Companion Animals in a Time of COVID-19-Andrew Rowan June 2020 – Pres. Ltr.

Companion Animals in a Time of COVID-19


As we continue to struggle with the current Covid-19 pandemic, it appears that there has been an uptick across the world in the demand for companion animals. In the early phases of the pandemic, there was some concern that our companion animals might be a possible source of infection but, as the infographic from the International Companion Animal Management Coalition indicates, there is very little risk from our pets. There are also reasons, discussed by Professor Alan Kazdin of Yale University in an earlier WBI blog post, why people might be seeking to bring companion animals into their homes at this stressful time.
In the United States, there has been a significant increase in the number of shelter animals being fostered while the number of animals entering shelters fell by almost 50 percent in the early phases of the country’s response to the pandemic. Some shelters in regions hard hit by the pandemic had no animals left for households looking to adopt or foster. At the same time, the demand for puppies being sold by pet stores has also increased and the pet supply industry has been regarded as recession-proof, as the chart below demonstrates. During the recessions of 2001 and 2008-09, spending on pets continued to grow without any noticeable dip. This is not just a North American phenomenon. Demand for pets has been strong in other parts of the world, and humane services have been encouraged. For example, India declared the feeding of street dogs (who lost an important source of food when restaurants and food stalls were shut down) an essential service leading to the development of emergency feeding programs across the country.
Now, thanks to weekly reports from PetPoint (a division of PetHealth, a North American pet health insurance and shelter software company), we can track how the pandemic has affected North American shelters in almost real time. PetPoint has been providing monthly reports of shelter intakes and outcomes among the shelters and rescues using their software (around 20 percent of total intake and outcomes) for ten years. Now, during the Covid-19 outbreak, they have been posting weekly reports. The charts below track the intake and fostering numbers for 2019 and 2020.
As with our understanding of the spread of Covid-19, it is likely that it will take time for us to develop a more detailed picture of the increased entry of companion animals into people’s homes during the pandemic. We can expect to see an uptick in cases of separation anxiety among companion animals when family members head back to school and work. In the meantime, let us applaud PetPoint’s initiative in providing reports of shelter intakes and outcomes on a weekly basis so that we can develop a more granular view of what is happening. North American shelters may have lower intake and increased fostering, but they will also likely have lower staffing levels and possibly reduced funding as donations (and fees) diminish.

Global Dog Populations – Andrew Rowan May 2020 – Pres. Ltr.

