Heal our Planet Earth

 

 

Heal Our Planet Earth

 

 

 

 

Saving Earth's Biosphere

 

 

 

The Problem

The Prize

 

 

 

The Solution

 

 

Introduction

 

Blood Superstition

and

New Cosmology

 

Anthony Marr wants to stop

the medicinal use of tiger products

before it destroys a magnificent species,

and save the planet in the process.

 

by

 

Shawn Blore

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1997-04-24      The Georgia Straight magazine

Vancouver, BC        

Pessimist give the world's tigers 5 years.  Realists, 10.

They're the kind of numbers that make you want to quietly despair, to give up, to flip the channel and think about something more pleasant.  Melrose Place maybe, or Roseanne.  Marr, however, whether from a sense of conceit, ignorance, or a staggering sense of confidence, saw nothing impossible in the task of bringing the tiger back from the brink...  

... To highlight the extent of Vancouver's tiger trade, Marr kicked off a media blitz in January 1996.  Local journalists were invited on an endangered species tour through Chinatown's apothecaries.  The tour began in the low-ceilinged warren that serves as WCWC's headquarters.  Marr upended his leather briefcase, spilling out 15-20 boxes of Chinese patent medicines: tiger plasters, tiger pills, tiger-based medicaments for rheumatism, tired blood, soft bones, and sexual impotence, all of them purchased in shops in Vancouver's Chinatown.  Pointing to the ingredients lists on the diverse packages, Marr picked out the symbols, words, and phrases that in Latin, English and Chinese spelled out “tiger bone”.

 

 

The next part of the tour was a trip along Pender, Main and Keefer Streets, with Marr indicating here and there the shops and apothecaries dealing in tiger medicinals and inviting journalists to go in and check the shelves for themselves.  Six shops out of 10 stocked a variety of boxes, cartons and bottles labeled with some variation of the word Os Tigris - tiger bone.

The media loved it.  Marr made it on to TV news both locally and nationally, and stories appeared in city magazines and community papers.  He used his pulpit to heap scorn upon Canadian wildlife regulations.  “Canada's wildlife laws could use an aphrodisiac,' Marr said, “because right now, they're totally impotent.”  He was equally hard-hitting in his presentations to Chinese community groups and at Eastside Vancouver high schools.  Traditional Chinese medicine's use of parts of animals like tigers and rhinos, Marr said, and the cutting of many urban trees for that matter, were based on nothing but pure superstition.  That superstition was destroying a magnificent species.  The fact that the practice was tolerated by the Chinese-Canadian community only blackened their reputation in mainstream Canadian society.

 

 

Environmentalists heaved a sigh of relief.  Here was someone tackling a problem they had long known about but dared not touch.  “It's great that it's a Chinese person doing the work he's doing.” said Nathalie Chalifour, World Wildlife Fund Canada's tiger expert, “because when it's a person like me doing it, well, I'm white; I'm more likely to be accused to being racist, which is really unfortunate, but it does happen.”

Vancouver's Chinese media were as quick to jump on the story as their English counterparts.  Marr's campaign was covered by both the Ming Pao and the Sing Tao newspapers, and he appeared on several Chinese language radio programs.  According to Ming Pao columnist and CJVB radio host Gabriel Yiu, the Chinese community's reaction to Marr's campaign was mixed.  His straight talk on superstition did offend some, but there was also those who took pride in the fact that a Chinese Canadian was working on environmental concerns.  “For a long period of time when people are talking about monster homes, tree cutting, killing wild animals for some of their body parts,” Yiu said, “people do have the impression that the Chinese community is the cause of that.  I think the work Anthony did set a very good example that we do have people in the Chinese community who are concerned about these issues.”...

According to Vancouver city councilor Don Lee, Marr's effectiveness was limited... “I don't know Anthony Marr that well.  The Chinese Community doesn't know him well at all,” Lee said.  “We don't know where he comes from.  We don't know why he's doing all this.”  As it turns out, those are two of the most interesting questions that could be asked about Anthony Marr.

Born in February 1944, in southern China, Anthony Seeu-Sung Marr fled to Hong Kong along with the rest of his family shortly after the Communist revolution.  Family legend has Marr's father burning the deeds of the family's extensive land-holdings for a moment's warmth during the first refugee winter...

(In 1965), Marr came to Canada to study science at the University of Manitoba... At the same time, his relationship with a Hong Kong girl fell to bits when she dropped him on orders from her parents.  Marr has never forgiven Chinese culture for the snub.  “As a result of that incident, I have never dated a Chinese girl again,” Marr said.  It's a decision that isolated him somewhat from the Chinese community, but, according to Marr, it also allowed him to integrate more fully into Canadian society than other Chinese immigrants of his generation.

In 1966, Marr switched over to the physics department of the University of British Columbia.  His summers he spent in the bush in northern Manitoba and British Columbia, working as a geologist's assistant.  It was work that can only be idealized by someone who has never done it.  Marr said, “The student is the geologist's personal servant - more like slave, considering the pay, which was only $280 per month.  I made and carried his lunch, and every few feet, the geologist would pick up a rock sample about twice the size of my fist and drop it into my knapsack.  I had to carry that ever-heavier thing all day, wading into swamps that would sometimes come up to my chest or higher.  Your shirt would be black with flies and mosquitoes.  There could be a bear behind every tree.  It was brutal, but also absolutely beautiful.  And this was how I bonded with nature.”

After he graduated with a B.Sc. in 1970, Marr took a job as a live-in house-father for emotionally disturbed kids, then a career in real estate.  He said he had a heavy student loan to pay off.  One senses he also had a need to gain acceptance among the Vancouver business community.  “I made rookie of the year, then Gold Club, Diamond Club, all that,” Marr said.  “I bought a couple of horses - hunters-jumpers - and got involved with the high social elite you see down in Southlands.”  Snap shots from the time show a short-haired Marr in boots and riding breeches, sitting atop a bay Thoroughbred gelding.

The real estate phased continued for several years.  Marr bought a small acreage in the suburbs.  He dated but never married.  “The work first became routine, then boring, then irksome, then unbearable.  I was still good at it, but the initial challenge was gone,” he said.  

About this time, things took a strange turn.  Whether from boredom, a need to be alone, or perhaps simple a desire to see the sights, he left his job and set off on a solo journey in East Africa, primarily in the Kilimanjaro, Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater and Olduvai Gorge region of Tanzania.  At some point during that three month sojourn, something happened that changed the whole focus of Marr's life.  “If you want to be dramatic, you could say it came to me all at once in a blinding flash while I was camping on the savannah, but really, it developed very gradually.”  What Marr was catching sight of was a completely new philosophical system, one that in Marr's view is comprehensive enough to explain the organization and development of life, society and the Cosmos itself.

The full tenet of this system came to him in dribs and drabs over a period of many months during and after his return.  Marr collected each of these thoughts on a file card - more than 1,000 of them by the end - and worked at ordering, arranging, and reordering them, trying to assemble his thoughts into a coherent whole.  The process took years.  Marr's live-in girlfriend walked out.  “I really shouldn't be living with someone at that point," Marr said.  “I had to have my own room.  I had to have a ‘DO NOT DISTURB’ sign on the door, and if anybody as much as knocked, my tenuous mental construct would fall down like a house of cards.” The net result of his shuffling and reshuffling, typing and retyping, was a manuscript more than 800 pages in length, describing a new and comprehensive philosophical and phenomenological system.  Marr christened it OMNI-SCIENCE.... (see www.HOPE-CARE.org, www.Omni-Science.org)

 

 

At first glance, OMNI-SCIENCE bears some resemblance to the ideas of the Jesuit philosopher-scientist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.  Both suggest that the development of humanity must logically proceed in a converging upward spiral, which Marr calls Integrative Transcendence, towards ever-superior levels of organization and unity.  Marr, however, is quick to point out how his system differs from those of other western philosophers.  “No philosophical or religious system I’ve encountered is cosmic enough,” said Marr.  “They're too anthropocentric, too narrowly focused.”  Marr's system purportedly incorporates everything - inorganic and organic - throughout the Universe, from the Big Bang to whatever end, all participating in the multi-levelled Integrative Transcendence spiral towards universal life and consciousness.

Hogwash?  Possibly.  Even Marr himself had doubts (about the acceptability of his system in the eyes of high academia).  In the late 80s, Marr tossed both manuscript and portable type-writer into his little green Toyota Celica and set off down the West Coast to test his system with the best academic minds he could find.  One of the stops was the University of California at Berkeley, and another was Stanford.  “This was when my sales training paid off.  When I got to town, the first thing I'd do was find a course catalog and look up the professors who were teaching the courses I liked.  Back in my hotel room, I'd crank out a dozen or so letters.  ‘Dear Prof. so and so, I have a matter of philosophical interest that I'd like to discuss with you.  The time required would be about two hours...’  Then I'd go back to campus and put the letters into the professors’ cubbyholes.  The next day, I'd call and ask for an appointment.  We'd talk for two hours, and at the end, I'd ask for a letter of critique.”

The good professors' reactions to this approach can be discerned from the letter written by William Kimbel, president of the Institute of Human Origins at Berkeley: “Owing to the large number of half-baked theories on cosmology currently in circulation, I admit that I faced the prospect of my meeting with Mr. Marr with some trepidation.  From the outset, however, it was clear that Mr. Marr is no amateur populariser.  On the contrary, he is a dedicated scholar whose theories, I believe, make a profound contribution to the fundamental definition of humankind in relation to the broader universe… implications of great depth and breadth for the future course of human actions… too important to ignore.”

Marr received similarly effusive letters from other professors at Berkeley, Stanford, and the Universities of Oregon, Washington and British Columbia...

Heady stuff.  Yet, more than a decade later, the manuscript remains unpublished.  Professor Braxton Alfred of Anthropology, UBC, said he even offered to help find a publisher, but Marr said his manuscript was not yet ready for publication.  He did leave a copy of the then manuscript behind after his presentation, but due to professional pressures, Alfred didn't get around to looking at it until recently.  Reading it now, Alfred said, only increases his respect for Marr.  It also sheds light on what it was that set him on his current crusade.

 

Published 2003

 

 

“The presentation he gave me was hard science, very thoroughly presented.  He was right on the numbers with everything in the presentation.  I presumed likewise in these documents,” Alfred said, referring to the OMNI-SCIENCE manuscript, “but these are quite a different thing.  That man had a revelation in Africa.  There's no other way to characterize it.  It's clear that he was experiencing some sort of emotional trauma, and something touched him, and what these documents record are the revealed truth of that contact.”

According to the manuscript, Alfred said, Marr had reached a crisis and was sitting in the snows of Kilimanjaro, pointing a gun at his head.  Then, as stated in Marr's text: “The sun went down, the moon came up, and more than my hand had begun trembling.  It was then that this mysterious source of wisdom address me for the first time: ‘I am seeking a miracle worker, to work a miracle upon this Earth, on my behalf.  Since you seem to have no further use of this body of yours, which seems to be in prime condition, will you surrender it to me?’”

“That's when the entity, or whatever it is, first made contact with him,” Alfred said, “but, apparently, the contact continues.  It seems that there is no end to it.  I would not be surprised if he has conversations with this entity still.”

 

 

Having read the manuscript, Alfred said he is no longer puzzled by Marr's decision to turn away from the task of perfecting his book to work on behalf of endangered species.  “It was in Africa that this naturism force first came to the fore...”  The manuscript also gives some indication of the source of Marr's willingness to take on seemingly hopeless causes.  “He clearly came to a crisis point in his life,” Alfred said, “and the heavens opened up and truth was revealed, and he's been going strong eversince.”

Whether his confidence came stems from, when the “‘19th-century scholar' decided to prove himself as an environmental saviour, he displayed a thoroughly 19th century sense of ambition..."

