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 August 2017 to March 2018.
To Michael Gove, DEFRA Minister, on the following:
The EU ‘Article 13’ (Animal Sentience) missing from the Post-Brexit Repeal Bill, CCTV in slaughterhouses, the promise to ban live exports post-Brexit, supporting the Compassion Day of Action against live exports in September 2017, elephant ivory, both legal and illegal.
As Theresa Villiers MP had tabled a Ten Minute Rule Bill to debate the promise to ban live exports, we wrote to thank her.
The Bank of England took the decision to use tallow as a coating for bank notes – we wrote to Governor Mark Carney to object, as, apart from secular objections to use of an animal product, several faiths find this abhorrent.
The Easton Harriers had been filmed killing hares when they claimed they were killing rabbits. We wrote to the Suffolk Chief Constable and Crown Prosecution Service asking why, given much clear video footage which we had watched, in which a huntsman was hiding a hare under his jacket, there was no action taken against them. We had an interim reply from the local Wildlife Crime Police Officer, and await his official response.
We wrote again to CITES and DEFRA about elephant calves exported from Namibia to the UAE and to the Zimbabwe ministers on the same subject, this time to China – please see below.
Sir John Randall, a government environmental advisor, met with three young British conservationists last year and agreed with many of their concerns about wildlife issues – the illegal killing of raptors to benefit grouse shooting, allied killing of hares (of whom he himself is a champion) et al. We sent our compliments and thanks for his encouragement of these compassionate and well-informed young people.
We thanked London Mayor Sadiq Khan for welcoming puppy Luna into his family.
Brood management plan
DEFRA and their allied body Natural England are intending to implement their Brood Management Plan, which involves taking rare hen harrier eggs and/or chicks from their natural nests and parents, raising them in captivity and releasing them at an appropriate age, which coincides with the opening of the grouse shooting season.
We know of no conservation group which considers this plan as anything but nonsense.
This is DEFRA/NE’s response to the scarcity of raptors near grouse moors – and even they, in their reply to us, acknowledged that illegal persecution plays a part in this scarcity.
So rather than try to stop the persecution, it is easier to translocate the eggs and chicks. By this means, landowners will be assured that breeding populations of hen harriers will not be permitted to increase on their grouse moors.
AIA is strongly in opposition and the reply we received reveals that pro-shooting organisations, one of which, The Moorland Association, is actually funding and in charge of this ludicrous plan, are the people to whom DEFRA/NE is listening.
As of February 26, there is now a legal challenge to this plan. Dr. Mark Avery, conservationist and writer, has engaged legal counsel and it could be that brood management, licensed by Natural England, and known to most nature conservationists as ‘brood meddling’, “is actually illegal because better, more sensible and more effective measures exist”.
The RSPB reports that the satellite tag of Marc, a 2017 hen harrier from the Scottish Borders, tagged as part of the RSPB’s EU-funded Hen Harrier LIFE project, suddenly stopped transmitting on February 5.
He had flown near to a grouse moor at Middleton-in-Teesdale in the North Pennines.
Neither Marc nor his tag have been found. Yet again, another mysterious disappearance which may never be explained if DEFRA and Natural England continue as they have done in the past.
Continuing with birds, this time in Cyprus on the British military base, the Ministry of Defence is doing positive work trying to stop the trapping and killing of migratory birds crossing the island.
Labour animal welfare plan
In February, the Labour Party issued their comprehensive Animal Welfare Plan and we thanked them for this – it covers the badger cull, puppy farming, live exports, wildlife crime and many other aspects of concern.
Mountain hares and golden eagles
In Scotland, we wrote again to the Minister on the mass slaughter of mountain hares, to Alison Johnstone and Mark Ruskell MSPs, thanking them for a mountain hare motion in Parliament, and congratulating them on being awarded the Lord Houghton accolade for their animal welfare work, to the Cabinet Secretary and Visit Scotland on their promotion of the killing of mountain hares.
We also wrote to the government and Scottish Natural Heritage about their planned release of golden eagle chicks, caught in the Highlands, to be released to repopulate the South of Scotland. As they are already persecuted there, this seems reckless.
A tagged young eagle was picked up dead in the sea in February ‘18, an event which happened after our letter to them and rather proved the point.
Hunting and coursing
Moving to European issues, hunting and coursing are still a huge problem in Ireland. We have written to a succession of Taoiseachs and Ministers over the years, asking them to work to end the cruelty, to no avail. We wrote to Leo Varadkar, the new Taoiseach, introducing AIA and asking him to take an interest in this important matter, reflect on it and act against it. Our letters usually get passed on to another Department, which then issues a brief acknowledgment.
However, in February 2018, having written to the Taoiseach, his Deputy Simon Coveney and two other Ministers, we received a two page letter from the Minister of Agriculture, Michael Creed, explaining how hare coursing is regulated, to which we replied with more objections.
Heather Humphreys, previous Minister, who issued the licences to Coursing Clubs, gave way to Josepha Madigan, who seems to be equally in favour of the activity, even increasing the number of days available for coursing.
There was an Animal Welfare debate in the Irish Dáil in 2017, but very few TDs (MPs) supported a ban on coursing – certainly none from the major parties. We wrote to thank those who did and received replies from two.
Ban on wild animals in circuses in Ireland
More positively, Minister Michael Creed announced a ban on wild animal circuses in Ireland and we wrote to thank him.
Not only are bullfights regularly arranged in the Azores, but there are still sections offered in which children can take part. However, we were happy to thank one priest, Father Ricardo Tavares, Fenais da Luz, Sao Miguel, for speaking against bullfighting and ending them in his parish.
