January 6, 2021Lu Shegay & Zihao Yu

Bird Flu Spreads to a Quarter of Japan Prefectures

Source: reuters.com

December 15, 2020

Japan’s worst bird flu outbreak on record spread to new farms this week and has been found in around a quarter of the country’s 47 prefectures. About 32,000 birds will be slaughtered and buried in southwestern Japan after avian influenza was discovered at an egg farm. The outbreak has hit 12 prefectures across Japan and a record 3 million birds have been culled to date.

Commentaries of IALA

The virus of the bird flu cannot be transmitted from animals to humans from eating infected meat or eggs. It is a disadvantage for the Concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFOs). Once the diseases appear, the CAFO will provide a perfect situation for the spreading of the diseases. The outbreak of the bird flu has happened in Japan and South Korea, and it has been spreading in Europe in 2020. The government shall be alert to the zoonotic diseases for public health and safety, as well as the life of the animals.

To learn more about the protection of animals in Japan, read our blog here.

Smuggled Orangutans Start New Life After Repatriation to Indonesia

Source: channelnewsasia.com

December 19, 2020

A pair of critically endangered orangutans, rescued from smugglers on the Thai-Malaysian border in 2017, have arrived in Indonesia to undergo rehabilitation so they can finally be released back into their native forest habitat. On December 18, 2020, they arrived in western Indonesia's Jambi province for medical checks, which will include COVID-19 swabs, before a rehabilitation process to prepare them for their jungle home. A total of 71 orangutans have been sent back from Thailand to Indonesia since 2006, according to a joint statement released by the two countries.

Commentaries of IALA

Orangutans are threatened by a lot of factors that impact their population, mostly from human activities. These include logging, deforestation, climate change, and most importantly poaching. Orangutans are caught and killed illegally for food, trade, and traditional medicine. According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), there are approximately 100 000 Bornean orangutans left in the wild and 7 500 Sumatran orangutans.

Despite Act No. 5 prohibiting catching, injuring, killing, possessing, caring for, transportation, and trade of protected animals and their parts, illegal actions still occur in the country with the existence of the black market and high demand.

To learn more about the protection of animals in Indonesia, read our blog here.

New Population of Blue Whales Discovered in the Western Indian Ocean

Source: phys.org

December 21, 2020

An international team of researchers has discovered what it believes to be a new population of blue whales in the western Indian Ocean. In a recently published paper in the journal Endangered Species Research, the researchers describe a new blue whale song that is heard from the Arabian Sea coast of Oman across to the Chagos Archipelago in the central Indian Ocean and as far south as Madagascar in the southwest Indian Ocean.

Dr. Salvatore Cerchio, Director of the African Aquatic Conservation Fund's Cetacean Program and Visiting Scientist at the New England Aquarium, first recorded the novel song in 2017, during research focused on Omura's whales in the Mozambique Channel off Madagascar, and he recognized it as a blue whale song that had never been described. Cerchio was also working with a team of scientists collecting acoustic recordings off the coast of Oman in the Arabian Sea. This is part of a research effort focused on the highly endangered Arabian Sea humpback whale, an ongoing collaboration between the Environment Society of Oman, Five Oceans Environmental Services LLC, Oman's Environment Authority, and Oman's Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Water Resources. While analyzing the Oman acoustic data, the team recognized the same unusual song.

Blue whales were hunted to near extinction around the globe during the 20th century, and populations have only started to recover very slowly over the past several decades following the global moratorium on commercial whaling. The Arabian Sea was targeted by illegal Soviet whaling in the 1960s, an activity that nearly eradicated what was already likely to be small populations of humpback whales, blue whales, sperm whales, and Bryde's whales. Some researchers consider both the northern Indian Ocean blue whales and Arabian Sea humpback whales to comprise unique subspecies, not simply populations, making them particularly special and important to biodiversity.

Commentaries of IALA

Blue whales are threatened by a dozen factors, both natural factors and human activities. For instance, ship strikes have contributed to a significant decrease in the population of blue whales. Commercial fishing is also another threat to blue whales. The ocean is polluted with plastic and microplastic, which also suggests making blue whales susceptible. Other factors include climate change, ocean noise, oil leaks from industries, disease, toxins, bycatch, etc.

In the United States, blue whales are recognized as “endangered” under the Endangered Species Act and “depleted” and “strategic” under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Whales are protected by the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling on the international level, although a few countries are non-parties or withdrew from the convention. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, blue whales are listed under the category of Endangered. CITES and CMS Conventions list a blue whale in their Appendices I, which provides the strongest protection with regard to trade and use.

