The Greenovate Awards triumph despite lockdown, with Stellenbosch
The winners of the student Greenovate Awards 2020 have been announced, but not with the usual gala ceremony. Instead, like the rest of the prestigious competition, the honours were conducted online following a uniquely challenging year.Continue reading View more
#SaveRalph: Short film aims to ban animal testing in SA
Hollywood filmmakers and movie stars have joined forces with Humane Society International to produce a powerful stop-motion animated short film, #SaveRalph, to end cosmetic testing on animals around the world, including South Africa. Although banned in 40 countries, the practice is still legal in most of the world, and is even making a comeback in some regions, subjecting untold thousands of animals to needless suffering and death.
Taika Waititi, Ricky Gervais, Zac Efron, Olivia Munn, Pom Klementieff, Tricia Helfer and others have come together to help HSI change that by providing the voices for the #SaveRalph film, which aims to shine a light on the suffering animals endure and engage consumers and policymakers in HSI’s mission to ban it. Writer and director Spencer Susser (Hesher, The Greatest Showman) and producer Jeff Vespa (Voices of Parkland) teamed up with the Arch Model studio of puppet-maker supreme Andy Gent on the production to bring Ralph to life. The film is also being launched in Portuguese, Spanish, French and Vietnamese with Rodrigo Santoro, Gad Elmelah, Denis Villeneuve, George Lopez and others voicing the characters in those languages, and Maggie Q providing a video message of support.
Meet the voices of Ralph and his Friends
Find the short film and educational materials on the current status of animal testing and how you can help at hsi.org/Ralph
Jeffrey Flocken, Humane Society International’s president, says:
The film features HSI’s campaign spokesbunny Ralph, voiced by Taika Waititi, being interviewed as he goes through his daily routine as a ‘tester’ in a toxicology lab. HSI’s #SaveRalph campaign tackles the disturbing issue of animal testing by using the story of one rabbit to shine a light on the plight of countless rabbits and other animals suffering at this very moment in laboratories around the world. It engages viewers to help ban animal testing of cosmetics once and for all.
Director, Spencer Susser says: “One of my favorite things about stop-motion animation is that every frame is a choice. Sadly, animals don’t have that choice but the magic of stop-motion gives us the tools to give Ralph a voice. It’s so important that Ralph feels real because he represents countless real animals who suffer every day. We hope that audiences will be moved to get behind Humane Society International’s campaign to ban animal testing of cosmetics once and for all.”
Ricky Gervais says:
The campaign is focused on 16 countries including Brazil, Canada, Chile, Mexico, South Africa, and 10 Southeast Asian nations, with partner organizations, the Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society Legislative Fund, focused on legislation in the U.S. HSI is also standing up for bans that are already in place, like in Europe where authorities are attempting to exploit a legal loophole by demanding new animal testing of cosmetic ingredients under chemical law. #SaveRalph will shine a spotlight on all these countries, driving them toward the cruelty-free future that the public and consumers expect.
Joseph Mayson, HSI-Africa’s campaign manager, says: “Sadly, there’s no happy ending for animals like Ralph, but by working together we can ensure that no animal is ever again made to suffer in the name of beauty. It’s easy to assume that companies are the problem, but the truth is they are a vital part of the solution. It’s laws that need to be changed, and industry leaders like Lush, Unilever, P&G, L’Oréal and Avon are working with us to secure meaningful animal testing bans in many of the world’s most influential beauty markets. We’ve recruited Ralph as our spokesbunny to help get these laws over the finish line.
Over 90% of South Africans support a ban on animal testing for cosmetics, so with industry and the public on our side, we believe it is only a matter of time before South Africa joins the 40 countries that have already banned this practice.”
The #SaveRalph short film and educational materials on the current status of animal testing, as well as information about how you can help, are available at hsi.org/save-ralph
- Recent polling shows that 90% of South Africans support a ban on cosmetic testing on animals.
- In some parts of the world, rabbits like Ralph are locked in neck restraints and have cosmetic products and ingredients dripped in their eye and on to the shaved skin on their back. Guinea pigs and mice have the chemicals spread on their shaved skin or on their ears. None of these animals are given pain relief, and all of them will be killed at the end.
- Animal testing for cosmetics is banned in 40 countries. HSI and partners were instrumental in securing bans in India, Taiwan, New Zealand, South Korea, Guatemala, Australia and 10 states in Brazil. Such testing is also banned in Turkey, Israel, Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, and in the U.S. states of California, Illinois, Nevada and Virginia.
- More than 2 000 “cruelty-free” beauty brands are available worldwide, including Lush, Garnier, Dove, Herbal Essences and H&M. These companies produce safe products by using ingredients with a history of safe use, together with modern animal-free safety assessment tools.
- No single global shopping guide yet exists, but HSI recognises LeapingBunny.org, BeautyWithoutBunnies, Logical Harmony, ChooseCrueltyFree, and Te Protejo as useful resources.
