January 4, 2022Lu Shegay & Zihao Yu

Kering and LVMH Respond to PETA’s Allegations of Animal Cruelty in Asia

Source: wwd.com

December 16, 2021

Following a recent PETA Asia investigation, the organization has appealed to top executives at Kering and LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton. In letters dated Monday to Kering’s chair and chief executive officer François-Henri Pinault and LVMH’s chair and CEO Bernard Arnault, PETA’s president Ingrid Newkirk urged them to stop using exotic animal skins.

The letter to Pinault opened with thanks for declaring Kering fur-free. It went on to detail the “violent, inarguably cruel manner” in which lizards are killed for Gucci accessories, based on a PETA Asia investigation.

In the letter to Arnault, PETA claimed that workers in slaughterhouses that supply LVMH inflated pythons, among other allegations of “indefensible suffering.” Newkirk also referred to a previous claim of “thousands” of crocodiles being crammed into a confined space “for months” in part of LVMH’s supply chain in Vietnam.

However, other experts who have seen the PETA video, who requested anonymity, said that the practices shown seemed to comply with international animal welfare standards overall.

Kering said in a statement provided to WWD Thursday: “Kering has always been committed to respecting the highest standards of animal welfare, sustainability, and labor conditions in its sourcing of precious skins. Kering is also engaged with several industry associations to help suppliers improve their practices. With respect to precious skins, Kering is committed to a goal of 100 percent traceability and strict adherence to the Kering standards for raw materials sourcing and manufacturing processes by 2025.” Addressing the allegations more directly, the Kering statement noted that, “As for the information regarding the mistreatment of lizards in an Indonesian processing facility that was brought to us by PETA, while we have taken these allegations very seriously, there is no evidence that Kering brands are directly or indirectly connected with this facility or those practices.” The Kering statement noted that such practices are “strictly forbidden” by the company’s animal welfare standards. The company said that it launched an internal investigation as soon as it was notified. That said, “should there be a proven connection between this facility and our supply chain, we would immediately terminate the business relationship. We’re committed to continuously enhancing traceability and animal welfare in our supply chains,” the statement read.

A PETA spokeswoman said Thursday that the organization had not received a response from Kering or LVMH. PETA is planning protests in different cities, starting next week in Las Vegas, she said.

Commentaries of IALA

The fur and leather industries consist of lots of cruelty practices to animals. The industry shall follow proper animal welfare guidelines to ensure the basic needs of the animals. Producers shall be honest and sincere of the facts for the consumers, as consumers have the right to know how the products are made, the animal welfare standards, and whether animals are cruelly treated or harmed during the process.

Read our blog: Animals in Clothing: Leather and Wool Industry

Cruelty Debate Over Zoo Exhibition Highlights Complexities of Elephant Tourism in Thailand

Source: cnn.com

December 21, 2021

Standing on its hind legs as the water relieves the gravitational burden of its body, the animal wades between two men offering bananas at either end of the pool. In a room down below, awestruck children watch through wide glass windows. Some of the people who have attended this elephant swimming exhibition at Khao Kheow Open Zoo southeast of Bangkok are surprised that it has been criticized as an example of animal cruelty and exploitation.

But recent controversy over an award-winning photo of a swimming elephant at Khao Kheow illustrates the friction that exists between some animal rights activists and people who manage, appreciate and profit from the tourism roles that elephants fill in Thailand. The thorny debate touches on issues of animal welfare, media representation, and what some see as cultural bias. The latest outcry began in October 2021 after a photo by Australian photojournalist Adam Oswell won the Wildlife Photographer of the Year (WPY) award for Photojournalism. Run by the Natural History Museum (NHM) of London since 1964, the annual WPY is a prestigious contest.

Taken at Khao Kheow and titled "Elephant in the Room," Oswell's photo shows an elephant with its head and body submerged while a trainer, or mahout, swims above in what looks to be a relatively small tank. People of various ages, all with Asian features, are pictured watching the elephant.

Some reactions to the photo on social media were harsher, often deploying adjectives like "sickening," "vile" and "barbaric." Many Thai people countered that NHM's presentation of the photo was misleading or lacked adequate context. One Thai-language tweet that defended Khao Kheow was retweeted nearly 40,000 times. "Care was taken in the drafting of the captions not to single out this particular attraction nor the individuals watching but to provide a wider context to this industry from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on tourist enterprises to the international demand for animal tourism from international tourists," an NHM spokesperson told CNN Travel.

