Elephant Rides Are Now Banned at Cambodia’s Angkor Wat

After pressure from animal rights groups, the temples’ management group decided to stop offering elephant rides to tourists.

https://www.travelandleisure.com/animals/angkor-wat-cambodia-elephants

BY CAILEY RIZZO

NOVEMBER 18, 2019

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Cambodia’s most famous tourist attraction, Angkor Wat, will ban elephant rides around the ancient temples, beginning next year.

After pressure from animal rights groups, the temples’ management group decided to stop offering elephant rides to tourists.

To start the initiative, two of the 14 elephants that lived and worked at Angkor Archaeological Park were moved to the nearby Bos Tham forest last week, according to the Khmer Times.

The rest of the elephants that are in Angkor Wat will be transferred to the forest by early 2020. Visitors will be able to see the animals there but they will not be permitted to ride as the elephants will continue to be under the care of the company that currently owns them.

Tourists riding elephants in Angkor Wat
GETTY IMAGES

“The elephant is a big animal, but it is also gentle and we don’t want to see the animals being used for tourism activities anymore,” Long Kosal, a spokesperson for the park’s management company, told Khmer Times. “We want them to live in their natural surroundings.”

Elephants have been at Angkor Wat since the practice of ferrying tourists around started in 2001.

In 2016, an elephant named Sambo died at the park, due to a heart attack triggered by heatstroke and exhaustion. Her death prompted an online petition to end elephant riding at Angkor Wat, which earned more than 185,000 signatures.

The World Wildlife Fund published a report last year, stating that the number of Asian elephants has decreased 50 percent in the last three generations. There are less than 50,000 that live in the wild and they are officially listed as an endangered species.

If you visit Angkor Wat, check out Travel + Leisure’s tips for seeing the popular site without battling other tourists for a view.

Born Free USA Applauds Reintroduction of Bill Banning Dangerous Traps on National Wildlife Refuges

Refuge from Cruel Trapping Act reappears in U.S. House of Representatives, is backed by leading animal protection organization

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/born-free-usa-applauds-reintroduction-201300055.html

WASHINGTONNov. 18, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — Born Free USA, an internationally recognized leader in animal protection and wildlife conservation, announced today its strong support of the recent reintroduction of the Refuge from Cruel Trapping Act in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The bill, championed by Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY), chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee, would prohibit the use or possession of all body-gripping traps within the 150 million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System. These traps include steel-jaw leghold traps, Conibear traps, and strangulation neck snares.

“By their very design, body-gripping traps are cruel, dangerous and indiscriminate,” said Angela Grimes, CEO of Born Free USA. “Their brutality cannot be overstated. As our two undercover investigations have shown, traps inflict severe stress, pain and suffering for any animal who steps into them—including endangered species and beloved pets. Born Free USA applauds Chairwoman Lowey for her strong leadership to end this cruelty throughout the National Wildlife Refuge System.”

The mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System is to be an inviolate sanctuary for our native wildlife, yet thousands of animals are trapped in these cruel devises on our refuges every year. Children and family pets are also put at risk every time they visit one of the 177 refuges that currently allows trapping.

“Body-gripping traps should have no place in our National Wildlife Refuges,” Lowey said. “The Refuge from Cruel Trapping Act would ban from public land these violent traps, which endanger wild animals as well as the millions of visitors who enjoy our nation’s 566 refuges each year. It is past time we ensure the entire National Wildlife Refuge System is safe for animals and families alike. We must restore the true meaning of ‘refuge’ to the National Wildlife Refuge System.”

Once in a trap, animals suffer in agony for hours or even days. In addition to the excruciating pain inflicted by the trap, trapped animals are also exposed to extreme stress, environmental elements, dehydration, starvation, and predation, with no chance of relief or escape.

Born Free USA urges other members of Congress to join with Congresswoman Lowey to support this important legislation.

For more information about Born Free USA, visit https://www.bornfreeusa.org.

About Born Free USA
Born Free USA works tirelessly to ensure that all wild animals, whether living in captivity or in the wild, are treated with compassion and respect and are able to live their lives according to their needs. As a leading wildlife charity, Born Free USA opposes the exploitation of wild animals in captivity and campaign to keep them where they belong – in the wild. The organization promotes Compassionate Conservation to enhance the survival of threatened species in the wild and protect natural habitats while respecting the needs and safeguarding the welfare of individual animals.

Rep. Lowey Reintroduces Bill To Ban Traps In Refuges

  NOV 17, 2019

New York Congresswoman Nita Lowey has reintroduced a bill that would prohibit body-gripping traps in the National Wildlife Refuge system.

