AWI Quarterly

The Water Keeper Alliance Institutes Legal Attack on Pig Factories

On December 6, 2000, at press conferences in Washington, D.C. and Raleigh, North Carolina, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., President of the Water Keeper Alliance announced the launch of a broad legal assault against America's large pig factories. The Water Keeper Alliance and a coalition of supporters have turned to private attorneys and law firms to pursue enforcement of environmental protection regulations. This is necessary, said Kennedy, since "Federal environmental prosecution against the meat industry has effectively ceased because Congress has eviscerated the Environmental Protection Agency's enforcement budget while the political clout of powerful pork producers has trumped state enforcement efforts. This collapse of environmental enforcement has allowed corporate hog factories to proliferate with huge pollution-based profits."

The plaintiffs are seeking enforcement of state and federal laws, including the federal Clean Water Act, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and Clean Air Act. Kennedy added: "What we are dealing with here is a crime….  And they should have to stop today so we can get back to the family farmers and the tried and true way of preserving America's landscape and waterways." Describing the confinement of sows in crates so small they cannot walk or turn around, Kennedy called pig factories "extraordinarily cruel." Jan Schlictmann, a renowned environmental attorney, referred to modern hog factories as "animal concentration camps."

Attorneys who are committed to "civilizing" industrial hog operations stood with Mr. Kennedy and coalition members at the press conference. Coalition members and press conference speakers included family farmers Terry Spence and Rolf Christen of Citizens Legal Environmental Action Network (CLEAN), Sierra Club representative Scott Dye, Leland Swenson, President of National Farmers' Union, Brother David Andrews of the National Catholic Rural Life Conference (NCRLC) and Diane Halverson, Farm Animal Advisor of the Animal Welfare Institute.

Following are excerpts from the statement made by Diane Halverson. "Industrial hog producers have driven independent farm families out of business, and in doing so, have decimated the culture of humane husbandry that once characterized American farming. Traditionally, farm families took joy in good stockmanship and pride in the robust health of their herds. Industrial agriculture, on the other hand, calls animals into existence, and before it kills them, makes them suffer.

"For the corporate investor the animal is not a sentient creature, but a 'production unit.' The corporation is intent on three things: maximizing the number of 'production units' in each building; eliminating the need for husbandry skills among workers; and minimizing the number of workers. To do this, sows on the industrial farm are permanently confined in coffin-like crates, unable to walk or even turn around. All pigs are denied bedding in order that their manure can be liquefied for easy handling; this liquefaction makes it possible to concentrate huge numbers of animals on one site. Liquefied manure, running into streams, seeping into groundwater and emitting toxic gases, causes the environmental and public health problems discussed today. It is inevitable that a system which grossly violates the biology of the animals inside the factory will wreak havoc on everyone and everything outside of the factory.

"Sow deaths are common inside factory sow operations. The death rate of some herds is as high as 20%. The factory system is characterized by widespread routine application of antibiotics to promote growth of piglets, promote sow productivity and to prevent outbreaks of disease in the hostile conditions of the factory. The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified the routine, subtherapeutic use of antibiotics in agriculture as a major contributor to antibiotic resistance in humans. WHO recommends switching from industrial management of animals to more extensive, enriched housing methods to reduce the distress caused to the animals and thereby reduce the need for antibiotics.

"AWI is proud to support the effort announced today, to expose and rein in an industry characterized by callous disregard for society, our environment and animals."

Top Photo: Attendees included attorneys fighting the hog producers and representatives of organizations supporting the legal battle. Among others pictured here: Sue Jarrett, Global Resource Action Center for the Environment; Scott Dye, Sierra Club; Terry Spence, CLEAN; Leland Swenson, National Farmers' Union; and Brother David Andrews, NCRLC. 

Bottom Photo: Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., President of the Water Keeper Alliance, and Diane Halverson holding a pig.

UN Speaks Out Again on Illegal Exploitation in the DRC

In a follow-up report on the state of illegal exploitation of natural resources in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) the United Nations Panel of Experts has recommended a moratorium on the purchasing and importing of various products from the region including coltan, diamonds, gold, and timber (see Summer 2001 AWI Quarterly, "Militants and Profiteers Wipe Out Wildlife in the DRC"). The Panel notes that the DRC's history "has been one of systematic abuse of its natural and human resources... backed by the brutal use of force and directed to the benefit of a powerful few."

