For this week’s challenge, share a photo of something rare: a family heirloom. A cloudy day in a normally sunny desert. A sad frown on a cheerful kid’s face. Or anything else you think of as scarce and singular.
When we moved into our home in 2003, in Australia, a well-established family of possums lived in a gnarled gum tree in our back garden. Ring-tailed possums are common in suburbia here and while we rarely saw them during the day there was plenty of evidence of their nocturnal visits to our garden.
Year after year babies were born into the family as older siblings left to establish families of their own. We enjoyed having them in our garden and they didn’t seem to mind us. And so we lived in harmony for several years until a young black cat moved into the neighbourhood.
Gradually the bird life has all but vanished from our garden and some months ago we realised just two or three remained. For several weeks we’d leave home to find possum fur and remains on our front lawn; they weren’t good starts to a work day.
The baby possum featured in this week’s photo challenge visited us several nights in a row and hid in the bougainvillea on the back verandah. We enjoyed its company and resisted feeding it in the hope it would find a mate. The photo was taken the night before we left for a four day weekend. Sadly on our return, the young possum lay on the step of our back verandah. There was no evidence of it having been attacked. It was the last remaining possum.
When we settled in Australia we decided against having a cat because of the prolific and varied bird life that visited daily. At night we lay in bed and listened to the possums in the trees around our home and enjoyed knowing that our garden provided a habitat in which they could live.
… it is said that the average domestic cat is kills an average of 25 native animals per year. This means Australia’s 3 million pet cats kill 75 million native animals per year. Feral cats each require 300gms of flesh daily. If feral cats ate only native animals, each feral cat would need 70 native animals a week, 3,600 a year to survive (the average prey size was not stated). This could mean 12,000 million native animals killed each year by feral cats. A few cats specialise in hunting certain species, but this is atypical as most cats consume a varied diet. Ferals do not subsist entirely on native species in areas where rabbits and mice are abundant hence the figures are a worse case scenario, not an average. (Source: The Great Australian Cat Predicament).