Dolphin Slaughter In Peru

Credit: BlueVoice.org

Via BlueVoice comes word of extensive dolphin slaughter in Peru that could easily exceed Taiji:

As many as 15,000 dolphins are killed yearly for use as shark bait and human consumption by Peruvian fishermen.

A BlueVoice/Mundo Azul expedition has returned with damning evidence of a massive hunt for dolphins carried out by Peruvian fishermen. This expedition follows an earlier expedition conducted by UK-based Ecostorm in collaboration with Mundo Azul.

BlueVoice provided full funding for the Mundo Azul expedition and partial funding for the Ecostorm effort.

Both expeditions brought back graphic video and photographic evidence of massive dolphin killing by Peruvian fishermen. Dolphins are harpooned, clubbed to death and then butchered to be used as shark bait. Dolphins are also killed for human consumption.

Based on the size of the Peruvian fleet and interviews with the fishermen Austermuhle estimates as many as fifteen thousand dolphins are killed for bait and human consumption by the Peruvian fishing fleet in this manner. An unknown additional number are killed in the driftnet fishery.

This fishery is doubly damning, because the dolphins are being killed so the fishermen can kill sharks, which are under enormous pressure as fishermen everywhere slaughter millions of sharks every year in an effort to feed the enormous demand for shark fin from Asia. And it shows that even in a globalized, wired world, there are corners that are engaged in slaughters that we know little about.

The Ecostorm report about the Peruvian dolphin/shark fishery can be found here, and the story of how Ecostorm got the video and photos can be found here.

Credit: Jim Wickens/Ecostorm/ITV News

Human populations scrapping for a subsistence living will always hunt and kill if that is a path to even small profits. So as sad as this news is, it is also a reminder that human poverty probably kills more animals (think elephant and rhino poaching, as well) than any other global phenomenon. And until we come to grips with that reality, there will always be profoundly cruel and wastefl slaughter.

Credit: BlueVoice.org

Is A Condor Forced To Fight A Bull Graphic?

The New York Times says no.

Well, we are used to seeing cruelty being inflicted by humans on other species in the name of culture.

But at least a NYT story and video featuring a Peruvian ritual that involves tying a condor to a bull was objectionable enough to be examined by the NYT Public Editor, Margaret Sullivan.

PETA called out the piece, arguing it should have come with a warning that it depicted graphic cruelty to animals. Sullivan went so far as to conclude that more space and voice should have been given to opponents of the practice, and those who deem it cruel (which is sound). But her discussion of whether the video was objectionable, and warranted a warning for graphic content, was interesting:

The video, intended to explain an important cultural practice in Peru, amounts to depicting animal abuse, wrote Amanda Schinke, a PETA spokeswoman.

Although we appreciate that the story touched briefly on conservationists’ opposition to this practice, we were surprised that it did not address the cruelty inherent in strapping a wild bird to a terrified bull and instead presented this cruel practice as a venerable tradition. It creates the impression that The Times endorses cruelty or insensitivity to animals. Would you please add a disclaimer that the story – especially the photo and video elements – depicts graphic cruelty to animals?

The Times, which is rapidly increasing its production of videos, brings the same standards to those videos that it does to its other journalism.

Does this video meet those standards? And is a disclaimer necessary here?

I asked Richard L. Berke, a senior editor who is directing video development, to respond.

“We do want to be sensitive to taste and possible offensiveness,” he said, “and in this case we were careful to edit out anything graphic.”

He noted that The Times often does use a disclaimer to alert viewers to disturbing or graphic content. Images of war and disaster, as in this video, which does include a disclaimer, are the most common examples.

In this case, however, “the video didn’t merit a disclaimer,” Mr. Berke said.

What’s interesting is that Berke seems to feel that the amount of blood or ripped flesh is what determines whether the images are graphic, rather than the entire concept of strapping a condor to a bull and then watching them try to rip into each other.

Would Berke consider a video of a pit bull ripping into a human which doesn’t show much injury or blood “graphic”? I would bet yes, because it is a human that is being harmed.

In any case, Sullivan agreed with Berke. Which goes to show that while human violence and cruelty involving other humans is considered “graphic” enough to warrant a warning, human cruelty to animals is still not objectionable enough to get the same treatment. Which is a telling insight into how we continue to view (nonhuman) animals and the human treatment of animals.