Category: Animal Liberation


On April 28 2012, in Montichiari Italy, at 16: 15, in broad daylight, amidst a crowd of over 1,000 protestors, animal activists broke into the compound of Green Hill laboratory animal breeders and liberated 27 beagles. It was a bold, brazen, defiant, and iconic act of defiance, resistance, and liberation. Soon after, the Green Hill compound was closed and hundreds of beagles were adopted to loving homes.

I wrote various reports and updates on the Green Hill action (see here, here, here, and here). In September 2012, during a speaking tour of Italy (see here, here,  and here), I had the honor of speaking throughout Italy, of meeting with key Green Hill activists, of speaking to Green Hill campaigners and Italian animal rights activists, and meeting some of the Green Hill dogs.

At Green Hill Compound

At Green Hill Compound

Animal rights activist and director of a forthcoming documentary on the Green Hill liberation, Piercarlo Paderno, was kind enough to interview me for this film, an interview which is featured in this short clip from “Green Hill – A Story of Freedom.”

The narrative is in Italian, my own words are translated and subtitled, and the images of the bold raid on Green Hill tell the story in a universal language.

On May 24, a Sri Lankan Buddhist monk, Ven. Bowatte Indrarathana Thera, self-immolated near the main entrance of the Dalada Maligawa in Kandy, to protest cattle slaughter  in his country (see video here)  . He had conducted raids to investigate illegal slaughter houses and was a vocal critic of cattle slaughter. He died of severe burns to over 95 percent of his body. Buddhist monks clashed over possession of his remains. This stunning action raises the bar on animal activism and political commitment more than a bit.

Monk_Succumbs

Below follows an editorial from Ceylon Today:

Ban Cattle Slaughter Immediately

Political parties affiliated to the UPFA Government demanded that President Mahinda Rajapaksa take immediate action to ban cattle slaughter in the country.

Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) insisted the slaughter of cattle should be banned before the funeral of Ven. Bowatte Indrarathana Thera who had succumbed to the injuries sustained after setting himself ablaze at the main entrance to the Sri Dalada Maligawa in Kandy on 24 May.

General Secretary of the JHU, Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka, addressing the media in Colombo said, Indrarathana Thera’s death was not a suicide but a sacrifice of life for the sake of the country.He added that Indrarathana Thera had been involved in various campaigns against cattle slaughter, and the monk had clearly declared before setting himself on fire that no one should be held responsible for his action.

Speaking about his connection to the JHU, Minister Ranawaka said that Indrarathana Thera was a member of the Pelmadulla Pradeshiya Sabha, but he had lost his membership of the local authority as he had not attended the Pradeshiya Sabha meetings due to his social service engagements.

He went on to say that some foreign media are attempting to create a wrong impression about the monk’s death by stating it was suicide related to a religious issue.

Meanwhile, the Leader of the National Freedom Front (NFF), Wimal Weerawansa, has also requested President Rajapaksa to immediately ban the slaughtering of cattle in Sri Lanka.

In the wake of a Buddhist monk setting himself ablaze,  Weerawansa has written to President Rajapaksa saying that measures should be taken based on the incident. He had further pointed out that the majority of the country’s Buddhists and Hindus reject cattle slaughtering, and that only a small group among Sri Lankan society approves of it.

He stated that in India, which has a majority of Hindus, cattle slaughtering has been banned and that during festivals such as Thai Pongal, they express gratitude to the cow that plays an important role in the traditional Indian farmstead. As such, it is greatly disappointing that cattle slaughtering continues to take place in Sri Lanka, a country which boasts of an agricultural economy, Weerawansa added.

Meanwhile, the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) also said they will do their best to ensure that the wishes of  Indrarathana Thera are granted.

BBS General Secretary, Ven. Galaboda Aththe Gnanasara Thera, told the media that Indrarathana Thera’s death was not a suicide, but one of life sacrifice. He added, Indrarathana Thera had demanded that both the slaughter of cattle and unethical conversions be stopped and a suitable Constitution for Sri Lanka be set up, vowing that BBS will work towards those objectives.

“Although the Animal Welfare Bill was drafted, it did not become law. Indrarathana Thera continuously fought to pass the Bill and establish it as a law. There was a Bill to stop unethical conversions but that too has not become law,” he said.

