A week ago a friend of mine brought by a hedgehog that her daughter had rescued from a pet shop. Hedgehogs are native here and occasionally caught and sold to people as pets. Despite the fact that hedgehogs are terrific insect predators, it was felt that having one wandering the house wasn't a good idea so Phredd lived in a cage where he really wasn't so happy, so he ended up in Molly's garden for a brief stay. He was invited for a longer one, but made his getaway after only a day. He was adorable with a long pointed snout, soft facial fur, button eyes and nose and big soft ears, but I'm sure that he's much happier catching the grubs in my neighbour's fields.
The Nile Valley is a rich environment for animals with the crops year round and we have a lot of visitors among the migratory birds that pass from Europe and Asia to southern Africa in the spring and fall. Like all parts of our damaged world, the valley was home to many species that no longer survive here. Many have been hunted to extinction, others have been sold as pets like Phredd the Hedgehog and the many Egyptian tortoises who are on the brink of extinction and almost never found in the wild. There is very little education of the public, however, on the need to protect our fellow inhabitants.
One of the ideas that I've been playing with for my land is to have a center where children from schools in the city can come to visit and to be introduced to the farm animals of the countryside. A few ducks, geese, chickens, turkeys, a couple of goats and sheep, a water buffalo, a cow, and some donkeys (some of whom are already in residence) will be the visual aids and I'm sure that I will collect a variety of individuals like Phredd to help teach the children about the diversity of life in our environment. Many people don't realise that foxes and weasels are common inhabitants of Cairo along with less desirable creatures like rats and mice and the ubiquitous feral dogs and cats. They all have a place in the ecosystem, however, and this place should be understood. Geckos, small delicate lizards with sticky feet that can walk about on ceilings and walls, are common in Egypt but they are often hunted by people who mistakenly think that they poison food with their saliva. I treasure the two or three that live in my house feasting on flies and mosquitos.
My sister in law in California runs the Ojai Raptor Center where she helps to mend injured hawks, eagles, and owls to be returned to the wild. She also has some that for whatever reason cannot be returned to wild living who accompany her on visits to parks and schools for educational talks about the raptors of the area. A similar sort of center would be a useful addition here, I think. And with all the animals I have already, who would notice a few more?