Under the watchful eyes of the male silverback mountain gorilla, his group takes a siesta.  All gorillas are threatened by the violent conflict in the DRC. (Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International)

The DRC, home to numerous threatened and endangered species such as gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos, elephants, and lions, has become a veritable cookie jar of natural resource pilfering-with several countries and unsavory characters sticking in their hands. The Ugandan army carries out gold mining in DRC. Zimbabwe, a fierce opponent of the international ban on commercial trade in elephant ivory, is particularly involved in DRC deforestation. A British nongovernmental organization, Global Witness, reported of a deal struck by Zimbabwe's embattled president, Robert Mugabe, to log 33 million hectares in the DRC, 15 percent of the territory. Zimbabwe also is heavily involved in mining for copper and cobalt.

DRC government officials are involved in embezzling diamonds that are allegedly smuggled through South Africa, another proponent of the global ivory trade. Coltan, a metal ore used in hi-tech and communications devices and which is a vital component in cell phones, is removed from DRC by a number of groups, notably the Rwandan army, and exported worldwide.

After publication of the UN Panel's initial report, the price for coltan (columbo-tantalite), dubbed "blood tantalum," dropped from $300 a pound in 2000 to an average of $25 a pound in 2001. Legislation has been introduced in the US Congress by Representative Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) to prohibit the importation of coltan into the US from countries supporting the violent conflict in the DRC (specifically, Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, and the DRC itself). Said the Congresswoman, "This legislation, supported by the Ambassador of the DRC, would begin to institute the tough measures necessary to end this horrible and deadly conflict." Meanwhile, the Security Council will consider the Panel's recommendation of a trade moratorium with the DRC. If that doesn't work, the Panel has already introduced the idea of imposing sanctions. A new Panel has been convened to follow-up the ongoing work by the United Nations on this matter.

Nyiragongo Erupts!

Wildlife in the DRC and surrounding regions is imperiled by the January 17 eruption of the Nyiragongo volcano, about six miles outside the city of Goma near the Rwandan border. The lava flow has displaced hundreds of thousands of people in the area.

According to NASA, "biomass burned from Nyriagongo, and nearby Mount Nyamuragira, eruptions tends to create clouds of smoke that adversely affect the Mountain Gorillas living in the adjacent mountain chain."

Gorillas are already under pressure in the area from habitat destruction and poaching. Chimpanzees and other wild animals are similarly at risk.

Don't Order the Sea Bass


Chilean Sea Bass with Almonds and Pistachios in Garlic Sauce? Baked Ginger Snap Crusted Chilean Sea Bass with Kiwi Lime Sauce? Coast to coast, Chilean Sea Bass can be found on restaurant menus. But when eateries offer such fish, they actually serve Patagonian toothfish, a species being rapidly depleted in the Southern Ocean. 

The long-lived fish can survive to be 80 years old but has a difficult time recovering from over-exploitation with its slow reproductive rate; this is compounded by the fact that unregulated, unethical pirate fishers take toothfish at unsustainable levels. The Honorable Warren Truss, Australian Fisheries Minister, in September stated that a vessel suspected of poaching Patagonian toothfish had been sighted in Australian waters: "The suspect vessel's crew attempted to conceal its identity by obscuring its name and registration number and when approached fled the scene."

The Antarctica Project reports, "If pirate fishing continues at its current rate, scientists estimate that the Patagonian toothfish could be commercially extinct in less than three years." The Project asserts that pirate fishers are responsible for over eighty % of the total catch - valued at five hundred million dollars. Toothfish fishing also causes the slaughter of numerous non-target species. Over 300,000 sea birds have reportedly been killed after being hooked on the fishers' gear and drowned. This includes the majestic albatross—twenty species of albatross are listed on the 2000 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

According to the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), "The high level of illegal and unregulated fishing for toothfish…threatens stocks of toothfish through over-fishing, and populations of seabirds through incidental capture and mortality during longlining." Despite this recognition, however, the 23 participating CCAMLR governments still set toothfish fishing quotas at its October 2000 meeting. Mark Stevens of The Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition lamented that the participants "all but ignored scientists warnings [about] the massive pirate fishing of toothfish in Antarctica's oceans." Stevens continued: "CCAMLR is simply making wild guesses when it comes to estimating how much toothfish pirate fishers are pulling out of the Southern Ocean ecosystem."

The Kingdom of the Pigs

By Vangelis Stoyannis

The traveller heading from the city of Trikala towards the Pindos mountain range (Southern Alps) sees the imposing passage of the "Gate" opening in front of him. Through this passage—which looks like a wound opened by the sword of a Giant during the mythical times—Lethe, the river of Oblivion, flows towards the plain which emerged from the bottom of the inner sea. Through this Gate, 13 centuries before Christ, the servants of Aesculapius passed, bringing the miraculous mountain herbs to the father of Medicine. Through this Gate nations and civilizations, merchants and invaders passed towards the plain. In the 11th century B.C. the Doric Nation, and in the 2nd century B.C. the Roman Legions passed, heading towards Pidna for the battle which determined the fate of the Macedonian King Perseus.

