The Ecologist


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Pheasants reared for shooting kept on a cold and uncomfortable wire floor. Photo: League Against Cruel Sports.

Pheasant shooting begins today - and forget the rural idyll!

Toni Shephard

1st October 2015

This is the first day of the pheasant shooting season, writes Toni Shephard. But put bucolic ideas of happy birds running around in the wild woods out of your mind. Most of the birds coming under shotgun fire today have only just been released from overcrowded factory farms. Even in death they have no dignity: most are not even eaten, but end up dumped in makeshift pits. more...
Only a lucky few pheasants escape this fate. Photo: Mark Seton via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

Whitewashed - the short and miserable life of game birds

Toni Shephard

9th Sepetmber 2015

Defra's new £500,000 report on pheasant and partridge breeding is biased towards commercial shooting interests from start to finish, writes Toni Shephard. It purports to study the welfare of captive birds reared in restrictive cages, but fails to compare their lot to that of free-range birds - the only adequate baseline. more...
This cull is not the answer to TB in cattle - and now the question will be settled in the High Court. Photo: the badger march outside Parliament, 8th June 2013, by David Clare via Flickr (CC BY-SA).

Brian May: I'll take Dorset badger cull to the High Court

The Ecologist

30th August 2015

The government's decision of extend the badger cull to Dorset, and persist with the Somerset and Gloucestershire culls, is 'completely irrational', say badger protection groups - and now they intend to prove it in a High Court legal action, forcing an end to the killing. more...
It may not be to your taste, but the trade in mammoth tusk carvings, like this one on show at the Treasure Island Hotel, Las Vegas, is depressing the price of elephant ivory and helping to preserve the species. Photo: Cheryl Q via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

To save our elephants, don't ban mammoth ivory - encourage it!

Douglas MacMillan

27th August 2015

There is widely held belief that there' only one way to protect rhinos, elephants and other endangered species poached for the international wildlife trade, writes Douglas MacMillan: a complete trade ban. But it's a dangerous misconception. By raising prices and engaging criminal networks, bans speed up extinction rather than preventing it. more...
Reticulated giraffes (Giraffa camelopardalis recticulata) and oxpeckers photographed on safari at Samburu, Kenya. Photo: roger smith via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

Giraffes aren't dangerous - but some are endangered

Matt Hayward

11th August 2015

Giraffe numbers have fallen from 140,000 in 16 years to just 80,000, writes Matt Hayward, and sub-species in East and West Africa are close to extinction. However trophy hunting has led to big population increases in private game reserves in southern Africa. To secure the giraffes' future, beware of simplistic narratives. more...
This is what was really doing the damage: industrial whaling by Britain, by ships like the Petrel, now an eerie hulk beached up on South Georgia Island. Photo: Christopher Michel via Flickr (CC BY).

Whatever our emotions tell us, not all whaling is the same

David Lusseau

30th July 2015

The Faroe Islands' annual 'grindadráp', in which hundreds of pilot whales are slaughtered with knives and hooks, is a horrifying spectacle, writes David Lusseau. But unlike industrial whaling it poses no threat to the species. And is it really any worse than the industrial factory farming that we routinely ignore? more...
Danish Faroese whale hunters in a sea of red. Photo: Eliza Muirhead / Sea Shepherd.

The blood of the whales is on Danish hands

Captain Paul Watson

28th July 2015

Hundreds of pilot whales were slaughtered in Faroes waters last week alone, writes Captain Paul Watson. But in 2011 no whales were killed while Sea Shepherd vessels patrolled. The difference? Since 2014 the Royal Danish Navy has defended the whale hunt. more...

Fox hunting is political poison for David Cameron and the Tory Party

Dominic Dyer

20th July 2015

Last week David Cameron backed down over his plans to bring back fox hunting by 'fatally amending' the Hunting Act, writes Dominic Dyer. The way he spun it, it was all about SNP interference in English law, but the real problem was opposition within the Conservative Party, which increasingly sees blood sports as a barbaric relic that alienates voters of all persuasions. more...
22 Pilot whales lined up on the shore at Hvannasund, Faroe Islands. Photo: Rosie Kunneke / Sea Shepherd.

