2018 Review

Stephen Wiggins Article 4 Comments

Banner image courtesy of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

At the close of 2018 after 30+ years of flouting international law, Japan has announced that it is set to leave the International Whaling Commission (IWC) and recommence commercial whaling in the summer 2019, within Japan’s ‘own waters:’

Government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said commercial whaling would be restricted to Japanese territorial waters and economic zones.

As a result, Japan will stop hunting in Antarctic waters and the southern hemisphere, a prospect conservation groups had welcomed before it was formally confirmed….[Japan] will still be bound by certain international laws, despite leaving the IWC……The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea binds countries to co-operate on the conservation of whales “through the appropriate international organisations for their conservation, management and study”. The text does not say which international organisation that is.”

A minke whale is landed at a port in Kushiro on Japan’s northernmost main island of Hokkaido in 2017,” Photograph: Kyodo News/Kyodo News via Getty Images: “Japan confirms it will quit IWC to resume commercial whaling,” The Guardian, 26 December 2018

Ivory Trading

On a positive note, in 2018 the United Kingdom government passed a bill through parliament that will see an end to the vast majority of commercial trade in ivory (with a consultation due in 2019 to add other ivory bearing species to the encompassing ban on trade in their ivory too).

Trophy Hunting

However, there is still work to be done in the United Kingdom to urgently close loop-holes for elephant hunting trophy (ie. tusks) to be imported into the United Kingdom plus  other such trophy importations

Sport hunting in Zimbabwe is big business, with hunters such as David Barrett paying $10,000 for the experience. Barrett, who is British, and others argue that Western hunters provide vital revenue to local communities” – Photograph by Barcroft Media/ Getty – “Is Trophy Hunting Helping Save African Elephants?,” National Geographic, 17 November 2015

The needless slaughter of wildlife as trophies under the hunters’ phoney claims of a conservation imperative continue with Botswana considering reverting to the lure of the hunters’ $$$ and for example, the hunters’ pointless trophy hunt that killed Skye – baited and lured to his death on 7 June 2018 from the ‘protection’ of the Kruger National Park.

A lion too far,” Don Pinnock, 17 June 2018

Hopefully, there is now real momentum to curtail hunting trophy importation into the United Kingdom (and elsewhere), with less blind faith in the all seeing ‘wisdom’ of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) oversight of the hunting attrition.

Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora

What can we expect as we head into 2019? Well there is the next CITES, Conference of the Parties (CoP) 18, 13 May – 3 June, in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Rhino Horn Trade

South Africa has sought to establish a ‘domestic’ (with clear intent to mask international trade) in rhino horn in 2018, but in the run up to CoP18 expect to see South Africa (and others) seeking to legitimise the call for the reinstatement of international trade in rhino horn. Plus, expect the marketing of Rhino Coin (a speculative, Crypto Currency) to be promoted by the South African Private Rhino Owners’ Association – Rhino Coin is a ‘digital innovation’ masquerading as a conservation endeavour. The idea behind Rhino Coin being to create a speculative index (as per any crypto-currency) for rhino horn based upon the buy/sell orders for the underlying physical commodity – rhino horn held in a vault. Of course, those seeking to profit would like to see the index rise, embracing the old trading adage buy low, sell high…….the suggestion by those promoting Rhino Coin being speculators are “betting that the international rhino horn trade ban will one day fall away, and that horn can then be sold at a stupendous markup in Asia.” However, another profitable scenario for Rhino Coin speculators that would no doubt make the Rhino Coin index rise would be the underlying commodity becoming more scarce (ie. less wild rhino bearing rhino horn) – under near wild rhino extinction, the higher the Rhino Coin bids to buy farmed rhino horn would be. Of course, the extinction of wild rhino would not only help raise the Rhino Horn index, but would grant those that speculate and ‘harvest’ farmed rhino exclusive supply opportunities. Rhino Coin is hardly a truly altruistic conservation endeavour perhaps.

The World Wildlife Fund’s policy manager of wildlife practice, Colman O Criodain says:

“……he would not bet on the trade in rhino horn being legalized internationally or within China because of powerful global resistance. Rhino Coin speculators may never realize a profit. He points out that on October 30 the Chinese government announced that it would be lifting the ban on rhino horn use in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), a possible first step to open trade. But it soon backed down under a storm of protest from conservation organizations, announcing on November 12 that “the detailed regulations for implementation” of the October legal change had been “postponed after study” and that the strict ban on sale and use of rhino horn remained in effect – “‘Rhino Coin’: Can a Cryptocurrency Help Save Africa’s Rhinoceroses?,” Adam Welz, Yale Environment 360, 20 November 2018

Big Cat Breeding and the myth of ‘Sustainable Utilisation’ 

The breakdown of the myth of ‘Sustainable Utilisation’ became glaringly apparent to even the most casual observer in 2018 – with the South African government perhaps finally waking up to the reputational damage wildlife exploitation garners.

Report of the Portfolio Committee on Environmental Affairs on the Colloquium on Captive Lion Breeding for Hunting in South Africa: harming or promoting the conservation image of the country, held on 21 and 22 August 2018, report dated 8 November 2018 (released 14 November 2018)

Captive breeding of lions for hunting has long been a blemish on South Africa’s wildlife and tourism landscape…..There is generally no conservation value in the captive lion breeding industry in South Africa

South Africa’s wildlife exploitation industry faces increasing legal challenges as the veil of deception, excuses and ‘justification’ drop away.

Badger Culling

In the United Kingdom, there is the ongoing persecution of a species in the name of ‘policy’ – badger culling as a random act to ‘help’ curtail the spread of Bovine tuberculosis (TB) in cattle stocks. The ‘policy’ remains controversial and lacking in scientific foundation.

2019 and beyond

Enjoy the New Year and keep campaigning!

Comments 4

  1. Nicola Sharpe

    What a sad year for wildlife, the badger cull, the latest news about Japan renewing whaling, I’m disheartened but we must keep campaigning for all animals.

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  2. Mark Boulton

    Thanks for all you continue to do to keep these vital issues in the public eye. I and many others will continue your carefully researched posts as you carry on this important work in 2019 and continue to make these issues more widely known.

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