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, sometimes in support of the campaigns run by other organisations and sometimes in support of AIA’s own campaigns.
AIA’s Campaigning Activity – from March 2016 to July 2016.
We have written to responsible bodies, usually by email but sometimes by post, about nearly thirty serious issues over these past five months.
Where the subject is a current and/or long term matter, to which readers might also like to respond, we give details of the individual or body to contact.
The killing of raptors, including the rarest, the hen harrier, and Scottish mountain hares continues, usually in the vicinity of grouse moors, and usually with impunity. We have written on several occasions to the previous and new Scottish Minister of the Environment, the National Trust, the Peak District National Park, the Hawk and Owl Trust, the Moorland Association, the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust and the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation about specific instances which are currently under investigation.
In relation to the killing of mountain hares, which, apart from the cruelty involved, might not be sustainable, the Scottish government has, for the first time, commissioned a count of animals to be undertaken in 2017. This is a step forward. Support from the European Union would help. As Alyn Smith SNP MEP is honorary vice-president of the Scottish SPCA and has been active on many animal issues in the European Parliament, we drew his attention to this study. As a consequence of the referendum matters are obviously in a state of flux, but his cabinet will take a look at the hare study when completed and in the meantime will inform the Scottish Environment Minister that AIA has been in touch with Alyn Smith on this important matter.
In Ireland, we continue to ask the government to ban hare coursing, and at the end of June the Irish Dáil debated the issue. This was not a free vote, so the unsurprising result was 114 against a ban and 20 in favour. We lobbied every TD (Irish MP) and thanked those in favour.
It is possible another bill might be presented in 2017.
You might like to ask the Minister to reflect on this futile cruelty perpetrated on defenceless creatures and remove the exemption for hare coursing from the Animal Health & Welfare Act 2013.
Long distance transport
Again in the Republic of Ireland, some 5,000 cattle were exported to Turkey at the end of June. The terrible suffering involved at all stages of the operation and the inability of the exporting country to control what happens to the animals at their destination in other jurisdictions is well known.
We asked the Irish Minister of Agriculture and the EU Commissioner to take action to prevent and penalise such abuses.
Contact: Minister Michael Creed TD, Agriculture House, Kildare Street, Dublin DO2 WK12.
Fur in the Sunday Times
The Sunday Times featured fur in the Style magazine. We wrote to the Editor asking her not to promote this product, no longer farmed in this country because of the cruelty involved. She replied to the effect that they did not often feature fur, but she made the point that it was difficult to draw a line, as some readers objected on other grounds, such as ‘environmental destruction caused by cotton and the boiling of moth pupa to make silk’.
The Leicestershire Wildlife Crime Police Officer rides with the Belvoir Hunt. As this appears to conflict with her work in this sphere, we asked the Chief Constable if she could be assigned to other duties.
The Kennel Club organises Crufts each year. Bearing in mind long term concerns about the inbreeding of certain ‘pure-bred’ dogs which came to light in 2008 as a consequence of a BBC programme Pedigree Dogs Exposed, we wrote to the director expressing deep concern about Catoria, a German Shepherd who won in her class this year, but whose difficulty in moving in the show ring due to the weakness in her back, a bred-in defect, attracted much public concern. We asked the Director to ensure that the owners of dogs bred with such disturbing physiology were not admitted to the competition, let alone rewarded by it.
Neglected ponies on Bodmin Moor
We received disturbing reports about ponies, owned by Commoners on Bodmin Moor, suffering malnutrition and general serious neglect earlier this year. This is a complex issue, which necessitated much correspondence. Compulsory microchipping will be imposed this July, which will make it easier to identify ponies and those who are supposed to be responsible for them.
We are informed that the local MP Neil Parrish has been of great help in this matter. AIA (mistakenly) wrote to a neighbouring MP, but he also took an interest and contacted the minister.
Many agencies are involved, including the government body Animal and Plant Health Agency, the RSPCA, Redwings Horse Sanctuary and the local council and police. We hope to hear that effective action has been taken to help these poor animals.
If you wish to know more about what the current situation is, or to help, please contact Faye at People 4 Ponies, who drew the matter to our attention. This excellent group specialises in helping wild and traumatised ponies.
Tate Modern exhibition with live animals
The Tate Modern in London is running a Brazilian-themed exhibition called Tropicália, in which two macaws are displayed in a bare cage. AIA member, Quaker Concern for Animals, had discovered that this is unfortunately perfectly legal, as they campaigned against the same exhibition in the Liverpool Tate in 2013.
We wrote to the Tate Modern Director asking why living creatures should be reduced to the status of artwork and to request that they adopt a policy of never using animals in their galleries again. We had a prompt standard reply and await their more detailed response.
You might also like to ask them to formally adopt a non-animal policy.
