Exposing the Big Game

Forget Hunters' Feeble Rationalizations and Trust Your Gut Feelings: Making Sport of Killing Is Not Healthy Human Behavior

Exposing the Big Game

HSI undercover investigation shows foxes bludgeoned, skinned alive on Asian fur farms

July 7, 2020 0 Comments

HSI undercover investigation shows foxes bludgeoned, skinned alive on Asian fur farms

The animals are crammed into tiny wire cages where they can barely move. It’s the only space they’ll ever know, and it is a terrible one. Feces pile up under the cages, and their water bowls are either dry or a fetid pool of algae.Share186TweetRedditEmail186SHARES

The cruelty of fur is on terrifying display in these scenes from a fur farm, captured on video by investigators working with Humane Society International. Foxes are pulled out of their cages, one by one, usually by their tails as they try to cling to the wire walls in terror. Each is thrown to the ground and repeatedly bludgeoned in the head and face with a metal rod. The animals struggle and tremble, badly injured but not yet dead. The ground is stained with the blood that pours out of their heads.

Moments later, if you can still bear to watch (warning: the linked video contains images that many will find disturbing), you’ll see men skinning the animals, some still alive, after which their bodies are dumped like trash. The camera moves to a pile of discarded carcasses, including one skinned animal who raises his head, slowly and painfully.

It’s hard to imagine a worse way to die. But the lives of the nearly 100 million animals killed each year for their fur, including foxes, raccoon dogs and mink, are hardly any better: they spend all of their days in captivity at fur factory farms like these. As you see in the undercover footage, the animals are crammed into tiny wire cages where they can barely move. It’s the only space they’ll ever know, and it is a terrible one. Feces pile up under the cages, and their water bowls are either dry or a fetid pool of algae. The animals are never seen by a veterinarian, and many exhibit symptoms of mental distress and decline.

Skinned animals are heaped in a pile at a fur farm. Animals are sometimes skinned while still alive.

Investigators filmed this footage at 11 randomly selected fur farms in one of the top fur-producing countries in Asia. We are choosing not to reveal the country in order to protect the identity of the investigators. Besides, it’s important not to lose sight of the true culprits here: fur factory farms like these would not exist if designers, retailers and consumers did not provide a market for these cruel products.

With growing awareness about the immense suffering of animals in the fur industry, major fashion houses and retailers the world over have shunned it. In the last few years alone, we have worked with major fashion brands and retailers, including Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Prada, Gucci, Armani, Michael Kors, Jimmy Choo, YOOX Net-A-Porter, Farfetch, Donna Karan, Burberry, Coach and others, to announce fur-free policies. California last year became the first U.S. state to ban fur, and we are working to pass similar bans in cities and states across the United States, including Minneapolis, Rhode Island and Hawaii.

Globally, HSI has kept up the momentum against fur. HSI/United Kingdom spearheads the campaign to make Britain the first country in the world to ban the sale of fur. The U.K. banned fur farming two decades ago but still imports tens of thousands of pounds of fur each year. More than a dozen European countries, including Austria, the Czech Republic and Norway, have also banned fur production.

The Netherlands, once the third largest fur farming country in the world, banned fur production in 2013 with an 11-year phaseout. But in recent months, the coronavirus crisis has added even more urgency to end the fur trade there and around the world. After two fur farm workers in the Netherlands were reported to have contracted the virus from infected mink, the country killed hundreds of thousands of mink, most of them pups, on 20 Dutch fur factory farms to stop any further spread of the virus. The Dutch government is now considering a permanent closure of all mink fur farms in the country. Denmark, which is Europe’s largest mink producer, has also discovered infected mink on three fur farms. Infectious disease experts had already warned fur farms could act as reservoirs for the disease, and with this cull, we have seen even more needless suffering play out for these animals.

The fur trade has nothing to offer except the worst sort of cruelty for a product no one needs. So many warm and stylish alternatives indistinguishable from animal fur are now widely available to consumers, and even a single animal bred and killed for their fur is one too many. This gruesome video is a reminder that we still have a long way to go, but we won’t stop until this cruel commodity is wiped out for good, and no animal is beaten to death and skinned alive on a fur farm anywhere in the world.

Warning: Video below contains images many may find disturbing.https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/YtNXaYk12e4?wmode=transparent&iv_load_policy=1&modestbranding=0&rel=0&autohide=1&feature=youtu.be&autoplay=0

8 people, thousands of animals killed in floods in Mongolia


Source: Xinhua| 2020-07-07 14:39:59|Editor: huaxia

ULAN BATOR, July 7 (Xinhua) — Eight people and thousands of livestock animals were killed and thousands of homes were flooded as a heavy rain caused flash floods in some provinces of Mongolia on Friday and Saturday, the country’s National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) reported on Tuesday.

“A total of eight people, including two children lost their lives due to the heavy rain-triggered floods in Umnugovi province in the south and Sukhbaatar province in the east on July 3,” NEMA said in a statement.

More than 7,000 livestock animals were killed in three provinces, namely Tuv and Govisumber in the central and Arkhangai in the central-west due to the floods, the report said.

In addition, a total of 2,360 homes in some provinces such as Khentii, Tuv and Khuvsgul were flooded, it said.

Meteorologists forecast heavy rains to hit a large part of the country in the coming days, urging citizens, especially herders, to take extra precautions. Enditem

Fed with firecracker-filled pineapples, pregnant elephant dies in river in Kerala

Publish Date: Wed, 03 Jun 2020 10:36 AM IST
Fed with firecracker-filled pineapples, pregnant elephant dies in river in Kerala
Between 2014 and 2019, 510 elephants died all over India as a result of electrocution, train accidents, poaching and poisoning.

