Slaughter in the streets
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, March 2003:
MULTAN, Pakistan–“I have been much in vexation since
February 11, 2003,” Animal Save Movement Pakistan founder Khalid
Mahmood Qureshi e-mailed to ANIMAL PEOPLE on February 16, seemingly
speaking for the world.
Al Qaida terrorist attacks were anticipated, following the
annual Haj pilgrimage to Mecca by the Muslim faithful and appeals for
strikes against the U.S. by Islamic militant leader Osama bin Laden.
A U.S. military effort to depose Iraq dictator Saddam Hussein was
imminently expected as well.
But the violence vexing Qureshi had already occurred.
“Millions of cows, camels, oxen, sheep, and goats were
slaughtered on the day of Eid Ul Azha, after the day of Haj in
Saudia Arabia,” Qureshi wrote. “It is a religious custom,” in
which male heads of households attempt halal slaughter with often
haphazard and bloody results, “but it is a tyranny and cruelty,”
Qureshi continued. “I see it as a genocide of animals. The Animal
Save Movement of Pakistan not only strongly protests this terrible
and uncivilised operation, but wants to abolish it.
“With love and peace,” Qureshi finished, as if in hope that
his communication might help to avert further bloodbath.
Qureshi and friends are trying to keep animal advocacy alive
in Pakistan, but have little to work with and not much hope of
getting outside help in an atmosphere that makes links to the U.S.
and Europe potentially suspect. The nearest nation with a strong
animal advocacy movement is India, culturally parallel to Pakistan,
yet India and Pakistan are perennially close to war due to the
ancient tension between the Islamic majority in Pakistan and the
Hindu majority in India.
There was an anti-circus demonstration in Loralai, Pakistan,
during the Eid al Fitr holiday in early December 2002, but not on
behalf of the animals. Instead, more than 100 supporters of the
pro-Taliban party Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal followed state legislator
Maulvi Faiz Mohammed in attacking the circus for allegedly profaning
the holiday by staging motorcycle stunts and suggestive dances by
“They killed a caged fox and two Iranian mice, released a
pair of doves, and looted $1,430,” district police officer Ghulam
Rasool Baloch told Agence France-Presse.
Apparently to avoid contributing to ethnic tensions, the
U.S. and European animal advocacy groups that normally criticize the
post-Haj slaughter were quiet this year. The silence in France,
usually scene of the most protest, was especially conspicuous,
contrasting with French fervor against the prospect of a U.S.
invasion of Iraq.
Among the post-Haj slaughter stories moving on the
* A ferry sank on February 8 in the Dhaleswari River, 15
miles south of Dhaka, Bangladesh, killing 300 cattle.
* District chief Heri Bimanto, of Karangnunggal, West
Java, Indonesia, hired psychic Eyang Jayaningrat to rid the city of
“supernatural” red dogs who allegedly killed 350 goats, hundreds of
chickens, and various other livestock on the eve of the Eid Ul Azha.
* At least 620 Turks either cut themselves or were injured
by terrified animals while performing the slaughter.
“Although officials have set up public facilities for the
sacrifices and impose heavy fines on anyone found slaughtering
animals elsewhere,” Associated Press reported, “many Turks still
choose to sacrifice the animals in their back yards or alongside
Eid Ul Azha translates “Feast of Atonement,” but the
slaughtering is not actually a sacrifice, strictly speaking. The
meat from the slaughtered animals is to be eaten by the family of the
slaughterer, with any surplus donated to the poor. To show status,
the faithful who can afford to do so often slaughter extra animals
for the poor. Sometimes a wealthy community kills so many animals in
excess of the demand for meat that the disposal of the carcasses
becomes a public health problem. That was reported more often,
however, at the height of Middle Eastern oil prices and resultant
affluence than in recent years.
In Mumbai, India, where Hindu and Muslim leaders have been
trying to avoid any spillover of the religious rioting that killed
more than 100 Hindus and 2,000 Muslims in Ahmedabad last May, the
Bombay High Court restricted the 15 Muslim families within the
37-family Versova Seaside Premises Cooperative Society to killing no
more than one goat apiece. As many as 50 animals were killed there
last year, after some residents invited friends and relatives to
“As far as possible and in my personal opinion, this
slaughter should be stopped,” said Justice A.P. Shah. “This should
not be done in cooperative housing.”
Rather than addressing the post-Haj slaughter in specific,
Animal Life Switzerland veterinarian Monika Koller and colleagues
hope to reform halal slaughter in all contexts. As with kosher
slaughter, practiced by Jews, halal slaughter was originally
prescribed as an article of religious faith to try to minimize the
suffering of animals killed for meat. At the time, centuries ago,
there were no faster or less stressful killing methods.
