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Economic Miracle – Bad Omen For Animals …

  • November 26th, 2012
  • Posted by 7thmin

shark-white-tip.jpegThe European Parliament has voted overwhelmingly to tighten its laws against shark-finning for the Asian trade – cutting off the fins of sharks while alive, and dumping the rest of the body in the sea.
bears-wspa.jpg  tiger-wwf2.jpg  rhinoceros.jpg  edlephants-wwf.jpg The incident renews attention to a by-product of the “Asian Century”: exponential economic growth in China and other countries of its region has put up incomes, and exacerbated demand for very rare, often bizarre animal products.

It has conservation agencies very alarmed about threats, to extinction, of species including sharks, tigers and elephants, as well as issues of gross cruelty — as in the case of caged bears.


sharks-the-conversation.jpgIn Strasbourg last week (22.11.12) the parliament voted 566 votes to 47, with 16 abstentions, to amend the European Union law against shark-finning –  because of a loophole enabling fishers from Spain and Portugal to follow the lucrative practice.

The fins are wanted for making the translucent soup, considered a delicacy in parts of China, and common in Oriental restaurants around the globe.

The Parliament’s statement reads:

“MEPs removed exceptions to the EU ban on “shark finning” … These exceptions required fishermen to keep carcasses on board, but they made the ban difficult to enforce, as by allowing boats to land fins and bodies at different ports, they made it hard to match fin and carcass counts.

“The ban, in place since 2003, prohibited removing shark fins on board vessels.

“Thursday’s vote removes … special permits to remove fins at sea. Sharks must henceforth be landed with their fins ‘naturally attached’…

“Many shark species are very vulnerable to over-exploitation. In recent years, some shark stocks have been over-fished and jeopardised due to a dramatic increase in demand for shark products, particularly fins.”


shark-nathantaylor.jpgJeopardy of some species like the Great White comes with aroused feelings for many; the powerful predator periodically takes a swimmer or fisher, though in far lesser numbers than road accidents manufactured by humankind.

Shark meat, coyly called Flake in Australia, bulks out the supply to popular fish cafes. As a predator, the species can be kept away from beaches, as with the drum-line baiting in South Africa and Australia (and in the latter case netting, though that comes with a heavy by-catch of other species like turtles).

Some say it can be just as effective to keep away from them, by following old timers’ rules: swim only between the flags; keep close inshore; where the waves aren’t big swim along the beach not out into the deep; swim when the tide is ebbing not flowing; don’t go in the water at dusk; don’t go in if you are  the only person in swimming, and obviously don’t jump in  where they are gutting lot of fish and spilling  blood.


bear-cages-wspa.jpgThe World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPCA) says up to 20,000 bears are suffering desperately cruel conditions in Asia’s bear bile factories.

“They are confined so bile can be extracted from their gall bladders and sold for use in some traditional Asian medicine”, it reports.

“The inhumane methods used to extract bile causes severe pain and trauma to the bears, who are restrained in tiny cages. Their suffering is intense.

“WSPA believes the bear bile industry is cruel, unnecessary and must end. Increasing numbers of traditional Asian medicine practitioners agree, and are turning to herbal and synthetic alternatives.”

There have been arguments that a progressive closing-down of bear farming, in China, the republic of Korea and Vietnam has encouraged poaching for wild bears, but the WSPA says high demand can be traced back to availability from the “farms”.

Campaigns to protect the animals have been extended to research, education and lobbying of government authorities, to conserve those in the wild as well.


Message to users of bear bile products, from the WSPA, to get responsible: “If you use traditional Asian medicine, make sure your practitioner does not use bear bile in any of their treatments. Raising awareness and encouraging the use of alternatives will help protect bears from this cruel industry.”

PS: It could be in your own interest as a patient to act responsibly. The animals are said to commonly get virulent cancers but will be kept under torture, and kept alive with massive dosages of antibiotics. What happens if that gets into your own body through the bear-bile preparations you take?

