Category Archives: Asia

Asia news & happenings

Meow to arms: please help end annual dolphin slaughter in Taiji, Japan

(If you find this post informative, you might like to check out these.)


Philly_Rheilly_20090525_002_DSC_0146xWe love our kitties, and we love their purrs, chuffs, quirks, psychosis and all. That is what being family is about. Much as we cannot bear the thought of being apart from family, we would not wish anyone to be separated from theirs. This is an appeal for intensely family-centred non-kitties who need help. And we’re asking kitty mums and dads because you’ve shown yourselves to be compassionate and passionate. So we’re asking you to help by doing one of the following:

  • If you don’t have time to continue reading, PLEASE GO HERE IMMEDIATELY, thank you very much
  • Otherwise, please bear with us as we explain some background and tell you our reasons for appealing to you.

By now, visitors to tec probably have an inkling that beyond the kitty snugglecore us minions purvey (or try to), we also draw attention to kitty problems and other cutsies and wildlife face, whether here or out there in the world and the help they need.

Beyond the lack of fur, watery homes, and IQ differentials (debatable to some), dolphins are one of the most kitty-like in their fiery focus on fun and food. Life seems a forever funival to dolphins, much like the swishing toy, which goes nowhere, is the kitty’s perpetual fascination. But whales and dolphins have stronger sense of family, often maintaining relationships between parents and offspring, siblings, cousins, aunties, uncles. Dolphins take it one step further, living in multi-generation family groups called pods.

So imagine what it is like for them when a whale is harpooned (often dying slowly by drowning), or dolphins herded into a cove to be slowly killed over a few days, and the survivors fished out from the carnage and sold to entertain people.

Philly_Rheilly_20090525_008_DSC_0152xWhale and dolphin killing sunders the close-knit cetacean families, and hinders the rehabilitation of whale numbers, which were hunted almost to extinction in the 1970s. For dolphins, it also feeds and fuels the public interest for dolphin entertainment shows (which feature wild-captured dolphins who, if they survive the trauma of capture and the horrors of witnessing their families being killed, usually live only another 2-3 wretched years). Dolphins are also labelled as whale meat. The public and even citizens of the whale killing nations are generally ignorant of these pathetic facts.

Us minions believe whale killing and dolphin slaughter are things that are barbaric, antiquated and have no place in modern society.

Rheilly_20090525_001_DSC_0154xHowever, there seems to be no real progress to the efforts to permanently stop the annual wanton waste of life… until the Cove this year, a documentary-movie with a message, and a noble mission.

For once, something managed to halt temporarily the annual dolphin slaughter season in Taiji, Japan. This was thanks to the intense scrutiny and interest the move generated. To the point that the Japanese media, which had never wanted to talk about the shame that is Taiji’s annual hunt, also went to Taiji and were showed the movie!

In no small part, Taiji’s discretion seemed to stem from the suspension of sister-city ties by Broomed Australia too. However, the residents of Broome did not have an easy time of it even from fellow Australians. They have bravely stood their ground… until now.

Please encourage them to continue the course – they were doing the right thing but now it could unravel because they reversed their decision!

Can there be hope for the whales and dolphins who swim in the Sea of Japan and everywhere else within the Japanese whaling fleet‘s reach? Mr Ishii and Ric O’Barry’s stories gives us hope. Mr Ishii, a dolphin fisherman who hunted dolphins as his fathers did before him, now runs a whale and dolphin watching tour outfit. Mr Ishii is not the only who has taken the brave step of speaking up and acting against something he understood to be wrong. But there is a long way to go, despite the benefits of keeping whales and dolphins alive. The Mr Ishiis and Ric O’Barrys of this world can’t do it alone. Please click here and help them.

Thank you.


(If you find this post informative, you might like to check out these.)

Japan Taiji dolphin slaughter – good news for 1 Sep at least

How wonderful for the dolphins, at least for 1 day.

