There are many things we can do or not do to help the planet. But did you know you can help save the Earth by going green with your fork? By purchasing plants over meat you can help end the destruction of our soils, forests and oceans, eliminate water and air pollution, and even stop species extinction. Take the plunge into positively changing your life and the lives of billions of people on this planet by choosing a vegan diet.
The raising of the cows, heifers, beef cattle, calves, sheep, lambs, hogs, pigs, goats, horses and poultry not only pollute our bodies but also our environment. The livestock industry, more appropriately referred to as the factory farming industry, is a major player in the devastation of our environment – polluting our air and water while destroying our ecosystems.
Water and Air Pollution
The United Nations reports that raising animals for food generates more greenhouse gases than all the cars and trucks in the world combined. Factory livestock farms are the largest source of water pollution that contributes not only to the degradation of our streams, lakes, rivers and oceans but also to the land. The range of statistical analysis conducted, and the surmountable facts, all point to the cure; going vegan.
Did You Know?
- Factory farming is responsible for 18% of CO2 greenhouse emissions and 64% of ammonia which produces acid rain.
- Switching to a meat-dairy-egg free diet can save 50% more CO2 emissions than driving a Prius.
- Livestock animals produce toxic excrement from the high levels of antibiotics and hormones they are given.
- Cows and sheep account for 37% of the total methane generated.
- Methane is 25 to 100 times more damaging than CO2.
- Cows alone produce approximately 120lbs of manure per day, as many as 20 to 40 humans. And their manure produces about 150 billion gallons of methane per day.
- The overpopulation of animals in theses factories creates unmanageable amounts of waste. It is collected in cesspools and is either sprayed on fields or left to sit. The toxic fumes from the pools are emitted into the air and harm the environment – causing health issues to the people living in those areas.
- In the US 55% of water is consumed by animal agriculture while only 5% is used by households.
- 1 cow drinks up to 50 gallons of water per day. It takes 683 gallons of H2O to make 1 gallon of milk. 2,400 gallons of water are used to make 1lb of beef. 477 gallons are needed to produce 1lb of eggs, and 900 gallons are used in the process of making cheese.
- Runoff water from factory farms and livestock grazing is the leading cause of dead zones in our oceans and eutrophication in our freshwater sources.
Soil Erosion, Deforestation and Habitat Loss
From air and water to land, the business of animal agriculture is destroying our environment. With over 30% of Earth’s landmass being used to raise animals for food – including both grazing and growing feed crops – topsoil erosion, deforestation, habitat loss and species extinction are of major consequence.
Did You Know?
- 70% of the grain grown in the US is used to feed farmed animals.
- 56 million acres of land are used to feed factory farmed animals, while only 4 million acres produce plants for human consumption.
- It takes 20 times less land to feed someone on a plant based diet than it does to feed meat eaters.
- It takes 10lbs of grain to produce 1lb of meat.
- The rapid growth of livestock leads to deforestation, particularly in Latin America. 70% of the Amazon Rainforest has already been destroyed and is now occupied by pastures and feed crops.
- Tropical deforestation and forest clearing have adverse consequences that contribute to climate change, biodiversity loss, reduced timber supply, flooding and soil degradation.
- Unlike sustainable farming systems that work harmoniously with the natural environment by rotating crops to help replace nutrients, unsustainable industrial farming uses one crop that is not rotated which leads to loss of soil fertility.
- Low soil fertility causes farms to continuously move from place to place which leads to deforestation and rapid growth in weeds.
- The use of herbicides to combat weeds and pesticides to eliminate insects both harms the soil fertility and ultimately contaminates our water sources through runoff.
- Land based factory farming has caused more than 500 nitrogen flooded dead zones around the world.
Farmed animals are bred in mass amounts and consumed by masses of humans. The unsustainable ways in which we produce eggs, meat and dairy is a threat not only to public health, but is damaging our environment.
The positive effects of going vegan are limitless and results in significant reductions in climate change, rainforest destruction and pollution of our air, water and land. While one person alone cannot change the consequences that have been placed on our environment, we as a whole can use our knowledge and voices to spread the word that veganism is not just about health but is also about going green by eating green.
Switching to a vegan lifestyle is accompanied with so many benefits (environmental, animal compassion, healthier living) that the real question you should ask is, “Why not?” By switching to a vegan lifestyle, you will see your health drastically improve, your negative environmental impact will diminish, and you will help save millions of animals worldwide.
Veganism And Health
There is clear and overwhelming medical evidence that the incidence of heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis and diabetes is much less among vegans; obesity as well. Vegans are usually in better physical condition; their food has far lower levels of pesticides; and their immune systems work much better.
The largest epidemiological study to date, commonly referred to as “The China study”, showed that people who consume meat and animal products in quantities similar to those in a typical American diet are 17 times more likely to die from heart disease, and 5 times more likely to suffer from breast cancer, than those whose animal-derived protein comprises less than 5 percent of their total diet.
The concentration of pesticides in meat is 14 times higher than plant foods, because these chemicals accumulate as they progress through the food chain, and they are fat-soluble. Six years after the banning of dieldrin, a pesticide, the USDA confiscated and destroyed 2,000,000 packages of frozen turkey products with high dieldrin concentrations. In 1974, in tests run by the FDA, dieldrin was discovered in 85 percent of all dairy products and in 99.5 percent of the country’s human population.
According to the EPA, vegetarian mothers produce breast milk that has much lower pesticide concentrations than the average American.
In a study published in the NEJM, it was reported that the highest contamination level of vegetarians was lower than the lowest contamination level of non-vegetarians. Mean contamination in vegetarians was only 1 to 2 percent as much as the national average.
Veganism And The Environment
Veganism is a choice that has more positive impact on energy, land, water, ecosystems and wildlife than any other. This is due to livestock consuming several times more grain than their meat output. What’s more, harvesting and transportation of animal-derived products requires huge amounts of energy, and massive quantities of water for the animals and the crops they are fed – not to mention the disturbing amount of pesticides used.
If all countries around the world adopted American diet habits, fossil fuel reserves would be depleted in just eleven years. Plant foods with the worst energy efficiency are ten times more efficient than the most efficient meat food. If we went vegetarian as a nation, our oil imports would be reduced by 60 percent.
More than 50 percent of the nation’s water consumption goes to water the crops that feed livestock. You need 100 times more water for meat production. One day’s food in the typical American diet requires 4,000 gallons of water. Conversely, vegetarian food needs 1,200 gallons, and vegan food just 300 gallons. When you eat the typical American diet, just to grow enough food for three days you need to use as much water as you need to shower every day for the whole year.
Livestock in America produces 20 times more waste than humans, a jaw-dropping 250 thousand pounds per second. The waste produced by a large feedlot rivals that of a large city – and feedlots don't have sewage systems. This results in animal waste ending up in lakes and rivers, increasing their pollution of phosphates, nitrates, ammonia, and microorganisms, thereby depleting oxygen and killing animal and plant life. The meat industry produces 300 percent more harmful organic waste than all the other industries in the country combined.
To produce food for the average American diet, 10 times more land is needed compared to a vegetarian one. 20 thousand pounds of potatoes vs. only 165 pounds of beef can come out of an acre of land. In the United States alone, in order to support our meat-based diet, 260 million acres of forest have been turned over to agriculture, accounting for more than one acre per person. Forests are destroyed at a rate of 1 acre every 5 seconds. Seven acres of forest are turned into grazing or crop fields for animal feeding for every acre cleared for urban development.
Almost 85 percent of all lost topsoil is directly related to livestock farming. According to the USDA, topsoil loss has caused crop productivity to drop by as much as 70 percent. Almost 500 years are required for the formation of one inch of topsoil under natural conditions. Conversely, vegan diets demand less than 5 percent of the topsoil needed for meat-based diets.
Moral Benefits Of Veganism
Animal suffering is nobody’s objective, but we often forget that it’s inevitable when we eat them. The one most effective action an individual can perform to ease the suffering of animals is to simply remove them from your diet.
We kill approximately 8 billion animals every year to produce food in the U.S. alone, which accounts for more than the planet’s entire human population. It is estimated that around 24 animals die every year for one American to feed on them. To make things worse, modern agriculture has been raising animals in small confinement facilities, far removed from the traditional image of the beautiful-looking pasture – a method called factory farming.
Most factory farmed animals are raised in tiny cages with no room to move. They are deprived of exercise so that all of their bodies' energy goes toward producing flesh, eggs, or milk for human consumption. Massive amounts of potent drugs are fed to the animals to stop them from becoming sick due to their filthy living conditions, and to boost their production faster than their natural development would dictate. When chickens and cows become less productive in eggs and milk, they are killed and turned into low-quality meat (pet food and fast food).
Cattle raised for beef are usually born in one state, fattened in another, and slaughtered in yet another. They are fed an unnatural diet of high-bulk grains and other "fillers" (including sawdust). They are castrated, de-horned, and branded without anesthetics. During transportation, cattle are crowded into metal trucks where they suffer from fear, injury, temperature extremes, and lack of food, water, and veterinary care. Calves raised for veal are taken from their mothers only a few days after birth, chained in stalls only 22 inches wide with slatted floors that cause severe leg and joint pain. They are fed a milk substitute laced with hormones but deprived of iron: anemia keeps their flesh pale and tender but makes the calves very weak. When they are slaughtered at the age of about 16 weeks, they are often too sick or crippled to walk. One out of every 10 calves dies in confinement.
Ninety percent of all pigs are closely confined at some point in their lives, and 70 percent are kept constantly confined. Sows are kept pregnant or nursing constantly and are squeezed into narrow metal "iron maiden" stalls, unable to turn around. Although pigs are naturally peaceful and social animals, they resort to cannibalism and tailbiting when packed into crowded pens and develop neurotic behaviors when kept isolated and confined. They often contract dysentery, cholera, trichinosis, and other diseases fostered by factory farming.
Chickens are divided into two groups: layers and broilers. Five to six laying hens are kept in a 14-inch-square mesh cage, and cages are often stacked in many tiers. Conveyor belts bring in food and water and carry away eggs and excrement. Because the hens are severely crowded, they are kept in semi-darkness and their beaks are cut off with hot irons (without anesthetics) to keep them from pecking each other to death from stress. The wire mesh of the cages rubs their feathers off, chafes their skin, and cripples their feet. Approximately 20 percent of the hens raised under these conditions die of stress or disease. At the age of one to two years, their overworked bodies decline in egg production and they are slaughtered (chickens would normally live 15-20 years).
More than six billion "broiler" chickens are raised in sheds each year. Lighting is manipulated to keep the birds eating as often as possible, and they are killed after only nine weeks. Despite the heavy use of pesticides and antibiotics, up to 60 percent of chickens sold at the supermarket are infected with live salmonella bacteria.
Farm animals are sentient beings that experience all the same emotions we do. They deserve our respect and compassion. The easiest and most effective way to reduce the cruelty inflicted on farm animals is to become vegan.
"Compassionate living" is a concept based on the belief that humans have a moral responsibility to treat animals with respect, and that the interests of humans and animals should be considered equally. This means that in any decision that could potentially affect the life of an animal, that particular animal's interests should not be dismissed simply because it is inconvenient for us to consider them.
Although it may not always be easy to determine accurately the best interests of an animal, we can safely assume that animals generally prefer to live, to be free from pain and to express their natural behaviors.