Denmark must stop the Faroe Islands cetacean slaughter

Captain Paul Watson / Sea Shepherd

17th July 2015

This year's 'Grind' in the Faroe Islands was as bloody as ever, writes Captain Paul Watson, who witnessed the slaughter of a pod of 22 pilot whales with vicious hooks and long knives. If Denmark wants to be considered a 'civilised' nation, it must stop its aggressive support for the cruel and barbaric tradition. more...
The South Shropshire hunt out on a public road. Photo: League Agaisnt Cruel Sports.

Hunting Act 'amendment' is repeal in disguise

Robbie Marsland

10th July 2015

Next Tuesday MPs will be voting on an 'amendment' to the Hunting Act that outlaws fox hunting and other cruel sports, writes Robbie Marsland. But its effect would be to make the law a dead letter - so full of holes as to permit the return of full-blown hunting with dogs. MPs must vote down this 'repeal by stealth'. more...
Captive foxes held in a 'fox farm' barn as discovered by investigators. Photo: League Against Cruel Sports.

Kidnapped fox cubs explode the myth that hunting is ‘wildlife management'

Dr Toni Shephard

21st June 2015

The discovery of a secret 'fox farm' apparently linked to the Middleton Hunt exposes the lie that is used to justify fox hunting, writes, Dr Toni Shephard: that it's a legitimate means of wildlife control. On the contrary, foxes are deliberately fattened up for the kill, also indicating possible violations of the 2004 Hunting Act, which prohibits the hunting of wild animals, including foxes, with dogs. more...
Almost one in every two of Tanzania's elephants has been lost in the last five years - but the government is more concerned to conceal the truth, than to tackle the crisis, Photo: Sakke Wiik via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Tanzania in denial over 60% elephant population crash

The Ecologist

4th June 2015

After six months of denial Tanzania has finally admitted that its elephants have suffered a catastrophic 60% decline in five years. But they still refuse to accept it's caused by poaching for ivory, rampant corruption and 'above the law' smuggling networks. more...

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The Dalmatian pelican suffered large declines in the last centuries due to habitat loss and degradation and persecution, but thanks to habitat management and restoration the population in Europe is recovering and the species is no longer at risk. Photo: B

One fifth of Europe's birds are in danger of extinction

The Ecologist

3rd June 2015

Conservation projects have pulled several endangered European birds back from the brink of extinction, but habitat loss, industrial farming, over fishing and climate change all represent growing threats that requires broader and deeper change in the EU and beyond. more...
Hare coursing. Photo: via C Duggan / Flickr (CC BY-NC).

Bring back fox hunting and hare coursing? Not on our watch

Chris Pitt

22nd May 2015

Fresh from his surprise election victory, David Cameron is facing calls to expedite a 'free vote' in Parliament to repeal the law that forbids hunting with dogs, writes Chris Pitt. We must make sure our MPs vote to protect wild animals from the horrendous cruelty that resumed hunting would inflict on them. more...
Swimming seal at Barrel of Butter, Scapa Flow, Scotland. Photo: Dafydd Thomas via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Stop the seal slaughter on Britain's shores!

Dominic Dyer

14th May 2015

A 'summer of protest' is brewing as campaigners vow to protect seals from shooting by salmon farmers in Scotland and managers of wild salmon fisheries, writes Dominic Dyer. The RSPCA's 'Freedom Food' system is driving animal welfare advances on salmon farms - now the model must be extended to wild salmon. more...
Culling feral cats on Tasmania, similar to this one by the Rufus River in NSW - actually made them more abundant, not less. Photo: sunphlo via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Cullers beware - killing 'pest' animals can increase their abundance

Christopher Johnson

8th May 2015

A study of feral cats in Tasmania shows that culling them to reduce their impact on native wildlife had a paradoxical effect - their population went up! If you can't take 'pest' animals out faster than they can reproduce and move in from nearby areas, writes Christopher Johnson, you're better off not bothering at all. more...
Lions being transported for a canned hunt. Photo: Campaign Against Canned Hunting.