Lowey, Democratic chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee, reintroduced the Refuge From Cruel Trapping Act Friday, that would ban from public land traps where animal endure hours or even days of pain. Lowey says that, each year, thousands of bobcats, otters, foxes, beavers and other wild animals are trapped in this manner across the nation’s refuges. She says more than 50 percent of the 566 refuges allow trapping. Steel-jaw leghold traps; conibear traps: and neck snares would be banned if the measure is enacted. Lowey says it’s time to restore the true meaning of “refuge” to the National Wildlife Refuge system

https://www.wamc.org/post/rep-lowey-reintroduces-bill-ban-traps-refuges

No more fire in the kitchen: Cities are banning natural gas in homes to save the planet

USA TODAY

SAN FRANCISCO – Fix global warming or cook dinner on a gas stove?

That’s the choice for people in 13 cities and one county in California that have enacted new zoning codes encouraging or requiring all-electric new construction.

The codes, most of them passed since June, are meant to keep builders from running natural gas lines to new homes and apartments, with an eye toward creating fewer legacy gas hookups as the nation shifts to carbon-neutral energy sources.

For proponents, it’s a change that must be made to fight climate change. For natural gas companies, it’s a threat to their existence. And for some cooks who love to prepare food with flame, it’s an unthinkable loss.

Natural gas is a fossil fuel, mostly methane, and produces 33% of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions from electricity generation, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Carbon dioxide is the primary greenhouse gas causing climate change.

“There’s no pathway to stabilizing the climate without phasing gas out of our homes and buildings. This is a must-do for the climate and a livable planet,” said Rachel Golden of the Sierra Club’s building electrification campaign.

These new building codes come as local governments work to speed the transition from natural gas and other fossil fuels and toward the use of electricity from renewables, said Robert Jackson, a professor of energy and the environment at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California.

“Every house, every high-rise that’s built with gas, may be in place for decades. We’re establishing infrastructure that may be in place for 50 years,” he said.

These “reach” or “stretch” building codes, as they are known, have so far all been passed in California. The first was in Berkeley in July, then more in Northern California and recently Santa Monica in Southern California. Other cities in Massachusetts, Oregon and Washington state are contemplating them, according to the Sierra Club.

Some of the cities ban natural gas hookups to new construction. Others offer builders incentives if they go all-electric, much the same as they might get to take up more space on a lot if a house is extra energy-efficient. In April, Sunnyvale, a town in Silicon Valley, changed its building code to offer a density bonus to all-electric developments.

No more gas stoves?

The building codes apply only to new construction beginning in 2020, so they aren’t an issue for anyone in an already-built home.

Probably the biggest stumbling block for most pondering an all-electric home is the prospect of not having a gas stove.

“It’s the only thing that people ever ask about,” said Bruce Nilles, who directs the building electrification program of the Rocky Mountain Institute, a Colorado-based think tank that focuses on energy and resource efficiency.

Roughly 35% of U.S. households have a gas stove, while 55%have electric, according to a 2017 kitchen audit by the NPD Group, a global information company based in Port Washington, New York.

For at least a quarter of Americans, it doesn’t matter either way. They already live in houses that are all-electric, and their numbers are rising, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. That’s especially true in the Southeast, where close to 45% of homes are all-electric.

For the rest of the nation, natural gas is used to heat buildings and water, dry clothes and cook food, according to the EIA. That represents 17% of national natural gas usage.

But the number of natural gas customers is also rising. The American Gas Association, which represents more than 200 local energy companies, says an average of one new customer is added every minute.

“That’s exactly the wrong direction,” Nilles said.

States weigh climate change solutions

The nudge toward all-electric buildings is the type of shift Americans will begin to experience more and more in coming years. Last year, California’s governor signed an executive order directing state agencies to work toward making the entire state economy carbon-neutral by 2045.

California is not alone. New York, Hawaii, Colorado and Maine have economywide carbon-neutrality goals, and several more are debating them. More than 140 U.S. cities have committed to transitioning to carbon-neutral energy.

The natural gas industry rejects the notion that it should not be part of the nation’s energy future.

“The idea that denying access to natural gas in new homes is necessary to meet emissions reduction goals is false. In fact, denying access to natural gas could make meeting emissions goals harder and more expensive,” said American Gas Association President and CEO Karen Harbert.

The association calls the new zoning codes for new construction burdensome to consumers and to the economy. They also say it’s more expensive to run an all-electric home. A study by AGA released last year suggested that all-electric homes would pay $750 to $910 a year more for energy-related costs, as well as amortized appliance and upgrade costs.

But critics question AGA’s conclusions.