… Although some conservationists predict the tiger will be extinct in five years, Anthony Marr is convinced he can reverse the prophecy…

… China imported the equivalent of 400 grown tigers and exported 27 million tiger derivative products from 1990 to 1993… About 39,000 individual tiger containing products were seized in BC in 1996, including everything from medicinals to tiger claws…

A Vancouver branch of Asian Conservation Awareness Program is planning to begin an ad blitz this June, timed to coincide with the dragon-boat festival.  Ironically, Marr will likely not be invited to participate.  According to ACAP's Vancouver organizer Ling Zheng, Marr's confrontational style doesn't fit in with ACAP's approach, which hinges on establishing partnerships with the Chinese community groups and obtaining sponsorship from prominent corporations.  “We're trying to reach out to the Chinese community, so we try not to use his name,” Zheng said.  “If we mention Anthony Marr, I will probably not get any help from organizations like SUCCESS or the Chinese Cultural Centre.  He can be quite harsh towards certain Chinese people, and I've even heard that in the Chinese community he's considered like a traitor.”

Whether that’s true or not, Marr has shifted his efforts from reducing consumption into preserving tiger habitat. With the aid of a $75,000 grant from the Canadian International Development Agency, Marr has gone to India to work towards protecting two Indian tiger reserves from encroachment and poaching by local villagers. The plan is to take a traveling multi-media show to villages around the tiger reserves and convince the villagers that the tiger is worth more to them alive than dead.

“Do you think these women enjoy walking five miles every day into the bush to collect a bunch of twigs and carry it back to the village on top of their heads? They do it because they have no choice,” Marr said. “If we give them a choice and say, Look, we’re going to develop ecotourism, we’re going to organize tourist groups to come to your village, and maybe you can develop some native products to sell to them… Wouldn’t you rather stay at home and weave baskets with your kids than walk five miles to haul water?” Other conservationists from other groups have made these arguments before, often with little success, but with characteristic confidence, Marr is convinced he will succeed.

Back in the offices of Western Canada Wilderness Committee, the video tiger rolls up from the ground and twists back through the gruesome contortions of death; the dark-haired man lowers a battered rifle and walks backwards out of the picture, and the orange-and-back form of a Bengal tiger stands once again beneath the forest canopy, proud, free, and alive. For a brief while longer.

- Shawn Blore

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1995-12-02-6    The Vancouver Sun                 by Nicholas Read

[Animal parts for sale, and it’s legal]

"…‘The Chinese awareness is really not there," Marr says. "Maybe the only person you saw in Chinatown today who knows or cares about the plight of the tiger was me.’…"

 

1996-01-08-1    Times Colonist, Victoria                by Malcolm Curtis

[Tiger, tiger, put it right]

"… ‘If major endangered species of the world – bear, elephant, tiger, rhino – become extinct as a result of Chinese demand for their body parts, I would consider that a very serious crime against nature," Marr said in an interview…"

 

1997-02-13-4    The Vancouver Sun                 by Anthony Marr

[Tiger, tiger, burning…out?]

"… If we commit to Gaia our heart and soul, our children may just see a new world emerge, one more compassionate than ever before, perhaps one destined for the stars."

 

1997-03-19     The Hindu, Delhi, India

[In aid of the vanishing Bengal Tiger]

"Finally, the BET’R Campaign to save bears, elephants, tigers and rhinos has entered India as well…"

 

1997-05-08    The Georgia Straight, Vancouver           by Roland Goetz

[Save tigers rather than saving feelings]

"… According to the article ([Bloody Superstition] - April 14), Garry Grigg of the Canadian Wildlife Service says, ‘We don’t want to be too heavy. We have got too many new Canadians here, and it takes a while to assimilate. We’re dealing with something that is thousands of years old.’

"My question is, would we allow other cultural practices, such as incest, clitoral mutilation, bestiality, or polygamy, to be imported into Canada?…

"… to save some feelings, we (may be allowing) a magnificent species to be destroyed."

 

1997-05-15

Korea Leads Illegal Trade in Bear Parts

LONDON -- (ENS) -

 

In a report released this week, an international coalition of wildlife organisations, including the London-based World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), expose South Korea92s leading role in the illegal trade in bear parts. The report , "Killed for Korea" concludes that "South Korea and Korean people abroad represent the bear92s worst enemy after habitat loss."

     Undercover film recently taken by animal campaigners shows Korean-sponsored bear poaching and gallbladder smuggling on an international scale as well as the killing of endangered bears for South Korean restaurant-goers.

     The bears are desired for bear paw soup, a highly prized delicacy in South Korea. Diners will pay in excess of US$1,000 for a bowl of bear paw soup.

     WSPA, together with the Korean Federation for the Environment Movement (KFEM), Humane Society of the US/Humane Society International (HSUS/HSI) and the Global Survival Network (GSN), is lobbying the US government to sanction South Korea over the illegal trade in bear parts. The organisations, with a total membership of over four million people worldwide, are considering an international boycott campaign of Korean goods, if their current approaches to Korean authorities are unsuccessful.

     Andrew Dickson, WSPA chief executive, said, "Consumption of bear parts is a national disgrace for South Korea. We are trying to persuade the Korean authorities to stop this illegal trade which is pushing Asian bears towards extinction."

     WSPA92s campaign is being backed by the Korean Federation for the Environment Movement (KFEM). Kwon Heanyol, spokesperson for KFEM said, "This outdated practice is a slur on our national reputation. It makes us look cruel and barbaric. Herbal, synthetic and Western alternatives exist for bear gallbladder. Why can92t all Koreans use these instead of continuing to torture and slaughter bears?"

     Anthony Marr, organizer of Bears, Elephants, Tigers, Rhinos (BETR), a conservation group based in Vancouver, British Columbia confirms that South Korea is the world's leading consumer of bear parts.    

     Marr says, "South Koreans sometimes import black bears on the pretext of using them for zoo exhibits, then they have them killed in front of restaurant customers to prove authenticity and freshness."

     Marr says he has read reports of caged bears lowered live onto hot coals to have their paws cooked. This procedure is supposed to guarantee freshness, authenticity and entertainment for the customer.

     Marr has a video showing a 1989 restaurant menu from the posh Hilton hotel in Seoul offering "bear palm soup. Price - current."

Bear paws are considered a delicacy, not a medicinal, but bear gall bladders are prized for their medicinal effect.

     The powdered bile taken from the bear galls has a whole range of uses, primarily for digestive healing and intestinal illnesses including parasites and bacterial infections. The powdered bile is used as an anti-spasmodic, a pain-killer, tranquillizer, an anti-allergenic, and a cough remedy. It is also considered to be a general purpose body tuning tonic. Bear bile is even said to restore a liver damaged by overdrinking.

     Unlike tiger bones and rhino horns which have no real medicinal value, bear galls do contain ursodeoxycolic acid which does have a medicinal effect. This acid was patented as a synthetic in Japan in the 1930s. Today, 150 tons are used annually worldwide.

     There are seven species of bears in the world, excluding the panda and koala, which are not considered to be true bears. Three bear species are endangered, particularly the Asiatic black bear, which used to be the main source of galls. The Asiatic black bear is now almost completely wiped out in China and Korea.

     To meet the demand from Korea and other Asian countries, poachers have been taking bears from Russia and North America. Marr says poaching is "huge" in North America. Poachers have been caught in British Columbia recently, but provincial laws have no teeth, as the indigenous bears are not yet listed as endangered.

     The penalty is very light when poachers are caught in B.C. Marr says, "Someone recently caught with 90 galls, which would easily sell for US$250,000 thousand in Korea, was fined $3,500 bucks, not even the price of one gall in Korea. For every batch of poached bear parts discovered by law enforcement officers, 49 get away. Customs officials estimate they can check only 2-3% of what goes out of Canada."

     Marr estimates that between 20,000 and 40,000 bears are poached in Canada yearly. Legal trophy hunting kills 22,000 more.

     In London, the WSPA is offering broadcast quality undercover footage showing the killing of endangered bears for South Korean diners and the farming of bears in China, some of which are destined for the Korean market

 

(From the Environment News Service: http://www.envirolink.org/environews/ens/)

 

 

1997-07-08    The Ottawa Citizen, Ottawa, Ontario        by Finbar O’Reilly

[Animal activist targets Chinatown]

    "… One Ottawa professor of traditional Chinese medicine, who asked not to be identified, said she abides by Canada’s laws banning the sale of tiger and bear parts, but that doesn’t mean she agrees with them.

     "‘How come you have to protect the tiger, but not the cow?’ she asked. ‘I am a doctor. I want to treat people. If you care more about human than animal (sic), then why not use animal parts for safety?’…

     "Mr. Marr, who plans a visit to the Chinatowns of both Toronto and Ottawa (to demonstrate that the new law) is not being properly enforced…"

 

1997-07-11    The Toronto Sun                     by Tom Godfrey

[Tiger goods on shelf]

     "… Toronto has become a hotbed for the sale of animal parts, including penises… said Anthony Marr…

     "Marr said within an hour he was able to buy processed medicines containing or claiming to contain tiger bone, seal penis, deer penis…"

 

1997-07-15     The Globe and Mail, national        by Michael Valpy

[The trade in seal and tiger parts]

     "This is a Canadian story. Anthony Marr, a Chinese Canadian who lives in Vancouver, is sitting in a Toronto hotel restaurant waiting for a television crew.

     "When the crew arrives, he will take its members to Toronto's Chinese community’s downtown commercial district on Spadina Avenue. Here they will wire him with a microphone and film him buying illegal tiger bone pills and legal, regrettably, seal penis pills…

     "Mr. Marr, an intense man, says he has been embarrassed by all these practices…"

 

1997-10-01-3               News Leader, Burnaby, BC

[Gilmore students join efforts to "Save-the-Tiger"]

     "… ‘Unless a huge conservation effort ignites now, the tiger will be extinct in the wild by the year 2004…’ said Anthony Marr… who gives the slideshows to the schools. ‘Some adults say, "How many tiger are there in Canada? Why should we be bothered? Go ask the kids.’…"

 

1997-10-04-6    The Peace Arch News, Surrey, BC    by Tracy Holmes

[Care for the cats]

    "Save the tiger.

     "That was the message students of Peace Arch Elementary received at a presentation by… Anthony Marr…

     "Under the watchful eyes of a 50-foot inflatable tiger, the kids learned the only 4,000 tigers remain in the wild, and that some subspecies totaled less than the number of students in the gym.

     "But, ‘I do not believe the tiger is doomed,’ Anthony Marr told the kids. ‘The reason I believe this is because nobody has ever asked kids like you to help out. If we can get kids around the world to say, ‘I want to save the tiger’, I believe the tiger will be saved.’…

    "He also asked them to come to the Save-the-Tiger Walk at Stanley Park Oct. 18."

 

1997-10-08-3     The Vancouver Courier                 by Gudrun Will

[Students take tiger by the tail]

     "High school environmental club rallies behind animal activist.

     "An auditorium full of Kitsilano high school students roared in appreciation…

     "Inspiring youth, Marr believes, is the only hope to save the rapidly diminished species…"

 

1997-10-16     The Westender, Vancouver

[Halloween fun, Tiger Walk set]

     "… The WCWC has organized Save-the-Tiger Walk ’97…"

 

1997-10-19-7      The Province, Vancouver

[Walking for wildlife]

     "Hundreds of concerned people took part in the ‘Save-the-Tiger Walk’ in Vancouver’s Stanley Park yesterday. They were walking to raise money to protect the dwindling number of tigers left in the wild."

 

1997-10-19-7     Ming Pao Daily News (Chinese), global

[1,000 people walk to save 4,000 tigers]

     "WCWC’s Save-the-Tiger Walk attracted over 1,000 children and their teachers and parents, and raised $20,000…"

 

1997-10-29-3     The Comox Valley Echo      by Diane Radmore

[Service to remember animals]

     "Animal lovers of all kinds are invited to come hear guest speakers and attend an outdoor gathering called In Remembrance of the Animals at noon Saturday, November 1, at the Sid Williams Foundation in downtown Courtenay…

     "… Anthony Marr, initiator of the worldwide BET’R Campaign… will also be in attendance…"

 

1997-10-31-5    The Comox Valley Record      by Diane Radmore

[Vigil for lost wildlife]

     "Local activists to speak at downtown rally tomorrow…

     "… Since last year’s referendum on bear hunting in BC campaign, Marr has been to India on behalf of the dwindling tiger population and was a guest speaker at last week’s International Fund for Animal Welfare Conference concerning the East Coast seal hunt…"

 

1997

New Internationalist magazine

 

Biodiversity Threat:
The traffic in endangered species for their skins,
organs, horns or as exotic pets is putting some of the
world's most vulnerable wildlife in dire peril.


