October 8, 2005
As the international arm of The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), Humane Society International (HSI) has long been active with local communities where international trade policies intersect with animal protection issues.
In recent years, efforts to help communities in developing countries participate in the global economy through capacity-building projects and technical assistance have gained priority in international trade discussions. To make the opportunities presented to developing countries successful, more must be done to promote programs aimed at sustainable development, including programs to protect the environment, natural resources, animals, wildlife and natural habitats.
Since 2003, HSI has been working on capacity-building projects across Latin America. Some examples of our programs are provided below.
Humane Sustainable Systems
Humanely Raised Animal Products
Working with livestock industry representatives in Central America, HSI analyzed slaughter methods, animal transport laws and regulations, and the economic effects that such practices have on rural farmers' ability to benefit from increased trade opportunities. HSI has used the results of the study to implement an extensive program to teach Central American farmers about the best practices and economic benefits of humane handling, transport, and slaughter of livestock.
Central America also needs assistance in learning to control stray and street dog populations in a humane way and to protect animal health in rural areas. HSI and the Rural Area Veterinary Services (RAVS) offer veterinary services and the latest training techniques, vaccinations, health information and community support to develop the best veterinary care available in rural communities across the region.
Strengthening the Enforcement and Implementation of CITES
HSI works to protect and conserve biological diversity in Central America by discouraging illegal animal trafficking according to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES). HSI works with the CITES Secretariat capacity-building staff and national authorities to teach customs agents and other government officials about CITES regulations and procedures for handling confiscated animals.
In addition, HSI provides training and financial assistance to rescue and rehabilitation centers to improve the handling of confiscated animals. Finally, HSI's CITES program promotes awareness among school children and the general public about the negative economic consequences of illegal trade in endangered species, especially for the local tourism industry.
Organic products promote a healthy habitat for wildlife and, at the same time, increasingly they are in demand in world markets. HSI is pursuing several initiatives to give Central American producers information about the benefits and costs of converting their operations to take advantage of growing organic markets.
For example, HSI works with a private company, Costa Rican Cocoa, to provide technical assistance on production methods and organic certification for local organic cacao producers. The program supports humane and environmentally sustainable practices because organic cacao helps to protect the natural habitat for migratory and resident birds and other species.
Tourism can be an important source of revenue in Latin America, and it can contribute to the economic advancement if managed in a sustainable way. The rush to promote tourism, however, often fails to account for the detrimental effect it may have on the very wildlife that tourists come to see. HSI believes it is vital to deal with environmental protection, habitat survival, and the protection of ecosystems and biodiversity along with economic development to secure a successful and sustainable tourism sector.
As part of an effort to protect dolphins, HSI is working with local partners to assist the government of Peru and the country's ecological enforcement authorities to better enforce existing protection laws and promote sustainable tourism as an alternative source of income for poor fishermen.