Cecil the Lion

30 07 2015

 By Timothy D. Naegele[1]

In an article entitled, “Killer of Cecil the Lion Finds Out That He Is a Target Now, of Internet Vigilantism,” the New York Times has reported about the killing of “Cecil,” a 13-year-old lion that was lured out of his sanctuary in Zimbabwe and killed this month by a Bloomington, Minnesota dentist.

The lion was lured out by pieces of meat that had been left just outside the boundary of his territory, where no hunting is allowed and anti-poaching patrols operate.  It has created an international outcry and furor.[2]  As the Times has reported:

In the hours since Dr. Walter J. Palmer apologized for killing the lion, he has gone from a dentist and longtime hunting enthusiast to a villain at the center of a firestorm over the ethics of big-game trophy hunting.

. . .

[He has] joined an ever-expanding group of people who have become targets of Internet vigilantism, facing a seemingly endless shaming. . . .

. . .

[A]ctivists used search engines to find his contact information and social media to share information about his business and his family, stirring a fever pitch of anger strong enough to effectively dismantle his digital life.

. . .

Cecil had been closely studied by researchers at the University of Oxford since 2008 as part of efforts to study a decline in Africa’s lion population and to better understand the threats the animals face. The university’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit said in a statement that Cecil’s adult “brothers” and cubs would probably be killed by other male lions seeking dominance in the community.

. . .

According to the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force, the lion was shot with a crossbow after he was lured out of the sanctuary, following the scent of food. Cecil, well known to those who visited Hwange National Park in western Zimbabwe for his jet black mane, was only injured by the arrow. The hunters tracked him for about two days before he was killed with a gun, conservation officials said. He was beheaded and skinned, his corpse left to rot.[3]

Palmer has been called a “Murderer!” and a “Terrorist!”  Indeed, the UK’s Daily Mail has reported: “Horrifically maimed by an arrow, Cecil managed to stay alive for 40 hours.”  Also, he was an alpha male lion and leader of his pride of two lionesses and six cubs; and he was “known for his imperious attitude towards tourists on game drives.”

The Daily Mail added:

He was named Cecil after Cecil Rhodes, the British mining magnate, having first been spotted in 2008 at a place called White Man’s Watering Hole inside Zimbabwe’s famous Hwange National Park, and subsequently given a collar to track his movements for an Oxford University project.[4]

According to the Times, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed last October to list the African lion as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, “a move that would also establish guidelines for permitting the importing of lion trophies.” The proposal is still under review and has not been adopted yet.[5]

How tragic and utterly senseless.  Sir Roger Moore of James Bond fame has written in the UK’s Telegraph:

[H]unting is a coward’s pastime, and no one has demonstrated that more clearly than [Palmer], who apparently paid over £30,000 to gun down a lion to add his head to a trophy wall.  . . .  [I]t’s detestable that anyone would choose to get thrills from killing others who ask for nothing from life but the chance to remain alive.  The animals whose lives he has so cold-heartedly snuffed out have precisely the same capacity to feel pain and suffer as we do. All leave family members or mates behind when they’re killed, and none is exempt from grief.[6]

© 2015, Timothy D. Naegele

EMXP61 Image shot 2014. Exact date unknown.

Cecil the Lion (New York Times‘ Video)

[1] Timothy D. Naegele was counsel to the United States Senate’s Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, and chief of staff to Presidential Medal of Freedom and Congressional Gold Medal recipient and former U.S. Senator Edward W. Brooke (R-Mass).  He and his firm, Timothy D. Naegele & Associates, specialize in Banking and Financial Institutions Law, Internet Law, Litigation and other matters (see www.naegele.com and http://www.naegele.com/naegele_resume.html).  He has an undergraduate degree in economics from UCLA, as well as two law degrees from the School of Law (Boalt Hall), University of California, Berkeley, and from Georgetown University.  He is a member of the District of Columbia and California bars.  He served as a Captain in the U.S. Army, assigned to the Defense Intelligence Agency at the Pentagon, where he received the Joint Service Commendation Medal.  Mr. Naegele is an Independent politically; and he is listed in Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in American Law, and Who’s Who in Finance and Business. He has written extensively over the years (see, e.g.,www.naegele.com/whats_new.html#articles), and can be contacted directly at tdnaegele.associates@gmail.com; see also Google search:Timothy D. Naegele

[2] See http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/30/us/cecil-the-lion-walter-palmer.html; see also http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3179280/Agonising-hours-lion-king-Cecil-one-man-s-deadly-vanity.html (“Agonising last hours of an exhausted and horrifically maimed lion king and one man’s deadly vanity that led to its trophy killing”)

[3] See id.

[4] See http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3179280/Agonising-hours-lion-king-Cecil-one-man-s-deadly-vanity.html

[5] See http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/30/us/cecil-the-lion-walter-palmer.html

[6] See http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/zimbabwe/11771713/Cecil-the-lion-Sir-Roger-Moore-says-hunting-is-a-cowards-pastime.html (“Sir Roger Moore on Cecil the lion: ‘Hunting is a coward’s pastime’”)



23 responses

30 07 2015
Robert Morrow

Walter Palmer is the worst thing to happen to dentistry since Dustin Hoffman was tortured by a Nazi dentist in the Marathon Man.


30 07 2015
Timothy D. Naegele

Thanks, Robert.

I must have missed that movie. 🙂


30 07 2015
Jim Parks

Most hunters I know would say that “hunting” this tame lion with a bow was unethical. I doubt that this guy could have survived a one-on-one bowhunting encounter with a healthy wild lion without a professional hunter with a rifle to back him up. I’m not against bowhunting in general, but the likelihood of a clean kill on a lion when using a bow is very low. On top of all that, you don’t hunt domesticated animals, which is what this lion clearly was.

Having said that, Roger Moore’s condemnation of all hunters as cowards is nothing more than high-handed hypocrisy. Quoting Roger Moore himself from a 2006 article in “The Guardian”:

“So for lunch today I cooked two nice sirloin steaks, cabbage and green beans – I do both of those with a little vegetable bouillon cube – mushrooms with onion to make a gravy, tomatoes and some fennel.” — http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2006/apr/30/foodanddrink1

Like the majority of hunters I know, I hunt (mostly deer) to put meat on the table. I don’t hunt predators (though I’d shoot a coyote if one crossed my path, since the coyote population is out of control where I live).

I do everything I can to make a clean shot that kills the animal with as little pain, fear, and apprehension as possible. This often means not taking an unethical shot that has a low probability of cleanly killing the animal. I also do not personally bow hunt because I don’t have the skill to do so ethically (though I admire hunters who can).

Compare the life and death of a white tail deer that ends up on my family’s table against the life and death of a typical feed lot steer whose steaks you buy from the supermarket, then ask yourself which is better.

Anyone who eats meat but says he’s against killing animals is either a hypocrite or a victim of cognitive dissonance. I guess it helps Roger Moore’s conscience to put some distance between himself and the process of actually killing an animal, but who’s really the coward? The guy who can’t bring himself to pull the trigger, but eats the meat anyway, or the guy who is willing to face what eating meat really means?

