Watching Wounded Birds Fall From The Sky – Kate Middleton Takes Her Children Grouse Shooting

Honouring a Royal tradition of blood sports the Duchess of Cambridge recently took her young children into the field to shoot birds. 


Considered to be an ‘expert’ on child rearing, Kate Middleton evidently sees no conflict with her belief that children should be ‘kind, caring, and nurturing toward animals’.   The Duchess has also been filmed deerstalking.


Do you agree or disagree with the Duchess?  Feel free to leave a comment.


Read the Guardian article here: 

Duck Shooting Season A Licence To Kill Endangered Native Species

On the Eve of the New Zealand duck shooting season opening, End Animal Slaughter contributor Paul Judge calls for an end to the carnage.


As I write, the murderous mayhem of duck-shooting season has been given the go-ahead by the government during New Zealand’s level-2 Covid-19 lockdown.

I walk down to my favourite spot on the Waikato River most evenings. I hear the ducks as I approach, quacking away and going about their duck business. And there they are, on the river’s edge sitting calmly in their flock, or sometimes, led by a brave duck, waddling up the bank to look for food. Something will suddenly spook them and they all take off into the air as one, swooping past me with flapping wings, circling way out over the river before settling again on the sandy beach. These are the lucky ones, I think to myself. As long as they stay here they will escape the horrors of the hunters’ guns.

How I loathe duck shooting. It is so obviously cruel I cannot understand how it is still legal. Australian studies show that around one in four ducks are not killed outright, but instead fall to the ground mortally wounded, dying an agonising, lingering death. While a good percentage of geese and swans are monogamous, ducks can also pair bond for extended periods.   If a single duck manages to survive the carnage duckshooting causes, then they will ‘mourn’ the partner they bonded with.

The mayhem and murder is not only normalised by the media but is celebrated. Blokey, camouflaged duck-shooters are shown stocking their maimais (concealment huts) with beer and talking about how it’s the best thing since Christmas. Small children are dressed up in identical camouflage to their proud dad’s and declare on camera that they have shot their first duck. Often the children will speak with trepidation in their voice, not understanding fully why they have killed a beautiful living bird.

Duckshooting family.  Teaching our children violence from an early age. (Photo credit: TVNZ)

When it comes to duck shooting, the law is truly an idiot. The large numbers of maimed, wounded ducks flies in the face of humane slaughter laws in the Animal Welfare Act. Duck-shooting should be banned on these grounds alone. I know it will be a long battle, given the powerful enculturation of the practice, and I will never give up the fight to see it happen. But there is another Act of Parliament that can and should be properly updated – the Wildlife Act 1953.

When it comes to duck shooting, the law is truly an idiot. The large numbers of maimed, wounded ducks flies in the face of humane slaughter laws in the Animal Welfare Act. Duck-shooting should be banned on these grounds alone.

All New Zealanders should know that some species of native duck, which are in decline or classified as endangered, are allowed to be shot under the Law.

Notwithstanding the regional variations regarding bag limits, the hypocrisy of killing our native species is absurd. We spend millions of tax-payer’s dollars – expensive aerial poison drops, hours upon hours of both government paid work and unpaid volunteer work – protecting our precious native birds. To allow our native species to be slaughtered makes absolutely no sense.

The only ducks that are legally protected in New Zealand are the Brown and Grey Teals, (Patekeke and Tete Moroiti respectively),  NZ Scaup (Papango), and Blue Duck (Whio).  Native species so recklessly assigned to the carnage are the Grey Duck (Parera), the Shoveler (Kuruwhengi) and the Paradise Shelduck (Putangitangi).  

The Grey Duck is in rapid decline and has been declared “critically endangered”.  It is thought to be extensively hybridised with the mallard, and this hybrid is allowed to be hunted.  Good luck with telling the difference!   The true Grey Duck is in danger from being shot by hunters as both sexes look similar to the female mallard.   The Grey Duck has a pattern of stripes from the bill and over the head.  The general similarity of appearance to the mallard is one very good reason to ban all duck-shooting.

The female Grey Duck (Photo credit: NZ Birds Online)

The introduced Mallard is, of course, the most common duck. We see them almost everywhere, the female with her uniform, dull brown feathers, the male with his handsome, dark green, iridescent head and neck feathers. These ducks are considered pests. They apparently disturb the replanting programmes along the waterways and they overcrowd the wetlands for native species. What? Hang on a minute. We are shooting the native species! And as for overcrowding, wetland habitats have been devastated in this country, largely due to intensive agriculture. 90% of our original wetlands have been destroyed. And it’s the duck’s fault?

