The Hong Kong Government attaches great importance to
animal welfare and will introduce more measures for both animal welfare and
animal protection, according to Professor Sophia Chan, JP, the Secretary for Food and Health
Bureau of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR).
Professor Chan brought her own pet dog to the first Friends, Families & Pooches “Pawty” and “People and Dogs City Directional Charity Tournament” hosted by the Hong Kong Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA(HK)). In her speech at the opening ceremony, Professor Chan said that in addition to letting dog lovers gather together and feel the deep friendship between people and dogs, these activities also have animal-related parent-child workshops to promote the message of treating animals kindly and the human-dog bond.
She also said that this is in line with the HK Government’s goal of promoting animal welfare and ensuring that people and animals can coexist harmoniously in the community. In 2019, the Hong Kong Police Force is introducing an “Animal Protection Community Ambassador” project, which focuses on the power of animal lovers and different community groups, raises the public awareness of the prevention of cruelty to animals, helps fight brutal animal abuse, and educates the public to be responsible pet owners.
Professor Chan also indicated that the authorities are planning to expand the scope of the animals covered under the Road Traffic Ordinance in respect of traffic accidents involving injured animals, in which the related driver are required to pull over. The HK Government has conducted initial consultations. Some citizens think that the Ordinance covers too few animals and they think that more types of animals such as monkeys should be covered in the Ordinance.
China’s environmental groups have adopted March 1 as the International Seal Day. Like many international animal advocate groups, Chinese animal protection organizations are opposed to the commercial seal hunt in Canada.
Canada’s Commercial Seal Hunt Controversy
Canadian law prohibits people from interfering with the natural ecology of marine mammals such as seals. At the same time, however, the Canadian government has also approved the annual commercial killing of hundreds of thousands of seals, explicitly prohibiting the hunting of small seals with white fur and less than 12 days old.
People who support the commercial seal hunt say that the seals that Canadians mainly hunt are not endangered species, and the overproduction of seals may impact the ecosystem: if seals eat a lot of cod, the Canadian fishermen will lose cod resources. They stress that though seal hunting scenes tend to be bloody, Canadian seal hunting follows the highest standards of slaughter and fully satisfies the protection of animal welfare. They denied the existence of “live stripping seals” and “killing seal pups” accused by animal protectionists.
The voice against the commercial seal hunt is louder on a global scale. Animal advocates claim that 95% of the hunted seals were less than three months old because the seals are poor at swimming and foraging and reluctant to leave the ice, so they are more likely to be killed. Oceanographers who oppose the commercial killing of seals say that the reduction of Atlantic cod is associated with increased human fishing and has nothing to do with seals.
With the efforts of animal protectionists, 35 countries have
banned commercial seal trade. Since the 1970s, more than 30 countries and
regions including the United States, Mexico, Croatia, and the European Union
have banned the import of seal products and the consumption and trade of seal
fur. Because of consumer resistance, North American seal products are also
rare. However, in some Asian markets, seal products are still selling well.
China, Hong Kong and Taiwan Market
In 2011, news that the Federal Fisheries Department of
Canada announced a new trade agreement so that China would start to import
Canadian seal meat in the hopes that the Chinese market will compensate for the
EU’s ban on the importation of seal meat.
In addition to China’s large market, Canada’s commercial seal industry also strives to lobby Asian countries and regions such as Hong Kong and Taiwan to import seal products.
However, under the resolute opposition of animal protection organizations from China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and around the world, China does not seem to agree to open the world’s largest food and consumer goods market. The Chinese customs also imposed strict restrictions on seal products, but a trade ban has not been officially implemented. Hong Kong and Taiwan have also restricted the market for seal products from the government to consumers.
From August 2018 to January 2019, the Tianshan Eastern Forest Administration of Xinjiang province collaborated with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Snow Leopard Protection Project to carry out a four-month winter snow leopard survey in the eastern Wusu administration area. The investigation has brought some great news.
The Eastern Wusu Branch is in the middle of the northern slope of the Tianshan Mountains, covering 150 kilometers from east to west and 10 kilometers from north to south. It is one of the largest government-owned forests in the Tianshan Mountains.
Since the WWF Snow Leopard Project started in the Eastern Tianshan Mountains in August 2018, a series of training programs and field practices in Wusu have been conducted, and a team of Wusu ecological management inspectors has been assembled. A total of 60 infrared camera traps were set up near traces of snow leopard activities (marking, footprints, scat), covering an area of 550 km2, almost 10 times the size of Manhattan.
During the winter field survey, the staff found multiple fresh snow leopard footprints, scrapings, and feces. A total of 417 photos and videos were successfully captured by the 25 retrieved infrared cameras, yielding a capture rate of over 80%. It has been fully confirmed that the Wusu forest area is an extremely important snow leopard habitat in the Tianshan Mountains.
