Obituary for David Shepherd

Told by Slade School of Art in London that he had no artistic talent didn’t stop David Shepherd from being able to raise more than £8m for wildlife conservation by donating the proceeds from the sales of his painting to charities such as the World Wildlife Fund. Later in his life, in 1984, he set up the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation which campaigned to protect endangered species, and combat poaching and its trade.

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His paintings, whether they be of large animals or huge locomotives, showed the subject facing down the audience, bold and large. In 1970 the BBC made a documentary about him called The Man who Loved Giants.

In 2011 he launched a social media campaign to save the tiger in the wild, TigerTime.

“Man is the most stupid, arrogant and dangerous animal on Earth,” he said. “Every hour we destroy a species to extinction, and unless we start doing something about that very quickly, we are going to self-destruct.”

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Are animals safe in zoos?

In the UK zoo inspectors will go and check on zoos incase they are mistreating animals. There are numerous laws to protect animals:

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Recently zoo inspectors said they had found “significant problems caused by overcrowding, poor hygiene, poor nutrition, lack of suitable animal husbandry and a lack of any sort of developed veterinary care” at South Lakes Safari Zoo.

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The Guardian reports that one African spurred tortoise named Goliath died after being electrocuted by electric fencing, while the decomposing body of a squirrel monkey was discovered behind a radiator. The zoo had a death rate of about 12% of its animals a year. Can you think of any more pros and cons of keeping animals in zoos?

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Religions have an opinion on zoos too: how do their teachings affect what they think of zoos?

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Oral contraceptive hidden in Nutella the plan to reduce the number of grey squirrels in UK

Contraception: the deliberate use of artificial methods or other techniques to prevent pregnancy as a consequence of sexual intercourse.

Oral contraceptive (the pill): are hormonally active pills which are usually taken by women on a daily basis.

Currently there are almost 3.5 millions grey squirrels in the UK. They are not indigenous to the island, instead brought to the UK by US landowners in Victorian times. Over hundreds of years they have dominated over the domestic red squirrel and attacked broadleaf trees. Moreover the most significant threat associated with grey squirrels is the spread and transmission of a disease called squirrelpox virus (SQPV). It can take only one grey squirrel to introduce this virus to a local population of red squirrels and then the virus can spread throughout the reds with devastating effect.

The number of red squirrels is down at 140,000 and the hope with this oral contraceptive plan is to humanely limit the reproduction of grey squirrels so over the next five years their numbers drop to 300,000. The plan has made the headlines because of Prince Charles’ support of it. A tongue in cheek article by the Guardian reports on these sterilisation plans.

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Should humans be meddling so much in animal numbers or should they leave nature to run its course? Do the grey squirrels have rights to be able to reproduce or should humans be intervening to save the red squirrels in the UK?

Free Range become Barn Eggs

We’re reported on this before but with Year 8 students currently starting a unit on creation, the environment and animal rights (Genesis), it is timely to see the story about free range eggs having to be re-labelled ‘housed in barns’ because bird flu is keeping them indoors (well the farmers are!).

The British Free Range Producers Association (BFREPA) said keeping chickens inside was a ‘necessary step’. Its chief executive Robert Gooch said: ‘The risk of infection is from wild migratory birds who are leaving cold weather feeding grounds and could head to the UK, carrying with them the potential to bring the H5N8 strain to our shores.

‘It would be devastating for a British producer to have to go through the heartbreak of seeing their entire flock wiped out by this virus as we have already seen in continental Europe.’

Mr Gooch added: ‘Housing birds presents significant challenges to free range egg producers but they understand that it is important to reduce the risk of AI spreading.

Plant Built

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A group of athletes call Plant Built have been making some headlines for their promotion of a vegan diet and the size of their muscles. Since 2012 they have been showing how you can be ripped by eating a vegan diet. The Vegan Zombie on YouTube invited some Plant Built athletes over to his kitchen to show what kind of food they eat.

Suffering is part of glory

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“Suffering is part of glory”, says a Spanish bullfighter who after losing an eye in a 2011 bullfight has been gored again. The one eyed matador is known as the Pirate and is famous all over Spain. In an interview with GQ in 2012 he said, “I have always known, as a Christian, that suffering is a part of glory. I have had many important afternoons with the bulls, many triumphs, and I have suffered many wounds. This is a part of bullfighting; its other face.”

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What do you think of bullfighting? A short but quite wordy article about Spanish bullfighting weighs up both sides of the argument, and the Guardian in 2015 tried to weigh up the pros and cons too.

Do countries allow more freedom to religion than they do freedom of tradition? An article about bullfighting stated: Some people agree that tradition cannot justify animal suffering but they change their mind when it comes to religion. For instance, certain practices like Shechita and  Dhabiha, the kind of animal slaughtering practiced by Jewish and Muslims respectively, are legal in Spain and the majority of European countries. These techniques cause unnecessary suffering to animals but they are allowed in the name of “freedom of religion”. Shouldn’t “freedom of tradition” be equally protected? The British don’t think so. Recently they banned the horrible tradition of “fox haunting” but they allow Jewish and Muslim slaughtering despite several reports by experts against both practices. In what way can we say that religion has a superior legitimizing force? Often people answer this question by saying that religion defines personal identity and expresses very important values. So does tradition…”

Shechita is the Jewish religious and humane method of slaughtering permitted animals and poultry for food. It is the only method of producing kosher meat and poultry allowed by Jewish law.

Dhabihah is, in Islamic law, the prescribed method of ritual slaughter of all lawful halal animals (goats, sheep, cows, chicken) excluding locusts, fish, and most sea-life.

12 % of adults in Britain Vegetarian

It is obviously a complete accident that we are about to study vegetarianism in our Year 11 classes and World Vegetarian Day has just taken place on October 1st. It is a day of celebration established “To promote the joy, compassion and life-enhancing possibilities of vegetarianism.”In fact World Vegetarian Day initiates the month of October as Vegetarian Awareness Month,  which ends with November 1st as World Vegan Day.

world-vegetarian-day Amanda Holden has written in the Independent about why being vegetarian is a life saving change you can make to your diet. It isn’t simply a personal decision either, by no longer eating meat the world can seriously reduce its carbon footprint. The Worldwatch Institute estimates that a staggering 51 per cent of greenhouse-gas emissions worldwide is a result of “livestock and their by-products”. It’s no wonder the United Nations has concluded that a global shift to a vegan diet is vital to alleviating the worst effects of climate change.

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