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 December 2016 to July 2017.
Battery rabbit farm
An application was made last year for a battery rabbit farm in Gnosall, Staffs. and after much opposition from many organisations and individuals, this was rejected, but the applicant appealed. We wrote in March asking for this to be rejected and it was.
Indeed, it went against a trend, as a 600,000 signature-strong petition had been presented to Europe’s agriculture ministers, calling for an end to the farming of rabbits in cages. All 751 MEPs were contacted prior to a vote to reassess farmed rabbit welfare.
On 25 January this year, members of the European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee voted in favour of a report that recommended phasing out cages for farmed rabbits.This vote was the closest campaigners had come, in over a decade, to securing new legislation for all Europe’s farmed animals, paving the way for the protection and welfare of Europe’s farmed rabbits.
We thanked the six Irish MEPs who supported this proposal as there were some who had not, and it might be useful to establish links with Irish MEPs in view of Britain’s decision to leave the EU.
Ankus used on elephants in zoos
As we mentioned in an earlier issue of Animal Spirit, four British zoos still use the ankus – the spiked stick – in management of elephants. We wrote to Whipsnade asking them to desist from what we consider to be a cruel practice, and received the usual bland reply, saying “ZSL Whipsnade Zoo’s elephant keepers do carry an ankus, which is used merely as a prompt and guide for the animals when on their daily walks – it is never used to cause hurt or fear to the animal”.
However, DEFRA did state: “In 2010, The British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA) set up an elephant working group with the remit of improving elephant welfare in British and Irish zoological collections. The group was subsequently tasked by Defra to drive forward a programme of improvements to zoo elephant welfare. Any recommendations suggested by the BIAZA elephant working group will be considered by the UK’s Zoos Expert Committee. This may include making changes to the requirements of Secretary of State’s Standards of Modern Zoo Practice with regard to elephant handling. (our emphasis)
As we considered 7 years quite long enough to think about this, we wrote again to ask if there is a required date by which their report should be complete, and when this would be. Here is DEFRA’s slightly edited report:
“ A Defra funded research project published in 2008 identified a number of concerns regarding elephant welfare in UK zoos, in particular, that there was a high prevalence of gait abnormalities, of excess weight and of stereotypic behaviours. In response to this and other reports highlighting welfare concerns with captive elephants, the Elephant Welfare Group was established by British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA) in 2010. It is a multi-stakeholder group with representatives from zoos, academia and welfare organisations.
Lord Henley, the then Animal Welfare Minister, tasked the group with the remit to improve elephant welfare in UK collections over a 10 year period, with a review after five years. He also made it clear that if improvements were not made in the 10 year period, the Government would consider possibly phasing out the keeping of elephants in zoos in the UK. The Elephant Working Group has completed the five year interim review.
The UK’s Zoos Expert Committee, which contains animal welfare experts including the RSPCA, advises Defra and other UK animal welfare Ministers on issues relating to zoos and the Zoo Licensing Act 1981 has considered the five year interim review and overall feel that good progress has been made. However, the Committee believes that this must now continue at an increased pace if the Elephant working group are to meet their goals by the 10 year deadline.
The Zoos Expert Committee also recommends updating the Secretary of State’s Standards of Modern Zoo Practice (SSSMZP) to reflect the developments made by the Elephant Welfare Group over the last five years. The Committee are currently agreeing recommendations for the changes that need to be made.”
In view of this clear exposition, we think, though time scales are lengthy, that the committee needs to be given time to complete their important work.
Norfolk meat traders
We referred in our last report to our correspondence with the Food Standards Agency about the company Simply Halal, which became Norfolk Meat Traders, where exceptionally cruel slaughter practices were revealed. Though the FSA had maintained to us on October 25th 2016 that none of the staff from Simply Halal were employed at the new company, viz:
“ None of the slaughtermen and Animal Welfare Officers employed by this company are implicated in the welfare abuse at Simply Halal…”, Hillside Investigations, which carried out the original investigations, found that one director worked in both.
