AWI Quarterly

Disappeaaring Planet of the Apes

A Taste For Extinction

The flesh of species such as chimpanzees, gorillas, elephants, giant pangolins, and other wildlife ("bushmeat") has historically provided a source of food for people throughout central and western Africa. Today, encroachment of logging companies and destruction of natural forest lands have led to the wholesale decimation of wildlife habitat as well as the escalation of the bushmeat trade. What was once a locally used food source has become an expensive delicacy in commercial trade — a trade that threatens the existence of the species involved. As Richard Leakey, former head of the Kenya Wildlife Service told CNN: "The slaughter of chimpanzees and gorillas, our closest relatives, is absolutely diabolical. I can't imagine that this can go on much longer before these animals are extinct."

The number of great apes involved in this unsustainable trade is enormous. The Ape Alliance, an international coalition of over 30 organizations including the Born Free Foundation and the Jane Goodall Institute, estimates that in northern Congo "up to 600 lowland gorillas are killed each year to feed the trade" and that one-ton of smoked bushmeat is unloaded every day in Yaounde, the capital of Cameroon.

Karl Ammann, one of the most vocal opponents of the bushmeat trade succinctly averred in a New York Times Magazine article that "the DNA of chimpanzees is 98.5 percent the same as that of humans... eating them [is] '98.5 percent cannibalism'."

Timber corporations ripping through wooded areas of Africa have not only destroyed the forests on which wild animals depend, but have cleared logging roads which enable poachers to transport animals' carcasses to markets in other regions, and sometimes to expensive restaurants in western Europe. Dr. Anthony Rose of The Biosynergy Institute estimates "that bushmeat trade across equatorial Africa is more than a billion dollar business" and that "as logging expands, the number of monkeys and apes killed for the cooking pot increases."

Currently, killing apes for bushmeat provides a "quick buck" for humans. But when the apes are gone, the buck is too. In countries where the transnational timber corporations are wiping out forests, funds are lacking for enforcement of laws that prohibit killing and selling highly endangered species such as great apes. There is a moral obligation for these exploitative companies to completely cease facilitating the trade in bushmeat on their logging roads using their logging trucks.

Governments in need should receive funds to hire and train competent enforcement agents to fight the bushmeat trade. In some cases, poachers can become protectors and be paid to ensure that the resident wildlife is preserved. Greater availability of alternative food sources and other employment opportunities would be significant additional steps toward positive change.

CITES and The Great Ape Conservation Act

At the upcoming Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES this April in Kenya, a "Discussion Paper" will be offered by the United Kingdom on "Bushmeat as a Trade and Wildlife Management Issue." The paper notes "that the loss of animals through the bushmeat trade is having a greater impact on conservation in some areas than habitat loss." Action by all CITES Parties is essential to stem the decline of bushmeat species.

The U.S. is already well on the way to addressing the issue. United States Senator Jim Jeffords (R - VT) has engaged in a noble effort to elevate America's role in ending this repugnant bushmeat trade. On May 10, 1999 he introduced in the United States Senate the "Great Ape Conservation Act," S. 1007, to "perpetuate viable populations of great apes in the wild" and "assist in the conservation and protection of great apes by supporting conservation programs of countries in which great apes are located."

The legislation would accomplish this by authorizing up to five million dollars to go into a "Great Ape Conservation Fund" each year from 2000 to 2004. Money in this fund could then be disbursed to enhance programs for conservation of great apes, including those to help minimize the conflict between humans and non-human primates over land resources and habitat protection, to monitor great ape populations and threats to those populations, and to enforce CITES restrictions on trade in parts and products of these species.

In Senator Jeffords' words: "If we do not act now chimpanzees, gorillas, bonobos and orangutans may be extinct in the next 50 years."

 

Dog Nursing Pups Mutilated in so called "Padded" Trap

 

Shortly before Christmas, a mother dog was seen limping around the neighborhood in the White Knoll, South Carolina community. Her right front paw was held in the viselike grip of a steel jaw  leghold trap. Apparently, the dog wasn't able to pull her foot out of the trap, but she had succeeded in pulling the trap's stake out of the ground to get back to her puppies. Although trappers refer to the device as a "padded" leghold trap, the trap had mangled the dog's paw, and she had lost three of her toes.

