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Issue 18
A Culture Of Secrecy, Deception And Lies
Cites - An Animal Dealer's Charter?
Pet Cloning - Cruel To Animals And Humans
Whatever Happened To Oscar?
Urgent Appeal
Book Review : Animal Rights In South Africa
Vioxx Suit Faults Animal Tests
Half Of All Birth Defects Missed By Animal Tests
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A CULTURE OF SECRECY, DECEPTION AND LIES


      Vivisection thrives on a culture of secrecy and deception, and the dissemination of misinformation to the general public. This is also the case when it comes to our wildlife.
      There are currently three seemingly diverse issues under public scrutiny, 'canned' lion hunting, elephant culling and sealing. Like vivisection, these issues involve cruelty and misinformation put out by vested interests and have now come to a head as a result of past mismanagement and the obvious lack of political will to change the situation.

      About two years ago, being well aware of the inadequacy of current legislation, and coming in the wake of public outcries against 'canned' lion hunting, the government began a process of drawing up codes of practice to include the 'management' of wild life. The consultation process was to include all stakeholders but, in fact, it did not. Excluded from the policy making process was the broader animal welfare and -rights community, who could offer cogent arguments against canned hunting and included were only those welfare organisations considered 'tame.' Other than that, the decision makers were the hunting and breeding communities themselves who appear to have a very close relationship with government officials, some of whom appear to have vested interests. This resulted in loopholes in the draft proposal which served to ensure a perpetuation of the cruel practices.

     This came about by the altering the meaning of the word "canned hunting" to the extent where wild animals who are captive bred are then released into larger enclosures for a period of six months. It is purported that this would restore them to their wild state, and as such they may then be hunted. In fact, however, a predator that has been human-imprinted, can never be considered wild again. This is acknowledged by the Government that wants to ban rehabilitation centres for predators "because it is impossible to rehabilitate back to the wild any captive-bred large predator." At the same time Government policy also allows for any petty provincial conservation official to certify that a captive-bred lion has been successfully rehabbed back to a wild state, which would pave the way for would-be macho men to fulfil their blood-lusting urges.

     It is known that more than 2500 lions are being raised in captivity in the Free State, Limpopo and North West province and it has been widely reported that some breeders supply the lucrative canned hunting trade, with hunters paying up to US$40 000 (R260 000) to shoot a large lion with a black mane.

     Captive breeding allows for the factory farming of sentient beings and, like battery hens and intensive pig farming, these 'animal machines' who cannot speak for themselves are then considered as 'just another resource' such as inanimate diamonds or coal. Fortunately the Cook report, shown on television some years ago, as well as the website www.cannedlion.co.za debunked the denials put out by the hunting and breeding community, so that the general public is no longer easily fooled by the propaganda and misinformation put out by the master dissemblers of the hunting and breeding community.

The Elephant Issue
      The currently debated issue of whether or not to cull elephants is a complex one and cannot be looked at in isolation without examining the trade in ivory and the way in which Cites actually perpetuates the wild life trade through their policy of sustainable utilisation (see Cites - An animal dealer's charter? Pů) The latter policy has also led to the on-going propaganda of animal traders and hunters who avail themselves of every possible excuse to cull elephants by spreading the myth that elephants are destroying the habitat in the Kruger National Park, because of starvation caused by overpopulation. To back up this statement, television viewers were regularly shown footages of ravaged forests with trees stripped bare of leaves.

      Meanwhile, wild life traders were poised to partake of this lucrative trade and in 1998 eleven baby elephants were torn from their mothers in Botswana and brought to South Africa where their spirits were intentionally broken for captive display and exhibition in zoos and circuses. Undercover footage of the cruel training methods used on these baby elephants was screened on the investigative programme Carte Blanche and public condemnation reached its peak with a march of hundreds of concerned citizens onto the property of wild life trader and dealer Riccardo Ghiazza. Because of legal bungling and loopholes in the animal protection laws, seven of the Tuli elephants are now languishing in zoos while the fate of four others is unknown. SanParks has now presented the S.A. Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism with a report advising "culling and canning". Up until recently, the number of elephants killed in the Kruger National Park related directly to the number of dead bodies with which their slaughterhouse could cope. Now the report proposes that an elephant meat canning plant, butcheries and the creation of other forms of employment be set up in the Kruger National Park. It becomes obvious that a sustainable supply of elephant bodies would be needed to justify the expense of such canning factories and butcheries. The "other forms of employment" would, of course, be fed by an expected lifting of the ban on elephant products such as tusks and skin, which ban South Africa is vociferously opposing, together with a stepped up showing of the purported "damage to the environment caused by elephant overpopulation."

     No mention is made of the fact that huge damage has been caused to the vegetation by uncontrolled (human intitiated) veld fires and the fact that the state of disrepair of the fencing surrounding the park has resulted in elephants breaking through the fences, especially where tempting sugar cane plantations are in sight. Mismanagement of the park has also resulted in too many water holes being put in along a 2 km-wide stretch along the Chobe River where the elephants go to drink. As elephants depend on water, there are no longer any natural constraints on the elephant populations. It is notable that the devastation to the bush is only apparent along this 2km-wide stretch and not in northern Botswana where the elephant population is 10 times that in the Kruger Park.
     To date, no independent environmental assessment has been done in this matter. But while the hunting community and traders in elephant skins and ivory continue to plan butcheries, canning factories and 'other related industries', the propagandists continue to churn out their misinformation. Much as is the case in the vivisection industry.

(To be continued)      

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