New Zealand will continue to allow live exports of animals by air, which has lesser welfare concerns, a practice used for the sale of horses.
Citing reputational risk from poor animal welfare practice, New Zealand is banning live exports of animals by sea.
Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor on Wednesday announced the controversial practice would end within the next two years.
“There’s a lot of public pressure here, a lot of concern,” Mr O’Connor said.
“We must stay ahead of the curve in a world where animal welfare is under increasing scrutiny.”
The practice was paused in September 2020 after the Gulf Livestock 1 ship sank on a journey to China, drowning 41 crew – including two Kiwis and two Australians – and almost 6000 cattle.
This is world leading! Thousands of animals will no longer suffer. We’re pleased to see that our Government has listened to the tens of thousands of Kiwis who have spoken out about this issue. Thank the government for taking animal welfare seriously at https://t.co/SupWQ97Gs0pic.twitter.com/Vsz48zjO46
Animal welfare advocates have congratulated the government, while export bodies have slammed the call.
World Animal Protection NZ executive director Simone Clarke called on Australia to follow suit.
“The New Zealand government’s announcement to phase out live exports in the coming years is a significant moment in our history for animals, one which other governments around the world must now follow, including Australia,” she said.
Mr O’Connor refused to join them, saying live export policy was a matter for individual countries.
Sheep destined for the Middle East make their way to be loaded onboard the Al Messilah livestock vessel at the Fremantle wharf in February 2019.
The West Coast-Tasman MP said many farmers supported the ban, while acknowledging others would lose out.
The Animal Genetics Trade Association called the ban an “ill-informed, massively consequential decision for the nation, to earn short-term political brownie points from a few activists”.
“This is an immoral ban against a trade being conducted humanely. There is no morality in removing half a billion dollars from our economy and forcing the early deaths of up to 150,000 animals a year,” AGTA spokesman Dave Hayman said.
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Animals Australia could lose its charitable status amid allegations it has paid whistle-blowers working on live export ships to capture footage of cruelty to animals.
Assistant Treasurer Michael Sukkar told Sky News, Animals Australia should have its charitable status reviewed if allegations “as distressing as this” were true.
Emails obtained by Sky News host Sharri Markson shows Animals Australia offering money for “valuable” footage of animals in distress.
One deckhand was paid $2000, a much larger windfall than the US$350 a month he typically received for work on live cattle ships.
Ms Markson said Animals Australia previously denied paying whistleblowers for images of animal cruelty.
“It is now clear they encouraged poor crew members to gather footage with the promise of big money,” she said.
Mr Sukkar said if the allegations of secret payments which “solicited animal cruelty” were true, it would be the “most egregious” circumstance.
“If these allegations are true that these charitable donations provided by Australians went to make secret payments that then led to animals being treated in a cruel fashion, I think Australians would be appalled,” he said.
“No doubt the Australian Charities and Not-For-Profits Commission will take these allegations seriously.
“It’s hard to imagine how these sorts of payments could lead to a worse outcome.”
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The researchers listed four scenarios in order of likelihood for the emergence of the virus named SARS-CoV-2
BEIJING: A joint WHO-China study on the origins of COVID-19 says that transmission of the virus from bats to humans through another animal is the most likely scenario and that a lab leak is “extremely unlikely,” according to a draft copy obtained by The Associated Press.
The findings were largely as expected and left many questions unanswered, but the report provided in-depth detail on the reasoning behind the team’s conclusions. The researchers proposed further research in every area except the lab leak hypothesis.
The report’s release has been repeatedly delayed, raising questions about whether the Chinese side was trying to skew the conclusions to prevent blame for the pandemic falling on China. A World Health Organization official said late last week that he expected it would be ready for release “in the next few days.”
The AP received what appeared to be a near-final version on Monday from a Geneva-based diplomat from a WHO-member country. It wasn’t clear whether the report might still be changed prior to its release. The diplomat did not want to be identified because they were not authorized to release it ahead of publication.
