AWI Quarterly

Poland In Peril

By Tom Garrett

Among the world's "decision makers," palms open to receive what the great corporations provide, few have proven more susceptible than the former Communist aparatchiks of eastern and central Europe. There is, at the same time, no greater corrupter of politicians and government officials than corporate agribusiness. In Poland, the convergence of a politically Virulent American corporation, Smithfield Foods, and a government made up of former Communists threatens the destruction of Europe's last oasis of traditional peasant agriculture.

Two years ago, Andrzej Lepper, head of Samoobrona ("Self-Defense") union received AWI's Albert Schweitzer Medal for his role in stalling Smithfield's initial effort to take over Polish pig production. However, in September 2001, Polish voters swept the shambling AWS (Solidarity Action) government from office and returned the post-communist SLD (Democratic Left Alliance), dominated by figures from the ancient regime, to power. With the change in government, Smithfield operatives gained key government positions, and administrative barriers to corporate agribusiness were swept away. Bolstered by a $100 million loan organized by the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development, Smithfield began a massive offensive in the Polish countryside. By the end of 2002, operating behind front companies so as to evade laws forbidding foreigners from owning Polish agricultural land, Smithfield had gained control of over 30 large, former state farms and had already converted many of them into hog factories.

During the first months of 2003 Marek Kryda and I (accompanied sometimes by British organic farmer Tracy Worcester) toured the chief areas of infestation and met with local activists. We were stunned by the impunity with which Smithfield is operating, ignoring federal and local laws alike and overriding intense, often desperate, local opposition. The company's prison-like compounds contain packs of savagely barking police dogs. On at least two occasions we encountered English-speaking Poles who had been taken to North Carolina for training in Smithfield facilities. Every Smithfield hog factory building is flanked by identical feed silos that dispense feed automatically. In the area around Goldap in Northeast Poland, the number of workers on three state farms where Smithfield has set up hog factories was reduced from 120, before the company took over, to seven. As in the U.S., dead pigs are a ubiquitous, almost symbolic feature, of company operations. When dumpsters overflow, the victims are left in piles inside the buildings, as Kryda found in penetrating the appalling interior of a hog factory at Wronki Wilkie, or are dumped outside.

Hell in a dark place. Smithfield's Wronki Wilki hog factory. Marek Kryda

While five provinces have been violated, the most intense hog factory development is in former German areas seized by Poland after the war where large estates (including Otto Von Bismark's) were converted into state farms. In Warminsko-Mazurskie (former East Prussia) in the northeast, Smithfield operates on state farms previously leased by its Animex subsidiary. In Zohodnio Pomorskie (Western Pomerania) in the northwest, where the takeover has gained blitzkrieg momentum, Smithfield uses a front called Prima. Here, the situation is so out of control that on one occasion we found a hog factory, operating without licenses or permits, after noticing that liquid hog manure was being disposed of alongside the road. Everywhere we heard the same story: Attempts by local officials to enforce the law are overridden by the governors or by ministries in Warsaw. Protests by villagers driven half mad by the stench are disregarded. Press exposés have no effect.

However, Smithfield's "fix" is swirling in a larger vortex. Unemployment has reached 20%; much of Poland is locked in a situation reminiscent of the great depression of the 1930s. The top down corruption of the post-communist government was revealed when a secretly recorded conversation, soliciting a bribe of $17.5 million to SLD in return for passage of a radio and television bill favorable to commercial interests, was published in Poland's largest daily newspaper. Public support for the government has plummeted to 12% in the polls. A vote of confidence has been put off until after the June referendum on E.U. accession. Once this is over, the government will probably fall, new elections will be called, and opposition parties (including Samoobrona, now polling far ahead of SLD) will dominate the Sejm. Opposition parties decry corruption and promise Poland for Poles. The question upon which Poland's future depends is whether they can put words to practice.

Chipotle Mexican Grill Takes Humane Standards to the Mass Marketplace

By Diane Halverson

At last, a restaurant chain not only lives up to its pledge to let pigs be pigs down on the farm, but advertises that commitment. Chipotle, with 250 quick service restaurants in 10 states, publicly promotes its choice of Niman Ranch, the marketing company that embraces AWI's humane husbandry standards for pigs, as its sole supplier of pork for its gourmet tacos and burritos.

Chipotle's CEO and founder, Steve Ells, explains: "Carrying Niman Ranch pork, derived from pigs raised according to Animal Welfare Institute standards, has validated that our ingredients have integrity. And people are willing to pay a little more for food that doesn't exploit."

