The one word doing the greatest harm of all to animal welfare

Woman with leather jacket and bag

Leather jackets and bags aren’t necessary but nobody’s perfect

I HAVE a friend who recently gave up all animal products, including consuming dairy and eggs and wearing leather, after watching the Cowspiracy film and reading about how these products support the entrenched cruelty of modern factory farming.

She had long before that been vegetarian, but had shied away from making the leap to being vegan because she had an enormous fondness of and nostalgia about a much-loved “cool” leather jacket and a favourite pair of well broken-in leather shoes. Given that my friend wasn’t going to ditch these possessions, surely, she reasoned, adopting a vegan diet would make her a huge hypocrite. Continue reading

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Luna Lovegood gets mad: Harry Potter star Evanna Lynch acts against live export trade

Evy Lynch

Evanna Lynch stands up for farm animals

WHAT would Luna Lovegood make of it? Her Hogwarts classmates would most certainly have raised an eyebrow, being more familiar with dragons, hippogriffs and unicorns than farm animals.

But Harry Potter star Evanna Lynch took a stand for tens of thousands of Europe’s calves, as she launched a campaign against their export to “shocking and brutal” fates.

Miss Lynch – famous for playing the blonde Ravenclaw pupil with “a permanently surprised look” in the wizard-school films – was acting on behalf of the real-life animals sent beyond EU borders and subjected to “horrendously cruel” handling and slaughter. Continue reading

The day the world united in defence of superior species (and humanity)

Elephant protester

Protesters in London spoke passionately of the need to prevent elephants’ extinction

EVERY now and then, the world has a unifying moment. A moment of a mass, shared sense of joy and inspiration, of determination and hope. The fall of the Berlin Wall was one; the 2012 Olympics opening ceremony was one. This, a weekend in 2015, might just have been another.

In cities around the globe, tens of thousands of people took to the streets with one shared aim – to save two of the planet’s largest and most awe-inspiring species from extinction.

Many had travelled long distances to be there, had booked hotel rooms and cancelled social events for a march that they said it was a privilege to attend. Continue reading

Global stampede for elephants and rhinos

Tens of thousands of people worldwide call for action against China to halt to the massacre of wildlife heading for extinction

THERE is a sensational creature on this Earth. It discovers water sources and nurtures waterholes that allow other animals to also thrive, even in dry seasons; it enriches forests by tearing down old trees and ploughing nutrients back into the soil, giving life to all creatures great and small; spreads plant seeds, and it creates woodland clearings to let sunlight penetrate in, regenerating growth cycles. In short, this animal is pivotal to the ecosystems on which swathes of land masses depend.

Further, it is highly intelligent and sensitive, with complex and wide family bonds; it demonstrably experiences a host of emotions, from love, attachment and happiness to alarm, grief, and fear. Herd members have highly developed communications systems that remain a mystery to human beings.

This amazing creature – the elephant – even earns an income for its host countries, through binocular-toting tourists anxious to catch a glimpse of it – and to shoot it through a camera lens.

Yet humans are rapidly wiping it out.
Continue reading

Annual dolphin hunt at Taiji: open letter to the prime minister of Japan

Dolphins swimming

Dolphins belong in the oceans. Image: Gavin Harrison

THOUSANDS of people worldwide joined mass protests outside Japanese embassies at the beginning of September to object to the start of the “killing season” for dolphins off the country’s coast. As they did so, one of the world’s leading activists against the annual dolphin “drives”, Ric O’Barry, was arrested, causing uproar among supporters.

It was the latest symptom of repeated clashes between Japanese authorities and demonstrators trying to disrupt the hunting at Taiji cove, now infamous for its annual killings. Continue reading

Badger cull useless against TB in cattle, new study shows

Badger licks woman

Badgers can feel love and pain too. Image: piX dust / Flickr

TUBERCULOSIS in cattle could be eliminated within 20 to 25 years in Britain if England adopted the tactics used in Scotland and Wales – which don’t involve badger culling, new research shows.

Reducing badger numbers in Somerset, Gloucestershire and now Dorset is “making very little difference” to the spread of the disease, whereas methods used by the Scottish and Welsh authorities are successfully reducing it, scientists found. Continue reading

Why I will always weep for my precious boy

Malevich, King of our household

Malevich, King of our household

MALEVICH chose us as much as we chose him. There was a knowing, pleading look to his innocent eyes as he gazed up at us on our first meeting. He seemed to sense that we would make decent new parents.

If you’ve ever been to a rescue centre, you’ll know how sad it is that you can’t take them all home, and give them all a new life. My husband and I had walked up and down the pens at 20743663671_19c40e0762_k (1)Cats Protection, peering in, reading the name tags and notes, our hearts twisting at the thought of picking one because it meant effectively rejecting the others. Many were asleep. Some were docile, others were young and lively but had to be homed with a sibling. And then, in the very last pen, was a sole black beauty.

Alert and desperate to be let out, but without the mischievousness of a kitten, Marley struck the perfect balance between curiosity, tolerating humans and a cat’s natural superior indifference to people.

Some rescue animals would have used the opportunity of freedom from the pen to shoot off, but Malevich (his given name was Marley, but I wanted a unique formal name for him; though we still used Marley for short) was mature enough to stick around, without demeaning himself by reciprocating any affection.

Evidently, in his six years, he had not learnt to receive love from any owners – but we weren’t about to let that situation continue. Continue reading