“The IWC can be a powerful force in our fight for plastic-free oceans, which would benefit all marine life,” Humane Society International

Humane Society International / Europe


 

David Olsen/Alamy Stock photo

PORTOROŽ, Slovenia—Nations gathered at the 68th International Whaling Commission meeting in Slovenia have unanimously adopted a proposal to provide critical IWC support for international negotiations on a global plastics treaty. The treaty would tackle the serious threats to whales, dolphins and porpoises (as well as other marine animals) posed by plastics, including entanglement and ingestion, both of which can lead to injury and death. The proposal was put forward by the European Union, the United Kingdom, the United States, South Korea, Panama and India. 

Dr Madison Miketa, Humane Society International’s wildlife scientist, said: “Every year thousands of cetaceans are injured or killed by marine plastic pollution, whether it’s ingestion of marine debris, accumulation of micro-plastics, or entanglement in abandoned or lost fishing gear, which is also known as ghost gear. It is prolific and can remain in the ocean for hundreds of years, resulting in untold suffering and death. Marine debris can be mistaken as prey. For example, sperm whales mistake undulating plastic in the water for squid. So it’s really good news for whales that the IWC has adopted the EU’s resolution to support international negotiations on a global plastics treaty. The IWC can be a powerful force in our fight for plastic-free oceans, which would benefit all marine life.”  

Some 13 million tonnes of plastic is estimated to enter the oceans each year, affecting approximately 68% of cetacean species. There are documented cases of plastic ingestion in at least 57 out of the 90 known cetacean species (63.3%) and ingestion of plastic has been recorded in all marine turtle species, and nearly half of all surveyed seabird and marine mammal species. Individuals who are not killed directly by ingestion of or entanglement in plastics, can still suffer secondary impacts such as malnutrition, restricted mobility and reduced reproduction or growth. 

HSI’s whale experts at the IWC meeting are available for interviews.  

ENDS 

Media contact: Wendy Higgins, Director of International Media: whiggins@hsi.org  

 

Sofitel Saigon Plaza, part of an international hotel chain, goes 100% cage-free

Humane Society International / Global


Chicken with chicks
volody10/iStockphoto

HO CHI MINH CITY, Viet Nam—Humane Society International, a global animal welfare organization, congratulates Sofitel Saigon Plaza—one of Accor’s international hotel brands—for their efforts to reach a 100% cage-free egg supply chain.

The milestone comes after Accor committed to completely eliminating eggs that come from caged hens from its supply chain in some markets by 2020, and in remaining markets by 2024.

HSI began working with Accor to establish this timeline in 2016 and began discussions with Sofitel Saigon Plaza during the COVID-19 pandemic when all of Ho Chi Minh City was in lockdown. Despite the challenges of business shutdowns, HSI and Sofitel Saigon Plaza developed an action plan for implementing the cage-free egg commitment. The hotel started working with a Humane Farm Animal Care certified supplier in Ho Chi Minh City, followed by a site-visit to a cage-free farm and processing plant, which provided hotel representatives with a firsthand look at how seamless a change to higher welfare for egg laying hens could be.

During the farm visit, Mario Mendis, Sofitel Saigon Plaza general manager, was able to see how these social and intelligent animals behave when given room to walk and spread their wings in cage-free environment.

Mendis said: “It was eye-opening to see the hens have more freedom to move. They are able to walk around and reach comfortable nests for egg laying. This is something that our group cares deeply about, and that Accor’s Planet 21 initiative on healthy and sustainable food, and animal welfare, is designed to achieve”.

In contrast, cage systems confine hens in tiny spaces, where each individual lives her life in a space equal to an A4-sized sheet of paper. Hens in these systems cannot move freely or fully spread their wings.

Hang Le, Southeast Asia manager for Humane Society International’s farm animal welfare and protection program, said: “Sofitel Saigon Plaza’s leadership sets an important precedent for other companies in Viet Nam and Asia, many of whom have made public commitments to go cage-free but have yet to make significant progress. Ensuring better treatment of the animals involved is a shared responsibility of consumers, corporations and producers alike, and we encourage more companies to follow this example”.

“Confining hens to cages is cruel, and that is why we made a plan to change our purchasing to suppliers that have implemented animal welfare measures. To meet the challenge of a slight increase in cost, we are supporting producers through long-term contracts as well as removing unnecessary packaging.  Critical to this is ensuring that our guests know why we have made the change: because we care about animals. We believe our guests and society will recognize our efforts because it is the right thing to do. We encourage other hotels and food industry entities to follow our path”, Mendis added.

HSI’s work to improve the welfare of animals in agriculture is both science based and collaborative.  The organization works with companies, farmers, processors, scientists and certifiers to support a transition to cage-free housing systems, and offers a wide range of support to companies like Sofitel Saigon Plaza, including farm visits, consumer education, and corporate roundtables and workshops.

As one of these efforts, HSI and the National Agriculture Extension Center of Viet Nam are hosting an event at the Sofitel Saigon Plaza to recognize companies and producers who are implementing higher animal welfare on Nov. 30, 2022. This is the first event of its kind in the country where media are welcome to join. To register, please reach out to An Tran, HSI farm animal welfare manager for Viet Nam, at antc@hsi.org.

