In this week’s episode, Animal People reviews the trial of pig activist Anita Krajnc, the lifting of Australia’s dog racing ban, good and bad news for endangered wildlife, and more!
Research by Kim Rogers Bartlett
Presentation & editing by Wolf Gordon Clifton
Theme music: “Praetor,” courtesy Ross Bugden, <https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQKGLOK2FqmVgVwYferltKQ>
Hello! I’m Wolf, like the animal, reporting for Animal People World News.
MEMORIAL STATUE FOR INSTANBUL MEME CAT
In Turkey, a cat famous for her Internet memes has received a memorial statue in her honor. Tombili, a friendly stray cat living in Istanbul, shot to Internet fame when her image was posted online in 2012, becoming a meme titled “Chill Cat” for her relaxed posture. Tombili passed away of illness on August 1st, in the care of a local family who took her into their house. Her memorial statue was erected on World Animal Day, October 4th, answering a petition to the local government signed by over 17,000 people.
ISLAMIC STATE BANS INDOOR CAT BREEDING
In Iraq, the Daesh, or so-called Islamic State, has issued a fatwa banning the indoor breeding of cats. In the Daesh-occupied city of Mosul, I.S. fighters have reportedly begun searching homes for kittens. The Daesh has previously banned the breeding of pigeons, claiming it distracts from morning prayer time, executing pigeon breeders and killing the birds by burning them alive inside bags. Cats, however, have until now received favor from the Islamic State, which has even posted photographs online of terrorists posing with their cats in an effort to recruit fighters. The reason for the ban, and the fate of cats and people found to be in violation, is not yet clear.
GOOD NEWS AND BAD NEWS FOR ENDANGERED WILDLIFE
On Wednesday, October 5th, the 17th conference of CITES in Johannesburg, South Africa came to an end. CITES – the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora – is an international conservation treaty designed to regulate trade in endangered animals and plants, by granting varying levels of protection from regulated trade within individual countries up to total commercial bans worldwide. The latest meeting, which began September 24th, resulted in a number of changes to the protected status of various species:
International trade in all species of pangolins, which are trafficked in the tens or hundreds of thousands per year for meat and medicinal purposes, was completely banned;
African grey parrots, imperiled by the illegal pet trade, were also granted a total ban on international trade;
Four species of shark and nine species of ray were granted partial protection, requiring that fishing and trade be monitored to avoid threatening populations;
A proposal from Swaziland, to legalize trade in rhinoceros horn seized from poachers, taken non-lethally or from already dead rhinos, was rejected out of concern that it would provide cover for poachers;
No progress was made for elephants, with proposals both to ban all trade in ivory within countries, and to legalize international trade in ivory from stable elephant populations, being defeated.
A motion to ban trade in body parts from captive-bred lions was defeated. Trade in wild-caught lions remains illegal.
While increased protections for wild animals are lobbied for and celebrated by animal activists, it should be noted that the purpose of CITES is conservation of species, not protection of individual animals from harm. CITES’ new resolution on hunting trophies was praised by Safari Club International, a hunters’ advocacy group, which wrote,
“At CITES 182 countries, advised by their scientists, recognized the benefits that trophy hunting provides for species conservation and community livelihoods… CITES Parties know that hunters are true conservationists.”
CANADA ACTIVIST STANDS TRIAL FOR MERCY TO PIG
Animal rights activist Anita Krajnc is currently facing trial in Vancouver, Canada, charged with criminal mischief for giving water to thirsty pigs. During a slaughterhouse vigil with her group Toronto Pig Save in June 2015, Krajnc offered her water bottle to the pigs while the truck carrying them to their deaths was stopped at a traffic light. The truck driver ordered her to stop, which she refused, and the next day the pigs’ owner filed a complaint against her. In her first day of trial on October 3rd, Krajnc stated that she was simply following the Golden Rule, and her lawyers argued she was acting in the public good. The trial continues on November 1st. In the mean time, Krajnc has continued her activism on behalf of pigs. Following a truck accident outside the same slaughterhouse on October 5th, in which some forty pigs died and the remainder were driven on foot to slaughter, Krajnc was charged with obstructing a police officer for attempting to take photographs of the scene.
CHICKENS KILLED FOR JEWISH RITUAL
Yom Kippur, the Jewish holy day for the atonement of sins, began last night and ends at sunset today. But some Jews began their atonement early with a ritual called kaporos, a form of animal sacrifice in which practitioners swing live hens or roosters three times over their heads, then slaughter them, supposedly transferring their own sins onto the birds. The chickens killed in New York City’s Brooklyn borough alone number around 50,000 each year. While many Hasidim, or ultra-Orthodox Jews, engage in the practice in Israel, the United States, and elsewhere, many other Jews object to the practice. The Alliance to End Chickens as Kaporos, a partnership of animal rights and Jewish organizations, has filed suit against the city of New York for allowing the practice in spite of animal welfare, health, and sanitation violations, following an unsuccessful suit last year against the celebrants themselves.