Dave Johnston, a volunteer with Pets, Inc., a local animal rescue organization, lured the emaciated mother dog in with food. "She was quite cooperative," Johnston said. "She was exhausted. She went sound asleep in the van." Johnston was only able to catch two of her puppies, but he knew there were more so he returned until he was able to round up all of five of her offspring. The puppies were only weeks old.

Thankfully, this story has a happy ending. The sweet mother dog has been adopted by a loving family and named Honey. After only a few weeks in her new home, Honey has thrived, gaining nearly 25 pounds. She doesn't like taking her twice-a-day antibiotic treatment or having the bandage on her paw changed. But this treatment, along with a trip back to the veterinarian every other day to monitor her progress, appears to be paying off. Honey's maimed paw is healing better than expected, and it probably won't have to be amputated. And all of her puppies have been adopted to good homes.

The owner of the inhumane, indiscriminate trap has not stepped forward to assume responsibility for setting it. Residents of White Knoll are concerned that the steel jaw trap, which had been set near a grade school, could have caught a child.

Meantime, Honey appears to be enjoying her new home, although she is apprehensive of people following her ordeal. Her new family is very protective of her. When they realized that she hated loud noises, they spent New Year's Eve with her on the floor of their bathroom. Honey is bonding with the two other dogs in the family, and the woman who adopted Honey acknowledged that she's made great strides, describing a day when "…I caught her playing, jumping around on three legs and her nubby foot. She looked at me like I wasn't supposed to see that."

 

Jumbo Thieves

A further concession of the 1997 elephant downlisting was facilitation of "export of live animals to appropriate and acceptable destinations." The problem is that there is no clear definition of what an "appropriate and acceptable destination" really is. As a result, insidious animal dealers such as Riccardo Ghiazza can literally steal baby elephants from their mothers and transport them internationally for commercial gain.

According to the London Mail and Guardian, Ghiazza was recently arrested on charges of fraud and falsely obtaining South African citizenship when he allegedly failed to declare that he is wanted for a drug conviction in Italy. He is also the culprit in the Tuli elephant fiasco in which his company removed 30 baby elephants from Botswana and transported them to South Africa where they suffered beatings to "train" them in preparation for international transport to zoos and circuses abroad. The National Council of Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals brought cruelty charges against Ghiazza and after lengthy and expensive court procedures was awarded custody of the animals. Most of the Tuli elephants have been freed in national parks and private reserves in South Africa.

 

Coulston on the Ropes Again

 

The Coulston Foundation (TCF) continually allows the grossly negligent deaths and inhumane treatment of chimpanzees for whom it is responsible. Now TCF is facing a new set of problems from the Food and Drug Administration for violations of Good Laboratory Practice (GLPs) regulations.

GLPs are in place to regulate experiments "to assure the quality and integrity" of the laboratory practices for research involving "food and color additives, animal food additives, human and animal drugs, medical devices for human use, biological products, and electronic products." Just as TCF repeatedly has violated the Animal Welfare Act, now it has been cited for nearly 300 violations of GLPs.

Infractions from the FDA inspection report include:

…not all studies had an approved written protocol that clearly indicated the objectives and all methods for the conduct of the study.

There is no assurance that all the surgical procedures were approved….

The identity of a study animal on a [xxx] report dated [xxx] was corrected from [xxx] using a scrap piece of paper. {[xxx] indicates redacted, or blacked out, information}

Temperature monitoring records are incomplete….Humidity is not monitored during the entire study.

The animals were fasted the day prior to any study activity. There was study activity daily for the first [xxx] days of the study, and weekly thereafter. The animals experienced decreased appetite and diarrhea. No animals were taken off the study for health reasons.

A certified "warning" letter from the Department of Health and Human Services to Dr. Frederick Coulston, TCF's CEO and Chairman of the Board, concludes that the conditions at his facility "are serious violations of the GLP regulations," and warns that the results of future studies at TCF would be considered "seriously flawed" if these deficiencies are not corrected.

An Unbearable Trade

 

The trade in bear gallbladders and bile continues to put pressure on endangered bear populations across the globe. All bear species are listed under the Convention's Appendices, but different CITES Parties have different regulations regarding the bear parts trade. The CITES Secretariat's document for consideration at COP 11 warns that "Differences in national, federal, state or provincial laws allow for confusion and enforcement difficulties; for example, where trade in bear gall bladders is permitted on a domestic market but import or export is banned." Since bear parts such as the gallbladder are visually indistinguishable, allowing some legal trade in some bear species' parts makes strict enforcement of CITES and national bear protection legislation difficult.