The mountains, the Gate and the plain. The cradle of the 32 greek nations, their passage towards history and the place where the discovery of agriculture and stockbreeding gave birth to civilization. The Gate, of legends and history, is a place of rare beauty, imposing and ancient which, when you get closer, makes you feel the unbearable burden of history on your shoulders. The Gate leads also to the ancient kingdoms of the farmers, who cultivated wheat for the first time, and the stockbreeders who utilized the acorns, chestnuts and the rich mountain grasslands in order to feed their herds of goats, sheep, pigs and small cows. People still cultivate wheat in the plain and still pasture their animals on the mountains.

November 2000. A few kilometers on the right of the Gate, on the mountain roots, on the line where the short mountain range of Hasia connects Pindos with Olympus and marks the plain towards the north, there lie the stockbreeders' villages: Pialia, Megarhi, Oihalia, Diasselo, Eleftherohori.

Since the ancient times, Pialia has been a village of pig breeders and shepherds. Each family owns about 30 female pigs and 200 sheep or goats. The village of Pialia is a place where the 21st century meets the 13th century B.C. Today the village, built on the foot of the mountain, lives simultaneously in two ages. The families living at the side of the plain breed their pigs in small, industrial-type farms. The families living at the side of the mountain, breed free ranging pigs in the forest. Their farms are simply small, wooden constructions, under ancient walls (possibly the walls of the ancient kingdom). There, they enclose the female pigs when they give birth in order to keep the newborns safe from wolves and bears until they are a month old. Then, the young pigs and their mothers are freed into the forest. Apart from some corn that they give to the animals in order to get them used to returning to the farm at night, the animals feed on what they find in the ancient forest: roots, acorns, chestnuts, and mushrooms.

Those are strange pigs, not like those bred in the industrial farms. Their owners crossbreed pigs of ancient races with wild boars they catch on the mountain, the result being that almost every farm breeds its own race of animals. Their productivity and output are extremely close to the output of improved hogs which are bred at the industrial farms of the plain. The health level of those animals could produce a nervous breakdown of the veterinarians and antibiotic salesmen of the 21st century.

These are stockbreeders who live in two ages. Their houses have the comforts of a 21st century house, they themselves use mobile phones and go to their farms in modern pick-up trucks. They still bake their bread, however, on woods according to the ancient way and throw coins in the coffins of the dead, in order for them to be able to pay the ferryman who will take them to the other world.

The answer to the question of the contemporary traveller, how those people survive together with their animals in the age of industrial stockbreeding, is simple.

They base their survival on memory. Here come the inhabitants of the near villages, those who insist stubbornly to cultivate wheat in 4 hectare fields, in order to buy pigs, sausages and pork meat for their Christmas table. From here the families of the plain buy small pigs which they will breed at their houses for Christmas. Ancient people, keeping still alive the ancient tradition. The pig-fatlings in December, to honour the Goddess of Agriculture Demetra, survived through the Christian age together with the Christmas customs of the Greeks. The stockbreeders of free ranging pigs survived as well. It is not by chance that such stockbreeding farms still survive at the ancient places: in Pialia, at the ancient kingdom of hogbreeders; at the foot of Olympus, the mountain of the Gods; in Arcadia, at the mythical kingdom of Lycaon; in Thrace, at the ancient kingdom of Diomedes; at Vermion, the cradle of the ancient Macedonians. That is, where memory still transforms the places into ways.

Perhaps such places show us the solution to the tragic dead-ends of the contemporary industrial stockbreeding, with the inhuman breeding conditions, the antibiotics and the products of dubious quality. Perhaps the solution for our modern problematic societies also lies here, through the activation of people's memory.

In the 13th century B.C., when Ulysses returned to Ithaca after his 10 years of wandering, he couldn't go to his palace. The King's palace was invaded by suitors who wanted to kill him in order to marry his wife and change things in his kingdom. Homer, the blind poet, says that the King found shelter at the house of Evmeos, his loyal pig shepherd, where he prepared his strategy.

Is this just a coincidence or does the blind poet give a lesson, 33 centuries after his era? Perhaps, after all, the voyages and adventures Ulysses suffered because he defied the Gods is a symbol of contemporary corporate man who, confused, breaks natural laws.

Is returning a solution? Nobody knows. The fact is that in Greece, at the place which once was a way, the descendants of Evmeos, the loyal pig shepherd, still survives.

Photo: A wild boar with four domestic free-range pigs on a mountain-top pasture. (Vangelis Stoyannis)

Wildlife and Drug Smuggling: A Tangled Tale

Customs officials warned Jeffrey Allen Doth, operator of the Texas-based International Exotic Wildlife, of the proper procedures for importing wildlife when, at age 25, he was caught smuggling wildlife into the US. A year later, in 1995, wearing a baggy shirt, Doth boarded a plane with five juvenile green tree pythons concealed in elastic stockings strapped around his waist. The US Customs Service busted him at Los Angeles International Airport for attempting to smuggle the snakes from Indonesia without receiving necessary permits from the Indonesian government or declaring them to Customs.