Hillside sent out an alert on June 8 this year saying: “The same people were later allowed to set up another company, Norfolk Meat Traders, and carry on killing animals, this time including horses. When the ‘new’ company were found to be slaughtering without permission, the FSA were forced to step in again and revoke their licences.”
However, in June this year, Hillside’s investigators witnessed sheep being unloaded there and later filmed them in the lairage. “The FSA were immediately informed, entered the site two days later to find staff there washing down the walls, but they did not appear to have made any serious attempt to find out what happened to these animals who were in what should have been a disused slaughtering facility.”
So this issue needs monitoring.
As Theresa May had stated just before the General Election that she was in favour of hunting, we wrote to her, making a strong point that many faiths strongly disapproved of the practice and asking her to consider the fact that repealing the Hunting Act would have an adverse effect on interfaith relations. The reply from her office revealed that they had not properly read our letter and had ignored this important point, assuming that we merely wished to state our opposition to hunting.
In view of the disturbing fact that the RSPCA is, once again, under attack from the pro-hunting press, we thought it important to write to the interim CEO and the Council, thanking them all for their dedicated work for all creatures and assuring them of our strong support for all that they do.
We have had occasion to write to the National Trust before, and as The League Against Cruel Sports reported in June that they still issued licences for trail hunting on their land, and they were also suffering from illegal activity, including the use of firearms and the killing of deer, we wrote to the General Secretary to express our opposition to all hunting on land which we suggest should be a haven for all animals. There is some hope, as a motion to ban hunting will be debated at their AGM in October.
Still on the subject of wildlife protection, we learned that the Chairman of the Kent Wildlife Trust supports the hunting of hares, wading birds and pheasants, having held official roles in a hare hunting group for over thirty years. We asked the Wildlife Trust to cut all links with pro-hunting individuals.
Legal protection for crustaceans
We lobbied all the parties prior to the elections on the subject of crustaceans, asking them to pledge to give them legal protection. As the government does not accept that they can feel pain, there are no requirements to slaughter them humanely. Apart from this statement from the Conservatives, only the Green Party replied to say they have included crustaceans in their manifesto.
Wild animals in circuses
The matter of circuses which exploit animals seems to be a perennial concern in this country, though many other states worldwide are progressing towards bans. Here, complacence rules; we wrote to the Conservatives asking for them to take more action to get a ban in parliament. This is part of their reply:
“While we were unable to make progress on a ban in the last Parliament – despite our support for the recent Private Member’s Bill – it is important to note that in 2013 we introduced a strict licensing scheme to safeguard the welfare of any wild animals in circuses.
The licensing scheme covers the 16 wild animals that are currently in two travelling circuses and licences can be suspended or revoked if there are any breeches. This will continue to be the case until we are able to make further progress on this issue.
I would like to reassure you that we remain committed to maintaining the highest standards of animal welfare, whatever the animal or setting.”
Our MPs – some of whom will be new – might benefit from knowing our feelings on this matter, as on others.
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, asking him to take an interest in this important matter, reflect on it and act against it.
We wrote to the Norwegian ambassador to the UK in March, asking her to convey to her government our deep concern about the whaling which is still practised by Norway – and indeed the quotas are increasing. We reminded the female ambassador that we had just celebrated International Women’s Day and that a new report from Norway itself indicated that as many as 90 % of the minke whales targeted were female, most of whom were pregnant.
We also wrote to the EU Trade Commissioner requesting that the EU raise the issue of whaling in the free trade agreement talks with Japan.
Almost 270,000 people signed the Whale & Dolphin Conservation petition calling on the EU to say ‘no’ to a Free Trade Agreement with Japan unless they stop killing whales. Unfortunately, it is reported that whaling will not even be discussed, even though the EU Parliament has already demanded stronger action against whaling.
Poisoning street animals
Bosnia has applied to become a member state of the European Union, but the poisoning of street animals continues there. We wrote to the President and other authorities asking for the slaughter to be stopped and humane management of street animals to be implemented.