The Chinese news agency Xinhua outlined health problems associated with bear farming, in a signal article in 2010, also describing legal moves against it, and the problem of “rampant hunting since the 1980s”.

“In Chengdu, bear-bile powder can sell for as high as 4,000 yuan (598 U.S. dollars; in 2012 $A614.69, a kilogram. Some high-end alcohol and shampoo products also list bear bile as an ingredient”, it said.


tiger-head.jpgTigers in many cultures are revered as the strong and beautiful of the animal kingdom, most famously as immortalised by William Blake, “burning bright …”

Yet they are facing extinction, and it is time to mentally adjust, to actually start realising that this feature of our human consciousness – the beautiful and powerful, talismanic figure – in all likelihood will soon be entirely gone.

Says the conservation organisation, the WWF:

“Wild tiger numbers are at an all-time low. We have lost 97% of wild tigers in just over a century. Tigers may be one of the most revered animals, but they are also vulnerable to extinction. As few as 3,200 exist in the wild today.


“Poaching is the most immediate threat to wild tigers. In relentless demand, their parts are used for traditional medicine, folk remedies, and increasingly as a status symbol among wealthy Asians.

“There are usually limited resources for guarding protected areas in the countries where tigers live. Even countries with strong enforcement of tiger protection laws fight a never-ending battle against poaching. In Indochina and China, poaching is so pervasive that thousands of hectares of forests stand empty of tigers.”

If the use of tiger medicines confers high status in some places, in very many others around this “globalised” world society, it will confer a very low social status.

Once again: if pinning your faith on folk remedies and traditional methods, ask your practitioner about alternatives.


rhino-horn.jpgIs powdered rhinoceros horn being bought up by imbeciles who think that because the horn seems like an erect sexual organ, it might cure their impotence?

Extensive inquiries into this matter, like that of the American PBS network in 2008, say that although the sneering will continue, that is not one of the actual uses.

However the pressure to kill the animals and get their horns remains enormous, according to the report on that investigation.

It says:

“All five of the world’s diverse species of rhinoceros have been brought to the edge of extinction because of human appetite for their distinctive horns. The horns have been prized for tens of centuries for their beautiful translucent color when carved, and their supposed healing properties…

“In the Middle Eastern country of Yemen, the horn continues to be coveted by Muslim men, although imports were banned in 1982. The material, whose luster increases with age, is used for the handles of curved daggers …

“Far more pervasive, however, is their use in the traditional medicine systems of many Asian countries, from Malaysia and South Korea to India and China, to cure a variety of ailments.

“In traditional Chinese medicine, the horn, which is shaved or ground into a powder and dissolved in boiling water, is used to treat fever, rheumatism, gout, and other disorders … ”


elephant-tusks.jpgConcern has mounted anew over African elephants, again with enrichment and enlargement of the Oriental markets for luxury articles, from knife-handles to chessmen – many prized to put on extravagant display.

“Once common throughout Africa and Asia, elephant numbers were severely depleted during the 20th century, largely due to the massive ivory trade”, says the WWF. “While some populations are now stable and growing, poaching, conflict and habitat destruction continue to threaten the species.”


European Parliament, Strasbourg, “Parliament closes loopholes in shark finning ban; Plenary Session Fisheries − 22-11-2012 – 16:28.” (Procedure:  Co-decision (Ordinary Legislative Procedure, 1st Reading; REF. : 20121122IPR56237)., (25.11.12).

PBS, Arlington Va., “Rhino Horn Use: Fact vs. Fiction”, 18.9.12., (25.11.12).

WSPA, London, “End then bear bile industry”., (25.11.12).

WWF, NY, “Tigers”, “Elephants”., (25.11.12).

Xinhua, Beijing, “China’s bear bile industry slowly dying”, 23.3.10., (25.11.12).

Pictures,, wspa, wwf