At Doth's trial he argued that rather than hiding the pythons under his clothing to conceal them, he was merely trying to keep them warm and avoid paying extra airline costs. Doth was found guilty of two felony counts and faced a maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison. On October 22, 2001, Doth was sentenced to a lenient four months of home detention, a $5,100 fine, and three years probation.

Less than four months after sentencing, while apparently still under house arrest in Texas, Doth was making trips to Miami to receive wildlife shipments from Guyana. He arranged to get wholesale shipments of exotic mammals and reptiles at cut-rate prices and then to sell some of the wildlife to other dealers, including the infamous drug kingpin and convicted felon Mario Tabraue (see Spring 2001 AWI Quarterly). Dealers or their representatives would meet at the airport to divide each shipment.

In late November, Doth, Miami Reptiles' Michael Powell, Tabraue's transporter Val Lorente, and a Guyanese man, Rajendra Persaud, were at Miami's Airport to receive a shipment of mammals and one of reptiles. The reptile shipment also contained over 100 pounds of cocaine hidden in false bottoms of the transport boxes. Regarding the illegal drugs, Customs is currently focused only on Persaud and another Guyanese man, Doyle Debudin, both of whom allegedly were house guests of one-time wildlife importer Cyril Lowe. Florida Fish and Game appears to be seeking prosecution of Doth for not possessing a wildlife dealer's license and for receiving 17 dwarf caiman without a permit. Excluding the caiman, the Fish and Wildlife Service has distributed the entire shipment, including 12 kinkajous, four two-toed sloths, 18 agoutis, five prehensile-tailed porcupines, and a coatamundi to the prospective dealers! No word on any action against Doth for his travels while under house arrest.

A coatamundi in his native habitat.


All Laboratory Animals Deserve Protection

The federal Laboratory Animal Welfare Act of 1966 set minimum requirements for handling, housing, and care for dogs, cats, primates, rabbits, hamsters and guinea pigs in the premises of dealers and in laboratories. In 1970 the Act, renamed the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), was amended to extend protection to all species of warm-blooded animals. However, the regulations promulgated for enforcement of the law arbitrarily excluded birds, mice and rats from the definition of animals, thus denying these species the protection to which they are entitled. There are no concrete figures, but it is generally agreed that approximately 95% of all animals used for research and testing are birds, mice and rats. The vast majority of laboratory animals have been left outside the law!

Birds, mice and rats used for experimentation do not benefit from the routine, unannounced inspections conducted by US Department of Agriculture (USDA) veterinary inspectors. When USDA veterinarians inspect research facilities they specifically overlook the care of birds, mice and rats. Nonetheless, from time to time, inspectors have noted horrors during their inspections including the following:

"During the inspection of the unmarked paper bags in the freezer, I discovered a moribund Long-Evans rat that was barely breathing. The frigid condition of this animal and the fact that it was surrounded by chewed plastic bags containing other dead rats, indicated that it had been in the freezer for some time, possibly a day or more. The rat slowly recovered as it warmed.

"Had this incident occurred involving a species covered by the Animal Welfare Act, the University would be liable for serious violations of sections pertaining to the IACUC [Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee], euthanasia, provision of appropriate veterinary care, and training of personnel. The fact that the animal confined in the freezer was a rat and therefore not a covered species in no way diminishes the seriousness of this egregious lack of humane care for this animal. To me, this disturbing event raises grave concerns regarding the function of the IACUC and the delivery of veterinary care."

In response to a lawsuit brought by the Alternatives Research and Development Foundation et al., USDA settled the case last fall by agreeing to initiate the process for extending the AWA's coverage to these other animals. Shortly thereafter, the National Association for Biomedical Research (NABR), a long-standing opponent of the AWA that represents research facilities and animal dealers, interceded.

Dr. Henry Foster, founder and chair of Charles River Laboratories, Foster's attorney son, and Frankie Trull created NABR in Trull's living room more than 20 years ago. Foster made clear the commercial value of promoting use of the maximum number of laboratory animals: "If you read the papers, everything seems to have carcinogenic effects. But that means more animal testing, which means growth for Charles River…so you can see why we continue to be enthused and excited" (The Wall Street Transcript, May 21, 1979). Charles River has continued to expand since that time, recently opening a Gnotobiotics operation producing about 2,000 female mice per week and a new facility the company describes as "dedicated to the contract breeding and management of genetically engineered (transgenic, knockout and mutant) mice and rats." If the Act encompasses birds, mice and rats, in addition to providing humane care and treatment, researchers will have to consider alternatives to the use of these animals—this objective conflicts with animal dealers' interest in maximizing the sale and use of animals in experimentation.

