Archive for the ‘United Kingdom’ Tag

Hunters ‘breeding foxes’ to provide for the kill   3 comments

From the Guardian by Paul Harris

Concrete chambers used as ‘artificial earths’ to ensure supply of animals for blood sport

Hunts across the country are breeding foxes in specially made dens to ensure an adequate supply of the animals, undermining claims that they are killed only in the name of pest control.

The ‘artificial earths’ are built on the territory of more than 50 hunts, from the Isle of Wight to Cumbria, including some of Britain’s most prestigious such as the Quorn and Beaufort hunts.

The earths are usually sunken concrete chambers built into the ground and connected by a network of tunnels. Foxes are encouraged to live in them and are sometimes fed and given water. They are usually built in areas near to key hunt ‘meets’, for example in woodland that will be hunted on Boxing Day or other prime occasions. The earths ensure that foxes are always available for a hunt in a specific area.

Animal rights campaigners last night expressed dismay over the use of such a widespread national network of artificial earths, claiming that the policy exploded a key argument of the pro-hunting lobby, which campaigns on the basis that fox hunting is a form of pest control.

‘Artificial earths are designed to ensure that hunts have a healthy population of foxes to kill. They are basically breeding these animals to be hunted. It is nothing to do with controlling a pest,’ said a spokesman for the League against Cruel Sports.

The league, which has documented the earths, believes that their true number is likely to be more than 200. ‘They are hard to find and we know we haven’t come anywhere close to discovering them all,’ a league spokesman said.

Sometimes the earths are concentrated in small areas. League members say they have found 31 on land hunted by the Thurlow foxhounds in Cambridgeshire, some of which are built with bricks. In a single wood owned and hunted by the Suffolk Foxhounds there are three artificial earths.

At some earths, foxes are fed by dumping animal carcasses near the entrances. League members have filmed and photographed two calf carcasses dumped within 100 yards of an artificial earth on land used by the Heythrop foxhounds in Oxfordshire, one of the country’s most prestigious hunts. Near the bodies were animal bones, indicating that carcasses had been dumped on the site before.

‘The proximity of the carcasses to an artificial earth where foxes were living is just too much of a coincidence. We believe they were put there to feed the foxes,’ one league member said.

A spokeswoman for the Heythrop hunt said it did not deliberately feed foxes. ‘I would strongly suggest it must be somebody else. The Heythrop does not put out calves’ carcasses anywhere,’ she said.

League members found a second artificial earth on the hunt’s range which was one of the most elaborate they had documented, containing a ‘dropping pot’, which allowed terriers to be put in to flush out a fox. It included water bowls fed by hosepipe and was located in trees in a sheep pasture.

The league said it would be handing a dossier of its findings to the Department for Rural Affairs and local trading standards officers. Dumping carcasses in the countryside is illegal.

The latest revelations come after league members last month showed deer carcasses being dumped near artificial earths on the estate of the Duke of Beaufort, a friend of the Prince of Wales.

Simon Hart, director of the Countryside Alliance’s Campaign for Hunting, said it was not illegal to create artificial earths, but most of them were unused and dated back decades. He said that those artificial earths that were used were designed to encourage foxes to settle away from roads or poultry farms and not for the purposes of hunting.

‘I don’t see that there’s any contradiction between countryside management, which includes the use of artificial earths, and the need to control fox numbers,’ he said.

However, a spokeswoman for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals condemned the practice. ‘There are a lot of artificial earths around that are still in use. The only benefit of doing that is to know where foxes live so you can hunt them. It shows that hunting is not pest control; it is just a blood sport,’ she said.

Even sombane among the hunting fraternity admit that some hunts use artificial earths and leave out animal carcasses to ensure a plentiful fox population. ‘A few hunts do it and I have to say that I disapprove of it totally,’ said Janet George, co-founder of the Countryside Action Network. ‘There is no need to encourage them to breed. They will breed anywhere anyway.’