Male and female Mallard ducks  (Photo credit: NZ Birds Online)

Conservation of remaining wetlands is a contentious issue in the duck-shooting debate. The hunters become ‘greenies’ in regard to wetlands, but only in order so there will be plenty of game next year to carry out their blood-sport.

The native Shoveler duck also deserves immediate protection.  It is estimated about 30,000 of these birds are killed every hunting season. That’s around 20% of their total population. That is not sustainable and certainly not acceptable. Once again, the females look quite similar to the plainly embellished female mallard. The male Shoveler, however, must be New Zealand’s most handsome waterfowl, with his blue-grey head with white vertical stripe between eye and bill, his striking reddish-brown breast and blue wings.  It is inconceivable that such a bird, endemic to New Zealand, can be legally shot.

The Shoveler duck (Kuruwhengi) (Photo credit: NZ Birds Online)

The Paradise Shelduck is sometimes mistaken for a goose, possibly due to the male’s goose-like honk or the female’s white head. The male Shelduck is a uniform black or dark grey with green iridescent head feathers, while the female is a chestnut brown with a distinctive pure white head and neck. After the mallard the Paradise Shelduck are the most abundant waterfowl in New Zealand. Ironically, they have increased their numbers since colonisation due primarily to their ability to adapt to feeding on grassland. Thus farmers see them as a pest and shoot these beautiful creatures relentlessly.

Of an estimated population of 700,000 about 200,000 are shot annually. And this is a native bird! Under this logic, Will we see the hunting of kiwi if the conservation programmes are hugely successful and their numbers increase?

Male and female Paradise Shellducks  (Putangiangi) (Photo credit: NZ Birds Online)

The Paradise Shelduck was listed in 2008 as “not threatened”. That, of course, seems an absurdity given the overall decline of all waterfowl species since that date. Habitat loss, predation, overhunting and extreme weather events due to climate change are taking their toll on even the abundant mallard, so much so that the 2015 season was shortened to one month, with bag limits for all duck species reduced.

And why is the beautiful, iconic Pukeko, another native to Aotearoa, allowed to be killed en masse? Large numbers of these stunning birds are killed ‘for fun’ by duck-shooters. Conservation groups have estimated 50,000 are killed each season. But Fish & Game say this is wrong, and that only 20,000 are killed. Hold on a minute. That’s a bit like saying the use of napalm in the Vietnam War was not so bad because the civilian death count was over-estimated.

Pukeko and chick

The Pukeko is almost as iconic a bird as the kiwi. Check out any tourist trinket shop and there they will be, adorning ceramic tiles, headscarves, countless prints and paintings. Killing the Pukeko is as dumb as the Australians killing the kangaroo, an animal that adorns the tail of the Qantas aeroplanes, the national symbol. Shhh! Keep quiet, we don’t tell the tourists anything about this.

All duck shooting is unacceptable, but native birds still being shot in this country is a total outrage and simply beggars belief. The Wildlife Act of 1953 is in urgent need of extensive revision.

The most well-known of our protected ducks, thanks to the media coverage of conservation efforts, is the Blue Duck (Whio). But here’s an idea; let’s protect all the native ducks shall we? Or better yet, all the ducks, native or otherwise.

But here’s an idea; let’s protect all the native ducks shall we? Or better yet, all the ducks, native or otherwise.

Blue duck (Whio)  (Photo Credit: NZ Birds Online)


With the Covid-19 pandemic the world is in crisis, but are we learning anything? Are we looking at the root causes of this catastrophe? Are we examining our relationship to our evolutionary partners who we exploit and maim and kill in the most horrendous ways?

Can we not even develop a new empathy for those we define as our prey, when we ourselves are experiencing the horrors of becoming prey to a biological enemy out to destroy us?

And before the Covid-19 crisis there was the biodiversity crisis. Well guess what? That is still happening, and overhunting, along with habitat loss, pollution and climate change, is a root cause.

There is so much morally and ethically wrong with duck shooting – the scale of the suffering of the birds, the enculturation of children into violence, the poisoning of the environment with lead (yes, still used, not to be phased out until 2021), the list goes on. But to put endangered native species in harm’s way every duck shooting season is incomprehensible, and cannot be allowed to continue.


