Category: Violence


A disturbing update from the front lines of the war on animals, with elephants and rhinos the principle targets, certainly in Africa, and headed rapidly for extinction. A new study described below confirms one’s fears that the inexplicable fetish for ivory, its high monetary value aside, still principally driven by Chinese market demand (the same country also in midst of revolutionary change in its views toward animals reflected in scores of liberations of cats and dogs headed for slaughter and rise in animal advocacy generally).

There is no measure too costly, no action too extreme, no coordinated effort too large to stop this escalating holocaust of  rhinos and elephants, It is clearly high time to defend these majestic animals by any means necessary by shutting down lines of demand and supply, through a ruthless counter-war on poachers, via draconian penalties for consumers and peddlers of ivory, through drone attacks on crime syndicates descending from helicopters for their unconscionable kill, and with crackdowns on state complacency or complicity anywhere in Africa and Asia.

This is a dramatic window into the sixth extinction crisis in the history of the planet unfolding before our eyes; may we do more than watch this continuing saga of rhinos and elephants dropped by guns and machetes until all are wiped off the continent, with nothing remaining of their millions of years of evolution but macabre carvings and statues and graveyards.

The articles linked below are well worth reading, and anyone who doubts the vicious and implacable greed and violence driving the war on elephants and rhinos should read through the valuable New York Times archives.

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Jaymi Heimbuch, Tree Hugger, January 17, 2013

If you’ve been following ivory poaching in the news lately, you may be wondering if there is any hope at all for elephants.

Just yesterday, the Washington Post reported, “Custom officials seized 638 pieces of illegal elephant ivory estimated to be worth $1.2 million at Kenya’s main port, evidence of what wildlife officials described Wednesday as a growing threat to East Africa’s elephants.”

And just two weeks ago, on January 5, eleven elephants were killed in one massacre by a gang of poachers at Bisadi area of Tsavo East National Park.

The problem is vast and complex, but part of the reason for the growing crisis is the booming economy in China. As the BBC reports:

“China is the main buyer of ivory in the world,” said Dr Esmond Martin, a conservationist and researcher who has spent decades tracking the movement of illegal ivory around the world. He has recently returned from Nigeria, where he conducted a visual survey of ivory on sale in the city of Lagos. His findings are startling.Dr Martin and his colleagues counted more than 14,000 items of worked and raw ivory in one location, the Lekki Market in Lagos.

The last survey, conducted at the same market in 2002, counted about 4,000 items, representing a three-fold increase in a decade.

It is enough to make us wonder if there is any possibility of saving elephants as a species in the face of such rampant killing and rising demand for ivory. Save the Elephants, a prominent nonprofit working to bring attention to poaching issues and Africa’s elephants, just released a 14-year study of elephants in northern Kenya, concluding that adult elephants are more likely to be killed by humans than to die from natural causes.

Science Magazine reports,

“Clearly it is the most detailed and comprehensive demographic analysis undertaken for any elephant population, and perhaps any wildlife population, at least in Africa,” says Norman Owen-Smith, an ecologist at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. It provides a base “for modeling the potential impacts of increased poaching” on other African elephant populations, which are also suffering from illegal killing.

The study notes that in 2000, there were 38 males over 30 years old in the study population, but by 2011 there were just 12, with seven males maturing into that age group. That means only five of the original 38 males over 30 years old were still alive 11 years after the study began. And by the same year, 56% of the elephants found dead (and few elephant carcasses are actually found) had been poached.

The rise in poaching is not only a concern of conservationists, but also tour operators. The loss of elephants in Kenya means a loss of revenue for people running sight-seeing and safari tours. And the businesses are responding to events like the massacre in Tsavo East National Park. AllAfrica reported this week, “The umbrella body Kenya Association of Tour Operators wants a new wildlife bill to be drafted and the government to take major steps to address the poaching menace.”


After National Geographic’s impressive expose, Blood Ivory, a renewed attention has been brought to the serious issue of poaching, a problem on the rise and reaching a disturbing level of intensity as Save the Elephants has proven with their study.

But there is a glimmer of hope. Elephants have proven that they can recover their numbers if given a chance. The elephants studied by Save the Elephants experienced a small baby boom after the intense poaching of the 70s and 80s lessened.

However, the renewed pressure of poaching has stopped that rebuilding of numbers, and could have a long-term impact on the species, with the loss of important information passed down from older generations of elephants to younger generations, including where to find water, food, and other vital resources in a harsh landscape.

