The proposed legislation would ban new cosmetics testing on animals in the United States

Humane Society International / United States

Kevin Wolf/AP Photo for HSI

WASHINGTON—Today, a stellar cast assembled on Capitol Hill to support passage of the Humane Cosmetics Act; the Humane Society of the United States, Humane Society Legislative Fund and Humane Society International were joined by celebrity advocates—TV personality and entrepreneur Lala Kent and actress Tricia Helfer—and Lush Cosmetics in urging members of Congress to pass the Humane Cosmetics Act (H.R. 5399), which would end new cosmetics testing on animals in the United States and would prohibit the import and sale of cosmetics in the U.S. that have been newly tested on animals elsewhere in the world.

U.S. Representatives Don Beyer, D-Va., Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., Paul Tonko, D-N.Y., Ken Calvert, R-Calif., and Tony Cárdenas, D-Calif. are sponsoring the legislation. Kent, Helfer and Lush Cosmetics are also speaking at a reception which will include a screening of HSI’s OSCAR®-shortlisted Save Ralph for members of Congress.

“A compassionate, stop-motion-animation puppet named Ralph is doing more to shine a spotlight on the continued use of animals in cosmetics testing than some of us who have lobbied for decades to end it,” said Sara Amundson, president of Humane Society Legislative Fund. “He’s joined by an increasing number of bipartisan members of Congress and two amazing advocates in Lala and Tricia to pass the Humane Cosmetics Act. Right now, there is no second act for animals like Ralph. The U.S. Congress needs to pass the bill and Save Ralph.”

Rabbits, mice, rats and guinea pigs are used in traditional animal testing for cosmetics such as perfume, moisturizer, nail polish, makeup—such as mascara and lipstick—and hair products such as hairspray and conditioner.

“I have been an animal lover all my life, and becoming a mother inspired me to help create a more humane world for my daughter to grow up in. Cosmetics testing on animals is a barbaric practice that has no place in the United States,” said TV personality and entrepreneur Lala Kent. “It is an honor to be given the opportunity to use my voice and advocate for animals today on Capitol Hill. Our nation’s leaders need to join the fight for all animals, especially the ones kept in the shadows.”

In typical cosmetics animal tests, rabbits are locked in neck restraints and have chemical substances dripped in their eye or applied on to the shaved skin on their back. Guinea pigs and mice have the chemicals spread on their shaved skin or on their ears. None of these animals are given pain relief, and all of them will be killed at the end.

“Despite having been involved with the beauty industry my entire career through modeling and acting, I was woefully unaware of the ongoing cruel testing on animals for beauty products until I started working with Humane Society International. I was astonished while advocating for HSI’s cruelty-free campaign by how many Americans told me the same thing,” said actress Tricia Helfer, voice of “Cottonballs” in the English-language version of Save Ralph. “With modern testing methods, there is absolutely no need for animals to suffer in the name of beauty. Save Ralph has done a remarkable job bringing that awareness to the public, and I am honored to be here on Capitol Hill today to help push the Humane Cosmetics Act to become a reality.”

“The U.S. is woefully behind other countries in ending the use of animals in cosmetics testing and is the only North American country that still allows this cruel and wasteful practice. The Humane Cosmetics Act would finally end cosmetics animal testing in one of the world’s largest cosmetics markets, helping to create a more humane world for animals and we are in full support of it,” said Kitty Block, president and CEO of Humane Society of the United States. “Already 11 states have passed bans on cosmetics animal testing, and we are proud to have led these campaigns. The federal government should reflect the values of an increasingly humane-minded public by implementing a national ban.”

California, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oregon and Virginia have already passed laws to ban the sale of cosmetics that have been newly tested on animals. Ending cosmetic testing on animals is a top priority for the HSUS, HSLF and HSI, and the organizations have been key players in these successful efforts.

“Thanks to the passion and determination of animal loving consumers and politicians across the globe who share our desire for a cruelty-free world, animal testing for cosmetics is already banned in 44 countries. HSI and our partners have been instrumental in securing bans in Canada, Mexico, India, South Korea, Brazil, Australia and beyond,” said Jeffrey Flocken, president of Humane Society International. “We’re now urging policy makers in the United States to join this list of nations banning animal testing for cosmetics.”