Paul Judge (seen here with his beloved companion goat, Robert) is a filmmaker and animal rights activist. He taught film production in the tertiary education sector for 17 years.  

Wading Into Murky Waters: The Truth About Duckshooting

Duckshooting in New Zealand is a centuries-long activity.   It’s time to bring it to a stop, writes End Animal Slaughter’s Sandra Kyle.


In a few short days, the pitter-patter of tiny bullets will be heard near wetlands all over New Zealand. The air will be thick with the smell of gunshot, and dead and injured birds will rain on the ground.   In an estimated 25% of cases these birds will not be killed outright, but will suffer an agonising, lingering death. Is this the kind and compassionate New Zealand our Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern keeps talking about, or is it government-sanctioned carnage?

The opening of the gamebird season – generally the first weekend of May, but delayed this year because of Covid-19 restrictions – has been part of New Zealand’s history since the early nineteenth century.  Although it is declining in popularity, over 30,000 gamebird hunting licences are still sold in New Zealand annually.

Every year during the weeks-long season, shooters get up before dawn, don camouflage suits and war paint, trek down to lakes, ponds and rivers, and install themselves in hidden huts called maimai, or sit in dingys near reeds, away from the ducks’ keen eyesight.  The first rays of daylight reveal a bucolic scene. Sleeping birds rest their heads gently on their backs, next to their lifelong partners, also sleeping.

Suddenly shots fire out, and the quiet scene become turbulent with panicking family and friends, the air filled with their cries.

Terrified, they take to the sky in an effort to escape, only to be picked off by shooters who fist pump and whoop in delight when they strike their mark. This wetland was the birds’ refuge, and now, cruelly and senselessly, their life is over.

Birds who do not die outright (it takes a good marksman to kill them immediately) may perish in the mouths of retriever dogs, or have their necks wrung by shooters. Many will just lay where they fell, undiscovered, until the life ebbs from them.

There is so much wrong with duck shooting that it is hard to know where to begin, but we could start with sentience.

Ducks are animals, like us.

They know hunger and thirst, heat and cold. Like us, they can feel excitement, joy, and fear, and form attachments to their families and friends.

Their perception of pain is analogous to ours also.  Vets use a combination of opiods, corticosteroids, anti-inflammatories and local anaesthetics to manage the pain of birds.  I have looked after birds as a volunteer for bird rescue organisations, have applied pain relief, and seen the results for myself.   Universally, animals in the wild generally do not show their pain or weaknesses, because it makes them vulnerable.  It is hard by looking at a bird to know if they are in pain, but you can almost immediately see them relax and settle once pain relief is administered.

What about the ethics of shooting ducks?  It is called a ‘sport’, but a sport requires two equally matched parties playing by the same rules.  Duckshooting, and hunting in general,  is hardly  a ‘sport’  ‘Carnage’ is a better word.   And not only ducks are shot.   Protected species are also killed and injured because of incompetent shooters, or those who are deliberately flouting the rules.

It is certainly not heroic either.   For all its macho image, duckshooting  is a cowardly activity. The shooter lurks in a hiding place and employs deceptive techniques such as decoy ducks and hooters to lure his mismatched opponents.  This would be laughable if it were not so tragic.

There is not one compelling reason for shooting ducks.

It goes without saying that we don’t have to kill them for our food.  In fact many shooters don’t bother eating their prey.  While some may dine out on duck for weeks, others simply discard their bodies at the sides of roads and in rubbish dumps, or bury them.

The conservation reason is also a myth.   Contrary to the belief they would “blacken the sky” if left alone to breed,  Nature has her own way of culling. When numbers are low, and the environment can support them, species breed more, and vice versa.  While no one wishes starvation, disease or predation on waterfowl, shooting an animal because he or she might starve or get sick is arbitrary, and in the end, pretty much useless. Professor Richard Kingsford, who directs the Centre for Ecosystem Science at the University of New South Wales, has been conducting yearly surveys of waterbird populations across eastern Australia for three decades.  New South Wales is one of the Australian states where duckshooting is banned, and Professor Kingsford and his team have not detected an increase in numbers of birds as a result of the ban.   If anything there is a slight decline, but it is due to habitat loss and not hunting.  It is frankly unbelievable to me that shooters kill birds for conservation reasons.    They even cooperate with the government to establish wetlands, so, as the Fish and Game website states, that they can have more ‘fun’ next year.