Regrettably, NABR convinced US Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS) to attach a mandate to USDA's annual appropriation from Congress preventing the agency from conducting any activity related to birds, mice and rats during this fiscal year!

Much of the biomedical industry appears to be rallying behind NABR and, unfortunately, we anticipate a sustained effort by NABR and their cohorts to deny basic protections to the millions of birds, mice and rats subject to experimentation in the United States each year.

Ducks-Yet Another Animal Factory Victim

As the old adage puts it, ducks are not adapted to exist without access to water, but that is exactly what 24 million ducks being raised in deplorably inhumane conditions on duck factories throughout the US are being forced to do each year.

Part of the ducks' sensitive upper bills are cut off, as shown above at Grimaud Farms, causing excruciating life-long suffering. (Viva!USA)

The most common ducks in these factories descend from the largely aquatic Mallard. They can never fly or swim and live in filthy sheds crammed together with hundreds of other ducks. They are denied access to sufficient water for bathing and preening, which is essential to their health. Such deprivation often results in serious eye problems and eventual blindness. They can barely walk because of bone deformities caused by slatted or wire mesh floors.

One of the cruelest practices is bill trimming or "debilling," which destroys the ducks' ability to fulfill their natural instincts to preen and forage for food. The very sensitive top portion of the bill is burned off with a stationary blade or cut off with a knife or scissors without anesthesia, in an attempt to prevent pecking and cannibalizing of other ducks in the overcrowded shed. According to Sarah Stai, a Muscovy duck expert from the University of Miami, this practice does not necessarily address confrontation among Muscovy ducks, which are known to fight with their feet and wings.

According to lauren Ornelas of Viva!USA, the organization responsible for exposing the cruelty perpetrated on ducks, the largest supplier of factory raised ducks in the US is Maple Leaf Farms headquartered in Indiana, which produces about 15 million ducks a year. Grimaud Farms, located in California and is a major producer of Muscovy factory-raised ducks, processes as many as 8,000 ducks a week. Muscovy ducks are the only modern domestic duck not descended from the Mallard. Their wild counterparts are strong flying birds that inhabit wetlands near wooded areas, using trees for roosting and nesting. Despite misrepresentations by duck factory operators, the Muscovy duck is indeed a species of waterfowl and does require full body access to water.

Colored Wild Muscovies are drastically different than their domestic cousins  raised for food. (USDA)

Grimaud contacted the University of California at Davis to evaluate its duck husbandry practices. A summary of the study released by Ralph Ernst, Extension Poultry Specialist at the UC Davis, confirmed that Grimaud is indeed an industrial duck factory. The report justifies Grimaud's practice of bill trimming and confinement as a "carefully planned program for duck husbandry that considers the welfare of the ducks under their care." Mr. Ernst's writings clearly demonstrate his support and promotion of the cruel methods employed by those in the intensive animal factory industry.

Based on the initial review and findings at Grimaud, Mr. Ernst is developing a set of guidelines for raising ducks. AWI received a draft copy of the UC Davis study from Grimaud for review and comments after requesting to discuss the issue. Following consultations with avian veterinarians from the Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights and the Muscovy duck expert at the University of Miami, AWI determined that the study, if enacted as written, is far from humane.

If you shop in any of the following stores please urge them to stop selling ducks raised in cruel and inhumane duck factories such as Maple Leaf and Grimaud Farms: Wal-Mart SuperCenter, Kroger's, Albertson's, Safeway, Trader Joe's, and Whole Foods/Fresh Fields.

Grimaud-Full of Foie Gras

Grimaud is not only the leading supplier of Muscovy ducks in the US, it also provides ducklings to Sonoma Valley Foie Gras, one of only two foie gras producers in the US-the other being Hudson Valley Foie Gras. However, this relationship does not end with the ducklings. Grimaud then markets the final Sonoma Valley Foie Gras product. Even though Grimaud claims not to be involved in the inhumane process of force-feeding the ducks, they do handle almost every other aspect of this cruel business.

National Gathering Calls for Humane, Sustainable Hog Farming

On January 11, 800 people from across the US and Canada packed the New Bern, North Carolina Riverfront Convention Center to discuss strategies for combating pig factories and promoting humaneness and sustainability in pig farming.

The "Summit for Sustainable Hog Farming" was organized by Nicolette Hahn, Senior Attorney for the Water Keeper Alliance, Rick Dove, Board Member of the Water Keeper Alliance and Gary Grant, Chair of the North Carolina Hog Roundtable. The day-long event included presentations from fishermen, environmentalists, religious and labor leaders, family farmers, scientists, public officials, attorneys, community activists, and animal welfare advocates.

