Seidle T.,Humane Society International
ATLA Alternatives to Laboratory Animals | Year: 2013
The Research & Toxicology Department of Humane Society International (HSI) operates a multifaceted and science-driven global programme aimed at ending the use of animals in toxicity testing and research. The key strategic objectives include: a) ending cosmetics animal testing worldwide, via the multinational Be Cruelty-Free campaign; b) achieving near-term reductions in animal testing requirements through revision of product sector regulations; and c) advancing humane science by exposing failing animal models of human disease and shifting science funding toward human biology-based research and testing tools fit for the 21st century. HSI was instrumental in ensuring the implementation of the March 2013 European sales ban for newly animal-tested cosmetics, in achieving the June 2013 cosmetics animal testing ban in India as well as major cosmetics regulatory policy shifts in China and South Korea, and in securing precedent-setting reductions in in vivo data requirements for pesticides in the EU through the revision of biocides and plant protection product regulations, among others. HSI is currently working to export these life-saving measures to more than a dozen industrial and emerging economies.
The mighty African lion that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed as threatened and endangered on Monday goes by many names — the king of the beasts, Leo of the zodiac, so royal that that it doesn’t just live in families — it lives in prides. Yet the agency’s action also shields another cat, the Asiatic lion, that’s far less known or heralded. Unlike its sub-Saharan relatives, which are studied often by wildlife biologists and filmed relentlessly for TV wildlife shows, the few Asian lions that mostly roam the Indian state of Gujarat, in and around the Gir Forest, barely get a mention. Estimates put their numbers at only about 500 in the forest and a small section of north Africa. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature, a group devoted to the protection of wild flora and fauna, listed them as critically endangered in 2000 and pegged the number of adults at only 175 eight years later. They are considerably worse off than east and southern Africa’s lions, having been hunted almost to extinction in the 19th and 20th centuries. [2 sub-species of lion will be added to the endangered list, activists say] African lions, which through much of the last century roamed in the hundreds of thousands, now number about 20,000. They’ve long been beset by a mixed cocktail of issues. In its announcement, Fish and Wildlife labeled the lions in India and west and central Africa as endangered and those in east and southern Africa as threatened. Africa’s population explosion is causing humans to expand into their range. Many of those people kill animals to sell as bush meat, reducing the wild prey that lions need to survive. When the lions instead begin preying on cattle, they’re killed. And the final issue: Governments promote lion hunting in exchange for lucrative permits that are supposed to contribute funds to programs meant to help conserve the species. Under an agreement with the United Nations and member states, African governments such as Zimbabwe allow hunting with permits that cost up to $300,000. American hunters pay extra for a permit to import the slain animal’s head into the United States as a trophy. But if preservation is the goal, Fish and Wildlife Director Dan Ashe said Monday, the programs have failed and need “to be held to a much higher standard.” The agency drew a bead on both practices by listing African and Asiatic lions as threatened or endangered, depending on their location, under the Endangered Species Act. The action will take effect in late January. As part of the listing, Ashe said, the agency will place more scrutiny on how African nations that allow hunting use permit fees that are supposed to be spent on wildlife conservation. Fish and Wildlife vowed to determine “that all the revenue is transparent so we can be assured that these revenues aren’t contributing to some kind of corruption in the range states that distracts from management.” That statement aligns with charges from at least one animal rights group, the Humane Society International, that there’s no way of knowing what happens to the bounty governments get for the slaughter of not only lions, but elephants and rhinoceros, two others species that have undergone steep population declines resulting from poaching recently and hunting historically. [US officials make contact with a rep for Cecil the Lion’s killer amid extradition calls] “The burden will be on the range states to show that their program is enhancing conservation of lion populations in the wild,” Ashe said. “We will hold them to a higher standard than we ever have before. We need to see programs where trophy hunting revenues is enhancing research.” On top of taking a harder look at the books of foreign governments, Fish and Wildlife is seeking to make it considerably harder for hunters to acquire the bragging rights that fuel their trade — trophies. Calling the trophy imports “a privilege not a right,” Ashe said he is issuing a director’s order that will bar any hunter convicted of violating wildlife laws from getting an approved permit, and there will be an extra layer of permitting and possibly higher fees for those who are allowed a permit. The higher fees, Ashe said, will add to the funding for Fish and Wildlife law enforcement, whose officers patrol the nation’s largest ports in small numbers that frequently mean illegal wildlife goods such as elephant ivory slip through. “It’s the responsibility of the hunting industry and the American hunter in