Global Dog Populations


In human health management, we generally must know the size of the problem before we can manage it successfully. This is also true of the management of animals such as dogs and cats. This letter will address what we know about the number of dogs on the planet.
Dog on beach
Ray Coppinger, a world authority on dog behavior, started my investigations into global dog numbers at least 25 years ago when he asked me a simple question: How many dogs are there? At the time, we estimated that there were at least 400 million dogs, but this number has turned out to be far too low. In 2013, Matthew Gompper at the University of Missouri estimated there were around one billion domestic dogs, and his publication started my investigation of the issue in earnest.
I now agree with Gompper that there may be close to one billion domestic dogs globally, but this does not tell us where or how those dogs live. I have become disenchanted with metrics that measure dogs per square kilometer or some other unit of area. Dogs are not spread out evenly across the landscape – far from it – and are mostly clustered around humans. Therefore, a measure that compares the number of dogs to the number of humans is, in my opinion, a far more relevant and valuable way to estimate dog numbers. For several years now I have been using the measure of dogs per 1,000 humans, and I can report that dog populations in different regions and countries vary from around 1-2 per 1,000 people (on the Arabian peninsula) to as high as 800 per 1,000 humans (in rural communities in Chile).
This is a huge range, and we have very little insight into why dog numbers fluctuate so widely. It seems pretty obvious why there should be so few dogs in the Arabian Peninsula (Muslim attitudes to dogs tend to be negative), but why would Sweden have 80 dogs per 1,000 people compared to 140 in the UK and 240 in the USA? Or why would there be so few dogs in the New England states (around 110-140 per 1,000 people) and so many in some Rocky Mountain states (400 per 1,000 people in Montana)? These discrepancies are especially intriguing because these values have been stable for the past 30 to 40 years.
Fairly recently, a few colleagues and I began looking at the effect of human density on relative dog numbers. It has become evident that there is a strong inverse relationship between log human density and the relative number of dogs. A strong inverse density relationship has been found (R2 for the various trend lines ranges from 0.4 to 0.7). Such an inverse relationship has been documented for dog populations in US states, on the island of Mauritius, in the Indian state of Haryana, in Mumbai, in and around Rawalpindi in Pakistan and in Afghanistan’s capital of Kabul, even though the relative number of dogs varies from 10 to 400 dogs per 1,000 people and the human density varies from a few people per square kilometer to over 40,000 per square kilometer.
The inverse correlation of relative dog numbers with log human density offers an opportunity to develop reasonably reliable predictive models for dog populations in different countries.
We also need to determine whether the dogs are pets, strays or feral animals. WellBeing International is now classifying dogs as either Private dogs (mostly pets), whose movements are subject to some control, or Street dogs, whose movements are not controlled.
A child petting a dog
There will be overlap between Private dogs that are allowed to roam for some part of the day and the Street dog population, but using this two-phase classification is a simple way to describe dog populations around the world.
Several authors (e.g. Coppinger) have argued that Street dogs vastly outnumber Private dogs, but WBI has found that this is not the case. Private dogs now outnumber street dogs (perhaps by a 3:2 margin) and there has been a steady global drift – though not necessarily purposely – towards moving dogs off the streets and into homes. For example, in the USA in the 1960s it was estimated that around 25% of all dogs were Street dogs, but today Street dogs are very rare and are mostly found in inner-city or rural communities. The level of control of dogs in the USA has increased substantially since the 1960s, measured as the proportion of Private dogs entering shelters annually (from around 30% in the early 1970s to 5% today).
Other important metrics to consider when looking at global dog populations are overall per capita income and the rural/urban divide. In most High-Income Countries (HIC), Private dogs constitute the vast majority of the population (90-95% or more). In contrast, in Low-Income Countries (LIC) and Lower Middle-Income Countries (LMIC) nearly all rural dogs are Street dogs. In LIC and LMIC, a percentage of dogs in urban cities (maybe 30-60%) will be Street dogs. Thus, one can begin to draw a reasonably accurate picture of the global dog population by simply concentrating on country income levels and the proportion of the population classified as rural. Table 1 below provides estimated dog numbers for different regions of the world. The regional estimates have been derived from multiple surveys of both Private and Street dog populations. Note that Street dogs are in the majority where the rural proportion of the population is above 50%.
Global Dog Population table
The regional dog estimates indicate that there are approximately 800 million dogs existing today, of which around 300 million are Street dogs. In other words, the majority of the dogs are Private dogs living as pets or guard dogs, and Street dogs compose only around 35-40% of the total – not 85% as some have claimed. Another common misconception is that Street dogs are all unowned strays. Some are certainly strays, but many are claimed to be “owned” by one household or another. Admittedly, these “owned” Street dogs are not treated in the same way as “owned” Private dogs, but they do receive some care.
Dog populations across the world are slowly shifting from the streets to the exercise of greater control by individual households. At the same time, the number of small animal veterinary clinics is exploding. For example, Malaysia’s first small animal clinic opened in 1980 but today there are around 500. In Jaipur, India, there were only a couple of small animal clinics at the turn of the century but today there are more than ten in the city. The number of small animal veterinary clinics is likely an indirect measure of the level of control of dog populations exercised by individual households.  See also Global Dog Campaign.

The State of Well-Being – Andrew Rowan Mar 2020 – Pres. Ltr.

