ANIMALS IN CONFLICT
Animals at war is a brief document on how war is affecting our environment. Wednesday’s article will be released soon on just how bad war is affecting our wildlife.
While the United States, United Kingdom, France and Arab nations yet again begin to bomb the hell out of Iraq then we think its time to begin showing other species of animals that will be suffering again from large ordnance rounds that can sheer pansy heads of an entire football sized pansy field. No were not joking neither.
From the Awassi Sheep, Jungle Cat, Syrian Brown Bear, Crested Porcupine, Gray Wolf to countless other species of fauna AND flora, animals will yet again suffer a precision guided war from the air, sea and eventually from the land. Its expected that this war will be more jungle and urban warfare that is likely to last some three to four years.
Although hundreds of thousands of animals have died as a consequence of human warmaking, no comprehensive effort has ever been made, to my knowledge, to assess the numbers or types of animal casualties during or after past conflicts. The prospect of killing or injuring animals has never had a deterrent effect on those making decisions about war. A few recent international agreements, reached in efforts to mitigate the impact of war on the environment, have not translated into significant restrictions on military activity, let alone explicit measures to protect animals in time of war.
The relationship between animals and war has received historical attention with regard to the uses of animals in military missions and military research. However, the war in Vietnam marked the first time that the environment and animals received close attention as victims of war. The chemical defoliation of massive tracts of forest in Vietnam killed, wounded, or evicted many of the animal inhabitants.
The Gulf war added a new dimension to the risks for animals as well as humans: the use of oil as a weapon. Along with their economic and tactical effects, oil spills and fires make animals their principal living victims since, for the most part, they are unable to escape their devastated habitats.
The Gulf war was also the first, as far as can be determined, in which some attempt was made to count animal deaths in a systematic way. It was also the first major war in which the military (in this case, U.S. and allied) made an effort to keep animals from harm and to help alleviate animal suffering after the war.
The Gulf war animal casualty count includes thousands of marine birds, migratory birds, livestock animals, horses, camels, and other creatures who bore no responsibility for the conflict. The number of animal casualties is only conjectural, but then again, the full human toll has yet to be determined. The official count of U.S. military casualties reported by the public affairs office of the Department of Defense on August 12, 1991 stood at 765, including 307 dead. The number of Iraqi soldiers killed was at least 10,000 according to Pentagon estimates, but some news accounts have reported 100,000 or more. Casualties among Iraqi civilians, from air strikes and ground attacks, have been estimated to range from thousands to tens of thousands. Disease and hunger now rampant in Iraq, attributable to the war and to the political deadlock over economic sanctions, could take the lives of additional thousands by the end of the year.
In this context, the hundreds of thousands of animals that died or were injured during the Gulf war — and the millions of others (primarily migratory birds) that were placed at risk — must be viewed as one more dimension of a preventable tragedy. The see casualties, enumerated in this article, resulted not only from bombings and artillery fire, but also from the ecological devastation left behind after the ceasefire.
Different animal populations in the Gulf region were affected by the war in different ways. Conversely, specific war-related actions have had more or less unique consequences for particular animals. The major categories of casualties and their causes can be summarized as follows:
1. Crude oil released into the Persian Gulf killed an estimated tens of thousands of marine birds, (l) threatened sea turtles and marine mammals, and probably caused death and injury to migrating birds passing through the region.
2. Toxic smoke from hundreds of oil fires killed migrating birds and may cause respiratory, blood, and immune system illnesses in all living beings, showing up first in birds and smaller mammals, but eventually affecting large animals and possibly humans.
3. Oil pouring from extinguished Kuwaiti wells has created huge petrochemical lakes that are destroying land surfaces and are draining into the sea, posing new threats to marine life.
4. Bombs, mines, and shells — including unexploded cluster bombs and other ordnance left behind after the ceasefire — killed and injured scores of livestock, horses, and camels.
5. The movement of tanks, trucks, and other large military vehicles tore up the desert, destroying fragile wildlife habitats and creating the conditions for unusually severe sandstorms that could take additional animal lives.
6. More than 400 animals at the Kuwait national zoo either were killed by Iraqi soldiers, died of starvation and injuries, or were removed from the zoo to unknown locations.
And that’s just the start of a very large and depressing iceberg.
Humans are not the only living creatures in Earth that suffer from the effects of war. Shell shock in animals has not really been that explored however animals that are within areas where such large bombs are being dropped can suffer hideous psychological and physical injuries from shell shock down to flying shrapnel. Take the daisy cutter bomb for instance. Any living animal anywhere within half a mile of this massive warhead being dropped would be obliterated if in the fallout zone.
The first known animal casualties came during the buildup of U.S. and allied troops in Saudi Arabia. Bedouin-owned camels, accustomed to roaming the desert freely, were struck by artillery shells during military training exercises. Camels were especially threatened during nighttime maneuvers, when heat seeking weapons could mistake foraging herds for targets. Fortunately, only a few incidents occurred before public protests, including letters from the Boston-based World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) to U.S. officials, led to assurances that the well-being of the region’s animals would be taken into account during military maneuvers. However, once the war broke out, wildlife and domestic animals stood little chance against thousands of air strikes, the movement of tanks through fragile habitats, and the use of oil as a weapon of mass destruction.
Documentation on wildlife destruction caused by war in still “volatile countries” where fighting it still ongoing is very hard to obtain. Right this minute as we speak the “Un-Islamic State” commonly known as I.S or Islamic State now face a torrent of military action from the United States, United Kingdom, European Allies and United Arab Emirates. Governments have vowed to use precision warhead capable of killing a man behind a car without even damaging the car. Personally we find that statement poor and yet another example of the UK Conservative Government ensuring public satisfaction is met at all times.