Since EU states have called on Bosnia to continue “socio-economic reforms (and) reforms in the area of rule of law and public administration.”, we also wrote to MEPS, suggesting that this deplorable treatment of animals needs to be part of the reforms necessary for membership of the EU, and asking if any more could be done at EU level to ameliorate this serious matter.
Bullfights with child participation
Not only are bullfights regularly arranged in the Azores, but there are also sections offered in which children can take part. We asked the President to consider how unedifying it is to bring up children to participate in cruel and futile events, and to complain about tax payers’ money supporting this. After the event, we asked the town council of Angra do Heroísmo to change their future policy on this matter.
Letter to Pope Francis – Bullfighting and the Papal Bull
On the subject of bullfights in general, we wrote again to Pope Francis, reminding him of the Papal Bull entitled Super prohibitione agitationis Taurorum & Ferarum, commonly referred to as “De Salute Gregis Dominici”, issued by St. Pius V in 1567, which, though modified over the years, has never been directly repealed by another Bull or provision of canon law. We requested that he issue his condemnation of this cruel practice.
The Pope is not accessible by email, but if members wish to contact him on this matter, his postal address is:
His Holiness Pope Francis PP
00120 Via del Pellegrino, Citta de Vaticano.
Hunting migrating birds
Cyprus is one of the Mediterranean nations in which no birds are safe, including migratory species whose arrival we eagerly await in northern Europe. At the end of June, at the last minute because the parliamentary debate had been deferred several times, we contacted Cypriot MPs asking them not to vote for amendments to the law which would decriminalise some aspects of the killing of birds, and take less rigorous actions against illegal hunting.
Unfortunately these amendments found overwhelming support, but 4 MPs voted against, so we wrote to thank them, receiving an appreciative reply from one.
The United States has featured frequently in our correspondence lately, mainly in the matter of the killing – by shooting and sometimes by snaring – of predators. We have submitted objections to the killing of coyotes in New Mexico, cougars and bears in Nevada and also in Colorado, carried out – to add insult to injury – to protect moose deer to be shot by hunters, and bears in New Jersey. In that state, the Democrat Senator Raymond Lesniak is a staunch supporter of animal issues; by his attempts to take action against, among other instances, puppy mills, he aims to make NJ The Humane State. We receive regular alerts from him.
We also thanked the California Assembly Member Richard Bloom for his support of cougars in the state and for his advocacy of bobcats.
Carriage horses work in a very dangerous environment, liable to cause and suffer from traffic accidents, and vulnerable to pollution. We asked the mayor and councillors of the city of Charleston, South Carolina, to retire Big John, an old horse who collapsed in the street in April and to end the exploitation of horses for transportation. We are informed that retrofitted carriages are the way forward and would give employment to those people affected by a ban.
Yet again, 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. Over the years, there have been many accidents, in addition to the release of the damning 2007 Comptroller’s Audit, showing that agencies like the Department of Health and Consumer Affairs have failed to adequately regulate this industry. Unfortunately, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) in 2014 gave up humane law enforcement, so the NY Police Department needs to fill the void.
Bill de Blasio can be contacted via his web site: http://www.nyc.gov/html/static/pages/officeofthemayor/contact.shtml
Fishes removed from reefs
Fishes from the reefs were being removed with no apparent restrictions and transferred to the Aquarium, with subsequent mortality and damage to the environment. At any given moment, it is reported, 28 million reef wild creatures are in the aquarium pipeline, of which 99% die within a year of capture.
Legislation is advancing through the House and Senate to put a stop to these depredations and the final step is the Governor’s. We wrote to ask him to get the bill passed, but have no news yet of progress.
Tyke the elephant
Secondly, you might remember poor elephant Tyke, who, in 1994, killed her trainer, ran amok in the streets of Honolulu and was shot. We wrote formally to urge the Hawai’i Board of Agriculture to support the petition to prohibit the importation of wild animals for entertainment.
Turning to Canada, we communicated with Justin Trudeau and other ministers on several issues. The yearly killing of seal pups seems to be a cruelty which never ends and we have written again to ask him to reflect on this and end it.