ENDS

Reference in this article to any specific commercial product or service, or the use of any brand, trade, firm or corporation name is for the information of the public only, and does not constitute or imply endorsement by HSI in Viet Nam or any of its affiliates of the product or service, or its producer or provider, and should not be construed or relied upon, under any circumstances, by implication or otherwise, as investment advice. Links and access by hypertext to other websites is provided as a convenience only and does not indicate or imply any endorsement with respect to any of the content on such website nor any of the views expressed thereon.

Humane Society International / Europe


Cecil the lion
Brent Stapelkamp Cecil the lion.

BRUSSELS—Marking the sixth anniversary of the killing of Cecil the lion by an American trophy hunter, animal and nature protection NGOs, members of the European Parliament, and conservation experts from South Africa, Zimbabwe and Kenya are calling on the EU to ban the import of hunting trophies. In a webinar, Humane Society International/Europe discussed a new analysis of trade data revealing that the European Union is the world’s second biggest hunting trophy importer after the United States, importing nearly 15,000 hunting trophies of 73 internationally protected species between 2014 and 2018.

The issue of trophy hunting has become increasingly controversial over the past decade not simply for the animal cruelty, but also due to concerns about the biodiversity crisis. Momentum is growing to take action to curb hunting trophy imports. France banned the import of lion trophies in 2015 and the Netherlands banned trophy imports of over 200 species in 2016. In Germany two political parties (Greens and Left) have included a trophy import ban in their party manifestos.

The webinar, held in collaboration with the European Parliament’s interest group MEPs for Wildlife, Humane Society International/Europe, Born Free Foundation, Eurogroup for Animals and Pro Wildlife, explored how trophy hunting places unsustainable pressure on endangered and other imperiled species, and whether this practice really does make a significant contribution to wildlife conservation as claimed by its proponents.

German MEP Manuela Ripa (Greens/EFA), who hosted the event, said:

“It is crucial that Members of the European Parliament address the issue of the killing of wild animals, endangered or otherwise, purely for the purpose of procuring trophies to hang on their walls. Especially in the wake of the EU Biodiversity Strategy it is important to consider the impact that European citizens travelling to far-flung destinations solely to shoot and bring home animal body parts may be having on wild animal populations elsewhere around the world. Instead of having tightly regulated trophy hunting, I pledge for tightly regulated ‘photo hunting, which  would have a bigger benefit for species, support ecosystems and the communities involved. I strongly urge the European Commission to address the issue of trophy hunting in its upcoming evaluation of the EU Action Plan against Wildlife Trafficking.”

Dr Joanna Swabe, Humane Society International/Europe’s senior director of public affairs, noted:

“The shocking role of European citizens in global trophy hunting should not be underestimated. Humane Society International’s new EU Trophy Hunting by the Numbers report reveals that shockingly the EU imported nearly 15,000 hunting trophies from 73 species between 2014 and 2018, despite them being protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). It is shameful that the EU is the world’s second largest importer of hunting trophies, bringing in almost 3,000 trophies every year, including African lions and elephants, black rhinos, leopards, zebra, cheetahs, lynx and polar bears. Germany, Spain and Denmark account for 52% of all imported trophies, and the trade data shows that trophy import numbers have actually steadily increased by almost 40% during the period studied despite opinion polls showing that the vast majority of EU citizens oppose the gratuitous practice of killing wild animals for pleasure, display and bragging rights.  The only way we should be shooting wild and endangered animals is with cameras, not guns or arrows.”

Dr Mark Jones, head of policy for the Born Free Foundation, added:

“Born Free is ethically opposed to the hunting or killing of any animal for sport or pleasure. We also challenge the claims made by proponents of trophy hunting that it delivers significant conservation and community benefits, or that it positively contributes to the sustainable use of wildlife. Studies have consistently shown that trophy hunting does not provide a significant source of income to rural people, and certainly pales in comparison to other wildlife-related activities such as ecotourism. The killing of animals by trophy hunters also causes immeasurable animal suffering, and negatively impacts wildlife conservation by removing individual animals that are key to their populations. The trophy hunting industry is wracked by corruption, with excessive quotas being set that are often exceeded. We urge European nations to take action to stop their citizens jetting off to exotic locations to kill and imperil wild animals elsewhere in the world.”

Reineke Hameleers, CEO at Eurogroup for Animals, said:

“The trophy hunting practice of primarily removing the largest and most physically impressive animal specimens, puts species conservation in jeopardy, disrupts social herd structures and weakens gene pools of species that are already threatened. In a time of global biodiversity crisis, it is urgent for the EU and Member States to acknowledge that it is irresponsible to allow rich elites to shoot endangered species for pure pleasure, and finally ban the import of hunting trophies. We need to move away from the unethical consumption of wildlife and look at how the EU can instead encourage and reward investment in wildlife so that concrete and significant benefits can be achieved by local communities through its non-consumptive and ecologically sustainable use. Wild animals should be worth more to these communities alive than dead.”

Daniela Freyer, co-founder of Pro Wildlife, added:

“Germany has the dubious honour of being the top importing nation for hunting trophies in the European Union. It is sickening that a very small minority of my fellow German citizens still enjoy travelling to faraway places to kill animals for fun, pose with their dead bodies for tasteless selfies and hang their body parts on the walls back home. Trophy hunting is not only cruel and unnecessary, but it also poses a significant risk to wildlife conservation and biodiversity. The majority of EU citizens, including Germans, are opposed to the unethical practice of killing wild animals for trophies. It is time for Germany and other EU Member States to act and prohibit the import of hunting trophies.”

