WASHINGTON —Wildlife campaigners across the globe from animal charity Humane Society International have called for an urgent worldwide ban on the wildlife trade after China’s announcement that it will prohibit the buying and selling of wild animals for food in light of the mounting threat associated with coronavirus. The capture, market trade, and butchery of wild animal species for human consumption happens across large parts of Asia and Africa such as Indonesia, India, Vietnam, and West, Central and East Africa, as well as in Latin America, says HSI, posing a very real threat of spreading zoonotic and potentially fatal diseases. Governments around the world must take China’s lead and shut down this trade for good. HSI leadership in South Africa, Nepal, India, South Korea, Canada, the United States, Australia, Guatemala, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, the United Kingdom, Honduras, El Salvador and Costa Rica have joined the call for global action.
Jeffrey Flocken, HSI president, says: “China has taken decisive action to halt the wildlife trade for human consumption implicated in the global coronavirus crisis, but it would be a grave mistake for us to think that the threat is isolated to China. The capture and consumption of wild animals is a global trade that causes immense suffering for hundreds of thousands of animals every year, including endangered wildlife species being traded to the brink of extinction. The trade can also spawn global health crises like the current coronavirus, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome and the deadly bird flu. Wildlife markets across the globe, but particularly in Asia and Africa, are widespread and could easily be the start of disease outbreaks in the future.”
In the north eastern states of India, wild species such as the Chinese pangolin and several species of wild birds are routinely sold for human consumption. Bengal monitor lizard meat is also consumed across India, driven mainly by the superstitious belief that the fat stored in the tail can cure arthritis, and meat from the Indian flap-shell turtle is also popular across the country, despite both species being listed under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. In some north Indian states, owl eyes are also consumed for their perceived medicinal benefits for human vision.
Indonesia also has hundreds of “extreme” animal markets where the conditions are the same as those described by scientists as the perfect breeding ground for new and deadly zoonotic viruses, such as coronaviruses. Wild animals are sold and slaughtered in public and unsanitary conditions. The trade takes place alongside that of dogs and cats which itself has already been shown to pose a risk of rabies transmission. In January this year, Humane Society International wrote to Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo as part of the Dog Meat Free Indonesia coalition, calling for urgent measures to ensure that Indonesia does not become the next point of origin of a deadly virus by tackling the risk posed by these animal markets.
Mr. Flocken adds: “We already know that dog and cat meat markets in Indonesia are a hotbed for disease transmission, and we also know from our investigations that rabies-positive dogs are being sold and slaughtered for consumption in these markets. Given that dogs are caged and slaughtered alongside wild animals such as snakes, bats and rats, Indonesia must surely take preventative measures now to ensure it does not become the next point of origin of a deadly virus. Similar risks can be observed in wild animal markets across the globe and especially in Asia and Africa. The trade in wildlife is a global crisis that calls for global action, now.”
Wild meat consumption is also an issue in Vietnam where wild pig, goat and bird species are eaten as well as softshell turtle, bear, snake, pangolin and civet, and snake wine is also consumed. A number of studies conducted in recent years reveal that a significant percentage of the Vietnamese population consumes wild animals.
Bush meat, including that derived from primates, is still consumed in many parts of Africa. Earlier this month, the Tanzanian government endorsed the establishment of butcheries specifically for the bushmeat trade. And in South Africa, approximately 12,000 lions are captive bred in deplorable conditions, to facilitate the export of lion skeletons to Southeast Asia for tiger bone wine. Lions are hosts for the tuberculosis (TB) virus, which can survive in bones ground to powder.
In Guatemala and El Salvador, meat from crocodile, iguana and other reptiles is often eaten during Lent despite it being illegal to do so.
This week, the National People’s Congress, the Chinese national legislature, elevated an originally temporary ban on wildlife trade for human consumption from an administrative action to the level of a national law. Specifically, the announcement, issued as an emergency measure, creates a comprehensive ban on the trade in terrestrial wild animals bought and sold for food, including those who are bred or reared in captivity.
Download video footage of Indonesia’s wild animal and dog/cat meat markets here: https://www.dropbox.com/home/Indonesia%20Extreme%20Markets
Media contact: Wendy Higgins firstname.lastname@example.org
Gandhinagar — Representatives from more than 130 nations agreed to vital protections for migratory wild species at what’s being hailed as a landmark wildlife convention in Gandhinagar, India. Delegates agreed to increased or first-time conservation protection status for the endangered Mainland Asian elephant, the critically endangered great Indian bustard and Bengal florican, the jaguar, the oceanic whitetip shark, smooth hammerhead and tope shark. The circumstances of all of these species, require multi-nation conservation co-operation because their ranges traverse country boundaries.
Sixty percent of Mainland Asian elephants are found in India, and the species has been listed as Endangered in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) since 1986, a victim of habitat loss and increasing human/elephant conflict. The great Indian bustard, whose population has dwindled to around 150 individuals in India, is persecuted by hunting in Pakistan, and the Bengal florican has a population of less than 1000 birds, struggling to survive amidst habitat loss in India and Nepal.