The failure of humans to consider an animal's needs/interests as equal to those of humans is an expression of prejudice called speciesism. Defenders of speciesism often argue that humans are superior to other species because of their greater intelligence. Taken to its logical extreme, this argument would imply that humans with higher I.Q. scores should have more rights than humans with lower I.Q. scores. However, we have developed the sensitivity to extend basic human rights to all humans, whether or not they meet any criteria for intelligence, capacity or potential. But animals are commonly experimented on without their consent, and even killed, if it suits human purposes. This gross inequality is what we are trying to address with the concept of "animal rights."
Another common assertion is that humans are superior to animals because we possess the capacity to understand morality, as well as the ability to determine right from wrong. Since some animals may lack these same abilities, it is argued that humans are not obligated to treat them in any particular way. However, if only those who are capable of making and understanding moral judgments were to be accorded basic human rights, than infants, young children, and the severely ill or mentally challenged would be excluded. It is equally logical to affirm that, since humans are the only ones who can make moral judgments, that it is our responsibility to do so on behalf of the animals.
All animals, including humans, have the ability to experience pleasure and pain. Unfortunately, humans have tended to inflict tremendous amounts of pain and suffering on animals without any consideration of how this affects the animals themselves. By making compassionate daily choices, you can help end widespread animal abuse and exploitation.
WHAT YOU CHOOSE TO WEAR
Fur: Each year more than 40 million animals are senselessly tortured and killed to satisfy the dictates of fashion. Wild-caught fur is obtained by setting traps or snares to capture fur-bearing animals. Once an animal is caught it may remain in the trap or snare for several days starving or slowly strangling. Farm-raised fur comes from animals kept in tiny, filthy cages, deprived of adequate protection from the elements. As a result, animals develop stereotypical behavior, including pacing, head bobbing, and self-mutilation. The techniques used to kill animals on fur farms include neck snapping or "popping", electrocution with a rod shoved into the anus and gassing or smothering.
Wool: Sheep raised for wool are subjected to a lifetime of cruel treatment. Lambs' tails are chopped off and males are castrated without anesthetic. In Australia, where 80% of all wool comes from, ranchers perform an operation called "mulesing" where huge strips of skin are carved off the backs of lambs' legs. This procedure is performed to produce scarred skin that won't harbor fly larvae, so that the rancher can spend less time caring for the sheep. The shearing of sheep can be a brutal, as workers are encouraged to shear as quickly as possible. As a result, an estimated one million Australian sheep die every year from exposure. Sheep that are no longer useful for their wool are sent to crowded feedlots and then transported to the slaughterhouse.
Leather: By-products of the beef industry are defined by the parts of the cow that are not consumed by humans. These include hooves, some organs, bones, and skin. Skin (leather) accounts for about half of the by-product of the beef industry. Like meat, leather is a product made from animals that experienced the horrors of factory farming, transport and slaughter. The leather industry uses some of the most dangerous substances to prepare leather, including formaldehyde, coal-tar derivatives, various oils and some cyanide-based dyes.
WHAT YOU CHOOSE FOR ENTERTAINMENT
Circus: Animals used in the circus spend the majority of the year imprisoned in small cages or on chains, traveling from show to show. The training endured by circus animals is almost always based on intimidation; trainers must break the spirit of the animals in order to control them. It is not uncommon for an elephant to be tied down and beaten for several days while being trained to perform, and tigers are chained to their pedestals with ropes around their necks to choke them down.
Rodeo: Horses and cows used in rodeos are abused with electrical prods, sharp spurs and "bucking straps" that pinch their sensitive flank area. During bucking events, horses and bulls may suffer broken legs or run into the sides of the arena causing serious injury and even death. During calf-roping events, a calf may reach a running speed of 27 miles per hour before being jerked by the neck to an abrupt stop by a lasso. This event has resulted in animals' punctured lungs, internal hemorrhaging, paralysis and broken necks.
Greyhound and Horse Racing: Once greyhounds begin their racing careers, they are kept in cages for about 22-1/2 hours a day. The cages are made of wire and are barely big enough for dogs to turn around. Dogs considered too slow to race are sold to research facilities or killed (20,000-25,000 each year) - very few are adopted. More racehorses are bred than can prove profitable on the racetrack. As a result, hundreds are sent to slaughter every year.
Zoos and Aquariums: While zoos and aquariums may appear to be educational and conservation-oriented, most are designed with the needs and desires of the visitors in mind, not the needs of the animals. Many animals in zoos and aquariums exhibit abnormal behavior as a result of being deprived of their natural environments and social structures. Some zoos and aquariums do rescue some animals and work to save endangered species, but most animals in zoos were either captured from the wild or bred in captivity for the purpose of public display, not species protection. The vast majority of captive-bred animals will never be returned to the wild. When the facility breeds too many animals they become "surplus" and often are sold to laboratories, traveling shows, shooting ranches, or to private individuals unqualified to care for them.
WHAT YOU CHOOSE TO EAT
Every year billions of animals are raised and killed for human consumption. Unlike the family farms of the past, today's factory farms are high-revenue, high-production entities. On a factory farm, animals are confined to extremely small spaces, which allows farmers to concentrate on maximizing production. Because this type of overcrowding breeds disease, animals are routinely fed antibiotics and sprayed with pesticides. They are also fed growth hormones to enhance productivity. These chemicals, antibiotics and hormones are passed on to the environment, as well as to consumers of meat and dairy products.
Pork: In the United States each year more than 115 million pigs are raised on factory farms and slaughtered for human consumption. Factory-farmed pigs are raised in crowded pens which are enclosed inside huge barns. The air in these barns is filled with eye and lung burning ammonia created by urine and fecal waste collected below the floors. Breeding sows (or "animal production units") spend their lives in metal crates so small that they cannot turn around. Denied adequate space and freedom of movement, these sows often develop stereotypical behavior, repetitive movement such as head bobbing, jaw smacking, and rail biting. At the slaughterhouse, pigs are stunned (often inadequately), hung upside down before their throats are cut, and then bled to death. If workers fail to kill a pig with the knife, that pig is carried on the conveyer belt to the next station, the scalding tank, where he or she may be boiled alive.
Chicken: Every year approximately 8.785 billion chickens are raised and slaughtered for human consumption in the United States, most on factory farms. Crowded and unable to express natural behavior, chickens begin to peck excessively at each other. Rather than solve this problem by providing adequate space for the chickens, factory farmers "debeak" them, a painful procedure where the bird's sensitive upper beak is sliced off with a hot metal blade. Chickens raised for consumption have been genetically altered to grow abnormally large. As a result, many broiler chickens' bones are unable to support the weight of their muscle tissue, which causes them to hobble in pain or become crippled. At the slaughterhouse, chickens while still fully conscious are hung upside down by their feet and attached to a moving rail. Birds missed by the mechanical neck-slicing blade and boiled alive are called "redskins".
Eggs: There are more than 459 million egg-laying hens in the U.S. Of these, 97% are confined to "battery" cages - tiny wire boxes roughly 16 by 18 inches wide. Five or six birds are crammed into each cage. Battery hens are forced to produce 10 times more eggs than they would naturally. When egg production slows, factory farmers use a method called "forced molting" to shock the hens into losing their feathers, which causes them to begin a premature laying cycle. "Forced molting" involves starving the hens and denying them water for several days' time, during which many hens die. To keep hens from pecking each other in their crowded cages, factory farmers "debeak" them. Male chicks, considered by-products of laying hen production, are either tossed into plastic bags to suffocate slowly, or ground into animal feed while still alive.
Beef: About 41.8 million beef cattle are slaughtered annually in the United States. For identification purposes, cattle are either branded with hot irons or "wattled," a process in which a chunk of flesh from under the cow's neck is cut out. Raised on the range or in feed lots, cattle when large enough are crammed into metal trucks and taken to slaughter. On the way to slaughter, these cattle may travel for hours in sweltering temperatures with no access to water. Animals unable to stand due to broken legs or illness are called "downers" by the meat industry. Downers are electrically prodded or dragged with chains to the slaughterhouse, or left outside, without food or water, to die.
Milk: About half of the 10 million milking cows in the U.S. are kept in confinement on factory farms. Dairy cows are forced to produce 10-20 times the amount of milk they would naturally need for their calves. This intensive production of milk is extremely stressful, and as a result many dairy cattle "burn out" at a much younger age than their normal life expectancy, and up to 33% suffer painful udder infections. To continue milk production, a cow must bear a calf each year. Although calves elsewhere stay with their mothers for a year or more, on the dairy factory farm they are immediately removed from their mothers so that milk can be sold for human consumption. Calves are sold to the beef or veal industry or become replacements for "burned out" dairy cows.
WHAT PRODUCTS YOU CHOOSE
Despite the modern alternatives to animal testing, millions of animals suffer and die each year for the "good" of cosmetics and household products. No law in the U.S. requires cosmetic, household product, or office supply companies to test on animals, but many companies do so to protect themselves against liability. However, animal testing does not necessarily make a product safe for humans. Most animal tests were developed over 50 years ago and are significantly flawed and inferior to modern alternatives. Use your dollars to send a strong message that animal testing is outdated and unnecessary. Support only companies committed against animal testing.
People become vegans for a variety of reasons, including conscience, health, ethics and even family tradition. Veganism has become increasingly popular, while research has been providing support regarding multiple benefits of a plant-based diet. Animals, humans, and the environment all benefit from it. Below are the ten most important reasons to turn to veganism.
Vegan diets provide significant amounts of several vital nutrients such as minerals (iron, calcium, etc.), vitamins, protein, and so on. Moreover, plant-based foods contain lots of fiber and are rich in antioxidants, while being low in saturated fat. This renders veganism ideal for fighting the majority of chronic conditions of the modern era, such as diabetes, hypertension, and obesity.
A lot of today’s chronic diseases can be traced back to obesity. Vegan diets are highly effective for people wanting to shed off excess weight. When you remove dairy and meat from your daily diet, your saturated fat intake goes down. Research shows that overweight people that switch to a vegetarian diet low in fat may lose up to 24 pounds in the first year alone.
Numerous studies have shown that vegans live longer than meat eaters by a large margin. Vegetarians and vegans live 3 to 6 years longer on average than their meat-eating counterparts. Switching to veganism from the typical American diet can result in a life extension of over 13 years.
Meat, fish, eggs and dairy products are packed with cholesterol. By taking them out of your daily eating plan, you remove all the dietary cholesterol in one strike. Switching to a well-balanced vegan diet is your best bet to avoid cardiovascular disease, the chronic condition that is responsible for more than 1 million deaths per year in America alone.
Veggies and fruits are rich in several phytochemical compounds that bolster your body’s immune defenses. When your immune system is fed with the antioxidants and nutrients that come with a vegan diet, it becomes stronger – defeating conditions like cancer.
There are several meat-borne illnesses that you steer clear of when you abstain from meat. Approximately 76 million people come down every year with a food-borne illness, of whom around 325 thousand end up in the hospital and almost 5 thousand die. The vast majority of these cases can be attributed to seafood, poultry, and meat.
Your diet greatly affects the way you look. Most vegans enjoy a natural glow in their skin, and that’s not just by luck; fruits and veggies are behind this phenomenon. Removing meat from your daily eating habits cuts down blemishes, body odor, and foul breath. What’s more, your nails and hair also thrive on a vegan diet.
