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Pets: Senseless cull of harmless ducks.

A GOVERNMENT- sponsored cull of Ruddy Ducks is about to start in Britain, with the Scottish end focused on Kilconquhar Loch, in Fife.

This "avian ethnic cleansing" is designed - wrongly in my view - to reduce or eliminate the spread of this harmless little North American Diving Duck.

The bird has now spread all over Western Europe and is threatening to genetically take over by interbreeding with the closely- related and highly-endangered Whiteheaded Duck in Spain.

This particular population is probably a lost cause.

What conservationists are, however, desperate to prevent - quite understandably - is the Eastern spread of the Ruddy Duck into the countries of the former Soviet Bloc, but in this they are also probably too late.

This little duck is already happily ensconced in countries like Slovakia and Romania and merrily fraternising with the natives, in this case, once again, the Whiteheaded Duck.

But why is a cull of this attractive little duck in Scotland justified?

It is inadequate, as one RSPB spokesman claimed, to state that: "It is all very unfortunate, but it's a classic example of how it's better if you don't move the world's wildlife around.

"If you leave it where it has evolved naturally over thousands of years then a balance is reached.

"That balance is being upset here and that's why we must do something about it." I am not alone in believing this effort to be futile and unjustified.

SPONSORED walks take many forms but a "firewalk" is definitely a bit different.

Tomorrow, the SSPCA is hosting The Blaze Firewalk Challenge accompanied by an evening of fun, food and fearless firewalking.

From 7.30pm at the Midlothian Ski Centre, Hillend, outside Edinburgh, the SSPCA is hosting a barbecue with a licensed beer chalet and music from an acclaimed live rock band.

The piece de resistance, of course, is the firewalk itself .

Scottish SSPCA events organiser, Steve Lampshire, said: "The firewalk is now fully subscribed with over 70 people set to take part. Individuals have been sponsored to walk across 20 feet of wood embers burning at 1200deg. Fahrenheit.

"We've had a tremendous response from people wanting to take part and we're now inviting friends and family of participants to come along."

Tickets can be purchased at the entrance of the ski centre for pounds 4 each.

All proceeds will be going to help the SSPCA, currently celebrating its 160th anniversary.

THE following day, for those with more tender feet, The Canine Concern Scotland Trust is hosting the first of its annual fundraising sponsored walks for owners and their dogs.The venue is the playing fields at Hazelhead Park, Aberdeen, at 10am and further details can be obtained from Ms Nina Hood. Tel: 07803- 767947.

The following Sunday, October 3, at 11.30 for noon, a very popular sponsored walk will once again be held on Cramond foreshore, Edinburgh, meeting at the restaurant building at Silverknowes.

Details can be obtained from Mrs Lesley Connor on 0131- 6692675.

IT'S good to read the latest newsletter about the Zimbabwean based Turgwe Hippo Trust and congratulate Linda and Gordon Stoddart, from Edinburgh, and Errol Booth and Mrs C. Pryde, also from Edinburgh, who have recently joined the society.

Quite a lot of fundraising is taking place in Scotland for these animals which are having a really difficult time because of overgrazing and destruction of their national habitat.

A handful of devoted volunteers who have managed to keep the last few hippos on the Turgwe river system alive through prolonged droughts by supplementary feeding and watering.

It is also good to note that the Rotary Club in Edinburgh has been handing out reconditioned computers to local charities for a small fee of pounds 10 and that one of these is heading towards the Trust after old friend John Gillon, the Secretary of the Hwange Conservation Society, (which raises funds for African Wild Dog Conservation and Research) approached them.

For further details, contact 0131-4533924.
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Title Annotation:Features
Author:O'GRADY, RICHARD
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Sep 23, 1999
Words:655
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