On Tuvalu the only mammals (in addition to humans) are pigs, cats, rats and dogs.
In Funafuti, the overpopulated capital, the pigpens are everywhere – outside the houses, on both sides of the runway and some are particularly lucky, situated with an exclusive view over the blue lagoon.
The pigs are important in Tuvaluan culture. Whenever we hear a pig whaling in the neighbourhood, we know that there is an important celebration going on. The pigs are slaughtered barbecued and eaten for the community functions (it be church or island) and for weddings, funerals, birthdays and other festivities. Wealthy people have many pigs and especially on Funafuti, where the consumption of pigs is valued three times higher than on the outer islands (!).
The cats are as everywhere on earth, useful to keep the rats away at night. We have one ourselves. She really likes our garbage and whenever we had fish, she is likely to have spread the bones all over the kitchen floor by the morning. However, she doesn’t really seem to like rats so much, for our rat is still living happily in one of our drawers.
Last it is the dogs – some domesticated, others not really…and the dogs in the last category are definitely not making life better on Funafuti. Some dogs stay almost permanently on the airstrip (sometimes the planes even have to fly an extra round over the lagoon so that the ground crew can chase the dogs out of the way) and many of these might attack you.
The dog-packs run around on the island and should they find a poor female with her maturity – there will be no peace for several days. The dogs literary kill each other over the chance to multiply and the humans, sick of the continuos barking, do their best to kill or severely injure the dogs as well. On Funafuti, the police have had several unsuccessful clean up projects. The dogs are gathered and shot by the beach behind the waste dump. Then they are left, waiting for the tides to take the corps away. Some of the outer islands, like Nukulaelae, have taken to more drastic measures and here dogs are totally abolished. This might be a good solution as there is no vet on Tuvalu – leaving the country with no means to control its dog-population (or to care for them if they should get sick…).