In 2021, HSI released Save Ralph, a short film and global viral sensation which follows a rabbit’s daily routine as a “tester” in a lab, illustrating the cruelty of animal testing. In addition to Helfer, the award-winning English-language version features the voices of Taika Waititi, Ricky Gervais, Olivia Munn, Pom Klementieff and Zac Efron and has amassed over 150 million online views and 900 million+ #saveralph views on TikTok. The film is also available in Spanish, Portuguese, French and Vietnamese, that include the voices of actors George Lopez, Rosario Dawson, Wilmer Valderrama, Rodrigo Santoro, Pom Klementieff, Denis Villeneuve, H’Hen Nie and Diem My Vu. Save Ralph was instrumental in propelling Mexico, Brazil and Canada to ban cosmetic animal testing and is helping advance other legislation in several other countries that make up the world’s most influential beauty markets. Today, the film will be screened for members of Congress at a reception headlined by Helfer, Kent and Lush Cosmetics.

World-renowned cosmetics company Lush continues to lead the way in fighting against new animal testing for cosmetics and strongly supports the Humane Cosmetics Act.

“As a company committed to ending animal testing since inception, manufacturing and selling cruelty-free cosmetics and transparency into our non-animal tested supply chain has not limited our ability to invent and grow,” said Carleen Pickard, Advocacy & Activism Manager of Lush Cosmetics. “We continue to campaign globally and welcome the reintroduction of the Humane Cosmetics Act to this Congress so that the United States can support consistent cruelty-free regulation and meet the public’s desire for cruelty-free products and future environmental needs of our planet.”

The cosmetics industry itself largely supports an end to animal testing for its products, and the HSUS and HSLF have worked closely with the Personal Care Products Council, the trade organization representing 90% of the U.S. cosmetics industry, on the Humane Cosmetics Act. The legislation also has the endorsement of more than 390 individual companies including global beauty giants Unilever and Procter & Gamble, official supporters in the #BeCrueltyFree campaign to ban animal testing for cosmetics in all major global beauty markets.

More than 1,500 cruelty-free beauty brands are available in North America. Cosmetics companies are able to create new and innovative products using thousands of ingredients that have a history of safe use and do not require additional testing. For new ingredients, modern testing methods—such as human cell-based tests and sophisticated computer models—provide a more human-relevant and efficient replacement for decades-old animal tests.

Watch Save Ralph in English here.

Stills from Save Ralph and photos of animals used for cosmetics testing are available here.

Photos and video from the Hill meetings and reception will be available here after 9 PM EST on Wednesday.

Media contact: Kate Sarna | 202-836-1265 |

Animal protection groups including HSI/UK and FOUR PAWS UK voice concern that popular, Government-backed Bill is at serious risk

Humane Society International / United Kingdom


LONDON—Cross-party MPs and Peers, alongside campaigners from the Coalition Against Trophy & Canned Hunting including animal protection organisations Humane Society International/UK and FOUR PAWS UK, gathered outside Parliament with a giant inflatable lion and giraffe to show their support for the Hunting Trophies (Import Prohibition) Bill. The politicians and campaigners came together near Old Palace Yard in Westminster to implore the Government to find the necessary time to allow the Bill – a manifesto commitment – to complete its passage into law and protect the tragic victims of trophy hunting.

Over 30 MPs and Peers—including Henry Smith MP, Emily Thornberry MP, Ruth Jones MP, Baroness Natalie Bennett and Baroness Cathy Bakewell—were in attendance at the event, which comes after the Bill’s Committee Stage in the House of Lords last night (12th Sept.). During the debate, a small group of pro-hunting Peers attempted to kill the Bill by running down time, having tabled over 60 amendments. With a limited number of sitting days until the end of this Parliamentary session, there is now a serious risk that there will be insufficient time for the Bill to complete its remaining stages.

