Latest news from Taiji.
By Hans Peter Roth – WDCS rep on the ground.
A month of horror – and of hope
January 2011 ended in Taiji as calm as it has begun.
During the last three days no dolphin was killed. Today the hunting vessels remain in the harbor. But yesterday there was a hunt. Once more pacific white – sided dolphins were the victims. Again the hunters lined a horseshoe-shaped net, several hundreds of meters away from the harbor. Sadly, two dolphins walked into that trap – and will have to carve out a miserable existence in captivity for the rest of their lives.
It’s time for a quick review of the past month: Approximately 185 dolphins were killed in January. According to our own observations of the killings we counted 25 bottlenose dolphins, 120 Striped dolphins, 38 Rissos dolphins and 2 Pacific White-Sided dolphins. 20 of these animals were selected for aquariums, mainly Bottlenose dolphins and White-sided, but also some Rissos dolphins. These numbers may be not accurate as a precise counting is not always possible from our viewpoints – especially when the hunt get chaotic, like we reported on the Striped dolphins hunts.
And now it’s time to talk about the horror. The brutality and the suffering I had to witness surpassed my worst expectations. Every claim saying the new killing method (severing the spinal cord as more “human” and killing the animal in seconds) is a sheer and cynical lie. There is enough evidence from this month the 'new' killing method results in senseless suffering and the slow and painful death of the animals. (I will get back to this in another blog soon).
What the dolphins have to go through before their death is also indescribably cruel. The drive and the associated underwater noise that is created to stampede those dolphins. The fear. The total exhaustion – until death - due to the hunt. The expectation of their own emanant death, tied up by their flukes while another individual from their group is killed.
And these dolphins – like those Striped dolphins – that strand on the razor sharp rocks in panic. That abrade until they exsanguinate. Once we had to witness stranded striped dolphins half dry writhe due to the pain up to one hour exposed to the sun, bleeding, until the hunters dragged them away from the rocks.
Please apologize my radical language.
January 2011 – a month of hope, too? I’d say: Yes. I got to know several Japanese who now engage actively in the conservation of Japanese dolphins. Courageous women and men with different backgrounds, everyone of them contributing their own part to achieve the common goal. A growing grass-roots movement in Japan! This is very important. Furthermore the number of killed animals in this hunting season is low compared to the last season. In sum 660 to 690 dolphins were killed. In the last hunting season 1,700 animals had to die. It’s very likely that this number will not even be approached.
There is the hope of understanding that it simply is not okay that one single nation – unjustified – is undertaking acts so backward to the majority of the world's public. Although it is just a small group of backward people in a remote village that continues the barbaric killings with the blessing of corrupt officials and subsidized with tax money of a nearly bankrupt* government.
Hans Peter Roth
* On January 27th the Rating agency Standard & Poors downgraded the solvency of Japan due to increasing national debts.