I’ve earned the right to eat meat, Roger. How about you?


30 07 2015
Timothy D. Naegele

Thank you for your comments, Jim.


30 07 2015

Your insights to the reaction to the killing of Cecil are well put. I believe Cecil will likely become the poster child for what enrages all people who are simply repulsed by the wonton killing of animals or, for that matter, any other part of nature. Life consumes life in order to survive whether a steer dies or a carrot, life consumes life. But the killing of this lion, or 96 elephants per day just for two of their teeth, smacks us in the face and makes us look at ourselves as human beings. Caring for life is our responsibility. Caring for the Earth ours as well. One might even look at the agricultural practices in our country and find conditions so abhorrent that participating in that system by purchasing CAFO meat becomes repulsive. It’s immoral and inhumane. I hope Cecil’s story spreads far and wide. I hope people will rethink their consumption habits and choices they make. Call me a dreamer but I believe there are more of “us’ than “them”.


30 07 2015
Timothy D. Naegele

Thank you, Susan, for your comments.


30 07 2015
Jonathan Buttall

Hello, Timothy.

I don’t necessarily want hunting outlawed, although I haven’t done it myself. Hunting in the US in season, with a prey that’s abundant and not endangered, isn’t something I would have banned. However, the large animals of Africa, particularly large cats and elephants, have been studied by experts who see them as very near extinction in the wild. They will likely be gone in a generation.

Poaching is rampant, given ineffective and often corrupt gov’ts in Sub Saharan Africa, and the underfunded and under armed rangers in protected areas don’t have the money, ruthlessness and firepower of organized poachers.

The killing of this lion has been determined to be poaching, a crime which Palmer reportedly paid $55,000 for per some news reports. Two locals there have been criminally charged for arranging this but questioning of Palmer has been prevented by his apparently escaping the area and going underground. Fortunately, his business has been identified and has been shut down indefinitely, with protesters often in front of it.

While I’m sure he’ll make his way back to the US and lay low for a while, justice would be served by a few years in an African prison. One wonders if, in the unlikely event this happens, the US would try to rescue him. Our Gov’t doesn’t have a good track record in this area; they negotiate for Americans in other countries who committed real crimes while ignoring innocent victims like the reporters held in Iran.


30 07 2015
Timothy D. Naegele

Thank you, Jonathan, for your comments.


30 07 2015

I detest the killing of any living creature for “sport” and this story struck a particular nerve. Obviously, the global main stream media covered this story with the intensity it deserved. However, this same media produced a collective silence when it came to reporting the Planned Parenthood videos in which officials of PP spoke candidly and openly regarding the selling of body parts of aborted babies. This practice is incredibly goulash in every aspect, and yet this story has been virtually ignored. Could it be the reason is that it flies in the face of the media’s own bias and agenda?

Cecil the Lion is important because he was an innocent victim of a violent crime. But, he was an animal. The lives of human beings are, seemingly, more important than animals … or are they? Not, it seems, according to our “advanced” culture and society.

When I came upon the Planned Parenthood videos, I (along with many others) couldn’t help but think that Nazi “Dr.” Joseph Mengele would have been envious and proud of such “work.”

A society that does not respect and protect innocent life is a society that is doomed. What is true for individuals is true for nations as well; “God is not mocked; whatsoever a man sows, so shall he reap.”


30 07 2015
Timothy D. Naegele

Thank you, Ray, for your comments. I agree completely.

See https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2012/12/20/abortions-and-autos-kill-more-in-america-than-guns/#comment-7564 (“The Price Of Fetal Parts”); see also http://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2015/07/30/eden-prairie-police-we-wont-give-dentist-personal-protection/ (“US Fish & Wildlife Service Investigating Killing Of Cecil The Lion”) and http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/zimbabwe/11773653/Cecil-hunter-Walter-Palmer-wanted-to-kill-an-elephant-after-killing-the-lion.html (“Cecil the lion’s killer ‘wanted to stalk an elephant next – but couldn’t find one big enough'”) and http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3180404/White-House-says-review-Cecil-Lion-petition.html (“Where’s Walter? Feds open investigation into dentist who killed Cecil the lion as White House says it will review petition to EXTRADITE the elusive hunter”)

As you will see below, there is a White House petition undertaking that has begun, to extradite Palmer from the United States, to face justice in Zimbabwe.

White House petition

As of now, there are 141,048 signatures, which is more than enough.

See https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/extradite-minnesotan-walter-james-palmer-face-justice-zimbabwe (“Extradite Minnesotan Walter James Palmer to face justice in Zimbabwe”)


30 07 2015
Yusef Sudah

Ray, thank you for the insightful article.


1 08 2015
Timothy D. Naegele

The Death Of Cecil Is Compounded [UPDATED]


Cecil the Lion’s brother Jericho has been shot dead by poachers, which means that Cecil’s cubs are vulnerable and at risk of being killed.

The UK’s Daily Mail has reported:

Cecil the lion’s brother Jericho has been shot dead by poachers in a park in Zimbabwe.

The beloved animal was protecting Cecil’s lion cubs after he was shot dead by Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer earlier this month, sparking outrage around the world.

Jericho is believed to have been gunned down during an illegal hunting operation in Hwange National Park on Saturday afternoon [].

Johnny Rodrigues, Chairman for Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force, said in a statement: ‘It is with great sadness and regret that we report that Jericho was shot dead at 4pm this afternoon.

‘We are absolutely heartbroken. We have no further details but will advise as soon as we know more.’

Before his death there had been concerns Jericho would not be able to hold the territory of Cecil’s cubs alone and could be chased away by rival lions.

Unprotected, the lionesses and cubs are now under threat and also [may] move away or be killed.

Last week Mr Rodrigues, told the Daily Mail Online Jericho was keeping the cubs safe from any rival males.

When contacted on Saturday a woman who answered the phone said he was too devastated to speak.

The horrifying news came on the day the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority announced a crackdown on hunting around the park with Jericho was killed.

Palmer has admitted killing the 13-year-old predator Cecil, who was fitted with a GPS collar as part of the Oxford University study.

He allegedly paid $55,000 to shoot the majestic creature with a bow and arrow after allegedly luring him away from his habitat with meat.

But he said in a statement he had hired professional guides and believed all the necessary hunting permits were in order.

He has not been sighted since his identity was revealed by Zimbabwean conservationists earlier this week.

Zimbabwe has called for Palmer to be extradited from the United States after accusing him of killing the much-loved animal illegally.

Environment minister Oppah Muchinguri said the dentist should be handed over to Zimbabwean officials to face justice, adding that she understood prosecutors had started the legal process to make that happen.

Referring to the 55-year-old trophy hunter from Minnesota as a ‘foreign poacher’, she said: ‘We are appealing to the responsible authorities for his extradition to Zimbabwe so that he can be made accountable for his illegal actions.’

Muchinguri also said Palmer’s use of a bow and arrow to kill the lion, who is said to have been lured out of Hwange National Park with bait before being shot, was in contravention of Zimbabwean hunting regulations.