particular to do better,” he said. “Hunting, particularly trophy hunting, is going to have to lead to the enhancement of lion populations. We have an obligation to make sure U.S. citizens are supporting wildlife management programs that enhance lion populations in the wild.” The new listing for lions is a victory for rights groups that started pushing for it four years ago. Their request plodded along until last year, when Fish and Wildlife announced its intention to propose a listing for African lions. After discussions with the international union, the agency also turned its attention to Asiatic lions. A few months later, a Minnesota dentist infuriated people across the world when he illegally shot a beloved lion, Cecil, in Zimbabwe. France banned trophy imports. [African lions set to become the last big cat listed under the Endangered Species Act] Asiatic lions are distinct from sub-Saharan African lions, but the genetic difference is infinitesimal, “smaller than the genetic distance between human racial groups,” according to the international union. “It has been a very long four years waiting for this decision,” said Adam M. Roberts, the chief executive of Born Free USA, one of the animal rights groups that requested protection. “We are hopeful the [Fish and Wildlife Service] will be rigorous when investigating any management plans in lion-range states and proposed trophy imports, and that the U.S. government will set the bar incredibly high before allowing trophies to come in.” In a statement, the nonprofit Wildlife Conservation Society said the Fish and Wildlife actions should allow the recovery of one of the world’s most iconic animals. “We believe that listing the lion under the…Endangered Species Act will encourage this better management of lion populations,” said John Robinson, the group’s chief conservation officer.
Government officials and families of crew members stood on the quayside and waved as ships—at least one fitted with a powerful harpoon—left a southern port, television footage showed. "Two whaling ships departed from Shimonoseki with a Fisheries Agency patrol boat this morning, while the factory ship also left another port to form a fleet," an agency official told AFP. "A fourth whaler already left a northeastern port yesterday to join the fleet." Despite a worldwide moratorium and opposition from usually-friendly nations like Australia and New Zealand, Japan persists in hunting whales for what it says is scientific research. Tokyo claims it is trying to prove the whale population is large enough to sustain a return to commercial hunting, and says it has to kill the mammals to carry out its research properly. However, it makes no secret of the fact that the animals' meat ends up on the dinner table or served up in school lunches. In 2014, the United Nations' highest court, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), ruled that Japan's annual Southern Ocean expedition was a commercial hunt masquerading as science to skirt the moratorium. In response, Japan's 2014-15 mission carried out only "non-lethal research" such as taking skin samples and doing headcounts. But the government has said for months it intended to resume butchery in the current season, which runs to around the end of March. The announcement Monday that the hunt was to begin drew condemnation from around the world. Claire Bass, executive director for Humane Society International, said Japan had chosen to ignore the "universal opposition" represented by the ICJ ruling. "Once again we have Japan's whaling fleet setting sail to commit a crime against nature," she said in a statement, stressing "Japan's long history of whale persecution". Other conservationists called for another legal challenge. The International Fund for Animal Welfare and the Australian Marine Conservation Society said a panel of legal experts asked to consider Japan's latest whaling mission had found it broke international law. "The panel concluded that Japan's new whaling programme violates international law and that Australia or other countries still have options to challenge Japan's actions before international courts," said chair and Australian National University professor Donald Rothwell. Japan has hunted whales for centuries, and their meat was a key source of protein in the immediate post-World War II years when the country was desperately poor. But consumption has dramatically declined in recent decades, with significant proportions of the population saying they "never" or "rarely" eat whale meat. Atsushi Ishii, an expert on international relations at Japan's Tohoku University, said Japan's refusal to give up the Antarctic mission despite censure by the international court is largely due to a small group of powerful politicians. "Why resume whaling? Because a group of pro-whaling lawmakers don't like the image that they succumbed to pressure from Sea Shepherd," he told AFP, referring to an environmental group that has repeatedly clashed with Japanese whaling missions. Sea Shepherd Australia said Monday it would follow the latest mission, which Japan said would aim to kill a total of 333 minke whales—some two-thirds under previous targets. Tokyo said in response that it would try to secure the safety of the 160 crew members by sending patrol boats to guard the fleet and strengthening "self-protection measures." "The arguments made by Japan and by anti-whaling countries never meet halfway because they are talking about two different goals under the same rules," Katsuaki Morita, a professor at Konan Women's University and an expert on whaling history, told AFP. "Anti-whaling countries see the IWC as the organisation for conservation, while Japan sees it as the body for ensuring sustainable commercial whaling under appropriate controls."