Anthony Marr
photo by BJORN ULFSSON

 

Bad medicine

 

Ross Crockford

tells the story of a man who has stepped on toes
from Campbell River to Hong Kong to stop a pernicious trade

.

Anthony Marr knows what it feels like to be endangered. Last summer the Vancouver environmentalist was touring small towns in British Columbia, gathering signatures to force a referendum outlawing the hunting of bears in this Canadian province. Often the reception he got was downright hostile. Many people in the countryside claimed he was trying to destroy their livelihood and their heritage. ‘In Campbell River,’ recalls Marr, ‘a hunter pointed at me and said: “I saw you on TV this morning. The price on your head just went up $10,000.”’

     Pretty frightening, but Marr has heard similar threats before, and often made in defence of a culture that is much, much older. Marr’s referendum drive was part of a larger, ongoing campaign (acronymed as BET’R) he has been running since November 1995 to stop the worldwide slaughter of bears, elephants, tigers and rhinos – big-game animals whose body parts are frequently used in traditional Chinese medicine. Marr is convinced that as Asia prospers and trade becomes further deregulated the demand for these animal parts will skyrocket.

     Fortunately he’s in a position to do something about it. Since he was born in China and raised in Hong Kong, Marr figures he’s entitled to criticize things he grew up with that strike him as mere superstition. One is the belief that consuming part of a powerful animal gives strength to a corresponding part of your body. ‘When I was a kid my parents would give me things like bear gall and tiger bone as if it was aspirin,’ says Marr, who’s now 52. ‘Endangered species wasn’t part of my vocabulary at all.’

     Consequently Marr spends much of his time speaking at Vancouver schools with large numbers of Chinese students, many of whom are hearing about the problem for the first time. He also speaks on Chinese-language radio talk shows. Sometimes listeners accuse him of defaming the Chinese reputation. Marr replies that, on the contrary, he is trying to save it: if we drive a species to extinction, he says, we can never regain respect in the eyes of the world.

     ‘A white person saying these kinds of things might be called a racist,’ says Marr. ‘But when a Chinese person is pointing the finger at Chinese culture, it’s more like self-examination.’

     If public education is the long-term ‘yin’ of the BET’R campaign, the aggressive ‘yang’ is law enforcement. Until recently it was common to find rhino-hide and tiger-bone pills on the shelves of apothecaries in Vancouver’s Chinatown, and many did a brisk trade in gall bladders taken from bears poached in British Columbia and smuggled by individuals to Asia to sell for as much as $18,000 apiece. After a report by the Washington DC-based Investigative Network revealed the extent of the problem (one dealer offered a discount for 50 galls or more), law officers raided six businesses and seized 191 bear galls. Citing cases like this, Marr persuaded the Canadian Government to proclaim a Wildlife Trade Act, with penalties for traffickers of up to $150,000 in fines and five years in prison.

     ‘Chinese people are very pragmatic,’ says Marr. ‘They do things to produce results. They will abide by the law if the law comes down on them. Besides, if I work on the law I can affect all of the stores instead of just one of them.’

     Not content to stop there, Marr then began the drive for a referendum to outlaw all bear hunting in British Columbia. Though the North American black-bear population is considered ‘healthy’ and the grizzly is classified as ‘threatened’, Marr argues that instituting such a ban when both species are endangered will be too late.

     Hunters replied with death threats and racial insults, and obstructed and photographed people who wanted to sign Marr’s petition. In the end his volunteers managed to collect over 90,000 signatures – half of what was needed to force a referendum, but enough to argue convincingly that many wanted bear hunting stopped. Marr called on the provincial government to set aside more wildlife reserves, increase the penalties for poaching and ban the spring hunt, when most poaching occurs.

     Now Marr is taking his BET’R campaign around the world. He plans to speak in several North American cities with large Chinese communities and after that in several Chinese-speaking capitals of the Pacific Rim. ‘There have been many articles crying for help, saying that what is needed is a person of Chinese extraction to tackle this problem,’ he says. ‘So here I am.’

     Marr knows there will be some risk; organized crime is directly involved in the six-billion-dollar annual trade in endangered species, and it’s certain those involved will threaten him if they they think he’s jeopardizing their business. But after tangling with British Columbia’s hunters, he should be ready.

 

Ross Crockford is a freelance journalist working out of Vancouver.

©Copyright: New Internationalist 1997

 

1998-01-31             Sing Tao Daily (Chinese), global

[The next Year of the Tiger may see no more wild tigers]

     "… Anthony Marr calls upon all Chinese, Japanese and Korean people around the world to stop using tiger bone, bear gall and rhino horn medicines…"

 

1998-01-31    Ming Pao Daily (Chinese), global

[Tigers may be extinct within one decade]

     "… Anthony Marr speaks out from the Year of the Tiger booth at Aberdeen Centre…"

 

1998-02-24-2     The News, Parksville - Qualicum Beach, BC

[WCWC’s Bear Man returns to QB]

     "Anthony Marr will be in Qualicum Beach next Tuesday, presenting slides of his two recent trips to India…

     "Marr has stirred up a media storm…

     "Marr will be ‘Champions of the Tiger’ in Omni-Film’s Champions of the Wild series on Discovery Channel this fall…"

 

1998-02-24-2     Comox Valley Echo

[Saving the Tiger theme for slideshow]

     "… Please come out to witness the beauty of these magnificent animals and celebrate the ray of hope that Anthony brings us."

 

1998-02-   The Free Press, Nanaimo, BC

["Champion of the Tiger" visits]

     "The ‘Champion of the Tiger’ will share his story with Nanaimo…

     "The slideshow starts at 7:30 p.m. at the Maffeo-Sutton auditorium… on March 5…"

 

1998-02-27-5    The Comox Valley Record

[Tigers in danger]

     "WCWC hopes all to celebrate the Chinese Year of the Tiger with Anthony Marr…"

 

1998-03     Technocracy Digest                by Bette Hiebert

[The Year of the Tiger - so, why are they killing them?]

     "For money, of course…

     "Anthony Marr… is on his way to challenge the East Asian destroyers in their lairs, to confront these people who are making millions killing these beautiful cats…

     "Mr. Marr believes that if we commit to the Earth our heart and soul, our children may see a new world more compassionate than ever before. We hope he is right, but as long as there is the almighty dollar, there will be no compassion, and our children will see nothing but barren earth…"

 

1998-04-29   Ottawa Citizen, Ottawa, ON         by Michael Den Tandt

[RCMP cracks down on trade in endangered animal parts]

     "Toronto - The RCMP and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources have taken a bite out of this city’s lucrative trade in endangered animal parts, a move conservationists say is long overdue…

     "Asked whether (Viagra) may take some pressure off endangered species, Mr. Marr said… ‘If it doesn’t harm the environment, or any species, and it helps someone’s quality of life, then it’s a private manner.’

     "He added, ‘I’ve seen one or two people on TV - and they really vouch for it. Including their wives."

 

1998-06-07-7    The Vancouver Courier       by Gudrun Will

[Tiger volunteers paint mural to save species]

     "On a scalding Wednesday afternoon, underwear clad painters dab tropical sunset colours on the front wall of downtown Davie Street hangout DV8. The artists are creating a tiger mural in preparation for a silent art auction to help save the species.

     "... Organizer Tracy Zuber, a tiny 29-year-old in black sports bra and plaid shorts, is a self-professed tiger fanatic. Images of the wild animal cover her apartment walls. 'They're the personification of beauty, power and grace. They're a figurehead of primal life power,' said Zuber. 

     "Her preferred felines, however, are also a rapidly dwindling species; little more than 4,000 are left in the wild, and two are killed per day. Zuber was inspired to raise funds to slow down the tiger's beeline to extinction while participating in the Save-the-Tiger Walk last fall with her daughter Fija. The Year of the Tiger seemed an appropriate time to make an effort, she says......

     "… conservationist Anthony Marr will present a slideshow that night…"

 

1998-09     The Vancouver Sun

[Champions return to Discovery]

     "‘It took the tiger 10 million years to evolve to its present state of magnificence,’ says Anthony Marr, ‘but less than one century to fall to the brink of extinction. This, sadly, is the way of humans.’

     "The Chinese-born Canadian is featured in the Bengal Tiger of India episode of the award-winning TV documentary series Champions of the Wild, now in its second season on Discovery Channel…

     "Each episode highlights the efforts of a particular conservationist, from Clark Lungren’s work in the Nazinga Game Reserve, airing October 5, to Marr’s multi-faceted campaign to protect the tiger on October 12…

     "Champions of the Wild was produced by Omni Film Productions, in association with the National Film Board, BC Film, and the Discovery Channel, with the participation of Telefilm and the Cable Production Fund."

 

1998-10-11-7    The Province, Vancouver    by Jonathan McDonald

[Species run for their lives]

     "Premier - Champions of the Wild - Mondays at 6 and 10 p.m. on Discovery Channel.

     "… this 13-part series is only partly about the animals who are running for their lives. It’s mainly about the people - Canadians by and large - who are doing whatever they can to reverse increasingly hopeless situations.

     "‘It’s vital,’ says Anthony Marr, a Vancouverite who heads the Tigers Forever campaign and is the subject of ‘Bengal Tigers of India’, which premiers Monday night on Discovery Channel. ‘The tiger is an icon of wildlife conservation. It is one of the world’s most admired and also most endangered animals. If it falls extinct, the whole global conservation effort will lose steam, and the world will lose an immeasurable amount of beauty.’

     "Marr is not kidding. Seeing the Bengal tiger sleep, prowl and hunt is wondrous. Seeing the work of poachers - tiger skins and medicines - is no less than horrifying and offensive. And seeing Marr sit down in an Indian village to tell the children about the beauty of the tiger - an animal, he urges, that deserves to be on Earth - is the perfect reflection of Canadians’ work around the globe.

     "‘They’re extremely dedicated,’ says Chris Bruyere, Champion’s producer… ‘Often, these are people who don’t believe there’s such a thing as fighting a losing battle.’…

 

1998-10-11-7      Ming Pao Daily News (Chinese), global

[Chinese campaigner saving 4,000 remaining wild tigers]

     "The WCWC set up booth at the Vancouver Public Library Saturday to publicize tiger conservation, and will lead the Save-the-Tiger Walk at Stanley Park next Saturday…

     "Anthony Marr says that of the original 8 subspecies of tigers, only 5 remain, totaling no more than 4 or 5 thousand, of which two die daily to poaching and other causes. At this rate, there will be no tigers left to celebrate the next Year of the Tiger…"

 

1998-10-18-7    Ming Pao Daily News (Chinese), global

[100 walk to save 4,000 tigers]

     "… Last year’s Save-the-Tiger Walk brought out 2,000 people and raised almost $20,000 for tiger conservation. Unfortunately, this year’s Walk picked the worse possible time weatherwise. Only 100 people showed up to brave the heavy rain and high winds…"

 

1998-11-07     Toronto Sun             by Michael Clement

[Animal Parts illegally sold here: activist]

     "A west-coast wildlife activist alleges he purchased three bottles containing parts of endangered species, being sold illegally in a store in Toronto’s Chinatown yesterday…

     "Marr asked reporters to accompany him to the Po Chi Tong Chinese pharmacy on Dundas St. W. yesterday where he purchased the three bottles. The bottles of pills purportedly contained bear gall bladder secretion, possibly from the endangered Asiatic Black bear, secretions from the musk gland of the endangered Musk Deer, and tiger bone, possibly from the endangered Bengal or Siberian Tiger, Marr said.

     "‘Internationally, endangered species are totally forbidden to be traded, alive or dead, in whole or part,’ he said, adding that in June 1996 Ottawa enacted laws ‘forbidding the sale of anything containing endangered species parts.’