New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: A pregnant Elephant was fed with pineapples and firecrackers in Kerala’s Palakkad district’s Silent Valley, which exploded right in her mouth leading to fatal injuries and immediate death right after. A senior forest officer in Attappadi Reserve Forest told media about the incident on Tuesday.

“Her jaw was broken and she was unable to eat after she chewed the pineapple and it exploded in her mouth. It is certain that she was offered the pineapple filled with crackers to eliminate her,” Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) and Chief Wildlife Warden of Attappadi Reserve Forest, Surendra Kumar, was quoted as saying by the news agency PTI.

The incident was reported from the left wing fringe areas of the Silent Valley in Attappadi in Palakkad district. However, Surendrakumar told media that the Elephant died at Velliyar river in Malappuram district on May 27. Later on, the post mortem revealed that the female jumbo was pregnant.

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“I have directed the forest officials to nab the culprit. We will punish him for ‘hunting’ the elephant,” Surendrakumar said.

The incident came to light when Mohan Krishnan, a forest officer wrote a heartbreaking note on his Facebook wall, explaining the events which led to Elephant’s death in Northern Kerala.

Krishnan was the part of initial response team to help the injured creature He said on later that she didn’t trample homes as she ran through the village in excruciating agony.

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‘This is why I said, she is full of goodness,’ Krishnan said.

Officials brought two other elephants to the river in an attempt to entice her from the water but, according to Krishnan, she had come to the river to die.

“I think she had a sixth sense. She didn’t let us do anything,” Krishnan wrote on his Facebook wall.

Elaborating upon the moment when Elephant died, Krishnan wrote that to give her the farewell which she deserved, he and his colleagues took her inside the Reserve Forest in a lorry.

“She lay there on firewood, in the land she played and grew up. The doctor who did her post-mortem told me that she was not alone. I could sense his sadness though the expression on his face was not visible due to his mask. We cremated her in a pyre there. We bowed before her and paid our last respects,” the forest officer added.

According to an Indian Express report, between 2014 and 2019, 510 elephants died all over India as a result of electrocution, train accidents, poaching and poisoning.

Wildlife markets are the tip of the iceberg and not just in China

For our free coronavirus pandemic coverage, learn more here.

In the heart of central Jakarta, about 20 minutes from Joko Widodo’s Presidential Palace, the Pramuka Bird Market is open for business.

The aisles throng with people, few wearing masks, and hum with the din of humans, birds, reptiles and mammals all mixed together. It stinks too.

A live lizard is displayed for sale in a cage at the Satria market in Bali, Indonesia.
A live lizard is displayed for sale in a cage at the Satria market in Bali, Indonesia.CREDIT:AMILIA ROSA

Today, Vonis, a local trader who uses just the one name, is holding forth about the origins of the coronavirus that has infected nearly 6 million people, killed more than 360,000, up-ended the global economy and more. It is thought to have passed from bats, via an unidentified animal, to humans at a wet market in Wuhan, China.

“It’s hoax. It is not true that bats caused COVID-19. I’ve been selling this [bats] for many years, nobody gets sick here. No one. Also, many Indonesians eat bat meat and nobody is sick. I myself healed my asthma after consuming bat. It happened when I was around 25 years old. I’m a bit over 40, I am healthy now,” he says.

Vonis sells birds, mostly, as pets, but he also has bats (about $25), civets (about $40) and squirrels. It’s for traditional medicine, he hastens to add. He sells about 30 bats a week and is happy to offer cooking tips.

“Just fry it, don’t put too many spices in like the Manado dish. Just a little salt. For chronic asthma you have to consume it twice a week. If it is only for keeping you healthy, eat it once a month.”

A man feeds bats for sale at the Satria market in Bali.
A man feeds bats for sale at the Satria market in Bali.CREDIT:AMILIA ROSA

If you want a pangolin – thought to be the potential “bridge animal” between bats and humans in Wuhan – he can get you one of those, too.

“Nobody has it here [at the market]. But if you want, we can look for it. I have someone who can do it.”

The small, scaly mammal cost between $250 and $300 to source, and you have to pay half in advance.

Civet cats for sale at a market in Bali.
Civet cats for sale at a market in Bali.CREDIT:AMILIA ROSA

Vonis is far from the only person in the Pramuka market selling exotic animals for consumption. Indonesia is home to some large wildlife wet markets, such as the Beriman Tomohon in North Sulawesi, the Satria in Bali, Hewan Pasty in Yogyakarta, Depok in Solo and Jatinegara, also in Jakarta. There also smaller markets – up to 1000, according to the Jakarta Animal Aid Network.

At the Satria, pet shop owner Nengah Wita sells bats, rabbit, chickens, song birds and geckos. He’s at pains to stress he sells very few bats (they retail for about $120 each) and says they are only sold to help with asthma in traditional medicine.

He says people have “exaggerated” the part played by bats in the origin of the coronavirus.

“I would’ve fallen sick weeks ago if it was true. But I am fine, I sleep in the shop, I care for them every day, I even got bitten last week but you can see, I am not sick. Just like the last time, the bird flu, I sell birds too, but I was fine then too.”

These market traders are just the tip of the iceberg. Civets are widely available for sale on Tokopedia, Indonesia’s answer to eBay (some listings describe them as pets, others note they are very tasty). It isn’t hard to find pangolin scales for sale, either.