Claire Bass, senior director of campaigns and public affairs at Humane Society International/UK, said: “We’ve returned to Parliament today to demonstrate the huge strength of support the Bill has from both cross-party MPs and Peers, and the British public – over 80% of whom back the ban. It’s deeply frustrating that a handful of the Government’s own backbench Peers attempted to gun down the Bill last night with an onslaught of time-wasting amendments. Armed with giant inflatable wildlife, we are calling on the Government not to let animals or the public down, and urgently bring the Bill back to the Lords to deliver the promised hunting trophy import ban.”

Sonul Badiani-Hamment, country director at FOUR PAWS UK said: “Today’s strong turnout from over 30 MPs and Peers reaffirms the widespread support the Trophy Hunting (Import Prohibition) Bill has from across the political parties. The purposeful filibustering by a handful of backbencher Peers means that time is running out to discuss the Bill and their myriad of 64 tabled amendments. This is a wasteful course of action, taken to prevent the Bill from becoming law. United with elected MPs, who reflect the wishes of the voting public, we urge the Government to immediately make more time for the Bill and to continue pushing it through; they have the will of the nation and Parliament behind them.”

Adam Cruise, acting CEO of the Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting, said: “As someone who has been in the field for almost two decades, the claim that trophy hunting benefits conservation and community livelihoods is false. The clear evidence on the ground is one of widespread decline of species and increasing levels of poverty throughout Southern Africa. Decades of trophy hunting not only has failed to improve the situation but has made it considerably worse.”

Conservative Peer Baroness Fookes led the Bill’s Committee Stage, in which five amendments were discussed. Two votes were called, which were both lost in the Government’s favour.  


Media contact: Sally Ivens, senior media manager, HSI/UK:; 07590 559 299  


  • A YouGov poll carried out in December 2021 found that 82% of the British public think importing animal body parts as hunting trophies should be made illegal.   
  • In recent years, UK trophy hunters have imported trophies from some of the world’s rarest species, including polar bears, rhinos, African elephants and leopards.    
  • Since trophy hunting rose to prominence in the colonial era, there have been catastrophic declines in populations of some of the world’s most iconic species – including elephants, lions, rhinos and giraffes – many of which are under increasing pressure from loss of habitat, climate breakdown, poaching and the illegal wildlife trade.   
  • The Hunting Trophies (Import Prohibition) Bill, which passed its Third Reading in the House of Commons on 17th March 2023, would prohibit hunting trophies of animal species listed with the highest level of protection in Annex A or B of the Control of Trade in Endangered Species Regulations (2018) from being imported into the UK  

HSI/UK decry the ‘onslaught of time-wasting amendments’ attempting to wreck a popular Government-backed bill

Humane Society International / United Kingdom


LONDON—A small number of Peers have been criticised by animal protection organisation Humane Society International/UK for attempting to wreck the Hunting Trophies (Import Prohibition) Bill at its Committee Stage in the House of Lords. Peers including Lord Mancroft and the Earl of Caithness tabled over 60 amendments, refused to group them in an apparent attempt to frustrate the debate, and subjected the House to lengthy speeches in defence of trophy hunting.

On the same side of the House, Minister Benyon and Lords sponsor Baroness Fookes delivered strong rebuttals against attempts to wreck the Bill.

Claire Bass, senior director of campaigns and public affairs at Humane Society International/UK, said: “It is exasperating that a small group of pro-hunting Peers has tried to hijack this hugely popular Bill that would deliver a Conservative manifesto commitment to ban hunting trophy imports. A UK ban on importing these sick souvenirs has the backing of the Government, the Commons and over 80% of the British public. Tonight’s Lords debate saw some shameful and undignified accusations levelled at both the Government and opposition benches, amidst an onslaught of time-wasting amendments. The Government must keep its resolve and bring this Bill back to the Lords urgently to deliver the promised hunting trophy import ban.”

Baroness Fookes led the debate, in which Peers began to discuss each of the 64 amendments tabled, running down the time for the Bill’s Committee Stage. Two votes were called, which were both lost in the Government’s favour.

The Bill, which passed its Third Reading in the House of Commons on 17th March 2023, would prohibit hunting trophies of animal species listed with the highest level of protection in Annex A or B of the Control of Trade in Endangered Species Regulations (2018) from being imported into the UK.  With a very limited number of sitting days until the Parliamentary session ends, HSI/UK is now urging the Government to schedule a second Committee sitting for the Bill next Monday, to avoid it running out of time.