- HSI warns that even cruelty-free cosmetics are in jeopardy if chemical safety legislation continues to demand new animal tests for chemical ingredients used exclusively in cosmetics. That’s why the #SaveRalph campaign prioritises getting test bans in place and robustly defended.
- In addition to pursuing legislative bans, HSI and partners are collaborating to develop a training programme in animal-free safety assessment to support smaller companies and government authorities transition from animal testing to state-of-the-art non-animal methods, which are readily available and better at assuring human safety than the animal tests they replace.
Environmental plan for construction of SKA published
Amendments to the Integrated Environmental Management Plan required to manage the impacts associated with the development of the first phase of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) in the Northern Cape, without further environmental approval required, have been published.
“The amendments are necessary, as the proposed construction camps would pose a risk to the optimal functioning of the Meerkat radio telescopes currently in operation,” the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment said.
The amendments include the acknowledgement of the declaration of portions of the SKA site as the Meerkat National Park; the increase in the size of the land core area; the development of a perimeter road along the boundary fence; and the development of a solar farm to contribute to the electricity needs of the facility.
The Adoption of Amended Chapter 2 and Chapter 5 of the Integrated Environmental Management Plan for Phase 1 of the Square Kilometre Array and Amendment to the Conditions of Exclusion were published by the Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, Barbara Creecy.
They were published in terms of the National Environmental Management Act in Government Gazette 44230 (Notice No. 250) on 25 March 2020.
“An amendment to the originally adopted plan was requested by the National Research Foundation, the organisation that is responsible for the development of the SKA.
To support the request for amendments, additional environmental assessments were undertaken and it was concluded that the activities would not impact negatively on the environment.
It was therefore decided that the amendments to the original plan be approved.View more
Name change for Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment Department
Wednesday, March 31, 2021
The formation of the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment is complete now that all the relevant officials have been transferred to the newly amalgamated department.
This follows the announcement of the sixth administration in 2019, were the forestry and fisheries functions were amalgamated into the Department of Environmental Affairs, which became know the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries.
The department said in a statement on Wednesday that the name of the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF) will change on 1 April 2021.
The substitution and designation of names for National Department and Office of the Premiers and heads thereof was published in Government Gazette 44229 (Notice No. 172) in terms of the Public Service Act on 5 March 2021.View more
BioTherm Energy pioneer’s avifauna zero-loss programme
Working in collaboration with conservation organisations, BioTherm Energy’s Excelsior Wind Energy Facility, in the Western Cape, is pioneering the wind industry’s approach to conserving avifauna. The programmes that are being implemented go beyond looking at the potential impact of their wind farm on birds through mitigation, but are also aimed at a net gain in priority species, including Cape Vulture, Black Harrier, Verreaux’s Eagle and Martial Eagle.
The on-site mitigation programme to avoid losses includes an industry-first implementation of an observer-led ‘Shut Down on Demand’ (SDOD) system for priority species.
The SDOD system is implemented through notification by a team of bird monitors to the wind farm’s on-site operations room, where individual wind turbines are switched off when the priority species are in the vicinity and switched on again once the bird has passed by.
This SDOD system, which was piloted in August 2020 before being fully implemented, has to date resulted in no less than sixty SDODs being successfully called for.
“This direct mitigation through shutdowns has resulted in zero loss of priority species to date, meaning that we can proudly say that there have been no turbine collision fatalities so far, and we expect the same into the future.”Libby Hirshon, BioTherm Energy’s Sustainability Director
Additionally, the programme provides local job creation. The eight biodiversity monitors, who are predominately female, in addition to their supervisor, have been recruited from the surrounding communities. The team of monitors is sited at three vantage points, seven days a week, and is responsible for the implementation of this rigorous programme through active communication with the operators.
BioTherm Energy also recognises that in the Overberg region, where the Excelsior Wind Energy Facility is situated, many bird species are also susceptible to powerline collisions, which has been well documented by the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT). This poses a significantly greater threat to certain species than wind turbines, including South Africa’s national bird, the Blue Crane.
“We approached the EWT to discuss potential conservation initiatives, and the result was the rollout of over four thousand bird flight diverters to mitigate avifauna fatalities along high-risk powerlines near, but not directly associated with, our project. We believe that this initiative will prevent needless collisions by Blue Cranes, Cape Vultures, and a host of other raptors. We have no doubt that, through this kind of collaboration, we can create innovative solutions where both conservation and renewable energy can coexist and even enhance each other,” commented Hirshon.
The EWT’s Wildlife and Energy Programme Programme Manager, Lourens Leeuwner, was recently reported in the media saying, “It is extremely encouraging to see an IPP actively seeking opportunities to conserve priority bird species in the regions surrounding their facilities. BioTherm Energy is actively engaging with project partners and looking to bolster conservation initiatives around their wind energy facilities”.
The wind farm’s off-site conservation activities also include work with the Overberg Renosterveld Conservation Trust (ORCT) to provide funding for the securing of easements for the protection of the Renosterveld (a critical habitat for the Black Harrier).View more