July 2, 2021Lu Shegay & Zihao Yu

Vietnam Circus Decides to End Bear Performances and Surrenders 4 Moon Bears to Animal Rescue

Source: people.com

June 16, 2021

Vietnam's Hanoi Central Circus took a big step towards ending the use of animals in circus performances. According to Animals Asia, the circus chose to stop including wild bear performances in their shows and voluntarily handed over their four moon bears to Animals Asia so the nonprofit could move the now-retired performers to a sanctuary.

Hanoi Central Circus is one of 15 circuses in Vietnam to end animal performances over the past several years. Animals Asia sees these changes as a "crucial" move towards better global animal welfare and is campaigning for more circuses to follow suit. The four moon bears handed over by the Hanoi Central Circus arrived at Animals Asia's sanctuary in Tam Dao, Vietnam on June 15. In 2019, Animals Asia successfully campaigned to release two female bears from the Hanoi Central Circus.

Now, all six of the former Hanoi Central Circus performers are enjoying retirement together. At the sanctuary, the bears are treated to lush habitats, fresh food tailored to their diets, soothing pools, a variety of enrichment items, and life-long health care.

Commentaries of IALA

Animals should not be “subjected to the conditions of circus life. Regular transport, cramped and bare temporary housing, forced training and performance, loud noises, and crowds of people are often unavoidable realities for the animals.” Animals used for entertainment are cruelly trained and treated. During their performance, they cannot exhibit natural behaviors. Most of the animals are not provided with proper living conditions for their basic animal welfare and have health or mental problems. From January 2020 in England, the use of wild animals in circuses is banned under the Wild Animals in Circuses Act 2019.

Deforestation of Endangered Wildlife Habitat Continues to Surge in Southern Myanmar

Source: news.mongabay.com

June 25, 2021

Between 2002 and 2020, Kawthoung lost some 14% of its primary forest cover, according to data from the University of Maryland (UMD) visualized on the forest monitoring platform Global Forest Watch, peaking in 2015-2016 before subsiding dramatically in 2017-2018. However, the data show deforestation has begun to rise again, with primary forest loss in the district nearly doubling between 2018 and 2020.

Deforestation drivers in Kawthoung include industrial agriculture (such as the expansion of oil palm plantations), logging for timber and charcoal, and conflict-driven subsistence agriculture.

Gurney’s pitta was thought to be extinct until researchers stumbled upon several populations in the late 20th century. But the pitta has declined dramatically since its rediscovery, plummeting an estimated 90% between 2004 and 2019 and prompting the IUCN to list it as critically endangered. The pitta’s main threat is habitat loss.

Only a handful of Gurney’s pitta populations are known to exist in the wild, and UMD satellite data show the ongoing spate of deforestation along the road in Kawthoung is razing vital habitat in two of them. The areas being deforested are also home to unique species of geckos that have only recently become known to science, and which are likely endangered due to their limited ranges and inability to escape human pressures.

Commentaries of IALA

Deforestation is one of the main causes of animals losing their habitat. This is accelerated by lots of human activities that lead to not only harm to the environment but also to animals who suffer from lack of food or going extinct. According to the FAO, “the expansion of agriculture caused nearly 80% of global deforestation, with the construction of infrastructures such as roads or dams, together with mining activities and urbanization, making up the remaining causes of deforestation.” Of course, the greatest cause of deforestation is agriculture that also contributes to the climate crisis issue. Besides factory farms emitting hazardous substances into the air, they also cause approximately 40% of the forest loss due to the search for space to grow food, fibers. In some parts of the world, deforestation leads to fatal outcomes and if necessary steps are not taken now, the entire planet can go extinct.

Study That Impregnated Male Rats Stirs Controversy

Source: the-scientist.com

June 25, 2021

When researchers castrated a male rat, implanted a uterus into the animal, surgically joined its circulation to that of a female rat, and transferred embryos into the uteruses of each animal, they found that the male could, in fact, carry a pregnancy. In 4 percent of cases, pups that were carried by male rats and delivered through Cesarean section survived.

The authors of the study, Rongjia Zhang posted a preprint on bioRxiv on June 10, say that this model could serve as a useful way to study reproductive biology, including identifying key factors in the blood that could help maintain pregnancy. But some researchers question the utility of experiments using these highly artificial conditions, and the authors got so much pushback from the scientific community and the general public that they at one point requested the study’s retraction from the preprint server.

The preprint has been widely shared and discussed online (as of June 23, it had been tweeted more than 3,000 times), with some readers speculating that the study supports the idea that pregnancy could now be possible in male humans.

Zhang emphasizes that her research was conducted under the strict supervision of a bioethics committee, and amid the criticism, she and her coauthor reached out to bioRxiv to retract the study. However, they then emailed bioRxiv again to stop the retraction, the preprint server confirms to The Scientist.

Commentaries of IALA

This experiment has an impact on human ethics as well as laboratory animal welfare. “When reviewing studies, the animal review committee looks at whether the animals suffer from pain and how the pain is mitigated, and not the implications or future applications. It’s true that in this study, the parabiotic model might cause some pain, but it’s likely not an important [enough] factor to block the study,” said Arthur Caplan, a bioethicist at New York University School of Medicine.