Media contact: Sally Ivens, senior media manager, HSI/UK:; 07590 559299


  • A YouGov poll carried out in December 2021 found that 82% of the British public think importing animal body parts as hunting trophies should be made illegal.
  • In recent years, UK trophy hunters have imported trophies from some of the world’s rarest species, including polar bears, rhinos, African elephants and leopards.
  • Since trophy hunting rose to prominence in the colonial era, there have been catastrophic declines in populations of some of the world’s most iconic species – including elephants, lions, rhinos and giraffes – many of which are under increasing pressure from loss of habitat, climate breakdown, poaching and the illegal wildlife trade.
  • In June 2023, a group of 103 wildlife conservation experts, scientists, government officials and community leaders who live and work in countries throughout Africa sent an open letter to Members of the House of Lords urging them to support the bill to ban the import of hunting trophies.

Interim interdict prohibits the trophy hunting of African elephants in South Africa

Humane Society International / Africa

Simon Eeman/Alamy Stock

CAPE TOWN—Humane Society International has learned about a male elephant who was killed in a deeply distressing and tragic trophy hunt at a local game reserve on September 3, 2023, in the Limpopo Province of South Africa. The elephant suffered through eight gunshots over an extended period of time before finally succumbing to his injuries.

This tragic episode contradicts the prevailing South Africa High Court interim interdict, a court order issued after a successful legal challenge brought by Humane Society International/Africa in 2022 against the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment and others. The court order explicitly prohibits the allocation of permits for trophy hunting of African elephants, leopard and black rhino in South Africa.

The elephant was killed at the Maseke Game Reserve, situated within the Balule Nature Reserve, by a hunting party consisting of a client, a hunting guide, a reserve representative and a backup rifleman. According to a publicly released letter issued by Balule Nature Reserve, the client discharged the initial gunshot, wounding the elephant. The reserve representative and the hunting guide fired subsequent shots to bring the elephant down, however these efforts also proved ineffective. The injured elephant sought to escape into the neighbouring Grietjie Game Reserve, an ecotourism reserve, where trophy hunting is prohibited. The injured animal was followed on foot and a helicopter was called to the scene. The elephant was eventually located and was chased back into Maseke Game Reserve by the helicopter where he was finally killed by more gunfire. It is reported that approximately eight shots were discharged into the elephant before the harrowing ordeal was over.

Tony Gerrans, executive director for Humane Society International/Africa said, “We are horrified by this unnecessary tragedy. Given the High Court’s interdict prohibiting the permitting of elephant hunts, the letter’s conclusion that this hunt was lawful is incorrect. Furthermore, no animal should ever experience the pain and suffering that this elephant endured. The practice of trophy hunting is not only profoundly inhumane, but also poses a grave threat to our biodiversity and tarnishes South Africa’s global reputation as a sustainable and responsible tourist destination. To injure, chase and kill any animal in this way, is unacceptable.”

Balule Nature Reserve is a member of the Associated Private Nature Reserves, a group of privately owned nature reserves bordering Kruger National Park. Animals can move freely across the borders of neighbouring reserves. Within the APNR there are some reserves that allow trophy hunting and others that do not, which means that protected animals from one reserve, or even the Kruger National Park, could possibly be killed by trophy hunters within another reserve.

Sarah Veatch, director of wildlife policy for Humane Society International, said, “This incident is a serious cause for concern beyond South Africa: it calls attention to the rampant mismanagement, lack of oversight, and cruel nature in the global trophy hunting industry. This is a harsh reminder of Cecil the lion’s tragedy in Zimbabwe who suffered from arrow wounds for over 10 hours before he was killed by a trophy hunter, and it happens far more often than these two instances. Permit violations and documented instances of suffering like for this elephant and Cecil, are manifestations of the industry’s much larger, dangerous culture of wilful disregard for animals and the law.”

