In addition to AIA’s proactive advocacy work, outlined in its five year strategy 2022-2026, we also react to current situations of animal cruelty .
AIA’s International Campaigns Secretary, Marian Hussenbux is responsible for AIA’s global animal advocacy work. This involves writing to people of influence about animal suffering and cruelty around the world, often in support of campaigns run by other organisations.
AIA’S CAMPAIGNING ACTIVITY – FROM JANUARY 2022 to APRIL 2022
Many of us were unaware that the 5 year prison sentence available for serious crimes perpetrated on animals did not cover wildlife. We asked Minister George Eustice to make the 5 year sentence applicable to all creatures. How necessary this is is exemplified by how much badgers are suffering in this country – and that is apart from the government-instigated killing.
For several years now, Doncaster Racecourse has been hosting reptile markets, despite PETA and other organisations protesting that these cause suffering to the animals, displayed all day in plastic boxes without food and drink. A petition was circulating to the Mayor, as local councils have the power to stop such events.
Amazingly, within hours, the Mayor had cancelled the markets.
So we rapidly amended our letter to become a thank you message and an appeal to adopt a policy to allow no more such events with animals to take place in the city. Added to the cruelty involved, we raised the undesirability of persuading visitors, especially children, to buy them on a whim – and, if they are later abandoned, the hard-pressed RSPCA is left to rescue them.
Now, in the times of Covid, there is also the question of zoonotic diseases to bear in mind.
In 2019, in support of a Born Free campaign, we wrote to all 11 British zoos which keep elephants, asking them to phase these exhibits out. (We received a reply only from Chester). Soon after that, Paignton Zoo’s last elephant Duchess died and the zoo decided not to replace her. They recently confirmed they would keep no more elephants there, so we wrote to thank them.
We are sure that they love and care for their animals and Paignton has a good reputation, but no human rapports can replace the natural bond elephants need with their families in the wild.
Finlay, the wild cat kitten rescued by Wild Cat Haven and temporarily kept at a refuge in Wales before being released where he came from in Scotland, was peremptorily confiscated by the North Wales police earlier this year, to the shock and distress of his carers.
We wrote to Nature Scot, the Scots equivalent of DEFRA, who are associated with an official wild cat breeding project, and asked why, and where, Finlay had been taken and we also phoned their Mammal Advisor. He said he wished he could tell us more, but could not. In a prompt written reply from the CEO, we were advised to ask the police.
We contacted the North Wales Chief Constable and surprisingly received replies from the CC’s officer, a Chief Inspector.
He also was unable to tell us where Finlay was, but assured us he was being well cared for and undergoing genetic testing. As you will see in the Update below, hybridisation is of paramount concern when one is breeding a rare animal.
The Chief Inspector promised to keep us updated as soon as he could.
See Update 1 for another aspect of this issue.
Fox hunting is still legal in Northern Ireland. John Blair, a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA), had sponsored a bill to ban the practice and we wrote to Sinn Féin MLAs to support it. We regret to report that in December 2021 it was defeated in the Assembly by 45 votes to 38. The bill will not move to the committee stage.
The Republic of Ireland:
The TD Paul Murphy had presented an anti-Coursing Bill which was not yet on the agenda for debate. We asked all TDs, except those belonging to the
Alliance Party, who are in favour, to support Paul Murphy’s bill, which was via a Private Members’ Bill.
However, yet again it was defeated.
TD Murphy in December, during a Dáil debate on the Animal Health and Welfare (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2021, hailed the upcoming ban on fur farming as “a victory of campaigning” and urged members of the public to put pressure on TDs to follow it up with a ban on cruel hare coursing.
The Dublin South West, Solidarity-People Before Profit TD said that “the next emerging issue in terms of animal rights in this country is going to be the Bill, which will be moved at Second Stage next year, to ban hare coursing, to ban this cruel practice that leads to unnecessary tens of deaths of hares every year, unnecessary injuries and maulings of hundreds of hares every year when hare coursing is taking place. It is a practice which has no support from the public. 77% of people agree with banning it.”
Elephant Samba has been kept in a French circus for over 20 years. We asked the Minister Barbara Pompili (who used to be a Green) to have her retired to Elephant Haven, the French refuge.
The anti-bullfight organisation Alliance Anticorrida reported that bullfighting groups, with a priest, were promoting the practice to elementary pupils of two schools at the Caissargues arena, teaching them the use of the cape – and in school time, what is more.
A ministerial circular stipulates that it is not within the role of national education to promote the bullfight to children.
We joined with Alliance Anticorrida in reminding the teaching staff of this circular, asked them to ban the planned school trip to a bull-breeding establishment and to allow AA to attend the schools, as they have done in other towns of the South West, to set out to the children another viewpoint on this issue.
Closure of a circus – Update 2
We have again been supporting submissions to the Hawai’i Legislature on several animal welfare issues, and an emergency appeal from our contacts at the Hawai’ian Humane suddenly arose in February.