Canada exports 700 million live animals each year, of whom 1.5 million are reported to die en route. We wrote to the National Manager (Animal Welfare, Biosecurity and Assurance Programs Section) of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), pointing out that the CFIA’s proposed amendments to the regulations concerning animal transport fall far short of protecting animals from suffering – and indeed the vast majority of Canadians surveyed believe the country’s transport regulations must be updated.
Justin Trudeau’s email address is:email@example.com
We continue to oppose the organisation of rodeos, this time in Montreal and Lumby, and another pig scramble in Truro, Nova Scotia.
Deer killing in Cranbrook
In Cranbrook, we protested against the killing of deer, done even though the local council had planned to relocate them away from human habitation.
New marine protected area
Canadian Parks & Wilderness Society (CPAWS) alerted us to the creation of the St. Ann’s Bank new marine protected area (MPA), important for leatherback sea turtles, deep-sea corals and sponges, fish abundance, and a habitat for Atlantic wolfish and Atlantic cod.
Over 100 species have been identified in this area and it comprises an important migratory corridor for wildlife travelling to and from the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
We requested the minister avoid any last-minute changes to the protected area, or a weakening of the regulations.
We are pleased to report that on June 8th. the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans announced that the Government of Canada has now officially established the MPA. The entire area will be off-limits to oil and gas exploration activities and bottom trawling. Three fishing zones, covering approximately one quarter of the marine protected area, have been established for lower impact fisheries
Killing of cormorants
We also asked the Prime Minister and the minister Catherine McKenna to end the killing of double crested cormorants on an uninhabited island in Lake Erie, done to protect rare plants.
Cetaceans in aquariums
We were however happy to thank the Vancouver Board of Parks & Recreation for their unanimous decision to end the display of cetaceans at the Aquarium.
THE MIDDLE EAST
In Lebanon – in common with many nations with a Mediterranean coastline – the mass killing of birds, usually illegal, is having a terrible impact on many species, including the migratory birds. This hunting has had the effect of bringing certain species, such as the turtledove, to the brink of extinction.
We were informed by the excellent organisation BirdLife that in April President Michel Aoun, a Maronite Christian as his office requires, issued an appeal to put the country’s nature first: “It is a shame to turn Lebanon into a wasteland without plants, trees, birds and sea animals, and cutting off trees to erect buildings is a major crime” … There should be a peace treaty between Man and the tree as well as Man and birds, because we continue to transgress upon them”.
We sent our compliments and thanks to him for this enlightened statement.
Tarek Khatib, Minister of the Environment, announced the opening of the hunting season for 2017 from 15 September until the end of December, stressing that hunters requesting licensing will be subject to close scrutiny, a requirement the President himself also set out.
The Bandung zoo in West Java
In West Java, Indonesia, the Bandung Zoo came under severe criticism for its appalling neglect of the animals kept there. They rely heavily on food donations to survive, with no on-site veterinarian to look after their complex needs, and it was reported that the carnivores are fed with two-weekly donations of meat from New Zealand. Activist groups are also asking for donations to buy food.
We wrote to the President, Dr. Joko Widodo, in January, asking him to see that the relevant legislation is enforced and non-compliant zoos closed down. Readers might remember that the animals in Surabaya Zoo also suffer in similar ways.
It is surprising that the President is not apparently listening to these concerns. In 2013, as Governor of Jakarta, QCA thanked him for the effective action he took to have the ‘performing’ masked monkeys removed from the streets of Jakarta. Thanks to an excellent local group, JAAN, these monkeys have been rehabilitated and released where possible and other cities are having monkeys confiscated.
Captive wild animal breeding
In Nepal, we wrote to the Minister of Forest and Soil Conservation to protest against a very worrying development. In January, the Parliament of Nepal passed legislation under National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act, 1973. The Wildlife Farming, Breeding and Research legislation has a clause that specifically permits individuals to breed and use wild animals for any reason whatsoever, ranging from harvesting organs and body parts, exporting and selling them anywhere, keeping the animals for entertainment, breeding purposes, and even Zoos for educational purposes.