While experts such as Professor Wiku Adisasmito, who is part of the Indonesian government’s national COVID-19 taskforce, have warned that wild animal markets are an “animal cafeteria for pathogens” that could lead to the next coronavirus, the national government has shown little appetite for tackling the problem. Instead, it has suggested that it the responsibility of provincial governments.

It’s a similar story throughout the region where bats, pangolins, civets, rats, rare birds, dogs, and parts of rhinos, elephants and tigers are regularly traded.

China has, since the emergence SARS-CoV-2, flagged plans to ban the trade of live animals for food – but left exceptions for traditional medicine and fur. That’s more than most countries. A Vietnamese plan to ban the trade and consumption of wild animals seems to have stalled.

The illegal trade in wild animals for food, medicine, fur and as pets is big business worth an estimated $7 billion to $23 billion annually. The legal trade – loosely regulated by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species [CITES] of Wild Fauna and Flora – is worth perhaps 10 times as much and, until the new coronavirus was unleashed, it was booming.

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Scott Roberton, the Bangkok-based director for Counter-Wildlife trafficking for the Wildlife Conservation Society, praises China for its post-COVID-19 plans to curtail the wildlife trade, though he admits it could go further.

“It’s a much bigger problem than a single market in Wuhan. We really need to break this idea that it’s only about markets. They are an important location, but huge volumes of the trade in wild animals in the region takes place outside of markets and poses similar risks of virus emergence,” he says.

“Wildlife is moved over provincial and international boundaries, stored in houses, warehouses, refrigerated storerooms, restaurants, shops and farms.”

Roberton, who was based in Vietnam for more than a decade, describes China as less of a “source” country now and as more of a destination for wildlife consumption, as well as a transit country for animals coming from places such as Cambodia and Laos. Indonesia, too, “is a source, destination and transit country”.

Live turtles for sale at the Xihua Farmers' Market in Guangzhou, China.
Live turtles for sale at the Xihua Farmers’ Market in Guangzhou, China.CREDIT:EPA/AP

Laos and Cambodia, some of the poorest countries in south-east Asia, operate as a source for both farmed and illegally caught wildlife. There is a domestic market, too, for consumption by tourists, as is the case with Thailand.

“This is one of the most valuable illicit trades, up there with drugs, weapons, human trafficking and counterfeit goods; it’s worth billions of dollars annually,” Roberton says.

“One reaction from some governments is that they don’t have the trade of wildlife for meat like in China, yet they do have trade for wildlife as pets and traditional medicine. The fact is that the conditions that lead to the emergence of zoonotic pathogens like COVID-19 and SARS occur in the wild animal trade whether they are being sold for meat, fur or medicine, so policies focused on only wildlife meat won’t significantly reduce the future threat of pathogen emergence.”

Australia has backed an international review of wildlife markets in the wake of the virus, which it has labelled a “big risk” to human health and food production.

Leanne Wicker, a senior vet at Healesville Sanctuary who worked in Vietnam for years and is an expert on species threatened by the wildlife trade, says such infectious organisms are “no risk to people when wild animals are left in the wild”.

The problem is that human behaviour, such as habitat destruction, ecotourism, hunting, the trade and consumption of wild animals and the farming of wild animals brings “people and wildlife into unnaturally proximity enabling the spillover of disease between species”.

Aside from COVID-19, she reels off rabies, Ebola, Hendra virus, henipavirus, the first SARS coronavirus, monkey pox, HIV, leptospirosis and rat lung worm, salmonella and toxoplasmosis as examples.

“The SARS-CoV-2 virus is not the first significant pathogen to arise from the wildlife trade and it most certainly won’t be the last.”

She’s also frustrated by the focus on wildlife or wet markets, arguing that restaurants, for example, can also pose a significant risk in spreading new and exotic viruses.

Australia’s Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said markets that exist across Africa and north and south-east Asia and sell animals for traditional medicine and food consumption are a “particular concern”.

“Even before COVID-19, we knew these sorts of markets posed a serious potential risk to human health and, if we obtain the scientific backing, we would like to see these markets phased out to ensure public health,” he says.

As Wicker says, the impact of the global wildlife trade is “devastating”.

“While I am acutely aware that the public health risks are significant, it is very hard to ignore the fact that this is a problem caused entirely by human greed. For me, the real tragedy lies in considering the fear, pain and discomfort felt by every single one of the many millions of individual animals who find themselves unlucky participants in this human atrocity.”

– with Amilia Rosa

DENR urged: Shield Romblon monkeys from trappers, lab experiments

By:  – Reporter / @JhessetEnanoINQ
 / 04:53 AM May 06, 2020

THEY BELONGTO THE FOREST Commonly known as “matsing” or “unggoy,” long-tailed macaques are a subspecies of the crab-eating macaques and are endemic to Philippine forests. —PHOTO FROM CRUELTY FREE INTERNATIONAL

MANILA, Philippines — Animal rights advocates have urged the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to refuse any permits seeking to trap wild long-tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis philippensis) in Romblon province for research and export purposes amid the reported population boom of these monkeys on the island.

The call came after reports that the DENR would consider applications for permits to capture the primates for breeding farms, which supply animals for laboratory experiments and testing.


Trapping wild primates is cruel and taking them from their habitats and social groups can cause immense suffering in animals, said the Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) and Action for Primates.

“One of the reasons given by the DENR for considering an application for the capture of the wild monkeys is conflict arising between people and the monkeys,” the groups said in a joint statement on Monday.

“Conflict issues, however, are usually due to human activities, such as the destruction and fragmentation of the natural habitat, forcing primates to compete with people over land and resources,” they added.

