More Canadian wildlife traffic–– with government support

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, March 1996:

WINNIPEG––”Vowing to
upset Manitoba government plans to
privatize the province’s wild elk and
transform it into antler farms to supply
the international wildlife parts
trade,” People for Animal
Liberation coordinator James
Pearson announced February 6,
“PFAL has sent a team of activists to
the Swan River Valley to shield wild
elk from capture.”
Already, Pearson said,
activists had vandalized a corral and
squeeze chute used to hold the elk as
their antlers are cut off. “Highly
veined and innervated,” he charged,
“the antlers are sawn off at the most
sensitive stage of their development.
Elk ranchers involved with the plan,”
Pearson continued, “want to see the
government begin trade in bear gall
bladders, a logical next step.”

Pearson’s statement drew
notice to yet another Canadian
attempt to cash in on Asian demand
for wildlife parts used in traditional
medicines, rising as economic
growth outpaces health education.
In Atlantic Canada, out-of-work
fishers prepared to kill seals for a
federal bounty of about 15ç U.S. per
pound and sell the penises of adult
males to Asian buyers––albeit under
rules that oblige the penis collectors
to buy whole seal carcasses, then
figure out what to do with the
unsaleable meat, bones, and pelts.
In Ontario, the Animal Alliance of
Canada rallied public outrage against
purported plans by Mark Jackson, of
Gorrie, Ontario, to export to China
four black bears bought from the
Okanagan Game Farm in Penticon,
British Columbia. AAC suggested
the bears “may be destined for a bear
bile extraction operation.” Jackson
denied it, saying he intended to
breed them and sell the cubs to game
farms, apparently to be hunted.
Amid the media storm,
Vancouver bear parts trafficker Sang
Ho Kim was fined $10,400, upsetting
Crown Counsel Jim McAulay
and David Baker of Bear Watch,
who had asked for a fine four times
larger plus jail time. The Kim trial
was seen as prelude to the scheduled
September trials of eight people
arrested last September in possession
of 192 dried bear gall bladders. Bear
Watch and AAC are among the leaders
of a campaign endorsed by more
than 90 organizations, including
ANIMAL PEOPLE, to increase the
minimum fine for bear poaching
from $5,000 to $50,000, with a
mandatory six-month jail term for
first offenders.
High prices
Stiffer fines are essential,
because according to Leonie
Vejjaiva of the Wild Animal Rescue
Foundation in Thailand, “The cost
of a bear banquet is now about
$9,000 U.S.,” and at that, diners
flock in from South Korea, Taiwan,
and China. “The bear is tortured to
death in front of the diners,”
Vejjaiva recently told Mark Jordan
of Associated Press. “They say it
makes the meat taste better.”
The Thai Forestry
Department has seized 30 Asiatic
black bears and sun bears in recent
raids, keeping them in a Bangkok
compound because they would be
poached if returned to the wild.
Thai folk Buddhism, profaning
the Buddha’s pro-animal
teachings, links bears with evil.
“Wild cubs are sometimes given to
Buddhist temples as gifts,” Vejjaiva
explained. “Many grow up in
cramped cages and are cursed by
worshippers, who believe the bears
are paying for bad past lives.”
Tigers, too
Thailand and other Asian
nations are also struggling to protect
tigers. So far, Thailand has kept a
tiger-farmer with 35 of the beasts
from selling any, or their parts, but
Thai wildlife advisor Parntep
Ratanakorn favors the farming
approach. “If you want to relieve the
pressure on wild tigers being hunted,”
he told a February 3 conference
on tiger conservation, “you need to
set up captive breeding.”
Returned Valmik Thapar
of the Wildlife Institute of India,
“Tiger farming should be banned
because it would accelerate the trade
in tigers.”
“I’m hoping that in 1998,
the year of the tiger, the traditional
Chinese medicine community will
ask users to stop using tiger products
until the tiger numbers recover,”
offered Elizabeth Kemf of the World
Wildlife Fund.

Other trafficking
Fifty-five years after
the Republic of China sponsored
the famed Flying Tigers, a n
American mercenary air squadron
that kept the Burma Road open for
three years against far larger
Japanese forces at the outset of
World War II, the Republic of
China (Taiwan) and Friends of
Animals are reactivating the Flying
Tiger Squadron to protect African
wildlife. Taiwan will furnish the
aircraft, while FoA will provide
pilots and maintenance.
Parrot smuggler Tony
Silva, 34, of Chicago, pleaded
guilty on February 2 to smuggling
more than 185 hyacinth macaws
and other rare birds from South
America between 1985 and 1994,
while posing as an outspoken
advocate of captive breeding in
lieu of the wild-caught bird traffic.
Silva’s mother, Gila Daoud, 63,
pleaded guilty to assisting Silva
with related tax fraud. Twentyfive
other bird smugglers were
convicted in connection with the
case, cracked with ithe aid of convicted
Florida drug dealer and
exotic animal buff Mario Tabrue,
now doing life for murder.
Chinese forest police on
January 28 announced the arrest
of 925 falcon poachers in a threemonth
crackdown that also recovered
400 birds. Forty ringleaders
are being held pending further
investigation; the other participants
were released with a warning.
Middle Eastern falconers will
pay up to $50,000 for a trained
hunting bird.

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