Amanda Myers, a policy analyst at Energy Innovation, a research nonprofit group focused on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, said AGA presumed high electricity rates because of unrealistically large increases in expected electricity use and made unusual assumptions for how any anticipated electric load growth might be met.

An analysis last year by the Rocky Mountain Institute found that in locations as diverse as Chicago, Houston and Providence, Rhode Island, all-electric new homes over a 15-year time frame could save residents as much as $260 a year compared with new homes with air conditioners powered by electricity and natural gas.

You’ll pry my cold, dead hands off my gas range

The selling point for getting away from natural gas may come from a type of electric range that, according to chefs, is just as good if not better than gas. As fundamentally attached as people might be to cooking with fire, induction stoves are making headway.

Long popular in Europe and increasingly trendy in the United States, induction cooktops are different from the kind of traditional electric range where coils become red-hot. Induction ranges use electromagnetic energy to directly heat pots and pans.

They are fast, energy-efficient and safe because there’s no open flame, and they are cool to the touch unless you’re a piece of metal.

As Reviewed.com puts it, they’re “gentle enough to melt butter and chocolate, but powerful enough to bring 48 ounces of water to a boil in under three minutes.”

The downsides are that induction cooktops are more expensive than traditional electric stoves, generally a third to half more. They also work only with pans with steel or iron bottoms.

Professional chefs say modern induction ranges are comparable to gas. The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, America’s preeminent cooking school, trains its chefs on both induction and gas stoves because they will encounter both types and must know how to use them.

“Some of the finest restaurants in Europe are often out in mountainous areas or places where there isn’t gas. They cook on induction and that works just fine,” said Mark Erickson, a certified master chef at the institute.

Regular electric stoves aren’t a deal-breaker either, said Erickson, who lives in a townhouse with one and cooks on it every night.

“If I were given the chance and if it were a choice of gas or electric, I would choose gas because it’s what I’m used to,” he said. “But in all honesty, it’s not the end of the world.”

Forget about fur, Sundays and all days

Cruelty, not luxury.
Cruelty, not luxury. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson is being dubbed an animal hero on the heels of a package of animal protection bills, from a ban on foie gras to new work standards for carriage horses.

Animals are in trouble if this is the best the city can do.

In the spring, Johnson sounded like an animal hero during the public hearing for a ban on fur sales. He berated the furriers in attendance for the horrific ways they treat animals before they kill them, and urged his colleagues to ban the sale of fur in the city, calling it the “moral thing to do.”

But the fur ban never made it over the finish line. I guess morality takes a backseat when there are political pressures.

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It seems that Johnson, who is eyeing a mayoral run in 2021, doesn’t want to draw the ire of a group of black clergy members, who came out in opposition, arguing that fur garments had a special significance in their community. We’ve read headlines like, “Proposed fur ban pits animal rights advocates against black ministers.”

But we disagree that because someone wants to defend the rights of animals, they’re somehow against African-American churchgoers. That’s insulting, and nothing could be further from the truth.

The storyline that fur is a natural fit for church, and that black people have some special affinity for animal cruelty, has been stoked by the fur lobby. Knowing it will always lose the animal cruelty arguments, it creates distractions.

Why is Johnson falling for this disgraceful move?

The reality is wearing your “Sunday best” is not exclusive to one community or another. I’m white and grew up in the Roman Catholic Church in a small town in Connecticut. When it got colder, my mom dressed my sister and me in rabbit coats and hand muffs, while she donned her red fox coat that my dad had given her.

My dad came from very humble beginnings, but eventually opened his own jewelry store. Those coats, and the Cadillac he drove around in, represented that he had made it.

Regardless of race, we all have a history of having seen fur as a status symbol. And regardless of race, we can all overcome that history to do the right thing.

NYC, one of the fashion capitals of the world, is missing an opportunity to be a role model for consumers across all ethnicities by showing them a look of status, or a desire to dress up as a sign of respect, can be achieved with faux fur.

It’s the same fur look, but it doesn’t kill. In my own household, we evolved. I vividly remember the pink faux-fur coat that replaced the real thing when we realized animal cruelty does not look good on anyone.

Surely, one would assume people attracted to fur as a status symbol would reject a mink coat once they learned the confined animals are riddled with injuries, covered in sores and living in their own feces because their cages often go uncleaned for weeks. Fur farms are as far from luxury and prestige as one can get.

Furthermore, New York City is already becoming one of the most vibrant places for faux fur — successful, eco-friendly, luxury fashion labels have opened here.

A ban on retail fur sales in the nation’s fashion capital will spare the lives of millions of animals who skins are sold here in the name of luxury and status.

