Animal Advocacy — Live from Hawaii

David Cassuto

I’ve spent the last 5 days in Hawaii at the IUCN World Conservation Congress, the quadrennial gathering of environmental leaders from all over the world. The Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) recently applied for membership in IUCN and was denied.  I have been lobbying for support for ALDF’s appeal from that denial.  It’s a bizarre world where organizations like Safari Club International — which advocates trophy hunting as a form of conservation — is granted membership where ALDF, an organization that actively works to protect animals both in and out of the wild, is denied.

So far the support has been very gratifying; many IUCN member organizations have stepped forward to support the appeal.  However, we remain a few signatures short of Continue reading

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Fries, Beer, and the IUCN Colloquium

David Cassuto

Belgium is pretty cool.  Ghent is an absolutely beautiful city, filled with the kind of stunning architecture that one might expect to see in European cities better known for their visual splendor.  And did you know that Ghent was the second-largest city in Europe (behind Paris) for quite a while, quite a while back?  Just up the road is Bruges – a medieval city that was a bustling center of commerce until its harbor silted up 400 or so years ago.  As a result, it still looks much as it did then.  And back then, it looked mighty good.

Let’s see… what else?  The pommes frites – to which I had been looking forward with almost maniacal glee – were not all that.  In my experience (admittedly limited to Ghent), one can do much better on St. Mark’s Place in NYC.

The beer, however.  Oh, the beer.  Oh, it’s good.  It’s good beer.

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Brasilia and Now Ghent (Belgium) — Still Talking Climate Change & Agriculture

David Cassuto

So here I am on a plane again – this time to Belgium on my way to the Colloquium of the IUCN Academy of Environmental Law, which is taking place in Ghent.  I’m back in steerage this time; no business class for our hero.  I swore I would never go back but here I am.

Amidst all the hubbub, I need to recap my time in Brasilia even as I head for Europe.  Brasilia was a very interesting time and I once more want to reiterate my gratitude to the U.S. State Department for making my time in Brazil so rich and rewarding and for taking such good care of me.  This was my first time in Brazil’s capital and I enjoyed it – from the stunning architecture to the fact that the city is laid out like an airplane.  In addition to speaking at private university (entirely successful and well-attended), I lectured also to a government think tank called IPEA.  There, I encountered probing questions from a very informed audience.  When I mentioned the idea of treating meat consumption as a luxury for purposes of regulating and taxing carbon emissions, one of my hosts asked what I thought of the idea of a “meat cap.”  Not only is it an intriguing notion about which I need to think more, but so much do I love the term that even if it were a completely wacky idea, I would probably support it anyway.                    Continue reading

Does One Compromise Over Whale Slaughter?

David Cassuto

The hoo-ha is growing over the recent proposal by the International Whaling Commission (IWC) to lift the existing outright ban on whaling in exchange for the scofflaw nations (Japan, Norway & Iceland) ceasing  “scientific whaling” (in the case of Japan) and getting to kill more of some different kinds of whales (in the case of Norway & Iceland).   Scientific whaling is simply the slaughter of whales under the guise of research.  It’s a loophole in the IWC ban that insults the intelligence of anyone who believes that words (like science) ought to have meaning.   Last year, of the 1700 whales killed by the 3 whale-killing countries, roughly half were killed by Japan in the name of “science.”  Even the Japanese recognize the silliness of this approach.   Continue reading

IUCN Academy Colloquium — No Animal Law Here…

David Cassuto

I’m currently in China having all kinds of interesting experiences.  For example, it was only in Shanghai a few days ago that I saw my first wheelchair-accessible urinal.  I’ve also seen more pictures of Chairman Mao in the last 2 days than I had seen in the previous . . .  well, ever.   I’m here for a series of meetings.  Presently, I’m in Wuhan attending the Colloquium of the IUCN Academy of Environmental Law – an annual meeting of an organization dedicated to the teaching of environmental law around the world.

I did not speak about animals at this Colloquium.   Neither has anyone else.  In fact, today’s lunch speaker presented some data about the research interests of the membership and animal law merited mention only as one the disciplines least often listed as a primary research interest.  Indeed, I’m one of only 6 academy members who did list it.