PLANES DROP LIVE TURKEYS IN ARKANSAS TRADITION
In the U.S. state of Arkansas, the town of Yellville celebrated its own tradition harmful to birds last weekend: the Turkey Drop, in which live domestic turkeys are dropped 500 feet from an airplane. The practice has endured for seventy years despite massive protest from animal activists. Of the ten birds dropped on Friday and Saturday, two fell straight to their deaths. The rest managed to glide to the ground unharmed, but several were nonetheless captured, killed, and eaten by celebrants upon landing.
GREYHOUND RACING BAN LIFTED IN AUSTRALIA
In July, the Australian state of New South Wales banned greyhound racing, after undercover investigations revealed rampant abuse within the industry, including the illegal use of live piglets, possums, and rabbits to train dogs, and mass graves of greyhounds killed for being “uncompetitive,” numbering up to 68,000 slaughtered over the past twelve years. Yesterday, the State Premier Mike Baird announced that the ban will be lifted, following months of pushback from the greyhound racing industry, rival politicians, and the general public. In place of a ban, the government will impose stricter regulations upon the industry, including increased jail terms for live baiting, registration of racing hounds, new animal welfare resources, and provisions for transparency. Lynn White, director of Animals Australia, expressed disappointment as well as determination in her public statement:
“Politicians have forgotten that they have ‘befriended’ an industry where no behavior, no matter how abhorrent or criminal was off the table, if a race could be won. … The greyhound industry didn’t deserve a second chance. It will be up to us to ensure it is its final chance.”
ATLANTIC SHARKS TRAUMATIZED BY RESEARCH
Off the North Atlantic coast of the United States, so-called conservation research is endangering great white sharks. Several weeks ago Ocearch, a nonprofit research group, began chumming in federal waters off Massachusetts, attracting sharks which it then captures, lifts out of the water, studies, tags, and finally releases. Each shark is assigned a Twitter handle and tracked in real time on Ocearch’s website. The experience is evidently traumatic for the sharks – of four tagged in previous expeditions to the area, two did not return for a year, and a third never did. One of the sharks tagged this year, named Miss Costa after Ocearch’s sponsor Costa Sunglasses, quickly retreated 200 miles into open ocean afterward. Miss Costa was already being tracked by the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries using non-invasive methods. This raises concerns that Ocearch’s interference may invalidate scientific estimates of the shark population, placing the safety of human swimmers at risk too.
U.S. SUSPENDS ORCA TAGGING AFTER WHALE DEATH
On the opposite coast of North America, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has suspended all permits to satellite tag orcas, or killer whales. The suspension was prompted by the death of orca L95, or Nigel, who in April was found washed ashore dead. The cause of death was determined to be a fungal infection at the site where he was tagged via dart. Since then it has emerged that two other orcas also died as a result of tagging. The suspension will remain in effect indefinitely while the NOAA conducts a review of current tagging methods and means of improving them.
INDIA ADOPTS GUN CONTROL TO PROTECT ANIMALS
In India, sixteen years of animal welfare campaigning has finally paid off in a new law restricting the sale of air guns. According to Gauri Maulekhi of People for Animals, one of the organizations leading the campaigns,
“PFA received hundreds of complaints from people about how their neighbors were shooting stray dogs and how children were doing target practice on birds and other animals. To us this suggested a trend which led to a stakeholder consultation and then we decided that there should be some kind of restriction.”
Air guns releasing two joules of energy can reportedly kill a bird, five joules a monkey, and twenty joules a human. A previous court order to restrict their sale in 2002 was successfully challenged by India’s National Rifle Association and gun manufacturers. The new government order requires identification to purchase air guns less than twenty joules and a valid arms license for more powerful weapons, which can only be sold by authorized dealers.
ROMANIA BANS HUNTING FOR SPORT
Finally, Romania on October 4th banned all trophy hunting of brown bears, wolves, lynx, and wild cats. Although commercial hunting of large carnivores was already illegal under European Union law, a loophole that allowed for culling of animals considered dangerous to humans allowed trophy hunting to become a multimillion euro industry in Romania. Each year, the government would issue quotas for the number of each carnivore species they deemed likely to harm humans or cause property damages, which hunting groups would divide up and sell in the form of permits. Now that such hunting has been banned, the government states that it will handle cases of dangerous animals individually. Says activist Gabriel Paun of Agent Green of the decision to protect Romania’s wild predators,
“The Carpathian mountains are home to more biodiversity than anywhere else in Europe, but for too long they have been ruthlessly exploited for forestry and hunting. Let’s hope the government’s decision is a sign of things to come.”
This report covers just a few of the countless issues facing animals worldwide. More information can be found on the Animal People Forum, our online magazine and social networking site for people who care about animals. Sign up at this link, and don’t forget to like and subscribe for future episodes of Animal People World News. Together we can help create a kinder world for all living creatures!