Facts

  • Trophy Hunting: Conservation Tool, or a Threat to Wildlife? was organised by MEPs for Wildlife in collaboration with Humane Society International/Europe, Pro Wildlife, Born Free Foundation and Eurogroup for Animals on 30th June 2021 with the participation of the following speakers and panelists:
  • Dr Audrey Delsink, wildlife director, Humane Society International/Africa
  • Paula Kahumbu, wildlife conservationist and CEO, WildlifeDirect; Rolex National Geographic Explorer of the Year
  • Lenin Tinashe Chisaira, environment lawyer and director, Advocates4Earth, Zimbabwe
  • Miet van Looy, International Relations Officer – CITES and EU Wildlife Trade Regulations,DG Environment, European Commission
  • Dr David Scallan – secretary general, European Federation for Hunting and Conservation (FACE)
  • Opinion poll results demonstrate that the vast majority of EU citizens (over 80%) oppose trophy hunting and want to end trophy imports.
  • HSI/Europe’s Trophy Hunting by the Numbers report reveals that Germany, Spain, Denmark, Austria, Sweden, France, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia are the top trophy importing EU Member States, with Namibia, South Africa, Canada, Russia, Argentina, Kyrgyzstan and the US representing the top exporting countries to the EU. Spain, Poland, Hungary, Germany and the Czech Republic are the top importers of captive lion trophies. EU trophy import statistics for individual animals (2014-2018), include:
    • 3,119 Hartmann’s mountain zebra.
    • 1,751 Chacma baboon.
    • 1,415 American black bear.
    • 1,056 brown bear.
    • 952 African elephant.
    • 889 African lion (of which 660 were captive-bred lions in South Africa).
    • 839 African leopard.
    • 794 hippopotamus.
    • 480 caracal.
    • 415 red lechwe.
    • 297 cheetah – the EU is the largest importer of cheetah trophies in the world.
    • 65 polar bears
    • Six critically endangered black rhinos.

Watch a recording of the webinar.

ENDS

Media Contact: Wendy Higgins: whiggins@hsi.org

Humane Society International / Europe


Vanessa Mignon

BRUSSELSHumane Society International/Europe, Pro Wildlife, Born Free Foundation, Eurogroup for Animals and Pan African Sanctuary Alliance today presented a new report at an event at the European Parliament, which was hosted by German MEP Manuela Ripa ÖDP, Greens/EFA. The report highlights how the recreational killing of threatened and protected animals for trophies undermines the EU’s efforts to meet its ambitions to better protect wildlife and halt biodiversity loss. The NGOs are calling on the EU to take action to ban the import of hunting trophies from threatened and protected species. Just last week the European Parliament passed a resolution also calling for an EU wide import ban of hunting trophies from species protected under the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) treaty. 

Dr. Joanna Swabe, senior director of public affairs for Humane Society International/Europe, says: “In its Biodiversity Strategy to 2030, the European Commission loudly trumpets its goal of halting global biodiversity loss, yet the EU continues to be the second largest importer of hunting trophies in the world. It is only a tiny minority of wealthy European citizens who choose to travel to other countries to kill endangered and threatened species for their own twisted pleasure. Their trophy hunting poses a completely unnecessary and additional threat to biodiversity. Many wildlife populations across the globe are already under pressure from habitat loss and degradation, climate change, over-exploitation and poaching, they really don’t need a bunch of ego ists stalking them with high-powered rifles or bows just so they can hang their body parts on the walls of their homes as proof of their hunting prowess. The EU must take action to halt these vile imports.” 

Dr. Mark Jones, head of policy for the Born Free Foundation, adds: “It is high time that the EU reconsiders its policy towards consumptive wildlife use, of which trophy hunting is an egregious example. Each year, hundreds of thousands of wild animals suffer and die at the hands of wealthy hunters for ‘trophies’ to skin, stuff, and hang on a wall. Not only does wildlife have an intrinsic value, but wild animals, such as giraffes, elephants, polar bears and rhinos, are ultimately worth more alive than dead. Many of these trophies are imported into EU countries. We believe that the EU should be looking at how it can encourage and reward investment in protecting wildlife, and explore the benefits that can be gained by local communities through its non-consumptive and ecologically sustainable use.” 

Dr. Mona Schweizer of Pro Wildlife adds: “The trophy hunting industry is always quick to claim that their activities help poor indigenous communities in Africa and elsewhere. Yet, there is ample evidence that little money trickles down to individual local community members or households. There are limited job opportunities for locals working for trophy hunting outfitters, which are usually operated by white, foreign business owners. In major exporting countries such as South Africa and Namibia trophy hunting largely takes place on private farms. Any benefits there may be from trophy hunting are not distributed equally. Few people in communities where trophy hunting programmes are operated profit from them. Indeed, trophy hunting even perpetuates wealth inequalities. The European Commission should stop taking industry claims about supporting livelihoods at face value and consider who really benefits from this bloodsport? It’s neither local communities nor wildlife! ” 

Reineke Hameleers, CEO of Eurogroup for Animals, says: “There is strong public support for banning hunting trophies imports. It is no wonder that there has already been movement in a number of Member States with regard to halting the import of hunting trophies from threatened and endangered species. Earlier this year, the Belgian Federal Parliament unanimously passed a resolution demanding that the government immediately stop authorising trophy import permits of species protected under certain international trade regulations. If the responsible Minister takes action, she will be following in the footsteps of the Netherlands, which used the same legal path to ban hunting trophy imports from over 200 species back in 2016. Last week, the European Parliament adopted a Resolution that includes a call for the Commission and Member States to take ‘immediate effective action in the framework of its commitments outlined in the EU biodiversity strategy to ban the import of hunting trophies derived from CITES-listed species’. The long-awaited revision of the EU Action Plan against Wildlife Trafficking should provide an ideal opportunity for them to do so.” 

