My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: Your Wild Life Cat Tracker Project and How this Project would save Jamaican Birds

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Your Wild Life Cat Tracker Project and How this Project would save Jamaican Birds

Americans have done it yet again with more silliness that, ironically, has a Telecoms slant!

Your Wild Life, a team of Cat biologists and citizen scientists working with the North Carolina Museum of Natural Science and the Animal Movement Database Movebank have started the Cat Tracker Project dedicated to uncovering the secret of lives of Cats as stated in Enroll your outdoor Cat in a GPS Cat-tracking Project, published August 11, 2014 4:22 PM PDT by Amanda Kooser, CNET News.

The Cat Tracker Project enlists the help of Cat owners, who like scientists, may be curious as to what their Cat does in the daytime or at nights when they're not around to see, the so-called Secret Lives of Cats. Persons in the US of A, New Zealand and Australia (read crazy Cat people) with an interest in making contribution to science can do so by filling out an extensive and detailed Questionnaire Form relating to their knowledge of their Cat, his behavior and their own personal estimates as to their Cat's travel habits and the range of his travels.

Once completed, they can then download instructions to make a DIY GPS harness custom fitted to their Cat. This DIY GPS harness is fitted with GPS and a tracking computer that keeps track of not only where the Cat goes but how long they may stop in a particular area and also height above ground. After a nine (9) day period, the Cat owner will then remove the harness from their Cat and the Data collected will be uploaded by the Your Wild Life to the Movebank Animal Movement Database.

Armed with that Data, not only can they see where you're Cat's been in minute by minute detail but also their exercise habits i.e. hunting paths they take, heights they climb and possibly, even encounters with other animals and Cats, assuming that the DIY GPS harness might also have an optional Camera and Microphone.

So what’s this got to do with Jamaica? A lot as I’ll explain.

Cat Tracker Project – Cats and Dogs in Jamaica need tracking to reduce impact on Birds

Possibly I'm seeing things, but this sounds an awful lot like an extension of the Zoological Society of London Cat Map Project back in March 2013, about which I'd done in my blog article entitled “The Zoological Society of London and their Cat Map - How UWI's Department of Biotechnology, the JSPCA and Telecom Providers can Kick Ass 2 against Feral Cats and Dogs”.

In it, I’d pointed out the practical significance of Tracking Feral Cats; to determine the degree to which they're decimating wildlife, mainly birds, based on the figures presented by Dr. Scott Loss and his team from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Washington.

In that very same blog article, I'd also suggested the idea that the Biochemistry Department of the University of the West Indies and The JSPCA (Jamaica Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) in collaboration with our local Telecom Providers, could fit Tracking Collars on Feral Cats (Felis Catus) and Feral Dogs (Canis Jamaicanus Domesticus) to track their movements across the island.

These Tracking Collars would not only have GPS but could possibly have an electronics package that contains an Electronics Transponder to uniquely identify each animal, a Microphone to record Audio from the environment and a Mini-Camera to record Video. More interestingly, they’d also be fitted with a Radio Beacon that would act as a Remote Transponder that would work over the 3G and 4G Networks of the Various Telecom Providers.

This would allow for the Data to be collected remotely OTA (Over the Air) via the Telecom Provider’s Network, thus eliminating the need to track and recapture the Feral Cats (Felis Catus) and Feral Dogs (Canis Jamaicanus Domesticus). They only time you’d need to recapture them is to change their Batteries, which of course would be rechargeable batteries.

Eventually it can be spun off in a Government of Jamaica funded project, which I’d like to call Jamaica Cat and Dog Migration Project.

Jamaica Cat and Dog Migration Project – Instant PhD for tracking 12 million Feral Animals

In fact, being as this hasn't been done in Jamaica, anyone from ANY University in Jamaica that does a study of this magnitude on the migratory and possibly the hunting patterns, depending on the sophistication of the Tracking Collar, would be awarded a PhD just for even doing a basic study.

As an example, I can highlight the case of my Cats here in my parent's Shop, P&L Enterprises in Rest Square, Milk River Clarendon. They mainly lounge around waiting for us to cook dinner in order to eat the scraps.

They rarely hunt, choosing to basically go next door or behind the house. Also, one of the Cats in the house isn't mine; he's a Feral that's kinda friendly and has fathered a litter of three Cats, basically sticking around because he probably likes the warmth of the house and the fact that the food is good and plenty.

So it would be great if the Cat Tracker Project could be replicated in a basic Study here in Jamaica, as we do have a wild and somewhat out-of-control Feral Cat (Felis Catus) and Feral Dog (Canis Jamaicanus Domesticus) population.

Based on the idea that each household has 2 Cats and 2 dogs, there can be as many as six (6) million Feral Cat (Felis Catus) and six (6) million Feral Dog (Canis Jamaicanus Domesticus). This makes for a grand total of 12 million Feral Cats (Felis Catus) and Feral Dogs (Canis Jamaicanus Domesticus) in Jamaica.

Jamaica Cat and Dog Migration Project – KSAC would give two paws up for this Project

With such a massive population, there is a need to keep track of their effect on our Fauna such as on Birds, Lizards and other creatures that these animals may feed on.

This study would potentially be of interest to the KSAC (Kingston an St. Andrew Corporation) as they currently have to be dealing with Kingstonians breeding dogs illegally in the so-called Uptown parts of Kingston as stated in my blog article entitled KSAC Public Health Department vs Corporate Area Dogs – 101 Dalmatians Kill and Kill Again.

Especially as many of these dogs, some stray and some with owners going around biting people as noted in my blog article entitledMRSI and Stray Dogs - Dr. Dolittle and The Golden Child. The practical outcome of this study for the KSAC would be a massive neutering exercise, which has been shown to be an excellent means of reducing the sexual aggression and reproductive capabilities of Male species of Feral Cats (Felis Catus) and Feral Dogs (Canis Jamaicanus Domesticus).

Even better if sponsorship for the Project could be found from Corporate Jamaica, making it possible to monetize the Project so that more Corporate Entities could get on board to sponsor a DIY GPS harness for the Study.

But the most important aspect of my proposed idea for a Jamaica Cat and Dog Migration Project is its long term spinoffs.

The Jamaica Cat and Dog Migration Project could be used to reduce incidence of Stray Dog attacks on humans, with such animals being put down permanently. Goats and Cows belonging to Farmers, which are often threatened by Feral Dogs (Canis Jamaicanus Domesticus) in the Rural Areas, could be tracked using these Tracking Collars.

Attacks on Farm Animals could thus be averted by the same Special Praedial Larceny Police Task Force under the Ministry of Agriculture’s NAITS (National Animal Identification and Traceability System) Initiative as described in my blog article entitled “NAITS Initiative launched at Denbigh Agricultural Show 2014 – How May Pen Police will work to reduce Praedial Larceny with Drones to come by 2017”.

Knowing the migratory patterns of Dogs and Cats can help to reduce their impact on Jamaica's Animals, especially the Bird populating and other small animal that cats love to hunt. Otherwise one day we’ll suddenly wake up and find that some of these Birds have gone silent, made extinct by Feral Cat!

Hence to prevent this, I propose Tagging Cats and Dogs and doing a five year Study on the Migratory Patterns of Feral Cats (Felis Catus) and Feral Dogs (Canis Jamaicanus Domesticus) under the Jamaica Cat and Dog Migration Project!

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