The researchers listed four scenarios in order of likelihood for the emergence of the virus named SARS-CoV-2. Topping the list was transmission through a second animal, which they said was likely to very likely. They evaluated direct spread from bats to humans as likely, and said that spread through “cold-chain” food products was possible but not likely.
The closest relative of the virus that causes COVID-19 has been found in bats, which are known to carry coronaviruses. However, the report says that “the evolutionary distance between these bat viruses and SARS-CoV-2 is estimated to be several decades, suggesting a missing link.”
It said highly similar viruses have been found in pangolins, but also noted that mink and cats are susceptible to the COVID virus, which suggests they could be carriers.
The report is based largely on a visit by a WHO team of international experts to Wuhan, the Chinese city where COVID-19 was first detected, from mid-January to mid-February.
Peter Ben Embarek, the WHO expert who led the Wuhan mission, said Friday that the report had been finalized and was being fact-checked and translated.
“I expect that in the next few days, that whole process will be completed and we will be able to release it publicly,” he said.
The draft report is inconclusive on whether the outbreak started at a Wuhan seafood market that had one of the earliest clusters of cases in December 2019.
The discovery of other cases before the Huanan market outbreak suggests it may have started elsewhere. But the report notes there could have been milder cases that went undetected and that could be a link between the market and earlier cases.
“No firm conclusion therefore about the role of the Huanan market in the origin of the outbreak, or how the infection was introduced into the market, can currently be drawn,” the report says.
As the pandemic spread globally, China found samples of the virus on the packaging of frozen food coming into the country and, in some cases, have tracked localized outbreaks to them.
The report said that the cold chain, as it is known, can be a driver of long-distance virus spread but was skeptical it could have triggered the outbreak. The report says the risk is lower than through human-to-human respiratory infection, and most experts agree.
“While there is some evidence for possible reintroduction of SARS-CoV-2 through handling of imported contaminated frozen products in China since the initial pandemic wave, this would be extraordinary in 2019 where the virus was not widely circulating,” the study said.
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The City is inviting the whole community to provide
feedback and suggestions on domestic animal-related topics in the development
of the Domestic Animal Management Plan (DAMP) 2022 – 2025.
With approximately 45,000 registered cats and dogs,
Greater Geelong has one of the largest animal populations of any Victorian
Under the Domestic Animals Act 1994,
every Victorian local government must prepare a plan outlining how it will
manage dogs and cats within its municipal boundaries.
Greater Geelong Mayor Stephanie Asher said it was
important we heard from all residents in the development of the plan – even
those without pets.
For many residents, dogs and cats play important
roles in their lives, often serving as extended members of the family.
It’s important we hear from residents, those with
and without pets, to ensure we are meeting community needs and expectations in
the management of domestic animals.
I encourage all residents to think of the domestic
animal-related topics and issues they’d like us to address and to submit it via
the online engagement.
The DAMP identifies how Council will:
help pets, pet owners and the general
community to live together;
protect the environment and local wildlife
from the negative impacts of dogs and cats;
balance the needs of those who own pets with
those who do not;
address animal management welfare and legal
promote responsible pet ownership; and
improve the experience of animal ownership.
Community feedback submitted to previous plans has
strengthened the City’s focus on developing additional dog parks in the region,
resulted in new branding to improve visibility and identification of the City’s
animal management team and informed the introduction of a cat curfew in 2009.
Feedback can be
submitted up until 4pm Friday 23 April at yoursay.geelongaustralia.com.au/DAMP-2022-2025.
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One problem with the lab leak theory is that it presumes the Chinese are lying or hiding facts, a position incompatible with a joint scientific effort. This may have been why the WHO team, for instance, never asked to see the offline database. Peter Daszak, president of the EcoHealth Alliance, which collaborated with the Wuhan lab for many years and funded some of its work, says there is “no evidence” whatsoever to back the lab theory. “If you just firmly believe [that] what we hear from our Chinese colleagues over there in the labs is not going to be true, we will never be able to rule it out,” he said of the lab theory. “That is the problem. In its essence, that theory is not a conspiracy theory. But people have put it forward as such, saying the Chinese side conspired to cover up evidence.”