Gnanasara Thera stressed that cattle slaughter should be stopped and the majority of the people in the country are also against it.

Another hopeful sign of how moral progress and animal advocacy continues in the 21st century version of the “cultural revolution” in contemporary China.

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MSN News, May 22

 China animal cruelty: A farmed brown bear with a metal corset

Courtesy of Peter Li. In China, bears are kept in tight cages and farmed for their bile.

More and more Chinese, especially young people, are calling out cruel practices, such as bear bile farming, in China.

Bile extracted from caged bears. Stray animals abused and neglected. Sharks‘ fins lopped off for soup.

Most people’s perception of China’s animal rights record is as grim as the fates of some of the animals living there. But a movement has quietly risen to challenge that.

“‘Animal welfare’ was a foreign term,” Peter Li, who works in China for Humane Society International, told MSN News in an e-mail. “It is now a well-known concept in China.”

In February, China Daily reported that the China Association of Traditional Chinese Medicine said at a press conference that “the process of extracting bear bile was as easy, natural and painless as turning on a tap. After the operation was done, bears went out to play happily.”

Bear bile is used in cosmetics and for medicinal purposes, such as preventing gallstones, but experts disagree over whether it works.

China animal cruelty: School children protest animal cruelty.

Courtesy of Peter Li. Young people in China have been particularly active in protesting animal cruelty.

After the association’s comments, a video went viral in China showing a much less sunny version of the bile extraction process. Animals Asia says the practice is cruel and invasive.

“Over the years, the campaign against bear bile farming has often been a sensitive one, but today it is clear that the issue is finally mainstream and even schools are engaged and involved, with support and numbers growing all the time,” Animals Asia Founder and CEO Jill Robinson said in a statement.

That response is one sign of a larger animal-welfare movement in China, Li believes. He said the country has “changed beyond recognition.”

According to Li, ordinary people in China, especially young people, are pressuring the government for anti-cruelty legislation. Even pet ownership has changed. Li said that regulations on pet ownership have softened and that dog culling has abated.

“The movement is strong and will grow stronger,” he wrote.

It’s not just young people motivating the changes. Animal rights in China has been endorsed by some of the country’s best-known celebrities.

Jackie Chan . . . has been speaking for tiger protection and against cruelty to farm bears,” Li wrote. “Yao Ming . . . is a towering moral figure. He calls on the Chinese people to stay away from shark fin soup, from ivory products and bear bile products.”

China animal cruelty: A government cat shelter in China

Courtesy of Peter Li. Stray animals are often abused in China, but that is changing now.

Groups like Humane Society International and Animals Asia are still pushing, however.

“The explosion of newspaper, TV, radio and Internet stories in China about bear bile farming has seen a massive online outcry demanding justice for the bears,” Robinson said. She said in the statement that when Animals Asia was working on its campaign against bear bile farming, the group was “inundated by people who wanted to take part.”

But Li sees a lot more work ahead if things like bear bile farms and the hunting of endangered species is going to end.

“A lot needs to be done, admittedly,” he said. “But, today, it causes a strong reaction when animal abuse is exposed.”

 Steven Best

(This piece was originally written for my good friend Adam, and earlier published on his blog, OccupyEssays)

“I’d like to share with you a revelation I’ve had, during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species and I realized that you aren’t actually mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with its surrounding environment, but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply, and multiply until every natural resource is consumed. The only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet. You are a plague.” Agent Smith, The Matrix (1999)

This essay tells a story. It is more than a little story, it is one of the biggest stories of all — the story of how humans evolved from one of the weakest to the most dangerous animal on the planet, from hunted to hunter, from vulnerable prey to top predator. This is the amazing saga of how one species became the first and only global species and in a very short time built a vast empire that has colonized the planet for need and greed, has created a new geological epoch – the human-dominated Anthropocene Era — and is threatening to bring down the planetary house.

Like all empires, the human empire rose, had glorious triumphs, but ultimately was a decadent and unsustainable colossus; and thus it also dies, ebbs, declines, and falls like the rest. But much more is at stake in this drama than an imperialist state and its colonies, for here we are talking about the entire species of Homo sapiens and its impact on biodiversity and the ecological dynamics of the planet as a whole.