Chipotle posters hail the husbandry methods that once characterized pig raising in rural America but have been almost entirely replaced by barbaric systems that inflict relentless suffering on animals. One Chipotle restaurant poster tells customers: "...They've bucked the system of corporately owned hog operations and returned to the land. Literally. Niman Ranch farmers raise their pigs outdoors in open pastures. Pigs have room to roam, root and socialize."

Ells visited Niman Ranch farmers in Iowa, observing that "all the farmers cared about their animals. Certainly they knew they were raising them to feed people but there was none of the factory farming mentality where animals are 'product,' not living creatures. There's no excuse in the world to treat animals in such a brutal way. Look at all the repercussions from factory farms. It's an exploitation that's senseless.

"The factory owners' only advantage is their ability to bring down the price and have further control on the 'commodity' market. So much of the quick service restaurant business is about price-lowering the price to 99 cents and increasing the amount of food served. In that environment it's impossible to have better quality foods. That approach fosters factory farming. I feel lucky we are in a place where we can make things happen and that our customers enjoy the Chipotle experience."

After all, says Ells, "dining is about the senses. If you take an emotional approach, you're better off. Some people buy Niman for the taste or because the pigs are raised without antibiotics or to support independent family farmers or because they deplore what factory hog farming does to animals. What I care about is that people are excited about some part of it and they are supporting the overall cause of food with integrity."

Traditionally, Niman products have been carried by four-star restaurants and natural foods grocers. Chipotle allows them to reach a larger audience. Bill Niman, co-founder of Niman Ranch, explains: "One of our goals at Niman Ranch is to provide high-quality meat products from the most sustainable, animal-friendly protocols, adhered to by family farmers and available to the most people. Chipotle is one strong example of making this dream a reality. You don't have to go to a four-star restaurant to eat food produced with the highest integrity. Chipotle demonstrates that when there is a desire to make a difference, it is possible. With every carnitas purchase, Chipotle customers are having a positive impact on the landscape of rural America and supporting family farmers who raise hogs humanely, according to the Animal Welfare Institute's high standards."

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that nearly 70% of sows in the U.S. live in coffin-sized crates for their entire adult lives. An untold number of boars suffer the misery of crating, too. The long-term commitment of restaurants, meat purveyors and consumers to purchase products derived from animals raised under AWI's Humane Husbandry Program will help relieve animals of the brutal burden of a factory farm existence. We urge more of them to, as the Chipotle ad says, "try a little tenderness."

AWI's Humane Husbandry Program Expands; Rabbits Hop onto the Scene

Left: Rescued rabbits reside at the Fund for Animals' Rabbit Sanctuary. Caroline Gilbert/adopt-a-rabbit.org Right: Rabbits, who instinctively run and dig, are confined in factories to wire mesh cages and subjected to artificial lighting to increase production. Compassion in World Farming


Every year in the United States, over nine billion farm animals are raised, transported, and slaughtered for food. The vast majority of these animals must endure months, or even years, of intensive confinement and grossly inhumane conditions. Federal and state anti-cruelty laws inadequately protect farm animals and, in some cases, specifically exclude them. Furthermore, husbandry standards that are not truly humane are emerging from industry groups and agricultural organizations that are less concerned about animal welfare than they are about capturing the higher prices customers will pay for products marketed as humanely raised. Therefore, in a continuing effort to reduce unnecessary pain and fear inflicted on farm animals, the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) is expanding its husbandry program by developing humane criteria for all farm animals.

The impetus to expand the husbandry program is not only AWI's successful pig program but also the growing number of requests AWI receives from farmers and retailers for humane criteria. This presents AWI with an unprecedented opportunity to influence how farm animals are treated. In addition to humane criteria for pigs, AWI has already completed standards for rabbits. The interest in rabbits came about when a regional meat manager for a national grocery chain contacted AWI for such guidelines. When none were found, AWI developed them. Among other provisions, AWI rabbit standards require that the animals are weaned at a natural age, have bedding, and are allowed to run and burrow. In America, over six million rabbits are raised for meat. The majority, if not all, of these animals are confined in barren, elevated wire-mesh cages frighteningly similar to the way in which laying hens are kept in factories. As is common in animal factories, does (female breeding rabbits) are forced to reproduce at many times their natural rate, and young rabbits are prematurely weaned causing additional stress to the doe and her young. Does and bucks (male breeding rabbits), in confinement operations, are isolated in solitary cages while the young are often overcrowded. In developing humane husbandry standards for rabbits, AWI seeks to provide a humane alternative to the inhumane practices commonly used when rabbits are raised for meat.

