AWI Quarterly

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.

Ivory of the Sea?

 

Many conservationists argued that the downlisting of certain populations of African elephants to allow an "experimental" sale of ivory would set a dangerous precedent that CITES Parties would use to open up trade in other listed species. This blueprint has been followed in Cuba's proposal to downlist Hawksbill sea turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata) from Appendix I to Appendix II to sell its stockpiled turtle shell to Japan in a one-time sale and to allow further annual sales of up to 500 sea turtles a year.

Allowing trade in sea turtle shells is as grievous an error as allowing trade in ivory. This is especially true when one acknowledges that sea turtles are shared wildlife with great ecotourism value for a number of nations. Although the proposal calls for downlisting the "Caribbean population of Hawksbill Turtles… inhabiting Cuban waters," there is clearly no definitive Cuban population of a migratory marine species such as turtles. For example, the species' distribution includes the waters of the Seychelles, a nation that burned two and a half tonnes of confiscated sea turtle shell in 1998 in a clear message of defiance toward those who would profit by killing these animals and selling their parts.

The IUCN considers Hawksbills to be "critically endangered."  Anne Meylan of the Florida Marine Research Institute and Marydele Donnelly of the IUCN / SSC Marine Turtle Specialist Group, wrote in an article in Chelonian Conservation and Biology that "Of all the species of marine turtles, the hawksbill has endured the longest and most sustained history of exploitation," and that "individual populations from around the world will continue to disappear under the current regime of exploitation…" CITES Parties would send a very clear and exceedingly dangerous message to the world if they mistakenly open up trade in parts of "critically endangered" wildlife such as hawksbills

 

A Deadly Experiment Gone Wrong

"Thereafter, under experimental quotas for raw ivory not exceeding 25.3 tonnes (Botswana), 13.8 tonnes (Namibia) and 20 tonnes (Zimbabwe), raw ivory may be exported to Japan…"

— Annotation accompanying the 1997 downlisting of three African elephant populations

An "experiment" is generally defined as "any action or process undertaken to discover something not yet known." When the CITES Parties voted to open an "experimental" ivory trade from Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe in 1997, the outcome was easily deduced. Before all African elephants were placed on CITES Appendix I and international commercial ivory trade was prohibited, the continent's elephants were decimated, from approximately 1.3 million to about 600,000. With the 1989 ban, populations stabilized, poaching dropped dramatically, and ivory smuggling routes and the global market all but dried up. After this remarkable success, CITES Parties turned back the clock on elephant conservation and took a giant risk with the protection of these majestic creatures.

However, there is an opportunity at COP 11 for Parties to make amends for their grievous error by voting for Kenya's and India's proposal to put all elephants back on Appendix I. As Dr. Klaus Töpfer, Executive Director of the United Nations

Environment Programme, told the Associated Press (AP), "If there was a total ban, it (poaching) would be easier to control."

In 1997, AWI and other organizations warned that reopening the ivory trade, even on limited basis, would cause barbaric elephant poaching to escalate. At a press conference in Washington, D.C., Nehemiah Rotich, Director of the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), warned that the elephant poaching "holocaust is coming back again" and that he hasn't seen poaching of this magnitude in the last 10 years. A January 2000 KWS press release grimly notes: "In 1999, KWS seized over 2,000 kg of ivory from illegal dealers, this was four times the average for the previous 6 years." In a letter to European Union nations urging support for the uplisting proposal, Director Rotich added: "Elephant poaching for ivory has also increased five fold in our elephant stronghold, the Tsavo National Park where thirty percent of our elephants occur." New images of massacred elephants, brutally cut down by poachers' bullets and their faces sawed off for the coveted ivory, bring back horrific images from decades past.

But Kenya is not alone in bearing the painful burdens of the renewed ivory trade. In October 1999, a consultative meeting among African elephant range states (including the Asian elephant range state of India) was held in Amboseli, Kenya. The meeting's Proceedings note that most Parties reported "insignificant" elephant poaching in their countries when elephants were on Appendix I and that "there has been a notable increase in illegal hunting" since the 1997 downlisting. Congo, for instance, reported an "incredible upsurge in illegal killing of elephants," and Cameroon reported "seizures of large quantities [of ivory] confiscated from diplomats." In India, 222 poached elephant carcasses were discovered between 1997 and the 1999 consultative meeting. A majority of African elephant range states attending the consultative meeting supports the effort to put all elephants back on Appendix I.