Because that has changed, Koller holds that the halal rules
should change, too, making essentially the same case that Colo-rado
State University slaughterhouse consultant Temple Grandin and the
late Coalition for Nonviolent Food founder Henry Spira made 15 years
ago in convincing many U.S. kosher slaughterhouses to update their
“Since 1997,” Koller reported recently, “Animal Life
Switzerland has been campaigning for sedation to be introduced in
Lebanese abbatoirs.” After providing captive bolt guns and
ammunition to the Lebanese Ministry of Agriculture, “and with the
massive support of Islamic religious leaders,” Koller said, “we
have so far succeeded in convincing 140 Lebanese abattoirs of
different sizes to introduce stunning animals.”
The Lebanese slaughter project is managed by Rosmari
Jaouhari, DVM, her university professor husband Issam Jaouhari,
and their son, “who maintains and repairs the stunning equipment,
supplies the abattoirs with cartridges, and instructs the
slaughterhouse workers,” Koller explained.
A similar project begun in Turkey in 2001 recently won the
approval of the High Commission for Religious Affairs. Tansas, the
largest slaughterhouse in Turkey, was among the first to institute
stunning, according to Koller.
Two institutions investigating animal health in transport in
January 2003 issued recommendations relevant to the welfare of sheep
en route to Haj slaughter from farms in Australia and northern
The Independent Reference Group, appointed by Australian
agriculture minister Warren Truss, reported that “Unless robust
systems are in place to support animal health and welfare, and to
address customer and community concerns, the ongoing viability of
the livestock export trade will be jeopardized.”
A spokesperson for Truss said that after two livestock
exporters’ licenses were revoked in 2001, the number of “incidents”
involving sick and injured livestock aboard transport vessels fell by
half in 2002, even as the number of shipments doubled.
The Newcastle University Centre for Rural Economy focused on
the spread of disease via “fat lambs” in transit, and procedural
lessons that could be learned from the 2001 hoof-and-mouth disease
outbreak in England. More than seven million animals were killed
before the outbreak was contained.
The hoof-and-mouth strain involved apparently originated in
northern India, spread to Saudi Arabia with animals exported for the
post-Haj slaughter, fanned out across the Islamic regions of Asia
for several years as if carried by returning Haj pilgrims, reached
Chinese seaports, and then hit Europe.
Continental Europe contained the outbreak with vaccination,
but Britain resisted vaccination in the mistaken belief that as an
island nation, it could keep itself completely free of
War and wildlife
While Qureshi spoke out against the war on livestock,
BirdLife International warned what war in Iraq might do to wildlife
in a dossier sent to the government of Iraq and the U.S., British,
French, Russian, and Chinese members of the United Nations Security
Council. The dossier was also posted at the BirdLife International
“Based on the unprecedented environmental damage caused by
the 1990-1991 Gulf War and available data on the environmental
effects of recent conflicts in Yugoslavia and Afghanistan,” BirdLife
International said, staff scientists “identified seven risks to the
environment and biodiversity” posed by war.
The risks include “physical destruction and disturbance of
natural habitats” resulting from weapons use; “toxic pollution
resulting from oil spills or oil well fires caused by fighting or
deliberate damage,” like the scorched-earth retreat that Iraq made
from Kuwait in 1991; “radiological, chemical or bio-toxic
contamination resulting from the use of weapons of mass destruction
and conventional bombing of military or industrial facilities”;
“destruction of natural habitats and wildlife resulting from mass
movements of refugees”; “burning of wetland and forest vegetation as
a result of fighting or deliberate damage”; “desertification
exacerbated by military vehicles and weapons use”; and “extinction
of endemic species or subspecies.”
“Waders and waterbirds will be particularly at risk from oil
spills,” said BirdLife International researcher Mike Evans,
“because Iraq is at the northern end of the Arabian Gulf, which is
one of the top five sites in the world for wintering wader birds and
a key refuelling area for hundreds of thousands of migratory
waterbirds during spring and autumn. “
Evans was part of the scientific team sent to Iraq in 1991 by
BirdLife International and the Royal Society for the Protection of
Birds to collaborate with BirdLife of Saudi Arabia in assessing the
biological impact of the Gulf War.
“Many of the natural habitats and sites impacted in the
1990-1991 Gulf War will be at risk again,” BirdLife International
pointed out, identifying 42 critical habitats for various bird
species within Iraq.
Saddam Hussain has already virtually destroyed the marshlands
at the mouths of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.
The region was inhabited for more than 5,000 years by the
Ma’dan people, who are primarily Shi’ites with cultural links to
Iran. Anticipating local support, Iran used the marshlands as an
invasion route while fighting Iraq from 1980 to 1988. Rebels from the
marshes then rebelled against Saddam Hussein after the 1991 Persian
Saddam Hussein retaliated by draining the marshes. Of 10,000
square miles of wetland shown by satellite photos in 1991, only 35
square miles are still wetland habitat.
