Thursday, 29 November 2012

21st International Conference on Bear Research and Management, India

The 21st International Conference on Bear Research and Management (IBA 2012), was held for the first time in India this week, which was jointly hosted by the ministry of environment and forests, Wildlife Institute of India (WII), the Central Zoo Authority, the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI), the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).
Delegates heard that recent research on animal welfare showed that more than 85% Indians believe that animals have as many rights as people. According to surveys conducted by the World Society for Protection of Animals (WSPA), 87% people in India think that animals have as many rights as people and 83% Indians believe protecting animals from the effect of natural disasters is important. Besides, 73% believe the treatment of animals is a serious challenge and that they should be protected from the effect of natural disasters.
"Animals matter to the planet. Protecting them is vital to any successful response to the biggest issues of our time, from disasters and climate change, to stable food supplies and good health. The welfare of animals affects us all, and protecting them cannot wait," Mike Baker, CEO of WSPA, said while launching its campaign for animal welfare in India Monday. Underlining the reason for WSPA launching its campaign in India, he said: "India is a global power today and a unique country with a passion for animals that is embedded in its culture. It can give a perspective to the link between human and animal welfare." In his presentation, Baker gave three different examples - one from the island of Bali in Indonesia and two from India. In all three cases, the WSPA had helped protect animals from being culled at the same time rehabilitating humans dependent on them.
Other speakers who spoke on the occasion included R.M. Kharb, chairman of Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI), Chinny Krishna, vice president of the AWBI and Emily Reeves, director of programmes, WSPA (Asia Pacific). "This campaign is necessary as human-animal conflicts are increasing and animals usually lose in these. Also, enforcement of animal protection laws in India is a big grey area," said Kharb.
Krishna echoed Kharb. "India has the finest animal protection laws in the world. But their implementation is woefully poor." "Indians believe that every life is sacred. And yet, what we do to animals should shame us," he added.
Reeves said: "Collaboration is essential for success. Wide-scale change that is sustainable can only be brought about by collaboration."
Sadly due to unforeseen circumstances, Heather Bacon could not fly out to India to give her presentation, which was very frustrating. However, JMICAWE were delighted that the launch of WSPA's campaign came on the same day when union minister of Environment and Forests, Jayanthi Natarajan launched the National Bear Action Plan in the capital.

Monday, 26 November 2012

After Dolly - the ethical dilemma of animal biotechnology

After Dolly - the ethical dilemma of animal biotechnology is an EU-funded public engagement project where students are invited to discuss how far researchers should go in their manipulation of domestic animals in order to produce food and medicine.

At The Roslin Institute Bruce Whitelaw performs research in the development and application of transgenic animals to enhance our understanding of cellular and tissue differentiation in vivo.

Peter Sand√łe is Professor in bioethics at the Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Copenhagen working with bioethics to focus in particular on ethical issues related to agriculture, animals and biotechnology. The team at Animal Welfare Team, here at the Universtiy of Edinburgh, were delighted that Peter had time to speak with our MSc AABAW students the next day.

This workshop held at The Roslin Institute on the 15th of November can be watched by following the JMICAWE weblink -

3 scholarships are available in relation to animal welfare & health projects

The Moredun Foundation Scholarship – applications open for 2013

The Moredun Foundation is delighted to announce that their scholarship scheme will run again for 2013 after a hugely success first year.

Whether you want to gain experience in the UK or abroad, wish to learn a new skill or conduct a short research project, three scholarships of up to £1000 each are available from Moredun in 2013
The Moredun Foundation Scholarship provides an excellent opportunity for individuals to broaden their education and experience in areas relating to livestock health and welfare and the agricultural industry. 

Projects may involve work experience, travel, collaborations with science, or the arts and are open to individuals over the age of 18 living in the UK with the condition that the applicant is a member of the Moredun Foundation at the time of applying.

Lee Innes, Communications Director at Moredun is delighted that this scheme is running for its second year. She commented, “These scholarships are a fantastic way for individuals to pursue a short term project or further develop their own knowledge of livestock health. The 2012 scheme saw the completion of three excellent projects and we are looking forward to some exciting and innovative applications coming through for 2013”

The Moredun Foundation is a registered charity and governs the work of the internationally recognized Moredun Research Institute. It is hoped that these scholarships will support and encourage innovative and diverse projects and contribute to Moredun’s mission to improve the health and welfare of livestock.

The closing date for applications for a 2013 Moredun Foundation Scholarship is Monday 31 December 2012.

Successful applicants will be notified in writing by the end of February 2013 and projects need to be completed by Friday 30 August 2013.

Further information, details of the 2012 projects and application forms are available to download from the Moredun website


Thursday, 8 November 2012

Dick Vet Masters students visit a pig unit - to discuss animal behaviour and welfare

The on-campus MSc Applied Animal Behaviour and Animal Welfare (AABAW) students were given the opportunity to see a working pig unit, allowing them to observe and discuss:

  • the behaviour of growing pigs and recording relevant behaviours such as postures, feeding, fighting and mounting
  • the issue of hunger in these animals
  • the issue of accommodation, especially for pregnant sows

Students also looked at farrowing environments including the PigSAFE alternative free farrowing accommodation and learnt about suckling and teat orders in pigs.

For further information on the MSc AABAW - please visit

Monday, 5 November 2012

Teaching at Nanjing Agricultural University

The JMICAWE was delighted to spend a week at Nanjing Agricultural University in China last week teaching clinical skills and animal welfare training to 4th year veterinary students.
Vet Heather Bacon and vet nurse Hayley Walters flew out to Nanjing with suitcases full of models and mannequins to demonstrate alternatives to live animals when teaching clinical skills. Currently in China, live animals are used for the students to practise their suturing, blood sampling and catheter placement techniques. The workshop demonstrated to the students the necessity or honing clinical skills and perfecting techniques, that can be painful, on models and mannequins before having to do it in a real life situation on a live animal.
“We took dog head models that allow students to practise blood sampling the jugular vein, suture boards that are like a fake skin that the students can practise different suture patters on, fake dog legs for perfecting IV catheter placement, heads for intubation practise and ligature boards so that the students could understand the necessity of tying ligatures at depth”, said Hayley.
Videos filmed in The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies of real life procedures were also used during the workshop and they provided relevant teaching material to compliment the practical tasks the students would then undertake during the workshop. Hand-outs and time for questions and discussions ensured that all the students had time to digest what they had learned. “The response from the students has been so positive,” commented Hayley, “They have all enjoyed this way of learning and feel happier practising on the models and mannequins than the live animals. The concept of animal welfare is still quite new here and we are trying to demonstrate that just because something has gone on for decades or seems normal, that doesn’t make it acceptable”.
“I was initially very upset when I saw the locally anaesthetised but conscious cows and sheep being used for the students to practise surgical skills on but appreciate that this was the way of vet schools in the UK until a few years ago. The Chinese Veterinary Medical Association is striving towards improvements in their curriculum and this is very encouraging to hear indeed”.
Heather and Hayley hope to return to Nanjing Agricultural University next year to teach the teachers who will hopefully go on to be a driving force in veterinary education with animal welfare  at the forefront of their teaching.