Urgent Update from Taiji: September 1, 2009, A Good Day for Dolphins
Posted by Guest Contributor on September 1, 2009 at 2:05 pm

200353827-001Editor’s Note: This piece was written by guest contributor Richard O’Barry of the Save Japan Dolphins Coalition.

As TakePart reported earlier this week, O’Barry is currently in Taiji, Japan with European and Japanese journalists in anticipation of the annual dolphin slaughter that usually takes place the first week of September.

Today is September 1st, the first day of the dolphin slaughter season in Japan. But when I arrived today by bus from Kansai Airport with media representatives from all over the world, the notorious Cove from the movie was empty. There were no dolphin killers in sight.

So today is a very good day for dolphins!

I vowed to be back in Taiji when the dolphin killing began. I’ve often been here alone, or accompanied by a few environmentalists. Sometimes, I was able to talk a major media organization into sending someone.

But the people of Japan never learned about the dolphin slaughter, because none of the media in Japan (with the exception of the excellent Japan Times) have ever sent reporters to the killing Cove. Until today!

… click here to continue reading

Imagine if the same were to happen for Singapore’s community cats and dogs – that celebrities and journalists take an interest in, and film pest-control round-ups of cats and dogs, citizen trapping and film the euthanesia process anmd conditions in AVA. Then maybe people will wake up and look real hard at the more humane ways in dealing with stray cats.

The need to spread the word about how Singapore deals with community cats and dogs looks to be gaining urgency, when even Town Council general managers think they are merely despatched to the AVA for “assistance“. What sort of assistance did the TC bigwigs expect from AVA? Housing grants or rights, maybe to eke out a living on some unnamed offshore island nobody cares about? Time to pull the cotton away from those blinkered eyes. Where’s the LAW?

REFERENCE

(PS: I’ve promised furry-do… no worries, it’s to come)

There be giants… and Man likes ‘em better dead

In keeping with the L-A-R-G-E swimmers (which are not limited to salties) theme of the latest posts, here’s some fantastical stuff about big fishes. While looking up bluefin info for this post, I cane across several fascinating articles about very large fishes.

Just this very month, a 20 year old kid caught the largest male mako shark on record:

300h

A Scituate man reeled in a 624-pound mako shark Thursday, possibly breaking the record for the biggest male mako ever caught, a biologist said….

… the 10-foot fish is the largest male mako shark ever to be recorded in the Atlantic Ocean, and appears to be the largest male ever caught.

“We didn’t think they got this big, basically,” ….

“When I saw the shark, I said, ‘That would be a dream to catch,’” Sears recounted.

shark082809It’s fantastic to know that there are still such magnificent specimens in our collapsing ocean ecologies. That science is getting new information and we learn a bit more about these little-understood sharks, but does it warrant turning the mako into fish steaks?

What is it with anglers and hunters that beautiful large living things must be possessed, conquered, preferably life snuffed out. Why the impulse to kill and destroy wonders of nature? All that matters is the self-serving dream of boasting of killing something large, something rare. (I remember news a few years about a regal giant moose with magnificent antlers in some US national park who was well-loved by visitors and park rangers; he was found dead and they found his killer because his antlers were on display in the  teenager’s backyard, a teenager who wanted to own the biggest antlers around.)

Or staking a claim in some way.

Whale sharks are the largest fish in the world, placid plankton mowers quite apart from the frenzied killing machine image JAWS evoke.

WhaleShark1They have the largest fins of all sharks by sheer size. Inevitably, they are also coveted for that accursed Chinese dish, sharks’ fin soup. I believe their fins are known as one of the highest grade fins, tian jiu chi (fins of 9 heavens). But again, very very little is known about the whale shark itself. No one knows their reproduction cycle and young sharks smaller than 4m are impossible to sight. So the discovery of a baby shark just 15inches in length (pictured) earlier this year caused much excitement.

The sad thing about this baby’s discovery is that it was tied to a stick in the water, like a leashed dog. A hawker was apparently trying to sell it.

