This is Kianu just after breakfast and over there is Liane, the kitten's mom. Two New Caledonian Feral Cats.
The southern end of New Caledonia's island of Grande Terre is a vast wilderness area. The terrestrial wildlife includes lizards, a few frogs, birds, and bugs. There are imported deer and wild pigs but we rarely see them. About a year ago we were getting water from a spring and saw a kitten face peering at us through the grass. We then saw the mother cat overseeing her kitten's first human encounter.
Feral Cats get little training in the process of domesticating humans. But, like all Felis catus, they really don't need to try very hard; they just have to be willing to allow humans to see them and - if the humans act civilized - allow them to approach. Of course, if the humans offer proper tribute (food) they might even be allowed to do a little petting.
When we returned to the wilderness area a couple of months later the kitten showed up again - but the mother had (we believe) been killed by a dog. The kitten was surviving on lizzards and bugs. She was thin, but her fur was amazingly clean and she appeared healthy - and hungry. We began regularly feeding the kitten and now she's all grown up. A few months ago she showed up one day with her own kitten.
We call her Liane and the kitten Kianu. They come when we call their names. Liane is a strange little cat; small because (we think) she didn't have much to eat when she was a kitten. She's filled out now and thanks us with kisses and cuddles BEFORE she gobbles her daily tribute.
Liane goes for walks with us - following or running ahead on our daily treks, often for several kilometers; even when it's hot in the summer and she's roasting her little paws on hot rocks and panting from the heat. Never saw a cat that liked to trek before. It's a very odd feeling seeing her appear out of the bush, run towards us - and then walk along, making little cat comments from time to time. She has successfully domesticated us.
New Caledonia is the closest South Pacific Island to Australia and New Zealand. It is a French Territory and although the official language is French the culture is a blend of Melanesian, European, Polynesian, Vietnamese, Chinese, Indonesian, and more. There is one large mountainous island called Grande Terre and 6 smaller islands - the three Loyalty Islands, Belep and the Isle of Pines.The islands are remarkably unpopulated and there are vast areas of wilderness. There are hundreds of kilometers of walking treks, camp grounds, more than 42 parks and reserves, and crystal clear rivers with sparkling waterfalls. Almost one third of the population is located in the capital city of Noumea. Nickel mining is the primary industry and is the major contributor to the high standard of living in the country. Grande Terre is surrounded by the second largest barrier reef in the world and the protected lagoon created by this barrier reef is the largest in the world. Listed as a World Heritage Site in 2008, the lagoon is 24,000 square kilometers and supports a diverse and luxuriant fauna of fish and invertebrates.The vibrant, clear and rich colors are one of the first things that visitors notice when they arrive. Noumea has a complete range of hotels, resorts, restaurants, and activities to welcome visitors.