Endemic, near-threatened

Commonly known as “matsing” or “unggoy,” long-tailed macaques are a subspecies of the crab-eating macaques and are endemic to Philippine forests.

They were classified as near-threatened in the most recent assessment by the International Union for Conservation of Nature in 2008.

In an interview, Henry Adornado, DENR director of Mimaropa region, confirmed the rising number of macaques in Romblon but said the agency had yet to estimate their total population.

Among the reasons for their increasing numbers are the absence of natural predators, such as the Philippine Eagle, and people leaving them alone in the wild.

Relocation, education

With their growing numbers, the monkeys pose a threat to banana and coconut plantation of communities, Adornado said.

But Nedim Buyukmihci, an animal rights activist and representative of Action for Primates, said there were human approaches to population control to resolve conflicts without resorting to the capture and removal of wild macaques from their natural habitats.


These include reproduction control, relocation and educating communities so that monkeys would not be encouraged to rely on humans for food.

Protected area proposed

“At a time when there is increasing awareness of the devastating consequences that human activity is having on the natural world, including nonhuman primates, it is imperative that we learn to coexist with other species rather than just eliminate them when conflicts arise,” said Buyukmihci.

Instead of seeing these animals as nuisance, a protected area for macaques should be established in Romblon, said PAWS executive director Anna Cabrera.

“We can set things right by taking immediate steps to establish a protected area for macaques and to develop eco-friendly systems within human communities to allow them to live in harmony with wildlife,” she said.

Ricardo Calderon, director of the Biodiversity Management Bureau, said his office had yet to receive any applications for the capture and breeding of macaques in Romblon.

“Any application for permit will have to undergo site assessment and evaluation as part of the due diligence being required under existing rules and regulation,” Calderon told the Inquirer.


Breeding of wildlife for commercial purposes is allowed under the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act through the issuance of a wildlife farm-culture permit. Only offspring of those bred in captivity may be traded and exported.

Earlier reports cited the Philippines as among the world’s major exporters of laboratory monkeys. In 2015, however, macaque exports were suspended after an Ebola Reston virus killed 11 monkeys. This particular strain was nonfatal to humans.

In the late 1990s, these exports were similarly halted after a monkey shipped from a primate farm in Laguna province died in Texas, also of the Ebola virus. At least 49 other primates had to be put to death due to the virus. INQ

Read more: https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1270395/denr-urged-shield-romblon-monkeys-from-trappers-lab-experiments#ixzz6Lmu74dLP
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Bird flu outbreak: Culling to begin on Saturday in Malappuram

Malappuram district Collector Jaffer Malik had on Thursday confirmed the outbreak of bird flu in Palathingal and imposed a ban on trade of chickens, pets and other birds in and around 10-km radius of the site.

By Author  |  Published: 13th Mar 2020  11:34 pmUpdated: 13th Mar 2020  11:42 pm
Health officers dispose of the eggs of chickens to prevent the spread of bird flu, in Kozhikode on Friday. District collector issued an instruction to close all chicken farms, chicken and egg stall, pet and bird shops to prevent the spread of Avian Influenza. (ANI PHOTOS)

Malappuram: Ten specially-trained squads will from Saturday begin culling and disinfecting operations around one-km radius of Palathingal from where the outbreak of bird flu was detected.

The Animal Husbandry Officer (AHO) of Malappuram Rani Oommen said training for the squad members was underway at the Parappangadi municipal office.

“Each team would have six or seven members. The culling of birds and pets in around one-km aerial radius of Palathingal, where the outbreak of bird flu has been detected, would begin on Saturday,” the AHO said.

As ordered by the district Collector, trade of eggs, chicken and pets around 10-km of the epicentre has been prohibited, the official said.

Malappuram district Collector Jaffer Malik had on Thursday confirmed the outbreak of bird flu in Palathingal and imposed a ban on trade of chickens, pets and other birds in and around 10-km radius of the site.

Last Saturday, the bird flu outbreak was detected in two poultry farms in Vengeri and West Kodiyathoor in Kozhikode district.

Culling and disinfecting the one-km radius of these two spots have almost been completed and a final combing as part of surveillance would continue to ensure fool-proof disinfection of the one-sq km area around the area, sources in the AH department said.


12-year prison term not enough for wildlife traffickers

By: Jhesset O. Enano – Reporter / @JhessetEnanoINQ Philippine Daily Inquirer / 05:26 AM March 06, 2020

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is backing a House bill imposing stiffer penalties on wildlife crime.

In a position paper submitted to the House committee on natural resources this week and obtained by the Inquirer, the DENR’s Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) said wildlife trafficking had remained unabated and resulted in greater loss of the country’s
resources—20 years after the enactment in 2001 of Republic Act No. 9147, or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act.

It called for stiffer fines and penalties against such illegal acts as killing, trading, hunting or transporting wildlife, as well as the inclusion of specific circumstances that would mean the maximum penalty against offenders.

“Similar to drugs and illegal trafficking of persons, wildlife trafficking is now at the level of transnational crime,” Assistant Environment Secretary and BMB chief Ricardo Calderon said in an interview.

“We’ve seen that wildlife crime is very rampant and moves across boundaries … Hopefully the increase in pe­nalty will be a big deterrent, because now the penalties are very low, with some spanning for just six months to a year,” Calderon said.
12 years not enough

Among the provisions the DENR wants to include in House Bill No. 265, authored by Occidental Mindoro Rep. Josephine Ramirez-Sato, are imprisonment of up to 20 years (reclusion temporal) for offenders who kill or destroy species listed as critically endangered and fines ranging from P200,000 to P2 million.

