Fox hunting – still protesting this shit

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2 years ago I wrote THIS blog post about Tory attempts to repeal the Hunting Act and I can’t believe we’re STILL having this argument and I’m STILL having to protest this shit.

It’s illegal. Give it up. Find another hobby. One that doesn’t involve foxes being torn apart and hunting dogs being mistreated and destroyed.

 

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Corruption and the illegal wildlife trade

A new report published by The Guardian yesterday has exposed key wildlife trafficking crime groups and the corrupt government officials enabling them.

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The investigation was carried out by Freeland over 14 years and identifies through Thai government surveillance the main crime networks and individual traffickers who have profited around $23bn through illegally trading in animals, including endangered species, such as elephants, tigers and rhinos.

‘The Bach brothers’, two Vietnamese siblings, allegedly control one of the main trade routes in endangered species and are some of the key suspects in the report.

Why and how is this criminal trade so lucrative? It is the fourth most profitable illegal trade, after drugs, people and arms trafficking. A pair of rhino horns, for example, can sell for 200 times the original price in Vietnam and 400 times in China. Around 5% of rhinos are alive today compared with four decades ago, and around 1,000 are killed by poachers each year. Just to be clear – the rhinos are ‘detusked’ and left to bleed to death.

Rhino horns have been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine, and used to treat rheumatism, fever, gout, headaches, and all sort of other ailments, despite having no scientific basis in fact. Rhino horn is mainly made of keratin and has no proven ability to cure anything.

The Guardian report reveals that the known wildlife trafficking kingpin, Vixay Keosavang, has apparently brought his operations to a close, since the US put a $1m reward on his capture. This is the only monetary reward historically offered for a wildlife trafficker, and seems to have been almost instantly effective in halting his business. Since then, however, new players have taken over – the Bach brothers, who are:

well-known locally for their criminal activities, which also include vehicle smuggling; the Bachs run legitimate businesses in wholesale agriculture and forest products, construction materials, electrical equipment, hotels, and food services.

Today, the Guardian has also revealed  that senior officials in Laos have profited through a 2% tax on trade involving tigers, rhinos and elephants. For over a decade, the office of the Laos prime minister has cut deals with three leading traffickers to move wildlife through borders. The statistics are truly shocking:

In 2014 alone, these deals covered $45m (£35m) worth of animal body parts and included agreed quotas requiring the disabling or killing of 165 tigers, more than 650 rhinos and more than 16,000 elephants.

This trade is illegal and prohibited by the International Trade in Endangered Species.

Laos continues to be a full member of Cites, despite having been suspended in 2015 for failure to produce a plan to tackle the ivory trade, and again this year for failure to implement a plan to tackle the ivory trade. This new evidence proves that not only has Laos shown little interest in confronting the illegal trade in wildlife, it has actually profited substantially from taxing the trade.

You can read about the WWF’s efforts to stop the illegal wildlife trade here.

If we are to end this horrific trade in wild animals, we need an international approach that must involve robustly tackling the demand, enforcing the laws, and investing in the areas that are targeted by poachers, to promote education about the ecological need for diverse habitats and species, and to enable local communities to protect wildlife on their doorstep.

Most importantly, we need to kill the demand in Asia and China.

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Buzzards are now fair game for gamekeepers

One man in England has been given a license to shoot 10 buzzards which, he claims, are interfering with his pheasant-shooting business. That one license will enable others to seek licenses to shoot legally protected species in this country, and it makes a mockery of the huge conversation success that was the protection of the buzzard.

Birds of prey have been legally protected in the UK since 1954, but just one license will undermine that; not only will it set a precedent for more licenses, but it will make the continued illegal killing of raptors by gamekeepers even easier.

Buzzards were hunted to near extinction in the 19th century and, although there are now around 30 to 40 thousand in the UK, there are still reports of illegal killing and they are still a recovering species. You can read about the buzzard’s story on the RSPB website here.

Once again, economic interests have been placed before the survival of a species, despite the evidence that buzzards pose very little threat to pheasant populations. Those that escape the barrel of a gun are usually discovered squashed by the roadside.

