Empire Fauna at Home and Abroad

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    Abstract

    THE August number of the Journal of the Society for the Preservation of the Fauna of the Empire presents some interesting contrasts in its varied accounts of wild life in different British territories. Capt. C. R. S. Pitman, to whose reports as Game Warden of the Uganda Protectorate NATURE has referred on previous occasions, in a lecture to the Society, explained why organized control of the 21,000 elephants of the Protectorate became necessary. The devastation caused by such great numbers in a limited area (of some 80,000 square miles), where the native population averages forty to the square mile, became intolerable, and yet under organized control, and in spite of the fact that 17,000 elephants have been slain in twelve years, the estimated number remains as it was in 1924. Capt. Pitman is of opinion that organized control is the finest insurance for the adequate perpetuation of the African elephant. From wild Africa we turn to the home of animal protectionand read Miss Frances Pitt's article upon the polecat and pine-marten in Great Britain. The elephants are over-numerous, do serious harm, are deliberately slaughtered, and yet their continued existence is secured; the polecat and pine-marten are rare, are two of the most interesting members of the primitive fauna which survive in Britain, they do no particular harm in any serious degree, and yetthe first is extinct in Scotland and England, and survives only on the Welsh border, and the latter is apparently extinct, or all but extinct, throughout the whole country except in the north-west of Scotland; and almost all because these creatures are liable to find their way into traps set for vermin. It is ironical that while we concern ourselves with the fauna of the Empire abroad, these two creatures should be disappearing in our own land under our eyes. Can no step be taken to ensure their adequate perpetuation, as the adequate perpetuation of destructive elephants in Uganda is ensured ?

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