New Life of an Abused Dog Named Lucky

Source: tengrinews.kz

December 25, 2020

Earlier in the video in Atyrau, a man squished a dog’s head with a fridge metal door and stood on him trying to choke an animal. The department of the policy of the Atyrau region started an investigation and detained the man. The man admitted that he was intoxicated and regret his action. He also said that the dog whom he was torturing is alive and lives in his yard. Animal rights activists arrived at his house and blamed the man for lying because the dog that they found did not look like the one on the video and did not seem to have any injuries. Later on, it turned out that the man owned two dogs, and the dog on the video could escape and volunteers found him and delivered him to a veterinarian.

A dog named Lucky from Atyrau city was known from the video published on the Internet, where his owner tried to choke a dog with a refrigerator door. Now he found caring owners in the United States. Ellen, who adopted Lucky, confessed that she knew about Lucky from news and social media. She said she was afraid a dog would not survive. Lucky is very friendly, likes to play with other dogs in the park, Ellen said, however, at first he was scared of doors. Now Ellen is planning to start a new training for Lucky. As for now, Lucky has been living in California for 13 days and feels comfortable in his new home.

Commentaries of IALA

Cruel acts against animals are prosecuted under the Criminal Code in Kazakhstan, the only source where conduct towards an animal is regulated. However, the action/omission shall be done in certain conditions prescribed by law. The Criminal Code provision states that the act towards animals is considered cruel in case if it is conducted in front of juveniles, with sadistic methods, or having hooligan motives. The action of the man in the news article, however, lacks any elements of a crime to prosecute him under the Criminal Code. Animal rights activists in Kazakhstan have been demanding to amend the provision on cruelty against animals due to the big number of similar occurring cases in the country and the impossibility to prosecute offenders under the Criminal Code.

To learn more about the protection of animals in Kazakhstan, read our blog here.

Exotic Animal Cafés Featuring Otters, Lizards and Owls Raise Alarms

Source: scientificamerican.com

December 30, 2020

The business of cafés with exotic animals to attract visitors is growing. Many of the exotic animals are imported from other areas and are within the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN’s) Red List. This business could boost the illegal wildlife trade and have negative implications for wild animal populations. They can also bring disease to people and animals in the area. “The businesses “influence the accessibility and exposure of these exotic species to the visitors” and thus could fuel the overall exotic pet trade,” by Sharne McMillan.

“In 10 regions in Asia, of the 406 shops they turned up, 27 percent advertised having exotic animals encompassing 252 species of mammals, reptiles, and birds. The IUCN classifies 234 of these as threatened—including the potential threat from the wildlife trade—or as declining in wild populations.”

Commentaries of IALA

The business of the cafés with exotic animals is related to two legal issues. The first is about the wildlife trade, including poaching or captive breeding, traffic, and market. Most of the origin of the exotic animals are not clear to ensure they are legally obtained and meet the health and safety requirements. Animals can also cause the problem of biological invasion once they escape or are abandoned by the business. Another issue is about animal welfare, these exotic animals are not domestic animals and are not suitable for being treated as pets. Keeping them working in a café and get touched or fed by visitors may cause animal welfare risks including physical health, mental health, and behavioral problems. The cafés also encourage the exotic pet industry, which may have a further negative impact on the endangered animals.

How Covid Has Plunged Asia's Captive Elephants into Fresh Crisis

Source: theguardian.com

December 31, 2020

The Elefanjoy sanctuary in Jaipur, India, is facing new challenges because of the pandemic of COVID-19. The sanctuary is running relying solely on the income and donations generated by tourists. The decrease of the tourists has made the sanctuary have difficulties in covering the food cost, which may cause a new animal welfare crisis. The health problems of the elephants have started to appear in the sanctuary as they could no longer take their 30-mile daily walks because since March 2020, India imposed a strict nationwide lockdown, and at the same time, the elephants would have less activities and enrichment with the tourists and volunteers.

Another issue is the private owner of the elephant cannot bear the cost of keeping the elephants, because the major income made by an elephant is through the activities in “Hindu festival rituals, known as pujas, or through wedding processions”, all of which remain banned due to pandemic restrictions. The captive elephants are now regularly abandoned but the sanctuaries do not have the capacity for more elephants.

Commentaries of IALA

The animal performance or interaction between animal and human are done with cruel and inhumane training and treatment. Elephants shall not be merely used as a tool to attract tourists and to make a benefit. Their welfare is barely protected in the captive facilities and the behavior of the animals is changed against their nature. The animal sanctuary is not the same as the zoos or other facilities that the animals shall not be used for commercial activities. These sanctuaries shall know their budget and capacity on how many elephants they can host. Otherwise, the sanctuary would be another terrible place for the poor animals. On the other hand, the lockdown of COVID-19 provided opportunities for the returning elephants to get back to the jungles and rivers of their birth.

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