 There is no scientific consensus to this story; there are, rather, a thousand narratives of the origins of Homo sapiens and the proper taxonomical tables and nomenclature. The prevailing cacophony of dispute arises partly for the empirical reasons (the science is uncertain and always changing), and also for political reasons (scientists, researchers, and historians have vested interests in challenging competing narratives and validating their own discoveries and narratives). Uncertainties aside, grasping the outlines of the human past are critical for understanding what kind of animal we are, illuminating the causes of current social and ecological crises, and creating viable future societies — if indeed such a project is still possible in a significant sense.

 Out of Africa and Out of Control

Our earliest ancestors evolved from an independent branch of the primate tree some 5-7 million years ago. Pressured by climate changes, they moved out of the Eastern and Southern forests of Africa and into the savannas where for various reasons they stood up on two legs and evolved into bipedal animals. These Australopithecines were 3 feet tall, hairy, ape-men — like apes in their relatively small brain size, and like humans in walking upright. After 2-3 million years, various australopithecine types evolved into diverse variations of the Homo genus, including species such as Homo habilis, Homo heidelbergensis, Homo erectus, Homo neanderthalensis, and Homo sapiens, and Homo sapiens sapiens (behaviorally modern, language-speaking humans). Along this dynamic, variegated evolutionary path, hominid brains grew increasingly large; their technologies and cultures became ever more sophisticated; and their populations continuously expanded in size and geographical reach as their ecological impact became more and more severe.

 There is no consensus on key questions, such as: What is the proper taxonomical language to characterize humans in relation to other primates? What alleged Homo types were true species rather than sub-species? What Homo species co-existed, and when? Did they evolve as one species in a linear fashion, as the “Out of Africa” thesis argues, or did various Homo types co-evolve and leave Africa at different times and in many migrations, as the “Multiregional” theory claims?[1]

 Whatever the diversity of human types and subsequent migration patterns, about 100,000 years ago (there is no consensus on this date either) Homo sapiens left the African continent to explore a vast, unknown world in which continents were conjoined by ice sheets. They migrated to Europe, Asia, Australia, Siberia, Indonesia, and into the Americas, establishing their empire throughout the globe. All the time multiplying, diversifying, and scattering across the continents, humans wasted no time in colonizing the world from north to south and from east to west.

Just one among tens of millions of existing animal species – many already dispatched to oblivion, thousands currently poised on the end, and thousands yet on the brink of extinction and some yet to be discovered – Homo sapiens has risen from humble mammalian and primate origins to become the most dominant, violent, predatory, and destructive animal on the planet. Nearly everywhere it journeyed and lived, Homo sapiens wrought social and ecological devastation, extinction crises, and chronic warfare.  Continue reading

Monkeys apparently have identified the enemy primate who is encroaching on their territory and exploiting and killing other primates for entertainment, “research,” and bush meat. The articles below provides some provocative evidence than other animals are intelligent, rebel against human dominance, attack humans with violent intent, and do so in deliberative and reflective ways. 

From my own experience in visiting South Africa on numerous occasions, I can confirm that baboons are crafty, cunning, strong, and formidable animals who do indeed invade and ransack homes, steal food, pounce on cars, and attack if provoked or angry.

May this be the beginning of an advanced struggle that topples the Human Reich and returns the planet to the control of superior primates, to the planet of the apes.

Primates of the world unite! You have nothing to lose but your habitats, cages, and chains!

Connor Simpson, The Atlantic Wire, February 3, 2013

We always knew this day would come. Someone call Charlton Heston. The real rise of the planet of the apes has begun in Saudi Arabia. A group of baboons are terrorizing a village with coordinated attacks on empty houses. The Arab News reports a “minor war” has broken out between the residents of the village Kiad in Saudi Arabia, and the baboons that inhabit the nearby mountains. The baboons are intelligent and “easily match wits” with village residents, who said the baboons are operating according to “studied plans”:

“It’s a daily game of hide and seek. The baboons are targeting empty houses and are well aware of what they are doing. The assault on the village is not random, as some believe. They proceed according to studied plans. That’s why their attacks do not fail. For example, imagine a resident who is absent from their home for a period of time. Even though it’s just one day, he is surprised to return to find his home in disarray.”