The Parties to CITES attempted to address some of the complicating factors in Harare, Zimbabwe in 1997 where they unanimously resolved "that the continued illegal trade in parts and derivatives of bear species undermines the effectiveness of the Convention" and that "poaching may cause declines of wild bears that could lead to the extirpation of certain populations or even species." Parties were urged "to take immediate action in order to demonstrably reduce the illegal trade in bear parts and derivatives" by, among other actions, "confirming, adopting or improving their national legislation to control the import and export of bear parts and derivatives." Unfortunately, it seems that few countries, including the U.S., have complied.

A global moratorium on the international trade in bear viscera would help individual CITES Parties protect their resident bears from poaching and smuggling of their parts. Pending legislation in the U.S. Congress, the Bear Protection Act, should be passed and used as a model for the rest of the world.

 

Call the Fashion Police

COP 11, CITES, Nairobi, Kenya, April 10 20, 2000

 

Call the Fashion Police

Thoughtless western demand for "shahtoosh," the luxurious fabric made from the fine wool of Tibetan antelopes called chiru and woven into expensive shawls, continues to threaten the survival of the species (see AWI Quarterly, Winter 1998).

As the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service tries to crack down on illegal shahtoosh commercialization in America, some of the wealthy buyers show ignorance, others resentment. Discussing potential confiscations in a November 1999 Vanity Fair story, "O.K. Lady, Drop the Shawl," one New York socialite is quoted saying "'I'm an animal-lover. I don't want to do anything illegal. I feel duped.'" Publicist Peggy Siegal hyperbolically expressed fear of the "closet police," coming into homes and removing shahtoosh garments. Apparently, at a dinner party with New York Governor George Pataki, one Middle Eastern princess exclaimed, "'there are no endangered species. This shahtoosh thing is all fiction of the animal rights fanatics.'"

Fighting to save clearly endangered Tibetan antelopes throughout their range, especially in China, is an enormous and dangerous endeavor. Chinese authorities are waging war against poachers and appear to be aggressively targeting the well-armed bandits who increase chiru kills in order to increase the size of their bank accounts.

A May 13, 1999 report from the Environment News Service highlights the crackdown as one poacher was killed and two were wounded in a shootout with wildlife law enforcement agents that resulted in 42 arrests and "the confiscation of more than 1,000 pieces of Tibetan Antelope skin."

China Daily reports that the Chinese State Forestry Administration (SFA) "have smashed 17 rings of poachers and apprehended 66 members." It has also confiscated "a total of 1,685 Tibetan antelope skins and 545 heads." On May 26, the SFA, in coordination with provincial government representatives, destroyed many of the confiscated items in a huge bonfire. Speaking at the awareness-raising burning, Zhang Jianlong, director of SFA's department of wild fauna and flora conservation, noted the role that market demand has on driving the trade: "It is a few rich people from these countries, who are blinded by fashion, that are buying cashmere products made from Tibetan antelope hides."

To enhance the global effort to protect the chiru and end the trade in shahtoosh, an international workshop was held from October 12 to 14, 1999 in Xining, China. The Governments of China, France, India, Italy, Nepal, the United Kingdom and the United States were represented along with representatives from various non-governmental organizations.

The consensus statement that came out of the meeting, the "Xining Declaration," recognizes that the consumer market for shahtoosh is one of "the fundamental reasons leading to the continued large-scale poaching of wild populations of Tibetan antelope;" and the participants agreed "that the total eradication of production of and markets for shahtoosh and its products is the key to the survival of the Tibetan antelope." To this end, delegates appealed for greater wildlife law enforcement in shahtoosh consumer countries and an expanded program of public awareness and education about the deadly conservation risks of buying shahtoosh. Manufacturing countries are urged to crack down on domestic processing plants and do more to shut down the internal trade and smuggling out of the countries.

But even after this Declaration was signed, antelope poaching for shahtoosh continues. China Daily reports on January 18, 2000 that four major poaching cases surfaced between December 1999 and January 2000 involving over 700 pelts. The Xinhua News Agency reports that an additional "828 Tibetan antelope furs were seized in Hoh Xil, a nature reserve in far western China, and two poachers were arrested" on February 19, 2000 during an anti-poaching drive. According to Ming Ruixi, an official from Forestry Police Bureau in Qinghai Province, the most important way to stop poaching is to root out the market for shahtoosh that clearly drives the trade. Citizens across the globe must be educated to the plight of the chiru and the devastating impact of purchasing shahtoosh.