The evidence is clear that no-meat diets drastically reduce environmental destruction. Animal farming is the number one cause of water consumption, pollution, and deforestation. Animal agriculture has a higher greenhouse effect on the atmosphere than fossil fuel consumption. What’s more, a significant amount of fossil fuel is consumed during transportation and processing of meat and dairy products, loading the atmosphere with unneeded carbon dioxide. The meat industry is the leading cause of rainforest destruction, soil erosion, habitat loss, species extinction and dead zones in the oceans.
Vegan diets do much more good than just keeping you healthy and protecting the environment; your wallet will thank you too. Americans eat about 200 pounds of meat on average per year, making up for 10% of their total food budget. By replacing meat with plant-based food, your annual food budget will go down by approximately 4 thousand dollars.
Peace Of Mind
To be truly healthy, you need to be truly conscious. You will achieve peace of mind when you realize that you are protecting the planet and other sentient beings by simply resisting the urge to satisfy your gluttony!
Make the humane choice this Easter and refrain from acquiring live chicks and rabbits as gifts. Instead of giving live animals as presents, give children plush toys.
Thousands of rabbits, chicks and ducklings are purchased each year as whimsical gifts, only to be abandoned a few weeks later when the reality of their complex needs are realized. Many die quick deaths after being "set free." Others are dumped at shelters. 80 percent of shelter rabbits are abandoned Easter gifts. Most are euthanized.
Adorable baby animals grow up quickly into adults and need proper socialization, care and companionship for many years. After cats and dogs, rabbits are the animals most frequently surrendered to animal shelters, largely because people acquire them as youngsters but aren’t prepared for the long-term commitment involved. Others are simply released into backyards by people who mistakenly believe they will be able to fend for themselves. Unlike wild rabbits, domestic rabbits cannot survive on their own outdoors. Chickens also need dedicated, consistent care and far too many of them end up in shelters, rescues and sanctuaries as well.
The decision to add any new animal to your household should be considered carefully to ensure you have the time and resources to devote to the animal’s long-term care. Rabbits, chicks and duckling need as much care and attention as dogs and cats. They are not "low-maintenance" animals and are not appropriate "pets" for children.
Live animals should never be given as gifts. Most children are not mature enough to take on the responsibility of caring for a living creature.
If you do decide to make an animal part of your family, then adopt, never shop. Most animal shelters house a variety of animals. And realize that the responsibility of their care falls on parents, not children.
The trophy hunting industry is driven by demand, and sadly, demand for animal trophies is prevalent worldwide. Even in the face of extinction, imperiled species are still being hunted every day in order to serve as the centerpiece of someone’s décor. It is unconscionable in this modern day when species are under so many threats to survive.
Killing For Trophies: An Analysis of Global Trophy Hunting Trade is a report that provides an in-depth look at the scope and scale of trophy hunting trade and isolates the largest importers of animal trophies worldwide.
The result of a comprehensive analysis of the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Trade Database, the report found that as many as 1.7 million hunting trophies may had been traded between nations during a ten year period, with at least 200,000 of that being made up of categories of species, also known as taxa, that are considered threatened.
Research found that 107 different nations (comprised of 104 importing nations and 106 exporting nations) participated in trophy hunting in one decade, with the top twenty countries responsible for 97 percent of trophy imports. The United States accounted for a staggering 71 percent of the import demand, or about 15 times more than the next highest nation on the list—Germany and Spain (both 5 percent).
Of the top 20 importing countries, most of the trophies were killed and imported from Canada (35 percent), South Africa (23 percent) and Namibia (11 percent), with the largest number of threatened taxa coming from Canada to the U.S., followed by African nations to the U.S.
Three of the four threatened taxa from the highly-prized species known as the “Africa Big Five” (African elephant, African leopard, and African lion) are among the top six most traded of imperiled taxa. African lions in particular had the strongest statistically significant increase of trophy hunting trade, with at least 11,000 lion trophies being traded worldwide in only 9 years.
Other big five species also remain popular with trophy hunters, with over 10,000 elephant trophies and over 10,000 leopard trophies being legally traded worldwide in one decade. Like African lions, elephant trophy hunting trade has increased significantly.
The fur ads we see in magazines and commercials portray fur coats as a symbol of elegance. But these ads fail to show how the original owners of these coats met their gruesome deaths. Approximately 3.5 million furbearing animals -- raccoons, coyotes, bobcats, lynxes, opossums, nutria, beavers, muskrats, otters, and others -- are killed each year by trappers in the United States. Another 2.7 million animals are raised on fur "farms." Despite the fur industry's attempts to downplay the role of trapping in fur "production," it is estimated that more than half of all fur garments come from trapped animals.
RANCH RAISED FUR
Some people believe that animals raised in captivity on fur "ranches" do not suffer. This is not the case. Trapping and "ranching" have both similar and disparate cruelties involved, and neither is humane. "Ranched" animals, mostly minks and foxes, spend their entire lives in appalling conditions, only to be killed by painful and primitive methods.
Approximately one half of the fur coats made in the United States and Canada come from captive animals bred, born and raised on fur farms. These operations range from family-owned businesses with 50 animals to large operations with thousands of animals. But regardless of their size or location, "the manner in which minks (and other furbearers) are bred is remarkably uniform over the whole world," according to one study. As with other intensive-confinement animal farms, the methods used on fur farms are designed to maximize profits, always at the expense of the animals' welfare and comfort, and always at the expense of their lives.
In the United States there are approximately 500 fur farms. About 90% of all ranched fur bearers are minks. Foxes, rabbits and chinchillas account for most of the remainder, though fur farmers have recently diversified into lynx, bobcats, wolves, wolverines, coyotes and beavers. All of these animals live only a fraction of their natural lifespans; minks are killed at about five months of age, and foxes are killed when they are about nine months old. Breeding females live somewhat longer. The animals' short lives are filled with fear, stress, disease, parasites and other physical and psychological hardships, all for the sake of an industry that makes huge profits from its $648 million-a-year sales.
Foxes are kept in cages only 2.5 feet square, with one to four animals per cage. Minks and other species are generally kept in cages only one by three feet, again with up to four animals per cage. This extreme crowding and confinement is especially damaging to minks, who are by nature solitary animals. A large portion of ranched minks develop self-mutilating behaviors, including pelt and tail biting, and abnormalities called "stereotypes" such as pacing in ritualized patterns. Foxes kept in close confinement sometimes cannibalize each other.
Minks, foxes and chinchillas are fed meat and fish by-products so vile that they are unfit even for the pet food industry. These animals are also fed minced offal, which endangers their health because of bacterial contamination. Newly weaned kits and pups are especially vulnerable to the food poisoning this diet can cause. Water on fur farms is provided by a nipple system from which the animals can drink at will...except, of course, when the system freezes in the winter.
As with other caged and confined animals, animals on fur farms are much more susceptible to diseases than their free-roaming counterparts. Contagious diseases such as Aleutian disease, viral enteritis and pneumonia are passed from cage to cage, and sometimes kill entire populations. Bladder and urinary ailments (wet belly disease) and nursing sickness (which kills up to 80 percent of all animals it infects, if not treated in time) are common. Animals are often infested with fleas, ticks, lice, and mites, and disease-carrying flies are a particularly severe problem because they are attracted to the piles of excrement that remain under the cages for months.
Fur farm cages are typically kept in open sheds that provide little protection from wind, cold and heat. The animals' fur helps keep them warm in winter, but summer is very hard on minks because they lack the ability to cool their bodies without bathing in water. Free-roaming minks spend 60 to 70 percent of their time in water, and without it their salivation, respiration and body temperature increase greatly. When minks learn to shower themselves by pressing on their drinking water supply nipples, mink farmers have been known to modify the nipples to cut off even this meager water supply.
No humane slaughter law protects animals on fur farms, and killing methods are gruesome. Because the fur farmers care only about preserving the quality of the fur, they use slaughter methods that keep the pelts intact but which result in severe suffering for the animals still quite attached to the pelts. Small animals can be shoved up to 20 at a time into boxes, where they are poisoned with hot, unfiltered engine exhaust pumped in by hose from the fur farmer's truck. Engine exhaust is not always 100 percent lethal, and some animals "wake up" while being skinned. Larger animals, including foxes, often have clamps attached to their lips while rods are inserted into their anuses, and are then very painfully electrocuted. Other animals are poisoned with strychnine, which actually suffocates them by paralyzing their muscles in painful rigid cramps. Gassing, decompression chambers and neck snapping are other common fur farm slaughter methods.
An archaic device used for centuries, the steel-jaw leghold trap is the most commonly used trap in the U.S. by commercial and recreational fur trappers today. Triggered by a pan-tension device, the weight of an animal stepping between the jaws of the trap causes the jaws to slam shut on the victim's leg, or other body part, in a vice-like grip. Most animals react to the instant pain by frantically pulling against the trap in a desperate attempt to free themselves, enduring fractures, ripped tendons, edema, blood loss, amputations, tooth and mouth damage (from chewing and biting at the trap), and starvation. Some animals will even chew or twist their limbs off, so common that trappers have termed this occurrence as "wring-off," which for them means the loss of a marketable pelt. To the animal left crippled on three legs, "wring-off" means certain death from starvation, gangrene or attack from other predators.
On land, leghold traps are most frequently set for coyote, bobcat, fox, raccoon, skunk and other furbearing animals. However, leghold traps are inherently indiscriminate and will trap any unsuspecting animal that steps foot into the trap jaws, including companion animals, threatened and endangered species, and even humans. Trappers admit that for every "target" animal trapped, at least two other "non-target" animals, including dogs and cats, are trapped.
Aquatic leghold traps are most often set for muskrat, otter, mink and beaver. Most animals trapped in water will either try to surface to gasp for air or will drag the trap under water in an attempt to reach land. Usually they die a slow, agonizing death by drowning, which can take up to 20 minutes for some species. Death by drowning has been deemed inhumane by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).
More than 80 countries have banned leghold traps, as well as several states. But most states continue to allow them, and some states still allow the use of teeth on leghold traps. An estimated 80% of the total number of trapped animals in the U.S. are taken by steel-jaw leghold traps, followed by wire snares and Conibear traps.
In November 1995, the European Union banned the use of leghold traps in all 15-member nations.
Many veterinary associations, including the World Veterinary Association and the American Animal Hospital Association, have policy statements opposing the use of leghold traps. In 1993, the Executive Board of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) declared, "The AVMA considers the steel-jaw leghold trap to be inhumane."
A national poll showed that 74% of Americans believe leghold traps should be banned.
Trapping proponents argue that traps used today in the U.S. are humane, touting the "padded" leghold trap as a commonly used humane alternative to the steel jaw version. However, the only distinctive difference between the two traps is that the padded leghold trap has a thin strip of rubber attached to the trap jaws. Not only do these traps cause significant injuries to animals, but research indicates that fewer than 5% of trappers even own padded leghold traps in the U.S. Only a few states require that padded leghold traps be used, and this provision only applies to leghold traps set on land. Numerous studies have shown that padded traps can cause severe injuries to their victims.
Snares are categorized as either body/neck or foot snares. Like leghold traps, they are a primitive device, simple in design and vicious in action. They are generally made of light wire cable looped through a locking device or of small nylon cord tied so that it will tighten as the animal pulls against it. The more a snared animal struggles, the tighter the noose becomes, the tighter the noose, the greater the animal's struggle and suffering. The body snare is used primarily on coyotes and is often set where animals crawl under a fence or some other narrow passageway. The body snare is designed to kill the animal by strangulation or crushing of vital organs. However, snares do not discriminate between victims and will capture any animal around any body part.