Poignantly, neighbors to industrial pig operations described from personal experience how pig factories fouled their houses and backyards with stench and toxic gases so intense they became ill. In chilling testimonials, they detailed incidents of intimidation, even threats of violence and death, which they received from pig factory owners or operators.

The Summit's animal welfare discussion featured presentations by Paul Willis and Sue and Kelly Ryan, family farmers who allow the pigs they raise to behave naturally, in accordance with the Animal Welfare Institute's Humane Husbandry Standards for Pigs. A video prepared by the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) in cooperation with the Water Keeper Alliance showed the Ryan family farm and emphasized the value of preserving the culture of humane family farm husbandry that is being decimated by animal factories. Mike McConnell, Chairman of Niman Ranch, urged attendees not only to fight against the growth and pollution of pig factories but also to press their grocers to carry meat from humane, sustainable family farms rather than factories. Niman Ranch is the first marketing company to require that farmers whose hogs they purchase follow AWI's humane husbandry standards. Actress Rosemary Harris, winner of a Tony, an Emmy and a Golden Globe award and an Academy Award nominee, spoke on behalf of animals in a video presentation recorded in Los Angeles where Ms. Harris was filming the movie "Spiderman." Ms. Harris called on consumers to insist on meat from humane, family farms, saying that it is the plight of the sows confined to crates, unable to walk or turn around, that moves her most. A North Carolinian herself, Ms. Harris urged North Carolinians to take the lead in prohibiting animal factory practices, just as Sweden has done in Europe. Marlene Halverson, humane farming consultant to AWI, described the long history of ethical approaches to farming with animals in Sweden and their potential for serving as models for humane, sustainable farming in the US. AWI's Farm Animal Advisor, Diane Halverson, showed how factory production of pigs violates the nature of pigs, and how this leads, inevitably, to environmental and human health catastrophes. The suffering of animals in factories was also addressed in Rick Dove's video presentation which included footage of gross cruelty to pigs in a North Carolina factory, where workers beat and dismembered conscious sows. In Mr. Dove's words, "If we solve all of the environmental problems dealing with industrial hog raising, including stopping pollution, gaining restitution for pollution and solving the neighborhood odor and health problems, but we don't solve the issue of humane treatment of animals, then we haven't solved the problem of hog factories."

A captivating keynote address was given by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. who, in addressing the extreme confinement and physical abuse suffered by pigs in factories, said: "The way that we treat animals—somebody at sometime is going to be punished for that—we as a nation or somebody. Because you can't treat another work of the Creator with the kind of indignity that we are allowing to go on in this state or others without there being some kind of karmic retribution at some point in history. I think all of us understand that, and particularly the family farmers here who understand the notion of stewardship and how an animal should be treated with dignity if we want dignity for ourselves."

The Metropolitan AME Zion Church Choir, Washington, N.C. opened the Interfaith Prayer Service that followed Mr. Kennedy's address. Sister Evelyn Mattern of the North Carolina Council of Churches led the crowd in this prayer by St. Basil the Great (329-379): "O God, enlarge within us the sense of fellowship with all living things, even our brothers and sisters the animals, to whom you have given the earth as their home in common with us. We remember with shame that in the past we have exercised our high dominion with ruthless cruelty so that the voice of the earth, which should have gone up to you in song, has been a groan of pain. May we realize that they live, not for us alone, but for themselves and for you, and that they love the sweetness of life."

Water Keeper Alliance

The Water Keeper Alliance is the umbrella organization for the fifty-eight River, Sound and Bay Keepers located throughout North and Central America and Europe. The Water Keeper Alliance protects and restores waterways—including those ravaged by pollution from animal factories—using a variety of methods, including litigation. To learn more about the Water Keeper Alliance or to view presentations delivered at the Summit, visit the organization's website at

North Carolina Hog Roundtable

The North Carolina Hog Roundtable is a coalition of state-wide, community, and neighborhood organizations, with over 65,000 members collectively, that are working toward reform of corporate pig raising. The Roundtable focuses on pig factories' threats to public health, the environment and property values and has a particular concern for the disproportionate impact of industrial pig operations on poor and minority communities.


Photos:  Pigs on industrial farms are confined to metal crates so small they cannot even turn around. Unnatural conditions in the factory thwart a pig's natural instincts, and stereoptypies, repetitive behaviors such as bar-biting shown at left, are common.

An Elephantine Question: How Many Elephant Species are There?

Arguably the biggest conservation debate concerning elephants in the last decade has been over the international ban on trade in elephant ivory. But a new debate may be arising over how many African elephant species actually exist.