“This incident once again demonstrates the inhumanity of hunting sentient animals merely for bragging rights and to display parts of their bodies as trophies on a wall. Too many endangered and threatened animals continue to suffer and die within so called ‘nature conservation reserves’ in what is best described as a blood sport, Gerrans continued. “HSI/Africa has challenged the way this horrifying activity is permitted by the government, and we call on all South African wildlife administrators to abide by the High Court order which prohibits the permitting of elephant, leopard and black rhino hunts until such time as the court can rule on the merits of the permitting process.”

Editor’s note: These photos of elephants for download are at another South Africa location called the Makalali Game Reserve. These images are not at the Maseke Game Reserve or at the Balule Reserve and not the elephant who was shot. 


Media contacts:

Humane Society International / Mexico


MEXICO CITY—Last month, experts in animal cruelty prevention and response from Humane Society International trained officials with the Federal Attorney for Environmental Protection, the Animal Surveillance Brigade, the Mexico City Environmental Attorney’s Office, Quintana Roo, Aguascalientes, and the federal and local Attorney General of Justice, among others. The trainings included topics from the principles of forensics to the search, identification, collection and preservation of evidence.

In recent months, extreme cases of animal cruelty in Mexico are trending upward, with animals killed, tortured and sexually abused by not only adults, but by children and adolescents as well. Cases like these must be treated with the greatest scientific rigor to be investigated and thus, to be able to achieve adequate sentences for the abusers.

“Eliminating violence against animals is integral to creating safer communities,” said Felipe Márquez Muñoz, animal cruelty program manager at Humane Society International/Mexico. “We hope these trainings will encourage more people to report cases of animal cruelty.”

“These types of workshops allow authorities to practice in controlled environments, based on real-world situations to hone their skills and better respond to the terrible cases of cruelty that happen every day,” said Claudia Edwards, program director at HSI/Mexico.

These trainings were in coordination with the Institute of Biodiversity and Protected Natural Areas of the State of Quintana Roo, the Animal Surveillance Brigade and the Mexican Association of Forensic Veterinarians; a total of 136 people attended the trainings across four cities in Mexico.


Media contact: Magaly Garibay: (+52 55) 5211 873, ext. 104; mgaribay@idee.agencia  

Humane Society International says Minister’s dismissal of animal cruelty is ‘inexplicable’

Humane Society International / Europe

Fin whale
Vicki Beaver/Alamy

BRUSSELS—As news breaks that Iceland will allow the resumption of commercial whaling with the introduction of so-called “improvements”,  despite clear evidence of immense animal suffering, global animal protection charity Humane Society International calls it a devastating and inexplicable decision.

Food, Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Svandís Svavarsdóttir issued the decision today to resume whaling on the advice from a working group that improvements could be made to the hunting methods used. Her announcement comes despite the suspension of whaling in June this year after publication of an independent report by the Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority which revealed some whales killed in Icelandic hunts had taken up to two hours to die, with 41% of whales suffering immensely before dying for an average of 11.5 minutes. At the time, the Minister declared concerns that whale killing methods contravened the country’s Animal Welfare Act.

Ruud Tombrock, HSI/Europe’s executive director, said: “It is inexplicable that Minister Svavarsdóttir has dismissed the unequivocal scientific evidence that she herself commissioned, demonstrating the brutality and cruelty of commercial whale killing. There is simply no way to make harpooning whales at sea anything other than cruel and bloody, and no amount of modifications will change that. Whales already face myriad threats in the oceans from pollution, climate change, entanglement in fish nets and ship strikes, and fin whale victims of Iceland’s whaling fleet are considered globally vulnerable to extinction. With the need for whale protection so critical. this is a devastating rejection of a once-in-a-generation opportunity to end the slaughter at sea. There is a new shameful entry in the conservation history books―Iceland had a chance to do the right thing and it chose not to.”

Fast facts:

  • The International Whaling Commission agreed to enact a global moratorium on all commercial whaling in 1986.
  • Iceland left the IWC in 1992 but returned in 2002 with an exception to the moratorium, despite objections from multiple nations. Since re-joining the IWC, Iceland had killed more than 1,500 whales, including fin whales.
  • Iceland suspended hunting fin whales in 2016 due to a declining market for whale meat in Japan. Hunting resumed for the 2018 season when 146 fin whales were killed, including a pregnant female and a rare fin-blue hybrid whale, plus six minke whales. Icelandic whalers killed a single minke whale between 2019 and 2021, and 148 fin whales in 2022.
  • Fin whales are classified by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature as globally vulnerable to extinction despite decades of recovery since the commercial whaling moratorium.