Mark Simmonds OBE, senior marine scientist at Humane Society International, said: “With estimates of up to one million species at risk of extinction right now, nations have a shared responsibility to act, especially in the case of migratory species. Species such as the Asian elephant and hammerhead shark are in desperate need of attention and cooperation from the countries through which they roam, mate, give birth or feed. This truly is proving to be a landmark wildlife convention because we’ve successfully secured increased conservation protection status for many species and we can now set to work on concrete measures to protect them and their habitats.
The Asian elephant is endangered throughout much of its range, trying to survive in continually shrinking, degraded and fragmented habitat, and increasingly coming into conflict with people. Its protection will be vastly improved if range countries work together to tackle these challenges, and inclusion in CMS Appendix I will significantly aid that.”
Rebecca Regnery, Humane Society International’s deputy director of wildlife, said: “The jaguar, the largest native cat of the Americas, is now absent from more than 77% of its historic range in Central America. Despite protection in all its range states, the jaguar is threatened by illegal killing and trade. Listing on CMS will formalize range state collaboration on conservation efforts, creating an international legal framework for the first time. This will provide increased incentives and funding opportunities for this work, which is critical for curbing habitat destruction, maintaining key migration corridors and reducing violence and human deaths associated with retaliation and trafficking.”
Lawrence Chlebeck, marine biologist with HSI Australia, said, “This is a fantastic success for international shark conservation efforts. Three of the shark species hardest hit by commercial fishing will, from today, receive brand new international attention and coordination. Sharks are especially susceptible to population decline due to late maturation and low reproductive potential, and they are therefore some of the most threatened animals on our planet. International, cooperative conservation measures, such as those that will result from these listings, are absolutely vital to the ecological viability and survival of these species.”
Summary of key decisions today at CMS CoP 13
- Mainland Asian elephant/Indian elephant (Elephas maximus indicus) added to Appendix I
- Great Indian bustard and Bengal florican added to Appendix I
- The jaguar (Panthera onca) added to Appendices I and II
- The antipodean albatross (Diomedea antipodensis) added to Appendix I
- Oceanic whitetip shark (Carcharhinus longimanus) added in Appendix I
- Smooth hammerhead shark (Sphyrna zygaena) added to Appendix II
- Tope shark (Galeorhinus galeus) added to Appendix II.
These decisions have been made in the convention’s ‘Meeting in the Whole’ and are subject to formal verification in the closing plenary of the CoP on 22nd February. However, as they have been agreed by consensus, this is now a formality.
Media contact: Wendy Higgins email@example.com
Kangaroo Island, South Australia–As the search-and-rescue mission for wildlife survivors of Australia’s Kangaroo Island bushfires continues, animal charity Humane Society International says the number of animals needing to be taken into care is increasing as starvation and dehydration start to hit.
Humane Society International took the heart-wrenching image of a traumatised koala sitting by the water beside another, deceased, koala. Although some media reports mistook the koala’s hunched posture as mourning, HSI experts say it’s the fact that they’re seeing koalas all over the island curled up and “shut down” like this on the ground instead of in the trees, which indicates a lack of food and water is taking its toll. Animal carcasses, like that of the dead koala in the water, litter the ground across the decimated bushland on the island.
“Sadly, this is the reality on the ground on Kangaroo Island. The survivors have little to no energy reserves left and we are finding them sitting on the ground totally shut down – all too often with other corpses nearby. We did manage to rescue this particular koala and she is doing well in the emergency rehab at the Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park,” said Kelly Donithan, Humane Society International’s disaster response specialist.
Although casualty numbers fluctuate day by day, Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park is also seeing an upturn in wildlife casualties being brought to its emergency triage centre. Although it’s always ideal to leave uninjured surviving koalas high in the trees in their natural habitat, the near total fire damage means that their natural food sources have been turned to ash, and increasing numbers of surviving koalas are now being found on the ground and dehydrated.
Ms Donithan continued: “Over recent days it’s been quite a bit cooler, so perhaps some animals are starting to move more than they did before in a desperate search for food and water, and that’s why we’re seeing an increase. As the days go by, these animals are weakening more and more to a point where they require intervention because there’s virtually nothing left for them out here.”
The Humane Society International team has been building water stations in remote areas where koalas have been seen perching in inaccessibly high trees, and photographs from camera traps set by the charity show that koalas are climbing down to drink. HSI has also delivered building materials to the island to allow for the construction of new temporary shelters at the wildlife park triage centre to help accommodate the growing number of animals needing veterinary and longer term care.
Erica Martin, CEO of HSI/Australia explains: “For so many of these animals, their natural habitat is gone, there simply isn’t anything to sustain them. So although the hope is that in time once the land recovers they will be able to be released back to the wild, that’s not likely to happen for some time yet. So for the meantime, we need to build these little guys a new, temporary home, and thanks to the donations we’re receiving, we’re able to get to work.”