     "‘The point of this exercise is to prove that the law is not being effectively enforced.’…"

 

1998-11-26-4       Nelson Daily News               by Bob Hall

[Kids in the tiger’s grasp]

     "Anthony Marr… is touring area schools this week promoting the Save-the-Tiger campaign. With the help of the Nelson Youth Environmental group who put on a play of Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax followed by Marr’s slideshow… Wednesday morning, Marr talked to Hume Elementary School students in front of a 12 foot high, 50 feet long inflatable tiger prop. To bring further attention to the issue there will be a Save-the-Tiger Walk-a-thon this Saturday at Lakeside Park starting at 11 a.m. For more information contact the Nelson Eco-Centre."

 

1998-12-02-3      Trail Daily News             by Lana Rodlie

[WCWC shares extinction fears with area students]

     "… Bring the message about diminishing tigers to area schools, Anthony Marr is hoping to save the tiger, one child at a time…

     "Pointing out how every living thing affect the life of something else, he asked the children, ‘How many cows do you think live in India?’

     "Would you believe 350 million?

     "Cows eat grass. Deer eat grass. Tigers eat deer. If the cows eat up all the grass, what do you think will happen to the deer, and the tiger?…

     "‘Still, if you go into an Indian national park, you’re not allowed to touch anything, take anything, not even pick a blade of grass. But would you believe in a BC park, you are allowed to kill grizzly bears?’"

 

1999-02     Travel Talk magazine, India          TT Bureau

[Save the Tiger campaign]

     "… ‘A conscious effort has to be made to make the villagers aware of the hazards of deforestation, overgrazing and poaching, and their consequences on the whole ecological balance,’ said Marr.

     "His Save-the-Tiger campaign has introduced new eco-friendly techniques for resource conservation, like solar cooking devices and biogas to wean the villagers from their dependence on wood-fuel…

     "Marr also feels that the entry fee to the Indian wildlife sanctuaries should be raised manifold to benefit the locals of the area and also to maintain the reserves…"

 

1999-02-12-5                 The Hindu, national, India

[Need to protect tigers stressed]

     "… Mr. Marr, who is of Chinese extraction, is apologetic about the role of his country of origin in making the tiger a haunted animal… The Chinese make medicines out of tiger parts and, in the process, import as many as 300 dead tigers from India and Russia a year…

     "Owning up to his birth country is the penitent Mr. Marr when he says that he is paying the penalty for his countrymen by campaigning (against the Chinese tradition)…

     "… In the Pink City (Jaipur), Mr. Marr lectured to 2500 school children in three schools. In Delhi, he had a captive audience of children in 10 schools. He is convinced that children are India’s hope for its national animals the tiger…"

 

1999-02-14-7                  The Asian Age, India

[Tiger walk today to save wild cats]

     "… According to official estimates… tiger numbers have dwindled from 3,750 in 1993 to 3,000 in 1997. After the initial success of Project Tiger, the 90s have seen a drastic fall in tiger numbers. The tiger population in reserves around the country stands at 1,333 in 1995…"

 

1999-02-15-1                   The Statesman, India

[A valentine for the big cat]

     "An unusual ‘Valentine Day’ message was displayed by tiger enthusiasts in the Capital who went on a brisk march from Delhi Zoo to the head quarters of Project Tiger at Bikaner House, to spread the message of conservation.

     "Children and adults held up banners for the ‘Love Tiger Walk’… (Organizers) pointed out that the largest cat n the world today has a mortality rate of two per day in the world and one per day in India alone.

     "‘Especially as a tigress does not have another litter till her young can support themselves, ‘it is so much necessary to support the ones which are alive, as they do not breed rapidly like other species,’ said a child who participated in the march.

     "A video show, an inflatable tiger blimp and presentations by eminent conservationists were some of the features of the march, which was supported (in part) by the WCWC."

 

1999-02-15-1                     The Indian Express, India

[Tiger, tiger burning bright]

     "A tiger balloon at the Love the Tiger Walk at the Delhi Zoo on Sunday…"

 

1999-02-15-1                     The Hindu, national, India

[Valentines tiger lovers]

     "… A team comprising Mr. Anthony Marr, campaign director of WCWC… has been making slide presentations, holding video shows and having interactions inside a 50-feet inflatable tiger balloon…

     "They have been received with great enthusiasm by more than 5,000 students of various age groups. Painting competitions and slogan contests have also been organized as part of the campaign…"

 

1999-02-15-1                 The Pioneer, national, India

[‘Save Tiger’ walk]

     "Wildlife lovers walked through the busy streets of the national Capital on Valentine’s Day on Sunday to show their love for the tiger, which faces the threat of extinction…"

 

1999-02-15-1                 The Hindustan Times, national, India

[Save the tiger]

     "A 50-foor balloon tiger at the National Zoological Park to generate awareness among the masses for the conservation of the tiger…"

 

1999-02-16-2         Delhi Times, The Times of India, national

[He is no ordinary tiger]

     "They sit inside it and discuss its decimation from the face of the planet. It’s 50-foot long and 12-foot high and is made of parachute material that can inflate. Striped bright yellow and black, this tiger was (brought to India) by WCWC for a Save-the-Tiger campaign to generate awareness on tiger conservation amongst school children…"

 

1999-03-18-4         The Hitavada ("The oldest and largest circulated English daily in Central India") 

[Save tigers from extinction: Marr - Great mission: Anthony Marr educating children about protecting the majestic and beautiful tiger]

     "… Mr. Marr who is tirelessly working in India… said that the tiger is the greatest national treasure of India, but even more so, it is a global treasure that is revered the world over. ‘Though it belongs to no individual, its loss would impoverish us all.’…

     "… Mr. Marr said that the Royal Bengal tiger might look the most secure of all remain subspecies, but in truth, it is no more secure that the last carriage of a crashing train…

    "Currently, Mr. Marr, along with (Canadian volunteer Anne Wittman) and… (Indian conservationist) Faiyaz Khudsar are battling to educate the people living around the Kanha (Tiger Reserve)…"

 

1999-05-10-1      The Vancouver Sun             by Alex Strachan

[Rupert’s Land, Discovery shows win early Leos]

     "… In television awards, Andrew Gardner won best writing in an informational series for a segment of Champions of the Wild featuring conservationist Anthony Marr and his efforts to draw attention to the plight of India’s Bengal tiger. Champion’s cinematographer Rudolf Kovanic was also cited for a segment about elephants…"

 

1999-6       TigerLink, India, global

[Love the Tiger Walk, Delhi]

     "…The participants chanted slogans and sang a tiger conservation song lead by Mr. Anthony Marr, Tiger Campaign Director, WCWC…

     "At Bikaner House the gathering was addressed by Mr. P.K. Sen, Director of Project Tiger, Mr. S.C. Sharma, Addl. Inspector General Forests (Wildlife), Angarika Guha, Class III student from Sri Ram Public School, Mr. Anthony Marr and Mr. Pradeep Sankhala, Chairman of Tiger Trust…"

 

1999-06-02-3     The Daily New, Nanaimo, BC     by Valerie Wilson

[Students learn plight of the tiger]

     "… Anthony Marr… warns tigers are disappearing at al alarming rate. He is in Nanaimo this week to ask area school children to save the tiger from extinction.

     "‘Your voice is important and you must speak out,’ Marr told students of Uplands Park Elementary Tuesday. ‘You are very powerful if you want to make some changes in the world.’

"Marr has been back in BC for about a month, after a 10 week working stint at tiger reserves in India. He brought home with him a breath-taking slideshow of the country’s landscape, tree and plant life, birds and animal life, and of course, photographs of the tiger he viewed at India’s Kanha, Bandhavgarh and Ranthambhore tiger reserves.

     "‘A question I am asked often by adults is there are no tigers in Canada, so why should we be bothered.,’ Marr told student.

     "‘Very simply. The tiger is one of most beautiful animals in the world. If it becomes extinct, our world would be much less beautiful place. We all lose.’.."

 

1999-06-07-1      Nanaimo News Bulletin        by Erin Fletcher

[A tale of 4,000 tigers]

     "Children hold the key to the survival of the endangered tiger, says tiger conservationist Anthony Marr…

     "To spread the word about the plight of tigers, Marr was visiting Nanaimo schools last week with a slideshow presentation, video, and a discussion in the hopes to stimulate an interest in tiger preservation among local youth.

     "Marr has been involved with tiger conservation since 1994. His passion takes him into the depths of India where he works to educate and promote the preservation of tigers…"

 

1999-06-10-4      Nanaimo News Bulletin         by John Kimatas

[Chamber picks city’s top citizens]

      "… Having won a scholarship this year, (Madeline) Hargrave says she’ll probably study at Malaspina University-College for a year. But after hearing Anthony Marr speak at a Global Watch function about the plight of tigers in India, she’s considering traveling to India to help him save the tiger.

     "Otherwise, she is unencumbered by limitations. ‘I want to do everything,’ she says."

 

1999-08-02-1      Associated Press, New York City         by Katherine Roth

[Despite tougher laws, tiger bone still widely available in Chinatown]

     "… As of Monday, the products were still prominently displayed on the shelves of some pharmacies and grocery stores (in New York City's Chinatown)…

     "‘It’s very popular and is good for people with bad backs,’ a smiling clerk at Kam Man Food Products on Canal Street told shoppers on Monday. ‘I don’t take it, because I don’t have a bad back, but a lot of people do,’ said the man, who declined to give his name or comment further…

     "Anthony Marr… said that of the 37 traditional Chinese pharmacies visited in Chinatown recently, nine were openly selling products listing tiger bone as an ingredient. He is calling for stiffer penalties for sellers and importers who break the law…

     "But the US Fish and Wildlife Service… says it doesn’t have enough resources to stop the brisk trade…

     "‘We have 93 inspectors and 230 special agents for the entire country. They’re stretched pretty thin,’ said Patricia Fischer, a spokeswoman for the agency. ‘The sheer volume of wildlife products coming into this country present a monumental task…’

     More than 50,000 over-the-counter tradition Chinese medicines containing, or purporting to contain, tiger bone and parts from other critically endangered species are sold in the United States each year to people of all ages and ethnic groups…"

 

1999-08-03-2     Daily News, New York City        by Laura Seigel

[Tiger bone Rx selling in the city despite ban]

     "At a cramped grocery in Chinatown yesterday, a casually dressed man plunked down $3.95 and was handed an alleged arthritis cure - tiger bone bills.

     "Anthony Marr, the Chinese-Canadian tiger campaign director of WCWC in Vancouver, said the purchase proved a grim fact that he had traveled to New York to demonstrate:

     "The law against selling medicine made from the bones of tigers, an endangered species, is not being enforced.

"‘I’m here in New York to persuade the government to enforce the law,’ said Marr. ‘Tigers will be extinct within 10 years unless things change.’

     "A spokeswoman for the federal Fish and Wildlife Service, which is responsible for monitoring the sale of tiger bone medicine, conceded the agency could do a better job. ‘But we don’t have the staff,’ Patricia Fisher said. ‘We only have 230 special agents for the entire country.’

     "She said the agency has tried to control the sale of tiger bone by teaching Asian communities about endangered species, rather than by enforcing the law without explaining it. ‘This is a tradition in Oriental medicine that goes back centuries,’ Fisher said…"

 

1999-08-03-2       World Journal (Chinese), global

[The ‘Long March’ of a Chinese-Canadian conservationist]

     "… Marr arrived in New York City last Friday. On Saturday, he conducted a reconnaissance of Manhattan’s Chinatown district with some local help. In one sizzling afternoon he investigated 37 medicinal stores, and found at least nine that still openly displayed tiger bone medicines for sale…

     "Yesterday, after a brief media conference in which Marr gave a slideshow on tiger conservation, he led the media present to three of the nine stores to perform demonstration live-purchases…’

     "Shop keepers interviewed seemed aware of the illicit nature of the product, but said since most tigers in China have been killed off, the tiger bone medicines they sell probably contain no real tiger ingredient…

     "The new Rhino and Tiger Product Labeling Act of 1998, however, ban any product claiming to contain tiger or rhino parts, whether or not they actually do…"

 

1998-08-12-4     Reuters News Agency       by Manuela Badawy

[Import of tiger bones a problem in U.S.]