In October 1999, the Tibetan Plateau Project (TPP) and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) filed a joint "petition" with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to list the Tibetan antelope as an endangered species pursuant to provisions of the Endangered Species Act. A Tibetan antelope ESA listing would restrict the import, export, and interstate transport and commerce of shahtoosh within the U.S.

Implementation of CITES alone is inadequate for preventing the sale of shahtoosh products in the U.S., because the Convention only prohibits the trade (import and re-export) of shahtoosh (CITES 1975). Establishing the case that suspected shahtoosh smugglers are responsible for importing or conspiring to export shahtoosh products that may be in their possession is more difficult than meeting the ESA standard of proving that a suspect may have offered shahtoosh for sale in interstate or foreign commerce.

Kidnap and Violence Echoes the Plight of Orangutans

By Dave Currey, Environmental Investigation Agency

"We've been badly beaten and now we're with the police" was the opening line from Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) investigator Faith Doherty's call from the town of Pangkalan Bun in Central Kalimantan on the Indonesian part of Borneo. This was the start of a three-day kidnap drama that involved logging company-hired thugs, corrupt senior police, helpful and supportive detectives, orangutans, diplomats and the destruction of one of the world's most famous and important National Parks Tanjung Puting.

EIA and Telapak Indonesia launched a campaign to stop the illegal logging in Tanjung Puting National Park last August. This swamp forest is home to wild and rehabilitated orangutans and has been made famous by the work of Biruté Galdikas. In the EIA/Telapak campaign report "The Final Cut" the names of companies and illegal sawmills were made public. At the top of the list came Tanjung Lingga, a company that EIA and Telapak had infiltrated undercover as businessmen in June 1999. This company is owned by a local timber baron, member of the Indonesian Parliament, Abdul Rasyid.

The campaign gained momentum with pressure building from the international community, disillusioned by Indonesia's forestry sector. Our campaign message: "If you can't stop illegal logging in Tanjung Puting, then Indonesia's forests have no future." A newly elected Government was sworn in at the end of October 1999, and the EIA/Telapak campaign was presented to some members of the Parliament.

The international donors to Indonesia are represented in the Consultative Group on Indonesia, bringing forestry issues to the fore. A seminar was organised by the Indonesian Co-ordinating Ministry of Finance and sponsored by the World Bank. The EIA/Telapak campaign video was to be presented by Ruwi, Telapak's Executive Director. Faith and Ruwi were in Tanjung Puting to update the information before the seminar.

Lured to the offices of logging company Tanjung Lingga, Faith and Ruwi were viciously beaten. "They wanted to kill Ruwi" explained Faith. Ruwi was punched to the ground and kicked in the head while Faith's finger was wrenched from its socket and finger ligaments and a tendon broken in a struggle with company officials. A gun was used to threaten them both. Police were called and Faith and Ruwi were taken to hospital, allowed a phone call, and then taken to the detectives' office for statements. They were to stay there under the protection of the detectives for the next two days.

The next morning, a more senior policeman, clearly in cahoots with the logging company, prevented their departure on a scheduled plane. The company unsuccessfully attempted to separate Ruwi from Faith and a hired mob of 50-80 men prevented their departure from the office. Intense action was going on behind the scenes. Telapak sought support in Jakarta through high-level government and military officials, and EIA kept in touch with UK Government officials and the White House. The press was asked to keep quiet during the siege because of fear of endangering Faith and Ruwi.

On Saturday January 22nd, following intense pressure from Jakarta and the personal intervention of the British Ambassador, both Ruwi and Faith were flown to the South Kalimantan city of Banjarmasin in a plane chartered by EIA and Telapak. They were warned that Tanjung Lingga thugs were on their way to Banjarmasin so another plane was chartered to fly them to Jakarta. A last minute attempt by Tanjung Lingga to "buy off" this plane to prevent their departure, failed.

The campaign presentation to the Government of Indonesia and international donors took place on January 26th. The problem of illegal logging under the control of timber barons has been emphasised by this incident. The area is out of control and until the central government can reinstate law and order there can be no hope for the forests, the people and the remarkable creatures so dependent on them.