While some small animals are thought to become unconscious in about six minutes when neck snared, larger animals can suffer for days on end. Trappers even have a term -- "jellyhead" -- that refers to the thick, bloody lymph fluid which swells the heads and necks of neck-snared canids. Snares frequently have to be replaced after each capture due to twisting and strain on the snare cable that results from animals struggling to free themselves.
Set on land and in water, snares are considered even more indiscriminate than the leghold trap. Because they are cheap and easy to set, trappers will often saturate an area with dozens of snares to catch as many animals as possible. Called "saturation snaring," this practice is common in Alaska where trappers attempt to target entire wolf packs through this reprehensible practice.
Even the Federal Provincial Committee for Humane Trapping has deemed the snare to cause too many injuries to be considered a "quick killing device."
The Conibear trap, named after its inventor Frank Conibear, consists of two metal rectangles hinged together midway on the long side to open and close like scissors. One jaw has a trigger that can be baited. The opposite jaw has a catch or "dog" that holds the trap open. Originally intended to be an "instant killing" device, the Conibear trap is designed to snap shut in a scissor-like fashion on an animal's spinal column at the base of the skull. However, because it is impossible to control the size, species and direction of the animal entering the trap, most animals do not die quickly in the Conibear trap...instead enduring prolonged suffering as the clamping force of the trap draws the jaws closer and closer together, crushing the animal's abdomen, head or other body part.
Domestic animals are frequent victims of this indiscriminate trap, especially the size 220 (7") Conibear. Numerous veterinary reports indicate that dogs and cats may be found dead or alive by their owners in these traps after suffering for days. However, because it is extremely difficult to open the trap jaws, most people are not able to free their companions in time.
Manufactured in three standard sizes, Conibear traps are frequently used in water sets to trap muskrat and beaver. In addition, they are used on land to trap raccoon, pine marten, opossum and other furbearers. Numerous research studies have shown that this trap does not kill instantly.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Every fur coat represents the intense suffering of up to several dozen animals, whether they were trapped or ranched. These cruelties will end only when the public refuses to buy or wear fur products and rejects the propaganda of trappers, ranchers and furriers whose monetary motives cause unjustifiable misery and death. Those who learn the facts about furs must help educate others, for the sake of the animals and for the sake of decency.
Processed meats are now considered “carcinogenic to humans,” according to the World Health Organization.
Recent estimates by the Global Burden of Disease Project, an independent academic research organization, found around 34,000 cancer deaths per year worldwide are attributable to processed meat.
The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) delivered a damning report linking meat consumption and cancer. IARC is the leading authority that determines the cancer-causing risks of exposure to substances. IARC classifies substances from Group 1 (carcinogenic to humans) to Group 4 (probably not carcinogenic to humans).
Processed meat, according to WHO, refers to “meat that has been transformed through salting, curing, fermentation, smoking, or other processes to enhance flavor or improve preservation.”
WHO states that most processed meats contain pork or beef, but processed meats may also contain other red meats, poultry, offal, or meat by-products such as blood. Examples of processed meat include hot dogs, ham, sausages, corned beef, and beef jerky, as well as canned meat and meat-based preparations and sauces.
Processed meat has been given a Group 1 classification, putting it in the same class of cancer risk as tobacco smoking and asbestos. Red meat has been categorized as a Group 2A carcinogen, “probably carcinogenic to humans,” the same classification assigned to the pesticide glyphosate.
The Group 1 category is used when there is sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in humans. In other words, there is convincing evidence that the agent causes cancer. The evaluation is usually based on epidemiological studies showing the development of cancer in exposed humans.
The recommendation was based on epidemiological studies suggesting that increases in the risk of several cancers may be associated with high consumption of red meat or processed meat.
In the case of red meat, the classification was based on evidence from epidemiological studies showing positive associations between eating red meat and developing colorectal cancer, as well as strong mechanistic evidence.
The IARC Working Group considered more than 800 different studies on cancer in humans (some studies provided data on both types of meat; in total more than 700 epidemiological studies provided data on red meat and more than 400 epidemiological studies provided data on processed meat). The IARC Working Group consisted of 22 experts from 10 countries.
Thousands of greyhounds are killed each year as the greyhound racing business struggles to stay alive. Although only about 30 percent of the greyhounds born in the industry will ever touch a racetrack, greyhounds who do qualify to become racers at 18 months typically live in cages, some as small as three foot by three foot, for roughly 22 hours each day. Some are kept muzzled by their trainers almost constantly. Many exhibit crate and muzzle sores, and are frequently infested with internal and external parasites. Greyhounds are forced to race in extreme weather conditions from sub zero weather to temperatures reaching over 100 degrees.
Greyhounds are "retired" when they become unprofitable through injury or failure to win races. Few make it to the mandated retirement age of five years. Injuries and sickness - broken legs, heat stroke, heart attacks - claim many dogs. Some are accidentally electrocuted or otherwise injured by lures during a race. Most dogs who slow down and become unprofitable are either killed immediately or sold to research laboratories.
A few of the big winners are kept for breeding. Because of the all-pervasive economic interests, many greyhound owners and trainers have kept dogs in deplorable conditions and killed them in cheap, cruel ways.
Thousands of additional animals - most of them rabbits - are used as live bait each year to teach dogs to chase lures around the track. The dogs are encouraged to chase and kill live lures hanging from a horizontal pole so they will chase the inanimate lures used during the actual races. "Bait animals" may be used repeatedly throughout the day, whether alive or dead. Rabbits' legs are sometimes broken so their cries will excite the dogs; guinea pigs are used because they scream. When animals are "used up," dogs are permitted to catch them and tear them apart.
Trainers claim the use of live lures is necessary to teach dogs to be champion racers, and the cost of "bait animals" is low compared to the potential earnings of a winning dog. Less aggressive dogs are sometimes placed in a cage with a rabbit or other animal and not released or fed until they have killed the cage companion. Only a small percentage of greyhounds are trained using an artificial rabbit lure.
Because greyhounds are usually gentle, quiet, and friendly, some of the lucky dogs are placed into caring homes through rescue organizations. But only a very small percent of retired greyhounds are adopted. Although adoption helps, the only way to protect greyhounds from abuse is to put an end to racing. Due to the grassroots efforts of concerned citizens, live dog racing has been banned in several states and greyhound racing is losing its popularity.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Boycott the animal entertainment industry.
Leaflet at a local track.
Lobby for a ban in your state (whether there are currently dog tracks or not.)
Write letters to the editor opposing greyhound racing.
Habitat loss and the extinction of species are devastating consequences of irresponsible human actions. The problem’s complexity and reach often leads people to feel unable to make a difference. However, every single action we take is crucial in bringing about change. Although individually our contribution may seem small, the sum of our efforts can really make a huge difference.
Protect Wildlife Habitat
The most pressing issue that threatens species is their progressive loss of habitat. Animal agriculture, deforestation, and development impact the environment in profound ways: erosion, soil compaction, desertification and changes in climate. When the land is manipulated in such a manner, wildlife habitat alteration or even elimination takes place. This is more pronounced when rare species are involved; these alterations may result in the rapid extinction of the species. Habitat protection ensures that whole animal communities are safe, which in turn leads to fewer interventions needed towards the conservation of endangered species. Reserves, parks, and similar protected areas are often the only safe havens that remain unaffected by habitat loss.
Consume Less, Recycle More
A great way to minimize our effect on the environment is to recycle and reuse as much as possible. Consuming less is an immensely effective means of protecting the planet. What’s more, by reducing our energy consumption we help conserve our natural resources, and we save money in the process!
Become Member Of A Conservation Organization
Numerous conservation organizations exist with a mission to protect endangered species and habitats. Each organization has a different mission – for some it’s to safeguard a certain habitat or species, for others to push for the legislation of good environmental practices. If you are particularly interested in a topic, chances are that you will find an organization that shares your interest. Becoming a member will let you back organized, constant efforts towards protecting wildlife and habitats. Moreover, there are often special programs available that offer the chance to do conservation field work, as many organizations depend on volunteer work.
Use Fewer Herbicides And Pesticides
Herbicides and pesticides are effective in beautifying your backyard, but they wreak havoc on wildlife on several levels. Some of these compounds degrade at an extremely slow rate, which means their levels build up in the soil and, consequently, pass into the food chain. Certain animal groups, like the amphibians, are especially prone to the toxic effects of these chemicals, suffering a greater impact.
Prevent Invasive Species From Spreading
Native wildlife populations all over the world have been severely affected by the invasion of non-native species, since the latter increase competition for food and habitat. Native species may even become their direct prey, risking extinction. You can minimize the impact of invasive species by populating your garden with native plants.
Don’t Drive Too Fast
For many native species, life takes place in densely populated areas, meaning they have to find their way through a labyrinth of human-made dangers. Roads, in particular, pose one of the greatest risks for wild animals that live in developed areas, because they split their habitat and pose a constant threat to animals that try to cross to the other side. So, if you are driving in such areas, reduce your speed and pay attention for such animals.
Install Decals On Windows To Prevent Bird Collisions
Collisions with windows is a serious risk for birds. Almost one billion birds lose their lives every year by colliding with windows. A simple way of decreasing that number is by installing decals on the windows of your office and home. Other things you can do to help is to relocate bird feeders to a more convenient spot, draw curtains and shades when it’s bright outside, install screens on the external side of your windows, or use tinted window glass.
Express Your Concerns And Become Actively Involved
By actively expressing your concerns regarding endangered species to local and national authorities, you raise the chances of someone actually doing something to remedy the situation.
Share Your Excitement For Nature And Wildlife
Motivate other people to read up on wildlife issues, respect wildlife, and be serious about the protection of species and habitats.
Last but not least, the single most effective way of helping wildlife is to adopt a vegan diet. Animal farming is the number one cause of water consumption, pollution, and deforestation. Livestock has a higher greenhouse effect on the atmosphere than fossil fuel consumption. The farming industry is the greatest cause of rainforest demise, soil erosion, habitat loss, species extinction and dead zones in the oceans.
Each year, orcas leap through the air for a handful of fish, and dolphins are ridden by human performers as if they were water skis. Employees at marine parks like to tell audiences that the animals wouldn't perform if they weren't happy. You can even see how content the dolphins are--just look at the permanent smiles on their faces, right? But what most visitors to marine parks don't realize is that hidden behind the dolphin's "smile" is an industry built on suffering.
FAMILIES TORN APART
Killer whales, or orcas, are members of the dolphin family. They are also the largest animals held in captivity. In the wild, orcas stay with their mothers for life. Family groups, or "pods," consist of a mother, her adult sons and daughters, and the offspring of her daughters. Each member of the pod communicates in a "dialect" specific to that pod. Dolphins swim together in family pods of three to 10 individuals or tribes of hundreds. Imagine, then, the trauma inflicted on these social animals when they are ripped from their families and put in the strange, artificial world of a marine park.
Capturing even one wild orca or dolphin disrupts the entire pod. To obtain a female dolphin of breeding age, for example, boats are used to chase the pod to shallow waters. The dolphins are surrounded with nets that are gradually closed and lifted into the boats. Unwanted dolphins are thrown back. Some die from the shock of their experience. Others slowly succumb to pneumonia caused by water entering their lungs through their blowholes. Pregnant females may spontaneously abort babies.
Orcas and dolphins who survive this ordeal become frantic upon seeing their captured companions and may even try to save them. When Namu, a wild orca captured off the coast of Canada, was towed to the Seattle Public Aquarium in a steel cage, a group of wild orcas followed for miles.