For the princely sum of $23.00, a parent can buy a child’s season’s pass to kill ducks. A few years ago Fish and Game promoted the season by showing a young boy with a firearm over his shoulder and holding a string of dead ducks.   What traits are we fostering in our children and in our communities by perpetuating the annual duck shooting season? Indifference to suffering? Irreverence towards other forms of life? Cruelty?

Why don’t we recoil from seeing children take up arms and shoot harmless animals?

Why aren’t we modelling kindness and compassion to our children? Why don’t we teach through our own behaviour a respect for all life, and for other species’ natural right to share the planet?

Why as a society would we encourage any activity that serves to dull our compassion and pity?

Are we not aware that violence breeds violence? Is the parallel between killing animals and hurting human beings not clear?

Why can’t our Prime Minister see that?

Duck shooting is the unnecessary taking of life. The only conclusion we can draw for its popularity is that shooters enjoy killing.

Now there’s a thought.

We really are wading into murky waters now.

Sandra Kyle is a full-time animal activist.   She started End Animal Slaughter in 2018, with the goal of closing all slaughterhouses in the western world by 2025.  

Hunters in Lockdown show ‘sickening lack of empathy’

A new facebook page reveals the real reason hunters love to hunt, writes End Animal Slaughter contributor Lynley Tulloch. 


Hunting in New Zealand has been banned since we went into lockdown at 11.59pm Wednesday March 25, 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This triggered the start-up of a Facebook page and group called ‘the great NZ lock up mouse hunt’ on the same day. The Facebook group currently has over twenty-five and a half thousand members.  It was started by a New Zealand hunter. In the ‘about section’ on the page it simply says, “we need to hunt something”.

It is in the category of ‘sport’. It calls upon people to hunt mice and rats, taking videos and photos of their catch, measuring their worth by size as you would if you killed a ’trophy stag’. Prizes are awarded in categories of kids (2-10 years) , youth (12-16 years) and adults.

It is all done in the spirit of having a laugh. It’s all very funny, according to the hunter who set up the page.

It’s all very disturbing if you ask me.  This page and associated group is full of hunters eager to boast over killing tiny mice and rats, causing as much misery as possible and then laughing at the victims as they pose their bodies.  It is serial killer type mentality.

It’s all very disturbing if you ask me.  This page and associated group is full of hunters eager to boast over killing tiny mice and rats, causing as much misery as possible and then laughing at the victims as they pose their bodies.  It is serial killer type mentality.

The mice and rats are posed with children’s toys such as lego, barbie cars, ken dolls, and remote-control vehicles. There are videos with tiny dead mice dangling from threads tied to hovering toy helicopters. It is as ridiculous as it is sadistic.

I realize that mice and rats may pose particular health risks to humans, but surely adults and children playing with the dead corpses of these animals is not going to help the situation. What with Covid-19 being of zoonotic origins, I would hate to think of some kind of mutant virus emerging from the dead mouse blood smeared on the toy lego.

It is reminiscent of the many rural possum hunts in schools across the country during the year, where dead possums are dressed up and used for carnival fun by children.

One picture is of a rat tied over a miniature spit roast, his decapitated head lying gruesomely on the ground nearby.  Another shows a cruelly trapped mouse lying dead right next to a row of pizzas.


There are numerous instances of animal cruelty on the Mousehunt Facebook page and group. One includes cheese tied onto live electric wires; another an electrified platform.

There is also  a video and pictures of mice who drowned after being lured onto food strapped onto tin cans or bottles over a bucket of water . Drowning animals, including rats and mice, is an illegal and prosecutable offence under New Zealand law.

One harrowing video is of a rat cowering in the corner of a garage. The guy taking the video has a piece of two by four in his hand and bludgeons the rat, not killing it outright, leaving the poor animal writhing and squealing in pain. He is egged on by fellow group members:  “Nice shot bro! Pole axed the bas***d!”.

There are horrific traps, such as this one pictured below, that must cause so much suffering,

This irrational hatred towards these animals, alongside distasteful guffaws at their suffering is disconcerting. You can say they are pests, and that they spread disease, but those rationales go out the door when you see these same people placing their dead bodies alongside food items. One photo has a dead mouse on the kitchen bench with cheese pizzas.