Read a recent blog entry by HSUS President & CEO Kitty Block.
Donate to our Animal Rescue Fund at hsi.org/aid.
For more information about our response, see our Australia fires faqs.
Download photos and video of animal rescue here.
For interviews with HSI’s rescue team on Kangaroo Island, please call
CANBERRA – The Australian Senate has today passed the Government’s Industrial Chemicals Bills 2017, including measures to prohibit reliance on new animal test data for chemicals introduced into Australia for use as ingredients in cosmetics. Passage of the bill was made possible thanks to an agreement reached with Humane Society International (HSI) this week, which saw the Government commit to 11 substantial reinforcing measures to ensure that all cosmetic ingredients are captured by the ban, together with funding to support the development and uptake of modern non-animal test methods. HSI, together with its #BeCrueltyFree Australia campaign partner Humane Research Australia, have welcomed the essential commitments which will ensure the implementation of a robust ban on cruel cosmetics in Australia.
Hannah Stuart, HSI Campaign Manager for #BeCrueltyFree Australia, said: “We are pleased to welcome this milestone in moving to end reliance on cruel and outdated cosmetic animal testing in Australia. This week’s commitments by the Government to further restrict the use of new animal test data for cosmetic uses, and to reduce reliance on animal testing more broadly as well, come as a product of nearly three years of intensive negotiations with Humane Society International. Paired with the Government’s additional commitments to HSI, this ban reflects both the global trend to end cosmetics cruelty, and the will of the Australian public which opposes using animals in the development of cosmetics. We thank the Government for showing leadership on this important issue, and HSI will continue to work with them to implement the commitments and enforce a robust ban. This is a huge win for animals, consumers and science.”
Stuart added: “Negotiations between HSI and the Government to secure the essential commitments and passage of the bill today were made possible through overwhelming public and cross-party support of #BeCrueltyFree Australia’s campaign for a robust national ban on cruel cosmetics, and in particular through the support of key Coalition MPs Jason Wood and Steve Irons, as well as the crucial backing of Senate amendment and motion co-sponsors Labor, the Greens, Centre Alliance Senator Stirling Griff, Senator Derryn Hinch, and Senator Tim Storer.”
The Government’s additional commitments to HSI and #BeCrueltyFree Australia include the following:
- Further crucial provisions in the Ministerial Rules that accompany the bill which will prohibit new animal test data for all cosmetic uses of chemical ingredients introduced to Australia, ensuring that consumers won’t be exposed to buying newly animal tested cosmetics even after the ban comes into force.
- Further measures to increase compliance with the ban once implemented, as well as measures which extend beyond the cosmetics ban, and will contribute even more significantly to a reduction in animal testing.
- Allocating funding to support the development and uptake of new approach methods to replace animals in regulatory testing, and clearly articulating within the Industrial Chemicals Categorisation Guidelines that animal testing must only be used as a last resort, thereby aligning with international precedent.
The letter from the Minister and a full list of Government commitments made to HSI and #BeCrueltyFree Australia can be viewed here.
- HSI’s global #BeCrueltyFree campaign is the largest global effort in history to end cosmetics animal testing and trade. HSI and its partners have played a leading role in many of the nearly 40 national bans enacted to date, and in driving similar measures in active political discussion in Brazil, Canada, Chile, Mexico, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, the United States and the ASEAN region of south-east Asia. #BeCrueltyFree Australia is a partnership between Humane Society International and Humane Research Australia which has campaigned for over six years specifically on the issue of cosmetics cruelty in Australia.
- Humane Society International estimates that around 500,000 animals – mainly rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, rats and mice – suffer and die in cruel and outdated tests of cosmetic ingredients or products each year around the world. Rabbits, guinea pigs, mice and rats are the most common animals used to test cosmetics, subjected to having cosmetic chemicals dripped in their eyes, spread on their shaved skin, or force fed to them orally in massive, even lethal doses.
- A May 2013 poll by Nexus Research on behalf of Humane Research Australia found an overwhelming majority of Australians (85 percent) oppose using animals in the development of cosmetics with a large majority (81 percent) supporting a national ban on the sale of cosmetics tested on animals – that’s four out of five Australians who support a national ban. Similarly, a July 2014 opinion poll by Roy Morgan Research showed that ‘Not Tested on Animals’ was one of the top three features looked for by Australian female consumers when buying cosmetics.
- More than 1000 beauty brands are certified cruelty-free globally, including popular Australian brands such as LUSH, Natures Organics, MooGoo, Australis, and many others such as those listed on the Choose Cruelty Free List.
- These cruelty-free companies have sworn off animal testing, yet still produce new, safe and fabulous beauty products. They do so by using long-established ingredients combined with state-of-the-art non-animal tests that can produce faster, cheaper and more relevant test results.
Media contact: Hannah Stuart, HSI/Australia, P 0407 193 526 | E firstname.lastname@example.org
Tweet: @BeCrueltyFreeOz @HSIAustralia @hsiglobal #BeCrueltyFree