Professional Zimbabwean hunter Theo Bronkhorst insisted he did nothing wrong on the hunt that killed Cecil the lion, telling AFP he was shocked to find the animal was wearing a tracking collar.

‘I don’t believe I failed in any duties at all, I was engaged by a client to do a hunt for him and we shot an old male lion that I believed was past his breeding age. I don’t think that I’ve done anything wrong,’ Bronkhorst said.

He said: ‘Both I and the client were extremely devastated that this thing had a collar on because at no time did we see a collar on this lion prior to shooting it.

‘We were devastated… I left the collar there at the bait site and unfortunately that was stupid of me and negligent of me.’

Bronkhorst was granted bail by the Hwange court on Wednesday after being charged with ‘failing to prevent an illegal hunt’ when he led the expedition in early July.

Palmer, a life-long big game hunter, managed to return to the United States before the authorities were aware of the controversy around Cecil’s death.

‘It was too late to apprehend the foreign poacher because he had already absconded to his country of origin,’ Muchinguri said.

See http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3182428/Cecil-s-brother-Jericho-shot-dead-poachers-Zimbabwean-park.html (“Cecil the lion’s brother Jericho shot dead by poachers in Zimbabwean park”) (emphasis added); see also http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/southafrica/11779906/American-huntress-sparks-fury-by-posting-selfie-with-dead-giraffe-in-South-Africa.html (“American huntress sparks fury by posting selfie with dead giraffe in South Africa“) and http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3186081/Dentist-killed-Cecil-lion-hires-armed-security-installs-covert-cameras-death-threats-vandalism-homes-crammed-evidence-hunting-obsession.html (“Dentist who killed Cecil the lion hires armed security and installs covert cameras after death threats and vandalism at the homes crammed with evidence of his hunting obsession“) and http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/zimbabwe/11792521/Cecil-the-lions-cub-killed-by-rival-male.html (“Cecil the lion’s cub killed by rival male”—”Wildlife guides warn that Cecil’s pride has only a five per cent chance of survival after several solitary male lions were spotted prowling near their abandoned den in Hwange National Park”)

As indicated in the post above, a White House petition to extradite Palmer is gaining signatures.

See also http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/southafrica/11848103/Hundreds-of-wild-animals-to-be-slaughtered-in-Limpopo-South-Africa.html (“Hundreds of wild animals to be slaughtered in Limpopo, South Africa”—”Animal welfare groups in South Africa on Monday failed to prevent the opening of a week-long ‘driven hunt’, in which foreign hunters pay to shoot wildlife that is herded past them for easy dispatch. . . . Later reports said 18 animals were killed on Monday”) and http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2015/10/26/africas-most-iconic-predator-the-lion-is-declining-almost-everywhere/ (“Africa’s most iconic predator — the lion — is declining almost everywhere”) and http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/615091/Lion-turns-the-table-on-illegal-hunters-by-killing-man-looking-to-shoot-him (“Lion turns the tables on illegal hunters by killing man looking to shoot him“)


16 10 2015
Timothy D. Naegele

Biggest Elephant Killed In Africa For Almost 30 Years

Giant elephant killed

The UK’s Telegraph has reported:

It is an image that will haunt conservationists: one of Africa’s most majestic creatures lying dead on the ground as a white Western hunter poses proudly by its side.

Barely three months after the shooting of Cecil the lion caused global outrage, a German hunter has risked the wrath of animal lovers once more by shooting dead one of the largest elephants ever seen in Zimbabwe.

Mystery surrounded the identity of the elephant, which was estimated to have been between 40 and 60 years old, but had never been seen before in Zimbabwe’s southern Gonarezhou National Park.

But its tusks, which touch the ground in a photograph taken moments after its shooting, confirmed its exceptional nature, weighing an estimated 120lb each.

It was shot on October 8 in a private hunting concession bordering Gonarezhou by a hunter who paid $60,000 (£39,000) for a permit to land a large bull elephant and was accompanied by a local, experienced professional hunter celebrated by the hunting community for finding his clients large elephants.

The German national, who the hunt’s organisers have refused to name, had travelled to Zimbabwe to conduct a 21-day game hunt including species among the Big Five of elephants, leopards, lions, buffalo and rhinoceros.

The kill was celebrated in hunting forums around the world, where it was suggested he might have been the biggest elephant killed in Africa for almost 30 years.

Conservationists and photographic safari operators in the area expressed their outrage on Thursday night, saying the animal was one of a kind and should have been preserved for all to see.

Anthony Kaschula, who operates a photographic safari firm in Gonarezhou, posted pictures of the hunt on Facebook, said the elephant had never been seen in the area before but would have been celebrated by visitors and locals alike.

“We have no control over poaching but we do have control over hunting policy that should acknowledge that animals such as this one are of far more value alive (to both hunters and non-hunters) than dead,” he wrote.

“Individual elephants such as these should be accorded their true value as a National Heritage and should be off limits to hunting. In this case, we have collectively failed to ensure that legislation is not in place to help safeguard such magnificent animals.”

Unlike Cecil, the black-maned lion beloved by tourists who was shot by American dentist Walter Palmer in Hwange National Park using a bow and arrow in July, the animal’s origin was not immediately known.

It was speculated that he might have come up from South Africa, since there is no border between the Kruger National Park and Gonarezhou, which form part of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park created by former South African president Nelson Mandela.

Some suggested that the elephant might be a massive bull called Nkombo, who was a satellite collared elephant from the Kruger who lost his collar in 2014. Nkombo was however spotted in the Kruger on October 3, making it unlikely that he would have completed a journey of several hundred miles in five days.

William Mabasa, of South Africa’s National Parks, said Kruger’s elephant experts were looking into the case. “If this elephant came up from the Kruger, he would have had to go through all the communities on the edge of Gonarezhou and someone would have seen him. It’s not possible.”

Louis Muller, chairman of the Zimbabwe Professional Hunters & Guides Association, said the hunter had only realised how large the “tusker” was once he had been shot.

“He told me when he and his client were stalking this elephant he saw the tusks were big but did not realise just how big until afterwards and he saw them close. He is going back to see if he can find the lower jaw and bring it back so we can accurately age this elephant,” he told The Telegraph.

“We checked everywhere and this elephant has never been seen before, not in Zimbabwe nor Kruger. We would have known it because its tusks are huge. There have been five or six giant tuskers shot in the last year or so, and we knew all of them, but none as big as this one.”

He said his organisation had suggested that unique elephants should be collared to protect them from hunting. “We have suggested before to all concerned parties that each elephant area should collar a few with biggest tusks, so that we do not shoot them,” he said. “Nobody responded to our suggestion last year. We believe this might now be taken seriously.”

The man who helped arrange the hunt, who did not want to be named, defended his client. “This was a legal hunt and the client did nothing wrong,” he said. “We hunters have thick skins and we know what the greenies will say. This elephant was probably 60 years old and had spread its seed many many times over.”

He said his organisation paid as much as 70 per cent of its hunting fees back to the local community and observed quotas for animals. “This is good for Zimbabwe and good for local people,” he said. “It’s not uncommon for hunters to spend $100,000 (£64,551) each trip.”