ADAPTING TO AN ALIEN WORLD
In the wild, orcas and dolphins may swim up to 100 miles a day. But captured dolphins are confined to tanks as small as 24 feet by 24 feet wide and 6 feet deep. Wild orcas and dolphins can stay underwater for up to 30 minutes at a time, and they typically spend only 10 to 20 percent of their time at the water's surface. But because the tanks in marine parks are so shallow, captive orcas and dolphins spend more than half of their time at the surface. Experts believe this may account for the collapsed dorsal fins seen on the majority of captive orcas.
Dolphins navigate by echolocation. They bounce sonar waves off other objects to determine shape, density, distance, and location. In tanks, the reverberations from their own sonar bouncing off walls drives some dolphins insane. Jean-Michel Cousteau believes that for captive dolphins, "their world becomes a maze of meaningless reverberations."
Tanks are kept clean with chlorine, copper sulfate, and other harsh chemicals that irritate dolphins' eyes, causing many to swim with their eyes closed. Former dolphin trainer Ric O'Barry, who trained dolphins for the television show "Flipper," believes excessive chlorine has caused some dolphins to go blind. The United States Department of Agriculture closed Florida's Ocean World after determining that over-chlorinated water was causing dolphins' skin to peel off.
Newly captured dolphins and orcas are also forced to learn tricks. Former trainers say that withholding food and isolating animals who refuse to perform are two common training methods. According to Ric O'Barry, "positive reward" training is a euphemism for food deprivation. Marine parks may withhold up to 60 percent of food before shows so that the animals will be "sharp" for performances. Former dolphin trainer Doug Cartlidge maintains that highly social dolphins are punished by being isolated from other animals: "You put them in a pen and ignore them. It's like psychological torture." It's little wonder, then, that captive orcas and dolphins are, as O'Barry says, "so stressed-out you wouldn't believe it." The stress is so great that some commit suicide. Jacques Cousteau and his son, Jean-Michel, vowed never to capture marine mammals again after witnessing one captured dolphin kill himself by deliberately crashing into the side of his tank again and again.
If life for captive orcas and dolphins is as tranquil as marine parks would have us believe, the animals should live longer than their wild counterparts. After all, captive marine mammals are not subject to predators and ocean pollution. But captivity is a death sentence for orcas and dolphins.
In the wild, dolphins can live to be 25 to 50 years old. Male orcas live between 50 and 60 years, females between 80 and 90 years. But orcas at Sea World and other marine parks rarely survive more than 10 years in captivity. More than half of all dolphins die within the first two years of captivity; the remaining dolphins live an average of only six years. One Canadian research team found that captivity shortens an orca's life by as much as 43 years, and a dolphin's life by up to 15 years.
Sea World, which owns most of the captive orcas and dolphins in the United States, has one of the worst histories of caring for its animals. After Sea World purchased and closed Marineland, a Southern California competitor, it shipped the Marineland animals to various Sea World facilities. Within a year, 12 of them--5 dolphins, 5 sea lions, and 2 seals--were dead. The following year, Orky, a Marineland orca said to be the "world's most famous killer whale," also died. Because of such high mortality rates and because captive breeding programs have been highly unsuccessful, marine parks continue to capture orcas and dolphins from the wild.
Captive animals are not the only victims of these "circuses of the sea." Sea World patrons were stunned when two orcas repeatedly dragged trainer Jonathan Smith to the bottom of their tank, in an apparent attempt to drown him. Trainer Keltie Lee Byrne was killed by three Sea Land orcas after she fell into the water with them.
Marine parks have shown no more interest in conserving marine mammals' natural habitats than they have in educating audiences. In fact, the industry has actively lobbied to keep small cetaceans, such as orcas and dolphins, outside the jurisdiction of the International Whaling Commission (even though this would help protect these animals in the wild) because they don't want to risk not being able to capture additional animals in the future.
TURNING THE TIDE
Increasingly, people around the world are recognizing that dolphins, orcas, and other cetaceans do not belong in captivity. Canada no longer allows beluga whales to be captured and exported. In Brazil, it is illegal to use marine mammals for entertainment. In England, consumer boycotts have forced all the marine parks to close. Israel has prohibited the importation of dolphins for use in marine parks, South Carolina has banned all exhibits of whales and dolphins, and other states are currently working on legislation to prohibit the capture or restrict the display of marine mammals.
Richard Donner, coproducer of the film "Free Willy," has joined a growing number of people in calling for an end to the marine mammal trade. Says Donner, "Removal of these majestic mammals from the wild for commercial purposes is obscene....These horrendous captures absolutely must become a thing of the past."
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Boycott all forms of animal entertainment.
Contact your local, state and federal officials and encourage them to ban marine mammal parks.
Performing captive wildlife -- elephants, lions, tigers, bears, baboons, monkeys, camels, llamas -- all endure years of physical and psychological pain and suffering in traveling acts to "entertain" an uninformed audience.
Animals used in the circus and other traveling acts travel thousands of miles each year without water, in railroad cars or trucks not air conditioned in summer or heated in winter. Elephants are forced to stand in their own waste, chained in place for up to 100 hours while being transported from one performance to another. These performing animals do not receive the proper care, nutrition and environmental enrichment required for their well-being.
Elephants suffer terribly while being used for human "entertainment." Elephants have three basic needs -- live vegetation for food, family relationships, and freedom of movement -- all of which are denied in the circus setting. In captivity, baby elephants are wrenched from their mother at one year of age and are trained with abusive domineering methods. Perhaps as the result of the ongoing stress and abuse they endure, there have been dozens of premature deaths of elephants used in the circus.
Compare the existence of captive elephants to those left in the wild. Elephants in the wild live as long as 70 years. Wild elephants live in herds and have a large extended family with strong social bonds. Baby elephants stay very close to their mothers for the first three years of their lives, and the females remain with their extended families throughout their lifetime. They roam up to 25 miles a day foraging for food and water. They take dust baths and find comfort during hot weather by wading in water and standing in the shade.
Large exotic cats used in the circus don't fare any better. In the wild, large cats roam for miles each day; they hunt for food, sleep in the sun and lead a fairly solitary existence. Exotic cats used in the circus are allowed none of these behaviors. They live and travel in small cages in close confinement with other cats. They have little room to move around and are never provided with any environmental enrichment.
Elephant training is almost always based on fear and intimidation; trainers must break the spirit of these magnificent animals in order to control them. It is not uncommon for an elephant to be tied down and beaten for days at a time while being trained to "perform." During their training and throughout their lives in captivity elephants are beaten with clubs, shocked with electric prods, stabbed with sharp (ankus) hooks and whipped.
Cats used in the circus are also trained by inherently cruel and dominating methods to force them to perform tricks that are unnatural and undignified. Exotic cats are often whipped, choked and beaten during their training sessions. To force a cat, such as a tiger, to stand on her hind legs, her front paws are often burned with cigarette lighters. To make the cats used in the circus run "enthusiastically" into the circus arena, they are often prodded with pipes or frightened by loud noises to make them appear excited to perform.
It is no wonder that out of frustration and rage elephants used in circuses have been responsible for over 40 human deaths worldwide since 1990. Denied their natural behaviors, and stressed by being kept in close quarters and being forced to constantly perform inane tricks, captive cats also strike back against those responsible for their confinement. There have been more than 75 documented human attacks by felines since 1990.
No traveling animal act, regardless of size or appearance, is capable of handling exotic wildlife in a humane manner. Federal USDA inspection records of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus show more than 100 instances of substandard animal keeping between 1992 and 1997 alone. Although such a record of non-compliant items is not rare, citations are seldom issued. Each year only approximately a dozen of the 2,000+ licensed animal exhibitors in the U.S. are cited, and just one or two may have their license suspended or revoked by the USDA. Fines are frequently suspended.
Despite poor enforcement of animal welfare laws to protect animals in circuses, hope is on the horizon. A movement is underway to restrict or ban traveling animal acts at the local and state level. Traveling acts using animals have been banned in a number of cities in Australia and Canada. Several towns in the U.S. have prohibited animal acts and a few large cities are considering bans. Bills restricting circuses have been introduced in several state legislatures in recent years, and legislation was introduced in Congress to prohibit the use of elephants in circuses and for rides.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Do not patronize any form of entertainment that uses animals. Tell your friends and family to boycott all animal circuses and other animal acts. Instead, support one of the growing number of circuses that do not use animals. Do not allow elephant rides or other animal acts to be used for fundraising purposes in your community. Contact the event sponsors and urge them to promote humane, animal-free circuses instead. Support legislation to protect captive exotic animals.
If you witness animal cruelty at an event, document it in writing and/or with photographs or videotape and report it to your local humane society and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA): USDA Animal Care, 4700 River Road, Unit 84, Riverdale, MD 20737-1234, Phone: 301-734-4981 Fax 301-734-4978.
Environmentalism is an integration of the ideology and philosophy of protecting the health of the environment and the social movement resulting from it. Issues such as conservation, preservation, ecosystem restoration, and improvement of the natural environment are foremost on the agenda of environmentalists. Concerns and threats involving the Earth's biodiversity and ecology feature at the top of the list.
To be an environmentalist, follow the simple steps given below.
1. Choose Your Cause
Discover what you are passionate about and do some research. There are a variety of environmental issues that will pique your interest. Protection of endangered species, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, avoiding wastage of natural resources, restoration of age-old landscapes, protecting forests, and encouraging recycling are some of the causes environmentalists support. Learning about environmental issues in your own locality, and taking a part in solving them, is a good way to get involved.
2. Use Your Talents
Take measure of your talents. Are you an extrovert and like to communicate verbally with people? Are you introverted and more inclined towards writing than to speaking? Do you like to communicate and spread your thoughts in words through correspondences? Are you someone who likes being out in nature? Can you play an instrument, sing, bake, paint or juggle? Your unique talents can contribute to bringing attention to, and raising funds for, environmental efforts. Consider getting involved in events, fundraisers and campaigns for conservation issues.
3. Educate Yourself, Then Educate Others
Get yourself acquainted with how the Earth works and how human activities are affecting it. To make sense out of the multitude of environmental issues and the science behind it, read magazines, books and articles, watch documentaries, and browse websites relating to nature. Share what you learn with family, friends, coworkers and associates. Use social media to spread the word on environmental issues.
4. Get Connected
Get in touch with other like-minded people or experts in the field. Getting connected with people, especially experts on the environment, is an important step on the way to becoming an environmentalist. Conduct searches on the web for people and organizations who share your thoughts and concerns. Join organizations, groups, websites and social media channels that promote your cause – or create your own. Learn from the experts and help make a bigger impact by joining forces with other people, groups and nonprofits who share your passion for environmentalism.
5. Clean Up Litter
Pick up litter wherever you go and whenever you can. Litter not only dirties roads, parks and public spaces, it also pollutes the environment. It harms wildlife that comes into contact with it. You can pickup litter on your own in your spare time, or join or organize groups to clean up large areas.
6. Go Outside
Visit places like wildlife sanctuaries, nature preserves, and parks. Support their efforts. Volunteer. Enjoy the natural beauty of these places, observe animals and their behavior, and encourage others to do the same. Communicate to people in your social circles why these protected places are important.
7. Go Native
Grow native plants in your backyard. Invasive species wreak havoc on ecosystems. Native plants are better adapted to the area where you live and need minimum caring. They are less vulnerable to pests and will benefit birds, insects and other wildlife endemic to your locality.