Some pro-hunters blame the creation of artificial earths on farmers seeking to control their fox populations. But a spokesman for the National Farmers’ Union said this was unlikely. ‘I would be amazed if farmers were involved. If hunts are using artificial earths for foxes, that would anger farmers,’ he said.

Last week the Scottish Parliament voted to ban hunting with dogs, prompting speculation that similar measures will be attempted in England and Wales. Pro-hunting groups have vowed to challenge such a ban.


10 animal rights victories of 2014   3 comments

From:  The Independent

Dec. 10, 2014 by Mimi Bekhechi

Orca whale by Getty Images.

On International Animal Rights Day, here are the 10 stand-out victories for animals in 2014:

Retailers around the world pull angora wool products

PETA Asia’s exposé of angora farms in China – where rabbits have the fur violently ripped out of their skin – has led retailers, including ASOS, H&M, Calvin Klein, Ted Baker, French Connection, All Saints, Tommy Hilfiger and many more, to drop this cruel product in droves – you’d be hard-pressed to find a single shop on the High Street still offering angora. In the past month alone, we’ve added Lacoste and Monsoon to the list.

Moscow International Circus says goodbye to wild animals

Twenty years after Tyke the elephant was mowed down in a hail of gunfire after she killed her trainer and went on a rampage following years of confinement and abuse, the Moscow International Circus has pledged not to use any animals in its upcoming performances. Also this year, Mexico City joined Bolivia, Colombia, Paraguay and Peru in banning circuses that use wild animals. Shamefully, we’re still waiting for the government to deliver on its promise to make these archaic spectacles illegal here in the UK.

India bans the importation of cosmetics tested on animals

Following a ban on cosmetics experiments on animals last year, the Indian government announced a ban on the importation of cosmetics tested on animals elsewhere. This news brings India into line with the European Union and Israel and will spare millions of animals being blinded, poisoned and killed in cruel and useless experiments.

The World Trade Organisation upholds the ban on seal-fur

The Canadian government’s attempt to force the cruel products of its despised commercial seal slaughter onto the unwilling EU public was stopped once and for all when the World Trade Organisation (WTO) rejected its appeal earlier this year. The WTO’s decision is a victory for baby seals, who for years have been bludgeoned to death by the thousands in front of other terrorised seals, and brings us a giant step closer to a day when violence on Canadian ice floes is a thing of the past.

China Southern Airlines stops shipping monkeys to labs

After three years of campaigning by PETA and our international affiliates, China Southern Airlines announced a ban on shipments of primates to laboratories, where they were poisoned, crippled and mutilated in cruel experiments. Air France is now the only major airline still still giving primates a one-way ticket to  experimentation and death.

The 100th Spanish town bans bullfights

Sant Joan in Mallorca joined towns such as Tossa de Mar and the entire region of Catalonia in banning bullfights – a sign of the growing Spanish resistance to this cruel and archaic pastime. Towns are now finding innovative new ways to celebrate traditional festivals without harming animals – in Mataelpino in central Spain, for example, the Running of the Balls was introduced as a humane alternative to the traditional but horrific Running of the Bulls.

US military takes huge step towards ending war on animals

In a groundbreaking victory more than three decades in the making, the US military agreed to replace the use of animals in six different areas of medical training with modern human-patient simulators that better prepare medical personnel to treat injured soldiers and spare animals being cut up and having hard plastic tubes repeatedly forced down their throats, among other invasive and often deadly procedures. Unfortunately, the UK and a handful of other EU countries still shoot and then stitch up live pigs in inhumane exercises.

Chimpanzees living in the worst conditions in Germany are freed

For three decades, Mimi and Dolly were confined to this filthy and mouldy shack. PETA Germany went public about their plight, and more than 21,000 people responded to its call to action. Driven by the public’s outrage, the authorities put pressure on the chimpanzees’ “owner” to relinquish custody of the animals, and within weeks Mimi and Dolly were transferred to a Dutch wildlife sanctuary.