Meanwhile Zimbabwe National Parks has called for stiffer penalties for poachers following the discovery on Tuesday of 26 more elephant carcasses that died of cyanide poisoning at two different locations in the Hwange National Park.

Cyanide poisoning is a growing problem in the country since a mass poisoning in October 2013 resulted in up to 100 deaths.

The 26 elephants were discovered by rangers following another discovery last week of 14 other elephants, also poisoned to death by cyanide.



Africa’s elephant problem

The problem

In the last ten years elephant numbers have dropped by 62%. There are fewer than 500,000 on the African continent today and conservationists have warned that by the end of the next decade, they could be extinct.

Hunted for trophies

Zimbabwe’s elephant-hunting industry generates $14 million a year. Because elephant carcasses are so large, they are rarely exported but replicas are often made from fibre glass for the original tusks to be inserted into. In April 2014, the US banned the import of elephant trophies from Zimbabwe and Tanzania, overs concerns about a steep decline in their numbers.

The solution

Some have called for higher trophy fees for larger animals, and the protection of exceptional animals. Some countries (eg. Botswana and Kenya) have banned big-game sport hunting altogether. For others, hunting remains a lifeline to sustain wildlife populations and impoverished communities living among them.

See http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/zimbabwe/11934535/Huge-tusked-African-elephant-killed-by-german-hunter-in-Zimbabwe.html (emphasis added); see also http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/zimbabwe/11937439/Germany-may-block-import-of-tusks-from-giant-elephant-shot-by-hunter-in-Zimbabwe.html (“Import ban may prevent German hunter from bringing home tusks of giant bull elephant“)

It is worthwhile to repeat the words of Sir Roger Moore—of James Bond fame—that are cited in the article above:

[H]unting is a coward’s pastime, and no one has demonstrated that more clearly than [Palmer], who apparently paid over £30,000 to gun down a lion to add his head to a trophy wall. . . . [I]t’s detestable that anyone would choose to get thrills from killing others who ask for nothing from life but the chance to remain alive. The animals whose lives he has so cold-heartedly snuffed out have precisely the same capacity to feel pain and suffer as we do. All leave family members or mates behind when they’re killed, and none is exempt from grief.

See http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/zimbabwe/11942776/Zimbabwe-elephant-hunter-identified-as-German-property-mogul.html (“Zimbabwe elephant hunter identified as German property mogul [Rainer Schorr]”—”‘Such a big tusk elephant, he should be kept, even if he’s 50 years old, he still can make some babies and pass on the genes’”))


26 10 2015
Timothy D. Naegele

Hunters Kill 200 Bears In A Single Day In Florida

Florida Black Bear

The UK’s Telegraph has reported:

Hunters gunned down more than 200 bears in Florida this weekend, when the state lifted restrictions on shooting the creatures for the first time in two decades.

More than 3,200 people ventured out with shotguns, bows, pistols, revolvers and crossbows to participate in the statewide bear “harvest”.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission had set a maximum of quota of 320 black bears for the cull that was due to last all week.

But by the end of the first day, on Saturday, 207 creatures were registered as dead and officials were forced to end the hunt in some parts of the state.

The agency said it had issued the hunting permits because the black bear population had surged had to more than 3000, up from just a few hundred in the 1970s and presented a safety problem.

The commission has received thousands of calls from Floridians logging nuisances caused by the bears, such as the raiding of rubbish dumpsters in the past two years. But it has only registered four serious incidences of bear attacks against humans.

Animal rights activists reacted in fury to the agency’s decision.

Chuck O’Neal, an activist with the Speak Up Wekiva filed a lawsuit citing unsound science used by the state to try to block the cull, but lost in court.

Right activists manned the checkpoints where hunters were required to register killed bears, so that they could monitor the cull.

“Yesterday was a horrific day of watching these incredible creatures be slaughtered,” said Laura Bevan, southern regional director of The Humane Society of the United States.

On Sunday, rights groups pleaded for the hunting to end, arguing that the actual total number of killed bears was higher than the tally counted. They said the agency should include in its count the orphaned cubs that would likely die after hunters shot their mothers.

See http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/11954149/Hunters-kill-200-bears-in-a-single-day-in-Florida.html (emphasis added)

Like Cecil the Lion, and the biggest elephant killed in Africa for almost 30 years, this slaughter must stop.


28 09 2017
Timothy D. Naegele


[Jeanne Nations, “Galloping Thunder”]

CBS NEWS has reported:

The fate of thousands of wild horses hangs in the balance as the Senate considers an amendment to a spending bill that would allow euthanasia of mustangs and burros roaming free on land owned by the federal government.

The amendment would allow the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to sell excess wild horses without an assurance they wouldn’t be slaughtered. The matter will eventually be settled in negotiations between the Senate and the House.

CBS San Francisco traveled to the Utah desert, 50 miles northwest of Cedar City, to witness a federally mandated round-up of an icon of the American West.

Using a helicopter that looks like it was stolen from the set of M*A*S*H, federal agents began the process of gathering 50 wild horses.

“When you have horses that close, when they come into a trap site, they’re very fresh, they have a lot of energy. When you’re gathering wild horses, they are wild animals,” said Gus Ward, the BLM’s Wild Horse and Burro lead for Utah.

The roundup is the result of a lawsuit settled by the state of Utah over horses encroaching on ranch land. With repeated helicopter passes, stallions, mares and foals are driven out of hills and corralled into a trap to be sorted.

From there, they’ll be taken to a holding facility and hopefully adopted.

The BLM is responsible for the wild horses. The agency says there should be about 200 horses on this stretch of land. But there are closer to 700. The BLM warns the horses are at risk for starvation in higher numbers.

Matthew Wood owns the ranch where the roundup happened.

“I enjoy seeing a horse or two now and then, but it falls into the same category as seeing a nice big bull elk or nice big mule deer or a bear or something like that. But when it gets to be so many of them that they’re destroying their own habitat, they’re not pretty anymore,” said Wood.

The roundup can be hard to watch, as the terrified wild horses are driven out of the mountains by sounds emitted from a helicopter, forced up hillsides and down gullies and ultimately drawn into the corral by a so-called “Judas horse” that leads the way.

“I’ll be quite frank with you, some might put their head down and try to go through the panels. I hope that doesn’t happen,” Ward said.

Injuries aren’t uncommon. These roundups, though, might get tougher to stomach in the coming years.

President Trump’s proposed budget would allow “humane euthanasia” of excess horses and burros. It would allow unrestricted sale of certain animals that could end up sold to foreign slaughterhouses.

It all comes down to money. The new budget for the Department of Interior allocates $24 million more on gas, oil and coal management and $10 million less to manage the wild horse and burro program.

That means less money for roundups and holding facilities that house the horses until they can be adopted.

“When we have to remove horses, our facilities are full,” said Lisa Reed with the BLM in Utah.

Compounding the problem, adoption numbers are way down. Years ago, the agency was adopting out 6,000 to 8,000 horses a year. Now it’s closer to 2,000 or 3,000.