The city’s fur industry is already disappearing; the number of manufacturers and retailers selling it has dropped precipitously. Dozens of big-name fashion designers — many headquartered here — have already spurned fur. Macy’s, whose flagship store is in New York, just announced it is ending fur sales by the end of 2020. Multiple municipalities have banned fur sales, including Los Angeles and the entire state of California.

It’s more than disappointing that this bill has stalled just because it’s going to be tougher than others to pass.

We humans are capable of being guided by reason. Let’s act like it.

Rivard is editor at Friends of Animals.

Massachusetts Weighs Ban on Predator Hunting Contests

Randomly killing coyotes won’t prevent conflicts with people, pets or livestock, critics say

Massachusetts Weighs Ban on Predator Hunting Contests
Billerica Animal Control, File

Contests that involve the hunting of predator or furbearing animals like coyotes would be banned under a proposal being considered by Massachusetts wildlife officials.

Critics of the contests say they’re cruel and that randomly killing coyotes won’t prevent conflicts with people, pets or livestock.

The Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife is planning to hold a hearing Tuesday evening at the Richard Cronin Building in Westborough to hear from the public.

Wildlife officials say the current level of coyote hunting doesn’t reduce the population, nor would hunting have an appreciable impact on coyote populations. They say despite the presence of coyotes, deer populations are thriving in Massachusetts.

Supporters of the ban, including the Humane Society of the United States, note that California, Vermont, New Mexico and Arizona have similar bans.

Macy’s becomes biggest US retailer to end fur sales

Humane Society applauds move as department store joins companies, cities and states rejecting real fur clothing

Macy’s CEO said the company had been following consumer brand trends.
 Macy’s CEO said the company had been following consumer brand trends. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Macy’s has announced it will end the sale of fur across its stores, notching a major win for animal rights activists.

The US retailer joins a growing number of brands, cities and states turning away from the use of products made with animal fur. Prada, Ralph Lauren, Gucci and Burberry have already dropped real fur.

While Macy’s is not the first US department store to end fur sales – JCPenney and Sears have already done so – the move is significant because of the company’s enormous size and reach. With sales of more than $24bn in 2018, and hundreds of stores in nearly every state, the decision will make the company the largest US retailer so far to adopt a ban.

Plans are to phase out real fur by the end of 2020’s fiscal year at Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s and its discount outlets.

Earlier this month, in a pair of bills signed by the state’s governor, Gavin Newsom, California became the first US state to ban the sale and manufacture of new fur products and the third to bar most animals from use in circus performances. Los Angeles and San Francisco had banned fur sales even before Newsom signed the bills.

Macy’s chairman and chief executive officer, Jeff Gennette, said in a statement that over the past two years the company has been following consumer brand trends, listening to customers and non-governmental groups such as the Humane Society of the United States.

“We are proud to partner with the Humane Society of the United States in our commitment to ending the sale of fur. We remain committed to providing great fashion and value to our customers, and we will continue to offer high-quality and fashionable faux fur alternatives,” Gennette said.

Kitty Block, the president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, applauded Macy’s decision.

“This announcement is consistent with the views of countless consumers in the marketplace, and other retailers should follow. With so many designers, major cities and now a state taking a stand against the sale of fur, we’re that much closer to ending this unnecessary and inhumane practice,” Block said in a statement.

Animal rights advocates argue that animals whose fur is taken for products are subject to cruel treatment and inhumane actions, such as gassing and electrocution. One advocacy group, Direct Action Everywhere, is working with activists to pass similar bills in cities nationwide, including Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Portland, Oregon.

But opponents in the fur industry say the bans could create a black market for animal fur and lead to arbitrary bans on other products. Keith Kaplan of the Fur Information Council previously said the ban was part of a “radical vegan agenda using fur as the first step to other bans on what we wear and eat”.

PJ Smith, the director of fashion policy at the Humane Society, said he believed the shift in the fashion industry was being driven by a younger, more socially conscious generation of consumers.

“Across the board the industry has moved away from fur. I think the consumer is really speaking up on this and we’re at a time when retailers really want to align their policies to what customers want,” Smith said.

Macy’s has about 680 department stores in 43 states, the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico under the names Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s. It has about 190 specialty stores that include Bloomingdale’s the Outlet, Bluemercury and Macy’s Backstage.

Arizona bans hunting contests for killing wildlife predators

Posted: 6:14 AM, Sep 05, 2019

https://www.kgun9.com/news/local-news/arizona-bans-hunting-contests-for-killing-wildlife-predators

Updated: 6:14 AM, Sep 05, 2019

PHOENIX (AP) – Arizona has banned organized contests where hunters try to kill the most coyotes or other wildlife predators for prizes such as cash or hunting equipment.