Media contact: Wendy Higgins, director of international media:

Dong Nai pilot project by Humane Society International in Viet Nam offers hope for the conservation of Viet Nam’s wild elephants

Humane Society International

HSI Wild Asian elephants in Viet Nam. Images captured by camera traps as part of HSI Viet Nam’s project to monitor the wild population and humanely mitigate human-elephant conflict.

DONG NAI, Viet Nam—Efforts to save Viet Nam’s wild elephants—currently listed as Endangered in the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List are being given a boost by a new collaborative, science-based project including camera trap IDs. The unique project is a joint effort between the government of Viet Nam* and animal protection partner Humane Society International and is part of Viet Nam’s new national elephant conservation action plan to protect the country’s remaining wild elephant herds. By using camera traps to create individual photo IDs and profiles for each animal, while also monitoring human-elephant conflict incidents and conducting elephant distribution surveys, the project aims to better understand elephants, their movements and behavior to help humanely mitigate human-elephant conflict which threatens this endangered sub-population of Asia’s elephants.

Viet Nam’s once thriving population of wild forest elephants has declined from around 2,000 individuals four decades ago to now as few as 100-130. Dong Nai is home to the second largest remaining wild elephant population in the country. Due to its significance, this region has been prioritized for elephant protection, and over the past two years researchers from HSI’s Viet Nam team have used camera traps to build a unique catalogue of the resident elephants, each with their own Vietnamese name and ID card of distinguishing features, behaviors, demographics, body condition and herd grouping. Male adult elephants such as Nga Lech, Cat Tien and Dat Do have been tracked and identified throughout the Cat Tien National Park, the Dong Nai Nature Reserve and the La Nga State-owned Forestry Enterprise of three districts (Tan Phu, Vinh Cuu and Dinh Quan).

The level of detail obtained from the project’s photographs and videos has never been achieved before for Viet Nam’s wild elephants. Among other results, it has enabled researchers to nearly double their estimates for Dong Nai’s sub-population from just 14 to between 25-27 individuals. HSI hopes this extremely encouraging data for Dong Nai’s sub-population might bring good news for a nationwide increase in population estimates should the project be applied across all elephant range provinces in Viet Nam, especially Dak Lak, Nghe An, Ha Tinh and Quang Nam which hold the other largest sub-populations.

Nguyen Quoc Tri, vice minister of the Viet Nam Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, said: “Unlike other efforts, this special project with HSI provides us with science-based and practical solutions. From the viewpoint of government management, I highly appreciate the diverse stakeholder engagement that the project has involved, including local communities, researchers and animal protection experts so that both human and wild animal voices are considered carefully as part of each recommendation impacting elephants.”

The joint project not only helps better track and understand this elephant sub-population, it also helps to monitor and better manage human-elephant conflict incidents. Over the past several years, researchers have gathered data on the type of locations where such conflict occurs, the level of conflict experienced, as well as the number and identities of the elephants involved in each incident. The data gathered from community questionnaires as part of an elephant distribution survey has also revealed the true size of the elephants’ home range and those areas shared between humans and elephants.

These initiatives confirm that confrontational deterrent tactics such as hitting elephants with sticks, banging cooking utensils, deploying firecrackers and homemade explosives, or even setting poison, are not only detrimental to elephant welfare but can also make elephants defensive and more aggressive in the presence of people, which further escalates conflict. With so few elephants left, even one fatality due to conflict is a disastrous outcome. Monitoring human-elephant conflict through this initiative will improve mitigation strategies by basing them on a deeper understanding of the wants, needs, habitats and habits of the elephants.

Vo Van Phi, vice chairman of Dong Nai Provincial People’s Committee, said: “Dong Nai Province would love to pioneer new initiatives to protect threatened species. Losing the last Javan rhino in Cat Tien National Park questions and challenges us to save other endangered species to ensure Dong Nai is one of the highest biodiversity hotspots in Viet Nam. Obtaining these promising results for our wild elephants, we sincerely thank MARD/DOF and HSI for their technical and financial support over the last several years.”