8. Plant Trees
The more trees you plant the more you help the environment. Trees absorb harmful CO2, prevent their emission and alleviate global warming. They provide food and shelter for wild animals. Plant trees on your property, and help plant trees in your community.
9. Go Organic
Consuming organic food and using organic gardening methods contributes towards a safer, healthier environment. Minimizing the use of pesticides and fertilizers stimulates beneficial soil organisms and results in less polluted waste-water flowing out of your garden. Moreover, it creates a much healthier environment for wildlife, your children and your companion animals.
10. Go Green
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rethink. Reduce the amount of materials you use, which reduces the amount of waste you create. Reuse materials when possible. Recycle whenever possible. Rethink the materials you use and those you throw away. By thinking about what we're using and how to reduce the wast we produce, we can help create a cleaner, healthier environment.
11. Go Without
Cut back your consumption. Water, food and air are consumed to support life. But we also consume much more than essentials, and far more than we should. There seems to be no end to the list of items and services we can’t live without. We must rethink what consumption is, and do our best to reduce it. The planet is being destroyed by the way societies function right now. It’s not just about recycling anymore; it’s about how to stop feeding the cycle altogether.
12. Go Vegan!
Animal agriculture emits more greenhouse gases than aircrafts, automobiles and trains combined. Forests are being cleared at alarming rates to feed grains to livestock that could feed the entire human race. Less trees means less impediments to CO2 being released into the air and thus more pollution. Animal waste is producing massive amounts of toxic levels of methane and ammonia, which leads to climate change as well as acid rain. Animal agriculture is also destroying our waterways and using up our valuable water supplies. Hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, fertilizers and other chemicals run off into rivers, lakes, streams and our drinkable water. These practices cause dead zones in the oceans, rivers and lakes. Animal farming is the leading cause of the catastrophic reduction of critical wildlife habitat, and the problem is escalating at a disturbing pace. Meat production is slated to double in another four decades. Remove meat, dairy and eggs from your diet.
A plant-based diet is the most dramatic lifestyle change you can make to help save the planet and its animals. It also provides a wealth of health benefits. People who eat more fruits and vegetables as part of an overall healthy diet are likely to have a reduced risk of some chronic diseases. Fruits provide nutrients vital for health and maintenance of your body.
Most fruits are naturally low in fat, sodium, and calories. None have cholesterol.
Fruits are sources of many essential nutrients that are underconsumed, including potassium, dietary fiber, vitamin C, and folate (folic acid).
Diets rich in potassium may help to maintain healthy blood pressure. Fruit sources of potassium include bananas, prunes and prune juice, dried peaches and apricots, cantaloupe, honeydew melon, and orange juice.
Dietary fiber from fruits helps reduce blood cholesterol levels and may lower risk of heart disease. Fiber is important for proper bowel function. It helps reduce constipation and diverticulosis. Fiber-containing foods such as fruits help provide a feeling of fullness with fewer calories. Whole or cut-up fruits are sources of dietary fiber; fruit juices contain little or no fiber.
Vitamin C is important for growth and repair of all body tissues, helps heal cuts and wounds, and keeps teeth and gums healthy.
Folate (folic acid) helps the body form red blood cells. Women of childbearing age who may become pregnant should consume adequate folate from foods, and in addition 400 mcg of synthetic folic acid from fortified foods or supplements. This reduces the risk of neural tube defects, spina bifida, and anencephaly during fetal development.
Eating a diet rich in vegetables and fruits may reduce risk for heart disease, including heart attack and stroke.
Eating a diet rich in some vegetables and fruits may protect against certain types of cancers.
Diets rich in foods containing fiber, such as some vegetables and fruits, may reduce the risk of heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.
Eating vegetables and fruits rich in potassium may lower blood pressure, and may also reduce the risk of developing kidney stones and help to decrease bone loss.
Eating foods such as fruits that are lower in calories per cup instead of some other higher-calorie food may be useful in helping to lower calorie intake.
Tips To Help You Eat Fruits
Keep a bowl of whole fruit on the table, counter, or in the refrigerator.
Refrigerate cut-up fruit to store for later.
Buy fresh fruits in season when they may be less expensive and at their peak flavor.
Buy fruits that are dried, frozen, and canned (in water or 100% juice) as well as fresh, so that you always have a supply on hand.
Consider convenience when shopping. Try pre-cut packages of fruit (such as melon or pineapple chunks) for a healthy snack in seconds. Choose packaged fruits that do not have added sugars.
For The Best Nutritional Value
Make most of your choices whole or cut-up fruit rather than juice, for the benefits dietary fiber provides.
Select fruits with more potassium often, such as bananas, prunes and prune juice, dried peaches and apricots, and orange juice.
When choosing canned fruits, select fruit canned in 100% fruit juice or water rather than syrup.
Vary your fruit choices. Fruits differ in nutrient content.
At breakfast, top your cereal with bananas or peaches; add blueberries to pancakes; drink 100% orange or grapefruit juice.
At lunch, pack a tangerine, banana, or grapes to eat, or choose fruits from a salad bar. Individual containers of fruits like peaches or applesauce are easy and convenient.
At dinner, add crushed pineapple to vegan coleslaw, or include orange sections or grapes in a tossed salad.
Make a Waldorf salad, with apples, celery, walnuts, and a low-calorie, low-sugar salad dressing.
Add fruit like pineapple or peaches to vegetable kabobs.
For dessert, have baked apples, pears, or a fruit salad.
Cut-up fruit makes a great snack. Either cut them yourself, or buy pre-cut packages of fruit pieces like pineapples or melons. Or, try whole fresh berries or grapes.
Dried fruits also make a great snack. They are easy to carry and store well. Because they are dried, ¼ cup is equivalent to ½ cup of other fruits.
Keep a package of dried fruit in your desk or bag. Some fruits that are available dried include apricots, apples, pineapple, bananas, cherries, figs, dates, cranberries, blueberries, prunes (dried plums), and raisins (dried grapes).
As a snack, spread vegan peanut butter on apple slices.
Frozen juice bars (100% juice) make healthy alternatives to high-fat snacks.
Make Fruit More Appealing
Many fruits taste great with a healthy dip or dressing.
Make a fruit smoothie with fresh or frozen fruit. Try bananas, peaches, strawberries, or other berries.
Try unsweetened applesauce as a healthier substitute for some of the oil when baking cakes.
Try different textures of fruits. For example, apples are crunchy, bananas are smooth and creamy, and oranges are juicy.
For fresh fruit salads, mix apples, bananas, or pears with acidic fruits like oranges, pineapple, or lemon juice to keep them from turning brown.
Fruit Tips For Children
Set a good example for children by eating fruit every day with meals or as snacks.
Offer children a choice of fruits for lunch.
Depending on their age, children can help shop for, clean, peel, or cut up fruits.
While shopping, allow children to pick out a new fruit to try later at home.
Decorate plates or serving dishes with fruit slices.
Top off a bowl of cereal with some berries. Or, make a smiley face with sliced bananas for eyes, raisins for a nose, and an orange slice for a mouth.
Offer raisins or other dried fruits instead of candy.
Make fruit kabobs using pineapple chunks, bananas, grapes, and berries.
Pack a juice box (100% juice) in child lunches instead of soda or other sugar-sweetened beverages.
Look for and choose fruit options, such as sliced apples, mixed fruit cup, or 100% fruit juice in fast food restaurants.
Offer fruit pieces and 100% fruit juice to children. There is often little fruit in “fruit-flavored” beverages or chewy fruit snacks.
Keep It Safe
Rinse fruits before preparing or eating them. Under clean, running water, rub fruits briskly with your hands to remove dirt and surface microorganisms. Dry with a clean cloth towel or paper towel after rinsing.
Most people have ever heard of pangolins. Yet around the globe they are facing an unprecedented crisis. The pangolin is one of the most sought-after and poached wild animals in the world. Nearly one million have been illegally traded over the past decade.
Pangolins, or scaly anteaters, are nocturnal, ant and termite eating mammals found in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa whose bodies are covered with overlapping scales made of keratin, the same protein that forms human hair and finger nails, and rhino horn.
There are eight pangolin species worldwide. Four of the species can be found in 17 range states across Asia, and four in 31 range states across Africa. Pangolins occupy a diverse array of habitats; some are arboreal or semiarboreal and climb with the aid of prehensile tails, while others are ground-dwelling. Some pangolin species, such as the Chinese pangolin and Temminck’s ground pangolin, sleep in underground burrows during the day. Others, including white-bellied pangolins and Sunda pangolins, are known to sleep in trees. Pangolins dig burrows with their strong front legs and claws, using their tails and rear legs for support and balance.
Pangolins are insectivores. They use their claws to break into nests of ants and termites, and they use their long, sticky tongues to lap up the insects. A baby pangolin will remain with its mother for three to four months and cling to its mother’s tail as she forages for insects. Pangolins have few defenses beyond their scaly exterior. While their habit of rolling up in a ball is an effective response to predators, the behavior actually makes it easier for poachers to collect and transport these toothless mammals.
Pangolins perform important ecological roles such as regulating insect populations. It has been estimated that an adult can consume more than 70 million insects annually. Pangolins also excavate deep burrows for sleeping and nesting. Burrowing animals are sometimes referred to as “ecosystem engineers” as their burrows may be used by other species; for example new research shows that giant armadillos, South American mammals that fulfill a similar ecological niche to ground pangolins, dig burrows that are used for shelter by at least 25 other species.
Pangolin populations are severely dwindling due to massive unsustainable and illegal international and domestic trade. Traffickers seek out pangolins for their scales and blood — which are boiled off or drained to use in traditional medicine — and their meat, which is considered a delicacy. Thousands of pangolins are trafficked each year, making them among the most critically endangered species in the world and liable to go extinct if we don’t take action.
All eight pangolin species are listed on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). But despite protections under CITES and domestic laws, poaching and illegal trade in pangolins continues at a high rate. Recent IUCN Red List of Threatened Species assessments indicate that all eight species are declining and at risk of extinction.
Pangolins do not thrive in captivity, and their slow reproductive rate and low natural population density in the wild suggest that current trade levels are unsustainable. As Asian pangolin populations have become increasingly hard to find and are now subject to zero export quotas by CITES, traders have turned to the African pangolin species to meet market demand. Meanwhile, African species are under additional pressure from local and regional demand for bushmeat and other traditional uses, as well as from habitat loss. While live and whole dead specimens usually can be identified to the species level based on size, number of scales, and other morphological characteristics, commonly traded non-living specimens, such as scales and meat, are difficult for non-experts to identify to the species level, which complicates enforcement.
Most illegally sourced pangolins are destined for markets in China and Vietnam, but demand for pangolins in the United States remains significant. Parts and products of poached pangolins are sold online and in stores. Nearly 30,000 imports of pangolin products were seized in the United States between 2005 and 2014.
Currently, only one of the eight pangolin species — the Temminck’s ground pangolin from Africa — is protected as Endangered under the Endangered Species Act. Because all species of pangolins so closely resemble each other, law enforcement officials have difficulty distinguishing them. Expanding federal protection would prohibit the import and sale of pangolins and their parts in the U.S. and raise global awareness about the pangolin’s plight. An Endangered Species Act listing is an important and necessary step to end the U.S.’s role in declining pangolin populations and would set an example for the rest of the world.
Pangolins have been silently killed and trafficked for far too long. It’s time to recognize the grave situation threatening the survival of the species and offer them the protections they rightfully deserve. If we don’t act now to protect them, these extraordinary animals will disappear from the planet forever.