The United Nations Environmental Program recently reported
that the drainage has “significant implications for global
biodiversity, from Siberia to southern Africa.”
Some affected species, like the purple swamp hen and the
Basra reed warbler, found new habitat in Kuwait. Local varieties of
bandicoot and otter reportedly went extinct.
The prospect of renewed fighting in Iraq comes as ecologists
are still assessing the fallout from 20 years of warfare in
Afghanistan, where sporadic shooting and bombing continues as Allied
forces try to extinguish Al Qaida and force local warlords to accept
Chilka Lake in Orissa state, India, hosts 173 bird species
each winter, including 92 migratory species, many of which may pass
through Afghanistan. According to annual surveys organized by
ornithologist Uday Narayan Dev and the Bombay Natural History
Society, the Chilka bird count fell from 1.9 million in January 1999
to 1.3 million in January 2001, rose slightly to 1.5 million in
January 2002, and then fell again to just 450,000 in January 2003.
Local officials blame poachers for the decline.
The birds may also be finding congenial habitat farther
north, as an effect of global warming.
At the Hokersar wetland, nine miles north of Sringar,
capital of Kashmir state, “Bomb blasts and fierce gun battles are
not preventing thousands of migratory birds from as far away as
Siberia from visiting,” Izhar Wani of Agence France-Press reported
in April 2002. “Officials say nearly 400,000 migratory birds visited
Hokesar this year,” Izhar Wani continued, “the most since the
launch of the Muslim separatist militancy in 1989. In 1992, 25,270
migratory birds visited Hokesar. 1998 brought 94,694, wildlife
The increase in bird arrivals came despite violence killing
more than 35,000 people and despite drainage projects which have
reduced the local wetland area by 60% since 1970. Shujaat Bukhari of
The Hindu confirmed in January 2003 that bird arrivals this winter
were also in the 400,000 range.
Using war to attack ESA
Most U.S. environmental groups, preoccupied with defending
the Endangered Species Act, have said little or nothing about the
prospects of war in Iraq.
Polls continue to show that up to 85% of the American public
favors a strong Endangered Species Act, including the critical
habitat provisions that have brought the most opposition from
property rights advocates.
President George W. Bush and the Republican majorities now
controlling both the House of Representatives and the Senate are,
however, committed to weakening the ESA, especially the critical
habitat provisions–and are also doing well in public opinion
surveys, despite the slumping economy, largely because of support
for the “War on Terror.”
The multipronged Republican strategy against the ESA consists
of a continued barrage of riders to spending bills which seek to
restrict ESA enforcement, as was pursued in the House while the
Democrats held the Senate, plus a frontal assault behind the claimed
need to exempt the U.S. military.
The Pentagon itself did not claim such a need until in March
2002 House Subcommittee on Military Readiness chair Joel Hefley
(R-Colorado) “summoned Pentagon officials to Capitol Hill to explain
why they were not seeking exemptions from environmental laws,”
reported Denver Post Washington D.C. bureau chief Bill McAllister.
Hefley’s Congressional District is a hotbed of “wise use” advocacy,
and also includes the U.S. Air Force Academy at Colorado Springs.
Although the Pentagon has a long history of trying to evade
most environmental regulation, all four branches of the U.S.
military have for at least a decade taken evident pride in showing
off their ability to train troops without harming such species as the
California gnatcatcher, native to Camp Pendleton, California; the
spotted owl, whose critical habitat includes Fort Lewis, Washington;
the southern pronghorn, native to the Barry Goldwater Memorial
Bombing Range in Arizona; and the Mojave desert tortoise, native to
Fort Irwin and several other bases in California and Nevada.
Military personnel have often explained that practicing for combat in
proximity to endangered species is good preparation for avoiding harm
to civilians in actual warfare.
The biggest recent conflicts between the U.S. military and
protected species have both involved the Navy: deployment of the
SURTASS-LST low-frequency sonar system, which appears to kill whales
with underwater sound blasts that cause their inner ears to explode,
and practice gunnery at Farallon de Medinillas, a remote Pacific
Even after Hefley hit upon attacking the ESA through the
military, Pentagon spokespersons were slow to fall into line. The
House in May 2002 approved a rider exempting the military from the
ESA and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, 359-58, with scarcely any
visible military support–and despite a General Accounting Office
finding that complying with the laws had not harmed military
The rider eventually failed in the Senate, then controlled
by Democrats, although a temporary waiver of the Migratory Bird
Treaty Act was approved to enable the Navy to continue bombing and
shelling Farallon de Medinillas.
