December 7, 2020Lu Shegay & Zihao Yu

Construction in Land-Starved Hong Kong Shrinks Wild Buffaloes Habitat


November 16, 2020

Construction activity on one of Hong Kong's largest islands is shrinking the habitat of its wild buffaloes, forcing them to search for food in residential areas, where barbed wire and building waste can injure them. Environment activists say the buffaloes are crucial to Lantau's ecosystem, eating harmful weeds and keeping the wetlands fertile. Floating plants and microorganisms thriving on the buffaloes' presence also filter out some pollution in Lantau's rivers before they reach the sea, activists say. Lantau residents say encounters with the buffaloes have been unusually tense in recent months, as the animals pop up in private gardens looking for food, and sometimes even charge at people. The angriest residents want the buffalo culled. Activists estimate the animals' numbers at just more than 100 but are unsure how that compares to past years.

Commentaries of IALA

When there is a conflict between economic development and ecological protection, the importance of the animals is always weaker than the development of the authorities and rule-makers. Under this circumstance, more shall be done to help the animals when they have to leave their habitats. Building reserved areas or parks, sending them to sanctuaries are good ways to help the animals without harming the development. The authorities shall pay more attention to the activists and organizations who are helping these animals.

Chinese region reconsiders dog walking ban after a social media backlash


November 17, 2020

A recent rule curbing dog-walking in urban areas was released in Zhaotong's Weixin county in Yunnan province, triggering heated discussion online about raising dogs. Weixin County officials had hoped to ban dog walking in urban areas after series of alleged incidents of the animals biting people. A region in China which introduced a policy banning dog owners walking their pets in public has been forced to reconsider following a social media backlash.

Officials in Weixin County in China’s Yunnan Province issued a directive last Friday which would ban dog walking in urban areas from the end of this week, after a number of incidents where it was claimed people had been bitten by dogs. The directive’s aim was to promote “civilised dog-keeping actions” and stated anyone found walking a dog would receive a warning for the first offence.

After going viral on the internet, the ban triggered a heated discussion. Many people in Weixin said they supported the government strengthening restrictions on dogs, yet they thought the rule went too far. "The announcement said dogs cannot be walked in urban areas, which means raising dogs is banned altogether." said a resident, "It's not fair for all the puppies to pay the price for undisciplined dog owners."

Commentaries of IALA

The purpose of the local rule is to regulate the uncivilized behaviors of the dog owners and to provide a safer place for the public. However, the local authorities ignore the welfare and the natural behaviors of the dogs that the rules banning walking dogs will eventually put a ban on raising dogs. All local rules shall not violate any laws and regulations. The local governor shall improve their ruling ability, make rules more cautious, and respect the voice of the public.

Indian Street Dog’s Rocky Road to Recovery Ends in Britain


November 18, 2020

An Indian street dog that lost its front legs after being run over by a train has found a new home in Britain after enduring a year of therapy and learning to walk again with prosthetic limbs. The three-year-old mutt was found "covered in blood" and her forelegs badly injured by a Railway Protection Force constable at Faridabad in northern Haryana state last October. The officer carried the wounded canine -- now named Rocky -- to one of PFA's shelters, where she was rushed to a hospital. Doctors had to amputate her forelegs, leaving her with stumps. As Rocky recovered -- learning to use her chin for balance -- the rescue organization released a video about her plight which went viral on social media, attracting the attention of the global dog rescue group Wild at Heart Foundation. They pledged to find her a home, while an Indian national living in London paid for her new legs. In July Rocky took her first steps on her new limbs, made by a leading doctor in Jaipur.

Commentaries of IALA

India is the country in Asia having the most stray dogs, approximately 30 million. With regard to the treatment of stray dogs in the country, stray dogs are allowed to be killed in lethal chambers (Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act) and not by strychnine injection or other methods of cruel manner. Moreover, the Animal Birth Control (Dogs) Rules provide that it is local authorities’ responsibility to conduct catching, sterilization, and immunization of street dogs. The practice of relocation or killing stray dogs in the country is prohibited by the law. The Rules also provide that a dog with suspected rabies cannot be euthanized and must be kept until the natural death occurs, while incurably ill and mortally wounded dogs shall be euthanized in a humane manner if so stated by the veterinarian. Furthermore, the euthanasia of a dog in the presence of another dog is not allowed.

Learn more about the protection of animals in India here.