Under the present law, people committing the same crime face only up to
12 years in jail and fines ranging from P100,000 to P1 million.

Illegal traders of critically endangered animals can be jailed for four years and fined P50,000 to P600,000, under the proposed amendments.

This is in contrast to the current penalties, with jail time of only up to two years and fines ranging from P5,000 to P300,000.

Wildlife laundering—in which traders disguise the origin and ownership of illegally acquired wildlife by making it appear as though they came from legitimate sources—will also be punishable under the amended law.

Despite record seizures of smuggled wildlife in recent years valued at billions of pesos, prosecuting wildlife criminals remains a huge challenge for the government.

Traders go scot-free with lax penalties, overburdened courts and lack of knowledge among legal professionals, while repeat offenders easily skirt through the system.
Only 70 cases

An earlier Inquirer report showed that more than 26,700 wildlife were confiscated in at least 123 enforcement operations from 2013 to 2018.
But in that period, only 70 cases against wildlife criminals had been filed, with only 18 convictions.

Of the 228 identified offenders, only 30 had been penalized—and not all of them spent time in jail.

“Many continue to take risks because there is a market,” Calderon said.
“With the value of animals worth millions and with very low penalties, it’s really worth risking.”

Another reason for the government’s shortcomings in dealing with wildlife crime is the notion that these are small-time offenses, said Environment Undersecretary Ernesto Adobo Jr.

“There is a common notion that these crimes do not have victims, so they consider it second-class crimes or offenses,” Adobo said. “In fact, the victims [in] these crimes are the wild animals themselves.”

In its paper, the DENR-BMB sought to include specific circumstances that would mean the maximum penalty against trafficking wildlife.

For instance, the number of specimens involved in violations should be considered since many confiscations involved several numbers of animals of different species and with different conditions during capture.
Maximum penalty

Under the bill, repeat offenders will be prosecuted with the maximum penalty—the same with those who commit crimes through inducing indigenous peoples.

The Asean Centre for Biodiversity had earlier reported that the Philippines loses P50 billion every year due to the illegal trade. The archipelago serves as a source, transit point and destination for trafficked animals.

Among the most trafficked animals were those seen only in the Philippines, such as the Philippine pangolin and Philippine pond turtle.
Both are classified as critically endangered.

Read more:
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Case of seized lion bones moving forward, NGO says

Niem Chheng | Publication date 03 March 2020 | 23:27 ICT Share Content image – Phnom Penh Post The lion bones seized in December are being examined. Wildlife alliance

Authorities on Monday opened packages of more than 280 lion bones seized in December at the Phnom Penh International Airport as the case progresses against the suspected owners who remain behind bars, said NGO Wildlife Alliance.

It said the shipment of 281kg of suspected lion bones smuggled from South Africa was opened on Monday while two Vietnamese suspects remained in jail. Cambodian Customs officials were investigating the case, it noted.

“Cambodia is a well-known transit country in the illegal wildlife trade for products heading to Vietnam and China. It is suspected that the lion bones were intended to be transported to Vietnam where they are popular in traditional medicines.

“Wildlife Alliance is pleased to once again be working with our colleagues in Customs in another major Africa-Asia wildlife trafficking case,” the NGO said.

Last December, joint forces from the Ministry of Interior’s Anti-Counterfeit Products Committee, Customs officials, Camcontrol officials and a Phnom Penh Municipal Court prosecutor seized the lion bones at the airport and arrested two Vietnamese nationals.

Court spokesman Kuch Kimlong, the Anti-Counterfeit Products Committee and Wildlife Alliance could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.

Last year, the Ministry of Environment warned souvenir vendors of trafficked goods made of exotic bones and wild animals that they would face legal action similar to those involved in money laundering and financing terrorism.

The notice came after 32 businesses in Siem Reap and Preah Sihanouk province were found to be selling souvenirs made from rhinoceros horns and elephant ivory.

In February, UK-based Traffic, an NGO working on anti-wildlife trade, released a report saying Cambodia had seized more than 17,000kg of ivory from 2009 to 2018, including a seizure of more than 3.2 tonnes of ivory in 2018 that came from Mozambique.

It said more than 780 ivory products were recorded in 10 shops in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap in 2015, with hundreds more recorded in 2019. It said almost 25,000 live mammals, birds and reptiles were seized from 2007 to 2015.

The NGO said the challenges for Cambodia in combating wildlife crimes were low penalties for criminals which did not serve as deterrents, difficulty in effectively implementing the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, and the country being a transit point for transnational organised crime groups en route to Vietnam or China.

Meanwhile, the World Wildlife Fund Asia Pacific offices on Tuesday applauded China for its decision to ban the trade of wild animals and end unregulated wildlife trade, linking the consumption of wildlife to the possible cause of Covid-19.

WWF regional director for Asia Pacific Christy Williams said in a press statement that Southeast Asian countries must learn from China’s example and ban the sales of wild meat for the health of their citizens and to prevent damage to their economies, as is happening currently due to Covid-19.

“This means that they must stop the trade from moving into their territories. As we saw in the case of the domestic ivory ban in China, the trade will just move across borders where enforcement is less robust, creating new trade hotspots,” Williams said.


Wuhan under lockdown as coronavirus outbreak kills 17 in China

6 hr 37 min ago

Coronavirus spreads more easily from person to person than previously thought, says WHO official

Anthony Wallace/AFP/Getty Images
Anthony Wallace/AFP/Getty Images

The Wuhan coronavirus that has killed at least 17 people and infected more than 600 spreads more easily from person to person than previously thought, according to a World Health Organization (WHO) official.

