Letters [July/Aug 2006]

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, July/August 2006:

Ocean “curtains of death” may return

In July 2006 the National Marine Fisheries Service announced
intent to issue an Exempted Fishing Permit as early as August 15 for
the cruel and destructive practice of drift net fishing in protected
areas along the U.S. Pacific coast. They may also again permit
longlining. This will result in sea turtles, marine mammals, birds
and other species becoming entangled and drowned.
Drift nets are often referred to as “curtains of death.”
This form of fishing was banned on the high seas by the United
Nations in 1991, and was closed in areas along the U.S Pacific coast
in 2001.
In west coast areas that were still open to drift gill
netting, the toll on marine species since 2002 has included at least
64 dolphins, whales, seals and sea lions.
Industrial longline fishing also kills marine species in huge
numbers. Fishing vessels can deploy thousands of baited hooks on
hundreds of lines that can total up to 60 miles long. This
non-selective technique is estimated to snare 40,000 sea turtles,
30,000 seabirds, and millions of sharks worldwide each year. Due to
the devastating impact of longline fishing, it was banned along the
entire U.S. West Coast in 2004.

Issuing Exempted Fishing Permits will allow as many as 24
drift gill net vessels and over 100 longline vessels back into the
closed areas.
Public comments are urgently needed to let the government
know there is strong opposition to rolling back protection for marine
animals. Visit <www.seaturtles.org/-pacific> to send your comments.
All comments must reach the National Marine Fisheries Service by
August 10, 2006. “I.D. 070506D” must be included in the subject
line of any faxes, letters, or e-mails, which may be addressed to:
Rodney R. McInnis, Regional Administrator, Southwest Region NMFS,
501 West Ocean Blvd., Suite 4200, Long Beach, CA 90802; fax 562-980
4047; e-mail <0648-AU25.SWR@noaa.gov>.
–Karen Steele
Campaign Coordinator
Sea Turtle Restoration Project
P.O. Box 400
Forest Knolls, CA 94933
Phone: 1-415-488-0370
Fax: 1-415-488-0372
<info@seaturtles.org>
<www.seaturtles.org/pacific>

 

Spay/Panama

Spay/Panama was started by a group of volunteers in 2001,
inspired by the McKee Project in Costa Rica and Spay/USA. With great
pleasure I announce that Spay/Panama has been granted nonprofit
status on the same day that we reached 8,000 animals sterilized. May
God bless all our furry friends!
–Pat Chan
Spay/Panama
Entrega General
Bethania, Zona 6
Panama
Phone: 507-261-5542
<pchan@spaypanama.org>
<www.spaypanama.org>

 

Fan in France

I just wanted to tell you how very much I enjoy reading
ANIMAL PEOPLE. I read first the Lewyt Award story, then the obits,
then the DELTA Rescue story, the editorial, the letters to the
editor, articles that are not continued from the front page, and
finally the front page articles. Reading ANIMAL PEOPLE re-energizes
me in terms of my animal rights work, reminds me what is truly
important in my life (trying to do something to change the situation
of non-human animals), moves me, and in general is just a great
read as well as an unparalled source of information. I feel as if I
haven’t been as active as I should be lately, but ANIMAL PEOPLE
keeps me on the right course.
–Debbie Hirst
Paris, France
<debbie.hirst@bnpparibas.com>

 

Animal Birth Control in Sri Lanka

While the President of Sri Lanka has ordered local
authorities to stop killing dogs, and to implement humane methods of
rabies prevention and population control, the policy makers are
still talking about imposing a registration fee on dog-owners, which
would definitely double or triple the number of homeless dogs,
because, if people are supposed to pay for their dogs, many will
disown the dogs instead. Many have not intentionally acquired dogs in
the first place, but have adopted them since they were roaming
around hungry and in need of shelter.
We would have expected that after the presidential order,
the Kandy Municipal Corporation and Central Province Government would
release funds to vaccinate and sterilize dogs, but so far all
sterilizations of community dogs in Kandy are still done by us, with
the help of donations received by animal welfare groups and
individuals abroad. In Kandy we have sterilized and vaccinated more
than 7,500 animals (mostly female dogs) in the past four years.
If one adds to this figure the numbers who have been
sterilized by other animal welfare groups, Kandy has reduced its dog
population substantially. The number of dog bites has decreased by
more than 50%, and therefore 50% fewer rabies post-exposure
vaccinations have been issued.
Now we are facing a high number of dogs being brought for
sterilization not only from Kandy, but also from the Central
Province, and are receiving many requests for field clinics from all
parts of Kandy and surrounding villages. We would like to respond
positively to all these requests, and would gladly increase the
number of community dogs and strays we sterilize, but this will not
be possible with the contributions from our present donor base.
Therefore we can only hope that the local authorities will soon
either establish their own clinics, or assist those of us who
already carry out clinics to reduce the numbers of homeless dogs.
It will also be necessary for the media to step in with educational
programs, because many Buddhists still believe that if they
sterilize their dogs, they will not be able to have children in
their next life, as a punishment.
Meanwhile, the wise presidential decision to introduce
humane methods of animal control has been altered. Instead of
sterilizing the animals, the local authorities may use progesterone
treatment to prevent pregnancies. After consulting the Peradeniya
University veterinary surgeons, we concluded that this method should
not be adopted.
Even after one progesterone injection, animals can develop pyometra,
a very painful condition, which is fatal if not treated in time by
removal of the womb. This is more likely after repeated treatments.
Progesterone injection have to be repeated every six months. Even if
the animal does not die of pyometra, doing repeated injections is
neither economical nor efficient.
Further, since no animal warden can know when each street-dog was in
heat last, the warden cannot know whether an injected dog is
pregnant. Injecting pregnant dogs can cause them a very painful slow
death.
We have urged the President to give a strict order that dog
population control has to be done through surgical sterilization.
–Rohini de Silva
Secretary
Save Our Friends Assn.
11 Jaya Mawatha
Watapuluwa
Kandy, Sri Lanka
<rohinats@dialogsl.net>