The staff has also witnessed the activities of other animals in the wild, which played an important role in establishing the local Biodiversity Database. The ecosystem in this region shows a typical change in vegetation with increasing altitude. The constantly changing vegetations form many transition zones, contributing to the high level of biodiversity in the region.
It is worth noting that infrared cameras have also captured snow leopards in low-altitude forest areas, yet most scientists believe that snow leopards only inhabit mountain loess (fine-grained clay or silt), meadows, and sparse woodlands. This discovery is of great importance since it shows that snow leopards have strong adaptability in the Tianshan Mountains, Xinjiang.
In June 2018, the Jiangsu Lihua Animal Husbandry Co. received the Five-Star Good Chicken Production Award from Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) for their commitment to chicken welfare. Since 2014, CWIF had partnered with the International Cooperation Committee of Animal Welfare (ICCAW) to award Chinese farms according to criteria that equated to stars, and five stars represented the highest achievement in farm welfare. The company became the only manufacturer in Jiangsu Province to receive the award for their high standards.
The leading brand of chicken meat from the company is called Xueshan (Snow Mountain) Chicken, which is a new type of grass chicken that has been carefully bred by scientists using the high-quality Tibetan chicken and Yunnan Camellia chicken as the primary parent stock.
Dr. Yuan Qingyan from the company’s technical department explained, “Xueshan Chicken has been selected and bred through many generations. This type of chicken is characterized by their wild nature.” Catering to the chicken’s nature, the housing of the Xueshan Chicken has a natural litter of rice husk as bedding, and is designed to be semi-open with perches. Dr. Yuan has been working in the company for 11 years since she joined Lihua in 2007.
“Chickens naturally enjoy jumping around and resting on perches. Our special perch has earned the Utility Model Patent,” said Dr. Yuan. “Besides, we built large fields with a sand bath area. Chickens can grow in a large area, and they have more opportunity to run around freely and exercise, which improves the meat quality. These chickens are adept at running and flying, and some can even hop up into a tree.”
Dr. Yuan also addressed, “The chicken house environment is controlled to provide a comfortable place for chickens. The daily temperature variation in the chicken house is reduced in the winter. In the summer, the house can be kept very cool.”
The technical regulations for raising Xueshan Chicken in Lihua have been regarded as local farming standards by the Jiangsu government. “The chickens in this system are rarely sick. Accordingly, the amount of medicine used is also reduced, and the food safety is greatly improved.” Dr. Yuan said.
Recently, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) photographed a very rare female black wolf in Sanjiangyuan National Parkduring a water bird survey conducted with in the Yellow River Source Area. This is the first time that this species has been recorded in this area, confirming the existence of the black wolf in the wild in China.
The wolf had pure blackbodyand white edges on the lips, which was drastically different from the deep yellow and grey fur of the common grey wolf. Li, a survey member who photographed the black wolf, recalled that the black wolf was found on the Gobi Desert, where the surveyteamtracked the black wolf for more than 30 minutes. During this period, the black wolf attempted to hunt Tibetan gazelle and pika, and she eventually went farther into a dry river bed.
The black fur of the wolf is coded by a recessive gene, which is more common in wolves in North America, but very unusual in Asia. Scientists and front-line workers have occasionally heard accounts ofblack wolves from herdsmen, butthere is almost norecorded image data. Hence, the black wolf image taken this time is incredibly precious.
Dr. John Mackinnon, a world-renowned biodiversity conservation scientist, confirmed that this was a black wolf after reviewing the images taken by the investigation team. According to Dr. Mackinnon, since the Sanjianyuan area is open and often covered by snow, wolves with the dominant trait of light-colored fur have better chances at survival, and the percentage of the recessive black-fur gene is very low within the wolf population. For a wolf to have black fur, both parents need to possess the recessive black-fur gene, which is an event of extremely low probability. Therefore, the rare occurrence of a black wolf may suggest the population in Sanjiangyuan is in very good shape in terms of reproduction.
Dr. Jie Xie, an associate researcher at the Institute of Zoology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, also believes that this discovery is of great significance and substantial value to the study of wolves in China. She hopes this information can lead more scholars to conduct in-depth research on Chinese wolves, and she also hopes it will help increase the strength of protection from the public and relevant institutions.
All information and photos come from WWF China
Translated by Jiaxuan Han
Edited by Andrea Jia and Riley Peng @ Animal Dialogue
Chengdu Jinyang Primary School invited Xi Li, an educator from the Animals Asia Foundation, to give an innovative and meaningful lesson to third-graders on animal welfare and humane care education.
