Myths, More than Traditional Medicine, Driving Rhino Slaughter

 Andrew C. Revkin

x-post from Dot Earth

Rhino horns seized by Customs in Hong Kong

Rhinoceros populations from Asia through Africa are plummeting in the face of burgeoning illicit trade in their horns, much of it driven by myths promoted by criminal smuggling syndicates and targeting the new wealthy in China and Vietnam. The Green blog and Dot Earth have explored these issues, but it’s worth a slightly deeper dive, here provided in a “Your Dot” contribution from Matthew Wilkinson, the founder and editor of the informative Safaritalk blog.

Here’s an excerpt and link to the full essay by Wilkinson, which I’ve posted via Slideshare.net:

Matt Wilkinson: As someone who devotes his days to highlighting wildlife conservation in Africa, when I’m asked to name my greatest concern, without hesitation I say the poaching onslaught devastating rhinoceros populations. With so many pressing problems besetting wildlife and the environment, why this one issue over and above everything else? The answer is shaped by the shocking way in which the rhinos are killed and their horns removed, the widespread myths fueling the recent poaching escalation and the apparent inability of governments to tackle this massive problem with anything approaching competence. Continue reading

Gary L. Francione on Philosophy Bites

Spencer Lo

Professor Gary L. Francione recently appeared in a Philosophy Bites podcast interview and discussed his abolitionist approach to animal rights. Despite the short length of the interview (around 15 minutes), many topics were covered, including:

  • The ideology of animal welfare: Jeremy Bentham and Peter Singer
  • Veganism as a moral requirement
  • Moral status of animals: sentience and cognitive characteristics
  • Achieving abolitionism via welfare reforms
  • Alleged differences between factory farming and humane farming (e.g., free range, “happy meat,” “compassionate consumption”).
  • Domestication, pets and non-vegan cats
  • Unintended harms of a vegan diet
  • Eating road kill
  • Veganism and its relation to the modern animal rights movement

(For interested readers, I left some comments about some of the above).

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More Philosophy Bites podcasts pertaining to animal ethics: Peter Singer on using animals, Jeff McMahan  on moral vegetarianism, Tim Crane on animal minds, and Paul Snowdon on persons and animals.

Life’s a beach–or an entangled beak (no more balloon releases!)

Kathleen Stachowski Other Nations

Ocean Conservancy – click image

Michigan City, Indiana is a great hometown–a Great Lakes hometown. Located on the southern tip of Lake Michigan, we Michigan Cityzens were lucky to grow up basking on warm, “singing sand,” diving into big breakers (with dire warnings of the undertow looming large in childhood), and exploring the wild dunes that would eventually become the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. On a recent trip home, I crammed in as many visits as possible to “my” great lake. Even Montana’s Big Sky country can’t quell the frequent longing for that spectacular lakefront, its reeling shorebirds, towering dunes, and waving marram grass. Continue reading

Cows Send Intimate Text Messages to Farmers

Stephanie Chery

Imagine a world where a farmer will get a text message from his cow telling him she’s feeling sick or that she’s in heat.  Nope, it is not a joke. We live in that world.

New technology in farming has been developed to give farmers some very detailed information about the current condition of their cows.  According to an article in The New York Times, a system has been developed to track exactly when a cow is in heat.

The system works by way of a heat detector, a small sensor, which is implanted in the cow’s genitals and a motion sensor, attached to the cow’s neck, which measures movements made by the cow. The results of both sensors combine using an algorithm which determines whether or not the cow is in heat.  If the results indicate that the cow is in heat then an SMS is sent to the farmer.  A SIM card is affixed to the cow’s sensory collar so that the farmer can pay for the text messages.

Although, the development can give rise to any number of jokes about cows “sexting” their farmers, the truth is that the current conditions of cows in countries like Switzerland and Scotland where the technology is being tried out is no laughing matter. Continue reading

When Carnivores Become Neighbors

David Cassuto

With apologies for the late notice, if you’re in Westchester this evening, please join us:

 

 

Examining the Legal Protections of Animals Used in Entertainment

David Cassuto

From the email — looks like a very interesting program:

On October 17, 2012, the DePaul University Center for Animal Law in Chicago, Illinois, will host “Examining the Legal Protections of Animals Used in Entertainment.” This daylong symposium will feature panels on the legal protections accorded to animals used for entertainment purposes, such as in movies, television, zoos, circuses, and racing. These areas will be examined through a filter of ethical responsibilities involved in using animals for entertainment, legal liability for the misuse of animals, the history of the field of animal law in entertainment and what happens to animals after they “retire.”

 Our lunchtime speaker Professor Gary Francione will deliver the keynote address, “Animals as Property: The Challenges of Animal Law.” One of the most well-known figures in the modern animal rights movement, he is the author of six books, most recently The Animal Rights Debate: Abolition or Regulation? Other speakers will include Christine Dorchak of GREY2K USA, Karen Rosa of the American Humane Association Film and Television Unit, Sheriff Matt Lutz of the Muskingum County Sheriff’s Office, and Will Travers of the Born Free Foundation.  Continue reading

Do We Need Pandas?

Eliza Boggs

On September 23, 2012, a baby panda cub died unexpectedly at the National Zoo in Washington, DC.  Shortly after, the mother panda began cradling a toy, indicative of the idea that she too is struggling with the reality of no longer being a mother.  In both the wild and captivity, baby pandas face surprising obstacles.  In 2006 in China, a mother panda, weighing in around 200 lbs., fell asleep while nursing her baby and accidentally crushed her four-ounce cub to death.  Unlike the fate of the Chinese cub, the death of this cub remains a mystery. Though the zoologists are still unable to determine the cause of death, a necropsy ruled out strangulation.  But what happened?

With the murky and at best minimal protections afforded to thefragile existence of the panda bear, this issue is more important than ever. Dovetailing this important issue of protecting pandas in zoos is the debate over whether the preservation of pandas is an effort worth making at all. Some make the contention that saving pandas are a waste of governmental time, resources and money.  Indeed, The Linnean Society of London has already scheduled a debate entitled, “Do we need pandas? Choosing which species to save.”  Continue reading