45 million gamebirds are released into the countryside every year for the sanguinary enjoyment of those who pay to kill animals for fun. Some of those birds will inevitably meet their fate instead at the claws of a bird of prey. BECAUSE NATURE.

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And where does it end? Licences to shoot hen harriers and peregrine falcons? This is the precedent that will open the floodgates to allowing further licenses that could threaten the buzzard with extinction yet again, or decimate struggling populations of other birds of prey.

Will the post-Brexit apocalypse enable thousands of EU environment-friendly laws to be crossed out? This is the first step.

Angry? You should be. I know how you like to sign a petition.

Humans Have Cut Down More Than Half The Earth’s Trees… So Far

I haven’t blogged in a few months – I’ve moved house, started a new job, then helped my mother move house. So it’s been very busy and stressful. There’s been some hideous animal stories I’ve missed out on discussing in that time. I’m starting some volunteering soon, which will take up a lot of my writing time, but I’ll try to keep this blog going still.

Let’s talk about trees.

Credit: WWF – http://www.worldwildlife.org/threats/deforestation

A recent study by Yale University has calculated the shocking decline of tree density.

Using a combination of satellite images, data from forestry researchers on the ground and supercomputer number-crunching, scientists have for the first time been able to accurately estimate the quantity of trees growing on all continents except Antarctica.

The largest forests are found in tropical climates, particularly the Amazon, which is home to a staggering 43% of the world’s trees. The greatest tree density, however, is to be found in the colder climes of Russia, North America and Scandinavia. The scientists documented the influence of growing human populations on tree preservation, and found that, unsurprisingly, as civilizations expand, natural arboreal areas are deforested.

This news is certainly worrying – we have so far cut down around 46% of the world’s trees. The National Geographic claims that “the world’s rain forests could completely vanish in a hundred years at the current rate of deforestation.”

Crowther, who led the study, had this to say:

…human activity is the largest driver of tree numbers worldwide. While the negative impact of human activity on natural ecosystems is clearly visible in small areas, the study provides a new measure of the scale of anthropogenic effects, highlighting how historical land use decisions have shaped natural ecosystems on a global scale. In short, tree densities usually plummet as the human population increases. Deforestation, land-use change, and forest management are responsible for a gross loss of over 15 billion trees each year.

The WWF explains why forests are vital ecosystems:

forests provide habitats to diverse animal species; they form the source of livelihood for many different human settlements; they offer watershed protection, timber and non-timber products, and various recreational options; they prevent soil erosion, help in maintaining the water cycle, and check global warming by using carbon dioxide in photosynthesis.

But what everyday things can I do to slow deforestation, I hear you ask?

  • Go paperless.
  • Plant a tree.
  • Buy recycled products and then recycle them again.
  • Buy certified wood products from the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council).
  • Buy only what you will use.
  • Don’t use Palm Oil or products with Palm Oil.

Reluctant Yulin Dog Meat Festival Aftermath Post

I wanted to avoid writing about the Yulin dog meat festival, as social media has been buzzing this last few weeks with haunting images of dogs and cats crammed into tiny wire cages, on their way to an inhumane slaughter. I don’t need to argue that the boiling, beating and murder of stolen beloved pets is morally wrong – that’s a given. But this is a good time to point out that the mass production of billions of chickens, pigs and cows, all kept in unnatural and unpleasant conditions, is not too far removed from the perverse Yulin dog eating festival.

Dog eating is dying out in China, despite the popularity of the new Yulin festival. Attitudes to animals are changing in China, and the festival attracted animal rights activists, who went to rescue as many dogs as they could afford to.

Yang Xiaoyun, retired school teacher, paid about 7,000 yuan ($1,100; £710) to save 100 dogs on Saturday.