“We are now seeing second and third generation spread,” said Dr. David Heymann, the chairperson of a WHO committee that is gathering data on the virus.

Third generation means that someone who became infected after handling animals at the market in Wuhan, China, spreads the virus to someone else, who then spreads it to a third person.

The virus initially appeared to spread only by very close contact that would typically occur within a family, such as hugging, kissing, or sharing eating utensils, Heymann said.

Now, he says evidence is accruing that shows more distant contact could spread the virus, such as if a sick person were to sneeze or cough near someone else’s face.

He said there is no evidence at this point that the virus is airborne and could be spread across a room, as happens with the flu or measles.

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Travel restrictions placed on third Chinese city

Travel restrictions have been put in place in Ezhou, the third Chinese city to be affected by measures aimed at controlling the spread of coronavirus.

Ezhou’s railway station has been closed “in order to fully conduct prevention and control of the new type of pneumonia causing coronavirus, effectively cut off the transmission of the virus, resolutely curb the spread of the epidemic, and ensure the safety and health of the people,” according to a Thursday statement from the Ezhou City Coronavirus Disease Prevention Control Headquarters.

Earlier in the day public transport and long distance transport networks were suspended in nearby Huanggang, according to its municipal government.

Huanggang’s central market is temporarily closed, as well as all entertainment venues, public halls, movie theaters and tourism centers.

Cars coming in and out of the city will be checked and searched, and people will have their temperatures taken.

7 hr 2 min ago

Cathay Dragon suspends flights to and from Wuhan amid deadly coronavirus


Airline Cathay Dragon announced Thursday it is suspending flights to and from Wuhan amid the deadly coronavirus outbreak.

“In light of the evolving situation in Wuhan, Cathay Dragon is temporarily suspending flights to and from Wuhan effective January 24, 2020 until 29 February, 2020,” said the company in a statement.

“We are monitoring the situation closely and will continue to coordinate with the health authorities in Hong Kong and in all the ports to which we operate flights.”

Cathay Dragon is a subsidiary of Hong Kong’s flag carrier, Cathay Pacific.

Cathay Pacific stock declined 2.1% in Hong Kong Thursday as the aviation sector comes under pressure amid the spread of the coronavirus.

3 hr 37 min ago

Beijing scraps all large-scale New Year Celebrations

Kevin Frayer/Getty Images
Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

Authorities in Beijing have canceled all large-scale Chinese New Year celebrations in an effort to contain the growing spread of Wuhan coronavirus.

“In order to control the epidemic, protect people’s lives and health, reduce the mass gathering and ensure people to have a harmonious and peaceful Spring Festival, it is decided to cancel all the large-scale events, including temple fairs, in Beijing as of today,” read a Thursday statement from the governmental Beijing Culture and Tourism Bureau.

“Citizens shall strengthen the preventative measures and support the decision. We will notify the policy changes with the epidemic development … And wish all citizens a happy Spring Festival,” the statement continued.

Chinese New Year 2020 runs from Saturday 25 through February 8.

7 hr 47 min ago

What do we know about Wuhan?


Wuhan, where the coronavirus outbreak originated, is the capital city of Hubei province in Central China.

It is the 10th most populated city in China, with 8,837,300 residents in 2018, according to the National Statistics Bureau.

The city is widely referred to as having a population of 11 million. This includes migrant workers and other residents who do not have Wuhan residency registration, and who are hence not included in the national census.

The city is home to some of the top universities in China, including Huazhong University of Science and Technology (ranked ninth in the country), Wuhan University (ranked 12th) and China University of Geosciences (23rd in China).

Tennis player Li Na hails from the city, which is also famous as the birthplace of the 1911 armed uprising that eventually overthrew China’s last imperial dynasty.

In 2018 the city had 398 hospitals and 17 centers for disease control and prevention out of a total 6,340 medical institutions.

Wuhan has a total number of 95,300 beds in hospitals and community clinics, and 136,300 people are employed in its medical institutions.

The average life expectancy in the city is 81.29 years.

8 hr 2 min ago

A second city has been placed under lockdown

Huanggang, a neighboring city about 80 kilometers (50 miles) east of Wuhan, will be effectively locked down due to risks associated with the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus, Chinese state media reported.

The Hubei Huanggang New-type Coronavirus Pneumonia Prevention and Control Command, a task force set up to deal with the crisis, said in a statement that at midnight, the city’s subway and train stations will close, per a report in the People’s Daily, a state-run newspaper. All theaters, internet cafes and indoor public culture, tourism and entertainment facilities in the city will also stop business, People’s Daily reported.

Like Wuhan, Huanggang is located on the banks of the Yangtze River. The entire administrative area of Huanggang has a population of 7.5 million, but People’s Daily reported that the lockdown only applies to the urban area, which is only a part of the total population.

9 hr 7 min ago

More cases confirmed throughout China

People wear face masks as they wait for arriving passengers at Beijing Capital International Airport in Beijing on January 23.
People wear face masks as they wait for arriving passengers at Beijing Capital International Airport in Beijing on January 23. Mark Schiefelbein/AP

Regional health authorities in China have confirmed 13 new cases of the Wuhan coronavirus, bringing the total number of cases in mainland China to 611.

Eight more cases were confirmed in Beijing. Shaanxi Province and the Xinjiang Autonomous Region confirmed three and two cases, respectively.