It is possible for the elephants of Amboseli and the Maasai people to coexist peacefully as they have for centuries. But will elephants live free from the ivory-seeking poachers' bullets? (MERC)

It has long been assumed that there are two elephant species: the Asian elephant (Elephas Maximus) and the African elephant (Loxodonta Africana). However, in a Report in Science magazine (Vol. 293, 24 August 2001) researchers studying DNA sequences from nearly 200 African elephants found genetic distinctions that they argue warrant separation of African elephants into two distinct species: those inhabiting the savannah (Loxodonta africana) and the smaller elephants in Africa's tropical forests (Loxodonta cyclotis). According to the Report, the two African elephant species began to diverge genetically over two and a half million years ago.

Asian elephants and most African countries' elephants (except Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe) are already listed on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), thus prohibiting international commercial trade in their parts and products. Recognizing two distinct African elephant species may have interesting conservation implications and political repercussions under CITES. Taken together, the African elephant population may appear relatively strong. But separated into two distinct genetic populations, there would only be an estimated 400,000 savannah elephants and roughly 150,000 forest elephants.

There is the possibility that some will argue that the forest elephant, taken as its own species, is not yet protected at all. Elephant poachers and ivory traders engage in myriad machinations to engage in their deadly trade. Recent evidence suggests that the relaxation of the worldwide ban on ivory in 1997 was misperceived as sending a message that the ivory trade is soon to be reopened unfettered. In the past few months, ivory seizures have been made across the globe. Reports reveal in September 2001, 20 tusks were impounded in Zurich, Switzerland; in November 2001, 30 tusks were seized at Bangkok's airport; that same month, 230 tusks were confiscated in Egypt; the biggest recent bust came in Tanzania where 1,255 tusks were found in two homes. Ivory traders continue to take advantage of understaffed and underfunded anti-poaching and wildlife law enforcement units.

All elephant species undoubtedly warrant and need complete protection under international conservation Treaties and domestic legislation around the world. Recognizing the forest elephant as a separate, fully protected species may also call greater global attention to the deforestation rampaging Africa by greedy logging companies. Perhaps heightened conservation measures will be taken to protect the forests in which the endangered forest elephant clings to existence.

The great elephant debate just got a little more intriguing; we hope the mighty elephants will get additional protection as a result.

Coexisting in Kenya The Human-Elephant Conflict

By Meitamei Ole Dapash

The Amboseli Maasai-elephant Dialogue is convened under a tree by the roadside to tap the inputs of passersby, who may not be residents of that location. The forum has no chairperson, master of ceremonies, or any form of authority figurehead. (MERC)

We, the Maasai have never failed in our moral duty as guardians of wildlife. However, those with myopic understanding of our way of life and its interconnectedness with nature have consistently failed both the people and wildlife of Amboseli. -Lengete Ole Manti, Amboseli resident The Maasai people name their clans after animals such as lions, elephants, or rhinos to demonstrate the importance of wildlife prosperity in Kenya and Tanzania to the Maasai culture. Each clan advocates for the protection of its particular species, which becomes the clan's totem and symbol of prestige. Wildlife conservation in Maasailand owes its success to the Maasai traditions that prohibit the killing of wildlife or destruction of forests or any part of the natural ecosystem for commercial or any other form of consumptive use. This is why, even today, wildlife thrives in Maasailand, unlike many other areas where animals have been eliminated either for food or to create land for commercial agriculture.

Kenya's prolonged droughts in 1999 and 2000, the worst in 25 years, led to widespread competition for water throughout East Africa. Many rivers, swamps, and dams dried up, and the few water sources that survived the droughts immediately became hot spots for human-wildlife conflict. This natural catastrophe caused starvation among wildlife, livestock, and even people in some parts of Kenya.

Amboseli National Park was the most affected protected area in the country. "Empusel"

Well dug by hand by the Maasai. Maintaining water wells outside Amboseli National Park in Kenya would reduce human competition with elephants for water inside the park. (MERC)

 (Amboseli) is a Maasai word for "dry land" and is located on the northern foot of Mt. Kilimanjaro, the world's tallest freestanding mountain. Amboseli was established mainly to protect Kenya's elephants and preserve their migratory routes. Amboseli is dotted with oases (created by the melting snow of Mt. Kilimanjaro) and perennial swamp grass species. These permanent sources of water and green vegetation attracted more wildlife and Maasai livestock into the park during the recent drought period than any other time in the history of Amboseli. Consequently, human-elephant conflicts erupted leading to the spearing of eight elephants-six of whom died from their wounds, while an orphaned baby was reported to have died of starvation. Reports from Maasai indicate that within the same timeframe, two Maasai (including a mother of a three week old infant) and at least 42 livestock had been attacked and killed by elephants.