Zimbabwe, which (with Namibia and Botswana) now proposes to expand its ivory exports further, has witnessed increased elephant poaching since the ban was relaxed.  Panafrican News Agency reported on December 8, 1999 that "Zimbabwean wildlife officials" suspected that poachers from Zambia "had killed more than 80 elephants in the country's game parks in 1999 alone."

So what happens to the ivory from these poached elephants? It's a worldwide free for all. In February 2000, Portuguese officials uncovered "around 375 pounds of ivory, including 24 elephant tusks and seven statues" allegedly smuggled from Angola (AP). On September 18, 1999 two tons of ivory was seized in Dubai Airport, "one of the largest ivory seizures since the ban on trade in ivory was implemented," according to KWS. The accompanying table, "REPORTED IVORY SEIZURES SINCE JUNE 1997" shows how this illegal activity has grown again. KWS Director Rotich contends that the traditional ivory smuggling routes have been reopened.

Without a market, all this ivory is worthless. Japan, a major lobbying force behind the evisceration of the ivory ban, is an enormous ivory market. Despite the overwhelming evidence of elephant poaching and ivory smuggling, Japan's CITES position on elephants leading to COP 11 is that the "experimental trade of ivory in 1999 did not create any problem."

There is a tremendous opportunity for illegal ivory smuggling into Japan and sale on the Japanese market, even with the new amendments to Japan's laws regarding domestic management of ivory. Once it gets into Japan and is carved into signature stamps called hankos it is almost impossible to ascertain whether the ivory is from the legal shipment authorized by CITES or from an illegally smuggled consignment. As Kenya's and India's proposal notes, "although certification seals are available for attachment to carvings 'recognised as having been produced from legally obtained tusks,' and there is a penalty for affixing a seal to a carving other than the one for which it was issued, it is neither mandatory for such seals to be affixed nor illegal to sell a carving without a seal. Thus, though the certification system can be used to identify a legal carving by a dealer wishing to do so, it would appear to be of little or no use in preventing the sale of illegally-acquired ivory on the Japanese retail market."

Since 1997, elephant poaching has increased substantially across Africa and illegal ivory seizures have occurred with greater frequency across the globe.  The ivory experiment has failed - again. We must restore the rational reverence for elephants embodied in the Appendix I listing of all African and Asian elephants and the complete ban on the global trade in elephant ivory.

KWS Director Rotich tells of an ecotourism group whose vehicle was held up for some time while a small herd of elephants crossed before them. When one wildlife watcher asked the guide why they were waiting so long the guide responded, because the elephants have the Right of Way. And so it should be.  

Chart on Reported Ivory Seizures Since June 1997

In Monstrous 20,000 Cow-Factory Farms

By Chris Bedford

American's small family dairy farms face extinction. The farm gate price of milk has dropped to below 1978 levels, as a result of market manipulation by large dairy cooperatives which function like giant agribusiness corporations.

As a consequence, many family dairy farmers may be forced into bankruptcy this year. The U.S. Department of Labor predicts farm employment losses will exceed 175,000 in the next five years. And this estimate was released before the current crisis. The impacts from this potential loss for rural communities, the environment and animal welfare are devastating.

The same industrialization of food production that has transformed poultry and hog raising is rapidly transforming dairy production. In dairy factory operations, farmers become factory workers, environmentally destructive amounts of manure are produced, animals are confined for most their lives and output is pushed through processes that can damage human and animal health. Milk production is artificially stimulated through injections of a recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH) also known as Bovine Somatotropin (BST). BST use can painfully injure lactating cows by draining calcium from bones and tissues, causing ulcers along their backbone and disfiguring swelling of leg joints (see page 6 of AWI Quarterly, Vol.48 No.2). BST has also been implicated in human health problems by causing increased production of another bovine hormone called IGF-1 (Insulin Growth Factor 1). IGF-1 has been proven to increase risk for uterine and breast cancer and heart disease in women. Both BST and IGF-1 are not destroyed by the 15-second pasteurization process used on most commercial milk. FDA approval of Monsanto's version of BST, known by the trade name of Posilac, was based on pasteurization tests of 30 minutes or more, not 15 seconds.