The Governor’s Regulatory Review Council voted 6-0 Wednesday to approve a rule initiated by the Arizona Game and Fish Commission.

The measure will take effect in 60 days.

The commission voted unanimously in June to ban contests that require registration and a fee and award prizes for killing the most coyotes or other fur-bearing animals or predators.

The Arizona ban doesn’t apply to lawful hunting of predators or other fur-bearing animals.

Wildlife-killing contests have drawn the ire of activists in recent years.

New Mexico banned the contests in April and several other states reportedly are considering similar rules or legislation.

Alaska national park wolf hunting boundary dispute continues

(Source: Gary Kramer / USFWS / CC BY 2.0).

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) – A group of Alaska advocates is petitioning for an end to wolf hunting in a national park boundary area.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported Monday that the group is concerned about a decrease in the number of wolf sightings in part of Denali National Park.

The group sent petitions about the Denali Park Road area to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game commissioner and the state Board of Game.

Members say hunting is impacting the number of wolves in packs that roam near the road corridor.

The National Park Service has submitted its own proposal to the game board requesting a partial closure to wolf hunting.

Wolf hunting in the area is scheduled to begin Aug. 10 while trapping season is scheduled to open Nov. 1.

Oreo and Ritz Cracker Producer Drops Palm Oil Suppliers Linked to Deforestation

If you’re ecologically-minded, you probably already know how the production of palm oilravages the environment. Perhaps you’ve even been boycotting products that contain palm oil as a form of protest.

If you’ve been avoiding Oreo cookies, Cadbury candy bars, Triscuits, Chips Ahoy and Ritz Crackers for this reason, you can consider enjoying them once again.

Mondelēz International, maker of these products and many more, announced that it is dropping 12 palm oil suppliers that contribute to deforestation. The company also called for 100 percent sustainability and 100 percent transparency across the palm oil industry.

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Mondelēz International now demands that its palm oil suppliers:

  • Commit to palm oil concession mapping – Suppliers must map all mills they buy from, to identify and focus on areas of highest risk for deforestation. It also means upstream suppliers must provide “universal, group-wide concession maps” as a condition of doing business
  • Act faster to eliminate deforestation in their palm oil supply chain – This requirement mandates “time-bound remediation plans or Mondelēz International will cease contracts with upstream suppliers engaged in deforestation.”

WHAT’S THE PROBLEM WITH PALM OIL?

Palm oil is an edible vegetable oil that comes from the fruit of the African oil palm tree. Though it’s technically West African in origin, the oil palm tree can grow anywhere with a tropical climate. Producers now grow this tree on vast plantations in Asia, North America and South America.

In recent years, palm oil has become a wildly popular ingredient in many products, because it’s the most efficient source of vegetable oil. Producers make a whopping 66 million tons of palm oil every year.

These days, you’ll find palm oil in 50 percent of all foods and household goods in your grocery store, including:

  • Peanut butter
  • Pizza dough
  • Microwave meals
  • Ice cream
  • Potato chips
  • Instant noodles
  • Chocolate
  • Milk
  • Cookies
  • Margarine
  • Detergent
  • Toothpaste
  • Candles
  • Body lotions
  • Makeup

In some products, palm oil adds creaminess or foaminess. In others, it adds Vitamin A. It stops pizza dough from sticking and, in shampoos, it helps restore hair’s natural oils. Palm oil is used in margarine because it’s solid at room temperature and has no trans fat.

It’s estimated that we each use products with palm oil 11 times a day. It’s tremendously useful, but the manner in which we obtain palm oil is horrifically damaging to the indigenous populations and wildlife.

  • Producers clear cut thousands of acres of tropical rainforests to make way for oil palm tree plantations.
  • Growth of these massive plantations displaces local populations, causing poverty and conflict with palm oil concession companies.
  • Endangered species like the orangutan, Sumatran elephant, Bornean Pygmy Elephant, Sumatran rhino and Sumatran tiger are losing their habitats due to palm oil-caused rainforest loss

Orangutans in particular suffer due to palm oil production. Indonesia and Malaysia, the only places where orangutans still survive in the wild, account for 85 percent of the world’s palm oil production. An estimated 50,000 orangutans have died in Indonesia because of palm oil harvesting and production.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

How can you help? Shop for products that use only sustainably produced palm oil. The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certifies more than 20 percent of the global palm oil supply.

Buy products carrying the RSPO label or the Green Palm label so you’ll know the palm oil used was produced sustainably or the product is transitioning to sustainability.

Photo credit: Getty Images