The State of Well-Being

In February 2019, Wellbeing News carried an article discussing ideas relating to the state of well-being of People, Animals and the Environment. This article was followed by an item on the United Nations’ World Happiness Report in Tales of WellBeing. The World Happiness Report is issued annually in March, although this year, with the world struggling to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, there has consequently been very little attention paid to the 2020 Happiness report or to the UN’s International Day of Happiness on March 20. In the midst of a disaster it is difficult to consider that there may be prospects for a silver lining, but there is always some potential for positive outcomes.
Viktor Frankl, the Viennese psychiatrist who wrote Man’s Search for Meaning (first published in German in 1946) after he had survived three horrendous years in Dachau and Auschwitz, argued that a person’s primary goal in life is a quest for meaning – not pleasure as Freud argued, nor power as Adler held. Frankl saw three possible sources for achieving a meaningful life: doing something significant in one’s work; engaging in loving relationships and caring for others; or showing courage during difficult times. What do the new studies in global happiness contribute to our understanding of human well-being?
Defining and measuring human well-being (beyond the relatively narrow measure of material wealth or growth in Gross Domestic Product) has only started to become a significant focus of public policy in the 21st Century following Bhutan’s 1998 initiative to measure the state of the country via a Gross National Happiness index. Other countries are now developing their own “national happiness” indices, and the first World Happiness Report, drawing extensively on Gallup’s World Poll data, was published in 2012. The 2020 World Happiness Report is the eighth in the series and the groups involved in producing it include centers at Columbia University, the London School of Economics, the University of British Columbia and Oxford University and the Gallup organization.
This year’s report looks at how global patterns of happiness are affected by a country’s social environment, whether a person lives in a city or the country, and the impact of the natural environment. Regarding the social environment, the report finds that the amount of trust in a country’s people and institutions is a very important factor in raising one’s level of well-being. The report suggests that high levels of such trust in the Nordic countries are a major factor in their position leading the globe in measured levels of happiness (The Table shown is extracted from the World Happiness Report, 2020).
The analysis of rural/urban differences in happiness found that urban communities were generally happier than rural communities, probably because of the increased economic opportunities found in cities. However, as the level of economic development in a country increases, one finds that people living in rural communities tend to be happier than those living in cities. But cities that combine high levels of income with high levels of trust and connectedness are less likely to see a decline in well-being as they become richer. In Canada, for instance, life evaluations are 0.18 points higher (on a 10-point scale) in rural neighborhoods than in urban ones but this gap is reduced in well-maintained cities.
Finally, the report looks at the impact of the natural environment through the lens of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It found that progress towards the SDGs was higher in countries with high life evaluations (i.e. where people were happier). The authors of the report suggest that people are “happier when they trust each other and their shared institutions, and care about the welfare of others. Such caring attitudes are then typically extended to cover those elsewhere in the world and in future generations.” This explanation also agrees with Frankl’s suggestion that caring for others is an important element to giving an individual’s life meaning.
Amid the current gloom and doom, we hope people will be encouraged to know that, until COVID-19 shut down the globe, the planet was making significant progress towards improving human and domestic animal well-being. We still have a long way to go to address environmental health and well-being but, as the nGram plot below indicates, attention to the well-being of the environment in the PAE triad is also increasing.
Google NGram Viewer Chart – Frequency of Terms in Millions of Books Scanned by Google. An nGram chart documents the frequency (by year) of specific terms appearing in the texts of millions of books that Google has scanned and digitized. These nGrams provide a rough sense of social interest and trends over time (at least in countries that speak English).
Andrew N. Rowan, President, WellBeing International

Sustainable Development – Andrew Rowan Apr 2020 – Pres. Ltr.

Sustainable Development

The news these days is, not surprisingly, dominated by Covid-19 stories and how different communities and countries are adapting to the pandemic. This issue of WellBeing News will be no different with two items from Mark Jones of Born Free and Jill Robinson of Animals Asia. Mark is leading Born Free’s activities to engage global policymakers and to take action to prevent future pandemics caused by zoonotic agents (we need to stop wildlife consumption and habitat loss). Jill Robinson was a pioneering animal advocate in China and East Asia and provides a perspective on what we have come to call “wet markets” in that part of the world. WBI will let them carry the message of what we need to do now. In this “Letter,” we will address the question of sustainable development and trophy hunting as a “sustainable” activity.