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Trophy Hunting: It’s Not Just Plastic Gold Statues Anymore

Simona Fucili

37975Hundreds of hunters travel to Africa every year for something they refer to as a sport, trophy hunting.  They essentially look to shoot animals to hang on their walls as trophies.  This sport not only is unethical and another form of animal cruelty, but it also creates problems that affect the ecosystem.  Although hunting was a crucial part of humans’ survival 100,000 years ago, in this writer’s opinion, more recent hunting is rarely done for the need of subsistence.  Moreover, where people once hunted to feed their family, it would seem that currently, hunting is now performed as a violent form of recreation where hunters seek out the best heads of animals they can find for their walls at home.  According to Change.org, hunting has now contributed to the extinction of many animal species all around the world including the Tasmanian tiger and the great auk.  Although there are other factors that may lead to an animal’s extinction such as climate change, habitat loss and national and international wildlife trade, hunting is the biggest threat for the extinction of mammals according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).  IUCN helps the world find pragmatic solutions to our most pressing environment and devolvement challenges.

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IUCN Study of Elephant Meat Trade — Consulting Opportunity

logo-iucnFrom the email — an opportunity to lead a study for the IUCN Species Survival Commission on the elephant bushmeat issue in Central Africa.   Note the looming application deadline.

The Impact of the Elephant Meat Trade in Central Africa
Call for Applications – Deadline 4 September 2009
1. Background
The IUCN/SSC African Elephant Specialist Group aims to undertake a study to improve
understanding of the elephant meat trade on elephant populations in Central Africa. The
study will elaborate on bushmeat research already undertaken throughout the region by a
number of institutions, but will focus on the African elephant. The study will examine the
dynamics, scale and impact of the elephant meat trade throughout the Central African subregion.
The study will examine the trade in elephant meat as a factor in illegal killing of
elephants, relative to the ivory trade. It will also study the linkages between multiple
resource extraction (timber, minerals) and the levels of elephant meat trade and consumption
at the site, city, and regional level. This will include a number of case studies for which new
data will be collected. Finally, the study will explore the policy implications for elephant
conservation of the elephant meat trade throughout the region and make recommendations for
further research and policy implementation.
2. Overall Objective
The objective of the study is to enhance knowledge of contemporary meat market dynamics,
patterns and trends in Central African countries by undertaking an elephant meat trade impact
study.
3. Core Study Components
The study seeks to expose the linkages between the elephant meat trade and larger social and
economic dynamics at play, including, but not limited to: ivory trade; logging (legal and
illegal); mining; infrastructure development; global economic trends; law enforcement at the
national and international level; and community forest governance.
The study will consist of a summary study plus additional case studies identified as necessary
to contribute new data.
4. Geographical Coverage
African elephant range States of the Central African sub-region: Cameroon, Central African
Republic, Chad, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea and
Gabon.
5. Key Responsibilities of the Lead Consultant
 Take responsibility for the quality and timely delivery of the entire study as per the
above Terms of Reference.
 To supervise sub-contracted consultancies as regards their technical contribution to
the study and ensure high quality and timely contributions.
 Submit draft and final reports by agreed deadlines and according to the agreed
reporting format, with full bibliographic references, accreditation of all contributors,
and including appropriate validation of all the data and cases presented.
 Elicit analytical input from AfESG and other technical advisors throughout the
consultancy, and particularly prior to finalisation of the recommendations and
conclusions and ensure all the comments are incorporated in the final report
6. Deliverables
 A summary study on the impact and features of the elephant meat trade across the
Central African sub-region, integrating information from new case studies.
 A number of detailed case studies – fully edited and referenced – to be published
along with the summary study.
 An executive summary summarizing the main findings and recommendations in a
simple and communicative language.
7. Timeframe
The final study will be published in March 2011.
8. Qualifications
The lead consultant will have advanced university degrees and complementary skills in
biology, conservation or related fields and will also have considerable experience in the
Central African sub-region and with research on bushmeat. He/She will have a strong track
record of peer reviewed publication on relevant topics, and fluency in written and spoken
English and French.
9. Expressions of Interest
IUCN is asking interested persons or consultants to submit a short Letter of Interest for this
consultancy, identifying their experience in undertaking such research and his/her Curriculum
Vitae together with an indication of the daily fees. In addition, interested persons or
consultants are expected to include in the application a 2 page summary of how they will
conduct the study.
Expression of Interest should be addressed in English language to diane.skinner@iucn.org.
Deadline: 4 September 2009.
The detailed Terms of Reference for this study are available on request