Contact for the Director is: Sarah.Wynne@tate.org.uk
Garraiadas are a Portuguese tradition in which young bulls are roped and variously tormented in street festivals. The University of Coimbra has a traditional end of year students’ celebration, comprising several events, one of which was a garraiada. We asked the university to ban this futile cruelty.
There were also 5,000 signatures on a petition asking for this and we are glad to report that the garraiada was not run this year.
Letter to Pope Francis
We wrote to Pope Francis to the effect that the Papal Bull pronounced by St. Pius V in 1567 forbidding bullfighting has never been repealed, and asking him to reflect on the fact that such cruelty is in direct opposition to his own Encyclical Laudato Si’. We reminded him that in Argentina, his native land, the corrida has been banned since 1899.
We asked him to state his strong condemnation of the practice and ask the Bishops to proclaim this.
You can contact His Holiness at:
The Apostolic Palace,
00120 Vatican City.
Fur farming: a group of Czech Members of Parliament of a range of parties are supporting a new bill that could ban fur farms in the Czech Republic. We wrote to ask the ambassador in London to pass on our support for this initiative, and our hopes that his country would join the seven European countries in which a ban is already in place.
In Tunisia, the treatment of street dogs is very cruel. Both street dogs and those whose collars indicate they have families are being shot, sometimes only injured and left to die. There is much opposition to this in the country and there have been protests at the ministries in Tunis.
Some form of action has been promised, so the matter is on-going. We asked their ambassador here to convey our hopes to his government that a Trap-Neuter- Release programme, the most humane and effective practice used in many parts of the world, would be implemented.
Zimbabwe and Swaziland:
Zimbabwe and Swaziland continue to export elephants to zoos in, respectively, China and the United States. We have written several times to the governments, asking them to cease this deplorable activity. Few, if any, zoos are able to provide an adequate environment for these sensitive and complex creatures.
We have also written several times to CITES, the international body which regulates trade in endangered species, and to the World Association of Zoos and Aquaria which had indeed expressed reservations about the conditions in which elephant calves were kept in China. The correspondence came to an end.
The plight of elephants in the subcontinent also is well known and we continue to keep updated on events in India especially, where there are excellent rescue organisations and sanctuaries dedicated to helping them.
The story of the Precious Four is a particularly sad case. The organisation Wildlife SOS, which is committed, among other work, to rescuing elephants from circuses and other abusive establishments, succeeded in securing the release of four female elephants, one blind, from the Rambo circus. The animals enjoyed only one month of excellent care and rehabilitation before a judge, on the basis of some apparently incorrect legal detail, ordered them back to the circus.
We wrote to the Chief Minister of Maharashtra, asking him to intervene and use his authority under the Wildlife Protection Act (1972) and other relevant legislation to take urgent action on behalf of the Precious Four.
Please contact the group at www.wildlifesos.org if you wish to help.
In Uttarakhand, a police horse called Shaktimaan while on duty at a political rally was attacked by a politician. We asked the Speaker of the Uttarakhand Legislative Assembly for a discussion on an amendment increasing penalties under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (1960)
We have contacted the bodies responsible on the following issues:
Bears being kept in a concrete pit at the Cherokee Bear Zoo in North Carolina; the down-listing of West Indian manatees in Florida from Endangered down to Threatened, which would allow more development and disturbance to their habitat; the plight of Hercules and Leo, chimpanzees from the New Iberia Research Center, asking for them to be allowed to live in peace at the Save the Chimps Sanctuary; stingrays in Maryland, the snaring of cougars on public lands in New Mexico, the shooting of mountain lions in Nevada and the poisoning of rats and mongooses in Hawaii.
There are two particular issues to which we have dedicated extra efforts:
In New York State, the Seneca deer are at risk of being evicted from their current home, fenced in on an ex-military site, because the land is up for sale. As the deer are a rare white breed, they will become very conspicuous targets for hunters once out in the open. There have been sixteen bids for the property, and the council, in support of the deer, are considering which bid will benefit the area best. We have several times written to the councillors, in response to appeals by the active local group working to protect the deer. We await the latest news.
In San Diego, California, we have for the second year supported the campaigning group which protects harbour seals who come onto a beach, with a children’s paddling pool, to pup. The only request made is that the area chosen by the seals be roped off during the pupping season, but some local residents are opposed, wishing to make the beach accessible to visitors all year round.
Again, this matter is on-going.
You will have received the news that Arturo the polar bear died in the Mendoza Zoo in early July, after 22 years of captivity. We had previously written to President Macri at the end of 2015, asking for Arturo’s environment to be greatly improved if he was indeed too old and sick to be moved to a Canadian zoo where the climate would at least have been more suitable for him.
We have now asked the Zoo Director, Dr, Gustavo Pronotti, to promise never again to acquire polar bears or other northern species who would suffer terribly in the southern climate.
Marian Hussenbux. July 2016
Animal advocacy continued – October 2015 to February 2016