Robben Is­land’s bunny chow so­lu­tion

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE -

ROBBEN Is­land’s culled rab­bits are go­ing to be turned into meals for poor peo­ple, is­land act­ing chief ex­ec­u­tive Jatti Bre­dekamp said yes­ter­day.

He also said ini­tial es­ti­mates of rab­bit num­bers – put at as many as 25 000 – ap­peared to have been over­stated.

Just over 2 000 rab­bits have been shot by marks­men since culling started a month ago, and un­til now the car­casses have been buried on the is­land.

How­ever, Bre­dekamp said, from Mon­day all culled rab­bits cer­ti­fied safe for hu­man con­sump­tion would be “dressed and pack­aged for do­na­tion to char­ity”.

Rab­bits, com­monly eaten in many Euro­pean coun­tries, yield an all-white meat, said to be higher in pro­tein and lower in choles­terol and sodium than any other meat.

Bre­dekamp said a task team con­sist­ing of mu­seum au­thor­i­ties, its an­i­mal con­trol ex­pert and the SPCA met this week to dis­cuss progress in the culling. It had been de­cided an­other an­i­mal pop­u­la­tion cen­sus would be con­ducted.

“The ini­tial plan made pro­vi­sion for worst-case sce­nar­ios re­gard­ing an­i­mal num­bers which, it would ap­pear, were over­stated,” Bre­dekamp said.

The 475-hectare is­land’s veg­e­ta­tion has been rav­aged by thou- sands of rab­bits and around 500 deer, both of them alien species.

Bre­dekamp said 175 fal­low deer had been shot so far, and 21 feral cats, of which about five re­mained.

The SPCA had of­fered to trap and find homes for 100 of the flock of 500 free-rang­ing guinea fowl.

Is­land en­vi­ron­men­tal of­fi­cials said in Septem­ber the rab­bits and deer had stripped vir­tu­ally all the is­land’s ed­i­ble veg­e­ta­tion.

They said the cats were on the hit list be­cause they ate the chicks of pen­guins, the swift tern, Hart­laub’s gull, the threat­ened oys­ter­catcher, and of the highly en­dan­gered bank cor mo­rant. – Sapa

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