To those who believe a lab accident is likely, including Jamie Metzl, a technology and national security fellow at the Atlantic Council, the WHO team isn’t set up to carry out the sort of forensic probe he believes is necessary. “Everyone on earth is a stakeholder in this,” he says. “It’s crazy that a year into this, there is no full investigation into the origins of the pandemic.” In February, Metzl published a statement in which he said he was “appalled” by the investigators’ quick rebuttal of the lab hypothesis and called for Daszak to be removed from the team. Several days later, the WHO director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, appeared to rebuke the origins team in a speech in which he said, “I want to clarify that all hypotheses remain open and require further study.”
The scenario the WHO-China team said it considers most probable is the “intermediary” theory, in which a bat virus infected another wild animal that was then caught or farmed for food. The intermediary theory does have the strongest precedents. Not only is there the case of SARS, but in 2012 researchers discovered Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), a deadly lung infection caused by another coronavirus, and quickly traced it to dromedary camels.
The trouble with this hypothesis is that Chinese researchers have not succeeded in finding a “direct progenitor” of this virus in any animal they’ve looked at. Liang said China had tested 50,000 animal specimens, including 1,100 bats in Hubei province, where Wuhan is located. But no luck: a matching virus still hasn’t been found.
The Chinese team appears to strongly favor a twist on the intermediate-animal idea: that the virus could have reached Wuhan on a frozen food shipment that included a frozen wild animal. This “cold chain” hypothesis may have appeal because it would mean the virus came from thousands of miles away, even outside China. “We think that is a valid option,” says Marion Koopmans, a Dutch virologist who traveled with the group. She said China had tested 1.5 million frozen samples and found the virus 30 times. “That may not be surprising in the middle of an outbreak, when many people are handling these products,” Koopmans says. “But the WHO did request studies, spiked the virus onto fish, froze and thawed it, and could culture the virus. So it’s possible. You cannot rule it out.”
The WHO-China team, in its eventual report, is expected to suggest further research that needs to be carried out. This is one reason the report matters; it may determine which questions get asked and which don’t.
There is likely to be a larger effort to trace the wild-animal trade, including supply chains of frozen products. In addition to animal evidence, Ben Embarek also said China should make a greater effort to locate people who were infected by covid-19 early on, but perhaps were asymptomatic or didn’t get tested. That could be done by hunting through samples in blood banks, using newer, more sensitive technology to locate antibodies. “We need to keep looking for material that could give insight into the early days of the events,” Ben Embarek said. As well, the report is likely to call for the creation of a master database that includes all the data collected so far.
Ultimately, in seeking the cause of the covid-19 disaster, we don’t just want to know what happened. We’re also looking for something—or someone—to blame. And each hypothesis points to a different culprit. To ecologists, the lesson of the pandemic is nearly a foregone conclusion: humans should stop encroaching on wild areas. “We have come to recognize how this kind of investigation is not just about illness in humans—nor indeed just about an interface between humans and animals—but feeds into an altogether wider discussion about how we use the world,” says John Watson, the British epidemiologist.
The Chinese authorities, meanwhile, are already taking action on the intermediary theory by putting responsibility on wild-animal farmers and traders. Last February, according to NPR, China’s legislature started taking steps to “uproot the pernicious habit of eating wild animals.” At the behest of President Xi Jinping, they have already banned the hunting, trade, and consumption of a large number of “terrestrial wild animals,” a step never fully implemented after the original SARS outbreak. According to a report in Nature, the Chinese government has already closed 12,000 businesses, purged a million websites with information about wildlife trading, and banned the farming of bamboo rats and civets, among other species.