Scroll deep enough into this murky underbelly of grownups and their children amusing themselves abusing animals and playing with their dead corpses and you start to lose faith in humanity.

Scroll deep enough into this murky underbelly of grownups and their children amusing themselves abusing animals and playing with their dead corpses and you start to lose faith in humanity.   The people on this page are also creating a number of torturous looking devices. I quote one member: “I can’t help but feel that rifle cartridge primers, a firing pin, and small sprinkling of gunpowder incorporated into this would be spectacular, Why trap mice when you can set them up to walk into and IED, Allah Akhbar.” This is followed by a bomb emoji.

Another post about traps “Had a crack at making a mascalls trap, you ripper, 0.9 mig wire for the nosse, head was hanging by a thread” (laughing face emojis).

I began to reflect on philosopher Hannah Arendt’s thoughts about the ‘banality of evil’, and how hideous acts of cruelty become normalized and accepted. Smashing a piece of wood down onto the head of a living sentient creature, videoing it and enjoying the suffering is reminiscent of how the mob acts during totality terror regimes.

Surely, the mass murder of animals by hunters reflects this. Despite the claim by hunters that  they are just feeding the family, or getting out to enjoy the great outdoors, there is more going on.

Surely, the mass murder of animals by hunters reflects this. Despite the claim by hunters that  they are just feeding the family, or getting out to enjoy the great outdoors, there is more going on. This page illustrates that extra element so well. The hunters are not simply killing animals out of necessity – they enjoy it. They display a release of sorts, the pent-up anger and an outpouring of hatred and complete lack of empathy for the animals concerned is sickening.

The animals are the objects of a human totalitarian terror regime. They have no rights, no identity, no name. They are nothing but a body with which the hunters can pose alongside, dismember and turn into trophies.

Arendt reflected on the nature of totalitarian human societies. Extending that thought to human treatment of animals can reveal some alarming parallels. The animals are the objects of a human totalitarian terror regime. They have no rights, no identity, no name. They are nothing but a body with which the hunters can pose alongside, dismember and turn into trophies. They are objects of blood lust and anger, of people who feel so dispossessed and alienated in life that they take out their frustration on defenseless animals.

We live in a pathological global society based on a depraved sense of human superiority over animal subjects. We need to change our relationship with animals if we are going to survive not only this pandemic but mitigate against future ones.

Messing with the bodies of dead animals is how we got ourselves into this Covid-19 mess. It is not only cruel, but socially irresponsible to foster and sanction this kind of behavior through Facebook.

I acknowledge that in the New Zealand context mice and rats are considered ‘pests’ as they are not part of the natural ecosystem but were introduced.  As mentioned, they may also spread disease – not that this seems to be bothering the members of this group.

But that does not mean we should glorify and gamify their deaths. And it does not mean we should turn a blind eye to deliberate animal cruelty.


Dr Lynley Tulloch is an animal rights advocate and lectures in Education.

Conservation – or the Thrill of the Kill?

In this article End Animal Slaughter editor Sandra Kyle looks at trophy hunting and suggests that it’s time to lay down the gun and pick up the camera.


The National Geographic photo shows a middle-aged man sitting in his trophy room in Delaware, surrounded by taxidermied animals.   Above the large brick fireplace the head of a bull elephant is mounted, its trunk curled out in front, flanked by his enormous tusks.   Below him is a standing giraffe, and another giraffe rests off to the side, his or her long legs curled under their body.  When the trophy hunter shot the animals they would have fallen in a crumpled, bloody heap, but now thanks to a mould mounted under their beautifully preserved skin they have an eerily lifelike appearance.  In the photo we also see a rhino, hyenas, deer, cervals and other animals.  The hunter says hunting is in his blood, and he thinks of himself more as a conservationist and a collector rather than someone who goes out and shoots sentient beings for the thrill of the kill.

Judging by the 100 or more specimens on display, this hunter is undeniably a collector.   But what is the real reason trophy hunters pay tens of thousands of dollars to kill an animal and bring them home to put on their wall?  They may tell you it is for conservation, or to help impoverished local communities, but I suspect that is not the primary motivation.   Trophy hunting may well be about adventure, tradition, camaraderie, but it is also more than that.  Seeing the way hunters of both sexes pose grinning for photos above the corpses of the large – often dangerous – animals whose lives they have just extinguished, I suspect it is much more to do with power, status – and possibly sexual stimulation – than the desire to help human or wild animal populations.