A motion had been presented to the legislators to poison feral cats. Fortunately, we had time to join the local campaigners in strong objections to this potential cruelty and the motion was withdrawn and, they say, is unlikely to be re-presented.
We supported the following propositions as they made their way through the various committees of the House and the Senate:
To temporarily accept qualified veterinarians in Hawai’i, where is a shortage, from other states and from Canada, including to practise veterinarian telemedicine, (very important during the pandemic) and allow for international veterinary school graduates to qualify for the licensure examination.
Senate Bill 2837, SD2 established a special fund for the spay/neuter of pet cats and dogs and Free-Roaming cats, and allowed funds from an income tax check-off to be deposited into the special fund.
The bill had been amended to also call for a census of Hawaiʻi’s Free-Roaming cat population.
The export of horses from the US, for slaughter in Mexico, Japan and other countries, is a disgrace. We wrote to ask the Chief Veterinary Officer of Puerto Rico Agricultura not to license horses to be imported from Florida in cargo ships. In the hot metal containers, 8 horses had died in 2019.
Elephants are often forced to cross railway lines, sometimes with calves, and the results can be devastating. Ten elephants, including two pregnant ones, were crushed to death in a span of two weeks, and several elephants mowed down, due to recklessly speeding trains.
We wrote to the Minister for Communications, Electronics & Information Technology and Railways, and the Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, asking for protection of elephants on the lines. Campaigners maintain that these senseless deaths could have been avoided had the forest and railway departments coordinated and communicated with each other. Among the flaws pointed out in the Comptroller and Auditor General of India’s (CAG) report, even the most basic signage to alert the drivers is missing, and a significant lack of training for them was also cited.
We joined with Indian campaigners to urge the Ministers to implement the basic measures suggested in the CAG report, covering speed limits, conspicuous signage, sensor-based alarm systems, enhancing visibility, foot patrols, preventing littering, urgently building underpasses and overpasses which are shown to be very effective, and financially incentivising the drivers to slow down.
Apart from the terrible suffering of the elephants, there is an added factor – given that elephants reproduce only every five years, the rate at which they are being killed will bring about their disappearance as a species in fewer than ten years.
We wrote again to Mauritius Ministers about the cruel capture of macaques for vivisection in other countries.
And, from South East Asia:
We wrote to the Indonesian Embassy in France, where the campaign was being organised – again about the capture of long-tailed macaques for labs overseas.
Koalas are in dire straits. Tree felling, fires and now floods have made their lives a misery, if they have survived at all. There are excellent Australian groups doing all they can to rescue and rehabilitate the poor creatures. So their official conservation status is vital if they are to have more effective protection.
We wrote to Sussan Ley, the Federal Minister for the Environment, and to the NSW State Minister, asking for koalas to be re-listed from Vulnerable to Endangered. We usually receive replies from Minister Ley and this one was detailed – please see Update 4
New Zealand /Aotearoa:
Greenpeace NZ Aotearoa set up a petition asking for support for a Dairy Cow Welfare Review and we also contacted the Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor to endorse this campaign.
A basic problem affecting the poor welfare of these cows is that there are just too many in NZ. Though NZ acknowledges that animals are sentient beings, the manner in which these cows are kept is appalling, too closely stocked, no protection from the cold, giving birth in muddy surroundings. Their calves are removed at 4 days old. (however it is difficult to see how this can be avoided if the public wishes to consume dairy products).
Be that as it may, the Greenpeace petition raises the issue much more widely among the public at large, asking for the cows’ lives to be made worth living.
Another petition seeks to Halve the Herd.
Campaigners say this could be achieved by less breeding, phasing out of synthetic nitrogen fertiliser and imported feed, supporting farmers to transition to more plant-based, regenerative organic farming.
Here is an outline of the work of Saving Wildcats, the official organisation set up to breed and release offspring into the wild:
This is their latest hopeful update:
“All 16 wildcats are paired, which means we have eight breeding pairs. The couples have been seen getting on well, so we are hopeful that we will soon hear the pitter patter of tiny kitten paws! The kittens born this year will be the first wildcats bred in captivity to be released into the wild in Scotland…”
And here is an explanation of the problems faced by this rare creature, as explained by Saving Wildcats:
“A key threat to wildcat conservation is hybridisation, which occurs when wildcats and domestic cats interbreed with one another. We believe that this is contributing to the decline of the wildcat population in the wild.
Dr Jo Howard-McCombe, whose research was part of her PhD at the University of Bristol, studied the genetics of wildcats in Scotland, using advanced statistical modelling methods for the first time in wildcat conservation efforts. Her study has shown that hybridisation has only occurred very recently, in the last half of the 20th century. This is interesting because hybridisation has theoretically been possible since domestic cats were introduced to Britain by the Romans in 500 BCE!