WhaleShark2Now that it has been rescued, let’s hope it grows up to its full potential of 9 to 14 metres and live out its natural lifespan of 60 to 100 years.

WhaleShark9I hope it doesn’t end up as fish steaks like some of its kind did, whether due to fishing net entanglement, shipping lane accidents or hunting. I certainly hope it doesn’t become an exhibit like Sammy either.

While it is the ocean giants that mesmerises, the muddy depths of freshwater rivers do plump a surprise or 3. Well-known are the Mekong’s giant catfish, Chinese sturgeon (thought to be a source of the dragon mythology), the Amazon’s Arapaimas or Pirarucu. Less well-know, and only recently certified as legitimate are giant freshwater stingrays. GiantStingray

In the world of giant swimmers, perhaps the most well-known is Wally the humphead wrasse. Or one fish named Wally did. There are multiple Wallies in the reef.  He resides in the Great Barrier Reef, an ambassador resident after being rescued from a one-way trip to a cooking pot in Hong Kong. However it is not clear whether the stay of execution is permanent or what happens should he be somehow nabbed legally by some enterprising fisherman.

Sadly, wherever they and however big they grow, megafish all face the same threats: overfishing, habitat loss, pollution, climate change. In a word, Man.

The burning question: Who gave all the covetous hunters, anglers, and gourmets of the world the right to terminate these wonders of nature for their own selfish wants and deprive the rest of the world?

HDB’s cat ban elicits incredulity

Popular local blogger Mr Wang blogged about his brother’s art exhibition in Hong Kong. The interesting thing is its his “brother’s sixth exhibition of cat paintings, all of which are inspired by his real-life pet cat”. If this cat minion were in Hong Kong, this would an exhibition I’d go to. I was particularly piqued with this remark by Mr Wang:

And here’s another. I guess this is about HDB’s prohibition on flat owners having a pet cat:

The interesting thing is one reader’s reaction to the HDB cat ban:

Are you sure this is the case? I think this sort of statement spells disaster for credibility.
I think feeding strays is illegal or frowned upon, but not having legal pets.

I think this sort of reaction is good. People do tend to want to believe the positive where there’s a choice, never mind the reality. But this also shows how incredulous people find the ban to be. I’m interested to know the reactions when more people realise just how ridiculous Singapore’s pet and animal control policies are. I’ve responded (adding AVA’s pet cat brochure which extols the suitability of cats as indoor pets who do not need to roam for good measure), but of course it depends on whether Mr Wang approves my comment. I hope he does.

Forget awareness, I cannot believe in this day and age such things should be shocking news. What people need to do is acknowledge reality, not just about the pet legislations in place but also the whole animal population control situation – and the laughability of it all. TNRM is the way to go, culling is ineffective and an expense taxpayers should not be expected to subsidize. When the Singapore government and the bureaucrats running rings around their fingers see the light depends on more and different Singaporeans speaking up.

20090323: Thailand dugongs hunted and smuggled to Singapore

This is terrible, Singapore is a signatory to CITES, and the dugong is on Appendix I – critically endangered. But then, Singapore consistently makes the grade as a wildlife smuggling hub. I am perturbed that dugong parts are being used/processed and sold in Singapore. Be a responsible consumer: Please do not buy dugong parts or products!

(Content after this point filched off singaporecommunitycats.)

News @ AsiaOne

Thailand dugongs hunted and smuggled to Singapore

Each dugong commands a price of $2130 on the black market. S’pore is the biggest market for this trade. Dead dunongs are used to produce medicine and amulets. -The Nation/ANN

Mon, Mar 23, 2009
The Nation/Asia News Network

Trang’s fishermen have asked the government to strictly control the illegal dugong trade after they found many foreign mariners hunting the animals and smuggling them out to Singapore for Bt50,000 (S$2130) each, villager leader IsmaAnn Ben SaArd said.

The illegal hunt is being carried out by foreign fishermen especially from Satun province. They throw bombs into cairns or near coral reefs, with the resulting explosion towing up many fish, he added.