According to Li, the five major areas of animal welfare (nutrition, health, environment, behavior, and emotional states) are the scientific standards for judging whether animals are happy. “Firstly, different animals have unique nutritional needs, but they all require a balanced nutrition like humans do. The canines of lions, tigers, and bears are often removed or cut off to reduce injury and mortality in trainers during various performances. Such procedures can cause a variety of dental diseases, affecting the animals’ food intake, which in turn may cause other illnesses. Organizations should provide animals with an environment that is suitable for their nature, instead of harming them deliberately for the entertainment of humans. We should let animals express their natural behaviors freely, as each individual has different behavioral needs.” Li said that a large number of wild animals are still being hunted, rare animals are sold as commodities, pets are abandoned or abused, and animals are required to please tourists in circuses throughout their lives.
The students of Jinyang Primary School make the following requests to students and parents around the world:
Do not watch animal performances;
Do not consume wild animals;
Do not take photos or interact with wild animals within a short distance,
Do not keep wild animals as pets;
Do not ride elephants;
Do not feed wild animals.
Let us all start protecting animals and become animal-welfare ambassadors.
On October 29, 2018, The China State Council issued a notice on the strict control of the operation and utilization of rhinoceros and tigers and their products, and simultaneously abolished the former rhino horn and tiger bone trade ban issued in 1993.
The new notice allows the sale, purchase, use, import, and export of rhinoceros and tigers and their products under certain conditions prescribed by law, whereas in the 1993 notice, the above acts were banned entirely.
The issue in focus is the authorization for obtaining products for medicinal use from artificially bred or naturally dead rhinoceros and tigers. Many worry the new regulation may be abused.
Environmental protection organizations are stunned by the re-opening of the rhinoceros and tiger products market after 25 years of prohibition. While we mourn the loss of the trade ban, let us also examine the example of China’s domestic ivory trade. Since 1981, the Chinese ivory market has opened and closed several times until the latest trade ban in December 2017. Moreover, the period of rampant poaching and rising illegal trade coincided with China’s second opening of the domestic ivory market. TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, stated in its reports that the existence of a legal ivory market leaves some space for the illegal market, raising the demand for ivory and the number of poached African elephants.
With the painful lessons of ivory, we must also pay enough attention to the rhinoceros and tiger market opening, because this may once again lead to an increase in incidences of illegal poaching. At present, the number of wild tigers in the world is only over 3,900, and the number of wild rhinoceros is around 30,000, so protection work is needed urgently.
Animal Dialogue believes that only by strengthening supervision and making standard requirements for various industries can we prevent the influx of unlawful rhinoceros and tiger products. We propose some suggestions for relevant departments and enterprises listed below:
The government should strengthen the enforcement of the ban by departments such as the customs, public security, and internet supervision.
The authorities ought to release a list of hospitals and physicians who are permitted to utilize rhinoceros and tiger bones in medicine and create clear product labels to inform the public better.
The administrative agencies should establish records of an inventory of products and carry out statistical work on the number of rhinoceros and tigers in zoos, farms, scientific research bases, and so on. They should also audit the inventory and quantity regularly.
Internet businesses should improve the management of websites and e-commerce platforms, delete illegal information about rhinoceros and tiger products from the platform promptly, and actively cooperate with authorities to investigate suspected crimes.
We urge the e-commerce industry to train delivery practitioners to identify rhinoceros horns and tiger bones so they may refuse to deliver suspected rhinoceros and tiger products.
In the process of artificial breeding of rhinoceros and tigers, the farming industry should ensure both the physical and mental welfare of these animals.
Wild animals always belong in nature, and we and all those who love wild animals will continue to pay attention to the protection of wild rhinoceros and tigers as well as illegal market trade.
On November 12th, China announced it is postponing the lifting of the 1993 ban on rhino horns and tiger bones, after a massive wave of criticism from international conservation groups. The relevant plans have been called off, and the old ban is still in place. China’s stance on wildlife conservation remains unchanged. It will continue to enforce the “three strict bans”: “strictly ban the import and export of rhinos, tigers and their byproducts; strictly ban the sale, purchase, transport, carrying, and mailing of rhinos, tigers, and their byproducts; and strictly ban the use of rhino horns and tiger bones in medicine,” said State Council Executive Deputy Secretary-General Ding Xuedong.
For the first time, parental behaviors of the Chinese mountain cat were recorded in the Sanjiangyuan area.
Recently, the childcare activities of the endemic Chinese mountain cat, Felis bieti, were recorded for the first time in a site near Tongtian River, Chengduo County, Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Qinghai Province.