The Three Rs principle was launched in the early 1960s by two English biologists, Russel and Burch in their book “The Principle of Humane Experimental Technique”. The 3 Rs stand for Replacement, Reduction, and Refinement.

Pet Lion Seized from Home in Cambodia Capital After Appearance on TikTok

Source: theguardian.com

June 27, 2021

Cambodian authorities have confiscated a defanged and declawed pet lion that appeared in TikTok videos taken at a Phnom Penh villa. The 18-month-old male, weighing 70kg (154lbs), had been imported from overseas by the owner, a Chinese national, to be raised in his home, environment ministry spokesman Neth Pheaktra said.

Wildlife Alliance – an animal rescue non-government organization that helped with the raid – said the conditions of a private residence were “inappropriate for a wild animal”. “In addition, the lion’s canine teeth had been removed, along with its claws, which drastically reduces a lion’s quality of life,” it said.

The confiscation comes a day after a Twitter user posted an aerial shot of the creature roaming around a garden in the wealthy Boeung Keng Kang district of Phnom Penh.

Commentaries of IALA

If keeping and/or raising wild animals as pets has always been a common practice in some countries/regions, recently there have been more and more cases reported on that. Unfortunately, even if the animal protection laws take place, they are not enforced in most Asian countries due to various circumstances, such as little attention from the public or from the government, corruption, high-priority issues (human rights). While some people admire those who own wild animals, others consider it inappropriate and abnormal to keep a wild animal as a pet. It does not matter if the owner is capable of raising a wild cat, wild animals are used to living in the wild with freedom of movement, larger space, etc. For the same reason, animal rights activists are fighting against any type of animal captivity (circuses, zoos). Since the cases of keeping wild animals as pets have increased, it should draw attention from both the government and the public, so the government could establish fair punishments.

Study Warns of Impacts of Unregulated Trade in Indonesian Porcupines

Source: news.mongabay.com

June 30, 2021

The unmonitored illegal trade in porcupines across Indonesia has prompted calls from conservationists for stricter protection for the species’ population in the wild.

A new study examining seizure data of porcupines, their parts, and derivatives in Indonesia has found more than 450 of the animals in nearly 40 incidents between January 2013 and June 2020. Porcupines are targeted both for domestic and international markets for their meat. They’re also coveted for their bezoars, the masses found in the digestive tracts of some porcupines, which are consumed as medicine in some cultures; and for their quills, used as talismans and for decorative purposes.

The paper said nearly half of the total reported incidents occurred in Sumatra, followed by Java and surrounding islands, and then Kalimantan, the Indonesian portion of Borneo. It added that some of the cases revealed that some of the people involved in the illegal trade in porcupines were keeping them for breeding purposes without a permit; illegally running a wildlife animal park or mini-zoo; or keeping protected endangered species, including sun bears, slow lorises, orangutans, and hornbills.

Commentaries of IALA

In Indonesia, the wildlife trade is a common practice, and a few legal sources regulate it. However, those sources, i.e, Regulation No. 95, Law No. 18, Act No. 5 only regulate the trade of endangered species of animals. Nonprotected species of animals are regulated by harvest quotas and are generally issued by the Ministry of Environment.

According to Lalita Gomez, the author of the study and program officer of the wildlife protection NGO Monitor Conservation Research Society, “no harvest quotas were established for the five porcupine species found in Indonesia, therefore any porcupines in trade were of illegal origin. None of the porcupine species native to Indonesia have listed in the CITES appendices, which means their international trade isn’t restricted.” Currently, only the Sunda porcupine is covered by legal sources, and there is an urgent need to list all species of porcupines in international legal sources, such as CITES, so their trade can be regulated and will also allow to track and monitor these species.

Dead Animals Wash Ashore in Sri Lanka After Ship Spills Chemicals

Source: nytimes.com

June 30, 2021

Hundreds of dead sea creatures, including whales and dolphins, have washed ashore in Sri Lanka, apparently poisoned by chemicals from a cargo ship that caught fire and sank, government officials said on Wednesday, revealing some of the tolls of what is being called the country’s worst environmental disaster.

The remains of four whales, 20 dolphins, and 176 turtles have been found since the ship carrying the toxic material, the MV X-Press Pearl, caught fire in late May and sank in early June, Deputy Solicitor General Madhawa Tennakoon told a court in Colombo, Sri Lanka’s capital.

The MV X-Press Pearl, carrying 1,486 containers, reported a fire on board on May 20 as it approached the Colombo harbor. Sri Lanka’s Navy and Air Force, together with the Indian Coast Guard, tried to douse the fire. The ship began sinking in shallow water near Colombo on June 2, coming to rest on the bottom with part of its structure protruding above the water, as experts voiced concerns about the lasting damage the chemicals could do to marine life.

Commentaries of IALA

Ships have a great influence on marine life. There are eight ways that ships can pollute marine habitats and harm marine life, including ballast water pollution, air pollution, noise pollution, greywater pollution, blackwater/ sewage pollution, chemical pollution, oil pollution/ bilge oil pollution, solid waste pollution, destruction of coral reefs, and physical damages to marine life. Serious accidents could cause immeasurable and unrecoverable damage to the environment and marine life. While controlling pollution from ships, it should also have adequate response capabilities to accidents and risks.

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