Then there is the chance covid-19 is the result of a laboratory accident. If that’s true, it would bring the sharpest consequences, especially for scientists like those in charge of finding the virus’s origin. If the pandemic was caused by ambitious, high-tech research on dangerous germs, it would mean China’s fast rise as a biotech powerhouse is a threat to the globe. It would mean this type of science should be severely restricted, or even banned, in China and everywhere else. More than any other hypothesis, a government-sponsored technology program run amok—along with early efforts to conceal news of the outbreak—would establish a case for retribution. “If this is a man-made catastrophe,” says Miles Yu, an analyst with the conservative Hudson Institute, “I think the world should seek reparations.”
According to some former virus chasers, what’s actually in the WHO-China origins report may be different from what we’ve heard so far. Schnur says the Chinese probably already know much more than we think, so the role of the team could be to find ways to push those facts into the light. It is a process he calls “part diplomacy and part epidemiology.” He believes China’s investigation was likely very thorough and that the foreign visitors may also have stronger views than they have let on so far.
As he points out, “What you say in a press conference may be different than what you put in a report once you have left the country.”
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Police officer cleared over suspicious tasering Animal wrangle accused of not returning one of the bird he took for Penguin Bloom filmPlane discover flames shooting from engine Ongoing search for Queensland man Man arrested in relation to disappearance of 49-year-old womanTwo killed in Barossa Valley crashMan dies following Woodville West fireBride-to-be trapped in rising floodwaters on wedding day Hundreds protest against vaccine rollout Australia dragged in political tensions between US and Spies targeting Australian industriesFlames shoot out of Brisbane-bound plane’s engine Monster goldfish taking over Perth waterwaysHell’s Angel bikie allegedly caught with approximately 10 kilograms of methamphetamine
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A teen has been charged with animal cruelty after allegedly kicking and stabbing to death a sea bird in Sydney.
Police arrested a 13-year-old boy and 18-year-old man after attending a home in Revesby, in Sydney’s west, this morning during an investigation into a video posted on Facebook on Thursday March 4.
In the footage, three males attack and kill a cormorant at a wharf in Walsh Bay.
A cormorant is an aquatic bird also known as a shag.
Both were taken to Bankstown Police Station, where the 18-year-old was charged with animal cruelty.
He’s been granted conditional bail to appear at Downing Centre Local Court on March 31.
The 13-yaer-old was dealt with under the Youth Offenders Act.
Police are still attempting to track down the third male filmed killing the bird.
He’s been described as being of Mediterranean or Middle Eastern appearance, aged in his late teens or early 20s, with a medium build, black mohawk-style haircut, and a beard.
Police are also attempting to track down the person who filmed the incident.
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Australia is home to some wonderfully weird creatures.
We’ve got bunnies with pouches, black swans and mammals that lay eggs.
So it’s probably no wonder that some fake animal “facts” have snuck their way into our faunal folklore.
To help clear things up a bit, here are five curly and not-so-curly tales that need setting straight.
Do quokkas throw their babies at predators to escape?
They’re one of, if not the most photogenic animals on the planet, and until recently the marsupial quokka with the butter-wouldn’t-melt-in-their-mouth smile could do no wrong.
That was the case at least, until a malicious rumour began circulating that the darlings of Rottnest Island had a diabolically dark secret.
According to a meme that has recently resurfaced online (pictured), when being pursued by a predator, quokkas “toss their babies” at them in order to escape.
“No! It can’t be true!” I hear you say. And you’re right. But only on a technicality.
The word “at” in that accusation makes the meme a bit misleading. But take out that one offending preposition and it’s true — quokkas sacrifice their babies in order to escape predators.
“The pouch is really muscular so the mum will relax it and the bub will fall out,” conservation biologist Matthew Hayward from the University of Newcastle says.
It’s the “ultimate survival strategy” that’s only really available to marsupials, according to kangaroo ecologist and behavioural expert Graeme Coulson from the University of Melbourne.