Sustainability has become a popular term encompassing the notion that we need to promote and pursue policies that will allow future generations of humans to live and benefit from the wealth provided by the Earth. In 2015, the United Nations (UN) adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development that identifies 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) emphasizing, in the words of the UN, “a holistic approach to achieving sustainable development for all.” This is a huge and hugely ambitious project, and it is astonishing that the world has been able to unite behind it through the agency of the UN. The complexity and ambition of the SDGs can be appreciated by scanning the 169 targets and 232 unique indicators that have been established to track progress. ‘Our World in Data’ at Oxford University has now set up an SDG Tracker where progress towards the SDG targets can be followed. A few minutes browsing this tracker (seven of 10 targets for Life in the Oceans and five of 12 for Life on Land do not have data that can be used to track progress) indicates just how complicated this initiative is. It is not possible to describe and evaluate even one of the SDGs in a brief essay, so we will look at only one tiny aspect of the sustainability question – namely, a recent discussion of trophy hunting in the media.
In 2019, Bertrand Chardonnet, a veterinarian with extensive experience in Africa (he has worked in 40 African countries), produced a report for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) on reconfiguring the protected areas of Africa. He pointed out that trophy hunting in Tanzania had mostly collapsed (see figure of lions shot per year). The number of elephants shot also declined dramatically (see figure below).
Ref- See pg. 35 of Chardonnet report.
Ref- See pg. 35 of Chardonnet report.
Elsewhere, the number of trophy hunters visiting South Africa had dropped from 16,549 in 2008 to 6,539 in 2016. Don Pinnock, a South African journalist who has argued against trophy hunting in his writings, produced an article that drew heavily on the Chardonnet report, published in the Daily Maverick on 30 April 2019, entitled “Trophy Hunting, Part Two: End of the Game.” His article argued that trophy hunting in Africa was on its way out.
This prompted a response from a number of people, including representatives of hunting organizations and members of the IUCN Sustainable Use and Livelihoods Specialist Group. The response “clarified” that the Chardonnet report was commissioned by an IUCN section to stimulate discussion only and that IUCN policy, described in an earlier 2016 briefing paper, encouraged trophy hunting because of its conservation and livelihood benefits. They further argued that the report was about the future of protected areas rather than trophy hunting per se, as if that invalidated the data on trophy hunting trends and economic returns in the Chardonnet report. Their response also argued that the decline in trophy hunting in Tanzania was largely due to a ban on trophy imports instituted by the United States, despite the fact that the bulk of the decline in trophy animals shot occurred before the US instituted bans on trophy imports.
Chardonnet argues that protected areas in Africa require an average of $7-$8 per hectare to manage successfully and that trophy hunting concessions typically bring in a tiny fraction of that figure. The Bubye Conservancy in Zimbabwe has been promoted as an example of the conservation benefits of trophy hunting. It is true that Bubye, which was established in 1994 by a wealthy investor, has restored wildlife to what was once a denuded and over-exploited cattle ranch, and that its lion population has gone from zero to around 500 (amongst the highest lion densities in Africa) with associated increases in other wildlife. But even in Bubye (which does spend around $7-8 per hectare in maintaining the 370,000-hectare conservancy), only around 33% of the annual running costs are generated from lion trophy hunting.
After the shooting of Cecil in Zimbabwe in 2015, trophy hunting has been under siege. It has been associated with several unsavory practices (e.g. the breeding and shooting of lions in “canned” circumstances in South Africa and government corruption). It is also a consistency problem to allow wealthy international visitors to shoot a few wild animals while local residents are prosecuted for poaching when they trap and kill animals. Chardonnet argues in his report that trophy hunting does not produce sufficient income to pay for proper conservation of wild lands. He further notes that these lands will be under increasing human pressure as the African population grows from 1.2 billion today to a projected 4 billion in 2100.
WBI called for an end to the consumptive use of terrestrial wildlife at a Conservation Geopolitics conference in Oxford (March, 2019). At the very least, we should end the killing of terrestrial wildlife for frivolous (e.g. trophy hunting) and luxury (e.g. ivory, rhino horn) purposes and build a consistent message that wildlife needs to be protected and not traded or killed, no matter the potential short-term benefits. Trophy hunting fees will not save wildlife and we need to construct new systems and policies that will produce a land ethic and sufficient economic resources leading to a truly sustainable future for the relatively few remaining wild places and the animals that inhabit them.
Andrew N. Rowan, President, WellBeing International
Note: the figures above are taken from page 35 of the 2019 report by B Chardonnet on Reconfiguring the Protected Areas in Africa. The report was commissioned by the IUCN but is not an official IUCN document. Additional documents addressing trophy hunting and sustainable use are available on the IUCN website.