Out on the roundup, the proposed budget change has sparked testy exchanges.

“These horses that came off the range today, they didn’t only lose their family and their freedom, but they might be slaughtered in the future. There’s no telling the fate of these horses that we see rounded up today,” said Simone Netherlands with the American Wild Horse Campaign, one of dozens of groups fighting to stop BLM roundups altogether.

Netherlands says the BLM’s recommended number of wild horses on federal lands — 27,000 on 22 million acres — is absurdly low, and reports of starving horses are “fake news,” spread to convince the public that euthanasia is necessary.

“What has been proposed in this year’s budget, in this administration, is preposterous to the American public. We don’t believe that the American public will stand for it,” said Netherlands.

BLM employees on the front lines are hoping for the best to happen in Washington, but bracing for the worst. We asked Reed if she worries about the horses ending up in slaughterhouses.

“I worry about that every year. That is the last thing we would like to see happen,” she said.

See https://www.cbsnews.com/news/senate-bill-could-trigger-mass-slaughter-of-wild-mustang/ (“Senate bill could trigger mass slaughter of wild mustang“) (emphasis added); see also https://americanwildhorsecampaign.org/ (“The American Wild Horse Campaign (AWHC)“) and https://fineartamerica.com/profiles/jeanne-nations.html?tab=about (“About Jeanne Bencich-Nations“)


18 11 2017
Timothy D. Naegele


Elephant fighting off Hyenas

David Shepardson and Eric Beech have written for Reuters:

U.S. President Donald Trump said in a tweet on Friday he is putting a decision to allow imports of elephant trophies on hold after a torrent of criticism from conservation advocates and across social media.

Trump’s reversal came hours after his administration released a rule on Friday to allow hunters who kill elephants in Zimbabwe to bring their trophies back to the United States, which had been banned by the Obama administration.

“Put big game trophy decision on hold until such time as I review all conservation facts. Under study for years. Will update soon with Secretary Zinke. Thank you!” Trump wrote.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said in a statement that he had spoken with Trump and “both believe that conservation and healthy herds are critical.” He said the “issuing of permits is being put on hold as the decision is being reviewed.”

Early word of the planned change had drawn protests from conservationists, who said it could deplete already at-risk elephant populations. It also caused a social media firestorm, with opponents posting photos of President Donald Trump’s sons Donald Jr. and Eric, avid hunters, posing with dead wild animals.

Tanya Sanerib, senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity, said on Friday in a statement: “It’s great that public outrage has forced Trump to reconsider this despicable decision, but it takes more than a tweet to stop trophy hunters from slaughtering elephants and lions. We need immediate federal action to reverse these policies.”

Amid the backlash to reports that the move would apply to two southern African countries — Zimbabwe and neighboring Zambia — White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said it was due to a review by career officials at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service which began back in 2014 under the previous administration of Democratic President Barack Obama.

“This review established that both Zambia and Zimbabwe had met new standards, strict, international conservation standards, that allowed Americans to resume hunting in those countries,” Sanders told reporters.

In an official notice published on Friday in the Federal Register, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said it had concluded that the killing of African elephants in Zimbabwe as trophies, between the dates of Jan. 21, 2016, and Dec. 31, 2018, “will enhance the survival of the African elephant.”

The agency had said earlier on Friday before Trump’s tweet that “legal managed hunting” can help provide incentives to conserve wildlife and habitat and provide revenue to help conservation.

The move was disclosed by Fish and Wildlife Service officials attending a meeting in Tanzania this week that was organized by a pro-trophy hunting group.

The officials had said Zambia would also be covered by the change, but only Zimbabwe was mentioned in Friday’s notice. Zambia was mentioned in a news release issued by the government.

The international affairs section of the official U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service webpage shows the agency has already begun accepting permits for imports of trophies from the hunting of lions in Zimbabwe and Zambia.

Wildlife advocates said that move contradicts the agency’s decision last year to extend Endangered Species Act protections to African lions. But U.S. hunting groups and the National Rifle Association praised the recent decision on lion trophies, which they said the Trump administration issued on Oct. 20.

Africa’s elephant population plunged by about a fifth between 2006 and 2015 because of increased poaching for ivory, a coveted commodity used in carving and ornamental accessories in China and other parts of Asia, the International Union for Conservation of Nature said last year.

Wildlife activists argue that corruption is endemic in impoverished Zimbabwe, and that money generated by big game hunting and meant for conservation has been diverted into the pockets of crooks and poachers.

Supporters say money made from well-regulated hunts has been used for costly wildlife conservation in cash-starved African countries battling to diminish chronic poverty.

The Republican chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Foreign Affairs Committee, Representative Ed Royce, slammed the administration’s decision to allow the imports, saying economic and political turmoil in Zimbabwe gave him “zero confidence” the authorities there were properly managing conservation programs.

“Elephants and other big game in Africa are blood currency for terrorist organizations, and they are being killed at an alarming rate,” Royce said in a statement. “Stopping poaching isn’t just about saving the world’s most majestic animals for the future — it’s about our national security.”

Zimbabwe was thrown into chaos this week when the army took charge, appearing to signal the end of long-serving President Robert Mugabe’s reign, despite the 93-year-old’s insistence that he remains in charge.

See https://ca.news.yahoo.com/trump-halts-decision-allow-elephant-trophy-imports-uproar-100051721.html (“Trump halts decision to allow elephant trophy imports after uproar“) (emphasis added); see also http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5095077/Trump-reverses-elephant-trophy-decision-post-public-outcry.html (“Trump reverses elephant trophy ban after public outcry and says it will stay in place while his decision is under review“)

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) has urged action now to help save lions, elephants and giraffes. As indicated in the article above and the comments beneath it, I support such efforts and similar undertakings.

See http://www.ifaw.org/united-states/get-involved/stop-promotion-trophy-hunting (“Stop the promotion of trophy hunting“); see also https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2015/07/30/cecil-the-lion/#comment-10799 (“STOP THE SLAUGHTER OF WILD MUSTANGS AND BURROS!“) and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2015/07/30/cecil-the-lion/#comment-7762 (“Hunters Kill 200 Bears In A Single Day In Florida“) and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2015/07/30/cecil-the-lion/#comment-7719 (“Biggest Elephant Killed In Africa For Almost 30 Years“) and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2015/07/30/cecil-the-lion/#comment-7593 (“The Death Of Cecil Is Compounded“) and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2015/07/30/cecil-the-lion/ (“Cecil the Lion“)


4 09 2018
Timothy D. Naegele

Dozens Of Elephants Killed Near Botswana Wildlife Sanctuary

Elephant killings

Alastair Leithead has reported for the UK’s BBC News:

Carcases of nearly 90 elephants have been found near a famous wildlife sanctuary in Botswana, conservationists say.

Elephants Without Borders, which is conducting an aerial survey, said the scale of poaching deaths is the largest seen in Africa.

The spike coincides with Botswana’s anti-poaching unit being disarmed.

Botswana has the world’s largest elephant population, but poachers have been breaching its border.