In a recent conversation with National Geographic, Iain Douglas-Hamilton notes that losing older elephants means the loss of the “memory bank” and a lower potential for survival for younger elephants:

Studies elsewhere in Africa show that families which lose large numbers of matriarchs do much less successfully in later life. They have a low survival rate. In the time of drought, for example, the really smart and experienced matriarchs may take their families to a completely different place, only because they’re experienced. Maybe they remember their mothers took them to a place like that when they were young. That means sometimes that they have to take a counterintuitive decision. Like maybe in a really drought-stricken area you’d have to go deeper into the worst area to get through to the other side. That’s actually happened in Tarangire, as reported in a study which showed that the really old matriarchs knew what to do. Young elephants tend to have a higher rate of survival if they have good leadership.

So, are elephants doomed? The fact is, there is hope. There is always hope. But unless something changes, and fast, to protect elephants from poaching, that hope is dying with the older generations of elephants.

The New York Times has created a landing page for all their stories on the ivory trade, making it easy to explore the issue.

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Also see:

The Elephant Killing Fields

Vatican Stand on Religious Use of Ivory Would Help Slow Illegal Killings of Elephants

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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 lecture was given at a former-slaughterhouse of Aprilia, Italy (now a cultural center) on September 6th, 2012. This talk was videotaped by the Veggie Channel and uploaded to their videopage and to You Tube.

Photos of the talk

 

Veganismo: La Guerra Que No Podemos Perder (Veganism: The War We Cannot Lose)

http://vimeo.com/44804346

La Evolución Moral y los Derechos Animales (Moral Evolution and Animal Rights)

El Movimiento de Derechos Animal Global (The Global Animal Rights Movement)

Italian Facebook Steve Best Rome Lecture Tour Event Page

Per Animalia Veritas Steve Best Event Page

“Interview with Steve Best,” Asinus Novus

“Steve Best in Italy: From Philosophy to Action,” by the blog (and more), Asinus Novus. The writers provided a nice summary of my talks and main ideas.

A Key Meeting,” Arielvegangfashinblogspot.com; a refreshingly intelligent, fair, and incisive essay on my work, thank you Ariel.

“Now Enough,” Barbara Balsalmo

 

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I wish to thank everyone in Italy for inviting me to speak again this year, and for being such gracious hosts, fantastic activists. and amazing people. There are dozens, perhaps over a hundred of people who made this tour possible and joyful. I cannot possibly name them all. I do however, wish to offer a very special thank you to:

Kostia Troinia and Barbara Balsamo for inviting me and being the principal organizers of my talks in Rome. You are the best!

Marcos Aragao for your excellent photos.

VeggieChannel.com for your tremendous effort in interviewing me, taping my lectures in Turin, Rome, and Latina, and for having the courage to post my talks on your channel.

The kind women at Asinus Novus for showing enough interest in my work to summarize my talks and interview me; it was a pleasure, thank you.

Per Animalia Veritas; thank you for your activism, support, and bold defense of militant direct action!

The ReWild Cruelty Free Club; you guys rock and make the best vegan food!

Paolo Trono and his club, Vegan Città di Latina (a former abattoir transformed into a space for music, lectures, and culture!) in which I gave my final speech in the Rome area before moving north to Brescia; thank you for your kindness, the great audience, and the great free food and beer!

Piercarlo Paderno for inviting and hosting me in Brescia. You are a great new friend and did amazing work to help liberate the Greenhill dogs.

The Occupy Greenhill movement (see here and here) for their bold act of liberation that will go down in history as one of the most important actions of this century. In their post-Greenhill reorganization, the group is now called Animal Amnesty, and will keep opening chained fences and locked doors!

This talk given at the Sala Underground, Barcelona, Spain, September 26, 2012. It was a blast to perform with animal liberation bands, Major Arcana and Blendeskil!

This talk was given to a packed house in the great vegan restaurant, the “Rewild Cruelty-Free Club” in Rome, Italy, on September 4, 2012. The talk was organized by Per Animalia Veritas, an organization that promotes anti-speciesism, veganism, and militant direct action tactics as necessary conditions for creating revolutionary change worth fighting for. This is a video was shot and made available on the web by Veggie Channel.com.

Photos of the talk

Talk to the International Animal Rights Conference 2012, Luxembourg, September 16

Part I: Beginning Sections (apologies for often poor sound quality)

Part II: Conclusion

Vivisection is fraud; “biomedical research” is sadism masked as “science”; and animal experimentation yields but a surrealist collage of meaningless data to pimp for the true numbers measured in profit and durrencies that float Big Pharma and the global vivisection-industrial complex far above the regulative power of the state and the norms of accountability.