Background: 

  • Trophies from at least 15,000 internationally protected mammals from 73 CITES-listed species have been legally imported to the EU during the period 2014-2018 and there has been an increase of nearly 40% of trophy imports during this period. If you add other taxa and species that aren’t afforded international protection, the true number is far higher. 
  • The top five EU Member States to import mammalian hunting trophies were Germany, Spain, Denmark, Austria and Sweden. 
  • At present, the EU legal requirement for hunting trophies to be accompanied by import permits relates only to species in Annex A of the EU Wildlife Trade Regulation and six additional species listed in Annex B, namely the African elephant, common hippopotamus, African lion, southern white rhinoceros, polar bear and Argali sheep. 
  • Legally obtained hunting trophies of the species covered by these rules can only be imported into the EU after a Member State has issued an import permit and verified that such imports have been legally acquired and will not be detrimental to the conservation of the species . There is no transparent process for the issuance of such permits and non-detriment findings. Hunting trophies of all other species are exempted from this rule. 
  • The International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s World Commission on Environmental Law Ethics Specialist Group calls for an end to hunting trophy imports under ethical, ecological and legal reasons. 
  • The Belgian Federal Parliament unanimously passed a resolution demanding that the government immediately stop authorising trophy import permits of species protected under certain international trade regulations. 
  • This year, the governments of Italy, Spain and Poland are actively considering policy options to ban the import and export of certain hunting trophies supported by strong public opinion polls; based on a 2021 representative survey, the majority of citizens in each country support a hunting trophy import ban. 
  • Prior to these developments, the Netherlands and France pioneered this paradigm shift in Europe. In 2015, France implemented a ban on the import of lion hunting trophies. In the same year, the Dutch government adopted a decision to ban the trophy imports of over 200 species, which came into force in 2016. 
  • A recent policy statement signed by around 170 conservation and animal protection non-governmental organisations from around the globe is also calling for an urgent end to trophy hunting. Several of these organisations are from key source countries for hunting trophies. 

ENDS

Media contact: Adeline Fischer: +4917631063219; afischer@hsi.org  

Humane Society International / Global


Hippopotamus with Cattle Egret on back, in reeds at edge of River Nile at Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda

WASHINGTON—The 19th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora—known as CITES—will meet November 14-25 in Panama City, Panama, where delegates from the 184 member countries will consider 52 proposals to increase or decrease protections for 600 species of wild animals and plants. Key issues on the table include increasing protections for hippos, elephants, glass frogs and sharks, and amending annual leopard trophy export quotas.

Humane Society International experts will be attending the meeting to lobby countries to support proposals that could help ensure species are not pushed further toward the brink of extinction by overexploitation through international trade in their parts and products. The HSI delegation will be available for comment throughout the proceedings.

Key species listing and other proposals to be discussed include:

Hippos: Ten African countries propose to include the common hippopotamus in Appendix I of CITES, which would effectively prohibit international commercial trade in hippo parts and products. Hippos are threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation, poaching for their meat and ivory, and they continue to be targeted for commercial trade in ivory, skins and trophies, including by poachers. Current legal and illegal exploitation levels are predicted to lead to wild population declines, indicating the need to enact a higher level of protection for this species. HSI released an undercover investigation earlier this year into the robust sale of hippo parts in the U.S.

Adam Peyman, director of wildlife programs for HSI, said: “Hippos are an iconic African species, yet the scale of the international trade in their parts and products such as tusks, teeth, skins, skulls and trophies is shocking. We urge CITES Parties to adopt this proposal to ensure that this commercial trade ends. This pointless industry of selling animal parts, along with other threats facing hippos, is pushing these incredible animals to the brink of extinction.”

Glass frogs: Fourteen countries in Central and South America are proposing to include the family of glass frogs in Appendix II of CITES. Twelve members of this family are highly threatened, but it is nearly impossible to distinguish them from other, less threatened species, indicating the need to enact protection for all glass frogs. Listing them on Appendix II of the Convention would provide crucial monitoring and put measures in place to help ensure that future trade is legal and sustainable.

Grettel Delgadillo, deputy director, HSI Latin America, said: “Glass frogs, with their translucent skin, are an amazing family of species. Sadly that is what has attracted the attention of the pet traders, who will go as far as smuggling live frogs out of Central and South America to sell them. It is crucial that CITES Parties adopt this proposal to stem the illegal trade in these incredible frogs and put in place critical monitoring of legal trade to prevent overexploitation by the pet industry.”

Sharks: There are three proposals to list families of sharks and related species on Appendix II. The proposals are to list requiem sharks, hammerhead sharks and guitarfishes, which are related to sharks. All of these species have low reproductive output and several species in each species group are highly endangered. Fins are the primary products in trade derived from the endangered members of these families. As these fins are practically indistinguishable from those of other species, their families should be included in Appendix II so that international trade can be monitored to ensure it is sustainable and legal.

Rebecca Regnery, senior director of wildlife for HSI, said: “Several shark and guitarfish species have seen declines in their wild populations of up to 70-90%. It is unconscionable that trade in fins from these imperiled families is not monitored to ensure its legality or sustainability, especially since upward of 100 million sharks are killed each year for their fins. We urge CITES Parties to adopt the proposals to list requiem sharks, hammerheads and guitarfishes on Appendix II before it is too late.”