     "…’At today’s rate of poaching tigers will be extinct in a decade. Tigers don’t have the time to wait for the Chinese community to change its habit,’ said Marr, who is of Chinese descent and has taken heat from other Asian for his campaign.

     "On a recent day, he led journalists to New York’s Chinatown, which has one of the largest concentrations of people with Chinese background in the United State, to buy supposedly banned tiger elixirs.

     "At the Golden Spring pharmacy on the Bowery in Lower Manhattan, Marr walked right in and bought a vial of Tiem Ma tiger bone pills for $3.95. Tiem Ma pills, made by Guiyang Chinese medicine factory in China, listed 6.8 percent ground tiger bone as one of its ingredients and claimed to treat rheumatic neuralgia, lassitude of tendon and back pain.

     "When journalists and photographers went into the store after Marr purchased the pills, clerks became visibly anxious, removing the pills from the counter and shoved them into a box. They refused to answer journalists’ questions…"

 

1999-08-21-6      The Toronto Star        by Manuela Badawy, Reuters

[A helluva town for tigers]

     "… Under the 1998 Rhino and Tiger Products Labeling Act …people caught with these products face a fine of $5,000. Business owners pay $10,000 and/or get six months in jail.

     "In comparison, fines for seal penises are $100,000 for individuals and $200,000 and/or one year in jail for business owners.

     "Marr says the fines for tiger violations should at least equal that for seal violations, if only because the tiger is critically endangered…"

 

 

*     *     *

 

2001

BITTER HARVEST

Alternatives exist, but the milking of bears for their bile is hard to eradicate

By Helen Connealy Hong Kong

DANNY THE ASIATIC BLACK bear has spent years rammed into a cage slightly larger than his lumbering frame. A rusting metal catheter surgically implanted in his gall bladder dangles from his side. Every day the bladder is milked of its bile, which is then sold as a traditional Chinese medicine.

This hapless beast is just one of thousands of bears in China suffering because of environmental mismanagement, greed and ignorance. Now, though, animal welfare groups and medical practitioners have joined forces to free these "farmed bears" by promoting herbal and synthetic alternatives to natural bear bile.

Ironically, China's Ministry of Forestry once praised bear farming as one of the country's conservation success stories -- because it met the demand for bile without hunting bears to extinction. In 1993, the peak of China's better-caged-than-extinct policy, about 10,000 of the animals were kept in farms across the country. The ministry planned to capture another 30,000 by 2000. But under pressure from the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), China rethought its policy and stopped issuing bear-farm licenses. It closed down some of the worst offenders, outlawed capturing wild bears and forced farmers to use half of their stock for breeding. Many bears have now been resettled in sanctuaries. Even so, 7,632 still live in wretched conditions on 481 farms across the country. In South Korea there are 1,300 caged bears.

Bear farming hasn't slowed the Asiatic black bear's decline. Poaching continues in China and elsewhere. "Farming has created two levels in the bear-bile market," says Jill Robinson, China director of the IFAW. "Some people pay the lower price for farmed bile, while richer consumers still insist on acquiring the whole gall bladder. So wild bears are still being shot."

Bear farming can be very profitable. Bears produce about two kilos of bile a year. It sells for $9,000 a kilo -- a vast sum in rural China. And the business is a long-term money-earner. The animals can be milked for up to 13 years. China harvests 7,000 kilos of bile annually, but consumes only 4,000 kilos. The remainder is sold to Japanese and Korean tour groups or becomes an exotic, but useless, addition to products such as shampoo, hemorrhoid cream, cough syrup and tea. Some is illegally smuggled to Hong Kong's medicine shops. "We need to actively discourage smuggling and put signs up showing it is illegal," says Judy Mills, from the Wildlife Trade monitoring program of the World Wildlife Foundation. "People believe because it's farmed, it's okay."

Unlike tiger bone, which has a mythical reputation as an arthritis cure, bear bile has proven medicinal value. First listed in Chinese medical journals in the seventh century, it is widely prescribed in traditional treatments for ailments such as chronic liver problems, heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. In Korea it is used as a general tonic.

Fifty years ago, Japanese scientists identified the curative ingredient -- ursodeoxycholic acid -- and now bear bile is synthesized from cattle, pig, chicken and goat bile. Practitioners say the synthetic version is as effective as the real thing. And it is becoming more popular. Already, nearly 100 tons of synthesized bile are consumed every year in China, Japan and South Korea.

There are also at least 54 herbal alternatives, including common rhubarb and a type of gardenia. Dr. Lo Yan-wo, who has been practicing traditional Chinese medicine in Hong Kong for 35 years, says there is no reason to use real bile. "Research shows there are many combinations of herbs available that can be administered for ailments currently treated with bear bile. And they are easier and cheaper to use," he says.

So why aren't more people switching? "In the old way of Chinese thinking, a patient would take real bile every time," says Anthony Marr, who works for the Vancouver-based Western Canada Wildlife Committee. "It's a mystique thing -- superstitious thinking. They believe a powerful animal should produce a powerful medicine."

In August, the IFAW drew up a battle plan with nearly 6,000 traditional medicine professionals. Their aim: to spread the word on alternatives. "By using them, we will raise the international reputation of Chinese medicine to that of a sophisticated branch of the science," says Dr. Lo. When that happens, the bile bears will be retired. Whether that day comes in time for Danny is another matter.

THE BEAR FACTS OF LIFE

     The worldwide bear-parts trade has been estimated at $2b.

     A single gall bladder from a wild bear can sell for up to $18,000.

     Each bear produces 2 kilos of bile a year valued at $9 per gram.

     South Korea consumes 40,000 tons of synthesized bile per year.

     Surplus bile finishes up in shampoo, where it serves no purpose.

     Korea has more than 3,600 clinics where bile salts are taken as a health stimulant.

     In a survey of 50 Korean doctors, all said they use bear bile to treat cancer, heart disease and cirrhosis.

     10% of South Koreans eat bear meat.

     South Korea has only 10 bears left in the wild, but 1,300 on farms.

     In 1994 there were 16,000 to 19,000 wild bears in China.

     U.S. law enforcers estimate 40,000 black bears are killed

     illegally every year in North America.

     Six of the eight species of black bear are heading for extinction within 15 years, says the American Zoo and Aquarium Association.

 

 

*     *     *

 

Being a long-time Bengal tiger preservationist, Anthony Marr has developed the popular and ever-evolving 280-image Tigers Forever slideshow which has been shown to over 150,000 people on three continents. He will also give this slideshow on this speaking tour, upon request.   "Of the original 8 tiger subspecies, 4 have already gone extinct, and the other 4 will soon follow, unless the entire world rallies to its cause without delay. The tiger is one of the most revered animals on Earth. If we can't even save the tiger, what can we save for our children's children?" said Anthony.

 

On Anthony Marr's

Tigers Forever Presentation

 from

Michael Statham

Headmaster,

Central Okanagan Academy  

Mr. Anthony Marr's presentation to our students was not only educational and enlightening, but our students also found it mesmerizing. Mr. Marr is a seasoned and inspiring speaker who kindly brought his message of the tiger's plight to our students. We booked two sessions: one for our primary department, grades K-3 and the second for our students in grades 4-8. He tailored his speech and presentations to their individual needs, ensuring they were age appropriate.   As a scientist, teacher, philosopher, environmentalist, and photographer, Mr. Marr is able to impart his passion in a powerful manner. Addressing his audience with fervor, accompanied by a stunning slide show, Mr. Marr captured our student's attention from the outset. This did not diminish as the presentation proceeded.   I suppose the test of any such endeavor might be measured in the quantity and quality of the questions asked by the students upon its completion. Suffice to say that Mr. Marr did not charge for the overtime he incurred while answering each and every student who had a question. He did so with patience, wit, humour and more importantly, deep knowledge and conviction. A Student Council member asked him what specifically they could do, as a Student Council, to help save the tiger. His response to her was an earnest one. " Try to really understand what you have seen and heard today. Then, make others around you aware. In this way, the message grows."   This response was heeded and our Student Council has now formed a "Green Team" and is hosting a "Save the Tiger Day" at the school to raise funds. Not only did his presentation inspire our Student Council, but the older students also used this experience to write poetry and prose, and our primary students in K-3 have performed songs, written stories, drawn and painted in sharing their thoughts and feelings.   Was the experience a positive one? Absolutely. Would I recommend it? Without hesitation.

 

 

 

 

1999-05-14

Vancouver Sun

 

A Passionate Journey to Save India's Tigers

By Anthony Marr

VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Canada, May 14, 1999 (ENS) - The tigress was sleeping on her side in the undergrowth deep within Kanha National Park in Madhya Pradesh, the self-appointed "tiger state" of India.  She was scarcely visible in the dense foliage with her camouflage of brown and white patches and shadowy black stripes. Within tail-flicking distance behind her was a half-eaten carcass of a wild boar. The tigress was not going anywhere, short of angrily bolting in fear of being stepped on by the elephant on which I was ensconced, which was indeed getting a little too close.

She tolerated our intrusion for awhile, but when the elephant ripped a
branch off the tree in whose shade she was resting, she finally had
enough, rolled on all fours, gave us a chilling glare and emitted a
hissing snarl that could not be ignored. I snapped the last of a string of
photos and instructed the mahout (elephant driver) to beat a prudent
retreat.

It was January this year, during my third expedition to India's Kanha and Bandhavgarh tiger reserves as Western Canada Wilderness Committee's (WCWC) tiger conservation program director. The program, with WCWC working in partnership with the Indian conservation group Tiger Trust (TT), is funded by the Canadian International Development Agency at $100,000 per year over
three years. WCWC also generates further tiger conservation funds from its own 25,000-strong membership, hundreds of donors, educational outreach slideshows and its annual Save-the-Tiger Walk.

Of the original 100,000 to 150,000 tigers worldwide, only 4,000 to 5,000 remain with only three of the original eight subspecies surviving. The Bali tiger was extinct as of the 1940s, the Caspian tiger died out in the 1970s and the Javan tiger in the 1980s. Of the remaining subspecies, the Indian Royal Bengal tiger has the best chance of survival because there are still about 2,500 remaining compared with 1,000 Indo-Chinese tigers, 300 Siberian tigers, 300 Sumatran tigers and 20 South China tigers.

Wild tigers are dying at the rate of about two each day worldwide due to the dual cause of direct killing and habitat loss. By the same token,
about one a day dies in India. At these rates, no wild tiger will be left anywhere in the world within a decade, and the Indian tiger's security is but that of the last carriage of a crashing train - unless tiger conservation projects everywhere succeed big time, and very quickly. This is what I'm betting on, starting with our Save-the-Tiger Campaign.

In 1973 when Project Tiger was launched, with founder Kailash Sankhala as the first director, tiger trophy-hunting was banned and about 25 tiger reserves were created. Meanwhile, however, consumer countries like Japan, Korea and China continue to demand for more tiger bone and penis to supply their traditional medicine markets, and India's human and cattle populations continue to sky-rocket - 980 million and 300 million today respectively.

These are the dual causes of tiger decline - habitat loss and direct
killing. Direct killing refers to poaching for medicinal bone and penis,
but also poisoning by villagers in retaliation for the occasional loss of
cattle as tiger prey. Habitat loss encompasses deforestation and
overgrazing. Currently, the biological contents of a miniscule three
percent of India's land mass are given any degree of protection, but even these "protected" areas are being eroded by government-condoned mining and logging, and by local villagers in desperate need of firewood for cooking and heating.  Especially hard to solve is the overpopulation problem of India's cattle, caused by their being milk-producers, beasts of burden, and, most importantly, sacred cows.

For each of these problems there are long-term and short-term solutions. The long-term solution is to re-kindle citizen pride in the tiger as a national symbol throughout India and especially to motivate the villagers who live around tiger reserves to become tiger conservationists themselves.

This is easier said than done. While I was there, India was consumed by cricket fever. If Indian tiger conservation could captured but one percent of this enthusiasm, I could retire.

