Australian Bushfires – Hell on Earth for People, but especially for Wildlife
January 29, 2020
By Michael Kennedy, AM (Member of the Order of Australia)
The Federal Government in Australia was warned by a group of ex-fire chiefs early in 2019 that the country was facing a potential fire disaster scenario that was in part due to the ongoing and significant effects of climate change. The group asked for a meeting with the Prime Minister on two occasions but were refused. They didn’t get the chance to explain to a climate change denying government the need for an emergency plan essential to cope with a looming apocalypse.
What happened next has already found its way into the history books, and for all the wrong reasons. So far, some 10 million hectares (25 million acres) have burned in 5 states with estimates of wildlife deaths at 1 billion, though in all likelihood, it will be substantially more. It has been an unmitigated ecological disaster on a scale that has yet to be fully appreciated…almost defying comprehension…every aspect of this environmental calamity is unprecedented.
Exhausted fire-fighters along the entire east coast of Australia are working under extreme conditions, while 28 have tragically lost their lives and thousands of homes have been lost. Similarly, wildlife rescuers, carers and rehabilitators are so utterly overwhelmed, facing multiple horrors and stresses that many are calling for psychological help.
Support for Australian People, Animals and Environment
January 29, 2020
By Gary Tabor, VMD, Center for Large Landscape Conservation
The New York Times (19 January 2020) reported that Australia has shifted from being a donor country to a charitable recipient nation in the face of its current wildfire emergency. To make matters even worse, the wholesale burning of Australia’s landscapes has set the country up for massive post-fire dust storms, record flooding levels as burned, denuded soils can no longer absorb moisture and recent devastating hailstorms. People, Places, and Platypuses have all succumbed to a nightmarish experience.  In Tinbinbilla Nature Reserve near Canberra, there is currently an operation to remove all the platypuses and wombats from the reserve to minimize possible wildfire mortality.
Rabies in Chennai and in India
By Andrew Rowan
One of the more important recent papers on the role of dogs in rabies transmission was the paper by Reece & Chawla (2006). It described the elimination of human rabies cases in the center of Jaipur due to a street dog sterilization and vaccination program (Animal Birth Control – ABC).
The sterilization project was launched in Jaipur’s Pink City in 1994. By 2002, the number of human rabies cases in the area had fallen from around eight to ten a year to zero. Meanwhile, the number of human rabies cases in the area of Jaipur where street dog sterilization was not being carried out had doubled to around eight a year.
An even more dramatic outcome was observed in Chennai, where Dr. S. Chinny Krishna reported in 2010 that human rabies cases in the city had fallen from 120 a year in 1996 to around five a year ten years later (and then to zero).
Human Rabies Incidence in Chennai 1973-2017. Note that there is no data in the chart from 1978-1995.
Greyton Human-Baboon Conflict
October 31, 2019
By Kathleen Rowan
On the recent trip to Africa by WellBeing International, we had the privilege of meeting with the Field Guides of the Baboon Monitor Team of Greyton, South Africa. The team was originally reported in a WBI News article on October 26, 2018. As noted in numerous press articles and social media posts, human-baboon conflicts are a growing concern across South Africa. In an innovative approach to mitigate this conflict, members of this team monitor and discourage baboons from entering residential areas of Greyton where they have access to fruit trees, vegetable gardens and garbage bins. When a baboon troop is observed on the edge of town, team members calmly confront their potential visitors with subtle body language until such time as the baboons relocate to the adjacent mountains. No paint guns or any other weapons are used.
Members of the Monitoring team – Wilmohr Williams, Jirmaine Lewis, Bertrim Moses, Andrew White (Greyton Conservation Society) and Leefred Damons. Photo by K. Rowan
The Third International Humane Dog Population Management Conference, Mombasa, Kenya; 18-20 September 2019.
To date there have been three international dog population management conferences. The first was organized by Dr. Giovanna Massei in York (UK, 2012). The second and third have been organized by ICAM (the International Companion Animal Management Coalition) in Istanbul (Turkey, 2015) and most recently in Mombasa (Kenya, September 2019). The venue of the third Dog Population Management (DPM) conference was a conference hotel just north of Mombasa. Attendance was relatively light (149 registrants on day 1 and 185 on days 2 and 3). Almost two thirds of the attendees were representatives of NGOs and the majority of the attendees (51%) came from Africa with 16% each from Europe and Asia. Rabies control was a major theme of the conference with one-quarter of the individual presentations involving a focus on rabies control.
In addition, a World Rabies Day celebration organized by the Kenya Veterinary Association was held on the fourth day of the conference. Individuals will have their own favorite presentations but here are some that caught the attention of WellBeing International (WBI).
Cape Town Animal Conference, South Africa
October 25, 2019
By Andrew N Rowan, DPhil.
The second Cape Animal Conference in September was held at the University of Cape Town (UCT) courtesy of a student group, We Are Animals, that allowed the organizers to make use of UCT lecture facilities. The conference “theme” involved an examination of how laws and their application affect animal protection in South Africa. However, the conference also included talks on a wide range of topics including service animals, links between human and animal abuse, lectures on farm animals and veganism and leopard protection. In addition, WBI gave a presentation on global dog management issues and how such issues might present in South Africa.