The Maasai Environmental Resource Coalition (MERC), with support from the Animal Welfare Institute, set out to create a dialogue to discuss human-elephant conflict and related conservation issues in Amboseli and find long-term solutions to the conflicts. On June 30, 2001 the first meeting took place under a huge acacia tree at Meshenani area in the Olgului/Ololarrashie group ranch, the largest, most important communal land that almost engulfs the Amboseli National Park. More than 60 people, representing twelve villages within the vicinity of Amboseli National Park, attended the meeting.

Moving testimonies were heard about the peaceful coexistence of Maasai and wildlife in the delicate balance of the ecosystems within which they live. Participants expressed serious concerns over growing threats to the survival of Maasai people, elephants, and their shared habitat in Amboseli and across Maasailand. "These threats," they said, "come from commercial agricultural expansion; sidelining of the Maasai from mainstream nature conservation; insensitive tourism practices; and continued loss of Maasai traditional lands to other modern economic enterprises. The ongoing destruction of forests, commercial hunting, and loss of wildlife migratory routes and breeding grounds must be stopped now if the future of wildlife in Kenya and Tanzania is to be guaranteed. Moreover, as we lose land and culture, elephants and other wildlife lose habitat."

Intensifying competition for limited water resources was the single most important factor responsible for human-wildlife conflicts in Amboseli. According to the participants, approximately 80% of the permanent sources of water are located in the center of the park. Additionally, women and children have to endure a 10-15 kilometer daily trudge across the dry, open Amboseli basin into the middle of the park to fetch water for domestic use. This increased human presence in the park, coupled with human-elephant-livestock convergence at the watering points, creates tremendous tension resulting in occasional deadly conflicts.

Maasai communities often are forced to take the law into their own hands by killing rogue elephants when they believe that no help is coming from the park's office. An act of this nature often escalates friction between wildlife authorities and the communities. According to one elder, "elephants hardly ever attacked people unless provoked, thirsty or instinctively reacting to an experience of past attack." Although men would sometimes successfully scare away elephants from watering points, elephants in most cases prevail by maintaining their ground and forcing people and livestock to go thirsty. Many participants pointed out that water scarcity outside the park for communities and continued habitat loss to encroaching agricultural communities were some of the serious problems undermining Maasai's centuries' old peaceful coexistence with elephants.

Conflict is also exacerbated by the Maasai's dissatisfaction about the current level of wildlife-derived benefits being extended to the local communities. Currently, Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) distributes approximately US$10,000 among the seven group ranches adjoining Amboseli National Park. The forum heard that the amount was not only meager; it was erratically given, in spite of the fact that Amboseli generates more tourists' dollars for KWS than any other park in the country. Moreover, lodges in Amboseli employ more than 1,500 people of which Amboseli residents constitute fewer than 100 people, put in the most undignified, poorly paid positions. Amboseli residents feel cheated and are increasingly becoming resentful of tourism and conservation programs alike.

The dialogue revealed that there is also pressure from wildlife consumptive use proponents to persuade and manipulate Maasai into urging the government to allow commercial hunting for trophies, particularly in communal lands, as a way of enhancing wildlife-derived benefits. Because of the problems mentioned earlier on, and the feeling that the colonial government stole Amboseli to create a wildlife preserve without consultations, the Maasai are very vulnerable to these ideas.

KWS already has expressed unequivocal interest in working with MERC and Amboseli communities to address human-elephant conflicts and a number of specific actions resulted from this valuable dialog. MERC will encourage KWS to include local communities' participation in the development and implementation of conservation programs in their localities. KWS will review the existing revenue-sharing policy with the view of increasing the community's share, while job training and placement opportunities in the tourism industry will be extended to the local communities. The Maasai have proposed the establishment of a code of conduct and ethics for the tourism industry to safeguard environmental integrity and the culture of the Maasai people. Finally, MERC is proposing the establishment of a problem animal control unit in Amboseli to respond to reports of animal attacks. This unit will be responsible for rapid response in situations where people or livestock have been attacked by elephants, lions, or buffaloes. It will also discourage people from taking action on their own to address the problem.

MERC continues to promote and sustain the peaceful coexistence necessary for the safety of both human and elephant populations in Amboseli. We need to keep focused on: handling local communities' complaints and liaising with the wildlife authorities for quick resolution; initiating water projects outside the park to minimize human-elephant contacts inside the park; and initiating community-based ecotourism programs in the Amboseli area. With the active involvement of MERC and the Maasai people, wildlife in Maasailand will be protected for generations to come.

For more information or to help the work of the Maasai Environmental Resource Coalition, contact Meitamei Ole Dapash at 2020 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Suite 136, Washington, DC 20006, (202) 785-8787,

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