Phuong Tham, Viet Nam country director for Humane Society International, said: “Viet Nam’s elephant population is now so small that unless we act fast to protect them, they face the very real possibility of extinction. The Viet Nam government has acknowledged that conservation priority with a very welcome national protection program which HSI is helping to craft, and this Dong Nai project is a key component. With elephants and people competing for limited habitat, conflict situations can arise and even be exacerbated when violent or frightening deterrent tactics are employed. These tactics also treat elephants as perpetrators rather than as stakeholders who need to be understood. With HSI’s new research data, conflict situations can be approached knowing the characteristics, behavior, range and habits of the specific elephants involved, so that custom-designed solutions can be implemented that have a far better chance of promoting peaceful co-existence between people and pachyderms.”

Humane Society International and its government partners (Viet Nam’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, and the Dong Nai Provincial People’s Committee) formally announced the findings of the camera trap identification work, together with the human-elephant conflict monitoring and distribution survey, at a two-day workshop in Dong Nai on 30-31 Aug. Ten international experts joined with more than 50 Vietnamese delegates to share and discuss the best practices for elephant protection to apply within Viet Nam’s local contexts of small and fragmented elephant populations. It is hoped that the workshop will contribute significantly to assist Viet Nam’s decision makers in identifying which actions to adopt for Viet Nam’s national elephant conservation action plan, which will run from 2023 to 2032, with a vision to 2050. In the meantime, the data gathered and the methodology implemented will continue to provide the foundation for ongoing work in Dong Nai province, and the partners hope that it can be replicated in other elephant range provinces in Viet Nam to learn more about the local populations and mitigate human-elephant conflict across the country.

Download Photos/Video from the Camera Trap


Media contacts:

  • Wendy Higgins, HSI’s director of international media,
  • Mai Nguyen, senior wildlife manager of HSI in Viet Nam,,
*The government of Viet Nam is represented by the Department of Forestry under Viet Nam Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and Dong Nai Forest Protection Department of Dong Nai Department of Agriculture and Rural Development under Dong Nai Provincial People’s Committee.

Humane Society International trains local authorities in Central America on forensic veterinary sciences

Humane Society International / Latin America


SAN JOSE—More than 250 government officials, veterinarians and other professionals in Costa Rica, El Salvador and Guatemala attended a series of trainings provided by the animal protection organization Humane Society International to reinforce their knowledge investigative techniques and forensic veterinary medicine to apply in cases of crimes committed against animals.

In all three countries, officials participated in a workshop that addressed topics such as crime scene inspection, evidence collection and errors that may affect the chain of custody. For veterinarians, trainings involved their role in identifying animal cruelty and crimes against wildlife and how to properly describe injuries and create expert reports and other topics.

Victor Gonzalez, veterinarian and director of the International Animal Forensic Science Working Group, carried out a simulation that allowed participants to put into practice their crime scene investigation knowledge.

“Through this training, we want to share different perspectives that must be taken into account in both civil and criminal investigation of cases where animals are involved. Today, many guidelines for crimes committed against humans are followed, but perhaps we should follow a different path, due to the context in which these types of illegal acts occur,” said Gonzalez.

“For example, understanding how to handle a crime scene—which is the starting point of any investigation—is crucial for all subsequent laboratory work and for the final interpretation, where different disciplines must participate. It is changing the paradigm of what exists until today, for a more comprehensive vision,” Gonzalez added.

“It’s important for law enforcement officials to be well versed in crimes committed against animals. Our work in Central America supporting local authorities with animal welfare is incredibly meaningful because it increases the chances that these cases will be properly investigated and prosecuted,” Andrea Borel, director of HSI/Latin America, said.


Media Contact: Alejandra Zúñiga: (506) 7012-5598;

High-level workshop bolsters battle against major threat to Costa Rica’s biodiversity

Humane Society International / Latin America

HSI/Latin America

SAN JOSE— This week, top officials from national judicial bodies and ministries convened at the National Police Academy in Pococi, Limon Province, to intensify their fight against the illicit trade ravaging Costa Rica’s native wildlife. Backed by Humane Society International, the four-day training is a direct response to the escalating plunder and trade of wildlife species.

