Tag Archives: wildlife

The politics of cats

Cats have become political. No wannabe prime minister who would dare suggest they did not like cats, though Rishi Sunak has yet to declare. Budding politicians no longer kiss babies but they do stroke cats. Even Sir Ed Davey kneels subserviently in the presence of cats.

There are people who believe that cats should be locked up to preserve wildlife. Indeed, the majority of American cats are not allowed outdoors, a move encouraged by the American Bird Conservatory and others. The EU has dismissed restrictions on the right of felines to roam, though one German town has implemented a summer ban.

Wildlife is under pressure. Although the RSPB says there is no scientific evidence that cats are responsible for the decline bird populations in the UK, it is perhaps only a matter of time before politicians are lobbied to keep all cats indoors.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 8 Comments

The Ivory Bill passes the Lords

On Tuesday 13th November the Government’s Ivory Bill had its third reading in the Lords and passed through to receive Royal Assent. This was a landmark piece of legislation to go some way towards protecting elephants, especially the African elephant, who are poached for their ivory. Currently approximately 20,000 elephants a year are still being slaughtered for their ivory. This unsustainable rate equates to one every 25 minutes. We have now reached the stage where more elephants are being killed by poachers, than live elephant calves are being born every year.

The aim of the Bill was to take most of the value out of trading in ivory and so make ivory objects worthless. All import and export of ivory, whether raw or in objects, is banned with four exceptions: –

  • Pre-1918 items of outstanding artistic value and pre-1918 portrait miniatures with a surface area of less than 320 square centimetres;
  • Pre-1975 musical instruments where the ivory is less than 20% of the total volume of the instrument;
  • Pre-1947 items with low ivory content with less than 10% ivory of the total volume; and
  • Acquisitions between qualifying museums

All items which qualify as exceptions must now be registered and have a licensed certificate which accompanies that item throughout its future ownership. There are heavy fines and the possibility of imprisonment for anyone found to be illegally trading in ivory.

Posted in Parliament | Also tagged and | 2 Comments

Now is the time for an ivory ban

Think of Africa, and you think of elephants. But sadly, these glorious and magnificent animals are under serious threat from poaching. It is estimated that one elephant is killed every fifteen minutes by poachers who are part of a chain of criminal activity that makes immense profits from selling ivory tusks onto the global market. This illegal ivory is distributed all around the world with routes mirroring those of drugs, guns and trafficked people. It is shocking to find that more raw and carved ivory is traded through the EU to …

Posted in Europe / International and News | Also tagged and | 1 Comment

We have laws to protect wildlife so why don’t they work?

While on holiday last week, the view from my hotel room was of a British tourist enjoying a spot of fishing. He caught a small fish which he impaled on a barbed hook to be used to catch a larger fish. In Scotland, this would be illegal as there, live vertebrates cannot be used as fishing bait. South of the border however we lack such decisiveness.

As Boris Johnson quipped when speaking about the EU last year, he is pro cake and pro eating cake, and such nonsense is all too often applied to issues of animal welfare and conservation. In England, rather than deliver an unambiguous yes or no to questions about the rights and wrongs of live-bait and barbed hooks it is left to individual coarse fishery managements and local by-laws to determine what the rules are. We have cake, we eat cake.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not taking a pop at angling. In terms of what goes on in sports that involve the exploitation of wildlife, angling is at the enlightened end of the spectrum. Angling does great conversation work in maintaining waterways and native fish stocks. And nor am I moaning about killing wildlife. Good luck to the fly-fishers who put trout on the dinner table or the wildfowlers who stock their larders with duck. Hunting for food seems a fairly natural thing for humans to do.

Posted in Op-eds | 5 Comments

Is protecting wildlife a political issue?

