In the course of our everyday lives, we humans encounter other animals in a wide variety of settings and situations. We may view farmed animals in transport trucks on the highways, companion animals in “pet” shops, and captive exotic or wild animals used for entertainment or kept as “pets” in the residences of friends or neighbors. If we are fortunate, we may encounter wild animals when hiking or exploring at wildlife refuges or nature preserves.
It is both convenient and comforting to assume that specially-written laws protect the animals in each of these situations from harm. Unfortunately, however, such an assumption is misguided.
It was a drizzly day in early August 2004. A small but industrious group was gathered on Marsh Hill Road, an unpaved country byway in central Ontario, northeast of the city of Toronto. Now and then, the odd driver who used the road slowed to glance at the unusual sight of about a dozen people, parked cars, a camera crew, and paraphernalia strewn about, including metal mesh, power tools, hammers, wooden posts, and an axe. Those driving by may have seen several men in waders standing in the dark water alongside the road, framed by dense, alder swampland. They probably had little idea that they were witnessing a life-saving operation.
A two-week meeting in Bangkok, Thailand, last October brought some good news — and some bad news — to imperiled animals and plants across the globe.
The meeting was the 13th Conference of the Parties (COP 13) to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES). CITES began in response to an international effort that traces back to 1963, came into effect in 1975, and now has over 150 countries as signatories.
Letter to the Editor
Law enforcement officers and prosecutors deserve praise for sentencing Kwan Su Yi for bear poaching ("Anchorage man sentenced in bear poaching case," March 2, 2005). Illegal killing of bears for the underground trade in their parts is a nationwide problem, which demands a strong national outcry.
Are you planning (or even just dreaming about) your next vacation? Did you know that you can help animals while seeing the world? Ecotourism — a unique and conscientious form of travel — makes it possible for travelers to visit sites of astounding natural beauty and, at the same time, to support local communities, conserve wildlife, and protect the habitat upon which wild animals depend.
Big-eyed baby seals. Men swinging heavy clubs. White ice stained crimson.
These are some of the indelible images so ubiquitous in 1970s and 1980s, the heyday of the global “save the seals” movement.
During those years, animal protection groups from around the world joined forces to fight the wanton slaughter of baby harp and hooded seals that took place each year on Canada’s northern ice floes. Pictures from the hunt sparked outrage and, eventually, a measure of reform.
Today, the images are back, more haunting than ever. That’s because the Canadian seal hunt is back, bigger and bloodier than before. And animal advocates have come together once again to fight the senseless, barbaric killing.
NOVEMBER: She is hungry. She is alone. Snow is falling. But the bear’s sole focus is the hole she digs under the trunk of an ancient yellow birch that had toppled over, two years earlier, during a windstorm. This would be a good place to spend the winter — and, perhaps, to give birth to the cubs that are slowly growing inside her.
Dreaming of your next vacation? How about a wildlife safari where you can view exotic and endangered species from Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia? No time for a trip around the world? No problem! Your tour can take place right here in the U.S.A. As an added bonus, you can stalk these animals in a pen, shoot them at point-blank range, and take their mounted heads home as trophies. For a price, this shameful sojourn can be yours, courtesy of the federal government.