Monkeys-Attack-Car

The baboons normally live in the mountains, but they come down into the village to look for food in the winter. Some residents believe the market, where fresh fruit and vegetables are sometimes left out to rot, is what draws them to town. At one point, Kiad residents tried leaving behind poison bananas, but the monkeys figured out what they were doing and stopped eating them… 

Now, there’s no reason to panic yet. But rumors of revolution began earlier this week when a group of monkeys ransacked a town in Indonesia. There does not appear to be a connection between the two attacks. It’s totally random that two groups of moneys have waged attacks on humans within the last week. They are unconnected, unrelated events. There is no sophisticated crime syndicate being coordinated by a hyper-intelligent leader primate, like, say, prominent Justice League villain Gorilla Grodd. Just totally random. Yep, no monkey uprising here.

Rise_of_the_planet_1663957a

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I interrupt my regularly scheduled apocalyptic programming to report more good news out of China.

By a strong of luck, a truck carrying 600 cats fattened for slaughter crashed on route to the restaurant where they would be served as fleshy delicacies, regardless of the hideous and nauseating condition which they typically arrive in the long and torturous ride to Hell’s Kitchen. Unfortunately, and 100 feline victims died in the crash, some escaped to an indeterminate fate.

But experienced Chinese animal activists rushed to the scene to save hundreds of survivors, liberated them from the truck at their own response, and are caring for them until all can be adopted.

An activist reports that the response by compassionate Chinese citizens was swift and decisive. We can safely assume all surviving cats will be adopted and homed, and while some may remain round and fat, they will likely lead comfortable and content lives, experience  experience human love rather than hate, and die of natural causes rather than being murdered, butchered, and stabbed with knives and forks before shoved down the pipes of human gluttony and indifference.

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RT News, January, 17, 2013

Cats being cared for after truck crash

Up to 600 plump white cats escaped death when the truck carrying them to be slaughtered crashed and they were rescued by animal rights activists in central China.

Volunteers hauled the cats from the overturned lorry in the central city of Changsha. Around one hundred felines, however, died in the accident while others escaped, says Xu Chenxin of the Changsha Small Animal Protection Association.

The cats, most of them plump and white, were heading to restaurants in the southern Guandong province, the China Daily reported.

“It was easy to tell they were meant to be eaten, from looking at the crates you could tell their owners didn’t care if they were alive or dead. When I arrived, the truck was piled high with more than 50 crates. The cats had travelled for days, without water or food, and the smell was dreadful” Xu told AFP on Monday.

The volunteer group which recued the felines negotiated with one of the trucks drivers to buy the animals for 10,000 yuan ($1,600) and they were now awaiting adoption.

“We’ve already had inquiries from families across Changsha,” said Xu.

Activists often come to the rescue of animals in China. In one of the biggest occasions they bought around 500 dogs intended for the dining table from a convoy of trucks on a highway in Beijing in 2011.

China does not have laws to protect non-endangered animals such as cats and dogs. Although cats are not commonly served up as dinner in Chinese restaurants, some establishments, especially in the south, will put cat on the menu.

AFP Photo/China Out

The nature of evolution is speciation — to produce diversity of life, even in the harshest and most challenging conditions. Indeed, after the five previous major extinctions events on earth, nature responded not only by restabilizing ecological dynamics, but by proliferating even more life and enhancing biodiversity such as happened during the Cambrian Explosion.

The diversity of life involves not only the proliferation of plant and animal species, but also of unique human cultures and languages. At all levels, we are currently losing the rich diversity of biological, cultural, and linguistic forms; in a profound sense, we can no longer speak of “evolution” but rather must understand that planet earth is undergoing a profound devolutionary process in the sense that diversity of all kinds is rapidly receding not advancing.

