DawnWatch: Seal hunters and elephant protectors worry — March 2, 2007

March 3rd, 2007 3:21 pm by Kelly Garbato

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From: DawnWatch – news [at] dawnwatch.com
Date: Mar 3, 2007 1:44 PM
Subject: DawnWatch: Seal hunters and elephant protectors worry — March 2, 2007

This week we have had both good and disturbing international news with regard to hunting animals. Canadian seal hunters express concern that European bans on seal fur imports may cause the collapse of their industry, and South Africa considers an elephant “cull”.

The seal hunt story was on the front page of Newfoundland’s St. John’s Telegram, Friday, March 2. The island of Newfoundland is in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, where the annual seal hunt is held. The article, by Tara Brautigam, is headed, “Sealers fear industry collapse.”

It opens:

“Canada’s centuries-old seal hunt is at risk of a collapse similar to the one it experienced when Ottawa banned the hunting of young harp and hooded seals 20 years ago, warns the former head of the Canadian Sealers Association.

“A recent spate of proposals in Europe to ban the import of seal products, including one floated this week by Germany, shows that efforts by the federal and Newfoundland governments to promote the hunt have failed, says Mark Small.

We learn:

“In 1987, Ottawa prohibited the commercial hunt of harp seals up to two weeks old (whitecoats) and hooded seals up to 16 months of age (bluebacks).

“Those bans were implemented after the European Commission prohibited imports of products from those seals four years earlier.

“‘Eventually, that market was gone, and the whole industry collapsed,’ Small said in an interview.”

On the expected impacted of Germany’s impending ban on all seal fur we read:

“Canada exported slightly more than $2 million worth of unprocessed seal skins to Germany last year, making it the third-largest market for the pelts, according to Statistics Canada.”

The story provides heartening evidence on the power of international pressure.

Those in Canada may wish to send letters to the editor expressing relief as they read that this cruel practice and blight on Canada’s image may be coming to an end. Those in America might also wish to send letters, though we should not point fingers without remembering that the US also engages in hideous trapping and farming methods of fur-bearing animals. It is fair to point out, however, that the end of any cruel industry, in any country, is positive.

You’ll find the full article on the CBC website here.

The Telegram takes letters here.

Less encouraging news this week comes from South Africa. The Friday, March 2, International Herald Tribune carried a story by New York Times reporter Michael Wines, headed, “South Africa considers elephant cull; Population of 20,000 is damaging parks.”

It opens:

The South African environment minister has offered a new plan to control the nation’s booming elephant population that contemplates resuming the much-criticized killing of excess animals, but only after thorough scientific study and as a last resort.

“Without some form of population control, elephants will soon overwhelm the public parks and private game reserves where they can still roam free, the minister, Marthinus van Schalkwyk, warned Wednesday.”

We learn that the nation has 20,000 elephants and “National park officials have already considered a mass culling of the 12,500 or more elephants in Kruger National Park, the biggest and best-known wildlife reserve in South Africa, contending that the park can support only 7,500 animals. Some conservationists have agreed, saying that preserving the park’s biological diversity is more important than saving elephants.

“But some environmentalists and elephant researchers argue that the killings are both unnecessary and inhumane, given elephants’ high intelligence and complex social structure.

“South Africa had ordered the killing of more than 14,000 elephants in Kruger until an international outcry helped bring about a moratorium in 1995. Opponents of culling have threatened to start a boycott of South African tourism, a huge moneymaker here, were a new culling campaign to be approved.”

You’ll find the whole article on line here.

The International Herald Tribune takes letters at letters [at] iht.com — up to 150 words at most.

The Friday March 2 Australian also covered the story, headed “Elephant cull ‘a last resort'” — by Jonathon Clayton, p12.

In that article Michelle Pickover, of Elephants Alive, is quoted saying the plan signified the ”end to the moratorium on elephant slaughter”.

She says, ”Slaughtering elephants is still about what it is always about — money…. Southern Africa … is spearheading the lobby for the voracious and ruthless ivory trade.”

And the article ends with:

“Opponents of culling fear that once ivory stockpiles begin to rise in southern Africa, where elephants are now plentiful and game parks generally well policed and managed, the same countries, led by South Africa, will lobby for an end to the global ban — a move opposed strongly by countries in East Africa, where elephants face much more danger.”

You’ll find that article on line here.

The Australian takes letters here.

The proposed elephant cull has been covered by many papers, perhaps including your local paper. If you have seen it in your paper, please consider sending a letter to your editor about our treatment of members of other species with whom we share the planet. Your local paper is where you have the very best shot of being published. (Papers do, however, also publish letters from people who have seen their stories on the web). Some of the smaller papers publish close to 100% of letters they receive from their readers. If you have any trouble finding the correct email address for a letter to your editor, please ask me for help. And I am always happy to edit letters.

Always include your full name, address, and daytime phone number when sending a letter to the editor. Remember that shorter letters are more likely to be published. And please be sure not to use any comments or phrases from me or from any other alerts in your letters. Editors are looking for original responses from their readers.

Yours and the animals’,
Karen Dawn

(DawnWatch is an animal advocacy media watch that looks at animal issues in the media and facilitates one-click responses to the relevant media outlets. You can learn more about it, and sign up for alerts at http://www.DawnWatch.com. You may forward or reprint DawnWatch alerts if you do so unedited — leave DawnWatch in the title and include this parenthesized tag line. If somebody forwards DawnWatch alerts to you, which you enjoy, please help the list grow by signing up. It is free.)

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One Response to “DawnWatch: Seal hunters and elephant protectors worry — March 2, 2007”

  1. Rob Says:

    Your selective quoting of the newspaper reports about the South African elephant management plan does neither your cause nor your organisation’s credibility any justice. How about also reflecting for your readers the MANY other sources and perspectives quoted in every single online or print article that you so selectively quote – which reflect more mainstream and widely-held conservationist views (like the WWF and even IFAW for instance) – PRIMARILY that if the elephant population is not properly managed then tens if not hundreds of other animal and plant species will suffer or die in the parks. Your selective quoting again makes it seem as if the culls are a given – when EVERY article makes it clear that the Minister in question has in fact taken away that decision from the individual parks (many of whom ARE too hasty to want to follow this route) and will make each and every decision himself. Seriously – if you do care then care a little more carefully!

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