Declawing increases the risk of long-term or persistent pain, manifesting as unwanted behaviors such as inappropriate elimination (soiling/urinating outside of the litter box) and aggression/biting.
Declaw surgery (onychectomy) is illegal in many countries but is still a surprisingly common practice in some. It is performed electively to stop cats from damaging furniture, or as a means of avoiding scratches. Side effects of the surgery include lameness, chewing of toes and infection. Long-term health effects can be even more devastating.
According to research published in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, declawing increases the risk of long-term or persistent pain, manifesting as unwanted behaviors such as inappropriate elimination (soiling/urinating outside of the litter box) and aggression/biting. This is not only detrimental to the cat (pain is a major welfare issue and these behaviors are common reasons for relinquishment of cats to shelters), but also has health implications for their human companions as cat bites can be very serious.
Inappropriate toileting, biting, aggression and overgrooming occurs significantly more often in declawed cats than non-declawed cats. A declawed cat is also almost 3 times more likely to be diagnosed with back pain than a non-declawed cat (potentially due to shortening of the declawed limb and altered gait, and/or chronic pain at the site of the surgery causing compensatory weight shift to the pelvic limbs).
The surgical guideline for performing declawing, as recommended by Diplomates of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons, is to remove the entire third phalanx (P3), which is the most distal bone of the toe. Despite this, P3 fragments are found in 63% of declawed cats – reflecting poor or inappropriate surgical technique. While the occurrence of back pain and abnormal behaviors is increased in declawed cats, even optimal surgical technique does not eliminate the risks. The removal of the distal phalanges forces the cat to bear weight on the soft cartilaginous ends of the middle phalanges (P2) that were previously shielded within joint spaces. Pain in these declawed phalanges prompts cats to choose a soft surface, such as carpet, in preference to the gravel-type substrate in the litter box. Additionally, declawed cats may react to being touched by resorting to biting as they have few or no claws left to defend themselves.
Scientific evidence proves that declawing is more detrimental to our feline patients than originally thought. Veterinarians should reconsider declawing cats. The procedure is unethical and inhumane.
Dolphins are often regarded as one of earth's most intelligent animals. They are social, living in pods of up to a dozen individuals. In places with a high abundance of food, pods can merge temporarily, forming a superpod; such groupings may exceed 1,000 dolphins. Individuals communicate using a variety of clicks, whistles and other vocalizations. They make ultrasonic sounds for echolocation. Membership in pods is not rigid; interchange is common. However, dolphins can establish strong social bonds; they will stay with injured or ill individuals, even helping them to breathe by bringing them to the surface if needed.
Dolphins also display culture, something long believed to be unique to humans. Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins are known to teach their young to use tools. They cover their snouts with sponges to protect them while foraging. This knowledge is mostly transferred by mothers to daughters. Using sponges as mouth protection is a learned behavior. Another learned behavior was discovered among river dolphins in Brazil, where some male dolphins use weeds and sticks as part of a sexual display.
Play is an important part of dolphin culture. Dolphins play with seaweed and play-fight with other dolphins. They play and harass other local creatures, like seabirds and turtles. Dolphins enjoy riding waves and frequently surf coastal swells and the bow waves of boats, at times “leaping” between the dual bow waves of a moving catamaran. Occasionally, they playfully interact with swimmers.
DOLPHINS AT RISK
Some dolphin species face an uncertain future, especially the Amazon river dolphin and the Ganges river dolphin, which are critically or seriously endangered. A 2006 survey found no individuals of the Yangtze river dolphin, which now appears to be functionally extinct.
Pesticides, heavy metals, plastics, and other industrial and agricultural pollutants that do not disintegrate rapidly in the environment concentrate in predators such as dolphins. Injuries or deaths due to collisions with boats, especially their propellers, are also common.
Various fishing methods, most notably purse seine fishing for tuna and the use of drift and gill nets, kill many dolphins. By-catch in gill nets and incidental captures in antipredator nets that protect marine fish farms are common and pose a risk for mainly local dolphin populations. In some parts of the world, such as Taiji in Japan and the Faroe Islands, dolphins are killed in harpoon or drive hunts. Dolphin meat is high in mercury, and may thus pose a health danger to humans when consumed.
Dolphin safe labels attempt to reassure consumers fish and other marine products have been caught in a dolphin-friendly way. The original deal with "Dolphin safe" labels was brokered in the 1980s between marine activists and the major tuna companies, and involved decreasing incidental dolphin kills by up to 50% by changing the type of nets being used to catch the tuna. Dolphins continue to be netted while fishermen are in pursuit of smaller tuna. Albacore are not netted this way, which makes albacore the only truly dolphin-safe tuna.
Loud underwater noises, such as those resulting from naval sonar use, live firing exercises, or certain offshore construction projects, such as wind farms, may be harmful to dolphins, increasing stress, damaging hearing, and causing decompression sickness by forcing them to surface too quickly to escape the noise.
A number of militaries have employed dolphins for various purposes, from finding mines to rescuing lost or trapped humans. The military use of dolphins drew scrutiny during the Vietnam War when rumors circulated that the United States Navy was training dolphins to kill Vietnamese divers. Dolphins are still being trained by the United States Navy on other tasks as part of the U.S. Navy Marine Mammal Program. The Russian military is believed to have closed its marine mammal program in the early 1990s. In 2000 the press reported that dolphins trained to kill by the Soviet Navy had been sold to Iran.
DOLPHIN DRIVE HUNTING
Dolphin drive hunting, also called dolphin drive fishing, is a method of hunting dolphins and occasionally other small cetaceans by driving them together with boats and then usually into a bay or onto a beach. Their escape is prevented by closing off the route to the open sea or ocean with boats and nets. Dolphins are hunted this way in several places around the world, including the Solomon Islands, the Faroe Islands, Peru and Japan, the most well-known practitioner of this method. Dolphins are mostly hunted for their meat; some are captured and end up in dolphinariums.
Despite the highly controversial nature of the hunt resulting in international criticism, and the possible health risk that the often polluted meat causes, many thousands of dolphins are caught in drive hunts each year.
In Japan, striped, spotted, Risso's, and bottlenose dolphins are most commonly hunted, but several other species such as the false killer whale are also occasionally caught. A small number of orcas have been caught in the past. Relatively few striped dolphins are found in the coastal waters, probably due to hunting.
The Japanese town of Taiji on the Kii peninsula is, as of now, the only town in Japan where drive hunting still takes place on a large scale. In the town of Futo the last known hunt took place in 2004. In 2007 Taiji wanted to step up its dolphin hunting programs, approving an estimated ¥330 million for the construction of a massive cetacean slaughterhouse in an effort to popularize the consumption of dolphins in the country.
Dolphin welfare advocacy groups such as Earth Island Institute, Surfers for Cetaceans and Dolphin Project Inc., assert that the number of dolphins and porpoises killed is estimated at 25,000 per year.
In Japan, the hunting is done by a select group of fishermen. When a pod of dolphins has been spotted, they're driven into a bay by the fishermen while banging on metal rods in the water to scare and confuse the dolphins. When the dolphins are in the bay, it is quickly closed off with nets so the dolphins cannot escape. The dolphins are usually not caught and killed immediately, but instead left to calm down over night. The following day, the dolphins are caught one by one and killed. The killing of the animals used to be done by slitting their throats, but the Japanese government banned this method and now dolphins may officially only be killed by driving a metal pin into the neck of the dolphin. It is not clear if this ban is strictly enforced however.
Some of the captured dolphins are left alive and taken to dolphinariums. Dolphins have also been exported to the United States for several parks including the well known SeaWorld parks. The US National Marine Fisheries Service has refused a permit for Marine World Africa USA on one occasion to import four false killer whales caught in a Japanese drive hunt. In recent years, dolphins from the Japanese drive hunts have been exported to China, Taiwan and to Egypt. On multiple occasions, members of the International Marine Animal Trainers Association (IMATA) have also been observed at the drive hunts in Japan.
Protest and campaigns are now common in Taiji. Some of the animal welfare organizations campaigning against the drive hunts are Sea Shepherd, One Voice, Blue Voice, the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, and the World Society for the Protection of Animals. Since much of the criticism is the result of photos and videos taken during the hunt and slaughter, it is now common for the final capture and slaughter to take place on site inside a tent or under a plastic cover, out of sight from the public.
On a smaller scale, drive hunting for dolphins also takes place on the Solomon Islands, more specifically on the island of Malaita. Dolphin's teeth are also used in jewelry and as currency on the island. The dolphins are hunted in a similar fashion as in Japan, using stones instead of metal rods to produce sounds to scare and confuse the dolphins. Various species are hunted, such as spotted and spinner dolphins. The amount of dolphins killed each year is not known, but anecdotal information suggests between 600 and 1,500 dolphins per hunting season. The hunting season lasts roughly from December to April, when the dolphins are closest to shore. As in Japan, some dolphins (exclusively bottlenoses) from the Solomon Islands have also been sold to the entertainment industry. There was much controversy in July 2003, when 28 Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops trancatus aduncus) were exported to Parque Nizuc, a water park in Cancun. A large portion of the animals were later transported to Cozumel, to do interaction programs. Though the export of dolphins had been banned in 2005, the export of dolphins was resumed in October 2007 when the ban was lifted following a court decision, allowing for 28 dolphins to be sent to a dolphinarium in Dubai. A further three dolphins were found dead near the holding pens. The dealer that exported these dolphins has stated that they intend to release their 17 remaining dolphins back into the wild in the future.
On the Faroe Islands mainly Pilot Whales are killed by drive hunts for their meat. Other species are also killed on rare occasion such as the Northern bottlenose whale and Atlantic white-sided dolphin. The hunt is known by the locals as the Grindadráp. There are no fixed hunting seasons, as soon as a pod close enough to land is spotted fishermen set out to begin the hunt. The animals are driven onto the beach with boats, blocking off the way to the ocean. When on the beach, most of them get stuck. Those that have remained too far in the water are dragged onto the beach by putting a hook in their blowhole. When on land, they are killed by cutting down to the major arteries and spinal cord at the neck. The time it takes for a dolphin to die varies from a few seconds to a few minutes, depending on the cut. When the fishermen fail to beach the animals all together, they are let free again. About a thousand pilot whales are killed this way each year on the Faroe Islands together with usually a few dozen, up to a few hundred, animals belonging to other small cetaceans species...but numbers vary greatly per year. The brutal appearance of the hunt has resulted in international criticism especially from animal welfare organizations. As in Japan, the meat is contaminated with mercury and cadmium, causing a health risk for those frequently eating it.
Though it is forbidden under Peruvian law to hunt dolphins or eat their meat, a large number of dolphins are still killed illegally by fishermen each year. Although exact numbers are not known, the Peruvian organization Mundo Azul (Blue World) estimates that at least a thousand are killed annually. To catch the dolphins, they are driven together with boats and encircled with nets, then harpooned, dragged on to the boat, and clubbed to death if still alive. Various species are hunted, such as the bottlenose and dusky dolphin.
On the Penghu Islands in Taiwan, drive fishing of bottlenose dolphins was practiced until 1990, when the practice was outlawed by the government. Mainly Indian Ocean bottlenose dolphins, but also common bottlenose dolphins, were captured in these hunts.