Managing Cats for Cats, Wildlife & People-Andrew Rowan Feb 2019-Pres Ltr

Managing Cats for Cats, Wildlife and People

In the January 2020 issue of our Tales of WellBeing, we related the story of an outdoor cat project on Key Largo, Florida, called ORCAT – Ocean Reef Cat Project. To most people the project has been a big success, reducing the number of roaming outdoor cats from 1,900 or more at the end of the 20th century to around 200 within 20 years. However, US government staff with the Fish and Wildlife Service on Key Largo remain concerned about the roaming outdoor cats in the Ocean Reef community despite having trapped only a few of the ORCAT (micro-chipped) felines in the protected sanctuary in the past couple of years. In North America, Australia and New Zealand, suspicion and outright hostility continue to plague the debate over what to do about outdoor stray cats and truly feral cats, which exist with no human support whatsoever. By contrast the United Kingdom’s Royal Society for the Protection of Birds has stated that they do not perceive outdoor cats to be a threat to native birds.
Google Earth Pro, Imagery 2020 Lansat/Copernicus, Maxar Technologies, U.S Geological Survey, Map data 2020, Untied States, Key Largo,Fl, 25.219521,-80.323543
The RSPB acknowledges that outdoor cats kill birds in the UK, but they view such predation as “compensatory” rather than “additive” (i.e. cats prey on birds that would have been killed by other predators). Growing suspicion and hostility between cat advocates and wildlife biologists are hampering programs to reduce the impact of outdoor domestic cats on wildlife.
One of the major elements driving conflict between cat advocates and wildlife biologists is the practice of trapping outdoor stray and feral cats, sterilizing them and then returning them to the site where they were trapped, a tactic known as Trap, Neuter, Return (TNR). Wildlife biologists argue that the sterilized cats continue prey on wildlife after being returned (which everybody acknowledges) and that this practice does not “work,” a claim with which cat advocates strongly disagree.
Cat advocates argue that TNR, when implemented properly and with sufficient intensity over time, leads to a reduction in the number of outdoor cats and may even eliminate the outdoor cat population entirely, although the possibility of recruitment from the pet cat population is always an issue. Wildlife biologists argue that TNR does not meaningfully reduce outdoor cat populations and that the few cases of recorded reductions in the number of outdoor cats are mostly the result of adopting out trapped, socialized cats and not due to the impact of sterilization. This criticism, for example, was directed at a project undertaken on the University of Central Florida (UCF) campus in Orlando by Dr. Julie Levy and her team from the University of Florida in Gainesville. The initial 2003 report on the project noted that, of the 155 cats on the campus in 1991, all but one was sterilized by 1995. Seventy-three were removed for adoption, 14 were euthanized for health reasons and 68 were returned to the campus. By 2002, there were 22 cats remaining. In a recent re-examination of the project, Dan Spehar and Peter Wolf (2019) note that a total of 204 cats had been trapped on the UCF campus from 1991 to 2019 (another 49 over the original 155 first found on the campus) and there were 10 cats remaining as of 2019.
The table below identifies several TNR projects that have reported a reduction in the number of outdoor cats. Not all of these have been published in the academic literature, but they are included here to demonstrate that a reduction in outdoor cat numbers is possible even if the total count is not reduced to zero. For example, of the 2,530 cats handled in the ORCAT project since 1995, 1,419 were removed (510 adopted, 58 died in care, 441 were euthanized for health reasons, 210 were picked up dead and 201 were being housed in the adoption center) and 1,111 were returned to the site at which they were trapped. There were 1,691 sterilizations performed from 1995 through 2017 and 206 outdoor cats now remain.
Table. TNR Projects that have “Worked”.
Site Country Year Started Outdoor Cat Count Latest Year Outdoor Cat Count Cats Treated
Orlando, FL USA 1991 155 2019 10 204
ORCAT, FL USA 1995 1,900+ 2019 206 2,530
Cape Town S.Africa 1996 365 2018 100 ca. 650
Lamma Island* Hong Kong 2002 124 2013 9 ?
Chicago, IL USA 2007 80 (about) 2016 44 195
* Cat count on an index route – not a complete count of cats on the island.
There are other reports of successful TNR projects that “work,” but the above examples provide something of a blueprint for what is needed. Ideally, the projects need to be sustained for long periods (at least 10 years) and must be monitored relatively closely.
The availability of time and financial resources to address outdoor cat issues are other elements that should be taken into consideration when considering what to do about outdoor cats. In the USA, there are considerable resources available to implement TNR projects. Animal protection groups have access to almost $5 billion per year to address animal issues. In addition, around 10% of US households feed outdoor cats they do not own and many of these households will volunteer to assist with TNR projects. In contrast, proponents of trapping and killing cats have almost no resources and have had very limited success in stopping TNR projects in the USA.
Instead, it would be much more constructive for wildlife and cat advocates to team up to address the outdoor cat issue. Such co-operation is currently very rare but the partnership between Portland Audubon and the Feral Cat Coalition, also of Portland, is a model that should be followed globally. Both groups bring resources and complementary skills to the project instead of using their resources to support unproductive conflict. While we wait for progress reports on their joint project, it is pertinent to note that cat intake into the Portland Alliance shelters from local communities has dropped from 23,000 in 2006/7 to 10,000 in 2018. Similarly, the DC Cat Count is a project that has brought animal protection groups and conservation biologists together to develop a comprehensive picture of domestic cat populations in a defined community and the number of outdoor cats in that community.

Australian Fires & Climate Change – Andrew Rowan Jan 2020 – Pres. Ltr.

Australian Fires & Climate Change

For the past two months, the news has been full of stories about the fires in Australia. Australia has always had to deal with fires but recently they have been different in both magnitude and intensity. To date, with at least six weeks of fire season still to go in New South Wales (NSW), Victoria and South Australia, over 8.5 million hectares have been scorched by fire (more than fifty times the area burnt by California’s wildfires in 2019). In NSW alone, almost 5 million hectares have been burned. There have been only four years since 1970 when more than a million hectares burned in NSW (1974/5, 1984/5, 2001/2 and 2002/3). There have also been more pyrocumulonimbus clouds (thunderstorms generated by the fire when it is very hot and very intense) and fire tornados. Fires are unpredictable and each year brings a different range of fire hazards to Australia. But the fire season this year is, by all accounts, unprecedented. The fear is that it is a forerunner of a new normal as the globe heats up and parts of it dry out.
The image of fires in Australia (taken from a NASA satellite picture of Australia on January 14, 2020) shows the extent of the 2019/2020 fire season. The arrow at the bottom of the image points to Kangaroo Island, over half of which has been burnt, devastating the unique ecosystem and the unique animals and birds that called it home.
We have asked three colleagues, two Australians, Dr. David Hensher and Michael Kennedy, AM along with Dr. Gary Tabor, the President of our CLLC partner organization who has strong Australian connections, to provide short commentaries on the current fire season in Australia. Dr. Tabor has also provided a series of links to conservation and rescue organizations that are working to respond to the disaster caused by the fires in case you are wondering how you might help. We hope you find these articles and the links of value.
Many of the biggest fires in Australia have occurred where forecasters anticipated the risk was the highest. January 14, 2020 map from NASA Fire Information for Resource Management System.

