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Faced with possible EU ban, Canada defends seal hunting

New tiger attack kills two in Indonesia: official
A Sumatran tiger has mauled to death another two illegal loggers in Indonesia, bringing the toll to eight in the last five weeks, an official said Tuesday. The loggers were attacked in their forest hut on Sunday night in the third such incident since late January, according to a conservation official in Jambi province, Sumatra island. "They were playing guitar and singing in their temporary hut in the forest when a tiger suddenly attacked one of them," the official, Didi Wuryanto, told AFP. "After having paralysed the first victim, it ran after another man and mauled his head and chest while his friends were watching." Human-animal conflicts are a rising problem as people encroach on wildlife habitats in Indonesia, an archipelagic nation with some of the world's largest remaining tropical forests. Environmental group WWF said villagers have trapped and killed four of the endangered tigers in response to the deadly attacks, which it blamed on illegal logging in the tigers' habitat. Wuryanto said authorities were pleading with villagers not to trap and kill the protected cats. "We've repeatedly urged people not to enter the forest and asked them not to attack tigers," he said. There are less than 400 Sumatran tigers left in the wild, according to WWF.
by Staff Writers
Ottawa (AFP) March 2, 2009
The government of Canada on Monday defended the "humaneness" of seal-hunting and rejected efforts to outlaw the practice, after a European Parliament committee voted to ban the import of seal products.

Earlier, the European Union's legislative branch voted to ban "products derived from seals, the import (to the EU), their transit through EU territory and their export from it," a statement from the parliament said.

Gail Shea, Canada's minister of fisheries and oceans, said her government was "disappointed" by the vote, which would severely impact a major Canadian export.

"Canada has made numerous attempts to set the facts straight about the Canadian seal hunt and we have provided ample evidence of the humaneness and sustainability of the hunt. Unfortunately, this evidence is not yet understood in Europe," Shea said.

She continued: "Today's vote is but one of many steps and the European Parliament has not yet made its final decision in the matter. We hope the end result will be a positive one for Canada.

"Until then, we will continue to defend the rights of Canadian sealers to earn their livelihood."

The European Commission had already proposed a ban in July for seals killed in ways deemed inhumane by critics of seal hunting, such as the clubbing of young seal pups.

Seals are hunted mainly for their pelts, but also for meat and fat, which is used in beauty products.

According to the European Commission, Canada, Greenland, and Namibia account for about 60 percent of the 900,000 seals hunted each year, with Canada being the biggest source.

Seals are also hunted in Iceland, Norway, Russia, and the United States as well as in EU member states Britain, Finland and Sweden.

Each year, anti-sealing activists clash with sealers and Canadian fisheries officials on Canada's Atlantic coast, denouncing the hunt as cruel.

The full European Parliament is to vote on the ban at a April 1 plenary session in Brussels. The measure also has to be approved by EU governments before it can be implemented.

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South Africa seeks homes for stray hippos
Cape Town (AFP) March 2, 2009
South African environmental authorities are looking for homes for hippos, putting out a plea Monday for people to offer their premises to a hippopatamus that has moved into a water treatment plant.

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