IsmaAnn explained that some wayward local fishermen have pointed out the area to foreign fishermen.

25 killed in a month

Moreover, they also use seine and large fishing nets to hunt stingray and other kinds of fish two kilometers from the coast. They use a local fishhook called “Rawai” to hunt dugong, killing more than 25 of the creatures during the past month alone.

Trang authorities have announced that Rawai is an illegal piece of fishing equipment for it endangers dugong and sea turtles.

He said each dugong commands a price of Bt50,000 (S$2130) on the black market, with its bones and teeth going for Bt30,000 (S$1278). Singapore is the biggest market for this trade. The country uses the dead dugong to produce medicine and amulets. –The Nation/ Asia News Network

Soapbox time… adoptions, CNY binging and species survival

Snuck a break, and checked out 2 bloggies after me own ticker:

1. ADOPTIONS. From the my animal family blog:

Friday, January 16, 2009

Flea Mania, GN’R for the love of cats

… there is something to be said about the unmade-up mind which is often not more appreciated. they are minds still engaged. for those whose minds are well and truly set, those conversations are essentially dead and dried up. and where does that leave us?

recently, the woman encountered a clash of cultures between a cat foster and potential adopter. the foster is dead set against the potential adopter because she has heard too many stories. it’s not right she admits, but would you gamble away the life of a kitten on ideals about tolerance and harmony?

the woman looks at the kitten who is small and fragile in her hands and she wavers. ultimately, she gave the kitten to the adopter.


it is crystal clear we all start out at the same place, foster, adopter – love for the cat. but while those of us who are activists, fosters, volunteers and vested in the capacity that we are, have reached certain conclusions about how exactly a cat should be cared for, it is not for us to judge who can come to those same conclusions and who cannot.

like good art and music, the work of a cat welfare volunteer is to engage and to help all kinds of people along to new understanding and new revelations. if we are set and hardened as bricks, what we might do is save that one kitten. how about the many that we cannot reach with just one hand on the left and one on the right?

*

Been wanting to write on this topic… but well, there you have it, my animal family style. BTW, GNR = Guns and Roses… glam metal/rock band, not my fav, but definitely an outfit from my musical era and taste.

2. CNY binging and species survival: the sharks edition. From mrs budak’s blog:

“We eat the whole shark” my foot!

12th Jan, 2009 at 9:02 AM
Angel disapproves

I have written about this before but I can’t find the post anymore. With Chinese New Year coming we’re seeing some entries from “food bloggers” on hotel CNY packages. These CNY packages, naturally, feature shark’s fin.

The common refrain from these food bloggers is that we Chinese “eat the whole shark”. Very interesting. We Chinese are indeed well-known for eating up every single part of every thing we catch or kill. That is, if the meat actually makes its way to the restaurant.

Funny how nobody actually asked the restaurants about this, huh?

It’s very simple economics. If you’re out catching fish you’re going to fill your vessel with stuff that fetch the highest price in the market. On a per pound basis shark fins fetch much more than shark meat. Also, only certain species of shark are caught for their meat (dogshark etc); shark meat is otherwise reputed to be very tough, smelly (ammonia) or virtually inedible. Shark’s fin, however, is shark’s fin and no fisherman is going to begrudge a shark for its inedible meat when its fin fetches money.

So you have horrific pictures of finless sharks drowning on the seabed.

We see shark’s meat on sale at the market (SOMETIMES, as not all shark varieties are edible), or “shark meat lor mee”, and we delude ourselves into thinking that we “eat the whole shark”. We eat shark’s fin and psycho ourselves that the rest of the shark is being used somewhere else, somehow. Yeah, right.

So we “eat the whole shark” huh? Do you ask the restaurant if they buy the whole shark and use every single part? Do you know what species of shark the fin came from? Do you ask for the rest of the shark to be served together with the fin?