In Spain, we asked the Autonomous Government of Galicia to end traditional local bullfighting called capeas and novilladas, organised for minors at a festival specially for them, the Festa da Xuventude. Their reply to us outlined safety measures they intended to take, not quite what we were requesting.
We thanked the Portuguese President for not accepting an invitation to attend a bullfight and appealed to him to refuse others he might receive.
In France, the Mayor of Nîmes had refused to meet anti-corrida people, including Pamela Anderson – we wrote to ask him to take an interest in a cruel activity.
Also in France, elephant Maya is kept in a circus in a woeful state of health about which the local Prefect (Lot et Garonne) had not been concerned, though she had been asked to arrange an inspection by elephant specialists to ascertain Maya’s current health status and needs. Under pressure, an inspection was later agreed for December 2017, but the circus, having taken legal action to try to silence objections by One Voice, the campaigning organisation we are supporting, succeeded in keeping Maya away from public view.
We are pleased to report that, on February 13 ‘18, the court found in favour of One Voice.
There are two other elephants in this circus, Nelly and Brigit, also in poor health, and aged.
We wrote twice to the Prefect about Maya, and know that this is an on-going matter.
We also wrote to President Macron on two matters – the judicial overturning of a ban on breeding captive orcas in France, and the requirement agreed in 2016 and due to be enforced in 2018 to have CCTV in all abattoirs in France.
We thanked the Député Olivier Falorni for being prepared to submit an amendment restoring the CCTV requirement.
Turning to the Americas – Canada, we are pleased to report that in February we wrote to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asking him to ensure that a plan to rewrite their environmental laws will be honoured. Canada is losing many wild species and this would be the moment to try to reverse the trend.
More good news is that a $1.3 billion investment in new protected areas and in species at risk conservation has now been allocated “and marks the beginning of the most exciting environmental campaign in Canada over the next five years.”
Canada has made an international commitment to protect 17% of its lands and waters by 2020.
We had previously contacted the Veterinary College of Ontario about a vet who had been filmed ill treating animals in his clinic – his licence was restored, which seemed premature, but we were told he had to undergo re-training and is on probation.
The United States:
The United States has again featured frequently among our concerns. We have written to Governors and Mayors about elephants in circuses, rodeos and – yet again – horse-drawn traffic in New York City. We asked the NYC mayor Bill de Blasio– as he promised before election to the mayoralty – to impose a total ban on the horse-drawn carriage trade in the city.
We had previously mentioned the release of the damning 2007 Comptroller’s Audit, showing that agencies such as the Department of Health and Consumer Affairs have failed to adequately regulate this industry; we supported local campaigners by writing again to the City Comptrollers about an independent audit to establish if existing legislation is indeed being enforced.
Mustangs and Burros
Mustangs and burros are still threatened by ranching interests, as they are rounded up and their bands broken up and families disrupted. We wrote to the relevant committees of the Advisory Board, but it seems that the only people concerned about these poor creatures are the voluntary groups who try to rescue them from slaughter.
Seneca white deer
We sent our congratulations to Dennis Money of the Seneca White Deer Group on receiving the honour of local Citizen of the Year. He has done excellent work in his area for many species of wildlife, not just the deer.
In Hispanic America, we thanked the Mayor of Guadalajara, Mexico, for imposing a ban on horse-drawn carriages in the city and the Mayor of Caracas in Venezuela ended corridas in the capital, together with other animal welfare measures.
In The Middle East and the Sub-Continent, we protested to the Jordanian Ambassador about the killing of street dogs, to ministers in India about elephant rides, elephants and human conflict, and, in Sri Lanka, again, the killing of street dogs.
We had received a query about the Gadhimai Festival in Nepal, in which many thousands of animals were traditionally sacrificed to please the goddess. This sacrifice is being discouraged by the government, so implementation is key. We wrote to the Nepali campaigners to ascertain the current situation and offer what support we can.
In Africa, the killing of wildlife by tourists continues. After the (legal) killing of Xanda the lion in a Zimbabwe National Park, we wrote to Dr. Andrew Loveridge at Oxford University, who had tagged him, objecting to trophy hunting which we judge has nothing to do with ‘conservation’ of species. We received no reply.
We also wrote to the Zimbabwe minister responsible, asking for an exclusion zone to protect at least tagged animals.
We wrote to the Namibian High Commissioner in London about the elephant calves being caught in Namibia and shipped to the United Arab Emirates.
After many frustrating attempts at communication with relevant bodies such as CITES, which is supposed to regulate the trade in endangered species, this time, about elephant calves caught in Zimbabwe and shipped to zoos in China, we were relieved to thank the new Zimbabwe President for stopping this terrible trade – and asked him to bring back those who had been sent to China. Not all the calves had survived this transfer. As yet, we have no further news on this disturbing matter.
The clearing of land, and the consequent eviction of such creatures as koalas, is taking place in several Australian states, so we wrote to ministers in New South Wales and Queensland about this.
Live export ships
We also, in response to a request from an Australian friend, asked the minister responsible to retire old live export ships – most fall into this category and if removed from service, the massive Australian trade would be difficult to run.
Finally, in support of the Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses, we wrote to the CEO of Racing Australia, asking him to support an initiative to rehabilitate and re-home retired horses, rather than destroy them.
SUMMARY RESULTS FOR THE PERIOD
For your interest, we received 23 responses to our letters – mainly from Britain and Ireland. Some are merely acknowledgments, but other recipients do try to explain or justify their actions.
~ Marian Hussenbux. March 2018
Animal advocacy continued – December 2016 to July 2017