Those are the first cases that have been confirmed in Xinjiang and Shaanxi — meaning that of the 22 provinces, five autonomous regions, two special administrative regions and four municipalities under the control of the People’s Republic of China, only five have not reported confirmed cases of the Wuhan coronavirus as of midday Thursday.

They are:

  • Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region
  • Tibet Autonomous Region
  • Gansu Province
  • Qinghai Province
  • Hong Kong

The Hong Kong government has not formally confirmed the presence of the virus in the city, but said it is investigating two “highly suspected” cases. Preliminary tests of the first individual were positive for the virus.

The self-governing island of Taiwan has reported a confirmed case of the coronavirus.

9 hr 38 min ago

“People aren’t sure when shops will be going back to normal,” Wuhan resident says

The Wuhan New-type Coronavirus Pneumonia Command — a task-force set up to deal with the crisis — said in a statement that Wuhan has a sufficient supply and reserve of food, medical supplies and commodities.

“There is no need for the general public of the city to panic or hoard in order to prevent unnecessary wastes,” the command said.

However, there is still unease among many in the city.

Jan Renders, a 29-year-old PhD student in Wuhan, told CNN that many shops are closing for the Lunar New Year holiday, so many people had already been stocking up on supplies. Renders, who has lived in Wuhan for the last two and a half months, said he was able to stock up on food for at least a week.

“But of course people aren’t sure whether shops will be going back to normal soon,” he said.

Another man in Wuhan sent CNN a picture inside a grocery store Thursday morning that showed several empty shelves. The man, who asked not to be identified, said most of the food was sold out.

This photograph taken Thursday morning shows inside a grocery store in Wuhan.
This photograph taken Thursday morning shows inside a grocery store in Wuhan.
10 hr 2 min ago

Wuhan is a London-sized city

A man wears a mask while walking in the street on Wednesday in Wuhan
A man wears a mask while walking in the street on Wednesday in Wuhan Getty Images

Wuhan, the city where the outbreak originated, is home to more than 11 million people — that’s as big, or bigger than London, the largest city by population in the European Union.

It’s the biggest city in all of central China — and unsurprisingly, is considered the political, economic and transport capital of the region.

Located in Hubei province on the confluence of the Yangtze River and its largest tributary, the Han River, the city is often referred to as “jiu sheng tong qu,” meaning it’s considered the main thoroughfare of nine provinces.

In other words, Wuhan is huge and densely populated, with people coming and going every day — making the outbreak and lockdown a nightmare for authorities, especially ahead of Lunar New Year this weekend.

To put it in perspective: The lockdown is like closing down all transportation for a city more than three times the size of Chicago, two days before Christmas.

More about Wuhan: Wuhan is a major manufacturing city with a heavy focus on automobile and medical equipment: Bosch and PSA both relocated their China headquarters to Wuhan recently.

The city, spanning 8,494 square kilometers, has played a major role in the government’s plan to rejuvenate the nation’s central region for more than a decade.

But the city’s historical importance can be traced back more than 3,000 years. Wuhan is listed as one of the Famous Historical and Culture Cities by the state and is home to the ruins of Panlong City.

Read more about Wuhan here.

3 hr 39 min ago

The Chinese government announced the highways out of Wuhan are closed


The Wuhan New-type Coronavirus Pneumonia Command — a Chinese task-force set up to deal with the crisis — has announced the closure of highways out of the city, a move it called a “necessary act to stop the spreading of the epidemic.”

However, minutes later the announcement was removed from the website. It’s unclear why.

The decision to effectively cut off Wuhan from the rest of the world has sparked fears among some on social media about the availability of food and medicine inside the city.

Flights out of Wuhan had already been suspended and public transport in the city has stopped.

10 hr 41 min ago

People are apparently trying to get out of Wuhan — and Chinese social media users are not happy about it

Workers use infrared thermometers to check the temperature of passengers arriving from Wuhan at a train station in Hangzhou on Thursday, January 23.
Workers use infrared thermometers to check the temperature of passengers arriving from Wuhan at a train station in Hangzhou on Thursday, January 23. Chinatopix via AP

Fear and anxiety is mounting in China, with controversy on social media over residents who apparently fled Wuhan ahead of the partial lockdown enforced on Thursday.

On the microblogging platform Weibo, people shared their fears over the virus, as well as cautionary warnings. “Don’t panic and try not to go out,” one person warned.

Another person posted they had thought about fleeing Wuhan. “I was thinking about my parents and children — if I bring them, where can we escape to?” read the post.

“Tomorrow will there be a line to snatch supplies? Will the next step be to send troops here to maintain order? By spring, will this explode into an epidemic? Or by May, will Wuhan have been restored to peace and goodness?”

Controversy over evacuees: On early Thursday morning, train stations in Wuhan were packed with people trying to get out of the city before the blockade went into effect. Crowds jammed together, trying to get on the last few trains out of the city of 11 million people.

The rush to get out has even got its own hashtag on Weibo — #EscapeFromWuhan.

But the mass exodus has been met with anger from many Weibo users, who accused people leaving Wuhan of being selfish and irresponsible as they could then potentially spread the virus.

“Wuhan people, get out of Shanghai,” one person posted. “Don’t sneak in and spread chaos.”

Palm Oil in Snack Foods Could Be Destroying the World’s “Orangutan Capital”

Picture a rhinoceros in the rainforest, add a herd of elephants, families of orangutans swinging through the treetops and tigers prowling the understory, and there is only one place in the world you could be.

