Mangabeys Saved from Lethal Research
UNITED STATES The Yerkes Primate Research Center in Atlanta, Ga. has withdrawn an amendment to its application for a permit under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) to kill endangered mangabeys as part of its ongoing AIDS-related experiments. The amendment sought approval to kill 50 of the animals. However, under the ESA, research facilities cannot engage in such activities unless they benefit the species in the wild. Yerkes, in its attempt to secure the amendment, offered to provide money toward a primate conservation project in the wild. The Animal Welfare Institute and other animal advocacy groups represented by the law firm Meyer Glitzenstein & Crystal submitted comments in opposition to these lethal experiments. Primatologist Jane Goodall and 18 fellow scientists also sent a letter to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, warning that allowing lethal research on endangered species in exchange for monetary contributions would "open the floodgates" for similar research in the future, to the detriment of imperiled species.
Shahtoosh Shawls Seized
THAILAND In July, Thai police authorities raided three luxury stores in downtown Bangkok, confiscating over 250 shahtoosh shawls made from the fur of endangered Tibetan antelopes called chiru. A single shawl requires killing three to five antelopes and commands very high prices on the black market. Credit in the successful sting operation has been given to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations-Wildlife Enforcement Network, a new integrated network of law enforcement agencies spanning many nations. According to the trade monitoring network TRAFFIC, the investigation "reflects a bold shift in strategy in battling syndicates decimating Asia's wild animals and plants."
Caught in a War Zone
LEBANON Located near a Hezbollah stronghold in Beirut's southern suburbs, an animal shelter run by Beirut for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (BETA) was partly destroyed by a missile, just days after violence erupted in the country in mid-July. Its 113 dogs and 100 cats quickly became traumatized by the constant shellings, and volunteers visiting the shelter risked their lives twice a day in order to care for them. Within two weeks, the animals were all safely moved to an abandoned farm east of the capital. Yet perhaps tens of thousands of companion animals still roam the war-torn city, since the US Embassy and others told evacuees they could not bring their pets on the cruise ships and helicopters that would transport them to safety.
BETA volunteers have also rescued several primates, exotic birds and other animals in a mini-zoo in Beirut, and they continue to feed, water and take in abandoned pets when possible. Additionally, the area's marine life is at risk due to a massive oil spill that started spreading over 60 percent of the Lebanese coastline in early August. The oil leaked into the Mediterranean Sea after Israeli aircraft targeted an oil tank at a power plant outside Beirut. Officials from the United Nations Environmental Program fear turtles and other marine animals have already beenaffectedby the disaster.
The Wind Dilemma
UNITED STATES One environmental group is putting its electric bill where its mouth is. Audubon New York, the state's largest bird conservation organization, recently announced plans to purchase the amount of wind power necessary to compensate for 100 percent of the energy used in its New York offices. The group picked a favorable site in Nebraska that impacts birds and other wildlife minimally, avoiding migration routes and densely forested areas. Given the destructiveness of fossil fuel-based power and the immediacy of global warming, we commend Audubon for its decision to help the environment and prevent the unnecessary harm of bats and birds.