Trophy hunters who pay tens of thousands of dollars for their licence to shoot African animals like to say that picking off certain individuals is an effective conservation tool that can benefit both animals and local communities.  It sounds good in theory, but there is a problem with it in practice.  In many of the countries where trophy hunting is carried out, there is a high level of corruption, and funds can end up lining the pockets of dishonest operators and officials rather than helping to alleviate the poverty of the local people.

When an animal is shot, it can also cause many problems within the population the animal came from.  For example, old bull elephants are favoured by some hunters because they say they are no longer adding to the gene pool and their absence will not overly affect the herd.    However, older bulls exert an important impact on the herd.   They have a wealth of experience; for example they can guide the herd to safety, or to sources of life-preserving water. They also impose order.   It has been shown that young bulls in musth, when their testosterone levels are particularly high, are  more likely to fight each other when an older bull is absent.

For trophy hunters, size evidently matters.   They go after male lions with large heads and impressive manes, and these are often the dominant male in a pride.   However, picking off one dominant male lion could lead to the pride being fractured, and also to the loss of many younger lions.   Lions are a species with a tendency to infanticide, and when a new male takes over a pride he may kill all the cubs of the deceased lion, so he can populate the pride exclusively with his own offspring.

In discussing hunting, and trophy hunting in particular, we need to consider ethics.    In 2015, Cecil the Lion was wounded by American dentist Walter J Palmer who shot him with a bow and arrow.   Cecil must have suffered greatly before he was tracked down by the dentist the next day and killed. How is it ethical to shoot a sentient animal with a bow and arrow, causing them to physically and emotionally suffer, sometimes for days, from their wound?  The phenomenon of ‘canned hunting’ is another case to be considered here.  According to Ian Michler, a South African safari operator and photographer who investigated the canned lion industry for the 2015 documentary Blood Lions, cubs are taken from their mothers and brought to petting zoos. When male lions grow into adulthood, they are lured within the sights of the ‘hunter’ for fees that are much lower than other trophy hunts,  and therefore more affordable to the non-wealthy.  The animals are pretty much sitting ducks.    And there is another deleterious spinoff from hunting lions.  Hunters have no need for the bones of the animal, so these are shipped to Asia where the wealthy can eat them crushed into a powder and consumed as a health tonic and aphrodisiac.   Thus trophy hunting is spurring on more demand for lion bones, and this is encouraging cruel and illegal poaching of lions in the wild.

A newspaper report recently revealed that some hunters are willing to pay to have leopards ‘kneecapped’ so they can shoot them more easily.

The questions must be asked:  Even if convincing evidence did exist that trophy hunting can produce conservation benefits, is it ethical to cause the death and suffering of individual animals to save a species?   Even if a killing has the potential to produce a social benefit, does that in itself mean it’s ethical?

Do humans owe anything to other species at all?  Are our own rights all that matter?

As the dominant species on the planet we have considerable potential to exploit and destroy nonhuman animals, and we have always done so.  Animals, particularly wild animals and farmed animals, are scarcely viewed as living, feeling, intelligent beings at all, but given value in relation to their economic or property value to us.   Is it not time that other animals were legally protected from our destructive activities?  At present protection for farmed animals is so weak that cruel factory farms are legal everywhere in the world, and where wildlife laws exist, they almost always correspond to species and not to individuals.

Clearly, trophy hunting brings pain, fear, suffering and death to both the individual killed and to members of their family left more vulnerable because of the killing, and possibly left them in mourning.  Many studies have shown that elephants and primates mourn, and if it is true for them, it could also be true for other species.

There is no need for us to be killing wild animals at all.  Alternative conservation approaches like photo tourism where the shooting is done with a camera and not a rifle could take the place of trophy hunting.  Substantial conservation income to benefit animal populations and local people can therefore be gained without having to take the life of a sentient being.

There is an easy solution to trophy hunting in places like Africa.   Governments around the world simply need to place a ban on trophy imports, and host countries begin to support alternative, ethical methods of conservation and income generation.  This would be a win-win for all.

Except, perhaps, for those who just enjoy the thrill of the kill.

Horrific slaughter of whales in the name of culture and tradition

Although the International Whaling Commission was set up in 1942 to help whales recover from over-hunting, whale slaughter is still carried out by nations who defend it as their cultural heritage.   

