It’s been a good week for cracking down on the illegal wildlife trade! Indonesian police caught smugglers of yellow-crested cockatoos, and an airline banned transport of hunting trophies.

First we have a cheer for Indonesian police who rescued more than 24 critically endangered cockatoos this week after they were found stuffed into bottles for illegal wildlife trade. Smugglers had crammed the Yellow-crested cockatoos into empty bottles so they could get through customs at Port of Tanjung Perak in Surabaya, Indonesia. 

The yellow-crested cockatoo was listed as a critically endangered species by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources in 2007. And last year marked another milestone in putting an end to the global trade in these birds as all members of three parrot species gained protection under the Endangered Species Act after a petition was filed by Friends of Animals and WildEarth Guardians. 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the Philippine cockatoo and the yellow-crested cockatoo (including all four subspecies) as “endangered” and the white cockatoo as “threatened” due to a variety of threats, including the illegal collection of these attractive birds from the wild for the pet trade.

The population of yellow-crested is at a critical low due to deforestation and poaching and recent studies suggest there may be less than 7,000 individuals remaining.

More than 10,000 parrots, including Lories and Cockatoos, are caught from the wild in North Halmahera, Indonesia, each year to supply the domestic and the international illegal wildlife trade. 

Sadly, around 40 percent of birds die during the illegal smuggling process due to poor conditions and cruel handling, according to an article in Daily Mail. FoA hopes that all who have profited from caging these beautiful birds will now face some cage time themselves.

Cheers also go out to South African Airways, which this week banned the transport of hunting trophies on all its carriers. So whatever wealthy foreigners—the majority of them Americans—shoot in Africa will not be allowed to come home with them. 

Tim Clyde-Smith of SAA told “Hunting of endangered species has become a major problem in Africa and elsewhere with the depletion to near extinction of wildlife that once roamed in prolific numbers. SAA has taken the step of banning all transportation of animals killed in hunting activity as a result,” Tim said.

“SAA will no longer support game hunters by carrying their trophies back to their country of origin. The vast majority of tourists visit Africa in particular to witness the wonderful wildlife that remains. We consider it our duty to work to ensure this is preserved for future generations and that we deter activity that puts this wonderful resource in danger,” he said.

Likewise, FoA hopes that lawmakers in New York consider it their duty to protect Africa’s wildlife and sign into law a bill drafted by our Wildlife Law Program Director Mike Harris. The Africa 5 bill was introduced April 8 by NY state Sen. Tony Avella and it would ban the import, possession, sale or transportation in New York of five species of animals native to Africa. The legislation would protect the African elephant, lion, leopard, black rhino and white rhino, all of whom are threatened by illegal poaching and sport hunting and are currently facing extinction.


We have a cheer today for Morrissey, current solo-artist and former front man for the British band The Smiths, who succeeded in having Madison Square Garden in New York City agree to serve only vegan food during his performance next month! 

The 55-year-old vehement animal rights supporter demanded the iconic New York venue only serve no meat or dairy products during his June 27 performance. While Madison Square Garden has declined to formally comment yet, it’s still unknown just how this request will be carried out, but it’s likely that some in-venue establishments who focus their menus heavily on meat and dairy (like McDonald’s, which Morrissey insisted be closed during appearance at The Staples Center in Los Angeles in 2013) will shut down for the night of the show. 

Last Wednesday the musician also wrote an open letter in Rolling Stone to former Vice President Al Gore and Kevin Wall asking that they follow his lead. Gore and Wall are co-founders of the environmental awareness event Live Earth— a series of concerts that will take place in locations across six continents on June 18—and kicks off a campaign for next year’s climate change conference in Paris.

“I am writing to ask you to do the one thing that will do the most good for the planet and the majority of its inhabitants: not serve meat or dairy products at Live Earth 2015. We already know that raising animals for food is a leading cause of climate change and that moving toward a vegan diet is necessary to combat climate change’s worst effects….Animal agriculture severely affects the world’s freshwater supply and is a major contributor to global greenhouse-gas emissions, deforestation, loss of biodiversity and air and water pollution, among many other harmful effects.”

We admire Morrissey for standing up for animals and insisting MSG comply with his request for a vegan concert night and hope this trend continues!  As an organization that has been fully dedicated to championing a vegan lifestyle, we talk to people every day who are interested in adopting a fully plant-based diet. If you would like more information, check out our “vegan starter guide” located right here. We also offer a frequently updated guide to vegan restaurants in NYC,  two vegan cookbooks filled with fantastic and delicious recipes you can make at home and have a Pinterest page with tons of delicious vegan recipes. 

We have a huge jeer for Canada’s pre-election federal budget for 2015-16 announced last week, which sets aside $5.7 million over five years to help the country’s flailing sealing industry market its products. Friends of Animals was already sickened by the fact that the quota for Canada’s 2015 seal hunt—which is currently underway— is 400,000 seals. 

Prime Minister Stephen Harper needs to get his head out of the sand and acknowledge that seal products and the barbaric practices used to secure them are no longer acceptable in 2015. Even Russia, which used to be Canada’s largest buyer of seal items, banned the import of harp seal pelts in 2011, and the European Union has had a ban in effect since 2010. A ban on seal products being imported into the U.S. has existed since 1972, when Congress passed the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act.

Since the EU ban does not apply to the aboriginal sealing industry, a portion of the $5.7 million of the money would go toward creating a system to certify seal products from aboriginal communities. There would also be cash allotted for business advice and training for aboriginal sealers.

Friends of Animals (FoA) has a better idea—which doesn’t include the slaughter loving Harper government. In October, Canadians need to vote for a new leader, one who will create a budget that lends support to a fair sealing industry buyout instead of supporting an inhumane industry. This occurred in a similar fashion when whaling was banned in the country in the 1970s.   

This plan would allow Canada to move beyond commercial sealing while developing economic alternatives in the communities involved. The time is now for Canada to evolve with the rest of the world, and leave the Harper government and its Neanderthal mentality in the past where it belongs.