During my two-week stay in urban India, I gave our tiger conservation
slideshow, seen by more than 30,000 students in British Columbia, to 3,000 students of ten Delhi and Jaipur schools. The show did generate the same degree of enthusiasm, resulting in ten "tiger clubs," which I aim to link with environmental clubs in schools in Canada.

What does it take to turn villagers into tiger conservationists? Consider first the villagers. During my eight-week stay in rural India, our WCWC/TT team, made up of TT field worker Faiyaz Khudsar, Vancouver volunteer Anne Wittman and myself, held six hour meetings with the leaders of about 120 villages of the 178 in Kanha's Buffer Zone. The meetings included discussion, a slideshow and a two hour safari in the park - a place most of them have never seen.

A sub-species of the Swamp deer - the Barasingha (Cervus durauceli
branderi) in Kanha National Park.

Their most common concerns are crop plundering by park ungulates
especially the cheetal deer and the wild boar, loss of cattle to tiger,
insufficient compensation for both, the lack of irrigation, and, last but
not least, the lack of financial benefit from the park.

Underneath these external factors is the general undertone of abject
poverty that limits the villagers' mindset to the here and now at the
expense of tomorrow into which the path of conservation extends. The key to overcoming these difficulties is actually quite simple: to let long term conservation benefit them today.

One of the key components of this is to introduce alternative
technologies, such as biogas plants and solar cookers, to replace wood as fuel. Bearing in mind that village women currently spend their daylight hours gathering fuelwood from far afield, then walking kilometers back to their villages or to townships to sell their 50 pound headloads for 15 rupees (55 cents) each, they would welcome alternatives that could allow them to stay at home and work on financially more rewarding and more eco-friendly cottage industries.

Our team trekked long distances through thick jungle in Kanha's Buffer Zone to access remote villages with our demo solar oven on one of our backs. The demo cooker was designed and made in Canada, but units are modified in India so they can be constructed out of local materials.  With nine months of solid sunshine a year, India is well suited to this technology. In a multi-village conference at Bandhavgarh where I was one of the speakers, we signed up 23 villages who wished to try out our solar cooker, and further, five villagers signed up to learn to make the cooker on a commercial basis.

To combat the cattle overpopulation and overgrazing problem, we bought a special hybrid Haryanna bull that local people had been hankering for - one whose offspring yield ten times the amount of milk as the usual breeds. We provided it on a trial basis to a village named Chichrunpur on the periphery of Kanha tiger reserve - one of the 22 villages translocated from the Core Area into the Buffer Zone during the creation of the park. The villagers agreed to stall-feed the new bull and his offspring with fodder that can be grown on part of the land or obtained commercially, while gradually retiring the existing low quality stock and neutering all their existing random-bred bulls. After a generation two, the bull will be rotated to another village and another installed in his place. Stall-feeding is important because it frees the land from free-range overgrazing, protects the higher-quality animals from tiger predation, and makes cattle dung readily available for biogas (methane) generation - another alternative fuel technology.
Tiger cub in Kanha National Park.

Regarding the tiger reserves, the general sentiment of the villagers is
that they are little more than rich peoples' playgrounds that provide
little financial benefit to them save a few jobs in the park service, and
worse, produce deer and wild boar that plunder half their crops without adequate compensation from the park authorities. In view of this, we recommended reforming the park system so that the reserves can at least compensate for themselves. Consider this: the world renowned Kruger National Park of South Africa charges $25 US per visit, Uganda charges US$180 for one hour of Mountain gorilla viewing. Neighbouring Nepal's Chitwan National Park grosses US$800,000 a year. Half goes to improve park services, including anti-poaching, and half goes to a benefit fund managed by the villages themselves, which helps to preserve the park as their benefactor.

In contrast, the Indian tiger reserves charge foreign tourists only
US$2.50 for a full day park visit. Indian visitors, mostly wealthy people from other states, pay just 25 cents. We advocate using Chitwan as a model by raising the park fee by a factor of ten for both foreign and out-of-state Indian tourists, while offering local villagers free park access on a limited basis. Half the increased revenue could go to park services which could generate more employment, and half could go to the villages to compensate for crop plundering and
finance cottage industry enterprises such as manfacturing solar cookers. This gives the villagers a real control over their own destiny.

The park officials, villagers and tourists we have spoken with at both
Kanha and Bandhavgarh by and large wholeheartedly embraced the proposal. We further pointed out that tigers are in fact their benefactors, since they keep the wild ungulate populations down by several thousand a year, and tigers are what tourists from around the world pay the park fee to see.

While at Bandhavgarh, we were dismayed to discovered that the tigress Sita, made world famous by the cover article in the December 1997 issue of National Geographic, had disappeared. Her loss is most likely due to poaching. More than five other tigers out of a supposed population of only 45 have also vanished, all within the last six months. The entire park was in a state of subdued uproar, with fingers pointed in various directions.
 

Worth more dead than alive

Only yesterday I heard from Faiyaz Khudsar that 10 tiger skins and four tiger skeletons were recently seized in the Kanha District capital
Balaghat. Some officials would deny it, but commercial poaching is alive and well at both tiger reserves. The proposed park reform should strengthen their anti-poaching measures.

During our visit, we maintained the medical clinic and free school we
installed at the Tiger Trust Conservation Centre at Kanha in 1997. The school and clinic services three nearby villages. In the whole of Kanha's Buffer Zone there are only four medical clinics including our own, all with similar effective ranges. Of the 178 Buffer Zone villages, no more than a dozen have access to any medical service.

For the rest, we introduce local medicinal plant cultivation and use by
means of our demonstration medicinal plant garden. We intend to establish a mobile clinic to benefit more villages in due course.
From their perspective we are a foreign adjunct to the park system, and they likely would give some credit to the tiger reserves for any benefit they receive from us.

Finally, we can all learn something from India's experience. Tiger trophy hunting was not banned until there were fewer than 2,000 tigers left, in spite of which the Indian tiger may still perish. Currently, most independent biologists agree that there may be as few as 4,000 Grizzly bears in British Columbia, regardless of how many more the prohunting BC government claims there are. If we do not ban the Grizzly bear hunt here in our own backyard immediately, our Grizzly bears may go the same way as the highly endangered Indian tiger, or worse, the extinct Bali, Caspian and Javan tigers.

{Anthony Marr is the tiger campaign director for the Western Canada
Wilderness Committee. His next expedition to India will depart from
Vancouver in October or November. Anyone interested in volunteering can contact the Wilderness Committee at 604-683-8220.}


 @ Environment News Service (ENS) 1999. All Rights Reserved.

 

 

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2001

The Way of the Cats

......© 2001 by Dee Walmsley - freelance nature writer

Largest of all cats, the Tiger is a magnificent animal and a fearsome predator but not nearly as formidable as humans who, with no thought or conscience, are hunting them down for such degrading fads as tiger penis soup. Once numbering 100,000 the tiger is now listed as one of the most endangered animals in the world. Fewer than 5,000 remain. In the last 60 years, three of the eight original subspecies have succumbed to poaching and habitat loss.

Habitat

The tiger's habitat varies from the coniferous and deciduous filled forests of Russia to the lush tropical rain forests, marshes and grasslands of India. Watersheds provide the essence of life for humans and ideal habitat for these beautiful beasts. Protecting the tiger's habitat insures the life of plants, insects and animals for future generations. Everything dances. to the rhythm of the forest.

Depending on terrain and food availability, male tigers require a range of 14-65 square miles, while females may be content with 7-21 square miles. A tigress centers her territory around her prey, especially during the nursing period. This practice keeps her near her young cubs should danger arise. A solitary male's territory often overlaps the area of several females but never that of another male. Like all cats, tigers mark their territory with urine and scent gland secretions that are released during tree scratching.

Nature bestowed a coat of magic on the tiger. Its orange and black stripes blend so well with the environment that at times it seem to. just disappear. The black lines break up the shape of its body as it strolls through the grasslands. The stripes are also used in identification, as no two tiger's body markings are alike.

Behavior

Tigers are nocturnal. They use their whiskers (pointing forward while stalking) as sensors and their keen eyesight and highly developed sense of smell to guide them on their way. A white spot appears on the back of each cupped ear. Scientists assume the markings are meant to portray eyes to scare off any predator brave enough to attack, or perhaps offer a beacon for young cubs to follow on their nightly jaunts.

Although the tiger stalks the land, muscles rippling in a body of pure controlled power, it is not always successful as a hunter. In fact, it manages to bring down its quarry only about 5-10% of the time and often goes for several days to a week without making a kill. Tigers ambush their prey near trails or watering holes, attacking from the rear. A bite to the neck severing the spinal cord of small animals or suffocating larger prey by going for the throat makes for a clean kill. Unlike the cheetah they rarely chase their intended victim more than the 10-25 yards from their cover area although they will on occasion run as far as 100 yards before giving up the chase. After the kill the carcass is dragged off to a safe place for consumption where as much as, 40 lbs. may be eaten at one session.

Reproduction

Adult tigers are solitary, coming together only to mate. The chance of tigers meeting during the mating season is very slight due to their declining numbers and habitat fragmentation. Replenishing stock is a long slow progress as female tigers do not breed for the first three to four years, and because litters average only 2 - 3 cubs, often with at least one dying at birth. Weighing only 2-3 lbs., the cubs are born blind and remain helpless until they are 6-8 weeks old when their eyes open on the world for the first time.

Male tigers will often kill cubs in order to bring the female into estrus. Dominant males killed seven of the known 22 cubs born in the Kanha Tiger Reserve this year.

The young cubs depend on their mother for food for the first 18 months, and then continue as a family unit for two years before dispersing to establish their own territories. Mature tigers are known to travel as far as 20 miles a day seeking prey, water and shelter. A normal life span is 10 years in the wild, "although the famous tigress Sita died at 17, when she was presumed poached," reports Chinese-Canadian tiger conservationist Anthony Marr who was doing work at Bandhavgarh National Park in India where Sita lived when she died.

"Unlike lions, whose cubs feed last, a tigress lets her cubs eat first," adds Marr, a self-professed admirer of Sita, who was still with cub when she succumbed.

The way of the tiger is indeed endangered

There are only five subspecies of tigers left in the world today:

Siberian - Bengal - Indo-Chinese - Sumatran - and - South China.

The Siberian tiger is the largest of the big cats. Research indicates that there are only 200 - 400 left in the wild. The adult male weighs up to 800 pounds and measures 10 feet in length while the smaller female tips the scales around 500 pounds. Their size and luxurious coats allow them to exist in a climate where the temperature is known to dip to -45 degrees F. These cats live in the remote wilderness forests of Korea, China and the Russia Far East. They prey on deer, elk, wild boar and smaller mammals.

While some species may maintain territories of 10 to 30 sq. miles, their limited availability of prey requires the Siberian tiger to claim areas as large as 120 sq. miles. The black market trade of tiger parts in Japan, S. Korea and Taiwan increased with the opening of the Russian, Chinese and North Korean borders. In Russia, increased poaching and logging practices are also having a devastating effect on the Siberian tiger's population.

The Bengal tiger, also known as the Indian or Royal Bengal tiger is a smaller cat [male 419-569 pounds, female 221-353 pounds]. There are approximately 2,500 animals accounted for in the wild making this the cat with the highest survival rate.

The Indian subcontinent has declared only 3% of the area as protected. In South-East Asia the tiger is still hunted, captured, and poisoned to such an extent that the numbers are dwindling at an alarming rate.

The exact numbers of poached tigers is unknown, however an estimated 300-500 tigers were killed yearly between 1989 and 1993. Some say that one tiger a day is still being killed in India. When government bureaucracy held up payment for tiger- killed cattle, provoked villagers encouraged by left-wing extremists took matters into their own hands killing more than 28 animals.

Most of us associate the Bengal cat with the Las Vegas black and white stage performers. All of the white Bengal tigers currently in captivity in the United States were bred and inbred from one white male captured in India in 1951. These tigers are rarely seen in the wild and are not albinos.