Leopard trophy hunting quotas: Although the leopard is threatened with extinction and trophy hunting is one of the major threats to its survival, CITES Parties have set export quotas for 12 countries that allow for the annual export of up to 2,648 leopard trophies or skins. These controversial export quotas are not based on science. Furthermore, trophy hunting has been shown to cause population declines. Two countries with such quotas, Kenya and Malawi, are asking for their quotas to be removed, while Ethiopia is asking for its annual quota to be reduced from 500 to 20 leopards. However, this leaves leopards in the remaining nine countries in the crosshairs, including two countries (Tanzania and Zimbabwe) with an outrageous annual export quota of 500 leopards each.

Southern white rhino and African elephant proposals: HSI is urging countries to oppose a dangerous proposal that would reduce CITES protection for southern white rhinos in Namibia, which are under severe threat due to poaching for rhino horn. If adopted, the proposal would ease control over international trade in hunting trophies of the species. In addition, HSI is supporting a proposal to increase CITES protection of African elephants in Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe and South Africa, which would increase regulation of international trade in hunting trophies. Given the serious and long-lasting impacts of trophy hunting on species survival, it is imperative that member countries restrict the trade world-wide in hunting trophies of species listed under this Convention.

Sarah Veatch, director of wildlife policy for HSI, said: “CITES is the international oversight authority for trade between member countries in hunting trophies of leopards, elephants, rhinos, lions and others. As highly sought-after trophies, it is imperative that members take a precautionary approach here. Quotas based on outdated data, unreliable data or inaccurate methods are unacceptable and should be invalidated. CITES Parties have the opportunity to give these species the necessary protections and oversight to avoid overexploitation, and we urge them act with prudence before we reach a point of no return.”

Members of the Humane Society International delegation to CITES include:

  • Jeff Flocken, HSI president
  • Rebecca Regnery, HSI senior director wildlife, U.S.
  • Madison Miketa, HSI wildlife scientist, U.S.
  • Sarah Veatch, HSI director, wildlife policy, U.S.
  • Sophie Nazeri, HSI wildlife program coordinator, U.S.
  • Grettel Delgadillo, deputy director, HSI/Latin America, Costa Rica
  • Lawrence Chlebek, marine biologist, HSI Australia
  • Mai Nguyen, wildlife program manager, HSI in Viet Nam

ENDS

Media contact: Rodi Rosensweig, senior principal strategist media relations, rrosensweig@humanesociety.org, 202-809-8711

Chinese police intercept 1,408 pet and stray dogs and cats in appalling conditions

Humane Society International / Global


Yidu Center/ CAWA

BEIJING—Chinese animal activists have released shocking footage of dead and dying dogs and cats on a truck crammed with 1,408 animals being trafficked for the meat trade in China. Three hundred and seventy dogs and cats perished on board, or shortly after removal from, what activists are calling the “death truck” which was stopped by police on the highway headed for slaughterhouses and markets in Yulin, in south China. The footage was released to global animal protection group Humane Society International which campaigns across Asia to end the dog and cat meat trades.

The truck was intercepted in Xian Tao city in central China’s Hubei province, half way along its intended 1,200km journey from Fucheng in the north to Yulin in the south. Rescuers from local animal groups converged at the scene, joined by Beijing-based dog meat campaign specialists from Capital Animal Welfare Association who were able to carefully unload the traumatised animals. Alongside the lifeless bodies of dead dogs and cats, they found animals suffering with open wounds, broken bones, respiratory disease and severe dehydration. The activists administered what emergency treatment they could on the roadside, temporarily transporting the dogs to a nearby school and the cats to a holding facility before local shelters could rally to collect them.

CAWA’s Hao Da-yue attended the scene and estimates that most of the 718 dogs were likely stolen pets, and the 690 cats were probably snatched from the streets. The surviving animals are now being cared for by staff at local shelters who are administering life-saving treatment. They fear that the animals have endured such an ordeal, more may yet succumb to their injuries and sickness. HSI is providing emergency funds to help some of the shelters caring for the animals.

Hao Da-yue said: “I’ve attended many rescues of dogs and cats from the meat trade, but never before have I encountered such a shocking scene. This was a death truck, crammed full with desperate, frightened, traumatized animals caged up with their dead and dying companions. The smell of death, diarrhoea and vomit was overwhelming, and the sound of the animals whimpering and crying for our attention, was just heartbreaking. I saw a number of dogs and cats die on the roadside despite desperate attempts to help them, there was nothing that could be done but hold them as they passed away. Activists worked with tears in their eyes, many clearly shocked by what they were witnessing. The world needs to see how these poor dogs and cats suffer for China’s meat trade. Such appalling cruelty brings shame on China and shame on the majority of Chinese people who want nothing to do with this despicable trade.”

Although China has no animal protection laws with which to prosecute the traders for cruelty, Chinese health and safety regulations do present an opportunity. The two truck drivers have been detained by police and reported to Xian Tao officials, and the trader who contracted them and accumulated the animals now faces investigation by the Agriculture Bureau and could face charges for transporting sick animals across provincial boundaries without legally-required quarantine papers.