Any individual, business house or group of people will be able to receive licenses to use wild animals for profitable means, opening up the possibilities of fur farms, bile farms, circuses, mini zoos, meat farms, slaughter houses, and experiments on animals.
In Sri Lanka, we asked the Vice-Chancellor of Jayewardenepura University to protect the friendly dogs who were living on the premises of the University. They were born on site, presented no danger to anyone, and student clubs had been formed for their welfare and feeding. A sterilization and vaccination camp had also been arranged for 16th. April.
Despite all this compassionate and well organised work, it is reported that a ‘pest’ control company was employed to remove and dump the dogs elsewhere.
The treatment of elephants in the sub continent continues to be of great concern, but we are all delighted that the wonderful group Wildlife SOS has rescued another suffering elephant. In Maharasthra, the 63 year old temple elephant Gajraj, captured in his home in Madhya Pradesh when he was 12, was sent 800 kilometres away to beg for money in Aundh village and at the Yamai Devi temple. Malnourished, he was forced to live with painful chronic illness, injuries and acute psychological stress.
Keeping Gajraj in these conditions violates India’s Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, and the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and we had asked the minister responsible why nothing was done to help him. That all changed when, on June 14, we read that Wildlife SOS had rescued Gajraj amidst heavy police protection, with cooperation from the Forest Department and PETA India, and that he was on his way to the Elephant Conservation and Care Center in Mathura, the first centre of its kind.
Elephant cruelty in Malaysia
We have made several complaints to the Malaysian authorities about elephant Lasah, who has endured deplorable conditions, over ten years, in Langkawi Elephant Adventures on Langkawi island. Lasah had already spent over 20 years in several zoos, forced to work in a logging camp, perform in shows including in a popular Malaysian entertainment outlet and used in commercials and films.
Once again, we fail to understand why action to help and protect these elephants is not being taken.
In the state of Tamil Nadu, the law against jallikattu – bull racing – was overturned, and permission was given in January to hold them. The year previously, we had written to the Prime Minister about the ban, which we had wholly supported.
So the Chief Minister’s executive order has now taken bulls out of the law’s purview in Tamil Nadu.
Two dingoes, with poison implants in them, were translocated to Pelorus Island, Queensland, in 2016, to kill the goats there. This was a very controversial act and the Minister of the Environment in fact shut down the goat eradication programme that had contributed to the dingoes’ plight.
We were informed that there were plans to shoot the dingoes, rather than return them to the mainland for release at a wildlife sanctuary which was willing and able to remove the 1080 poison implants from their bodies, and to house them for life. We asked for the dingoes to be released and protected.
Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef: despite their agreement to help keep global warming below two degrees in line with the Paris climate agreement, CommBank has been the largest Australian financier of fossil fuel projects since the agreement was struck.
We reminded them of constant media coverage of how the Pacific Island nations and other vulnerable regions are affected by sea level rise, there are numerous reports of extensive coral bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef, and in 2016 22% of the Reef’s coral died. There is also great concern about more frequent and severe heatwaves, storms and bushfires than at any time in recorded history and the continued use of fossil fuels is a significant factor in these changes. We asked the bank to commit to funding sustainable fuels.
The hopeful news is that in June CommBank’s Board rejected the bank’s proposed new climate policy. They have sent it back to the drawing board, and in two months’ time, they will review it again.
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is the body to which we wrote on several occasions about the export of elephants from Zimbabwe to China, something which they did not appear to be able to prevent.
We have written to the Director-General again, as the Humane Society International sent out an alert about a further export planned, this time of 5 elephant calves from Namibia to a safari park in Dubai.
The cruelty inherent in such a project is bad enough. Between 2012 and late 2016, several young elephants have died. But perhaps more worrying is that CITES restricts Namibia’s trade of elephants to conservation programmes in the wild and, as far as we can ascertain at this time, this export has not been stopped. We have written to ask why, so far without receiving a reply, so a reminder is now required.
~ Marian Hussenbux. July 21st 2017
Animal advocacy continued – August 2016 to November 2016