old age of twenty years and three months. The residents of Talkeetna (population 900) elected the cat mayor in 1998 after a local competition to find a new official for the town. Stubbs, who liked to drink a special cocktail of water and catnip from a margarita glass, was a popular tourist attraction over the nineteen years he served his community. His young housemate, Denali the kitten, now looks set to take over Stubbs’ mantle, having had chance to watch the master at work and pick up a few tips!
Cecil’s son shot by hunters
Many of you will remember the outrage that rightly met the death of Cecil the lion in 2015, killed by US dentist Walter Palmer on a hunting expedition to Zimbabwe. Sadly, researchers report that Cecil’s six-year-old son Xanda has now been shot too, just outside the Hwange national park, having crossed outside the protected zone. Xanda was the pride male in a group with two adult lionesses and cubs, tracked by scientists at Oxford University.
Unfortunately the trophy hunting of lions has become big business in Zimbabwe, with the number killed each year now standing at 1,500, up three-fold in the last decade. Across Africa, lions have seen a reduction in 90% of their overall population over the last century, and only about 20,000 now remain.
Hedgehog population in a prickle
Having long been a familiar sight snuffling around in our gardens and verges, you may have noticed yourself that hedgehogs are now much less common. In the RSPB’s annual garden watch survey published this month, hedgehog sightings were down for the third consecutive year – a quarter of the 139,000 homes taking part did not see a single one in the whole of 2016. Scientists believe that numbers have fallen by 30% in the past 15 years, with under a million hedgehogs now estimated to be living in the UK. The reasons for their decline are complex; ranging from change of land use, removal of hedgerows and increases in the badger population (both species compete for the same insect diet). You can help care for any hogs visiting your garden by checking undergrowth before you start strimming or digging, checking wood piles before lighting bonfires, putting sports netting away when it’s not in use, and keeping drains covered.
Your local RSPCA or hedgehog sanctuary will be able to provide more advice, should you need it.
Until next time, very best wishes from Shailen and The Ralph Site team
The Ralph Site, non-profit pet loss