Dr. Peter Li, Humane Society International’s China policy specialist, said: “I want to pay tribute to the dedication and bravery of Chinese animal activists who work so hard to help animals caught up in the dog and cat meat trades. Having been to dog and cat slaughterhouses and meat markets myself, I know first-hand how traumatising it is to see this scale of animal abuse, and yet they are committed to exposing this cruelty in the hope of ending the trade for good. It is a tragedy that so many of these poor animals died on this truck, and the suffering they all endured at the hands of the meat traders is unimaginable. Most people in China don’t support this trade and it doesn’t reflect modern Chinese society, but without robust animal protection laws in place, we will continue to see this terrible cruelty.”

​Facts:

  1. The truck was intercepted by police on 1st October 2022.
  2. Most people in China don’t eat dogs and cats. In fact they are only eaten infrequently by a small percentage of the Chinese population. Even so, it is estimated that as many as four million cats a year could be killed for the meat trade.
  3. In 2020, two major cities in mainland China–Shenzhen and Zhuhai–banned the consumption of dog and cat meat, a decision polling of 378 million people in mainland China by news site com shows is supported by nearly 75% of Chinese citizens.
  4. In addition to Shenzhen and Zhuhai in mainland China, across Asia the trade in and slaughter, sale and consumption of dogs is banned or otherwise ended in Taiwan, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, Siem Reap in Cambodia, and 19 jurisdictions across Indonesia. In South Korea a government-initiated task force is currently considering the issue of a ban. President Yoon Suk-yeol has stated he would not oppose a dog meat ban provided there is social consensus, and first lady Kim Keon-hee has spoken publicly of her desire for an end to dog meat consumption.

Download Photos/Videos

ENDS

Media contact: Wendy Higgins, Humane Society International director of international media: whiggins@hsi.org

Moves to lift global ban on commercial whaling a major concern, says Humane Society International

Humane Society International / United Kingdom


HSI Humpback Whale, Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska.

LONDON—Ahead of the upcoming 68th meeting of the International Whaling Commission which begins on 13th October in Slovenia, animal protection and conservation non-profit Humane Society International warns that the very future of the IWC and the global moratorium on commercial whaling could be in jeopardy.

The global economic crisis, the pandemic and the exit of Japan―a whaling nation and formerly a major IWC funder―have created a serious budgetary emergency at the IWC. Efforts to reduce costs, including selling the IWC Secretariat headquarters in Cambridge, have stalled. The financial survival of the IWC as the only international body that focuses on cetacean conservation hangs in the balance at a time when almost half of the world’s known species, subspecies and subpopulations of cetaceans, are listed as Critically Endangered, Endangered or Vulnerable. The negotiations to balance the budget will be critical for the future of whales.

Rebecca Regnery, senior wildlife director at Humane Society International, said: “Whales face myriad threats from human activities including whale hunting; fisheries bycatch; chemical, plastic and noise pollution; ship strikes; habitat loss and the urgent climate crisis. If the IWC were to collapse now, everything it has done to establish and maintain the global whaling moratorium, the Southern Ocean sanctuary and multiple other scientific and conservation work would also collapse. The framework the IWC has provided for global cetacean conservation and management would disappear, leaving these ocean giants even more vulnerable in increasingly challenging and hostile seas.”

The threat to the IWC’s vital work, and even the global moratorium on commercial whaling, are at further risk because the IWC is considering allowing voting rights for nations even if they have failed to pay their membership fees, a move that would largely benefit pro-whaling countries. While the proposal aims to assist countries hit hard by the pandemic, many of which rely on tourism, it could tip the balance on some key pro-whaling draft resolutions including one by Antigua and Barbuda to lift the commercial whaling ban.

Regnery says: “The global moratorium on commercial whaling, which has spared the lives of hundreds of thousands of cetaceans and been instrumental in pulling many species back from the brink of extinction, is in very real danger. Scrapping the moratorium is what Japan has been pushing for since it was first adopted in 1982. Ironically, although Japan has withdrawn from the IWC, its pro-whaling influence is as menacing as ever via country allies beholden to Japan that continue to push its dangerous agenda. This year, if many more pro-whaling nations are allowed to vote, it could be the beginning of the end for global whale protection. So we are urging all whale-friendly countries to assemble at the IWC ready to fight once again to save the whales.”

Other top IWC priorities for Humane Society International include:

  • A marine plastic pollution draft resolution by the European Union that, if adopted, will provide critical IWC support for international negotiations on a global plastics treaty to tackle the serious threats to cetaceans including entanglement and ingestion, both of which can also lead to strandings and death.
  • A proposal to establish a South Atlantic Whale Sanctuary by Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay. The IWC has considered this proposal many times at past meetings, but it has consistently been blocked by pro-whaling nations. However, due to climate change and the biodiversity crisis, establishment of this sanctuary is increasingly important for the continued survival of marine mammals and our oceans.
  • A food security proposal by Gambia, Guinea, Cambodia, Antigua and Barbuda, countries very closely aligned with Japan. None of these countries provide any evidence that they rely on whale meat for subsistence or national food security. Conversely, whales kept alive in the ocean may provide financial and therefore food security and poverty alleviation to communities reliant on whale watching income, as well as contributing to healthy fish stocks as marine ecosystem managers.
  • A newly developed Cetacean Welfare Assessment Tool which will be presented at the meeting. We foresee this tool being extremely useful for our work and others for assessing welfare threats and solutions.
  • The fate of Greenland hunts, especially of killer whales which are in need of a full population assessment, harbour porpoises which may be overhunted especially when combined with the threat of bycatch, and narwhals which are being excessively hunted causing changes to life history and population dynamics. The North Atlantic Marine Mammal Commission has recommended a zero-hunting quota stating that narwhals in Greenland are at “high risk of extirpation of the stocks if harvest at any level continues.” The 2022 hunting quota for narwhals in Greenland is 50. Atlantic white-sided dolphins are also hunted in high numbers in Greenland, Norway, Newfoundland, Canada and the Faroe Islands (where direct take is especially high and has occurred without a full assessment).