Thus, in the midst of the sixth extinction crisis in the history of this planet that is currently underway, we are also witness to the precipitous loss of cultural and linguistic diversity as well, as we leave the prior Holocene epoch and enter the new Anthropocene era. This new and emergent geological epoch is  defined by the dominant role played by humans, not the natural world, in altering the planet, and clearly not in desirable ways. Beginning in the mid-nineteenth century, the combined forces of the modernization, the Industrial Revolution, fossil-fuel addiction, a grow-or-die metastasizing system of global capitalism, the spread of agribusiness and rising world meat consumption, human overpopulation, mass culture, rampant consumerism, and other forces have brought about habitat loss, rainforest destruction, desertification, climate change, and species extinction.

In fact since the emergence of agricultural society 10-15,000 years ago, the now dominant mode of production began a war of extermination against hunting and gathering tribes that preserved traditional nomadic and non-hierarchical life ways, as opposed to the growth-oriented, hierarchical farming societies based on domesticating nature and animals, obsessive concerns with control, expansion, war, and conquest.

The war still being waged against indigenous peoples, first nations, and other non-modern/non-Western cultures certainly fully advanced with colonialism five centuries ago, but ultimately is a continuation of the exterminism agricultural society launched against all peoples who did not conform to the pathological imperatives of “civilization” and “progress.”

While from the standpoint of the earth and nonhuman animal species, the ideal would be for Homo rapiens as a whole to die off as rapidly as possible. But the alternative to what most humans find repugnant and nauseating, for those who believe we still have a right to inhabit this planet even if we prove we do not have the ability to harmonize our societies with animal communities and the natural world as a whole, is to do everything possible to resist global capitalism and its war against tribal and indigenous peoples everywhere.

For not only is it vital that indigenous peoples and ancient lifeways be preserved in their own right against the genocidal onslaught of global capitalism, and that we have more diverse languages, cultures, and lifeways than market societies and forces of cultural homogenization will tolerate. It is also crucial, if we want to preserve what biodiversity is left, that we protect and preserve premodern and non-traditional peoples.

One obvious reason — although this has often been overstated in romanticized ways — is that they retain a more reverential ethic toward the earth, they have a far deeper connectedness to life and land, they value tradition over novelty and create far more sustainable cultures, and that they are far more capable of caring for the earth and animals that predatory and rapacious capitalist societies.

Despite the fact that indigenous peoples (such as the Clovis Indians who first inhabited North America) have often throughout history overshot ecological limits and driven animals into extinction, they nonetheless are clearly more suited “custodians” of the earth than the IMF, World Bank, WTO, ExxonMobil, Shell, Monsanto, Cargill, Maxxam, Du Pont, Japanese whalers, NGOs, ignorant narcissistic Western consumers, and so on. 

As the essay below makes clear, the areas now highest in biodiversity are the same areas inhabited by indigeous peoples (and this is partly so because plant and animal species are struggling to adjust to escape the ravages of climate change). Thus, the key to preserving what biodiversity remains amidst the rapidly unfolding sixth extinction crisis in the history of the planet is to preserve the remaining cultural and linguistic diversity — to support, help defend, and sustain the indigenous peoples inhabiting the areas with the most dense and diverse plant and animal species.

Thus, here we see yet another vivid example of the politics of total liberation, and how the multiple struggles to save humans, animals, and nature from the devastating effects of the capitalist-dominated Anthropocene era are ultimately one struggle ad must be formulated in theory and practice accordingly.

So there are two main options to save biodiversity: either through the collapse of “civilization” and the extinction of the human species, or through advancing the only politics suitable for the twenty-first century and era of global social and ecological crisis — a politics of total liberation that preserves biodiversity by preserving cultural and linguistic diversity. And this, unavoidably, demands a total war against global capitalism and the sundry institutions and forces of destruction bound up with advanced market societies and this nihilistic world system.

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By  NEWS JUNKIE POST, Oct 11, 2012

An unprecedented study of global biological and cultural diversity paints a dire picture of the state of our species.

Like the amphibians that climb to ever tinier areas at higher altitudes to avoid being extinguished by global warming, most of the world’s species currently huddle in a tiny fraction of the Earth’s surface, and most human cultural diversity — as measured by the number of languages — occupies essentially the same tiny fraction of the planet.

We are dying.