Along with the bald eagle, the bison perhaps best symbolizes the spirit of American wilderness. While many people are aware that both animals teetered on the brink of extinction in the past due to human encroachment, few realize that wild bison continue to be the victims of a calculated, annual slaughter in the Greater Yellowstone Area.
During the mid to late 1800s, government agents orchestrated one of the most aggressive and wanton animal massacres in history, killing bison indiscriminately in an attempt to subjugate Native Americans. With the addition of market hunters and settlers killing bison for profit and for fun, America's wild bison herds were reduced from an estimated 60 million to perhaps as few as 100.
With the establishment of Yellowstone National Park in 1872 and the National Park Service in 1916, the 25 bison remaining in the Park finally were afforded some protection. Initially, management policies allowed for the active manipulation of populations by culling what was perceived as "surplus" animals. But eventually, the management strategy evolved to an approach which permitted natural regulation to occur, for the most part letting nature take its course rather than relying on human intervention.
This was good news for the bison, but sadly their fortune was short lived. Since the mid 1980s, more than 3,000 bison have been massacred under the supervision of government officials bowing to the pressures of the livestock industry and its cohorts.
WHY ARE BISON BEING KILLED?
In 1917, officials discovered that some Yellowstone bison were infected with Brucella abortus, the bacteria which causes the disease brucellosis in domestic cattle. In cattle, the disease produces spontaneous abortions, but bison do not appear to be similarly affected. In fact, over the past 80 years in the entire Greater Yellowstone Area, there have been only four documented bison abortions, which may or may not have been caused by the bacteria.
Over the past decade, bison have been emigrating from the Park over its northern and western boundaries into the state of Montana during winter months. Because of several mild winters, and the National Park Service's continued grooming of snowmobile trails which makes it easier for bison to exit the Park, more and more bison have been stepping hoof over Park boundaries.
The livestock industry and federal and state livestock agencies contend that bison can transmit the Brucella abortus bacteria to cattle under natural conditions. In reality, there has never been a documented case of this occurring. Despite this fact, they continue to wage a war against Yellowstone bison.
HOW THE BACTERIA IS TRANSMITTED
The primary route of transmission is direct contact of susceptible animals with infected reproductive products, such as fetuses and afterbirth, or with contaminated feed. Given that bison abortions are extremely rare, the risk is remote at best. Bull bison and calves pose virtually no threat of transmitting the bacteria -- because males and juveniles obviously do not give birth or have abortions -- yet shockingly hundreds have been killed. Of the blood and tissue samples taken from 218 of the bison slaughtered during the winter of 1991-92, not a single bison was infectious at the time of death.
In the event a bison abortion were to occur, the bacteria is sensitive to sunlight and heat, and in all likelihood, would die quickly outside the body, although it is possible for it to remain viable for longer periods of time if frozen. Nevertheless, in nature, aborted fetuses are consumed either by the bison themselves or by scavengers almost immediately. In addition, abortions probably would happen during January through June, a period of time which cattle are not permitted on public lands and do not come into contact with wild bison.
CATTLE PERMITTED ON PUBLIC LANDS
The U.S. Forest Service issues grazing permits on lands adjoining Yellowstone National Park, generally for the months of June through October. Cattle grazing is even allowed in Grand Teton National Park. The interests of wildlife, and not cattle, should take precedence on public lands. The grazing allotments should be either closed or modified to minimize any contact between bison and cattle. Also, mandatory vaccination of domestic calves against brucellosis within the counties surrounding the Park could further reduce the risk, if any risk exits at all, of infection. Currently, vaccinations are not mandatory in Montana or Wyoming.
AGENCIES RESPONSIBLE FOR BISON BEING KILLED
With increased bison migrations into Montana, the Montana Legislature listed bison as a game animal in 1985, giving the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks authority to initiate a public hunt. During the winter of 1988-89, sport hunters shot 570 bison at point-blank range. Due to national media coverage, this cruel fiasco generated outrage across the country. Shortly thereafter, the Legislature decided to no longer issue bison permits to sport hunters, although state officials retained the right to implement lethal control.
Today, control has been vested in the Montana Department of Livestock, an agency which views bison as nothing more than brucellosis-infected pests who must be controlled to maintain Montana's brucellosis-free status. With the cooperative services of Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks and National Park Service officials, government officials continue to gun down hundreds of bison each year. During the winter of 1996-97 alone, nearly 1,100 bison were killed.
Much of the hysteria derives from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), the agency responsible for brucellosis eradication in domestic livestock. APHIS, without legal authority, has threatened to revoke the brucellosis-free status of both Montana and Wyoming if measures aren't taken to eliminate Brucella abortus in the Greater Yellowstone Area. Brucellosis-free status permits cattle producers to market their cattle without being subject to disease testing requirements. Recently, Wyoming capitulated to these threats by establishing a bison sport hunt outside the eastern boundaries of Yellowstone National Park where a small number of bison occasionally exit.
The APHIS brucellosis eradication program launched in the 1930s was intended to apply only to domestic livestock, but it appears that APHIS and other industry interests will not be satisfied until the Brucella abortus organism is eliminated in all domestic animals and wildlife.
OTHER WILD ANIMALS POSE A RISK
In addition to bison, elk can also be infected with the bacteria and can carry the disease. With more than 90,000 elk in the Greater Yellowstone Area, the likelihood of eliminating the bacteria using available technologies is virtually nonexistent. Moreover, if all infected bison were destroyed, exposure to elk would result in reinfection in the remainder.
This is particularly a problem in Wyoming where over 23,000 elk congregate on artificial feedgrounds, creating prime conditions for bacteria transmission. In fact, bison from Grand Teton National Park, just south of Yellowstone, have discovered the "free meals" being provided on the National Elk Refuge each winter in the Jackson Hole area. It is speculated that this herd of bison contracted the bacteria from elk on the feedground.
State officials rarely admit that elk may also carry the disease. Elk, of course, are a prime money maker for Montana and Wyoming state officials, who encourage propagation of elk herds so they can profit from the sale of sport hunting licenses.
Ironically, bison are being targeted allegedly to protect the livestock industry, but the general consensus among scientists is that cattle probably introduced the bacteria into the Yellowstone bison herd shortly before 1917. Victims then and victims now.
The grunts made by pigs vary depending on the pig’s personality and can convey important information about the welfare of this highly social species, new research has found.
Scientists specializing in animal behavior and welfare devised an experiment to investigate the relationship between personality and the rate of grunting in pigs. They also examined the effect different quality living conditions had on these vocalizations.
The study involved 72 male and female juvenile pigs. Half were housed in spacious ‘enriched’ pens with straw bedding, while the other half were kept in more compact ‘barren’ pens with partially slatted concrete floors, which adhered to UK welfare requirements.
To get a measure of the pigs’ personalities, the researchers conducted two tests: a social isolation test and a novel object test. Each pig spent three minutes in social isolation, and five minutes in a pen with a large white bucket or an orange traffic cone they had not previously encountered. Their behavior, including vocalizations, were observed. These tests were repeated two weeks later, allowing the researchers to determine if the pigs’ responses were repeatable – the defining characteristic of personality (also known as ‘coping style’ in animals).
They also recorded the frequency of grunts they made by counting the number of grunts produced per minute of the test, and investigated the effect different quality environments had on the sounds made.
The study indicated that pigs with more proactive personality types produced grunts at a higher rate than the more reactive animals. The study also found that male pigs (but not females) kept in the lower-quality conditions made fewer grunts compared with those housed in the enriched environment, suggesting greater susceptibility among male pigs to environmental factors.
The results add to evidence that acoustic signaling indicates personality in pigs. This may have had far reaching consequences in shaping the evolution of social behaviors, the researchers believe. The findings also suggest personality needs to be kept in mind when using vocalization as a measure of the animals’ welfare status.
Principal investigator, Dr Lisa Collins, a specialist in animal health, behavior and welfare epidemiology in the School of Life Sciences at the University of Lincoln, said: “The domestic pig is a highly social and vocal species which uses acoustic signals in a variety of ways; maintaining contact with other group members while foraging, parent–offspring communication, or to signal if they are distressed. The sounds they make convey a wide range of information such as the emotional, motivational and physiological state of the animal. For example, squeals are produced when pigs feel fear, and may be either alerting others to their situation or offering assurance. Grunts occur in all contexts, but are typical of foraging to let other members of the group know where they are.”
A vegan (pronounced Vee-g'n) is someone who tries to live without exploiting animals, for the benefit of animals, people and the planet. A vegan is someone who does not eat any meat, poultry, fish, dairy products (milk, butter, cheese, cream etc), eggs, honey or any other animal derived by-products such as gelatin and whey. They also avoid wearing leather, suede, wool and silk - as these have all been obtained from animals - and toiletries, cosmetics and cleaning products that have been tested on animals or contain animal based ingredients. Instead, vegans choose from thousands of animal-free foods and products.
Veganism is a philosophy, not a diet. This philosophy is the belief in the right of all sentient beings to be treated with respect, not as property, and to be allowed to live their lives.
IT'S A HEALTHY CHOICE
A balanced vegan diet (also referred to as a ‘plant-based diet’) meets many current healthy eating recommendations such as eating more fruit, vegetables and whole grains and consuming less cholesterol and saturated fat. Balanced vegan diets are often rich in vitamins, antioxidants and fiber and can decrease the chances of suffering from diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke and some cancers. Well-planned plant-based diets are suitable for all age groups and stages of life.
Many people become vegan through concern of the way farmed animals are treated. Some object to the unnecessary ‘use’ and killing of animals – unnecessary as we do not need animal products in order to feed or clothe ourselves.
Public awareness of the conditions of factory-farmed animals is gradually increasing and it is becoming more and more difficult to claim not to have at least some knowledge of the treatment they endure. Sentient, intelligent animals are often kept in cramped and filthy conditions where they cannot move around or perform their natural behaviors. At the same time, many suffer serious health problems and even death because they are selectively bred to grow or produce milk or eggs at a far greater rate than their bodies are capable of coping with.
Regardless of how they were raised, all animals farmed for food meet the same fate at the slaughterhouse. This includes the millions of calves and male chicks who are killed every year as ‘waste products’ of milk and egg production and the animals farmed for their milk and eggs who are killed at a fraction of their natural lifespan. Choosing a vegan diet is a daily demonstration of compassion for all these creatures.
IT'S BETTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT
Plant-based diets only require around one third of the land and water needed to produce a typical Western diet. Farmed animals consume much more protein, water and calories than they produce, so far greater quantities of crops and water are needed to produce animal ‘products’ to feed humans than are needed to feed people direct on a plant-based diet. With water and land becoming scarcer globally, world hunger increasing and the planet’s population rising, it is much more sustainable to eat plant foods direct than use up precious resources feeding farmed animals. Farming animals and growing their feed also contributes to other environmental problems such as deforestation, water pollution and land degradation.
There are mouth-watering plant-based dishes from around the world: from India, vegetable curries and dhals; from the Far East, tofu stir fries; from Italy pastas and salads; from Turkey, hummus and babaghanoush; and from Mexico beans and tortillas… the list goes on! Many familiar foods have vegan versions - vegans can enjoy pizza, vegan sausage and mash, casseroles and even chocolate cake. The variety of vegan food available in shops and restaurants is growing all the time – eating a vegan diet has never been easier.
Choosing to live a life free from animal products means choosing a path that is kinder to people, animals and the environment. In fact, there are so many good reasons to reject meat, eggs and dairy products and so many delicious animal free alternatives that the real question is not ‘why vegan?’ but ‘why not?’.