SeaWorld shares tank

Anyone who cares about marine life and wants orcas and dolphins to live free in the oceans with their pods is cheering the year that SeaWorld has had following the release of the BAFTA-nominated documentary Blackfish. Attendance at its parks is down, musicians scheduled to perform have jumped ship and the world’s largest student travel company, STA Travel, pulled SeaWorld promotions from its website.

An orca swimming

Abused elephant Sunder is rescued

Millions of concerned people followed this young elephant’s story with bated breath. Sunder endured years of abuse at the Indian temple where he was held prisoner. Thanks to the determined efforts of PETA India and actions from compassionate supporters around the world, Sunder was finally freed and moved to his new home, a nearly 50-hectare forested elephant-care centre at Bannerghatta Biological Park, where he has been able to explore and make friends with other elephants for the very first time.

What next?

Change doesn’t always come quickly. More than 60 billion cows, chickens, pigs and other animals are killed for their flesh every year around the world; animals of many different species are still being tortured and killed for their skin and fur; millions of animals are used in laboratory experiments; and there are still millions of captive animals languishing in zoos, aquaria and circuses. But as the above 10 victories demonstrate, times and attitudes are changing.


Tanzanian ivory not being sold to Chinese diplomats, allegations of buying sprees fabricated: officials   2 comments


Updated Sat at 4:31amSat 8 Nov 2014, 4:31am

Tanzanian officials have dismissed claims Chinese diplomatic and military staff have purchased illegal white ivory while on official visits to East Africa made by an environmental activist group.

The country’s foreign minister said the report by the UK-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) was a “fabrication” designed to upset growing ties between Tanzania and China.

“We should ask ourselves as to why these allegations are surfacing a few days before (Tanzanian) president Jakaya Kikwete‘s visit to China,” foreign minister Bernard Membe told parliament.

“These are mere fabrications.

“It is obvious that perpetrators of these allegations are people who do not wish to see our country attain development.

“The false reports were made out of jealousy seeing that Tanzania enjoys cordial relations with China.”

The minister asserted that the two countries have been sharing intelligence reports which have enabled numerous interceptions of ivory destined for China from Tanzania.

“China is doing a lot to help us solve this wildlife-threatening crime,” Tanzania’s tourism minister Lazaro Nyalandu said.

“It is easy to see how cooked-up the report is, because saying that the Chinese president‘s plane was used to carry tusks is illogical.

“Such crafts are usually heavily guarded and surrounded by hundreds of people, leaving no room for any foul play.”

Embassy staff ivory ‘major buyers’ since 2006

According to the EIA, when Chinese president Xi Jinping visited Tanzania in March 2013 members of his government and business delegation bought so much ivory that local prices doubled.

The group quoted ivory traders as saying the buyers took advantage of a lack of security checks for diplomatic visitors to smuggle their purchases back to China on Xi’s plane.

The report said similar sales were made on a previous trip by China’s former president Hu Jintao and Chinese embassy staff have been “major buyers” since at least 2006.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei also described the report as “groundless”.

Tens of thousands of elephants are estimated to be slaughtered in Africa each year to feed rising Asian demand for ivory products.

Reports said the demand comes mostly from China – the continent’s biggest trading partner.

Almost all ivory sales were banned in 1989 by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora to which both China and Tanzania are signatories.



UK animal rights campaigners say government fudging on ending animal testing   Leave a comment

Of Course Vegan

A new report published by the United Kingdom government on ways to reduce animals being tested upon in laboratories has been dubbed a “whitewash” by campaigners, who argue that the effort is not enough to curtail the continued rise in animal testing across the country.

The coalition announced its plan to significantly decrease the number of animals being used in experiments following a post-election pledge.

However, campaigners have pointed out that there were few measures that would genuinely reduce the number of experiments, branding the report a “whitewash”.

The Government’s most recent figures show there has been an increase of 8% in animal testing with 4.1 million experiments in one year.

The “reduce, replace, refine” strategy, which has been dubbed the “3rs”, has been devised by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), the Home Office and the Department of Health.

Universities and Science Minister David Willetts said: “Animals…

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