A scientist would never say it quite this way. Instead, he would tell you that the world’s animal and plant species are disappearing 1,000 times faster than ever in recorded history. He might add that some areas of the world have lost 60% of their languages since the mid-1970’s, and 90% of the world’s languages are expected to vanish by the year 2099.

In Haitian Creole, we would yell “Amwe!” (Help!), and this would be right and proper.

As ever, the best scientific studies merely quantify what everybody has known all along. Life, in general, has suffered horribly from the runaway spread of European values and the notions of progress that began with the Industrial Revolution. A sharp bit of mathematics finally brings forth the maps that expose the poverty of the world’s major carbon emitters and the little wealth that remains in those parts of the world where the indigenous are making their final stand.

High-biodiversity wilderness areas

There currently exist very few places on Earth that could be considered intact. The researchers found only five such areas, which are numbered 36-40 on the biodiversity map and colored in shades of green.

These are, by number: 36: Amazonia; 37: Congo Forests; 38: Miombo-Mopane Woodlands and Savannas; 39: New Guinea; 40: North American Deserts.

Together these intact spots amounted to only about six percent of the terrestrial surface but were home to 17 percent of vascular plants and eight percent of vertebrates that could not be found anywhere else. The same areas were the refuge for 1,622 of the world’s 6,900 languages, with little New Guinea topping the chart at 976 tongues.

The only glimmer of hope from the study was the discovery that, contrary to what conservationists might presume, a place does not have to be untouched by humans to serve as a refuge for the world’s plants and animals. Instead, habitats must be handled in the right way, and more than anything, they must be protected from the kinds of blows dealt by industrialization.

Biodiversity hotspots

The researchers additionally identified 35 “biodiversity hotspots” (numbered 1-35 and colored in shades of yellow to red on the biodiversity map), defined as places with a high density of endemic species despite having lost over 70% of natural habitat.

These were, by number: 1: Atlantic Forest; 2: California Floristic Province; 3: Cape Floristic Region; 4: Caribbean Islands; 5: Caucasus; 6: Cerrado; 7: Chilean Winter Rainfall-Valdivian Forests; 8: Coastal Forests of Eastern Africa; 9: East Melanesian Islands; 10: Eastern Afromontane; 11: Forests of East Australia; 12: Guinean Forests of West Africa; 13: Himalaya; 14: Horn of Africa; 15: Indo-Burma; 16: Irano-Anatolian; 17: Japan; 18: Madagascar and the Indian Ocean Islands; 19: Madrean Pine-Oak Woodlands; 20: Maputaland-Pondoland-Albany; 21: Mediterranean Basin; 22: Mesoamerica; 23: Mountains of Central Asia; 24: Mountains of Southwest China; 25: New Caledonia; 26: New Zealand; 27: Philippines; 28: Polynesia-Micronesia; 29: Southwest Australia; 30: Succulent Karoo; 31: Sundaland; 32: Tropical Andes; 33: Tumbes-Chocó-Magdalena; 34: Wallacea; 35: Western Ghats and Sri Lanka.

The biodiversity hotspots amounted only to about two percent of the Earth’s surface, but they were home to a whopping 50% of plant species and 43% of vertebrates that could be found nowhere else. Again, there was a stunning correlation of biodiversity with culture, with the hotspots being home to 3,202 of the world’s languages.

Biodiversity is being lost, but what’s far worse is that the ability to express this loss is vanishing. For example, 1,553 of the languages in hotspots were spoken by only 10,000 or fewer people, and 544 were spoken by fewer than 1,000 people. Ironically, the American researchers who did this study are now regarded as experts on biodiversity, although the only real experts on how to maintain biodiversity in places occupied by humans are the world’s indigenous.

The logical conclusion to take from this study is that modern science, with all its sophisticated technology, is completely trumped by the thousands of years of experimentation by the world’s indigenous, although their findings have been transmitted by oral tradition and other simple means. To be fair, it isn’t so much the fault of modern science as the fault of the industrialized world, which worships power, greed, and the absurdity of exponential growth.

One cannot disdain all other living beings, grind mountains to extract minerals, build roads without a thought for habitat fragmentation, design gardens to please only human aesthetics, or harvest monocultures that serve solely human needs, and expect one’s world to continue for long. There is room for humans at Earth’s banquet, but only those who have lived in place long enough to have learned the contours of their terrain, the language of their plant and animal neighbors and, more than anything, the needs of non humans.