Please, if you want to eat shark’s fin (and be slowly poisoned by mercury), go ahead. But spare the rest of us “shark enthusiasts” of your hypocritical pronouncements that “we eat the whole shark”. Unless you can be sure that every single part of the shark your fin came from is indeed being used, just stuff your face and keep your mouth shut.

This is where your fucking shark fins came from )

Last year, there was also a feature in the Straits Times about Singaporeans’ growing penchant for shark’s fin soup, focusing on the tradition of serving it at Chinese wedding dinners. One spokeswoman from a top restaurant actually said their supply came from… wait for it… … farmed sharks!!!

‘Most of the couples’ parents consider this dish a premium and without it, they would lose face,’ said Mandarin Oriental’s communications director Ruth Soh.

Still, the hotel ensures that the fins it buys are only from fish farms, and not those that are harvested in the wild, or ‘finned’, she added.

Wow, if there is such a thing as shark farms, why are environmentalists and conservationists still crying hell and highwater for sharks and the marine ecology? But even if farmed sharks were more than an urban legend, like Mrs Budak asks: what about the rest of the shark??? I’d also love to get some details on how the hotel ensures the fins it buys are only from fish farms? I can’t find any information at all about any viable shark farms nor credible research on shark farming, just tonnes on how human consumption habits are killing the ocean’s fishes, including sharks.

The Singapore consumer is more gullible than is criminally possible. Talk about ostriches putting their heads in the sand, which by the way, is another human-made myth.

Missing in action: Megafauna and seed dispersal in Asia’s empty forests

Very nice in-depth article by the ducky-dad of the blankie beast:

IMG_9740

Few people alive today know what is a stegodon. But it’s highly likely that the first generations of humans who arrived in East and Southeast Asia were quite familiar with these elephant-like creatures with bizarre tusks that ran parallel closely together towards the ground before curving upwards like a pair of long horns. On the continent, these pachyderms ranged from India to China. But when northern glaciers locked up enough seawater to turn Sundaland into a shallow shelf of immense river valleys and lowland rainforests, stegodons and other large land animals were able to walk or wade all the way to Luzon in the Philippines and Sulawesi in Indonesia. The returning seas trapped these footloose wanderers on islands such as Flores and Timor, where giants shrank over time to become jumbos the size of cows.

Between 40,000 and 50,000 years ago, modern hominids made their appearance in this region. The arrival of Homo in tropical East Asia coincided with a massive decline of large terrestrial mammals and the eventual disappearance of several species and even entire groups with no living remnants. Gigantopithecus was a massive ape that roamed East Asian forests in the same period as Homo erectus and now survives primarily in the imaginations of cryptozoologists and dreams of hopeful abominable snowmonsters. The stegodons survived for much longer, with the last known specimens dating from just 4,100 years before present from Yunnan in China, while dwarf species are known from Flores as recently as 12,000 years ago.

Elephants proper (Elephas sp.) coped better with the ascent of man, but with the rise of the Middle Kingdom, their habitats were cleared and hides so hunted (roasted trunk was a popular treat in ancient China) that a creature that once roamed as far north as Beijing now clings to a tenuous existence in the forests that border Myanmar. Elsewhere, Asian elephants rule over a fraction of their former range as expanding agri-industry and settlements force herds to find new homes in the hills or go head-on with humans to deadly effect.

Rhinos fared far worse, as East Asia’s two forest-dependent species teeter at the brink of extinction. Southern China had such high densities of Javan rhinos a few thousand years ago that their armour shielded the infantry of Chinese armies. Even in colonial times, casual big game hunters in the East Indies were able to boast of shooting six in a day. Today, no rhinos survive in China, whose medicinemen now cast their nets in Africa and other parts of Asia to satisfy their hunger for horny therapies. Just 300 or so Sumatran rhinos remain while Javan rhinos number in the mere dozens.

(click here to read full article)

P.S. Apologies for the radio silence. Good news to be updated with details are that Freddy and Mio have settled into new homes.