We’ve all seen farmyard animals packed tightly into trucks on their way to slaughter in the UK – a more humane slaughter, perhaps, than the hideous fate that awaited the stolen Chinese pets this month. Pigs are highly intelligent creatures and they, like domestic pets, do not deserve to suffer a horrific journey to the abattoir. You might not agree that animals shouldn’t be eaten, but it is undeniable that sentient creatures deserve freedom from the kind of daily torture that occurs on a massive scale globally every day.

I’m not going to make the case that current animal husbandry is unnecessary cruel. There have been plenty of investigations – you can Google it yourself. I’d just like to put the grotesque nature of the Yulin dog festival into perspective: 10,000 dogs and cats once a year. 56 billion farmed animals each year.

Ricky, a lucky dog rescued by Dr Peter Li of the Humane Society International.

UK Fracking Threat Resurfaces

Lancashire County Council is set to decide whether to permit fracking tests on several sites on the Fylde coast. If Cuadrilla are successful in their bid and are able to carry out their tests in Lancashire, they may be able to begin a new application for commercial fracking in the UK.

Fracking has been in the news frequently in the last couple of years, but what exactly is it and why could it be disastrous for the environment? Otherwise known as hydraulic fracturing, fracking is:

the process of drilling down into the earth before a high-pressure water mixture is directed at the rock to release the gas inside. Water, sand and chemicals are injected into the rock at high pressure which allows the gas to flow out to the head of the well.

Why is it controversial?

– Fracking requires a huge amount of water that must be transported to the drilling companies’ remote sites.

– Fracking can cause earthquakes. Several minor tremors in Blackpool in 2011 have been linked to fracking tests.

– Potentially harmful and carcinogenic chemicals could escape around the fracking sites.

– Shale gas is not a renewable or environmentally safe form of energy provision.

The Centre for Biological Diversity have published a more extensive list of some of the observed effects of fracking on wildlife and the environment, based on studies conducted to observe the impact of fracking in 6 US states, where fracking has revolutionized the energy industry.

Fracking has yet to catch on fully in the UK, as generally people don’t want it; the majority of MEPs voted for a moratorium on fracking in a symbolic vote that could see a future ban. The public outcry against fracking is a largely based on the lack of knowledge regarding the environmental impact of shale gas wells, and this report about a study demonstrated that there has been very little investigation into the effects, so there is very little data to draw on when considering the impact. The implication being that if there is no data to condemn fracking, it can be deemed safe. However, the 24/7 traffic, the partitioning of habitats, the leakage of chemicals into the water system, and many other factors, are quite obviously going to have an effect, and it’s probably a bad one.

Protests against fracking sites.

‘Seven Billion Dreams. One Planet. Consume With Care.’ – Happy World Environment Day!

Today is the United Nations’ ‘World Environment Day‘ 2015 project:

the WED theme this year is “Seven Billion Dreams. One Planet. Consume with Care.” The well-being of humanity, the environment, and the functioning of the economy, ultimately depend upon the responsible management of the planet’s natural resources. And yet, evidence is building that people are consuming far more natural resources than what the planet can sustainably provide.

Every June 5 environmental activists and organisations get together to promote their shared goals of better environmental management, with the view to limiting the damaging effects of climate change, reducing the pressure on diminishing natural resources, and encouraging the transition to a more sustainable lifestyle.

Big business could generally do with paying close attention to World Environment Day, but the UN’s programme aims to encourage individuals to think about and make changes to the way we eat, shop, consume and travel.

By 2050, it is expected that the human population of the earth will reach a staggering 9.6 billion and, if we continue to consume and produce in the way we have been, we will need three planets to sustain such a population.

According to the WED website,

less than 3% of the world’s water is fresh (drinkable), of which 2.5% is frozen in the Antarctica, Arctic and glaciers. Humanity must therefore rely on 0.5% for all of man’s ecosystem’s and fresh water needs.

If that statistic isn’t shocking, try this one:

1.3 billion tonnes of food is wasted every year while almost 1 billion people go undernourished and another 1 billion hungry.

It is self-evident that the earth has a finite supply of resources, which together we are exploiting at a rate far faster than nature can recycle.

You can find out more about WED’s aims here.

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