Pentagon falls in
After Republicans gained the Senate majority in November
2002, the Pentagon toed the party line. Deputy undersectretary of
defense for readiness Paul W. Mayberry and deputy undersecretary of
defense for installations and environment Raymond F. Dubois Jr. had
argued almost alone for ESA and Migratory Bird Treaty Act exemptions,
but were joined in early 2003 by deputy defense secretary Paul W.
Wolfowitz and Army vice chief of staff General John M. Keane,
pursuing a campaign strategy engineered by Mayberry.
The Mayberry plan became known when in January it was leaked
to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility executive
director Jeff Ruch.
Congressional leaders who are reportedly involved in drafting the
2003 edition of the military exemption from the ESA and Migratory
Bird Treaty Act include Hefley, who was openly disappointed when the
House Republican leadership chose Richard Pombo (R-Californa) ahead
of him to head the House Resources Committee; Pombo, a committed
wise-user who believes elephant conservation should be funded by
ivory sales; Billy Tauzin (R-Louisiana), another longtime committed
wise-user; and Senator James Imhofe (R-Oklahoma), now chairing the
Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.
The exemption bill is expected to carry with it numerous
riders extending ESA exemptions to activities other than military
training, including economic development projects of particular
interest to prominent members of Congress.
As with the renewed Congressional effort to authorize oil
extraction in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which is touted
in the name of making the U.S. less dependent upon foreign oil,
environmental groups are tip-toeing around any possibility of being
portrayed as soft on terrorism or unpatriotic.
The extent of the enviro jitters was evident in November 2002
when the Sierra Club board of directors approved a resolution in
favor of disarming Iraq, stating that “The Sierra Club is concerned
about the global dangers presented by possible Iraqi aggression and
about the dire environmental consequences of war,” and warning that
Sierra club policy “does not authorize individual members, leaders,
or club entities to take public positions on military conflicts.”
Patrick Diehl, vice chair of the 175-member Glen Canyon
chapter of the Sierra Club in Moab, Utah, defied the warning with a
November 26 press release asserting that, “The present
administration has declared its intention to achieve total military
dominance of the entire world. We believe that such ambitions will
produce a state of perpetual war, undoing whatever protection of the
environment that conservation groups may have so far achieved.” The
statement was endorsed by fellow chapter officers John Weisheit, Dan
Kent, and Tori Woodard, who is Diehl’s wife.
Sierra Club president Carl Pope threatened them with legal
action–although the San Francisco chapter, in the Sierra Club’s
home city, adopted a similar resolution.
“The intimidation is not likely to work,” wrote syndicated
columnist Jeffrey St. Clair. “Weisheit is perhaps the most
accomplished river guide on the Colorado. He has stared down Cataract
Canyon and Lava Falls in their most violent incarnations. Woodard
and Diehl live in the outback of Escalante, Utah, where they
routinely receive death threats for their environmental activism. A
couple of years ago local yahoos vandalized their home, threw
bottles of beer through two front windows, kicked in the front door,
trashed the garden, and cut the phone line to the house. Pompous
chest-thumping by the likes of Pope won’t scare off these people.”
St. Clair, a personal friend of the late longtime Sierra
Club executive director and board member David Brower, remem bered
that Brower was a World War II combat veteran who came to oppose
warfare as ardently as he championed the environment and endangered
species. In 1990 Brower, his late wife Anne, and St. Clair
demonstrated together in Portland, Oregon, against U.S. tactics in
the Gulf War.
Far from the policy disputes, animal shelters and rescue
groups in communities with military bases struggled to cope with
thousands of pets surrendered by U.S. troops who were transferred
overseas on short notice. Compounding the crisis, the U.S. Marine
Corps announced the scheduled closure of the Camp Pendleton animal
shelter by August 2003, to cut costs. No more animals were to be
admitted after March 1.
“The overhead is simply too high,” base public affairs
officer Captain Chris Logan told Dave McKibben of the Los Angeles
Times, “and other shelters in San Clemente and Oceanside are now
more available. There was a greater need when we opened over 10
The Camp Pendleton shelter was created to accept pets left by
troops leaving for the Persian Gulf War.
Soldiers still on the base and the families of soldiers
already shipped out reportedly volunteered at an unprecedented rate
to help find new homes for the animals at the Camp Pendleton shelter,
the Animal Rescue League of El Paso shelter, and other shelters in
In El Paso the local Veterans of Foreign Wars chapter
reportedly subsidized pet fostering for military families.
Cat Welfare Society of Israel director Rivi Mayer e-mailed to
ANIMAL PEOPLE that her organization was also “doing our best to get
ready for the coming war, may it never happen. From experience
during the last war in Iraq,” Mayer said, “we know that many cats
and dogs will be abandoned, and since the Israeli government does
not have a budget for animals in distress, rescuers must deal with
all the problems.”