All AWI standards are developed in conjunction with farmers and scientists; address all stages of life; and delineate on-farm, transport, and slaughter requirements. Two distinguishing characteristics of all AWI criteria are that the animals are allowed to behave naturally, and that each farm is a family farm on which the family or a family member owns the animals, depends upon the farm for livelihood and participates in the daily physical labor to manage the animals and the farm. Furthermore, AWI is calling attention to and will not endorse dual production systems-operations that raise some animals humanely and subject other animals to cruel, factory conditions. By the end of the year, humane criteria will be available for dairy cows, laying hens, chickens, turkeys, ducks, and beef cattle.

YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE

Educate family and friends about humane husbandry and only buy products from independent, humane family farms. Tell restaurant and grocery store managers you will not buy products from factories.

To learn more about rabbits you may wish to read Stories Rabbits Tell: A Natural and Cultural History of a Misunderstood Creature by Susan E. Davis and Margo DeMello. Available July 2003, ISBN: 1590560442, Lantern Books, $20.00, 320 pages.

Corporate Profits at Animals' Expense


Despite widespread international efforts by humane organizations and an embarrassingly small number of scientists to reduce the number of animals utilized for research, their use continues to grow exponentially. Selling rodents for experimentation is a highly lucrative business, and Charles River Laboratories (CRL) is outflanking other breeders of laboratory rats and mice, bringing in four times the revenue of its closest competitor. This past year the company earned $55.8 million. CRL is pleased to report that "2002 represented the first year in over a decade that the worldwide sales of animals increased at double-digit levels."

NIH on Congressional Hotseat


For years, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) lavished millions of taxpayers' dollars on The Coulston Foundation (TCF) though it was cited for nearly 300 violations of the Good Laboratory Practice (GLP) regulations by the Food and Drug Administration, and it had four separate sets of formal charges of violating the Animal Welfare Act brought against it by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Instead of holding TCF accountable for its apparent widespread violation of laws and regulations, NIH defended and persistently funded the facility.

NIH finally may be held accountable as it appears that the House of Representatives is examining the agency's negligence in providing grants. In March, Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Billy Tauzin, and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman James Greenwood, sent a stern letter to NIH Director Elias Zerhouni. The letter described the titanic support Congress has given to NIH over the past five years, increasing its appropriations by $9.5 billion to $23.1 billion. The letter went on to express the Committee's interest in "conducting an examination of NIH management and oversight of its federally funded research." The letter requested specific information of NIH including the following: "During one of the Committee's investigations last year, the Committee became aware that NIH was providing grants to the Coulston Foundation (TCF), a registered animal research facility in Alamagordo, New Mexico that has recently declared bankruptcy. In addition to TCF's poor financial health, the Food and Drug Administration and United States Department of Agriculture had cited TCF for violations of various regulations. Please provide a copy of all files relating to TCF maintained by the grants management and program officers who have overseen NIH grants to TCF. Include documentation of all notifications NIH received about TCF's violations of regulations or statutes by federal or state agencies." There likely will be an oversight hearing held after the Committee reviews the material supplied by NIH. The investigation should address NIH's failure to withhold financial support to institutions that flout the law. Coulston is not the only facility to have distinguished itself in this manner.

Peru's Illegal Dolphin Hunting Kills 1,000 Dolphins or More

By Stefan Austermühle Executive Director, Mundo Azul


At least 1,000 dolphins per year are killed illegally by fishermen along the Peruvian coast, according to the Peruvian nongovernmental organization Mundo Azul ("Blue World"). Their meat is sold on a flourishing black market, and Mundo Azul has collected reports of dolphin meat being sold in various fish markets in cities along the coast as well as in restaurants in Lima.

Captain Juan Torres from the Police of Lurin inspects the remains of slaughtered dolphin on Pulpos beach. Mundo Azul

The hunting and killing of dolphins, as well as the sale of dolphin meat and its consumption was prohibited under Peruvian law in 1995 as a result of a dramatic increase of dolphin hunting during the 1980s and early '90s in Peru, which led to an estimated 15,000 to 20,000 dolphins being killed each year.