“[The mother is] interested in her own survival and her future reproduction,” Associate Professor Coulson said.
But before you judge quokkas too harshly, you should know they’re not alone in employing this dastardly device, according to Professor Hayward.
“Macropods in general, that’s their strategy to get away from predators,” he said.
“Woylies and boodies, potoroos do it — they all throw their young, and the mother gets to live another day.”
Are daddy-long-legs one of the most venomous spiders on the planet?
This “myth” usually goes something along the lines of: Daddy-long-legs are extremely venomous but their fangs aren’t able to penetrate human skin.
But a quick skim of forums online reveals countless reports from panic-stricken parents whose babies have been caught making a meal out of the wiry arachnids.
Proof! you might say, that they can’t be venomous? Not quite.
Unlike poison, venom molecules are too large to be absorbed through the skin, and need to be injected into the bloodstream or lymphatic system to take effect.
Although a cut in the mouth or upper digestive tract could allow envenomation to occur through swallowing, typically when venom is swallowed it’s broken down by stomach acids.
So babies swallowing daddy-long-legs doesn’t prove they’re not venomous.
And the truth of the matter is, they are venomous. Just not to people.
Instead, daddy-long-legs are spider killers. Their venom is capable of taking down arachnids far bigger than themselves, including the fearsome funnel-web, according to the Queensland Museum’s arachnid expert Robert Raven.
“They can use those massive long legs to bite spiders over and over, while bouncing back out of reach [of the victim].”
Maybe that’s where the confusion has come from. Or maybe there’s a simpler explanation?
“From my understanding, a boy scout leader in Cairns started a rumour [that daddy long legs were deadly] on April Fools’ [Day] and it got loose,” Dr Raven said.
Are the kangaroo and emu on the coat of arms because they can’t walk backwards?
According to the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, the perceived inability of both kangaroos and emus to take a backwards step was the reason they were chosen for the coat of arms:
“The shield is held up by the native Australian animals the kangaroo and the emu, which were chosen to symbolise a nation moving forward, based on the fact that neither animal can move backwards easily.”
If the key word here is “easily”, then it’s probably fair to say that does apply to the kangaroo, according to Dr Coulson.
“For a kangaroo, they can [move backwards] but it’s not graceful,” he said.
Unfortunately for the legitimacy of our coat of arms, that ascription for the emu is patently false.
“The emu certainly can [walk backwards]. I don’t think it is any trouble at all for an emu to step backwards,” Dr Coulson said.
The original coat of arms was granted to the Commonwealth of Australia by King Edward VII in 1908, with an updated version from King George V taking its place in 1912.
It’s unclear whether the metaphorical inaccuracy of our coat of arms has been implicated in any of the steps, backwards or otherwise, the country may or may not have taken over the past century.
Is it true freshwater crocodiles don’t attack people?
For anyone who has lived or travelled in the northern third of Australia, there’s one rule that’s pretty well known: no swimming where there are saltwater crocodiles.
On average there have been 1.5 fatal saltwater crocodile attacks in Australia each year between 2010 and 2019, according to the ABS, with an exceptionally bad year in 2014, when five people were killed.
Men were three times more likely than women to be the victims during that period.
But the presence of the salties’ freshwater cousins usually does little to deter swimmers from taking a refreshing dip in one of the north’s many beautiful waterholes, especially in the middle of summer.
That’s because it’s usually accepted that “freshies” pose us little harm.
But while it’s true that freshwater crocodiles have never been responsible for a recorded fatal attack in Australia, they are regularly involved in non-fatal encounters with people.
Since 2000, there have been 23 recorded freshwater crocodile attacks in Australia, according to global crocodile database CrocBITE.
Most recently, a seven-year-old girl was attacked on Lake Moondarra near Mt Isa in March last year.
While freshwater crocodiles don’t view us as food, we can still fall victim to their territorial defences, says senior research associate and CrocBITE project lead Adam Britton from Charles Darwin University.