The Zoological Society London (ZSL), whose mission is to promote and achieve the world-wide conservation of animals and their habitats, says it may have taken a step closer to fulfilling that with the development of a new camera, which it calls Instant Detect. Developed in partnership with other companies like Seven Technologies Group, which specializes in security technology and helped train rangers on conservation sites on how best to use Instant Detect devices, ZSL hopes it could help the fight against poaching, as well as the monitoring of endangered and other species. In the last 40 years 95 percent of rhinoceroses have been poached and more than 100,000 African elephants from 2011-2014 have been illegally killed, according to the charity group. Instant Detect is a camera trap system that uses satellite technology to send images from anywhere in the world, according to ZSL Conservation Technology Unit Project Manager, Louise Hartley. "It's a camera that we would deploy in the wild, it has to be quite sturdy and it often uses motion triggers, so it will have a passive infrared sensor to detect heat changes, so as an animal or a person walks past an image will be captured, and it's just a great way to get an insight into the wild that you wouldn't be able to do if you were a person," she said. The satellite node uses a Raspberry Pi computer to send the images via the Iridium satellite network, which is a satellite constellation providing voice and data coverage to satellite phones, pagers and other integrated transceivers. A filter moves across the lens detecting the change from day to night and adjusting the camera accordingly, so it can see in the dark using night vision. According to Hartley, it has two main uses - monitoring and catching poachers. "We have a deployment in Antarctica to monitor penguins, so we're getting images back daily to look at the penguin behavior and also look at environmental change in that area," she said. "We're also using it for anti-poaching purposes to improve security within protected areas. So an alert, an image, would be sent to an operations room and then rangers can then react accordingly to that alert," she added. If an intruder enters a protected area the camera picks that up and sends an alert. It also has magnetic sensors that can pick up cars, guns and even knives, also triggering the alert to local rangers. The Instant Detect box has a camera lens in the middle, surrounded by an LED array used for night-time imagery using infrared flash - "so when it goes off you won't be able to see it, it's not visible to the human eye," said Hartley. "We have here the passive infrared sensor, so that's the motion detector, so it detects heat change, so as a person or a species is walking in it will trigger an image to be taken," she added, "you can also set it to timelapse so you can set an image to be taken every four hours or every five hours for example." The crucial part, though, is how it talks to ZSL's monitors and to local rangers. "You have the antenna attached to the top here, and then you would have a battery pack attached to the bottom here. When an image is taken there's a separate unit called the satellite node, and the images are sent via radio frequency to the satellite node and then the satellite node uses the Iridium Satellite Network to send that image to where you need it," Hartley said. Other anti-poaching technologies have come to the fore recently, including the Real-Time Anti-Poaching Intelligence Device (RAPID) developed by conservation organization Protect with support from the Humane Society International. DNA analysis, acoustic traps, thermal imaging and improving analytics and mapping are all contributing to the fight against poaching as well. ZSL hopes that Instant Detect could be a crucial addition to that growing arsenal, in what remains a battle with high costs. The Kruger Park, South Africa's main tourist draw, is one place on the front-line of the battle against a surge in rhino poaching for the animal's horn to meet demand in countries such as Vietnam, where it is a coveted ingredient in traditional medicine. The poaching of rhinos there rose in 2015, although it was on the decline elsewhere in the country.