In the case of wildcats in Scotland, we know that a mix of factors including habitat loss, persecution, and loss of prey caused a decline in numbers over the past two centuries and Jo’s research shows that hybridisation may be a symptom, rather than a cause of the small remaining population. This research is incredibly relevant to how we manage a release of captive bred individuals and Jo is now conducting more research to look at the timing of when hybridisation started to occur in more detail.
The study also backed up the results of previous research led by the RZSS WildGenes lab showing that the wildcats in the conservation breeding programme only have low levels of hybridisation and that most cats living in the wild in Scotland today have much higher levels of domestic cat genetics, meaning they are hybrids.”
On April 6, we received the good news from One Voice that the Poliakov circus closed on October 28 2021, after 20 years of activity.
The bear Bony will stay at the Refuge de l’Arche in the Loire Valley, and bear Franca at the Bärenpark Schwarzwald in Southern Germany.
Unfortunately, several animals, among them Mina the monkey and some parrots, had died during that year.
The legal order made by the Prefect of Loir-et-Cher will require all the other non-domestic animals still present on the site to be relocated – Senator Arnaud Bazin’s team was instrumental in getting the information from the Prefect that the circus had closed.
(For your interest, M. Bazin, before becoming Senator, was a vet and particularly concerned with the problems of animal experimentation for pharmaceutical and other life science applications.)
One Voice has been working tirelessly for over 20 years to end the misery of exotic animals in circuses. Over 100 communes in France now ban, or have taken a position against, travelling circuses which exploit these animals and 69% of the French are opposed to such establishments.
OV made the first ever complaint against a circus in France and achieved the first confiscation – that of chimpanzee Achille in 2000.
Since then, Maomie the tigress, Vicky the elephant and lions Brutus, Maousi, Simba, Djunka, Nalla and Shada have been transferred to sanctuaries and partner refuges.
Please see www.one-voice.fr for much more information on their campaigns. There is an English version available.
- Cyprus. Report by BirdLife Cyprus received on April 4:
Over the last decade BirdLife Cyprus has been requesting strategic placement and strategic assessment of the environmental impacts of renewables on protected areas, valuable farmland and the countryside in general; especially in terms of thoughtless land sealing and land use change.
They write: “The problem is that almost 2/3 of the existing windfarms ended up in Natura 2000 sites, with all the impact this could have on unsuspecting raptors. More than half the Photovoltaic Parks ended up in farmland, while battles had to be fought to keep them out of Natura 2000 sites; although some did manage to get environmental permits on the margins of protected sites. A number of renewable projects even caused the concern of the European Commission, as Cyprus had failed to ensure that they would have no impact on protected sites.
In February 2021 the first important step was made in the right direction, when the Environment Department froze the assessment of Photovoltaic Parks submitted for approval from 2021 onwards, until a strategic environmental impact assessment had been carried out…”
AIA wrote to congratulate BirdLife Cyprus on this important development and asked them specifically about the proposed Photovoltaic Park on the Akrotiri Peninsula which could endanger birds and their habitats, and about which we had written to the British Sovereign Bases on Akrotiri, on whose land the facility will be sited. The officers did reply to us in 2020 and we mentioned this in a previous report.
BirdLife Cyprus replied to us again on April 13 2022:
“The solar park did indeed receive environmental approval, reduced in size than it was originally proposed. This is however to be followed by a second phase, which amounts to the original proposal.
Some measures have been proposed and are being carried out – we, however, consider most of these measures as actions which should have already been place for the area as part of its management. We are following these measures and their implementation closely.
What is probably more important, is the fact the solar park, in combination with many other residential/tourist projects in the area, adds to the cumulative deprivation of feeding and roosting area for the Red-footed and Eleanora’s Falcons. The cumulative impacts of all these projects on these species and the wetland in general have not been taken into account in any environmental approval.
Last but not least, please be aware that Akrotiri Peninsula in general is under unprecedented pressure from development and key decisions are still pending.
You can find more information here: www.birdlifecyprus.org/akrotiri/
The BirdLife Cyprus team”.
Concerning the parlous state of koalas, Federal Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley replied in response to our request:
…” well within the statutory timeframes, I made my decision to up-list the listed koala from Vulnerable to Threatened based on the advice of the Threatened Species Scientific Committee. This will boost the level of protection for koala under Natural Environmental law.
…I have written to ministers of Queensland, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory to invite them to jointly make the National Recovery Plan for the listed koala…
The Australian government is providing more than $74 million to protect the iconic Koala and ensure its long-term health and resilience, including: $47 million to protect and restore important Koala habitat; $8.7 million to support the health, genetics research and medical support and $12 million for the National Koala Monitoring Program…”
We had also written to the former New South Wales Minister for Energy and Environment, the Hon Matt Kean MP (unaware he had left this post) about koalas. Our email was referred to the Minister for Environment and Heritage, the Hon James Griffin MP, who replied to confirm NSW involvement in the scheme.
On 9 April 2022, the NSW Government released its new NSW Koala Strategy:
~ Marian Hussenbux. May 2022
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