The Indo-Chinese tiger - [male 330-430 - female 221-287] - lives in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. Last counted in 1997 they numbered between 1,150-1,750 roaming their ranges feeding off cattle, deer and pigs.

Approximately 200 to 300 Sumatran tigers are left in the wild and another 235 in captive breeding programs. Regarded as the smallest living tigers, the males vary from seven to eight feet in length and weigh between 220-310 pounds. They prey on cattle, deer and pigs in their home range on the Indonesian island of Sumatra.

As of this writing, the South China tiger may be extinct. Forty years ago, the animals numbering 4000-5000 were declared pests by the Chinese government. This dictate brought about a mass slaughter of the sub-species. A mere handful of survivors were spotted during a 1987 field survey, these tigers were seen in the Guangdong Mountains bordering Hunan and Jiang Xi provinces. A recent unconfirmed report from the Ministry of Forestry suggests the wild population numbers less than 20.These statistics make the South China tiger the most rare of the five remaining tiger sub-species and the one closest to extinction.

Poaching

Poaching is a major factor in the tiger's decline. A tiger skin sells for as much as $20,000, a tiger penis $3,000 U.S.

"A dead tiger is worth much more than a live tiger in economic terms," Marr points out. "A dead tiger is worth upwards of $80,000 in salable parts on the retail market in Japan or Korea." Poaching for tiger parts is done for profit and to satisfy the lucrative Asian medicinal market.

India's Wildlife Protection Society estimates that at least 440 tiger carcasses used in Chinese medicine were exported over the last six years. Wildlife lawyers prosecuted 120 poachers in India last year. The top fines were $150, and although the maximum penalty is up to six years. To date no one has served any jail time for poaching tigers. Economics are forcing poor locals using ancient rifles to hunt down this vulnerable species for a ration of grain to feed their families.

Although the selling or trading of any products made from endangered species is illegal, it continues to be a 1.7 billion-dollar-a-year business. After illicit drugs, trafficking in wildlife parts estimated at $6 billion per annum globally is the second largest black market trade in the U.S. Marr investigated 37 Chinese pharmacies in New York City in August 1999. Nine of them openly displayed packaged tiger-bone medicines for sale, in spite of the existing law."

As the Chinese people become more affluent and their population increases, the demand for tiger parts continues to rise. Thousand-year old traditions die slowly. Many Asians still believe that tiger bone can cure convulsions, typhoid fever, and dysentery. Tiger parts are also used for good luck charms [eyes], "laziness" and pimples [brain], toothache [whiskers], skin diseases [tail], paralysis [bones] and virility [penis]. Ground tiger bones sell for $725 lb. [US] on the Korean market.

A sting operation by TRAFFIC India confiscated 882 lbs. of tiger bones, and 8 tiger skins accounting for 28-40 animals. The infiltrators were told given thirty days, they could deliver 2,200 lbs. of bones for $40.86 per pound.

Habitat Degradation

As with any endangered species, the tiger faces the dual threat of direct killing and indirect killing, the latter being destruction of the tiger's habitat. Marr laments. "In India, forests are being cut down by the rural millions for firewood and the 300 million sacred cows are overgrazing the habitat of deer - the tiger's main prey. As we speak, there are 500 forest fires raging out of control in Sumatra, most of which being deliberately set by ranchers and industries, under the averted eyes of the Indonesian government."

Fragmentation of forests also leads to the tiger's ability to traverse its natural home range.

Tracking Tigers

Humans have been able to track animals for centuries through their footprints or in the case of tigers - pugmarks. Nevertheless, nowhere on earth has this means of identification been perfected more than in India and Africa. There, professional trackers can determine the sex; age, species and approximate size of the beast from paw prints. Some of the highly skilled trackers can even determine if the animal is pregnant or has recently eaten a meal.

Cats walk in their own footprints leaving only the hind paw mark open to interpretation. However, if the animal is cantering or galloping, the prints of all paws are visible which can determine the animal's speed and confirm an individual's identity, especially in the case of injury or deformities.

During the tiger count, pugmarks are either traced on paper or plaster of Paris casts are prepared. The time and location of each print is then recorded. The pugmark's length, breadth and stride length are also recorded. These pugmark measurements and shapes determine the sex of the tiger. The collected data is then recorded logging individual tigers, their range, and territorial patterns as the current count.

Unfortunately, some park directors tend to deliberately overestimate the tiger population in their charge, for obvious corrupt reasons.

Conservation - Laws

Fines for possession or sale of products containing tiger parts are minimal. $5,000 for persons caught with the product, or business owners $10,000 and/or six months in jail. Compare that to the $100,000 individual and $200,000 and/or one year in jail for possession of seal penises also used in traditional Chinese medicine and it's obvious saving tigers is not very high on any government's list.

India was once a leader in tiger conservation. In 1972, they set aside land to be used as tiger reserves and the labor to patrol them. At the same time, poaching intensified, and still continues as the poverty, education, fuel technology and alternative income issues of the villagers remain unsolved.

In 1975 the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora {CITES} was founded with a membership from 145 countries to eliminate illegal trade of animal parts and products. In 1994 the U.S. government imposed trade sanctions on Taiwan for their illegal trade in tiger part yet the U.S. remains the largest market for wildlife products. With only 93 wildlife inspectors at 30 ports of entry, the underground trade continues to flourish. Ever increasing cutbacks in funding and labor have thwarted conservation efforts. Until conservation management is properly funded and focuses on the education of Asian communities, the poverty stricken, and land-use planning, the tiger population will continue to decline. Marr says, "putting an end to illegal trade in wildlife must begin in each country's backyard. All that is needed - to clean up New York City's tiger parts trade, for example - are two or three dedicated people if they concentrate on doing it."

Regrettably, there are still some Asian restaurants, offering patrons a complete meal of endangered species starting with Tiger penis soup, billed at $400 per bowl. Conservationists say tigers could be extinct in the wild by 2010 (ironically the next Year of the Tiger in the Chinese calendar) if steps to save them are not intensified. Unfortunately, as long as there is a market, tigers will be slaughtered to fill it.

 

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  2003-03-28

Destruction of marine mammal and fish population
by
Rafe Mair Thursday May 29, 2003 at 10:13 AM

Editorial by Rafe Mair on CKNW, March 28, 2003. "Assuming the 'environmental movement' had its start around 1962, when Rachel Carson published her blockbuster "Silent Spring" this means that in 60 years – after we knew better – we have all but wiped out our oceans." Reproduced with permission from http://www.rafeonline.com/.

Rafe Mair Online - March 28, 2003

It’s time we came to our senses, folks. By a recent Canadian study, 90% of the world’s predatory fishes have been wiped out and for convenience that term includes porpoises, dolphins, whales, seals, sea lions and so forth as well. It also includes salmon and any other fish prey on other sea creatures other than plankton and vegetation. Then we heard yesterday from author Richard Ellis, who has studied the oceans for 35 years, confirmation of that fact in his book The Empty Ocean. What is really terrifying is that nearly all countries bordering on oceans have laws favouring conservation and government departments to do the enforcing. Assuming the “environmental movement” had its start around 1962, when Rachel Carson published her blockbuster "Silent Spring" this means that in 60 years – after we knew better – we have all but wiped out our oceans. If one takes the starting point at 1948 when Thor Heyerdahl wrote Kon Tiki it means we took a bit longer but we knew more earlier.

It can be argued that there have been other causes – global warming being one but even that may be attributed to man. The terrible fact comes back to hit us in the face – we have destroyed 90% of our sea going predatory animals … and we knew better.

One of the reasons this has happened is that it’s always been someone else’s fault – Japan and Norway after whales, Japan and Korea with drift nets, Russian trawlers and on and on it goes. Whatever we ourselves do, we convince ourselves, is peanuts compared to the major sinners.

But there are two major problems. There is the huge sinner, the whalers, the drift netters and the huge trawlers … but there are also, all over the world, deaths of a thousand cuts. Little impacts here, little degradations there which all add up.

As I remarked to Mr Ellis in my interview yesterday, if we see a clear cut we know there was once a forest there and we are reminded of that fact for years to come. When we look out at the ocean we don’t see any degradation so, out of sight, out of mind.

The ocean’s ecology is very complicated. There is a huge and very complex interdependence. Left to her own devices, nature handles its problems very well. When the victims decrease the predators starve giving the victims the opportunity to revive their numbers. But it is never just one on one. Very often someone’s predator is another one’s victim and sometimes the chain is a long and complicated one.

This doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for the human fisherman – man has been fishing since prehistoric times and humans are part of the food chain, though at the very top. What it does mean is that we have to start assessing our sloppy and often plain greedy actions and do something about it.

Probably the biggest problems are two in number – we don’t have good science to guide us and the majority don’t want any science that curtails our activities.

Let’s look first at the seals, both on the East Coast and the West Coast. Superficially it seems obvious – there is the seal and there was the fish. Kill the seals and the fish will come back. But Anthony Marr, Paul Watson and much serious science will tell you that the seal, who is a predator, is two other things as well. It is the victim of Orcas and is also the friend of the fish it preys on. How can that be?

The seal doesn’t only eat salmon on the west coast or cod on the east coast … it also preys upon the enemies of the salmon and cod respectively. It’s that complex food chain again. This means that it’s not enough to know how many seals there are and how many salmon because they are but a couple of links in the chain that includes Whales at one end and plankton on the other with all sorts of disparate elements in between – such as eagles, bears, wharf perch, shiners, sticklebacks and on it goes. This is why much of the science available is unhelpful. Much of it – by industry especially but by governments as well – is self serving and is initiated not to seek out unknown answers so much as to gratify a desire to exploit.

You know the story of the Orange Roughy, a delicacy found off the shores of Australia and New Zealand. It was fished hard on the assumption that they were quickly replaced. The most elementary of studies would have shown what we now know, namely that the fish lives about 25 years and doesn’t spawn until many years after birth. Simply by fishing on a wrong-headed assumption, prompted no doubt by greed, a species has almost been eliminated.

This is what is so distressing about the Atlantic Salmon fish farm industry in British Columbia – it has been allowed to exist and now expand without the basic science being done. Actually, we know it’s worse than that because ongoing science in Norway, Scotland and Ireland science has shown caged salmon to be an ecological disaster. Our own science, Dr John Volpy and Alexandra Morton, as verified by several marine biologists, shows us that this interference with our native fishery has been disastrous and that matters will get much worse.

The fish farm debate is a curious one for the fish farmers say that they will be the salvation of the wild fish because demand for fish will be met by farmed rather than wild fish. This isn’t true for a lot of reasons. At the very best they might replace, as food, those wild salmon they destroy but it must also be remembered that they consume, over their life, many times their weight in other fish … because those other fish come form foreign lands we tend to discount them.

In the marvelous old comic strip of years ago Pogo Possum observed “we have met the enemy and he is us”. That is tragically so. And at the risk of being repetitive I must observe that when we start giving Orders of Canada and BC to the likes of Paul Watson while accepting him as an honoured member of our society and when we start jailing the pillars in our communities, the ones who get the Orders of Canada and other honours, who rape and pillage our oceans, then and then only will we start the belated path back.

It may already be too late but we must assume that it isn’t and fight the good fight with all we have in us … for the rapists and pillagers depend upon us to protest lightly, if at all, then leave them to do as they wish to the heritage God left us … a heritage we are supposed to be passing on, intact, to our children and grandchildren.

Reproduced with permission from http://www.rafeonline.com/.

 

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Teresa Castle, Chronicle Staff Writer

Monday, April 25, 2005

 

 

The world's appetite for bear bile and bear parts extends to the Bay Area and has even led to the hunting and killing of California's wild bears, state officials and animal rights activists say.

 

Lt. Kathy Ponting, field supervisor for the California Department of Fish and Game's undercover Special Operations unit, says game wardens regularly find black bear carcasses in the wild with only their gall bladders and paws cut away.

 

When WildAid, an animal rights group based in San Francisco, sent an undercover investigator into Chinatown last year, two shopkeepers readily offered up vials in velvet-lined boxes with a picture of a bear on the lid, claiming the powdered bear bile was from farms in China, said Executive Director Peter Knights.