“We know one of the things the adult males will do is spend time aggressively defending an area or territory,” Dr Britton said.
Bite wounds from freshwater crocodile attacks on people show the crocodiles typically give a single bite before letting go — proof they’re not trying to kill us, according to Dr Britton.
The only real danger that an attack could result in death is if the victim were to panic and drown, he said.
Do white-tailed spiders cause necrotising flesh wounds?
The white-tailed spider has been implicated in some pretty nasty stories of rotting flesh and gore.
As recently as 2017, a white-tailed spider bite was wrongly blamed for an infection that resulted in the double amputation of a Filipino tourist’s legs while visiting regional Victoria.
But all the evidence says the white-tailed spider is a victim of guilt by association.
A 2003 study of 130 confirmed white-tailed spider bites found “no necrotic lesions or ulcers” developed from the bites.
And analysis of the spiders’ venom has found no properties that would cause necrosis, according to Dr Raven.
The rumour that the white-tailed spider causes necrotic flesh wounds dates back to the late 1980s, he said.
“A lady who was gardening in her [yard] near the New South Wales-Victoria border presented [to hospital] with a necrotic lesion,” he said.
“Six weeks later a doctor and his student, who knew nothing about spiders, went to her garden and collected 19 spiders.
“When I asked [the doctor] why he thought it was the white tail, he said it had to be, because it was the most common.”
As well as there being no evidence that the spider bites cause necrosis, it doesn’t make biological sense for them to do so either, according to Dr Raven.
“Spiders want to kill their prey and bring it down quickly — it doesn’t make sense for them to be biting their prey and having them go on walking around.”
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A 17-year-old boy has died in hospital a week after being stung by a box jellyfish, while swimming at a beach near Bamaga on Queensland’s western Cape York.
It is the first recorded box jellyfish fatality since 2006.
The boy was stung while swimming at Patterson Point, near Bamaga, on February 22.
The Royal Flying Doctor’s Service was called to the scene and the teenager was intubated before he was flown to the Townsville Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit.
A spokesperson for Queensland police said the boy died in hospital on Monday and a report would be prepared for the coroner.
Marine biologist and world-renowned jellyfish expert Lisa-Ann Gerswhin said the boy’s death was the first recorded box jellyfish fatality in 15 years.
“Unfortunately, that [previous] fatality also occurred in Bamaga,” Dr Gershwin said.
Dr Gershwin said box jellyfish — also known as Chironex fleckeri — are the world’s most venomous animal.
“Chironex are the only animal in the world that kills by causing the heart to lock in a contracted state,” she said.
But, Dr Gershwin said box jellyfish fatalities were avoidable.
“The fundamentally important part of this is about who lives and who dies [and] overwhelmingly it’s people in remote communities who die,” she said.
“It’s not a physiological difference, but it’s that education around the dangers of stingers that is different.
“In populated areas where there are stinger nets, people are constantly reminded about the presence of stingers, whereas in remote areas you don’t have that constant reminder.”
Dr Gerswhin said more needed to be done to increase protection against marine jellyfish stings for people living in rural and remote parts of Australia.
“There is no silver lining to a young man dying from a box jellyfish sting, but maybe to honour him and his family we should start having that conversation,” she said.
“Nobody needs to die from a box jellyfish sting, we know how to avoid stings, we know how to be safe.”
Former mayor of the Northern Peninsula Area Regional Council, Eddie Newman said the news of the boy’s death had reverberated through the community.
“It’s a tragic, tragic accident,” Mr Newman said.
“There are plenty of signs around warning about stingers and the local knowledge is that we know they come out of the rivers onto the coast.
“But to lose someone, especially a young fella is tragic.”
The death of the 17-year-old is the 79th box jellyfish fatality since Australian records began in the late 1800s.
The Northern Peninsula Area Council has erected signs at coastal swimming spots throughout the community, warning people not to enter the water during stinger season.
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