Some readers may find the image below distressing

The scientist carrying out the extensive wildlife survey said many of the 87 dead elephants were killed for their tusks just weeks ago – and that five white rhinos have been poached in three months.

“I’m shocked, I’m completely astounded. The scale of elephant poaching is by far the largest I’ve seen or read about anywhere in Africa to date,” said Dr Mike Chase from Elephants Without Borders.

“When I compare this to figures and data from the Great Elephant Census, which I conducted in 2015, we are recording double the number of fresh poached elephants than anywhere else in Africa.”

That census estimated a third of Africa’s elephants had been killed in the last decade and 60% of Tanzania’s elephants had been lost in five years.

Botswana has had a reputation for an unforgiving approach to poachers and had largely escaped the elephant losses seen elsewhere.

Despite a lack of fences on the international border, data from tracking collars showed elephants retreating from Angola, Namibia and Zambia and deciding to stay within the boundaries of Botswana where it was thought to be safe.

Incidents of poaching in the country were rare because of armed and well-managed anti-poaching units.

With 130,000 elephants, Botswana has been described as their last sanctuary in Africa as poaching for ivory continues to wipe out herds across the rest of the continent.

The first sign that was changing came two years ago when the BBC flew with Mr Chase close to the Namibian border and he discovered a string of elephant carcasses with their tusks removed for the first time.

But these latest killings have been found deep in Botswana – close to the protected Okavango Delta wildlife sanctuary, which attracts tourists from around the world.

“People did warn us of an impending poaching problem and we thought we were prepared for it,” said Mr Chase, who pointed to the disarmament of the country’s anti-poaching unit as a cause.

“The poachers are now turning their guns to Botswana. We have the world’s largest elephant population and it’s open season for poachers.

“Clearly we need to be doing more to stop the scale of what we are recording on our survey.”

The government disarmed its anti-poaching units in May – a month after President Mokgweetsi Masisi was sworn into office.

The units have focussed much of their effort on the border regions, which have historically been more vulnerable.

A senior official in the president’s office, Carter Morupisi, told journalists in Botswana at the time that the “government has decided to withdraw military weapons and equipment from the Department of Wildlife and National Parks”, but he did not explain why.

Botswana’s 2018 Wildlife Aerial Survey is only half-way through and conservationists fear the final figure of poached elephants will be a lot higher.

The survey area is split into sections, or transepts, and the plane flies back and forth like a lawnmower cutting the grass – turning at each end to ensure nothing is missed.

“Fresh carcasses” are those lost within the last three months, but many of those recorded had been killed within the last few weeks.

Conservationists fear the scale of this new poaching problem is being ignored as it is bad for the country’s reputation.

“This requires urgent and immediate action by the Botswana government,” said Mr Chase.

“Botswana has always been at the forefront of conservation and it will require political will.

“Our new president must uphold Botswana’s legacy and tackle this problem quickly. Tourism is vitally important for our economy, jobs, as well as our international reputation, which is at stake here as being a safe stronghold for elephants.”

See https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-45396394 (emphasis in original); see also http://elephantswithoutborders.org/ (“Elephants Without Borders“) and https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2015/07/30/cecil-the-lion/#comment-11264 (“TRUMP SPARES THE ELEPHANTS“)

The hunters must be hunted.

Also, Botswana and other African countries that permit any poaching must be subjected to an international economic boycott.

Nothing less will suffice.

Elephant with tusks removed


22 02 2019
Timothy D. Naegele

Google Doodle Honors Legendary Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin [UPDATED]

Steve Irwin

Joan Morris has written for Mercury News:

Crikey! The Crocodile Hunter has taken over Google’s Doodle for the day, marking what would have been Steve Irwin’s 57th birthday.

The Doodle, which usually just spells out Google in shades of primary colors, gets a makeover from time to time to celebrate an event, holiday or the birthday of a special person in history.

Irwin’s Doodle is interactive, the product of a partnership with Google and Queensland’s Australia Zoo, which is known as the “Home of the Crocodile Hunter.” The Irwin-inspired Doodle showcases scenes of the Irwin family interacting with animals at the zoo.

Google users also can read a guest post on the Google Doodle blog from Terri Irwin, honoring her husband’s life and achievements, or recall fun Irwin facts by saying “Hey Google, Crikey” to Google Assistant.

Irwin mesmerized people with his adventures, and sometimes misadventures, teaching about wildlife and the importance of conservation. He died almost 13 years ago at the age of 44 while filming off the Batt Reef in his native Australia.

Irwin’s family, including children Bindi and Robert, have carried on his legacy at the Australia Zoo, which was founded by Irwin’s parents, and by participating in wildlife conservation efforts.

“We are incredibly proud that Google Doodle has chosen to recognize Steve and all the wonderful conservation work he achieved,” Terri Irwin said. “Steve always wished that his message to protect wildlife and wild places would be remembered. This certainly honors his message and mission.”

Irwin was born in Essendon, a suburb of Melbourne, and grew up in Queensland. His father was a wildlife expert with a particular interest in amphibians and reptiles, and his mother was a wildlife rehabilitator.

The family started the small Queensland Reptile and Fauna Park, where Irwin grew up around crocodiles and other reptiles, learning about animals, their care and how they were threatened by development and ecological changes. Irwin later took over management of the park and changed the name to the Australia Zoo.

Although many thought the Crocodile Hunter was a persona invented after the success of the “Crocodile Dundee” films, Irwin was the real thing. And when he uttered his famous “Danger, danger, danger,” it was a genuine warning about the wildness of an animal.

Irwin and Terri met in 1991. She was a naturalist from Eugene, Oregon, on a trip to the Queensland area when she decided to visit the Australia Zoo. She met Irwin there and, she says, the two fell instantly in love. They were engaged four months later and married in Eugene.

The Irwins spent their honeymoon trapping crocodiles, and the filmed footage later became the first episode of “The Crocodile Hunter” television series. Irwin, with his signature khaki shorts, Australian accent and occasional mishaps, soon became a worldwide hit, and conservationists praised Irwin for educating millions about wildlife and the need to protect and conserve it.

See https://www.mercurynews.com/2019/02/22/google-doodle-honors-legendary-crocodile-hunter-on-day-of-his-birth/ (“Google Doodle honors legendary Crocodile Hunter on day of his birth“); see also https://www.australiazoo.com.au/ (“Australia Zoo“)

On a personal note, I followed Steve’s career and travels for years; and it was difficult not to like him . . . and learn from him.

He took lots of chances, with crocs, snakes and other animals; and it seemed that he was truly a “cat with nine lives”—and then it ended abruptly.

While swimming in chest-deep water at Batt Reef near Port Douglas, Queensland, Australia, he approached a short-tail stingray from the rear, in order to film it swimming away:

According to the incident’s only witness, “All of a sudden [the stingray] propped on its front and started stabbing wildly with its tail. Hundreds of strikes in a few seconds”. Irwin initially believed he only had a punctured lung. However, the stingray’s barb pierced his heart, causing him to bleed to death.

See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_Irwin (“Steve Irwin“)

It was a freak accident.