 

Poaching in Virunga, Democratic Republic of the Congo

Fighting in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, formerly
Zaire, began in 1997. The prelude was the arrival of refugees from
the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.
Refugee camps put tremendous pressure on the natural
resources of Virunga National Park. Since then, the whole region
has suffered from fighting among both rebel groups and regular armies.
Established in 1925, Virunga National Park is a World
Heritage Site. Traveling from Rutshuru to Kanyabayonga, or across
the Vitshumbi plain, one could normally see snakes, warthogs,
elephants, buffalo, and antelope. But Virunga National Park today
is a desert.
“Poaching” doesn’t exist any more because of the difficulty
of differentiating between soldiers and criminals. Local authorities
exploit public ignorance to involve the public in despoiling the park
ecosystem.
We are hated. Our members are put in jail and obliged to
move from area to area, village to village, escaping pursuit by
administrative and military authorities for having exposed their
complicity in destroying Virunga.
Animals are slaughtered before the eyes of the authorities
whose duty includes protecting biodiversity. Militias and their
dependents, in unknown numbers, provision themselves from the
Virunga National Park wildlife. Even guided by a park game ranger,
you will need several days to see a lion or an elephant. Traumatized
by the noise of heavy weapons, they flee if they see a car or a man.
Killing animals in Virunga, practiced with open arrogance,
is a source of money for the combatants, as well as food. Only
those with weapons dare to speak, no matter their age so long as
they belong to one the militias or are employed by administrative
authorities.
Military camps set up both inside and outside Virunga
facilitate commerce in wildlife, including elephant tusk ivory. We
identified in one house in Rumangabo 250 kilograms of ivory. We
believe it was collected by a military officer, who sold it for $10
U.S. per kilo. Our observers were allowed to remain there, and on
May 15, 2006 military personnel confiscated our camera, saying that
we had taken prohibited photos and were there to spy.
In another case of blatant arrogance, a captain known to us
as Kalume Kahere on June 6, 2006 ordered his soldiers to kill
wildlife to fund his marriage. Some would be sold, and some served
at a wedding feast. We counted seven antelope cut down, without
counting those who were killed by the soldiers on their own accounts.
Now the wives of the soldiers have demonstrated their
enterprise by selling the meat buccaneered for them.
In Vitshumbi, people do not even buy fish any more
because butcher shops selling wildlife are everywhere in this
locality. The best known is in the Kyaviboko quarter, within 100
meters of the Lake Edouard navy base.
–Paul Lughembe
Safe Environment
& Enhanced For All
P.O.Box 234
Gisenyi, Rwanda
Phone: 243-998858280
<idpe_kc@yahoo.fr>

Editor’s note:

Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
abuts Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda and Volcano National
Park in Rwanda. “The region has been battered by years of conflict,”
affirmed BBC News on June 6, 2006. “Congolese conservationists have
been working hard to try preserve the dense forests, but a bloody
civil war has made this hard. Many species have seen a dramatic fall
in numbers due to poaching.”
Perhaps because habitat loss has thinned the hiding places
for the rare giraffe-like okapi , a World Wildlife Fund team
recently found okapi tracks in Virunga, while live okapis were last
reported in 1959.
In other recent regional updates, “Over 1,200 people of the
Basongora ethnic tribe were in March 2006 expelled from Virunga,”
reported Micheal Karugaba and Grace Natabaalo of The Monitor in
Uganda.
Summarized Uganda Wildlife Agency public relations manager
Lillian Nsubuga, “The Basongora, who were expelled with large herds
of cattle, settled in Nyamugasani and displaced the elephants. So
the elephants moved into Queen Elizabeth National Park.” Residents
of Katwe, a city partially within the park, alleged that the
displaced elephants destroyed 3,000 acres of crops. Nsubuga said this
did not occur.
Queen Elizabeth National Park Chief Park Warden Tom Okello
Obong in mid-July blamed the displaced Basongora for poisoning five
lions, as a potential threat to cattle.
Rwandan Office of Tourism and National Parks director
Rosette Rugamba, announced in May 2006 that Volcano National Park
will soon be fenced to protect endangered mountain gorillas from
poaching, and to protect the habitat from encroachment by
subsistence farmers.

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