More than 80% of the livestock animals in Kuwait — mostly cattle, sheep, and goats — died between the Iraqi occupation in August 1990 and the ceasefire in March 1991. Assigning precise causes to all of the deaths is virtually impossible, but the principal causes include starvation, dehydration, intentional or accidental shooting, slaughter for food, and bombing. Livestock animals, in particular, are almost totally dependent on humans for their well being, and the collapse of Kuwait’s economy and domestic infrastructures, not to mention the flight of Kuwaiti residents from the country, left hundreds of thousands of these animals helpless.
Death also resulted when animals stepped on unexploded mines or cluster bombs, which littered the landscape at the end of the war. (Clearing some areas of unexploded ordnance has been deemed virtually impossible by military officials, and these areas may have to be fenced off to prevent future deaths among nomadic residents and their herds.)
Kuwait’s livestock industry was a relatively small yet vital part of the prewar economy. There were 34 operating dairy farms in the country in August 1990, with 15,000 cows and cattle. Following the ceasefire, only two dairies were functioning in any capacity, and only 2,500 cattle were still alive. A population of 800,000 sheep was reduced to 10,000; 10,000 camels were down to 2,000; and, of 3,000 horses, many of them Arabian and thoroughbred race horses, fewer than 500 could be found in Kuwait at the end of the war. (Some of the most valuable race horses and show horses were removed to Iraq before the air war began. Grooms and other horse handlers who were employed at Kuwaiti stables told staff from the WSPA that Iraqi soldiers arrived with lists of horses whom they demanded by name. The number of Kuwaiti horses currently held by Iraq is unknown.
When Assad released his deadly arsenal of sarin on his own people many hundreds of animals died too. No real estimate of dead wildlife and cattle has ever been reported in full however its alleged that thousands of animals died just in that one single attack. Furthermore its also estimated that many millions of birds, land and sea animals have been slaughtered within Syria from stray ordnance, unexploded rounds, bombings, tank and vehicle movements. The death toll continues too. With not an end in sight its most likely that many animals will be forced into extinction within the next twenty years just in Syria and Iraq alone should this bloody war machine not cease.
What about Africa?
In Africa many civil wars and wars between countries occurred in the past century, some of which are still continuing. Most wars are a result of the liberation of countries after decades of colonialization. Countries fight over artificial borders drawn by former colonial rulers. Wars mainly occur in densely populated regions, over the division of scarce resources such as fertile farmland. It is very hard to estimate the exact environmental impact of each of these wars. Here, a summary of some of the most striking environmental effects, including biodiversity loss, famine, sanitation problems at refugee camps and over fishing is given for different countries.
Some startling facts;
- Congo War II - Refugees hunt wildlife for bush meat, either to consume or sell it. Elephant populations in Africa have seriously declined as a result of ivory poaching. Farmers burn parts of the forest to apply as farmland, and corporate logging contributes to the access of poachers to bush meat. A survey by the WWF showed that the hippopotamus population in one national park decreased from 29,000 thirty years previously, to only 900 in 2005. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) listed all five parks as ‘world heritage in danger’.
- Ethiopia & Eritrea - During the war severe drought resulted in famine, particularly because most government funds were spend on weapons and other war instrumentation. The government estimated that after the war only 60% of the country received adequate food supplies. The war resulted in over 750,000 refugees. It basically destroyed the entire infrastructure. Efforts to disrupt agricultural production in Eritrea resulted in changes in habitat. The placing of landmines has caused farming or herding to be very dangerous in most parts of the country. If floods occur landmines may be washed into cities. This has occurred earlier in Mozambique.
- Rwanda Civil War - Between April and July 1994 extremist military Hutu groups murdered about 80,000-1,000,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus in Rwanda. Over 2,000,000 people lost their homes and became refugees. Rwanda has a very rich environment, however, it has a particularly limited resource base. About 95% of the population lives on the countryside and relies on agriculture. Some scientists believe that competition for scarce land and resources led to violence prior to and particularly after the 1994 genocide. It is however stated that resource scarcity only contributed limitedly to the conflict under discussion. The main cause of the genocide was the death of the president from a plane-crash caused by missiles fires from a camp.
The many refugees from the 1994 combat caused a biodiversity problem. When they returned to the already overpopulated country after the war, they inhabited forest reserves in the mountains where endangered gorillas lived. Conservation of gorilla populations was no longer effective, and refuges destroyed part of the habitat. Despite the difficulties still present in Rwanda particularly concerning security and resource provision, an international gorilla protection group is now working on better conditions for the gorillas in Rwanda.
Somalia civil war – A civil war was fought in Somalia 1991. One of the most striking effects of the war was over fishing. The International Red Cross was encouraging the consumption of seawater fish to improve diets of civilians. For self-sufficiency they provided training and fishing equipment. However, as a consequence of war Somali people ignored international fishing protocols, thereby seriously harming ecology in the region. Fishing soon became an unsustainable practise, and fishermen are hard to stop because they started carrying arms. They perceive over fishing as a property right and can therefore hardly be stopped.
War has a devastating effect not just to humans but also our wildlife and domestic animals. Humans are not the only sufferers here. Now the United States and Great Britain and her allies want to go back into war to fight the UNISLAMIC STATE from which they actually armed.
Where is the justice in that?
This Wednesdays article will be focusing on animals in war zones.