Having spent a day in the Cayman Islands following giant rays from the safety of a boat before Steve died, there is no way I would get near one. But Steve was different—and this day was different from so many other charmed days in his life.

See also https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cayman_Islands (“Cayman Islands“)


27 07 2019
Timothy D. Naegele

Trophy Hunters Slaughter Polar Bears

Milly Vincent has written for the UK’s Daily Mail:

Sickening photos of trophy hunters with the bodies of slaughtered polar bears are being used to advertise hunt exhibitions costing thousands, with ‘high success rates and good trophy quality’ promised.

In hunt trips organised for the purpose killing a specific species to add to their mantel, blood thirsty hunters stalk the large prey in their natural habitat, taking an easy shot.

Often trophy hunters will then remove body parts of the defeated animal, sometimes illegally transporting them home to the UK or USA to be preserved and displayed in their homes.

Experts reveal 5,000 of the beasts have been killed for the sport in the Arctic circle in recent years.

Since 1995 there have been 17 attempts to import polar bear ‘trophies’ into the UK, reports The Mirror.

An increase in the number of specialist hunting firms offering trips to the Arctic circle directly above Canada to customers in the UK, U.S. and China, is thought to have lead to the disturbing trend.

Eduardo Gonçalves, Founder of the Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting, told The Mirror: ‘It is well known polar bears are in serious danger of becoming extinct because of climate change.

‘If we want to see them survive, we need to stop the senseless slaughter.’

‘The ­Government should ban imports of all hunting trophies right away.’

MailOnline found various websites offering the ‘unique opportunity’ to hunt the majestic creatures.

One hunt provider, which states they have run polar bear hunts for 30 years, explains that they use ‘quota systems’ put in place by the local Inuit population to fulfil the hunting needs of those willing to pay.

The price posted for an American to kill a polar bear during a 12-day exhibition is listed as £845 ($1,375.50 Canadian) – additional to the price of the hunt listed at £36,000.

The site advertises the hunting as done from ‘heated wall tents and outpost camps’ and offers an ‘Inuit polar bear guide with a dog team for the duration of the hunt’.

A taxidermist for your ‘trophy’ is also recommended by the site which writes: ‘Your Polar Bear hide, skull, and baculum bone will be shipped frozen to a recommended Canadian Taxidermist to be fleshed and cleaned properly.’

Polar bears are classified as ‘vulnerable’ by the World Wildlife Foundation who believe there are between 22,000-31,000 of the species left in the wild.

See https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7292277/Polar-bear-trophy-hunters-posing-bloodied-beasts-Arctic-advertise-36-000-hunts.html (“Polar bear trophy hunters posing by bloodied beasts in the Arctic are being advertised by firm offering £36,000 trips to kill endangered animals“) (emphasis added)

In my article above and in the comments beneath it, I have described the senseless killing of other bears; Cecil the Lion and other lions like him; elephants; wild mustangs and burros; and other wonderful God-given creatures of Nature.

This must stop and be banned forever!


2 09 2019
Timothy D. Naegele

SHAME: Japan’s Annual Dolphin Hunt Gets Underway

[Fishermen killed five Risso’s dolphins on Monday after tracking the small pod for nearly four hours, according to environmentalist group The Dolphin Project]

James Gant has reported in the UK’s Daily Mail:

Japan’s controversial annual dolphin hunt has got underway, with the first animals to die driven into a cove and left to thrash under tarpaulin as they were slaughtered.

Fishermen killed five Risso’s dolphins on Monday after tracking a small pod for nearly four hours, according to environmentalist group The Dolphin Project.

But local media dispute this, claiming all the boats returned to Japan’s south coast empty handed.

The Taiji hunt sees boats round the animals into a bay, where they are killed in the shallow water or captured for aquariums.

A cork stopper is then hammered into the hole where the rod was forced in, to try to reduce the blood spilt into the sea in order to conceal the extent of the slaughter.

As many as 1,700 of the mammals can legally be butchered or caught over the course of the six-month season, ending in March.

Groups such as The Dolphin Project have called for a ban because they deem the practice extremely cruel. The activists say it can take up to 30 minutes for the animals to suffocate or drown during the hunts.

But Taiji fishermen claim the small town needs the industry as the trade it brings feeds people.

The dolphins can fetch far higher prices when caught alive and sent to aquariums, but marine parks have come under increased criticism for buying from Taiji.

Wild dolphins live for up to 60 or 70 years, but captured ones often perish when they are as young as eight, say environmentalists.

According to marine experts, some dolphins are so distressed by their capture that they actually commit suicide.

The Taiji hunt, which dates back decades, hit headlines when it was covered by the 2009 Oscar-winning documentary The Cover.

Monday’s hunt faced the latest bout of criticism of Japan’s hunting laws. In the summer the country sparked international outcry after it started commercial whaling again.

The country left the International Whaling Commission this year, a move slammed by activists and anti-whaling countries but welcomed by some communities in Japan.

Fishermen brought back their first whales on July 1, after commercial whaling was reintroduced following the ban in 1986.

Five vessels from whaling communities left port in Kushiro, northern Japan, with their horns blaring and grey tarps thrown over their harpoons.

The country’s Fisheries Agency said in July it had set a cap for a total catch of 227 whales through the season until late December – 52 minke, 150 Bryde’s and 25 sei whales.

See https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7418443/Japans-annual-dolphin-hunt-gets-underway-animals-slaughtered-cove.html (“Taiji dolphin hunt begins: Japan’s controversial annual hunt gets underway with the first animals to die driven into a cove and left to thrash under tarpaulin as they are slaughtered“) (emphasis added; video omitted)

What is especially tragic is that the Japanese are hunting dolphin and whales just as they hunted “comfort women” during World War II. Known for their savagery during that war, all Japanese products must be boycotted until this latest butchery ceases.

See, e.g., https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2018/10/25/remembering-the-comfort-women-victims-of-human-trafficking-and-slavery/ (“Remembering The Comfort Women, Victims Of Human Trafficking And Slavery“) (see also the comments beneath the article)

And where are Julie Packard and the rest of the eco-Nazis, who babble about environmental issues but do nothing to address major issues such as this one?

See, e.g., https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2015/11/30/a-34-trillion-swindle-the-shame-of-global-warming/#comment-16288 (“Predictably The Eco-Nazis Ignore The World’s 100 Most Polluted Cities“)

[Workers measure a slaughtered Minke whale in Kushiro, Hokkaido after whaling operation started up for the first time in 31 years on July 1]


16 09 2019
Timothy D. Naegele

Heartbreaking Moment Dolphins Seen Swimming Close Together For Comfort Before Being Killed In Japan

Chris Pleasance has written for the UK’s Daily Mail:

Heartbreaking video has revealed a pod of dolphins appearing to comfort each other before hunters moved in to slaughter the family and take some into captivity.

The footage was recorded in a cove near Taiji, Japan, where a group of pilot whales – among the largest of the oceanic dolphins – was herded and kept overnight before being broken up.

Observers from US charity Dolphin Project said that, as the pod waited for their fate, they could be seen swimming in a tight circle with the matriarch circling around and ‘rubbing up against members of her family’.

