Keeping cats as companion animals has been increasing in popularity on theTiwi Islands with local community members expressing that cats are valuable inassisting to control rat and mice within their homes. But when you considerthat one female cat and her offspring can produce up to 500 kittens a year itis clear to see why action was needed to assess the impact cats were having onthe community.

It’s why AMRRIC teamed up with the University of New England and the Tiwi LandCouncil to deliver a program funded by the Threaten Species Commissioner onthe Tiwi Island community of Wurrumiyanga from 5-9th June. The University ofNew England conducted research that included camera surveillance, door to doorsurveys and four hourly patrols to monitor cat activity during the day and thenight. Based on findings of the research the program determined that the bestapproach to controlling cats in the community was to undertake a surgicaldesexing program as well as to provide community education around the impactscats can have on the community and surrounding wildlife. This approachconsidered the community’s values which is vital to the success of theprogram.

AMRRIC delivered six education sessions to the Murrupurtiyanuwu CatholicPrimary School focussing on the impacts of cats on wildlife and the importanceof surgical desexing. In addition Traditional Owners worked with AMRRIC todevelop a video about responsible cat ownership to play in the local shop andhealth clinic. The video was a huge success with community members stopping towatch and discuss the video.

A community cat awareness BBQ was also held with the support of the local RedCross Centre. Over 100 community members attended, viewing cat educationmaterials and enquiring about cat desexing, and the impacts their cats have onthe bush land and native animals.

As a result of working with local community members, the program was a greatsuccess with a total of 30 cats being desexed over two days. It’s just anotherexample of how collaboration can achieve great results.

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