Parrots Found Stuffed in Plastic Bottles in Indonesia


November 20, 2020

Dozens of smuggled parrots stuffed in plastic bottles have been found on a ship docked in Indonesia's eastern region of Papua. Police said the crew discovered 64 live parrots and 10 dead birds after hearing noises coming from inside a large box. Birds in the country are sold domestically in giant avian markets or smuggled abroad. The seized birds were identified as black-capped lories, a type of parrot native to New Guinea and nearby islands in the southwest Pacific Ocean, and are a protected species in Indonesia. It's not the first time that birds have been discovered hidden inside plastic bottles. In 2015 Indonesian police arrested a man who was trying to smuggle 21 yellow-crested cockatoos, an endangered bird, in bottles. In 2017 Indonesian authorities found 125 exotic birds forced inside drain pipes after wildlife raids that led to several arrests.

Commentaries of IALA

Indonesia has the highest number of threatened birds in Asia and has a widespread illegal trade in birds. Regulation No. 95, Law No. 18, and Act No. 5 provide the protection of endangered species of animals, including birds. Animals in Indonesia include all vertebrates and some animals who have no backbone and can feel pain. Any act of animal cruelty is punished by the Penal Code of Indonesia.

Learn more about the protection of animals in Indonesia here.

World’s Loneliest Elephant Kaavan Is Free


November 29, 2020

Kaavan lived under horrendous conditions in a zoo in Islamabad, Pakistan. Prior to being brought to the Pakistani zoo, Kaavan was kept at Sri Lanka’s Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage. Sadly, the authorities of the zoo did not care about what happened to the animals or the zoo and started finding various ways of making money, for example, allowing their family members to run food stalls inside the zoo. The zoo did not have any veterinary clinic or medicine supplies. Kaavan was the star of the zoo where he had to entertain the crowd during the opening hours. He also had a friend Saheli, an elephant brought from Bangladesh, however, Saheli died in 2012. Kaavan who was already sad about his environment felt worse, and his mahout did not anyone come near him. Now Kaavan is starting a new life in the sanctuary in Cambodia.

Commentaries of IALA

The case of Kaavan attracted one of the famous actresses and singers Cher who participated in and contributed to the freedom of the world’s loneliest elephant. In May, the Islamabad High Court took up the case despite the pandemic and concluded that Kaavan should be released from the zoo, ordered wildlife officials to consult with Sri Lankan authorities to find a sanctuary for Kaavan within 30 days. The court also expressed criticism towards the Pakistani zoo for failing to meet the animal’s needs in violation of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and the Wildlife Ordinance.

Elephants are considered one of the world’s most intelligent animals having a similar brain to humans and lots of other mammals in terms of a general state of connectivity and functionality. Elephants are able to express such behavior as learning, altruism, compassion, self-awareness, communication, etc. Elephants are also closely knit to each other and are capable of grieving over other elephant’s death.

Vietnam’s Dak Lak Province Is Banning Elephant Rides


December 2, 2020

In May a mahout, or handler, was killed after being attacked by a captive 48-year-old elephant in Dak Lak. Two months later, in July, a female tourist from Hung Yen Province fell off an elephant and was injured. The move of “accidents and animal protection con­cerns” prompted authorities to temporarily suspend the tour of elephant rides. However, while a ban on elephant rides in Dak Lak is, without doubt, good news for those with trunks, it could be better. “Instead [of offering rides], Dak Lak, home to many of Vietnam’s surviving elephants, will consider other services such as bathing and feeding the animals to offer tourists new experiences.”

According to VnExpress International, three captive elephants delivered stillborn calves in the past 30 years and only four calves have been born to the wild population of about 100 pachyderms.

Commentaries of IALA

There are more than 3,000 pachyderms, including calves, being held captive at tourist attractions in Asia, many of which are treated poorly for the sake of entertainment. The habitat loss, contamination of food, and exploitation for tourism purposes are the main factors that influence the population of the pachyderms.

According to the guide to elephant-friendly tourism from World Animal Protection (WAP), “If a venue allows you to get close enough to ride, bathe or touch them, it’s because they’ve been cruelly trained,” adding: “Only visit venues where you can look, not touch.”

Besides riding, all interactions with the elephants, such as bathing, feeding, and petting, are based on fear-based training which is cruel to the elephant.

Learn more on why we should avoid all and any elephant interaction here.

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