South African ranchers breed lions in captivity, from cubs to adults, then release them just after the arrival of a hunter who pays about $15,000 for a kill. Sometimes the animal is drugged to make it easier game. Sometimes it’s lured by fresh meat to a place where the hunter lurks. Sometimes the felines are so accustomed to humans that they amble up to the person waiting to kill it. Not surprisingly, the success of these hunts is 99 percent. But the Obama administration’s federal protection of lions could end the practice when a new rule goes into effect in about three weeks. [Lions become the last big cat to be placed on the Endangered Species List] As part of actions listing African and Indian lions as threatened or endangered, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declared that it will make it much harder for American hunters to import the slain animals’ heads — their trophies and bragging rights. In addition, the fees for hunting permits will increase substantially. A recent analysis by Humane Society International said the harsher U.S. scrutiny of trophy imports, along with the higher fees and the refusal of some carriers such as Federal Express to ship them, could drive the South African ranchers out of business. According to the organization, almost nine of 10 lions shot in canned hunts there are killed by Americans. “It’s the responsibility of the hunting industry and the American hunter in particular to do better,” Fish and Wildlife Director Dan Ashe said last month, vowing that the agency will pay more attention to how African nations use permit fees intended to benefit wildlife conservation. “Hunting, particularly trophy hunting, is going to have to lead to the enhancement of lion populations. We have an obligation to make sure U.S. citizens are supporting wildlife management programs that enhance lion populations in the wild.” Humane Society International studied data compiled by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, an agreement involving more than 150 countries, and found that in 2014, a total of 363 lion trophies from South Africa — 85 percent — were imported to the United States. Poland was a distant second with 20 trophies, followed by Spain with 17 and the Czech Republic with 10. Fish and Wildlife officials declined Monday to comment on the Humane Society’s analysis without seeing the raw data behind it. However, spokeswoman Laury Parramore wrote in an email: “We are aware that most of the sport-hunted lions documented in the international trade are imported into the United States and that most of these lions were exported from South Africa.” The agency said there were about 3,600 captive lions bred for trophy hunting at more than 170 facilities in South Africa in 2009. The industry often publicizes captive breeding as a potential solution to the dwindling populations in the wild. But lions bred in cages rarely have the tools and behaviors to survive on their own, according to scientific research. Canned or captive hunting, as it’s also known, has been widely condemned by animal-rights groups, including Born Free USA, which has declared 2016 as the “Year of the Lion” to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the movie, Born Free, that focused worldwide attention on the African species. Blood Lions, a documentary set for worldwide release this year, targets such hunting. “If you thought Walter Palmer’s killing of Cecil was deplorable, what happens to nameless lions at these facilities is even more appalling and unsporting,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and chief executive of the Humane Society of the United States. “Along with the new U.S. import restrictions, we applaud France and Australia for banning lion trophy imports, and we urge other importing countries, including the Czech Republic, Poland and Spain, to enact similar rules.” African lions numbered in the hundreds of thousands in much of the last century but now total only about 20,000. They are haunted by a range of issues: people expanding into their habitat, the widespread human slaughter of animals they prey upon for bush meat, and government-sanctioned hunts for permits that fetch up to $400,000 each. While the death of the Zimbabwean lion known as Cecil drew worldwide attention last summer, little is generally known about lion hunts within contained areas where kills are all but assured. South Africa has about 6,000 captive lions. They are born in cages and often rented out to petting operations when they’re young. When they grow into adults, their value as hunting targets increase. [Yes, there are lions in India. Here’s why the US is protecting them] “The animals are normally kept in small cages and released just before being shot,” said Teresa Telecky, director of the wildlife department for Humane Society International. “They hang an animal for the lion to kill, and the hunter lays in wait for a guaranteed kill. More people are becoming aware of it.” South Africa isn’t the only site of canned hunts, which often are promoted at U.S. hunting conventions. Here at home, Texas ranches breed African antelopes for hunts, while red foxes in Virginia and elk in Colorado also are raised specifically for hunting, according to Born Free USA.”If you look at trophy hunting overall, it’s predominantly Americans engaged in the activity,” Telecky said. “There are more than a thousand captive hunts in at least 28 states,” the organization says on its website. “Of the 12 U.S. ranches holding current or recent government-issued endangered species permits, 11 are located in Texas and 1 is in Florida. The animal most commonly hunted at these ranches is the barasingha, or ‘swamp deer,’ native to India and Nepal.”