British horse abuse


This video from England is called A slaughterman is shown beating the horses with a metal pole through the abattoir (throat cut).

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Undercover film reveals abuse at horse abattoir

Sunday 20 January 2013

Two slaughtermen have had their licences withdrawn after being identified in shocking undercover footage showing appalling animal welfare conditions at a horse abattoir.

Horses at the Red Lion Abattoir near Nantwich, Cheshire, were shown being beaten with an iron rod and sticks to encourage them into pens.

The film recorded during an eight-week investigation by the Hillside Animal Sanctuary group also showed horses crammed into slaughter pens in pairs before being illegally stunned together.

Under the Welfare of Animals Regulations 1995, horses should not be slaughtered in sight of one another because of the distress it causes.

Both the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and RSPCA charity are investigating.

The FSA withdrew the licences of the two men after viewing the footage, which means they cannot continue to slaughter animals, and is considering prosecuting.

See also here.

British butterfly news, good and bad


This is a meadow brown butterfly video.

From Wildlife Extra:

The wet summer of 2012 was very good for some butterflies – very bad for others

Grass feeding butterflies defy deluge

January 2013. Grass-feeding butterflies defied the second wettest year on record to enjoy a bumper 2012 across the UK countryside, according to a new scientific survey. Last year’s incessant rain prompted substantial grass growth and provided good conditions for some grassland species such as the Meadow Brown, Ringlet and Gatekeeper.

Very good year for meadow brown

The Wider Countryside Butterfly Survey (WCBS) revealed that the Meadow Brown enjoyed its best year since the start of the scheme with almost twice as many counted than in 2011.

Very bad year for other butterflies

But overall 2012 proved to be a washout with recorders seeing 43% fewer species on average than in 2011 during survey counts. The WCBS involves counting butterflies in more than 700 randomly generated 1km-squares across the UK countryside. The scheme helps assess the health of butterfly populations across the wider countryside, rather than specially managed hotspots such as nature reserves.

Last year, recorders saw on average 44 butterflies of four species per-survey made over July and August compared with 2011 when 47 butterflies from seven species were seen on average. In 2009 an average of 80 butterflies and eight species were recorded per-survey.

A relatively dry start to 2012 followed by near continual rain saw bumper grass growth – providing some species with an abundance of their favoured food plants. The Meadow Brown thrived as a result with more than 18,500 counted, almost twice as many as in 2011. This was the most widespread butterfly for the third successive year being seen in 89% of squares surveyed.

Ringlet & Gatekeeper

The Ringlet also enjoyed a good year and was found in almost two-thirds of squares compared to half of squares in 2011. Another grass-feeder, the Gatekeeper, was also more widespread than 2011.

Bad year for Small tortoiseshell

But months of unseasonable wet weather proved problematic for many other species – there were 38 visits when recorders saw no butterflies at all. Garden favourite the Small Tortoiseshell suffered further declines with less than half the number counted than in 2011. This once widespread species was present in less than half of the squares sampled.

Common blue

The Common Blue also struggled and was found in 50% fewer squares than in 2011. The Wall butterfly also suffered following a series of declines and was found in just 4% of squares compared to 9% in 2009.

WCBS Co-ordinator Dr Zoë Randle said: “Last year was fantastic for the Meadow Brown however the overall picture is that butterfly populations are suffering in the wider countryside and this needs to be addressed urgently.”

Kate Risely, who co-ordinates the BTO butterfly surveyors, said: “Record-breaking rainfall during the summer months affected birds and butterflies alike, and many species suffered a disastrous season. Credit is due to all the volunteer recorders who braved the weather and collected this valuable data on butterfly populations.”

The WCBS is run by Butterfly Conservation, the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) and the NERC Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH) as part of the United Kingdom Butterfly Monitoring scheme (UKBMS).

Afghan prisoners, still more torture


This video is called Canadian Government looked the other way on Afghan torture.

From Al Jazeera:

UN says Afghan prisoners still being tortured

Forms of abuse included hanging prisoners by their wrists and beating them with cables, a new report says.

Last Modified: 20 Jan 2013 18:29

Afghan authorities were still torturing prisoners, such as hanging them by their wrists and beating them with cables, according to a UN report.

More than half of the 635 detainees interviewed had been tortured, according to the report titled Treatment of Conflict-Related Detainees in Afghan Custody: One Year On, released on Sunday.

The figure is higher than the UN found in its first report in 2011, when 24 percent of transferred detainees were tortured.

In multiple detention centres, Afghan authorities leave detainees hanging from the ceiling by their wrists, beat them with cables and wooden sticks, administer electric shocks, twist their genitals and threaten to shove bottles up their anuses or to kill them, the report said.

The report shows little progress in curbing abuse in Afghan prisons despite the Afghan government’s promise of prison reform.

It also cites instances where Afghan authorities have tried to hide mistreatment from UN monitors.

After the last year’s report, the NATO military alliance temporarily stopped transferring Afghans it had picked up to national authorities until they could set up a system free of abuse.

Though it said the findings were exaggerated, the Afghan government promised after the first report to increase monitoring, but little appears to have changed.

Once NATO forces resumed the transfers and decreased inspections, torture quickly returned to earlier levels, the report said.

‘Allegations untrue’

The report documents what it called a “persistent lack of accountability for perpetrators of torture”, noting that no one has been prosecuted for prisoner abuse since the first report was released.

One detainee in the western province of Farah told the UN team: “They laid me on the ground. One of them sat on my feet and another one sat on my head, and the third one took a pipe and started beating me with it.

They were beating me for some time like one hour and were frequently telling me that, ‘You are with Taliban and this is what you deserve.'”

It’s troubling given the amount of international attention and pledges of reform that came after the first report.

“Torture cannot be addressed by training, inspections and directives alone,” said Georgette Gagnon, the head of human rights for the UN mission in Afghanistan, explaining that there has been little follow-through by the Afghan government.

In a letter responding to the UN report, General John Allen, the commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, said that his staff had written letters to Afghan ministers urging them to investigate more than 80 separate allegations of detainee abuse during the past 18 months.

“To date, Afghan officials have acted in only one instance,” Allen said in the letter.

See also here.

National garden bird count, update


This video from the USA is called Audubon‘s Christmas Bird Count.

Yesterday, I participated in the national garden bird count.

Today, I counted again, at a different spot: the balcony.

A bit more birds than yesterday. One great tit, one blue tit. A magpie. A blackbird couple, male and female.

Meanwhile, more and more bird counting figures are still coming in at the national level.

Swans in Dutch nature reserve


This is a Bewick’s swan video from England.

This weekend, birds are not only counted in gardens in the Netherlands.

Yesterday morning, people counted water birds in the Biesbosch nature reserve in the southern Netherlands.

Their Twitter message says they saw nearly 26,000 geese, over 1500 Bewick’s swans and four whooper swans.