Last week the waters of a peaceful bay in the Danish Faroe Islands turned red as their annual whale hunt took place.  End Animal Slaughter contributor LYNLEY TULLOCH describes the gruesome killing of whales in the second of her ‘Slaughterhouses of the Sea’ series.


Recent reports of a whale hunt (called a grindadráp, or grind) in the Faroe islands, 400 miles of the coast of the UK, gave me the chills. This was the tenth grind this year, where 536 pilot whales have been killed in total,  butchered after fishermen drove the whales into shore. They were slaughtered without mercy as the sea turned red (feature photo). Images of children and adults dismembering the whales amid laughter and chatter, while tourists snap photos, is horrifying.  One photo showed a fully formed pup lying perfectly formed, nestled among her dead mother’s organs.

A perfectly formed pup inside their butchered mother

The Faroe islanders  call their whale grind, practiced since the time Norsemen first settled there,  a humane and sustainable custom. They say that respect is shown to the whales. And yet reports suggest that it is a depraved blood fest with many whales dying prolonged and agonizing deaths. Attempts to paralyze some whales with a lance before killing them has multiple failure attempts. After paralyzing them, men tie ropes with metal hooks around the whales and drag them to shore to be killed.  They slice through the whale’s spinal cord and main artery, keeping one hand behind the blow hole. The blood flows into the water staining it a bright red. And they carry this out amid children.

Reports suggest that it is a depraved blood fest with many whales dying prolonged and agonising deaths.

Pilot whales are not actually whales. They are part of the dolphin family, but get very large. They are generally friendly and sociable, and do not usually harm humans.  It makes their horrifying deaths excruciatingly sad.

New Zealand has its own horror stories when it comes to whales. Despite currently having some of the best whale protection laws in the world, we once killed whales with the same abandon shown by the Faroe islanders. Research by Anne M Creason has shown that “Visitors to New Zealand in the mid-1800s commented on the indiscriminate practices of whalers in killing female whales and calves. Creason argues that Maori people traditionally consider whales as taonga (treasure), a sacred gift from Tangaroa (God of the sea) and that this has heavily influenced the strong whale protection stance we currently have.

Maori people traditionally consider whales as taonga (treasure), a sacred gift from Tangaroa, God of the Sea.

Culture most definitely influences our views and treatment of nonhuman animals, and whales are no exception. Commercial whaling has been banned in most countries owing to concerns of extinction from over hunting during the 18th and 19th centuries. The International Whaling Commission (IWC) was set up in 1942  to help whales recover. On 23 July 1982, members of the IWC voted to implement a pause on commercial whaling and signed a moratorium.

But not all nations are on board with this. There are still three main whaling nations – Japan , Norway and Iceland. These nations practice commercial whaling.  Norway filed an objection to the moratorium, and now kills more than 400 minke whales a year. Japan has recently withdrawn from the International Whaling Commission and so is no longer subject to its laws. In Japan whale meat is highly prized. After 30 years of no commercial whaling, it has begun the killing again, in earnest. Even before this, Japan killed whales for what it claimed were ‘research purposes’. For example, last year, under the banner of research Japan went into Ross Sea – an area of the Antarctica set aside for special protection – and killed 50 minke whales.

‘Bombed’ whale is hauled into a Japanese whaler

The worst part is that commercial killing of whales is a destructive and violent act, causing immense pain and prolonged agony in many cases. Commercial whaling fleets kill whales with an explosive 30-gram penthrite grenade-armed harpoon. They often finish the job with a second grenade and high powered rifles.  The explosives go off once the harpoon is embedded a foot into the whale’s flesh. While this is supposed to cause sufficient brain damage to knock the whale out in seconds, it is definitely not an exact science.

Hunting is Blood Lust in the Guise of Sport and Conservation

End Animal Slaughter contributor DEBBIE NELSON remembers early fox hunts she participated in. 


During the late 1960’s and early 1970’s on three occasions in three states, and on three different horses, I had the experience of riding in an English-style Fox Hunt. The hunts I road with were the Arapahoe Hunt, Moingona Hunt and Mr Stewart’s Cheshire Foxhounds, all established live hunts in Colorado, Iowa and Penn.  Our prey was coyote or fox.  It was one of the few outlets girls in their late teens and early twenties had for adventure. We were required to have the whole traditional dress and wore a stock tie around our neck in case we needed a sling. The men carried flasks and the women carried sandwich cases.  The Hunt Master had a pack of hounds; we  followed the whole 16th century English tradition faithfully.