But Khao Kheow is the only zoo in Thailand, and one of only four in the world, according to Khao Kheow's website, where elephants can be viewed through underwater windows. It is the largest of seven zoos operated by the government-run Zoological Park Organization of Thailand (ZPO). Khao Kheow has been certified by the South East Asian Zoos Association (SEAZA), which is a member of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA). The ZPO maintains that all of its zoos are guided by the principles of conservation, research, education, and recreation.

Elephants are natural-born swimmers, but critics view Khao Kheow's swimming exhibition as a forced performance. More broadly, they see it as an example of how animals are exploited for the amusement of humans." The training for this type of show usually starts with the removal of a calf from its mother and uses fear and pain-based punishment," says one of the captions accompanying Oswell's photo on the NHM website. Some Thailand-based animal rights activists think that Western criticism of the treatment of captive elephants in Thailand, while often warranted and usually rooted in compassionate intentions, can come across as arrogant, inflexible, and lacking a contextual understanding of the country.

Commentaries of IALA

Elephants are sensitive animals with high intelligence. Generally, elephants need a large area to live in more than the zoo can provide. Elephants used for entertainment usually involve cruel practice and training without sufficient health and nutrition supply. For specific cases, however, whether the animals are harmed during the training and animal show should be evaluated carefully. The photographs can tell a story but the truth may be different. The AZA provides guidelines for the management and care of elephant welfare. Read more here.

Nepal’s Unequal Wildlife Laws

Source: nepalitimes.com

December 21, 2021


The episode was shot at Bista’s living room and for a researcher who had recently visited several prisons across the country to interview people jailed in wildlife crimes, it was a bitter reminder of the impartiality in the way the Nepali state treats citizens. Under Nepal’s laws, wildlife crime also entails transport and collection of contraband, not just peaching. But regulatory authorities have been blatantly ignoring this. Pelts of tigers and leopards have become showpieces for the rich and powerful to flaunt, and are openly exhibited in public spaces. 

A leading weekly paper in 2012 named a select few families in Kathmandu that had tiger, bear, wild ass, leopard, and deer parts in ancestral property settlements.  Nepal has some of the strictest penalties for crime in the world, and yet is among the countries with the highest wildlife crime rates. This means the legal system does not discourage criminals, there is rampant impunity and existing laws are applied unfairly and without transparence. This is a clear lack of legal bias: while small-time criminals are prosecuted, ringleaders even when arrested find loopholes in a corrupt judicial system.

“Regulatory bodies do not even have a record of how many wildlife crime prisoners are in Nepal and which prisons they are held in. I had to call every prison across the country to collect this data. In 2016, there were 384 inmates, most of them from indigenous communities. Some of the prisoners were not even aware of why they were arrested in the first place. Others told me they were taken into custody when they had gone to collect fodder in the forest. I found inmates who ended up in jail because they were trying to make an extra Rs500. But there were also those who were part of international wildlife trafficking syndicates.”

Commentaries of IALA

Wildlife crime in certain areas can be hard to regulate as the wildlife products may have connections with power and wealth. Changing public opinion towards wildlife products through education is basic and important to reduce and stop the wildlife trade fundamentally. It is necessary for the legislation to care about poaching and illegal wildlife trade, but only the legislation cannot be an answer to all problems without law enforcement and supervision. Read more on wildlife crime here.

Rare Cinereous Vulture Sighted in Singapore for the First Time; Under Vet Care at Jurong Bird Park

Source: straitstimes.com

December 30, 2021

Singapore recorded its first sighting of a cinereous vulture on Wednesday (Dec 29), the largest vulture in Europe, Asia, and Africa, with bird photographers flocking to Singapore Botanic Gardens to take pictures of it on Thursday morning.

But the rare raptor, which birdwatchers said is here because it veered off its usual migratory path, is currently under veterinary care at the Jurong Bird Park after it was found in a weakened state at Cornwall Gardens, near to the Botanic Gardens, close to noon on Thursday.

Both species of vultures are from the same family and can be found in the Himalayas. The cinereous vulture has a darker and more fully feathered head than the Himalayan griffon vulture, said Mr. Movin, and is slightly larger. Birdwatchers said it was likely a lack of food or fatigue that led to the weakened state of the cinereous vulture. It is rare but not uncommon for such large migrating raptors to crash and sometimes die because of tiredness and hunger.