For years the problem was thought to be solved, but in truth, it is not. Reports and photographs that we have collected from places all along the 3,000 kilometer desert coast clearly show that illegal dolphin hunting continues to be a widespread practice. The fishermen encircle whole dolphin schools with nets, catch them with harpoons, lift them aboard and kill them by clubbing them to death-as happened this February in front of one of Lima's most famous recreational beaches called Pulpos. Here ten dolphins were killed near the shoreline where hundreds of eyewitnesses stood. One, Mrs. Serena, remembered, "It was barbaric. They harpooned the dolphins, one man jumped in the water and they lifted the dolphins aboard, then they clubbed them to death. It took them at least five minutes to kill the animals who suffered horribly. I was in despair and didn't know what to do. We stood on the beach, screaming and yelling and they didn't even bother about us." When the police patrol finally arrived, the fishermen were too far away to be identified. Capitan Juan Torres Diaz, Chief of Investigation of Crimes for Lurin, noted: "We don't have boats, not even a binocular. We stood on the beach switching on our sirens and yelling at the boats and couldn't do anything." An anonymous person, who was called from a nearby port, tried to reach the fishermen by jet-ski but had to give up.

Butchered dolphin at Pucusana port, only 50 meters from the office of local port authorities. Mundo Azul

This case is not the only one. In one beach in the northern limits of the coastal area of Lambayeque, members of Mundo Azul found more than 20 dolphins killed for human consumption in a single day. On another beach, the remains of three more dolphins washed up last Christmas. In the harbor city of Pucusana, a slaughtered dolphin washed up on the shore about 50 meters away from the office of the harbor police, who did nothing until Mundo Azul members pressed them to start an investigation.

In order to fight illegal dolphin killing, we have started a national awareness campaign for the conservation of dolphins. Mundo Azul also set up local environmental education programs in schools and are in the process of establishing a volunteer-based vigilance system to catch fishermen illegally killing dolphins. Presently, with the ecological police of Peru, we are investigating the illegal trade in dolphin meat in an under-cover operation, for the purpose of identifying illegal hunters and traders and bringing them to justice. For the second half of 2003, Mundo Azul plans to organize 21 educational seminars for local leaders, such as journalists, representatives of local fishermen associations, local police, and coastguard personnel in the seven most important coastal cities along the Peruvian coast, to inform them about the existing laws and raise their environmental awareness.

Detailed information of Mundo Azul's campaign can be obtained on our Web-site in English or Spanish (www.peru.com/mundoazul), or directly by contacting: mundoazul@terra.com.pe.

Ending the Dolphin Hunts in Japan

By Hardy Jones Executive Director, BlueVoice.org


Dolphins are naturally curious and friendly
to humans and approach us in places where we do not harm them.
William Rossiter/Cetacean Society International

I founded BlueVoice.org (www.bluevoice.org) to use the power of visual images as a means to help protect the ocean and its inhabitants. We utilize a combination of streaming video, internet Action Alerts with embedded protest links, and on-the-scene coverage to put pressure on our adversaries to end their barbaric practices. What follows is a success story-how we managed to turn dolphin killers into their protectors.

For decades fishermen in Futo, Japan have hunted dolphins-killing thousands of them. In 1999 we took video footage of the slaughter of a pod of 80 bottlenose dolphins at Futo. When the footage was shown on television, horrified viewers around the world responded with an avalanche of international outrage at the carnage.

Since then we continued monitoring Futo and other villages in Japan where dolphin killing takes place. The fishermen are incredibly sensitive to the international backlash that occurs when their brutality is transmitted on television. On one occasion they were so enraged at the coverage of a pod of pilot whales being killed that they attacked the BlueVoice.org team and attempted to seize their cameras and videotape.

Izumi Ishii, former dolphin hunter, now leader of the dolphin watches. Larry Curtis/Curtis Photography

In addition to obtaining footage of the cruelty, we work with the fishermen to create an alternative to replace the income lost if they stop killing dolphins. I'm delighted to report that on October 2002 the head of the Futo dolphin killers, Izumi Ishii, launched his own eco-tourism business, the first dolphin watch touring company in his country. It was an astonishing success with press coming from all over Japan. Mr. Ishii's dolphin watching business continues to grow.

Ocean-based ecotourism is now well established and helps to protect dolphins off the coast. The dolphin hunters cannot hunt while there are tourists dolphin watching. So, despite having a government-issued permit to kill 600 dolphins per year, the villagers of Futo did not kill a single dolphin during the 2002-2003 season.

However, the local fisheries association is asserting that it will resume the dolphin slaughter this September. Continued vigilance is vital.