WellBeing International 2019 – Andrew Rowan Mar 2019 – Pres. Ltr.

WellBeing International 2019

This will be our last newsletter of 2019 and WBI would like to take this opportunity to thank you for following our activities through the first full year of our existence. This letter will provide a summary of our activities for 2019 and serve as our annual report. The next (January) WellBeing News will provide more details of our plans for 2020. But first, we send our heartfelt thanks to all our Board members and Global Ambassadors, partner organizations, funding agencies, supporters and others who have engaged with us during 2019. WBI believes we have established a solid foundation and look forward to further growth in 2020.
The first item to report is the news that the Vice President of WBI’s Board, Dr. S. Chinny Krishna, has been honored with the Winsome Constance Kindness Award for 2020. Previous recipients have included Dr. Jane Goodall, Sir David Attenborough and Mrs. Maneka Gandhi (Minister in the current Indian government). The award is conferred by the Kindness Trust of Australia, headed by Philip and Trix Wollen, which supports 500 projects in 40 countries around the world. This is very well-deserved recognition for Dr. Krishna, who was the first in the world (55 years ago) to propose surgical sterilization (Animal Birth Control) as a humane method for managing street dogs.
During 2019, WellBeing International continued to develop our relationship with our three initial Partners:
(1) AHPPA in Costa Rica,
(2) Center for Large Landscape Conservation (CLLC) in Bozeman, Montana, and
(3) Greyton Farm Animal Sanctuary (GFAS) in South Africa.
We also continued to develop our relationships with the Mayhew (and their project in Kabul, Afghanistan under the auspices of Mayhew Afghanistan) and a new Flagship group, the Blue Cross of India (BCI) in Chennai (see above). These organizations cover a range of program opportunities including humane street dog management (see the Global Dog Campaign below), humane and environmental education (GFAS) and wildlife protection and conservation (CLLC).
During the year, WBI also made feature presentations or received an award at conferences or seminars in Oxford, Denver, Addis Ababa, Cape Town, Mombasa, Sydney, Dalian (China) and Madison, Wisconsin (seven countries and four continents). This outreach provided WBI with important global exposure and the opportunity to develop connections with additional potential partners.
  1. Global Dog (and Cat) Campaign. WBI is seeking to develop a core global repository that will track global dog populations and their welfare challenges in a broad attempt to improve the well-being of both dogs and people in communities across the world. This project also has an environmental toehold in that roaming dogs also chase and harass wild animals and the campaign will seek to reduce and even eliminate such threats to wildlife. A detailed campaign proposal has been developed, as have two detailed reports on companion animal issues in the state of Oklahoma and for dogs across the world. These reports are not available for public distribution but WBI will be referring to some of the data collected to support those reports in its 2020 publications. WBI has also had a paper on outdoor cat management published in a new academic journal.
  2. Conservation Area Connectivity. WBI has published items in its newsletter emphasizing the damage inflicted on wildlife by linear infrastructure (e.g., roads, railways, canals and fences) and continues to support the importance of providing connections for wildlife so that their populations can thrive and move with safety from one conservation area to another. For the most part, we are endorsing and promoting the activities of our partner, the CLLC, but we will be looking for our own program opportunities in the coming years.
  3. Humane and Environmental Education. Education is widely endorsed but its impact is seldom measured with any depth or success. For the most part, education is measured by an increase in the retention of knowledge, but the real measure of success is behavior change. For example, smoking among U.S. adults has declined from 42% of the population in the 1960s to 14% today. U.S. seatbelt use has gone in the opposite direction, rising from 14% in 1983 to 90% today. It is evident that concern for animals has also increased because public donations to the big four animal protection organizations are increasing much faster (454%) than inflation (147%) over the past 20 years. WBI is planning to develop an environmental and humane education project in Greater Greyton together with measures to test the impact of the educational activities.
  4. Plastics in the Ocean. WBI is horrified by the impact that the plastics revolution is having on our planet and especially on the ocean. We began to develop some campaign ideas but have not had the time to expand them into an approach that could help the situation. We continue to explore the issue and also to produce occasional items in our newsletters.
  5. The Challenge of Consumption. WBI is beginning to address some of the challenges stemming from high-consuming countries as well as the increase in the human population. We have signed up to partner with Thriving Together, which is a program launched by the Margaret Pyke Trust in the United Kingdom. The Trust connects population and conservation organizations behind a push to reduce the projected peak population in 2100 from 11 billion to something closer to 9 billion. WBI has recently received a development grant to explore a multi-pronged project to address the challenges of growing human consumption and population. The first prong will be aimed at reducing the impact of our current diets and factory farming. In a recent poll, people who ate less meat responded that it was a rewarding change, for a number of different reasons. WBI hopes to capitalize on the notion that millions of individuals will take the pledge to consume less and be more strategic in their life choices.
  6. Outreach Activities. WBI has developed and produced two monthly (almost) newsletters. One (WellBeing News) is more technical while the other (Tales of WellBeing) attempts to deliver some good cheer and whimsy to supporter inboxes every month. We are also expanding our social media outreach and are always on the lookout for that viral meme that will allow a core message to explode across cyber-space.

