On October 15, the trapping team headed out into the National Park of American Samoa, where there is a village called Vatia. It’s pretty much paradise—sandy beaches, palm trees, gorgeous ocean, mountain views…and lots of cats!
Being in paradise had its challenges. Namely extreme heat. The community cats there are mostly active in the day, so this was when trapping was most successful. The team used trucks to transport the cats, and the beds got extremely hot in the equatorial sun. To keep the cats cool, they lined the truck bed with ice, placed cloth over it, put the traps on top of that, and then covered the traps. Their improvised air conditioning was a success!
Another success was their partnership with the National Park Rangers, who were crucial to the community based sterilization programfor many reasons. The rangers know their way around the island, helped trap the cats, and most importantly, served as “cultural liaisons” of sorts. The smaller villages follow traditional culture, and it’s necessary to ask permission from the Chief before doing anything. The rangers were able to speak to the Chief and gain access to the village for the team.
“We’ve developed an amazing relationship on this campaign with the National Park Service and have had them trapping with us all week,” said Meredith Hippert, director of field operations with Animal Balance. “So we will be leaving traps here with them so that they can continue the progress and continue caring for community cats when we leave.”
Staying cool in the shade while trapping community cats in American Samoa. © Animal Balance
The trapping team heads out. © Animal Balance
A community cat eyeing food in a trap. © Animal Balance
National Park Rangers with a volunteer veterinarian at a clinic site in American Samoa. © Animal Balance
A kitten rescued from a river in American Samoa gets a much needed bath and TLC. © Animal Balance