When a shaman leaves a lock of his hair where he has uprooted a medicinal cactus, it is not a bit of imbecility, but a humble acknowledgement that, for each living thing taken, one must give a bit of oneself, however small. For centuries humans have spilled their most beloved animals’ blood to the earth to acknowledge the cyclical aspects of life in preparation for battle and celebration of life’s milestones. These are not concepts that a pharmaceutical corporation could ever understand.

As for every other scientific report, this one concludes that yet more study will be needed, but what is needed, and urgently so, is more humility, because as the world’s indigenous cultures go, so does all humanity.

I never thought the day would come I could find a pretext to support to use of lethal US drone planes, but that day has arrived. Amidst the sixth extinction crisis in the history of the planet, this one entirely human-caused, as rhinos and elephants are being butchered into extinction for their lucrative horns worth more than gold on the international market, and as high-tech organized crime syndicates are leading the slaughter, only pacifist traitors to animals, deluded utopian fools, and rhino-killers themselves would take issue with Mr. Vivier’s point that “radical solutions are needed.”

Even armed struggle pitting anti-poachers against poachers has not done enough to stop the implacable slaughter of rhinos, a species expected to be extinct within two years. The war to save the rhinos therefore needs to escalate to another level. From armed struggle to rocket launchers to drone planes, these are means of extensional self-defense, tactics that rhinos themselves would use if they could. But dangerous creatures they are, they are no match for helicopters, mercenaries with machine guns and hatchets, and Asian markets driven by impotent men seeking penis power through the phantasmagoria of ivory aphrodisiac.

Animals under attack in a fierce war of extinction have to rely on human beings with enough sense to grasp the realities of commodified slaughter, merciless killers, and the utter irrelevance and treachery of pacifism in these apocalyptic conditions. But alas, the subjective and objective conditions of struggle are nowhere near advanced enough to take appropriate action and save rhinos, elephants, and countless thousands of other species from immanent extinction.

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Mail Guardian, December 26, 2012

A rhino farmer is planning to use surveillance drones designed for the US military to combat poachers who are driving the animals towards extinction.

Poaching-rhinos

Clive Vivier, co-founder of the Zululand rhino reserve in KwaZulu-Natal, said he was granted permission by the US state department to buy the state-of-the-art Arcturus T-20 drone.

He is now seeking clearance from local civil aviation authorities to put 30 of the drones in South African skies.

Radical solutions are needed, he argued, at the end of a year that saw a record of more than 650 rhinos slaughtered for their horns to meet demand from the Far East.

Vivier said the true figure might be closer to 1 000, a significant dent in a population of about 20 000.

“We’re now eating into our capital of rhino,” he said. “From here they are heading rapidly towards extinction. Despite all our efforts, we’re just historians recording the demise of a species. We don’t have the numbers on the ground to see people and stop them [from] killing the animals.”

Around 400 rhinos were killed this year in the world-famous Kruger National Park, which spans nearly two million hectares – impossible for a limited number of rangers to guard effectively. Vivier estimates it as the equivalent of a town with one policeman for every 100 000 houses, “all with the doors and windows and open and rhino horn inside”.

He continued: “We need to change the rules of the game. We need technology. The only thing that can see these people before they do the dirty deed is surveillance drones.”

The answer, he believes, is the unmanned Arcturus T-20, which, with a 17ft wingspan, can fly for 16 hours without refuelling at a height of 4572 meters. Its lack of noise and infrared camera would be invaluable for spotting poachers at night. “It can tell whether a man is carrying a shovel or firearm and whether he has his finger on the trigger or not,” said Vivier (65). “We can see the poacher but he can’t see us. We’re good at arresting them when we know where they are. Otherwise it’s a needle in a haystack.”

Vivier has spent two years in talks with civil aviation officials and is hopeful that he will soon get the green light for a six-month trial. He proposes 10 of the drones for Kruger park, and a further 20 for other vulnerable reserves in South Africa.

He estimates that each drone would cost roughly $300 000 (R2.5-million) to keep in the air for two years, making a total of around $9-million (R77-million).