Viewers of BBC’s Winterwatch last week were treated to some wonderful coverage of the private lives of key Scottish Highland predator species such as the golden eagle, fox, and pine marten and a species of particular interest here, a non-predator, the mountain hare. Mountain hares as their name suggests live in upland areas and this includes grouse moors. A grouse moor is an odd environment that at first sight looks natural but is in fact intensively managed in favour of a single species, the red grouse. The perceived villains here are the predators such as the crow, fox and weasel that take a share of the grouse eggs and chicks earmarked for a demanding clientele during the shooting season, and many such predators are routinely removed by gamekeepers in order to maintain artificially high numbers of grouse. However it may come as something of a surprise to learn that the inoffensive mountain hare is also high on the gamekeeper’s hit list. The mountain hare’s crime is to be a warm blooded mammal and therefore a potential host for the ticks that transmit louping-ill disease (don’t ask) to the hapless grouse.

Because the mountain hare is believed to transmit disease to the grouse it is intensively culled. In December 2014, Scottish National Heritage alarmed by the destruction, led calls for grouse moors to exercise ‘voluntary constraint’ on excessive mountain hare culling and last year a group of ten conservation groups in Scotland called on Scottish National Heritage to upgrade this to an immediate three-year ban to allow a breathing space for the conservation status of the species to be accurately determined. And this is the point of the story, the grouse moor manager is entitled to cull the mountain hare without restraint on little evidence other than supposition, whereas the conservationist has to scientifically prove beyond reasonable doubt that protection of the species is justified. The dice are therefore loaded; the jury is rigged. A far higher burden of proof is required to protect wildlife than that needed to destroy wildlife.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 13 Comments

Catherine Bearder MEP writes… Launch of MEP group on Wildlife Crime

Wildlife crime is a major threat to international security. This trade is now worth an estimated $20 billion a year and has become the fourth largest illegal activity in the world after drugs, arms and people-trafficking. From Al Shabab in Somalia to Boko Haram in Nigeria, armed groups and criminal gangs are making huge profits from the illegal wildlife trade, fuelling instability and conflict.

We need to act now to stop them.

Posted in News | 5 Comments

Norman Baker gets musical to highlight dangers of animal extinction

Norman Baker's Animal CountdownLewes MP Norman Baker has taken to music to warn us all of the dangers facing some animals we take for granted. Lions, tigers, elephants and rhinos are under threat. I spent 99p on it and it’s actually very good. You can find out how to download Norman Baker’s Animal Countdown here and the video, which I can’t embed, can be watched on You Tube here.

Norman wrote an article for Politics Home ahead of his Adjournment Debate last night in which he outlined what needed to be done:

Posted in News | Also tagged , and | 1 Comment

The Independent View: The major environmental tests facing the Liberal Democrats in 2012 (Part 1)

The Liberal Democrats have long been seen as the greenest of the biggest three political parties. Now in government, the party is facing tough decisions with huge implications both for our country’s efforts to reduce carbon emissions and for wider protection of the natural world.

During his time in office Lib Dem Climate Secretary Chris Huhne won a couple of significant battles with Cabinet colleagues. Most notably, despite opposition from the Chancellor, he won the backing of David Cameron to put into law tough new carbon targets for the 2020s that were recommended by their independent advisers the Committee on …

Posted in Op-eds and The Independent View | Also tagged , , , , , and | 6 Comments

Recent Comments

  • Simon R
    @Michael: You appear to be questioning my liberalism. But, like it or not, the nature of the Universe is that people have to work because - bluntly, if everyone...
  • Michael BG
    Peter Martin, I do accept that the economy needs people to do paid work to work. However, each individual makes choices and are not therefore forced to pay t...
  • Roger Lake
    This is -- or ought to be!-- amazing! And alarming. So far there are 12 reasoned responses to my title, most of them finding fault with my recommended propos...
  • Steve Trevethan
    Might being sufficiently frightened of the main stream media, to the extent that a political party does not tell reasonable approximations of (socio-economic) t...
  • Geoff Reid
    The usual good sense from Peter Wrigley. The Conservatives and their media cheer leaders cannot get their heads round the possibility of higher taxes helping to...