It happened on September 10. The following day divers went into the water where they selected eight of the animals to be taken into captivity. The rest were slaughtered.

Video footage of the family being broken up showed the water frothing as some of the pilot whales were wrestled into slings attached to the sides of the boats before being hauled away.

Others were killed and their bodies slung under the bows of the boats so they could be taken away for food.

Among the dead was the mother who spent the night comforting her brood, who was seen floating alone in the water before being hauled away.

Each year from the start of September until late February, the port of Taiji witnesses such scenes as dolphins are legally hunted by fishermen who are given permits from the government.

Fishermen use metal poles inserted into the water and struck with hammers to create a ‘wall of sound’ that confuses the animals and drives them into the cove.

The entrance to the inlet is then closed off with nets before divers go into the water to kill or capture their quarry.

For the 2019/2020 season, the fishermen of Taiji have been granted a quota of 1,749 dolphins, including 101 short-finned pilot whales, which they are allowed to kill.

Nationwide, the Japanese Fisheries Agency authorises fishermen to kill or capture almost 16,000 cetaceans annually.

The country also resumed commercial whaling from the start of this year despite international criticism.

Whalers announced that they would likely hit their quota of minke whales, which is set at 53, by the end of September.

It is unclear how many whales Japanese fishermen have caught in total since hunting resumed in July.

See https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7468849/Dolphins-seen-swimming-close-comfort-killed-Japan.html (“Heartbreaking moment dolphin family swims close together and ‘mum comforts them all’ before Japanese hunters move in to slaughter the family and take others into captivity“) (emphasis added; video omitted); see also https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2015/07/30/cecil-the-lion/#comment-19339 (“SHAME: Japan’s Annual Dolphin Hunt Gets Underway“)

Tragic and shameful . . .


21 02 2020
Timothy D. Naegele

What Makes Dogs So Special? Science Says Love

This is the title of a PHYS.ORG article written by Issam Ahmed, which states:

The idea that animals can experience love was once anathema to the psychologists who studied them, seen as a case of putting sentimentality before scientific rigor.

But a new book argues that, when it comes to dogs, the word is necessary to understanding what has made the relationship between humans and our best friends one of the most significant interspecies partnerships in history.

Clive Wynne, founder the Canine Science Collaboratory at Arizona State University, makes the case in “Dog is Love: Why and How Your Dog Loves You.”

The animal psychologist, 59, began studying dogs in the early 2000s, and, like his peers, believed that to ascribe complex emotions to them was to commit the sin of anthropomorphism—until he was swayed by a body evidence that was growing too big to ignore.

“I think there comes a point when it’s worth being skeptical of your skepticism,” the Englishman said in an interview with AFP.

Canine science has enjoyed a resurgence in the past two decades, much of it extolling dogs’ smarts.

Titles like “The Genius of Dogs” by Brian Hare have advanced the idea that dogs have an innate and exceptional intelligence.

Wynne, however plays spoilsport, arguing that Fido is just not that brilliant.

Pigeons can identify different kinds of objects in 2D images; dolphins have shown they understand grammar; honeybees signal the location of food sources to each other through dance; all feats that no dogs have ever been known to accomplish.

Even wolves, dogs’ ancestor species known for their ferocity and lack of interest in people, have shown the ability to follow human cues—including, in a recent Swedish study, by playing fetch.

Wynne proposes a paradigm shift, synthesizing cross-disciplinary research to posit that it is dogs’ “hypersociability” or “extreme gregariousness” that sets them apart.

Williams syndrome gene

One of the most striking advances comes from studies regarding oxytocin, a brain chemical that cements emotional bonds between people, but which is, according to new evidence, also responsible for interspecies relationships between dogs and humans.

Recent research led by Takefumi Kikusui at Japan’s Azabu University has shown that levels of the chemical spike when humans and their dogs gaze into each others’ eyes, mirroring an effect observed between mothers and babies.

In genetics, UCLA geneticist Bridgett vonHoldt made a surprising discovery in 2009: Dogs have a mutation in the gene responsible for Williams syndrome in humans—a condition characterized by intellectual limitations and exceptional gregariousness.

“The essential thing about dogs, as for people with Williams syndrome, is a desire to form close connections, to have warm personal relationships—to love and be loved,” writes Wynne.

Numerous insights have also been gleaned through new behavior tests—many devised by Wynne himself and easy to replicate at home with the help of treats and cups.

One involved researchers using a rope to pull open the front door of a dog’s home and placing a bowl of food at an equal distance to its owner, finding that the animals overwhelmingly went to their human first.

Magnetic resonance imaging has drilled down on the neuroscience, showing that dogs’ brains respond to praise as much or even more than food.

But although dogs have an innate predisposition for affection, it requires early life nurturing to take effect.

Nor is the love affair exclusive to humans: A farmer who raised pups among a penguin colony on a tiny Australian island was able to save the birds from maurading foxes, in an experiment that was the basis for a 2015 film.

All you need is love

For Wynne, the next frontiers of dog science may come through genetics, which will help unravel the mysterious process by which domestication took place at least 14,000 years ago.

Wynne is an advocate for the trash heap theory, which holds that the precursors to ancient dogs congregated around human dumping grounds, slowly ingratiating themselves with people before the enduring partnership we know today was established through joint hunting expeditions.

It’s far less romantic than the popular notion of hunters who captured wolf pups and then trained them, which Wynne derides as a “completely unsupportable point of view” given the ferocity of adult wolves who would turn on their human counterparts.

New advances in the sequencing of ancient DNA will allow scientists to discover when the crucial mutation to the gene that controls Williams syndrome occurred.

Wynne guesses this happened 8,000 – 10,000 years ago, at the end of the last Ice Age, when humans began regularly hunting with dogs.

What makes these findings important, beyond advancing science, is their implications for dogs’ welfare, he argues.

That means rejecting brutal, pain-based training methods like choke collars based on debunked understandings of “dominance” popularized by celebrity trainers who demand dog owners become “pack leaders.”

“All your dog wants is for you to show them the way,” says Wynne, through compassionate leadership and positive reinforcement.

It also means carving out time to meet their social needs instead of leaving them isolated for most of the day.

“Our dogs give us so much, and in return they don’t ask for much,” he says.

“You don’t need to be buying all these fancy expensive toys and treats and goodness knows what that are available.

“They just need our company, they need to be with people.”

See https://phys.org/news/2020-02-dogs-special-science.html (emphasis in original)

As a kid growing up a mile west of the UCLA campus in Los Angeles, I had two dogs: a Cocker Spaniel named “Crackers,” and a Springer Spaniel named “Spot.” Years later, my kids had dogs and then my grandkids have had them too.

This article is so so true: most dogs seek love, and they give love. What people receive seems far greater than what they give to the animals.


22 10 2021
Timothy D. Naegele

See https://apnews.com/article/science-africa-environment-and-nature-elephants-mozambique-048e181c6dadc591b1f43c6e963f0f0e (“Why no tusks? Poaching tips scales of elephant evolution”)

Tragic . . .


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