Commentaries of IALA

Bird migration is the regular seasonal movement, often north and south along a flyway, between breeding and wintering grounds  There are five flyways in Asia: the Asian-East African, the Central Asian, the East Asian-Australasian, the West Pacific, and the African-Eurasian. It is important to raise public awareness of migratory birds for conserving migratory birds and their habitats.

Read our blog: Migratory Bird Protection in Asia

India Saw Record 126 Tiger Deaths in 2021, the Highest in a Decade

Source: khaleejtimes.com

December 30, 2021

India’s tiger conservation body said 126 of the endangered big cats died in 2021, the most since it began compiling data a decade ago. The previous highest number of deaths per year before the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) began compiling data in 2012 was in 2016, when 121 perished.

India is home to around 75 percent of the world’s tigers. It is believed there were around 40,000 tigers at the time of independence in 1947, but hunting and habitat loss slash the population to dangerously low levels. In 2010, India and 12 other countries signed an agreement to double tiger numbers by 2022.

Last year, the government announced that it had reached the target ahead of schedule, with an estimated 2,967 tigers in 2018 versus a record low of 1,411 in 2006. The number is still lower than 2002 when the tiger population stood at around 3,700 but Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed it as a “historic” achievement.

The 2018 data may have been partly down to the survey size, however, which used an unprecedented number of camera traps to identify individual tigers using stripe pattern recognition software. Over the past decade the biggest reason for deaths recorded by the NTCA was “natural causes”, but many also fell victim to poachers and “human-animal conflict”. Human encroachment on tiger habitats has increased in recent decades in the country of 1.3 billion people. Nearly 225 people were killed in tiger attacks between 2014 and 2019, according to government figures.

Critics say that the government has also loosened environmental regulations for projects including mining. Satyanarayan also said increasing demand for tiger skins and the use of tiger body parts in traditional Chinese medicine were some of the major reasons for poaching. The government has made efforts to manage the tiger population better, however, reserving 50 habitats across the country for the animals.

Commentaries of IALA

India is home to 80 percent of tigers in the world. By the year 2018, according to the National Tiger Conservation Authority, there were estimated only 2,967 tigers in existence in India. The tigers are maintained in India for their scientific, economic, aesthetic, cultural, and ecological values as a national heritage. Urbanization and fragmentation in tiger corridors are the major reasons for the decrease in the tiger population in India.

Read more: The Reasons for Decrease in Tiger Population

Dual Pressures of Hunting, Logging Threaten Wildlife in Myanmar, Study Shows

Source: mongabay.com

December 31, 2021

Combating illegal logging and deforestation in the tropical forests of southwest Myanmar helps preserve wildlife populations, but remains insufficient in the face of unsustainable local hunting pressures, a new study has found.

Researchers, whose work was published in Animal Conservation in November, used camera trap data from between 2016 and 2019 to map the activity patterns of humans and another medium to large mammals in Rakhine state.

They then modeled the effect of environmental and human factors — such as percentage of continuous evergreen forest, distance from settlements, and presence of humans as caught on camera trap footage — on selected mammal species. They found common species regularly targeted for bushmeat, such as the northern red muntjac (Muntiacus vaginalis) and Malayan porcupine (Hystrix brachyura), to be negatively affected by increased human presence, highlighting the pressures of illegal hunting on their populations.

By contrast, threatened species such as the sun bear (Helarctos malayanus) and northern pig-tailed macaque (Macaca leonina) were generally unaffected by human presence. But they were positively linked to continuous stretches of evergreen forest, making them more vulnerable to habitat loss from illegal logging and deforestation.

In Myanmar, some 70% of people live in rural areas, resulting in “major exploitation pressure on forests resources” through land clearance for agricultural activities, illegal hunting for meat consumption, and illegal logging of highly sought-after and valuable tree species such as Burmese teak (Tectona grandis), the researchers noted. They also observed high levels of human disturbance, with 2,674 out of 5,152 videos from camera traps attributable to human activity. Of these, roughly one-fifth were linked to illegal logging.

Commentaries of IALA

Human activities have direct and indirect impacts on animals. Poaching, hunting, and other types of disturbance will have a direct impact on the population and diversity of wildlife animals, the food chain, and ecosystems. Activities to the environment would have negative effects on the habitats of wildlife animals, which will change the behaviors of the animals and have an influence on predation, mating, and reproduction of them.

Read more: Natural and Human Impacts on Wildlife

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