The Government of Indonesia has promised to deal with illegal logging, but so far the logging continues in Tanjung Puting. The Park headquarters have been destroyed and rangers have evacuated the Park. The latest report is that the Head and Deputy Head of the Park have resigned.

It is difficult for this democratically elected government at a time of economic crisis and civil unrest, but it is vital that they act courageously to defeat the powerful interests destroying Indonesia's priceless forest heritage. This case in Tanjung Puting is complex and politically difficult, but it is clear what must be done. Efforts to investigate this timber baron's fiefdom have so far failed following coercion. But the Government has to follow up while the world is watching.

Tanjung Puting National Park must be saved from the illegal loggers. Please urge His Excellency, the Ambassador of Indonesia, to do everything in his power to stop the destruction.

His address is:

2020 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20036

For more information on the campaign contact EIA,
1330 New Hampshire Avenue
Apt 507
Washington D.C. 20036
Telephone: (202) 452 8661 or visit EIA's website.

The Three R's: Replacement, Reduction and Refinement

A Conference in Bologna

At the third annual meeting of the World Congress on Alternatives and Animal Use in the Life Sciences that took place in Bologna, Italy from August 29 to September 2, 1999, Christine Stevens founder and president of the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) was honored with the 1999 Henry Spira Award To Improve The Lot Of Laboratory Animals In Academic Institutions And Commercial Laboratories. AWI worked with the British Universities Federation of Animal Welfare led by Major C.W. Hume to bring about publication of "The Principles of Humane Experimental Technique," by Russell and Burch.

Throughout the conference, the theme of this book that started the whole movement to replace, reduce, or refine experiments on animals, was cited. Co-author, W.M.S. Russell of the University of Reading, UK, spoke to the assembled conference urging the entire body to energetic action. "The tie I am wearing is a gift from my friend Klaus Cussler, of the Paul Ehrlich Institute. It has about 100 tortoises on it, all moving slowly in the same direction. But one of them is saying, "GET A MOVE ON!" So that is my message to this Congress — let's get a move on and see how much we can do together to achieve the 3 R's revolution by the time we next meet in Boston in 2002."

Hugh Richardson of the European Commission's Joint Research Centre praised Russell and Burch's "Seminal book" and reported that "by the middle of the 1980s the Council of Europe had adopted a convention based on the three R's and that the EEC had passed a major new Directive….Directive 86/609 is binding on all the member states of the European Union which have now adopted their own legislation to meet or surpass the minimum standards it lays down. Representatives of the Member States meet regularly with the Commission to discuss ways of improving the application of the Directive in promoting the 3 R's throughout the European Union." For example, in February the European Commission approved three in vitro replacements for laboratory animals in toxicity tests: one to test corrosives, another to test photo toxicity, and the third a topical toxicity test. Toxicity tests are the most urgently needed for replacement of animals because they are generally extremely stressful and painful.

Valerie Stanley of the Animal Legal Defense Fund, known for her pioneering victories for animals in court cases, accepted the award for Mrs. Stevens and read her statement to the conference, as printed here:

"I am happy to accept this award on behalf of Christine Stevens. She has asked me to read her remarks:

"I wish to express my gratitude to this 3rd World Congress. I have long admired the work of European Centre for the Validation of Alternative Methods (ECVAM) for its dedication, energy and commitment to find and implement tests that supplant the cruel methods of testing on animals that have been used for so many years.

"With all the resources the United States has, all of its wealth not only in terms of money, but in intelligence and innovation, in terms of finding and implementing non-animal tests, the United States cannot even begin to compare with the genuine strides and accomplishments of ECVAM and its allies such as the Multicenter Evaluation of In-Vitro Cytotoxicity (MEIC).

"In this regard, ECVAM and the American Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Validation of Alternative Methods (ICCVAM) are more than worlds apart geographically. In the United States, we seem more interested in stating that we are dedicated to finding non-animal methods than in actually producing and validating them. If pharmaceutical and household product manufacturers in the United States are really serious in pressing forward with the necessary research, why haven't we made breakthroughs that equal MEICs?"

But the U.S. is seriously behind the more enlightened research community in Europe. Our commitment to Henry Spira's great legacy in furthering elimination of unnecessary animal testing must not falter.

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