Elsa Nature Conservancy of Japan helped with the effort in Futo. In addition, BlueVoice.org received contributions from several environmental groups, including AWI's late and revered president, Christine Stevens. This success was truly the result of global cooperation.

Our next effort is to stop the killing at Taiji, the last village in Japan where fishermen regularly hunt dolphins. They are killing some 1,200 dolphins each season. Our presence on the scene in Taiji can make a difference as it did in Futo, and the Taiji fishermen can count on us being there to report their atrocities to the world.

Keeping Russia's Orcas Wild and Free

By Erich Hoyt Co-Director, Far Eastern Russia Orca Project, and Vanessa Williams Conservation Manager, Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society


Orcas are incredibly social animals, living in closely-bonded family groups. Pod members tend to travel, socialize, and forage as a unit. WDCS

With support from the Animal Welfare Institute, the Far Eastern Russia Orca Project (FEROP) of the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS) has recently completed another successful field season. For the past three summer seasons, following a short pilot project in 1999, our largely Russian field team-aided by two Orca experts; Japanese biologist, Hal Sato; and Canadian ecologist, Erich Hoyt-has been studying the Orcas (also known as killer whales) living in the waters off Kamchatka, on the vast and remote eastern coast of Russia.

The project truly is pioneering. Erich and Hal were particularly eager to discover whether the Russian Orcas would be as charismatic as the northern resident population of Orcas they had previously studied off British Columbia, Canada (also home to the WDCS Orcas adoption project). So far, the answer to that question is a definite yes! The team has now photo-identified 150 different mothers, calves, and bulls living in a number of family groups in our main study area. Conducting many hours of patient research from land as well as from the research vessel has enabled the investigators to develop a vivid picture of the Orcas' daily lives. In cold Russian waters, shadowed by snowy volcanic peaks, these incredible animals feed on salmon and mackerel, mate, and play. Orcas are sociable creatures and live in strongly-bonded family groups. Analysis of sound recordings made by the FEROP team demonstrates that our study animals even communicate using their own dialect, in the same way that Canadian Orcas do. All the findings to date-on the Orca's diet, foraging, and socialising behaviour, as well as their communication-suggest that these Russian Orcas, too, are a largely "resident" population.

A breaching orca is one of the most dramatic sights in the cetacean kingdom: photographed here off of the rugged Kamchatkan coastline. WDCS

Last year, for the first time, the researchers also conducted a sightings survey along the entire east coast of Kamchatka. They found many more Orcas (more than 250 in all), photo-identified many of them, and made interesting sightings of humpback, gray, and fin whales. Plans for the 2003 field season include expanding both sea and land-based surveys and observations. Work has already begun on creating a digital photo-identification catalogue for the study Orcas (a first for this species). The team has been busy presenting its findings-to-date at several important conferences in Russia, Canada, and last autumn's Orca Symposium in France. It is vital to reach as many people as possible-the international scientific community, the Russian authorities, and the general public both in Russia and internationally-as until recently, very few people had heard about these Orcas. Yet, they attracted the attention of one sector-the captivity industry, which believed that Orcas living in such remote waters would make easy pickings. Orcas are big business: wild-caught Orcas can net their captors a cool $1 million apiece. In the summer of 2001 and again last summer, the Russian authorities gave permission for up to ten Orcas to be captured for marine zoos and aquariums. Several capture attempts-thankfully, unsuccessful-have been made by captors working for aquariums in Japan and elsewhere.

Sadly, the threat of capture looms large this summer, with the news that the Russian authorities have once more set quotas for the capture of ten Orcas. The new quota, issued in November 2002, also expands the potential capture areas to include eastern Kamchatka and the northern Sea of Okhotsk.

WDCS is spearheading an urgent campaign, supported by many of the world's most prominent Orca scientists, to keep these Orcas where they belong, in the wild. At present, the main scientific arguments against capturing Orcas off Russia are that these are almost unexploited populations, and we still know little about them. This is a substantial argument from the conservation perspective-but not to those who seek to capture and exploit Orcas. It is essential, therefore, that our field researchers continue to amass detailed information on these Orcas, so that we may help counter any moves to capture the species in Russian waters.

YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE

The Russian government has set a quota for the capture of up to ten Orcas from its waters for 2003. Any Orcas captured are likely to be exported abroad for display in marine parks or aquariums. Please help our efforts to stop captures of Orcas in Russian waters by writing a polite letter to:

Vitaly G. Artyukhov
Minister of Natural Resources
Bolshaya Grouzinskaya Street, 4/6
123812 Moscow
Russian Federation.