Indonesia’s Leuser Ecosystem is one of Earth’s most ancient forest ecosystems, a laboratory of life’s potential where the alchemy of evolution has been allowed to experiment, uninterrupted for millennia. And the results are astounding. Green upon green, vines hanging from towering old-growth trees, moss growing on ferns growing on bromeliads… you get the picture.

It is the kind of place one imagines primeval nature to be wild, abundant, impenetrable.

With more than a century of proud conservation history responsible for its continued existence, the province of Aceh where the Leuser resides is, against all odds, a sparkling ecological jewel standing in stark contrast to the devastated landscape that surrounds it. Most of the rest of Sumatra — once known as Indonesia’s “Emerald Island” — and sadly much of the rest of lowland rainforests across Indonesia, too, have been exploited and denuded by wave after wave of scorched Earth, industry, colonial extraction and modern-day corrupt corporate greed. What has already been lost is incalculable, but here, in this special place, remains a rare opportunity to stop the cycle of destruction and protect a globally valuable treasure before it’s too late.

A palm oil refinery
A Musim Mas palm oil facility on the edge of the Leuser Ecosystem in Sumatra, Indonesia.

The Leuser Ecosystem is considered the heart of Southeast Asia’s rainforest region, which, alongside the Amazon and the Congo Basin, is one of only three tropical forest regions on Earth. The beating heart of the Leuser is the lowland forests and peat swamps of the Singkil-Bengkung region. This area is part of the last remaining healthy peat swamp ecosystem in western Sumatra. This lush jungle contains some of the world’s richest levels of biological diversity.

The lowland peat forests of the Leuser Ecosystem deserve the highest levels of protection for multiple critical reasons. Dubbed the “orangutan capital of the world,” this region is home to the highest population densities of critically endangered orangutans anywhere. This includes a special, culturally distinct subpopulation of a few thousand individuals in the Singkil-Bengkung region, which demonstrate social structures and tool-using behaviors unique from all other orangutan populations. These forests are also home to some of the healthiest remaining breeding populations of highly imperiled Sumatran elephants, rhinos and tigers.

The health of the Leuser Ecosystem’s Singkil-Bengkung landscape is internationally significant because its deep, carbon-rich peatlands are among the most valuable and effective natural carbon sinks on Earth. Conversely, when drained, cleared and burned for conversion to palm oil plantations, this soil type is transformed into a carbon bomb that emits catastrophic levels of pollution into the atmosphere.

Hundreds of thousands of people rely on the area’s rich natural resources as the basis of their livelihoods. Downstream villages are already suffering severe, sometimes deadly threats from devastating floods, landslides, and the loss of subsistence resources like fish and forest products as a direct result of the rapid rates of deforestation caused by palm oil. Communities also continue to suffer due to the loss of access to their customary lands that have been taken over by palm oil companies, without their consent, and failures of the government to take decisive action to resolve conflicts and restore to communities the rights to their lands.

The Acehnese people have fought for over a century to protect the integrity of the Leuser Ecosystem’s extraordinary forests, and in the past decade the Leuser has become internationally famous for its intact expanses of verdant trees and its stunning wealth of imperiled wildlife species. But also over the past decade, more than 18,000 hectares of forests within the Singkil-Bengkung region have been cleared, leaving roughly 250,000 hectares of rainforests remaining — and this area decreases each and every year due to deforestation and the drainage of peatlands.

RAN conducted a series of undercover investigations in 2019 due to the alarming destruction of peat forests occurring within the lowland rainforests of the Leuser Ecosystem. The field research was conducted to determine if the forest clearance was being driven by major snack food brands, even though these brands had adopted policies years ago to end deforestation in their supply chains.

The results of the investigations are definitive. Palm oil is being grown illegally inside the nationally protected Rawa Singkil Wildlife Reserve, and it is being sold to mills that provide the palm oil used to manufacture snack foods sold across the world by Unilever, Nestlé, PepsiCo, Mondelēz, General Mills, Kellogg’s, Mars and Hershey.

These mills are located immediately next to areas of illegal encroachment into the Leuser Ecosystem and lack the necessary procedures to trace the location where the palm oil they sell is grown, a key requirement for complying with the No Deforestation, No Peatlands, No Exploitation policies to which all of these brands have publicly committed.

Progress has been made by some companies implementing their No Deforestation policies. Brands like Unilever and Nestlé, for example, have begun the process of increasing supply chain transparency by publishing the mills they source from, but they have not yet achieved traceability to the plantation level, so they remain unable to offer certainty as to exactly where the palm oil they consume was grown. The findings of these investigations clearly show that paper promises are not enough to keep the forests from falling.

The Leuser Ecosystem at large, and the Singkil-Bengkung region in particular, still offer a rare and fleeting opportunity to get it right and avoid the devastating mistakes made throughout so much of Indonesia in the past. It remains possible here to prevent the destruction of habitat that drives iconic wildlife species toward extinction, to avert the human suffering from inevitable floods and landslides caused by deforestation, and to end the reckless burning of carbon-filled peatlands contributing to the climate crisis.

The international attention resulting from the release of this latest report has helped to pressure the brands to respond and take further action, but the high stakes and urgent threats to the Singkil-Bengkung demand more bold, decisive action to ensure that the area receives permanent protection.

Tell General Mills, Kellogg’s, Nestlé, Mondelēz, Mars, Hershey, Unilever and PepsiCo to cut ties to illegally produced conflict palm oil and stop the deforestation in the Leuser Ecosystem.

This article was produced by Earth | Food | Life, a project of the Independent Media Institute.