Animal welfare campaigners have criticised the use of a cougar skin as part of the uniform worn by the drum major in The Royal Scots Borderers.
Two hundred soldiers from the battalion – part of The Royal Regiment of Scotland – marched through the streets of Hawick recently to thank local communities for their support ahead of the battalion’s move from Edinburgh to Belfast later this summer.
However, comments have been made about the use of the skin of a cougar – also known as a puma or mountain lion – as part of the uniform worn by the battalion’s drum major.
The use of animal skins as part of uniforms has been a tradition among many British army regiments in the past.
Perhaps the most notorious has been the use of black bear skins to make the famous tall headdresses worn by soldiers of the Guards Division.
Asked about the origins of the dead cougar used by 1 SCOTS, an army spokesperson confirmed it was “extremely old.”
And she added: “ I believe that the MoD (Ministry of Defence) allows ones that are already in use to continue to be in use.”
However, campaigners from PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), have slammed the continued use of the dead big cat’s skin and stuffed head as a “garish display of insensitivity” and showing a “callous disregard for life”.
And a PETA spokesperson added: “It’s high time these ghastly regalia were brought into the 21st century, just as has been done with the drum major’s apron, the Royal Air Force band’s busby, the Royal Horse Artillery’s busby and the shako hats worn by rifle regiments, all of which have been modernised with humane, synthetic materials.”
And Edinburgh-based charity, OneKind, added: “Tradition is all very well, but nowadays we have a profound scientific knowledge of animal sentience and how individuals suffer when hunted and killed.
“Using dead animals as ceremonial accoutrements has become less of a sign of respect for the animals and more a symbol of human dominance of other species and the environment – which we are sure is not the intention.”