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Media contact: Wendy Higgins, director of international media for HSI/UK: whiggins@hsi.org

Notes

Of the 90 species, 12 subspecies and 28 subpopulations of cetaceans that have been identified and assessed to date, 22 are listed as Critically Endangered, 22 as Endangered and 16 as Vulnerable.

This World Animal Day, give the gift of an amendment of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act to India, organizations urge as they continue to demand #NoMore50 for animal cruelty

Humane Society International / India


Darren Mower/iStock

NEW DELHI—On World Animal Day, Humane Society International/India and People for Animals have jointly launched a multi-state billboard campaign as they continue to demand an amendment to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960. Started in 2016, the #NoMore50 campaign seeks an amendment of this outdated law to better address animal cruelty and abuse in the country.

“A community is best able to protect itself when it is able to protect the animals who are a part of it. Research has established the link between violence against animals and violence against humans. A holistic approach to a safer society, for women, for children, includes an effective law protecting animals against cruelty. Through these billboards, we continue to urge the Government of India to table the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals 2022 bill in the upcoming winter session of the Parliament,” says Alokparna Sengupta, managing director, HSI/India.

The billboards, which are placed in Delhi (Patel Chowk and Lodhi Road), Mumbai (Nariman Point) and Hyderabad (Kavadiguda and Khairatabad), carry well-shot images of indie dogs, elephants and cats with witty pop-culture references.

The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act was enacted in 1960 to replace colonial-era legislation and sought to prevent the infliction of pain and suffering on animals. However, the law has not been updated in the last 62 years and is inadequate to address animal welfare concerns in the present day.

Currently, the maximum penalty for even the most heinous form of animal abuse—including poisoning stray dogs, brutally beating them to death or burning them alive—is a petty Rs.50.

“The highest courts of the country, the Law Commission, several eminent jurists have all recommended an amendment to the PCA Act,” says Gauri Maulekhi, trustee, People for Animals. “This much-needed amendment will help our police to take effective action and enable the judiciary to deliver justice,” she adds.

Campaigners deliver petition names to Downing Street, as Labour and Liberal Democrat spokespeople write to Defra Secretary in support of a fur import ban

Humane Society International / Europe


Alice Russell

LONDON—A week after a senior Conservative MP told Politico that the government intends to drop plans to ban cruel fur and foie gras, campaigners from animal NGOs Humane Society International/UK,  FOUR PAWS UK, and PETA have gathered outside Downing Street to hand in a petition with over 300,000 signatures. Launched earlier this year by TV conservationist Chris Packham, the petition was today handed in to Prime Minister Liz Truss calling on her to end the “obscene double-standard” that allows these products of cruelty to be imported and sold in UK shops. The petition is also delivered just days after wildlife and conservation groups including the National Trust and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds accused Liz Truss of “an attack on nature” for weakening environmental rules.  

Fur farming has been banned on ethical grounds across the UK since the Fur Farming (Prohibition) Act came into force in 2003, and force feeding of geese and ducks to produce pâté de foie gras is similarly illegal. However, the UK currently permits trade in both fur and foie gras. Since the fur farming ban took effect, His Majesty’s Revenue and Customs records indicate that almost one billion pounds worth of cruel fur has been imported from countries including China, Italy, Finland and Poland. The petition urges Liz Truss to “send a global message that we will not trade in such disgusting cruelty.”

In May 2021 the government launched a Call for Evidence on the UK fur trade, with the stated intention of using the findings to inform possible future action. The consultation had received almost 30,000 responses when it closed in June 2021. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has completed its analysis of the results but despite Ministers publicly confirming these findings would be released, it has still failed to do so more than a year later.

In parallel with the petition hand-in, Shadow Animal Welfare Minister Ruth Jones MP and Liberal Democrat Environment Spokesperson Tim Farron MP have sent letters to Defra Secretary of State Ranil Jayawardena, each stating their party’s support for a fur import and sales ban and urging the government to release the findings of the Call for Evidence.

Ruth Jones MP said: “It was a Labour government that banned fur farming in 2000, blazing a trail that now 18 other countries have followed. Untold millions of animals have been spared lives of misery thanks to these bans. The next logical step is for the UK to lead the way on a fur import ban, closing UK borders to the cruel and dangerous fur trade. Government policy should be based on evidence, so surely it should be a simple job for the results of the Call for Evidence to be released and an informed policy position to be taken. Drip-feeding unevidenced U-turns to the press is a dismal way to run the government.”

Tim Farron MP said: “We are a nation of animal lovers, and how we treat animals is a measure of our humanity. The Liberal Democrats stand firm on animal welfare issues and are proud to support calls to end the UK’s complicity in the cruel global fur trade by banning the import and sale of fur.”

Each year more than 100 million animals suffer and die for their fur, the majority (around 95%) spending their entire lives trapped in barren wire cages measuring just one metre square. Injuries and disease are common on fur farms, as are animals displaying signs of psychological distress.