“The drones are economical to fly and will get us information at a very low cost. We need this technology to put us in a position to catch the guys. We need to do it before they kill rhino. The drone is, in my opinion, the only solution. It is highly sophisticated and can see things no other technology can.”

After the worst rhino poaching year on record in South Africa, air technology is seen as a crucial preventative step. Earlier this month, a reconnaissance plane with surveillance equipment including thermal imaging began patrolling over Kruger park.

But Vivier said such alternatives lack the Calfornia-built Arcturus T-20’s capability. “The smaller ones are like using a bucket to put out a fire at the Empire State building. We need fire engines. We’re now an inferno. If we don’t wake up and do something, the world will lose the rhino.”

He appealed to the US, United Kingdom and other countries to help raise the necessary funds. “The company making the drones has to be paid and we don’t have the money. We need the best technology because the criminals are sharp. We’ve had approval from the US state department and we’re trying to work with them. It’s a world problem and the rest of the world needs to help us.”

Vivier is among a group of rhino farmers who believe that legalising the trade in horn would thwart the black market and reduce poaching. Several conservation groups disagree and call for measures that will reduce demand in countries such as Vietnam, where horn is seen as a delicacy with health benefits.

Ike Phaahla, a spokesperson for South African National Parks, welcomed moves to put eyes in the sky. “In the past three months that is a strategy we have decided to use,” he said. “We are able to use the intelligence to intercept the poachers, although you can’t have a silver bullet for this kind of thing.”

This only touches on the surface of a growing problem (see this past post, for instance).  I encourage readers to submit more documentation of these sick fucks who masquerade as “artists” in order to document yet another aspect of the Animal Holocaust Industry comprised of opportunists who make careers (vivisectors, “artists,” academics, and others) off animal exploitation (which unfortunately includes nearly all animal studies, “critical” or otherwise). The more of this demented “art” I see, the more I fear this is not a “trend,” but the institutionalization of a new genre that lays out the welcome mat for any pretentious sociopath seeking entry into the “art” world with all the fame and money it can bring.

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Randy Malumud, The Chronicle of Higher Education, July 23, 2012

Vengeful Tiger, Glowing Rabbit

A photograph from the “Perishables” series, in which models wear parts of raw, dead chickens.

Americans do weird things with animals.

Perhaps our imperious stance toward other species and the rest of the living world grows out of the same sensibility embodied in the 19th-century ideology of Manifest Destiny, invoked to justify unbounded American expansionism.

Today, with our having achieved geopolitical dominance, the ethos persists in our drive to conquer nature. More habitats must be bulldozed, more wetlands repurposed, more wilderness plundered in the name of American progress.

We have a dysfunctional and sometimes paranoid compulsion to disarm the threat we see emanating from nature as other. Consciously or subconsciously, our cultural exploitation of animals often facilitates this agenda of disempowering the nonhuman realm. We seem to embrace Freud’s expression that a civilized society is one in which “wild and dangerous animals have been exterminated.”

When we encounter other animals, we often selfishly abuse and manipulate them. When a person and an animal meet, the animal generally ends up somehow the worse for it. We simply do not understand them, and we are poorer for that.

Our cultural interactions and visual representations are ecologically significant. The way we relate to animals in culture affects how we relate to them in nature. The imaginative exploitation of animals foreshadows more-literal and destructive incursions into their world.

People’s weird constructions of other animals are ways of figuratively exterminating them: defusing their wildness and “danger,” transforming their powers into harmless, clownish impotence. Eduardo Kac, for instance, created what he calls a GFP Bunny (transgenically modifying a rabbit with green fluorescent protein produced by jellyfish) that glows in the dark. Such ecological irreverence typifies the conceit that we can do what we want with animals, because … we can do what we want with animals.

The GFP Bunny is a rabbit implanted with green fluorescent protein (from jellyfish) so that it glows.

What might the world look like if we could transcend the demeaning, received ideas about other animals and try seeing them in ethically and ecologically reasonable ways? “What is at stake ultimately,” Erica Fudge writes in Animal (Reaktion, 2002), “is our own ability to think beyond ourselves.” Continue reading

Recorded in Barcelona, Spain, September 2012

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