Canned hunting is not protecting wild lions!

Dominic Dyer

25th March 2015

Two thirds of Africa's lions have been lost in 35 years, and would-be hunters are increasingly shooting captive, farmed and often tame lions in 'canned hunts'. Claims are that this helps to preserve wild lion populations - but Dominic Dyer fears the reverse is the case. more...
A female Blackcap caught in a mistnet on the UK's Cyprus military base. Photo: Graham Madge / RSPB.

UK allows songbird slaughter on Cyprus military base

The Ecologist

9th March 2015

The illegal killing of songbirds on the UK's military base on Cyprus has reached record levels, a study by RSPB has shown, with an estimated 900,000 birds trapped, killed and eaten in autumn 2014. more...
A burnt Maasai village. Photo:

Tanzania breaks promise - thousands of Maasai evicted to make way for lion hunt

The Ecologist

27th February 2015

Last November Tanzania's President Kikwete tweeted his promise that the evictions of indigenous Maasai people and their villages near Serengeti National Park would stop. But now another round of evictions is under way: thousands of Maasai have been evicted at gunpoint and their homes burnt to ashes. The Maasai say: 'We need your help!' more...
'They beat us at the WWF base. I nearly died.' Baka 'Pygmy', Cameroon. Photo: Survival International.

Wildlife conservation must support, not destroy, Indigenous Peoples

Stephen Corry

6th February 2015

'Conservation' is destroying those who've nurtured their surroundings for timeless generations, writes Stephen Corry - the Indigenous Peoples who have actually fashioned those precious places that we now mistake as 'natural'. It's time for a new conservation ethic that recognizes them as senior partners - not as 'squatters'' and 'poachers' to be evicted and criminalized. more...
Different types of UAVs work in various challenging situations. Photo: Thomas Snitch (CC BY-NC-ND).

Satellites, mathematics and drones take down Africa's poachers

Thomas Snitch

3rd February 2015

Using new technologies to take on poaching in Africa is reaping big dividends, writes Thomas Snitch. Where drones are deployed as part of an integrated package of measures, poachers quickly give up. The trouble is, they move to other unprotected locations. So we must extend the program to all of Africa's most at-risk areas. more...
A California Condor near the South Kaibab Trail, Grand Canyon. Photo: George Kathy Klinich via Flickr (CC BY 2.0).

Condors or lead ammunition? We can't have both

Dawn Starin

21st January 2015

The recent death of Ventana the condor in Los Angeles zoo illustrates a simple truth, writes Dawn Starin: wild condors cannot survive so long as the dead amimals they eat are riddled with lead from spent ammunition. With lead poisoning to blame for 60% of condor deaths, it's time to ban lead ammunition across their entire range - and beyond. more...
Photo: Badgers in the wild by Tim Brookes via Flickr.

2014 badger cull failed - but the cull goes on

Oliver Tickell

18th December 2014

England's 2014 badger cull has failed to meet key targets for effectiveness with such low numbers of animals shot that TB spread is likely to be increased. But Defra boss Liz Truss insists the cull will go on regardless. more...
An English badger cub, innocent as summer days are long. Photo: Peter Burnage via Flickr.

Badger cubs to be shot in new 'summer cull' plan

Damian Carrington / the Guardian

10th December 2014

England's 2015 trial badger cull will be moved to summer, writes Damian Carrington - when cubs are numerous and easy to shoot. The surprise move follows 2014's failed autumn culls, which missed their minimum kill targets. more...
Wolves - to reduce farm animal predation, don't shoot them! Photo: USFWS Midwest, CC BY.

Shot in the foot? Killing wolves, lynx, cougar increases farm predation

Niki Rust

4th December 2014

Farmers who shoot wolves and other predators to save their animals from predation are actually having the opposite effect, writes Niki Rust. The disruption that killing predators has on the stability of their families and packs actually causes more, not less predation. Ultimately, we're better off learning to live with predators. more...


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