Global Animal Protection – Andrew Rowan – Oct 2019 – Pres. Ltr.

Global Animal Protection

September and October are traditionally heavy conference months across the world and that is true in the animal protection space as well. In the past seven weeks, WellBeing International has attended and spoken at five conferences in Addis Ababa, Cape Town, Mombasa, Sydney and Dalian (China). Two of these conferences were regional conferences focusing on animal protection in Africa (the Third African Animal Welfare Conference in Addis Ababa) and Asia (the Eleventh Asia for Animals Conference in Dalian). These successful regional conferences are evidence of the growing global concern about the treatment of animals and about the state of the world in general (e.g. the One Welfare Conference at the University of Sydney this month) and the growth in animal protection concern is the topic of this Letter.
The first formal animal protection organizations were formed in the 19th century and enjoyed some political influence by the end of the century. However, the movement faded as a political force in the first half of the twentieth century but then experienced a renaissance after the Second World War. From 1950 to 2000, public support for animal protection in the USA grew by approximately four-fold. On the international stage, a few animal protection groups were established and grew in reach and influence. By the beginning of the 21st century, international animal protection organizations were spending around $30 million (USD) a year on programs. Today (2019), such expenditures amount to more than $300 million (USD) a year and the movement now commands significant political influence in North America, Europe and several other OECD countries. But it is also growing rapidly in other parts of the world as the chart below shows (even though the actual number of animal NGOs in Asia, Africa and Latin America is still low by American and European standards).
[The chart is based on lists of animal organizations compiled by World Animal Net between 2000 and 2017. The World Animal Net Directory is not exhaustive, but it does provide a means to compare the growth of animal protection globally. Note that public support in the form of donations has increased in the USA from $2 per capita in the 1960s to around $8 per capita by 2000 (inflation adjusted dollars).]
The highest growth rate is in Asia where the number of animal protection groups has increased by over 300% in the last twenty years. The latest Asia for Animals conference in Dalian this month had just under 500 attendees and was the largest of the eleven Asia for Animals conferences so far. In China alone, the number of animal protection groups has exploded from a handful in 2000 to several hundred today and the Dalian conference was the first to be organized by a Chinese animal NGO (VShine Animal Protection Association of Dalian). In India, the animal protection movement has been well established for fifty years (the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act was passed in 1960 and the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) was set up in 1962 under Section 4 of the Act). In fact, the AWBI was the first of its kind to be established by any Government. In 2010, Indian animal NGOs established the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organizations (FIAPO) which has grown rapidly and recorded almost $700,000 (USD) in income for FY2018. The highest growth rate is in Asia where the number of animal protection groups has increased by over 300% in the last twenty years. The latest Asia for Animals conference in Dalian this month had just under 500 attendees and was the largest of the eleven Asia for Animals conferences so far. In China alone, the number of animal protection groups has exploded from a handful in 2000 to several hundred today and the Dalian conference was the first to be organized by a Chinese animal NGO (VShine Animal Protection Association of Dalian). In India, the animal protection movement has been well established for fifty years (the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act was passed in 1960 and the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) was set up in 1962 under Section 4 of the Act). In fact, the AWBI was the first of its kind to be established by any Government. In 2010, Indian animal NGOs established the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organizations (FIAPO) which has grown rapidly and recorded almost $700,000 (USD) in income for FY2018.
In Africa, organized animal protection has, until recently been limited to Egypt, Morocco and the Southern and East African countries but there are new organizations springing up in other countries and the African Union and the United Nations Environment program have both launched animal welfare initiatives in the past few years. The same is happening in Latin America although currently there is no regional meeting of animal NGOs on the continent. To some extent, annual meetings in the USA (e.g. Animal Care Expo) have provided a venue where Latin American organizations can meet and exchange information. There have also been regional meetings for Caribbean and Middle Eastern countries and the Dogs Trust has been organizing an annual meeting for Eastern European countries for over a decade.
In summary, there may be as many as 50,000 animal NGOs (local, national and international) spread across the globe in 2019 with a global annual expenditure footprint in the range of $6-8 billion (USD).