Wildlife trafficking has become not only a threat to hundreds of species but also one of the most lucrative illegal trades in the world, with an annual value of up to USD 20 billion. Animals such as glass frogs and beetles are increasingly illegally extracted from the Costa Rican rainforest to be paraded as exotic pets while birds, sea turtles and butterflies are killed to turn their parts into trinkets.

“Latin America is a region with a great diversity of species and, in particular, Costa Rica is considered ‘megadiverse.’ This generates a spotlight on wildlife, which becomes a resource under pressure due to human action. Wildlife trafficking in this region is a considerable threat to our biodiversity,” said Jose Pablo Gonzalez, deputy environmental prosecutor and National Environmental Security Commission coordinator.

Enhancing coordination among law enforcement agencies and hands-on drills to identify wildlife crimes at airport checkpoints were some of the topics addressed at the second workshop of the series “Combating wildlife trafficking in Costa Rica and its manifestations at the regional and national level.”

More than 40 representatives of national authorities gathered to ramp up efforts in investigating and prosecuting wildlife crime originating or transiting through Costa Rica, including officials from the Ministry of Public Security and the Ministry of Environment and Energy, the Judicial Investigation Agency and its Forensic Sciences Laboratory, the Attorney General’s office, and the National Animal Health Service.

This series of workshops, as well as a previous donation of specialized equipment, are part of a project funded by the United States Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs  and administered by Humane Society International/Latin America, in coordination with Costa Rica’s National Environmental Security Commission. The workshops were organized by the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

“At HSI, we view wildlife trafficking as a major threat to species around the world, including endangered ones. These animals suffer greatly and end their days as pets, decorations or souvenirs, and this is unacceptable. Therefore, we are pleased to support authorities in their investigation and prosecution efforts to reduce wildlife trafficking that originates or transits through Costa Rica,” said Andrea Borel, HSI/Latin America executive director.

“Wildlife trade encourages other illegal activities, is extremely cruel to animals, and represents a risk to human health. For this reason, we are very grateful and honored to collaborate with Costa Rican authorities in improving their capacities to combat this environmental crime,” said Joaquin de la Torre, IFAW’s regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean.


Media contact: Alejandra Zuniga,

Some of the iconic species include anteaters, kinkajous and howler monkeys

Humane Society International / Latin America

Santiago Billy/AP Images for HSI

PETEN, Guatemala—In a joint effort by non-governmental organizations Humane Society International/Latin America and Asociacion Rescate y Conservacion de Vida Silvestre—which is known as  ARCAS—40 animals of 14 different species were released in the Yaxha Nakum Naranjo National Park in Peten, Guatemala, after being rescued from illegal trafficking and going through a rigorous rehabilitation process.

With the authorization of Guatemalan authorities from the National Council for Protected Areas, or CONAP, the animals were released to the Maya Biosphere Reserve following rehabilitation after falling victim to wildlife trafficking or negative interactions with humans. Some of the rehabilitation activities included learning how to fly, jump, run, hide from predators and identify food in the wild.

“Keeping wild animals as ‘pets’ is a dangerous trend that is seriously affecting our ecosystems,” said Andrea Borel, executive director of HSI/Latin America. “Together with our local partner, ARCAS, we work to give these animals—who should have never been taken from their homes—a second chance in life to grow and flourish.”

Endangered species are highly valued in the wildlife trade because of their rarity, leading to overexploitation and black-market trade, and pushing these species further toward extinction. The rehabilitation of these animals is essential in strengthening the populations of endemic and endangered species in the Maya Biosphere Reserve, which have been considerably depleted and diminished in their natural habitats by human action. Release and rehabilitation of these animals is necessary to ensure that there are healthy populations capable of adapting and reproducing in their natural habitat.

ARCAS carries out the physical, medical and behavioral rehabilitation of victims of wildlife trafficking under strict scientific management standards and later releases animals into their natural habitat. HSI/Latin America and ARCAS have been working together in wildlife protection and conservation in Guatemala since 2004.


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