Chris Packham said: “There is no place in modern Britain for fur or foie gras, both of which are products of appalling cruelty. We don’t allow the freedom of choice to import elephant ivory, or whale meat, or seal, dog or cat fur, because all these things are unutterably immoral. So too is causing animals enormous pain and suffering for frivolous fur and foie gras.”

Claire Bass, executive director of Humane Society International/UK, said: “Almost 80% of British people agree that fur should not be imported and sold here, and given fur’s plummeting popularity with designers and retailers, it certainly isn’t going to be playing any part in the prime minister’s ambitions for booming economic growth. Moving ahead with a fur ban is an opportunity to reassure people that the government’s trade strategy has a moral compass, in line with voters’ expectations. No government should underestimate how much animals matter to the British people, and ending trade in products so cruel their production is already banned here, is an easy way for Liz Truss to demonstrate she understands that.”

Sonul Badiani-Hamment, FOUR PAWS UK country director, said: “Given Liz Truss’s determination to recklessly backpedal on every commitment made to British voters, we are uniting with Chris Packham and the opposition parties to send a firm message to Downing Street that we will be the thorn in their side until they start delivering for animals. We’re demanding they make public the responses to the 2021 UK fur trade Call for Evidence. But for this government, that seem to have forgotten their electoral mandate and to whom they answer, even a request for a transparent evidence-based approach is too much. Animals Matter to our climate, our health, our economy and to us, the British public, and we will not allow Liz Truss and her cabinet to forget this.”

Elisa Allen, PETA vice president of programmes, said: “The government has long promised to close our borders to cruelly produced foie gras and fur by implementing an import ban on both—legislation that is welcomed by everyone in this country except the inherently selfish. Any backtrack on these promises would betray both animals who desperately need a caring and the public, which has made its opposition to these items clear.”

National polling carried out in April 2022 shows that over three quarters (77%) of British voters think the government should ban the importation of animal products where the production methods are already banned in the UK, such as fur.

The petition hand-in comes as across Europe, more than 70 NGOs have joined together to support the “Fur Free Europe” European Citizens’ Initiative which calls for an EU-wide ban on fur farming and the import of fur products. The ECI petition was launched in May this year and has gathered more than 336,000 signatures to date.  

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Notes: Polling was run on the Focaldata platform. Data was collected from a nationally representative sample of 10,018 adults between 11th and 20th April 2022.   

Media contact: Sally Ivens, senior media manager, HSI/UK: sivens@hsi.org 

Animal protection groups release new report urging legal loopholes be closed

Humane Society International / Europe


Errey Images/iStock.com

BRUSSELS/Munich—The European Union continues to be a main hub and destination for stolen wildlife from Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Oceania. A new report released today by Pro Wildlife, Humane Society International and International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), Stolen Wildlife: The EU—a destination for wildlife traffickers, exposes European complicity in this illegal trade. EU citizens are not only involved in the smuggling of nationally protected wildlife, but helping to perpetuate the market for these animals.

While the European Union is one of the biggest importers of animals destined for the exotic pet trade, only a very small fraction of the species in this trade are actually covered by international and/or EU legislation. However, many species in trade, which are protected in non-EU countries under domestic legislation, have nonetheless been caught in the wild and exported in violation of the country of origin’s national law. This is the case with the Philippine sailfin lizard and the glass frog species from Latin America, popular targets in the exotic trade at present.

Dr. Sandra Altherr, Head of Science at Pro Wildlife, says: “In their quest to own unique wild animals, wealthy exotic pet keepers in Europe are driving the global trafficking of rare species. Wildlife smugglers are openly selling illegally acquired animals at European trade shows in the full knowledge that they can get away with it because of the loopholes in the EU legislation. With each rare lizard fetching up to thousands of Euros, big money can be made with virtually no legal risks.”

Ilaria Silvestre, Head of EU Policy & Campaigns at IFAW says: “The Internet is a major channel for directly connecting traders and clients from all over the world. It is the ideal platform for criminal animal traders. The online trafficking of protected species, which is partly fuelled by the promotion of exotic pet ownership and interactions on social media, poses a huge challenge for enforcement authorities. Illegal wildlife trade, both online and in physical markets, is increasingly targeting rare wild species that are not protected by the EU legislation, and this is a contributor to the catastrophic biodiversity loss seen globally.”

Dr. Joanna Swabe, senior director of public affairs for Humane Society International/Europe says: “It is time for the EU to act. Its recent Biodiversity Strategy to 2030 shared many good words about halting global biodiversity loss. Now it must turn those words into concrete deeds. The European Commission will soon deliver its revised Action Plan Against Wildlife Trafficking. This is a golden opportunity  to tackle this form of illegal wildlife trade and to develop supplementary legislation to criminalise the trade in wildlife  taken for the pet trade in violation of other country’s laws.”

Stolen Wildlife: The EU—a destination for wildlife traffickers provides detailed case studies from Cuba, Brazil, Morocco, South Africa and the Philippines, it also provides an overview of attempts made by range states to protect their unique biodiversity, for example, by tabling several proposals for the upcoming CITES Conference of Parties meeting in Panama to restrict the international trade in their endemic species.

The three animal and wildlife protection organisations are calling for EU  action to introduce a law to prohibit the import, sale, purchase and possession of wildlife that has been illegally sourced in its country of origin. This demand has also been repeatedly backed by the European Parliament over the past few years, in several adopted resolutions that urge the European Commission to deliver such legislation.

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