Third African Animal Welfare Conference-Andrew Rowan Sep 2019-Pres. Ltr.

Third African Animal Welfare Conference

The Third African Animal Welfare Conference took place in Addis Ababa at the beginning of September (the first two were held in Kenya in 2017 and 2018). There were over 200 attendees drawn from all regions of Africa and from eight non-African countries. As in the previous two conferences, the lead entity organizing the conference was the African Network for Animal Welfare (ANAW), a Kenyan NGO established in 2006. I was privileged to be invited to be a speaker (see accompanying report) at the third conference and was eager to see how animal welfare advocacy is taking root in Africa.
The meeting took place on the campus of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and more information on the event is presented in the associated news story in this newsletter and on the WBI website (see 3rd African Animal Welfare Conference). However, the conference included several sessions on the growing threat to donkey welfare and rural livelihoods in Africa posed by the demand for donkey hides to manufacture ejiao, a gelatin-based product used in Traditional Chinese Medicine. The demand for ejiao has reportedly increased at least ten-fold in the past ten to fifteen years because of a growing Chinese middle class and increased disposable income. However, since 1990, the number of donkeys in China has fallen from 11 to 2.7 million mostly because rural areas of the country have mechanized. As a result, companies making ejaio are having to look elsewhere for their supplies of donkey hides to address the dramatic increase in demand for ejaio.
Ethiopia became a prime target to provide donkey hides because it has over 8 million of the world’s 41 million donkeys. However, as a result of public protests, Ethiopia shut down a new donkey abattoir. Kenya has not been as concerned about its donkey population (that numbers only between 1.5 to 2 million donkeys) and has licensed four donkey abattoirs, three of them owned or funded by Chinese business interests. These businesses have fueled a demand for donkeys, and criminal gangs have found that stealing donkeys is now a profitable enterprise with the increase in the price of donkey hides.
The Kenyan government is permitting the plants to continue to operate despite the hardships now being visited on those using donkeys to support themselves and their families resulting from donkey theft. Permitting the donkey abattoirs to continue is also bad economically. One talk at the conference noted that the 300,000 or so donkeys being slaughtered annually at these plants generated around $20 million for the sellers, but that those same donkeys would have produced $280 million in income if they were alive and working!
As human population and consumption increases, it poses a looming threat to wildlife and now also to donkeys. This is because donkeys do not reproduce quickly. For example, it was reported that substantial numbers of donkeys slaughtered in Kenya were females, many of whom were pregnant at the time of slaughter. As indicated elsewhere in this newsletter, both population and consumption increases have to be addressed if humans are to establish a sustainable presence on the Earth.

CITES and Wildlife Protection – Andrew Rowan Aug 2019 – Pres. Ltr.

CITES and Wildlife Protection

This month, delegates from around the world will gather in Geneva to attend the 18th Conference of Parties (COP) of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The COP is the triennial CITES meeting attended by representatives of all the member states as well as a host of other stakeholders. At the COP 17 in Johannesburg in 2016, the representatives passed a resolution calling on countries to phase out their domestic ivory markets, resisted a request from China to permit a trade in tiger parts and derivatives, up-listed all eight species of pangolins and, for the first time, acknowledged the role of corruption in undermining CITES compliance and enforcement. An article in this newsletter by the Born Free Foundation’s Head of Policy, Mark Jones, discusses some of the issues that will be raised at COP 18. In the rest of this letter, attention is drawn to an exciting new initiative in Zimbabwe where teams of female rangers are having success in reducing poaching.
Damian Mander, formerly an Australian special forces soldier, is one of a number of people with military training who has recently transitioned out of the military and into anti-poaching activities in Africa. However, his approach has an interesting twist. He is now in Zimbabwe training teams of female rangers in anti-poaching tactics. The rangers are known as the Akashinga (brave ones) and they operate in the Phundundu Wildlife Area in the Lower Zambesi Valley (see map for its approximate location). The first graduates of the ranger training started patrols towards the end of 2017 and have been very successful. They have made more than 70 arrests without firing a single shot and have been able to de-escalate situations and use non-lethal force to resolve conflicts.
Phundundu is part of a quilt work of unfenced wildlife areas in the Lower Zambesi River Valley involving national parks (e.g. Mana Pools National Park to the north) and neighboring wildlife safari concessions. Due to poaching pressures, wildlife had moved out of Phundundu. Wildlife is now returning to the area and the rangers now expect to see wildlife or signs of wildlife on every patrol (as opposed to once a week when they started).
Note: Wednesday, July 31, was World Ranger Day. Spare a moment to support the Akashinga and other brave wildlife protectors across the world.