The Chinese mountain cat is the national second-class protected animal in China. It is also one of only two unique carnivores found solely in China, the other one being the giant panda. At present, the Chinese Mountain Cat is seen only in Sichuan, Qinghai, Gansu, and other regions. Due to the species’ elusive nature and limited range, records of their appearance have been minimal for many years. It was only 11 years ago in 2007 that the first photo of a Chinese mountain cat was captured in the wild. It is considered one of the most mysterious felids in the world.
“From September 20, 2018, one of the infrared cameras deployed in the area of Chengduo County had been recording the breeding nest of a Chinese mountain cat, and it continuously captured the behavior of a Chinese mountain cat mother and two kittens.” Zhao Xiang, the program director of the ShanShui Conservation Center, said. “This survey recorded the activity of a Chinese mountain cat family. The two kittens were 2 to 3 months old, and their mother trained them to hunt preys and perform other skills everyday. Also, the footage was complete.”
The Chinese Mountain Cat is one of the top carnivores in the grassland. They mainly feed on rodents such as pikas and birds. The survey indicated that Chinese mountain cats prey on two plateau pikas every day. Therefore, protecting Chinese Mountain Cats is also very important for maintaining the integrity of the grassland ecosystem.
“Because the Chinese mountain cat is only found in China, we need to play a more important role in its research and protection,” said Dr. Xiao Lingyun, a researcher at Peking University Nature Conservation and Social Development. He told reporters that currently, the academic community knows very little about their behavior, population status, and other information.
In the future, ShanShui Nature Conservation Center will further cooperate with county officials to conduct long-term evaluation surveys in the surrounding areas to determine the distribution of Chinese mountain cats in the region and threats to the population to implement targeted protection work.
The cutest movie in the Year of the Dog, The Big Rescue, has teamed up with the China Small Animal Protection Association (CSAPA) to raise funds for the eradication of rabies in China. For each ticket sold, The Big Rescue will donate one yuan to the CSAPA, which will use the funds to feed and immunize stray animals.
The Big Rescue tells the story of a grand partnership formed between man and man’s best friend to rescue kidnapped pooches from a drug ring. Due to its animal protectionist theme, the movie had attracted the attention of CSAPA members since the pre-production stage.
China Small Animal Protection Association was formally founded in 1992. Based in Beijing, the CSAPA organizes public education campaigns, outreach, and animal rescues. The CSAPA’s mission is to protect animals’ freedom from death, illness, and abuse and to improve the living standards of small animals.
Ms. Liang Ting, the film’s producer, director, and screenwriter, said that the purpose of the film is to “spread the idea of animal protectionism and animals’ equal right to live.”
Ms. Liang Ting added, “Although the public’s animal-loving sentiment is growing stronger, the number of stray animals is steadily rising, which may somewhat increase the risk of diseases in humans.”
China has the second highest number of reported rabies cases in the world after India. Dr. Fu Zhenfang, a world-renowned rabies expert and the professor of pathology at the University of Georgia’s College of Veterinary Medicine, said in an interview, “The highest priority of rabies prevention is animal immunization. Animals should be vaccinated in both urban and rural areas.”
The Big Rescue and CSAPA will use the majority of the funds raised to administer rabies vaccines to stray animals in addition to purchasing food and medical supplies.
On August 28th, 2018, the very first public interest litigation on endangered animal conservation in China, the case on green peafowl habitat protection, was held in the Environmental Court of Kunming Intermediate People’s Court. The trial opened on the 28th. After three hours of court investigation and debate, the court announced the end of the trial. The sentence would be announced at a later date.
In July 2017, to prevent the construction of the Jiasa River-I hydropower station from destroying the last intact green peafowl habitat in China, Friends of Nature brought a lawsuit. The lawsuit demanded that the defendants, the China Hydropower Consulting Group Xinping Co. Ltd and China Power Construction Group Kunming Survey and Design Institute Co. Ltd, halt the construction of the hydropower station in the Jiasa River.
The focus of the case centered around whether the two defendants would cause large-scale destructions to the ecosystems in the inundated areas. The plaintiff, Friends of Nature, stated that the inundated area of the construction project was a habitat with the largest green peafowl population. The construction would result in substantial environmental damage to the critical habitat of green peafowls, and would very likely cause the green peafowls in the region to go extinct.
The representatives from the defendants’ side questioned the professionalism of the plaintiff’s experts. They argued in court that, based on their environmental impact assessment, the construction would cause no considerable damage to the ecosystems and the species.
The construction project is located in a tropical rainforest, where the biodiversity would be tremendously damaged by the hydropower station.
Currently, the two defendants are waiting for instructions from relevant government departments as to whether or not to resume the construction.