Traditionally, milk has been produced by small, family dairy farms milking 30-100 cows at any one time. Although many of these small farmers experimented in the mid-1990s with (BST) they abandoned the product after seeing what it did to their cows.

"It just wore my neighbors' cows out," said dairy farmer, George Donnon of Rising Sun, Maryland who never used Posilac. "It increased production some during the first lactation. But it didn't work after that. And it caused some serious physical problems for the animals." The dairy factory operations are the principal consumers of Posilac/BST. Heifers are given the drug during their first lactation — forcing them to produce milk for two years or more — increasing per cow output by approximately 15%. After this first artificially extended lactation, the cows are so worn out that they have to be sold for meat. Small family dairy farmers typically keep their cows for five or six lactations.

"Use of BST divides the large operations from the small family farmer," said Eddie Boyer, a dairy farmer from New Oxford, Pennsylvania. "A family farmer cares about his cows. He calls them to the milking parlor by name. He wants to extend their productive lives as long as he can." Ironically, BST use and the expansion of dairy factory operations is behind much of the current crisis facing small family dairy farms. The construction of giant BST-dependent dairy factories, milking 20,000 cows or more, in the desert areas of California, Arizona and Idaho has produced large amounts of cheese at artificially low prices. These new dairy factories create environmental problems/disasters wherever they operate — often spilling millions of gallons of manure into scarce and vulnerable arid land water supplies. Since dairy factories externalize so much of the real environmental impacts, production costs are lower than on family farms. Cheese produced by these dairy factory operations is unloading large dairy cooperatives like Dairy Farmers of America and Land O'Lakes on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.

Cheese traded on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange sets the price of all milk sold in the United States through a series of Milk Marketing Orders issued by the federal government. By dumping subsidized, dairy factory produced cheese in Chicago, large dairy cooperatives can drive down the farmgate price of milk — reaping huge windfall profits while impoverishing the small farmers who are members of the coops. In 1978, when farmgate milk prices were higher than they are now, consumers paid a $1.20 for a gallon of fresh milk. Today that same gallon of milk costs almost $3.

"Someone is making money producing milk," said Fred LeClair, a dairy farmer from Watertown, New York. "It's just not us. Right now, I lose about $6 for every hundred pounds of milk I produce (11.6 gallons = 100 lbs). I don't know any business that can operate long at these kinds of prices."

Some believe the current low prices are an effort by large cooperatives to "rationalize" milk production, make it more "efficient", by driving small producers out-of-business. Large dairy factory operations are protected through special premiums paid by processors and by low-interest loans unavailable to small dairy farmers. "It is time to draw a line between small farmers like myself and large corporate operations," said George Donnon. "Our interests are different. I want to maintain our way of life without having to get bigger. If I get a higher price for my milk, I will milk fewer cows, not more. And that's good for me and the environment, and the cows."

Human Population 6,000,000,000 and Growing

 

The world has reached a population of six billion, meaning the number of the globe's inhabitants has doubled in less than 40 years.

It took all of human history for the planetary population to reach one billion in 1804, but then little more than 150 years to reach three billion in 1960. Now there's twice the number.

While the world adds another 3,500 humans every 20 minutes it loses an entire plant or animal species in that same time — or about 27,000 species a year.

Despite a gradual slowing in the overall growth rate, world population is still increasing by 78 million a year-the equivalent of adding a city almost the size of San Francisco every three days.

The number of people on the planet Earth is now...

Elephant Seals Hot Iron Branded

 

Elephant Seals Hot Iron Branded

Hot iron branding has caused terrible pain to animals, both wild and domestic. Photographs of branded elephant seals, with hot iron brand marks covering a significant part of the animals' sides (both sides so scientists can read the number easily) were published in the Sydney, Australia Mercury.

According to the March 29th Mercury, "The evidence collected shows the brands have created large weeping and infected wounds on many seals." The Parks and Wildlife Director, Max Kitchell, said, "a significant number of seals were left with horrific injuries which could be life-threatening."

The brandings, part of a 10 year population study, have now been mercifully stopped by the Macquarie Island government.


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