Protecting Dolphins in the Congress and the Courts


On January 9, 2003, Senator Barbara Boxer of California introduced a new bill to Congress that would preserve the original definition and intent of the dolphin-safe label on canned tuna fish, a label she presented in 1989. S. 130, Senator Boxer's "Truth in Labeling Act of 2003," would render moot the efforts of both the Clinton and Bush administrations to gut popular dolphin protection measures that prevent any can of tuna from being sold in the United States if it was obtained by using dolphins as targets to set tuna nets. In Boxer's own words, "My bill will guarantee that tuna products labeled 'dolphin safe' will be truly safe for dolphins."

Secretary of Commerce Don Evans issued a finding on the last day of 2002 that ignored the information from his own scientists and declared that setting nets on dolphins to catch the tuna below does not constitute "significant adverse impact." Senator Boxer countered, "This flies in the face of all available scientific information." If upheld in court, Secretary Evans' finding would pave the way for tuna caught by encircling dolphins in nets to be fraudulently sold as "dolphin safe."

But the courts seem to agree with the good Senator from California. On April 10, 2003, San Francisco Judge Thelton Henderson issued a preliminary injunction preventing the weakening of the dolphin safe label, responding to a suit brought by Earth Island Institute, Animal Welfare Institute, the Society for Animal Protective Legislation, and others. Judge Henderson concluded that we "have raised a serious question as to the integrity of the Secretary's decision-making process."

The final judgment of the court is still pending, but in issuing the injunction, Judge Henderson asserted that we are likely to prevail in our claim that the Secretary's finding did not use the best available science, an action he called "an abuse of discretion." Current evidence strongly supports the long-held belief that dolphin populations continue to decline in the Eastern Tropical Pacific and that the culprit is the continuing targeting of these dolphins for tuna. In fact, he notes that if "indirect effects of the purse seine fishery are causing a significant adverse impact on depleted dolphin stocks-as the evidence presented indicates is likely-an immediate change in the dolphin safe label will likely cause irreparable injury to dolphins because it will no doubt increase the number of sets on dolphins."

Save Swaziland's Elephants!


STOP PRESS: Both Zoos relinquished their import permits over inaccuracies in the permit applications!


Fewer than 45 elephants reside in The Kingdom of Swaziland, a small country wedged between South Africa and Mozambique. If California's San Diego Zoo and Florida's Lowry Park Zoo have their way, Swaziland's elephant population would be cut by about 25%. These zoos received permits from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to import 11 elephants from Swaziland, marking the first zoo import of wild African elephants since the 1980s. This importation sends the erroneous message that America should subsidize its dwindling numbers of captive elephants at the expense of an already diminished wild population. Swaziland has been replenishing its elephants since they were wiped out by poaching five decades ago, while U.S. zoos have been experimenting with captive breeding programs with deadly consequences.

Young elephants are more attractive to visitors, so San Diego zoo is shipping its resident elephants to Chicago to make room for the desired new youngsters. Environmental Investigation Agency

The zoos claim that without their beneficent intervention, the elephants would be killed to manage the remaining resident population, despite the fact that Swaziland's Hlane National Park and Mhkaya Game Reserve, in which the elephants currently reside, have not even reached their carrying capacity. There are more humane alternatives to address elephant conservation in Swaziland than slaughtering these magnificent creatures. Elephants can be translocated to other protected areas (at least three have been identified in southern Africa), additional land could be acquired adjacent to Hlane and Mhkaya to expand the available habitat in these protected areas, and long-term immunocontraception programs could be employed, similar to those that have been tested effectively in South Africa's Kruger National Park. A coalition including the Animal Welfare Institute brought suit against FWS, challenging the legality of the import permits. Our complaint alleges that, contrary to international rules under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, there is no proof that this import will not be detrimental to the species in the wild. Outrageously, there isn't even clear confirmation that the animals identified on the import permits are the same elephants that have been rounded up by the zoos. The Mkhaya Game Reserve's 18 elephants were to be the pool from which the 11 for import were selected. But reports from Swaziland indicate that on the week of March 10, 2003, approximately 24 elephants were rounded up-necessarily indicating that some were taken from outside Mkhaya, apparently in contravention of the information in the permit applications. Wild elephants should be left to wander freely with their families and friends through their native savannahs playing in watering holes and mud pits, and interacting with one another as they choose.

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