 

One reason wild bear parts are prized is that some adherents of traditional Chinese medicine believe that by eating animal parts, they will take on the characteristics of the animal. Yet because California law bans the sale or purchase of bear parts -- with penalties ranging up to a $30,000 fine and three years in state prison -- the trade is clandestine and it is impossible to gauge the full extent of the problem.

But in 2001, when the World Society for the Protection of Animals conducted a probe of traditional Chinese medicine shops in Canada and four U.S. cities -- Chicago, New York, Washington and San Francisco -- it found that 91 percent of the shops surveyed sold some form of bear part, including farmed bile powder, bile medicines and whole gall bladders.

 

In San Francisco, bile crystal sold for $50 a bottle, the survey found, and whole gall bladders, which the merchants claimed to be from wild bears in China, sold for $129.

 

The Humane Society of the United States says smugglers have been caught with bears' gall bladders dipped in chocolate, in an attempt to disguise them as chocolate-covered figs, and packed in coffee to conceal the smell.

 

Knights said demand for the once-rare product remains high, which has led to more bears being killed in the wild. "People don't want to be like a bear in a cage, they want to be like a wild bear," Knights said.

 

Some users of Chinese medicines argue that Westerners have no right to criticize their centuries-old cultural traditions. But Anthony Marr, a Chinese Canadian animal welfare advocate, argues that "all traditions, sooner or later, have to give way to new advances, and for this practice, its time has come."

 

Another reason that wild bear parts are in demand is that consumers grew wary of prepackaged bear products after the state's Department of Fish and Game revealed that some "bear" products netted in sting operations were really from pigs and cows. Poachers sometimes go to great lengths to prove their bear parts are real, even videotaping the kills in some cases, Knights said.

 

In the mid-1990s, the Department of Fish and Game aggressively pursued bear poachers and held meetings with experts on the trade in bear parts. A yearlong sting operation in Kern and Tulare counties dubbed Ursus III netted 11 suspects in 2003.

 

Sting operations have helped tamp down the trade in certain areas, Ponting said, but she added: "We would be naive to feel we have it in check.''

 

State efforts were curtailed under Gov. Gray Davus when the Special Operations unit was cut from 10 wardens to six. The hiring freeze was lifted in July 2004.

 

"I wish we had the resources to do more," she said. "We're just spread so thin. We've got a lot of species to protect."

 

Tracing poachers is complicated by the fact that there is no uniform federal law banning the trade in bear parts, so poachers can transport their contraband from California to one of the eight states where the parts can be bought and sold legally. A number of bills have been introduced to put a federal ban in place, including bills by Rep. Elton Gallegly, R-Thousand Oaks (Ventura County), and Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., but so far they have stalled in Congress.

 

Ponting said she believes the major market for poached black bear parts is in California, with its large Asian population: "The supply and the demand are right here."

 

Miles Young, a former supervisor for undercover Fish and Game operations, suspects that many California bear parts are making their way to Asia. "Galls are worth a lot more going to Asia," said Young, who retired from the department in December 2003.

 

The trade can be lucrative, he said, especially for international smugglers. During one sting operation, he sent an Asian woman to buy gall bladders from poachers in Northern California. She was able to buy 35 in one day, paying $35 to $40 for them, he said. Agents then resold them to a Bay Area merchant for $300 to $400.

 

"You can add another zero to that to get the price in Korea," Young said.

 

Knights, from WildAid, says efforts to crack down on poachers are worthwhile.

 

"If you bust somebody and publicize it, the aftershocks can last for years."

 

But his organization is taking another tack, attempting to make the trade in animal parts unfashionable and to persuade consumers to use alternatives, like synthetic bile and herbal remedies.

 

The group has filmed television spots featuring Asian and international celebrities such as martial arts actor Jackie Chan, director Ang Lee and actress Michelle Yeoh. The spots have been broadcast to an audience of more than a million people a week, mainly in Asia.

 

Their tag line: "When the buying stops, the killing can too."

 

E-mail Teresa Castle at tcastle@sfchronicle.com.

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6/21/2005

Rejecting the Cultural Justification for Slaughter

Commentary by Paul Watson
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

Well, it did not take long. It’s getting to the point that being a conservationist automatically makes a person a racist. Now it appears it is racist to defend sharks. What is even more amazing is that some people consider it a form of “Western cultural imperialism” to criticize Disneyland in Hong Kong.

I’ve been called a racist for defending whales, seals, fish, elephants, and trees, and for speaking out about human over-population. So, I guess it is not surprising to now be called a racist for defending sharks.

Let me see, for defending whales, we are anti-Japanese, anti-Norwegian, anti-Icelandic, and anti-Native American. For defending seals, we are anti-Canadian, anti-Norwegian, anti-Russian, and anti-Namibian. For defending trees, we are anti-Hispanic and anti Native American, oh yes, and anti-working class. It appears that loggers who make four times the average income of an environmental activist are working-class and the lower-paid activists are viewed as wealthy. You see, when you work without pay because you feel that the entire future of the planet is at stake, this is viewed as a luxury. In other words, environmental activists have the luxury of sleeping in trees and not owning a home, a car, or recreational vehicles.

Anyways, back to being a racist for saving sharks.

I was sent a response from a man named Hsing Lee who believes that the entire campaign to stop people from eating shark fin soup is motivated by anti-Chinese passions.

I guess that’s why we are opposing Disneyland. Lee apparently believes that it is part of the traditional Chinese culture for Chinese couples to have Disney character fantasy weddings where traditional shark fin soup is served.

Never mind that Disneyland has now become a Mousewich for sharks and that a hundred million of them are being cruelly slaughtered to provide trinkets, and expensive, tasteless, status symbol bowls of soup. A hundred million sentient creatures a year massacred for non-nutritive purposes, slaughtered for vanity, and justified by culture.

It’s a holocaust for sharks including those killed for the Mouse-shirted eco-fascists at Disneyland Hong Kong, but Lee is blind to the plight of the sharks, and most likely, he is as apathetic about the health of the oceans as well.

This is his protest:

You have some Western prejudice in play here on your part.

 The medicinal properties of sharks fin soup are well known, and it's been used as food and medicine for thousands of years.  It's as traditional a dish as steak and potatoes. Would you prefer that we Chinese give up our culture and identity and conform to Western diet, medicine, and language?  It's not Chinese medicine that brought the world Heroin or Vicodin or Oxycontin or Vioxxx, all of which are infinitely worse for people than a shark's fin.  And I can testify first hand to the medicinal qualities of shark's fin soup. It really does make you stronger, more virile, and gives you a more adaptable immune system.  You fight off sickness faster when you drink it.  And unlike Westerners and their whale killing for ambergris, we Chinese actually put the rest of the shark on people's dinner tables.  We even use the highly elastic bone and tendon.  There is no wastage unless the shark is one of a handful of breeds that can be toxic.

The tone of this entire article [referring to the article in the Herald Tribune and the New York Times] is ignorant, racist, and just more China and Chinese bashing by a bunch of fucking Nazi crackers who think only Western ways are good or proper and everyone else is immoral.

Hsing Lee makes quite a few factual errors in his protest. It was China that actually introduced opium to the West and heroin is an extract of opium. There are no Western whalers hunting whales for Ambergris which comes only from the sperm whale and the only nation hunting sperm whales is Japan. There is no scientific validity to the claims that shark fin is a health benefit. It is not true that the Chinese use all parts of the shark. Ninety percent of shark fins come from sharks where the body has been wastefully discarded. Shark fin is not as traditional a dish in China as steak and potatoes is for Westerners for the simple reason that the cost of between $100 and $400 per bowl makes it a restricted dish available only to the wealthy.

I sent the following reply to Hsing Lee:

To Hsing Lee,

I don't fall for the racist guilt crap.

 

The fact is that sharks are being seriously diminished and a major reason for it is the Asian demand for shark fin soup. My opposition to shark finning has nothing to do with any prejudice towards Chinese culture. On the contrary, my one child is half Chinese and I have quite a few Chinese in-laws, all of whom are opposed to shark fin soup, by the way.

Anthony Marr is a Vancouver Chinese activist, originally from China and a dedicated activist against shark finning.

There is not a shred of scientific evidence to demonstrate any medicinal benefits of shark fins or shark cartilage. I have interviewed reputable Chinese medical practioneers who have told me that there is no validity to these claims.
  
And even if there were valid claims, the destruction of the world's sharks is not worth the benefits.
  
No one is asking the Chinese to give up their culture. We are asking people to be ecologically responsible and sensitive to the fact that shark species have been diminished in all species from 60% up to 95%. Basking sharks, tiger sharks, white sharks, and whale sharks have been especially hit.
  
Last year, I found 100 plus silky sharks entangled and dead in a net that was caught on the rocks a hundred feet down, off the World Heritage Site of Malpelo Island, Colombia. What right do the Hong Kong Shark Fin merchants have to rob Colombia of its natural treasures?

Every year, I haul hundreds of miles of illegally-set long lines from the oceans and intercept poachers with cargos of shark fins.
  
What right does Hong Kong have to plunder the world's oceans for the benefit of so-called Chinese culture? The answer is they have no right at all.
  
Have we descended so low that we are now using culture to defend the extermination of species? Has it come to this that defenders of endangered species and protectors of oceanic ecosystems are to be called racist for practicing, promoting, and enforcing conservation?
 
Your accusation that Westerners are killing whales for Ambergris is way out of date. Whales have not been killed for Ambergris for over a century, and the only commercial whale killers in the world today are the Japanese, the Norwegians, and the Icelanders, and we oppose them all regardless of their race or culture.
  
You have the audacity to say there is no wastage when it is a fact that only 4% of a shark's body is utilized by the shark fin industry and the rest is thrown away.

Just last week, a San Diego court found a Hong Kong company guilty of possessing nearly 70,000 pounds of shark fins without utilizing the remaining 96% of the bodies. This represents between 18,000 and 22,000 sharks.
  
It is a fact that over 100 million sharks are being slaughtered each year and a great majority of this slaughter is to provide shark fins for tasteless, non-nutritive, expensive, superstitious soup meant to impress family and friends as a status symbol.

It is your  remarks which are ignorant and racist. The fact is that there are many Chinese who are speaking out against shark finning. We have Chinese celebrities like Michele Yeoh and Jackie Chan who have spoken out against it. We have Chinese volunteers working on stopping the consumption of shark fins. You are using race to cover up your support for a product which is causing incredible ecological damage to oceanic eco-systems. You are hiding behind race because you do not have the facts to back up your ridiculous belief that shark fin soup is a benefit to health.

In doing so, you also expose your own racism by labeling any person who is opposed to the massive slaughter of sharks as a Nazi. Talk about unoriginal name calling.

I have always found it despicable for people to use their race, their sex, or their culture to cover up crimes. The slaughter of sharks is a crime against nature and it is a crime under international and national laws.
   
I find the Chinese to be no better or no worse than every other mis-guided, anthropocentric, nature-abusing hominids anywhere. We are all on the same spaceship, Hsing.

As far as I am concerned, there is only one race and that is the human race, and ecologically speaking the entire race is predominantly ignorant, destructive, and suicidal.

The campaign against shark finning has nothing to do with race and culture and everything to do with the conservation of important species that fulfill valuable niches within oceanic ecological systems.
 
Captain Paul Watson

 

 

 

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2005-12-28

 

]

Portland, Oregon Portland, Oregon

 

 

Anthony Marr

Anthony Marr

 

Pacifier writes "Anthony Marr Presents Turn 'Compassion into Action' Saturday, November 5th

When he was asked why he was going on the road again, Anthony Marr replied: "There is an over abundance of compassion and a dire shortage of action, while animals scream and the Earth burns.  I aim to unleash the dammed-up compassion into passionate and effective action across the land."

Compassion Into Action - for budding and veteran activists alike. One of the plenary sessions in the AR2005 conference (www.FARMUSA.org) was titled "Compassion Into Action". Anthony Marr was one of the speakers. Afterwards, he received considerable encouragement to expand his 15 minute speech into a full-length presentation, complete with workshop, plus write a book on the subject. He has done both.

 

 

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