The riding was the most challenging I’ve ever done, in fact it would be a hard ride for rodeo cowboys!  If I wanted adventure here it was!    The hounds picked up the scent and we followed them.   This included jumping at a full gallop over 4 ft. barbed wire fences.  A board was nailed above the top of the dangerous barbed wire fence to give the horses an idea of the height of the fence they had to jump – barbed wire is hard to see when you’re going at break neck speed. To make a mistake was extremely harmful,  if not life-threatening to horse and rider.  We galloped on top of a ridge in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains for 10 miles in horse-knee-deep snow There were cliffs on both sides. If you went two feet off to either side you fell off the ridge.   My horse and I had to slide down slopes so steep that he had to sit on his hindquarters to get down. We galloped through fields avoiding the many holes waiting to trip us up. We followed the hounds through forests where the trees were so dense we had to watch that our knee caps weren’t shattered.

Now that’s a courageous, skillful, think-on-the-spot sport, definitely not for the faint of heart.  Luckily we never killed any animal, unlike in the UK where the sport was carried out by royalty, aristocratic landowners, and clergy. Since 2005 Fox Hunting has been unlawful in England, a ban that is still flouted by die-hards.   At the time Tony Blair’s government was trying to get it banned, Prince Charles wrote him a letter.   He said:  “There is … complete bewilderment that the Government is apparently responding to calls to ban something which is genuinely environmentally friendly, which uses no modern technology, which does not pollute the countryside, which is completely natural – in that it relies entirely on man’s ancient and, indeed, romantic relationship with dogs and horses.”

Many hunters try to disguise cruel traditions and their own blood-lust behind Conservation reasons, whereas in fact hunting just skews natural population dynamics by disrupting Nature’s self-regulating methods.  Animals are killed by hunters, they breed more to cover the losses, requiring more hunting as the ‘solution’ to the problem caused by hunting in the first place.  Plus a lot of the hunting is carried out on game farms, begging the question that beyond lining the pockets of the landowners, how does it aid the earth’s wild spaces or wildlife? Hunters who say they kill for food is also just a bad excuse for guilty killing.   Nowadays we can get a variety of plant-based sources of protein which doesn’t give us chronic disease, is sustainable for the planet, and is not cruel.

There have been over 1,500 studies proving the sentience of other animals. Sentience means that beings are capable of feeling pain, suffering, and emotions.   This statement also applies to fish, and it is ironic that fishing as in other hunting activities, ‘bonding’ between parents and children is carried out at the expense of causing extreme distress and pain to other beings.   What example are these parents really giving their children?  That it is fine to kill animals?

Hunters!   You who stalk deer or other large mammals for example!  Please explain your motivation; physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.  Kindly consider all the stages involved.  Choosing and buying your weapons and gear, practising with that weapon, cleaning and caring for the weapon,  planning where to go for the best kills, travelling to and from the stalking site, picking out the beautiful sentient animal to kill, setting up your killing gear, bringing your victim into your sights, pulling the trigger, seeing the painful affect your bullet or arrow has on the prey, watching the hit animal running in panic, seeing the blood trail, following the blood trail of the suffering animal, seeing the animal fall, watching them dying, seeing their death.   Taking your pictures with the dead animal, chopping it up, transporting his head to a taxidermist, taking it home and mounting it on your wall as a permanent reminder of the life you have needlessly taken, a daily reminder of your cruelty.

You should be ashamed, just as I am ashamed I participated in fox and coyote hunts as a teenager.   The thrill for a teenage girl was in the riding. It was fast hard and dangerous, and  I was up to  it. You bet I was – at the expense and terror of the prey.  My heartfelt apologies to them, and also to the horses who had to undergo human-created hardships that put them in harm’s way.   It must have been terrifying for the poor foxes and other small mammals, but at least they did have a chance to escape. How could they ever be the same after such a terrifying experience?  I sometimes wonder what happened to the pups of our prey during and after our cruel, self-serving hunts.    I take full responsibility for joining in on these events.   But saying sorry to these chased and hunted wild animals and their family members is not nearly enough.   We have to stop all animal hunting, including small and large mammal hunting, trophy hunting, game hunting, and fishing.  They all feel.  They all suffer.  They have the same right to life we have.