Bullfighting involves a gang of puerile cowards in pink and purple tights playing at being “men.”

Hunters are dickless eunuchs who compensate for cruel shortcomings of nature and a deep inferiority complex by killing innocent animals in a perverse spectacle and rigged game dignified as a “sport.”

And now, for the last two decades or so, an increasing number of intellectually impoverished and morally bereft troglodytes are joining the worst protoplasmic scum of humanity in sordid kinship, in a profane bond of base bloodletting disguised as metaphysics, deep thinking, and spiritual depth.

Assholes posing as artists seek to transcend their inner vacuity through exercising the pathetic human will to power over animals and sublimating their bloodlust into rarified concepts with alleged enlightening effect. For these narcissistic lunatics think that clichéd concepts +  acts of torturing and killing animals = profound “art.”

They pretend that the heinous evil of their demented acts is either non-existent (the aesthetic trumps the moral) or is inapplicable to them as artists. These “higher types” arrogate to themselves the authority for a “teleological suspension of the ethical” (Kierkegaard); bound by rules but their own, these mavericks must sail “beyond good and evil” (Nietzsche), as do, but instead of blazing toward endless horizons and blue seas they run aground on sandbars of bodies rising out of  a cove of blood. “Animal artists” — these pompous posers, these putrid specimens of feculent humanity — are as insecure, weak, power-hungry, misguided, demented, and fraudulent as their bastard brethren weilding scalpels, swords, and guns.

It is time to call this “work” what it is – utter shit and pernicious crap that reeks of arrogance and ignorance.  “Ars Animalis” is the antithesis of anything remotely related to the beautiful rather than the ugly, to the sublime rather than to the sewer.

Apparently, this outrageous stunt below is real; as a sheep’s life might depend on the outcome of a democratic vote, here is one ballot you might want to sign. In my view, the “artists” should be locked into the guillotine and the sheep allowed to ram it until the blade drops on their fat jowels and pernicious heads which wouldl look more appealing in a crimson-colored basket than on their repellent Homo rapiens bodies.

Wait, sorry, that is not democratic, and thus vulgar, barbarian, and uncivilized. So, after voting for the sheep, let’s have a popular assembly and forum on whether the “artists” — Iman Rezai and Rouven Materne — should be allowed to live …. or … (the guillitine is too easy, too weak in impact and dramatic effect) be pushed from the tallest building in the world onto a street-sized canvas, to make the most beautiful painting ever beheld by human eyes.

SB

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Thursday, April 26, 2012

13.7 Billion Years

Ars Animalis | Die Guillotine

German artists will behead a sheep with a guillotine, unless you say no. You have 21 days left to vote.
[Animals were there at the beginning of art. But how did we get from Chauvet to “Dogs Playing Poker” and beyond? That’s one of the questions 13.7 will be asking with this month’s series, “Ars Animalis“—art of the animals.] Two students from the Berlin University of the Arts are crowdsourcing the conclusion of a performance piece entitled Die Guillotine (The Guillotine) that features said guillotine and (at least for now) a live sheep.

On their website, the artists, Iman Rezai and Rouven Materne, ask visitors a single question: “Soll dieses Schaf getötet werden?” (“Should this sheep be killed?”)

“The guillotine is the most compact reflection of our society,” says Materne in the German-only video, adding that the intentionally provocative work is a “criticism of current morality.”

As of this writing, the online poll has 147,473 respondents answering yes and 289,0463 voting no. Voters have the next 21 days to decide the fate of the helpless sheep.

Animal cruelty in art and culture is not new. One could point to a wide array of cultural events connected to the torture of animals. Bullfighting comes to mind, or any of a number of culture-specific rituals throughout history involving the death of animals, even human sacrifice.

More recently, at the Trapholt Art Museum in Kolding, Denmark, in 2003, the artist Marco Evaristti put live goldfish in blenders, inviting visitors to press the “on” button to kill the fish.

This theme, in fact, was an early one on 13.7 Billion Years. On March 14, 2008, just a few days after this blog was launched, the post was about the artist Guillermo Vargas Habacuc, who supposedly captured an abandoned street dog, tied him up in an art gallery and left him there to die of hunger and thirst while visitors watched his slow death.

Is this art?
Should live animals be used in art?
Does Die Guillotine make a point? If so, what is it?
Will the fate of the sheep say something about society?

Add your comments here.

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