Support Our Campaign To End Dolphin Drive Hunts
Every year in Japan quotas are given by the Japanese government for the slaughter of over 20,000 dolphins, small whales and porpoises in Japanese national waters. One type of hunt, known as drive hunts or drive fisheries, occurs almost solely in one Japanese town, Taiji, where the recent oscar-winning film, The Cove, was filmed. In spite of our best hopes that an award-winning film would cause an international outcry large enough to end the drive hunts once and for all, at the beginning of September, as we braced ourselves for the start of the hunting season, Taijis fishermen went out to sea, rounded up a group of bottlenose dolphins and drove them towards the shore. Further hunts have since followed.
The victims of this seasons drive hunts, for which a quota of over 2,000 animals is set, include bottlenose and Rissos dolphins. Animals herded into the infamous cove at Taiji are not only killed for their meat. Others are selected alive for Japans growing aquarium industry, destined for a life on public display in captivity, or for export overseas to countries as far afield as China, Turkey and Egypt. There, unsuspecting tourists may pay to see them perform in shows or swim with them in interaction programmes.
Throughout September, with support from WDCS, Swiss journalist Hans Peter Roth travelled to Taiji to bear witness to the hunts and to document both the fate of individual animals, his impressions of changing attitudes towards the hunts in Japan and some experiences of wild dolphins, free from the threat of the hunts. Read a diary
of his experiences and a depressing list of the hunts that have taken place this season.
WDCS believes these hunts must end. They present an enormous threat to the welfare and conservation of small cetaceans in Japan. The hunts are extremely cruel, with killing methods brutal and slow, their impact ever more shocking as our understanding grows of the intelligence and sentience of these animals. They are forced to witness the killing of their pod mates in extreme fear and panic, before they themselves suffer the same fate or are captured alive for a lifetime of confinement in a stark and impoverished environment, doing tricks for tourists.
The hunts are also probably significantly unsustainable, threatening the continued existence of the populations of dolphins and small whales targeted by these hunts. They remove individuals important for breeding and raising young, as well as those who pass on vital knowledge to their pod mates such as hunting methods and habitat use. No scientific studies have been conducted on the status of the populations targeted so we cannot be sure of the overall impact on numbers and population structure. We are left only to assume the worst, that these hunts are slowly wiping out the cetacean populations they target.
In 2006, WDCS produced Driven By Demand
, a revealing report linking the drive hunts to the international aquarium industry, which sources live animals from these hunts and pays much higher premiums for live animals than the purchase of dead ones. In 2005 and 2006, WDCS visited Taiji to document the hunts, following years of support given to Hardy Jones of Bluevoice and others, to do the same. We have taken part in peaceful protests outside Japanese embassies around the world, worked with the marine mammal scientific community to garner a public statement against these hunts, and helped secure a United States congressional resolution condemning the hunts. WDCS has also worked to procure the growing acknowledgement from the public display industry of its complicity in fuelling the drive hunts through the demand generated by zoos, aquaria and dolphinaria. This followed a statement from the World Association of Zoos and Aquaria discouraging its members from sourcing live animals from the hunts. More recently, WDCS has supported colleagues in Japan working to educate Japanese people about the existence of the hunts and the threats they pose to individual cetaceans and their populations.
Much more remains to be done if we are to affect change on the hunts in Japan itself. Our series of video blogs to be screened over the next two weeks presents individual experiences and perspectives of the hunts and invites you to take action to help bring about their end. Watch a video blog
by WDCSs CEO Chris Butler-Stroud.Watch a video blog
by journalist Hans Peter Roth, about his recent trip to Taiji.Watch a video blog
by WDCS campaigner Courtney Vail.Watch a video blog
by Emory University marine mammal scientist, Lori Marino.Please make a donation
to support our campaign and help fund this work.Read our report
- Driven by Demand.Watch our 2006 short film
(15mb) about the hunts, Driven By Demand, click here. Please be warned that some viewers may find scenes disturbing and upsetting. This film is not suitable for viewing by children.