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Megyl Kelly on elephant poaching 

The first episode of “Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly,” Sunday June 4 on NBC, included a segment on women fighting elephant poachers. And the Tuesday June 6 New York Times includes a feature article on the illegal trade in wildlife in Asia, which is decimating populations. 

The story on the fight against Kenya’s elephant poachers, reported by Harry Smith on “Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly,” had a notably feminist feel. Earlier in the show viewers were informed, “Coming up: The race to save the elephants: women are leading the way.” The opening of the story focused on Faye Cuevas, a lawyer and a lieutenant colonel in the US air-force reserve, who works with IFAW to catch poachers and save elephants. But the story also looked at local women who had been leading efforts and included a brief interview with Kenya’s Secretary for the environment, Judy Wakhungu, who showed off the ashes at a site where $100,000,000 worth of elephant tusks had been torched to show, “Ivory has no value unless it is on a live elephant.” The show did inform us that elephants are in dire straits, but shared, “The hope here is community based conservation, like the efforts we witnessed, will be the strategy that ultimately slows and stops the slaughter, efforts that seem part
icularly effective when women are involved.”

You can watch the whole show, which I enjoyed, and which includes an interview with President Putin, and with a drug company whistle-blower, on line at http://tinyurl.com/y77fo8p9 . Or you can go straight to the elephant segment on NBC’s YouTube channel at 

Please let this new show know how much we viewers appreciate animal issues being included in the first episode. You can do that by sharing the YouTube video of the episode on social media and tagging @MegynKelly and/or by going to the NBC contact page at http://www.nbc.com/contact-us and choosing “I have feedback” and “Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly.” I did both. 

Tomorrow’s, Tuesday June 5, New York Times story is titled, “Animal Farms.” It opens with a description of three caged tigers on a farm in Laos, none of whom likely “had long to live.” It covers the farming of wild animals in various Asian countries for their body parts, and notes that the animals are mostly wild caught though sold as captive bred. Government efforts to curtail the businesses are questionable:

“Officials in Vietnam recently granted permission for the wife of Pham Van Tuan, a twice-convicted tiger trafficker, to import 24 tigers from the Czech Republic ‘for conservation purposes.’”

The article covers bear bile farming:

“An estimated 10,000 bears are legally kept on Chinese farms for their bile, an ingredient in traditional medicine that is collected through a tube permanently implanted in the animals’ gall bladders, or through a hole in their abdomens…..

“In 2002, Vietnam faced a similar dilemma when it made bear farming and bile sales illegal. Fifteen years later, around 1,200 bears still live with their original owners.

“Many are kept in horrific conditions — in cages scarcely larger than their bodies, suffering from rampant disease and lacking adequate food and water — and their bile continues to be collected illegally.

“Animals Asia runs a rehabilitation center near Hanoi that houses 160 bears rescued from the trade, but the center has permission to keep only 200 animals. Even if that cap were eliminated, however, the group lacks the funds and space to care for all of Vietnam’s remaining captive bears.”

The responsibility of the US is not ignored in the piece:

“The pet trade is also a problem. Indonesia annually exports over four million reptiles and small mammals labeled captive-bred — including thousands shipped weekly to the United States. But virtually all are caught in the wild, according to Dr. Shepherd.”

And we read:

“Conservationists believe that international pressure may be crucial to persuading Asian governments to close tiger, bear and other wildlife farms, but that strategy’s effectiveness is compromised by an awkward fact: An estimated 5,000 tigers are held in backyards, petting zoos and even truck stops across the United States.

“While those animals are predominantly kept as pets, they compromise negotiations with other countries on this issue, said Leigh Henry, a senior policy adviser at the World Wildlife Fund.”  

She is quoted:

“When fingers are pointed at China about their tiger farms, they tend to point the finger back at the U.S. and say, ‘They have as many tigers as we have, why are you not criticizing them?’

“The priority is closing the tiger farms in Asia…but the U.S. needs to set a strong standard, and that starts with cleaning up the situation in our own backyard.”

You’ll find the whole article on line at http://tinyurl.com/y958jrrw and can send a letter to the New York Times at letters@nytimes.com

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