Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Animal Ethics Policy and Law

We are delighted that our MSc IAWEL team and IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare) are working together to provide current information for the online students studying the Animal Ethics Policy and Law course which is part of the online Masters in International Animal Welfare, Ethics and Law programme (MSc IAWEL).
Protection for elephants, or is it just an elaborate sham? That’s one such question that students may be addressing in their MScIAWEL presentations this week, after trucks transporting four young elephants were intercepted while transferring the calves to a “rehabilitation” centre last week. According to a report by South Africa’s National Council of SPCA’s the elephants had been removed from their wild herds, because their mothers were to be shot at one of South Africa’s most infamous hunting ranches in North West Province.
“Do conservation officials actually know what their responsibilities to elephants are, and do they even care?” says Jason Bell, Director for the IFAW Elephant Programme ( www.ifaw.org). Someone issued permits for these calves to be removed and transported – entirely contrary to the Norms and Standards for the Management of Elephants in South Africa which says wild elephant calves may not be removed from their herds as a result of their mothers being identified for hunting. IFAW called on the Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs to look into this as a matter of urgency, reminding  them that there is legislation in place to protect elephants from cruelty and exploitation, and that it needs to be observed.

Our MSc IAWEL students will be giving online presentations, to Dr Fritha Langford of the MSc IAWEL and Paul Todd, Dr Jason Bell and Cindy Milburn from IFAW.
The students are presenting their research and potential solutions to a variety of issues surrounding the welfare, conservation and use of elephants including:
  • The legislative frameworks surrounding wild animals in different countries
  • The key policy drivers in regions with elephants and regions where ivory products are retailed
  • The potential conflicts between welfare and conservation of elephants
  • Risks from over-population of elephants in fragmented habitats
  • The ethics of ‘sustainable’ culling of elephants

Having three senior members of IFAW available to give feedback to students, is a real honour for this programme and a fabulous opportunity for the students.


Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Controlling companion animal populations in developing nations

Companion animal populations can be particularly problematic in developing countries where public policy and education about the issues is often sparse. Many of these nations have a dog and cat over-population issue that requires sensitive management, especially as they also derive significant income from tourism. In this regard the pacific island nations are no exception. Following on from an article about public perception of dogs in (independent) Samoa, recently published in Animal Welfare, Mark Farnworth, a PhD student supervised by JMICAWEs Prof Nat Waran, investigated how tourists perceive the problem of free-roaming dogs during their visits to the Samoan islands (Mark worked in collaboration with Massey University and Uppsala University).

The earlier study demonstrated that, although the Samoan people identified dogs as important for society, little was done to control the population. This led to welfare issues as humans and dogs clashed, including a high rate of dog bite injuries and reports of harm inflicted upon dogs. As a result, most Samoans felt something needed to be done. Their second study, not yet published, looked at tourism as Samoa's number one industry. It investigated how the attitudes of tourists may align with those of locals and where problems could arise. Many tourists felt the dogs in Samoa were a problem requiring management and many also felt that the dogs had a negative influence on their enjoyment of the holiday. Some had experienced aggression and even attacks from free-roaming dogs. Importantly however, tourists were extremely averse to management which had a negative welfare impact and strongly supported humane options including legislation and sterilisation campaigns.

This body of work supports the idea that more investment should be made in controlling companion animal populations in developing nations and areas dependent on tourism may be particularly amenable to change. Effective and welfare friendly methods may not only improve the experiences of tourists but may boost the economy. Likewise effective management, health care and education may reduce dog bite injuries and zoonotic disease transfer and improve the overall well-being of the local population, dogs and people alike.

If you wish to contact Mark for further information, please visit www.ed.ac.uk/vet/jmicawe

Thanks to http://lindsay-meyer.com/ for use of image of stray dogs on beach

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Vietnam aims to strengthen animal welfare in veterinary education, research and practice.

Last week, JMICAWE vet Heather Bacon travelled to Hanoi, Vietnam to participate in an animal welfare training event. Hosted by the Hanoi University of Agriculture and sponsored by WSPA and Animals Asia, the two-day meeting showcased the extensive efforts being generated across Vietnam to strengthen animal welfare in veterinary education, research and practice.

Topics were varied, including a range of subjects from farm animal welfare assessment, wildlife trade issues and animal welfare in aquaculture. Heather presented on captive wildlife welfare issues, a significant problem in Vietnam, where a thriving illegal wildlife trade exists alongside a range of small zoos, circuses and government-run wildlife centres, which all present a vast range of challenges to good animal welfare.

The workshop also included several field trips comprising visits to local veterinary clinics, a pig farm, and dog slaughter market. Dog meat is widely consumed in Vietnam and dogs are traded from Thailand to supply the consumption market. There are at present no humane farming or slaughter methods of dogs for human consumption.

The programme ended with a commitment from the Hanoi University of Agriculture to continue to support and develop research in animal welfare, to improve the lives of production animals across Vietnam. The JMICAWE looks forward to continuing collaboration to support these developments.