Photo by: K. Rowan
Climate Change, Youth Activism, Academe and the Teach-In Movement
September 29, 2019
By Ingrid Lesemann, Coordinator, American University, Washington College of Law, Program on Environmental Energy and Law
During the week of September 23, 2019, six million people, young and old, across the globe took to the streets demanding urgent action on Climate Change. Meanwhile, institutional world leaders continue to “fiddle” while catastrophic change looms over the globe.
On the topic of Climate Change, we are at (or maybe even past?) a defining moment in time. Worldwide, disastrous flooding is increasing in frequency, seas are rising, and weather patterns are growing more erratic, threatening health, safety, and food security.
A global citizenry, especially youth, fluent in the broad details of environmental forces and trends, is essential to help the globe respond to the environmental threats it is now facing. The Program on Environmental Energy and Law (PEEL) of the Washington College of Law at American University (AU) is taking the Teach-In model developed during the 1960s to ensure that future leaders will be informed of important issues and trends.
Teach-In student participants attend “Youth Climate Strike” on Capital Hill in Washington DC, Sept. 20, 2019.
Third African Animal Welfare Conference, September 2-4, 2019
The Third African Animal Welfare Conference took place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia at the beginning of September (the first two were held in Kenya in 2017 and 2018). There were over 200 attendees drawn from all regions of Africa and from eight non-African countries. As in the previous two conferences, the lead entity organizing the conference was the African Network for Animal Welfare (ANAW), a Kenyan NGO established in 2006. Apart from South Africa, Egypt, Morocco and a few East African countries, animal advocacy presence in African countries has been very limited until recently.
Developing Partnerships to End Dog and Cat “Homelessness”
July 31, 2019
By Andrew Rowan, DPhil, Chief Program Officer
WellBeing International
The pet care (food, treats and veterinary care) market and dog and cat “homelessness” are related. It is in everyone’s interest (animal NGOs, pet care companies and other stakeholders) to collaborate and work together to address (and end?) pet homelessness. Pet care companies have financial and technical resources (which would grow significantly if more dogs and cats were in homes rather than on the streets) while animal NGOs have large (and growing) human resources in terms of staff and volunteers as well as increasing public support. Ending dog and cat homelessness is certainly a very ambitious goal, but it is attainable if the various stakeholders can manage to work together to develop and implement appropriate solutions. The following article will be the first of several that address the importance and the benefits of building co-operative partnerships to address companion animal welfare challenges.
AHPPA – Costa Rica
Thriving Together: A New Initiative Combining Conservation and Family Planning Needs
August 1, 2019
Kathryn Lloyd, Programmes & Operations Manager, The Margaret Pyke Trust
On July 11, World Population Day, the Margaret Pyke Trust launched the Thriving Together campaign, supported by over 150 organizations (from United Nations (UN) agencies and large NGOs like The Nature Conservancy to smaller organizations such as WellBeing International). The Trust and its partners are aiming to build a movement “to change global policy to recognize the importance of removing barriers to family planning as an appropriate cause for conservationists to embrace, for the sake of their missions, for the lives of women and children and for a better world.”
How Many Dogs Are in a Particular Place or Region?
July 10, 2019
By Andrew Rowan, DPhil.
The 2019 conference of the International Society for Anthrozoology (ISAZ) was held in Orlando at the beginning of July.  One of the talks on dog demographics, prepared by Drs. Harold Herzog and Andrew Rowan, was given by Dr. Harold Herzog and produced a lot of reaction (tweets ranged from “thought provoking” to “remarkable differences in rates of dog ownership”) and questions.  (The charts are taken from the slides Dr. Herzog used for his talk, “Geography, Demography, and Patterns of Pet-Keeping: The Case of Dogs.”)
Over the years, it has always been something of a surprise that so little attention has been given to a better understanding of dog (and cat) demographics in human society. As the Herzog talk illustrates, there is a large variation in the results from different surveys with the reported percentage of households with dogs ranging from 49% to 68%. Typically, whenever a survey publishes its results, people simply quote the numbers uncritically without any understanding of or apparent interest in determining the accurate number of dogs and cats or why the survey results differ so much.
A Quiet Revolution Replacing The Use Of Animals In Research
May 31, 2019
By Andrew Rowan, DPhil.
Great Britain : Animal Experiments & Procedures : 1900-2017
On 16 May (2019), the Sanger Institute outside Cambridge in the UK announced it would be closing its laboratory animal facility in the next few years. It came to this decision “following a rigorous review” of its scientific strategy and after consulting with the Wellcome Trust, one of the major funders of biomedical research in the world today and a very generous supporter of programs at the Sanger Institute. This is a momentous decision, but it is not particularly surprising (except for the timing – earlier than expected) to those of us who have been following the animal research issue over the past thirty years.
IPBES Report
May 2019
Taken from
The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) is an intergovernmental (UN) body which assesses the state of biodiversity and the ecosystem services provided to society. It was established by member states in 2012 and its objective is to strengthen the science-policy interface on long-term sustainable development and human well-being. There are currently over 130 member states and a large number of civil society representatives participate in the formal IPBES process as observers.