quinta-feira, 28 de junho de 2018

Campos rupestres brasileiros sofrem ameaça perigosa

Por Jaqueline B. Ramos*

Florestas são as áreas mais ricas em biodiversidade e merecem toda a atenção e prioridade para conservação e uso sustentável? A resposta é: não necessariamente… 

No Brasil, pesquisadores da UFMG - Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, da Unesp-Rio Claro e da Universidade Stanford fazem um alerta sobre as graves ameaças aos campos rupestres (foto), complexos vegetacionais muito antigos e megadiversos, que abrigam mais de 5000 espécies de plantas vasculares e um dos níveis mais altos de endemismo no mundo. Em solo brasileiro, ocupam uma área de cerca de 83 mil km2 em montanhas de quartzo e ferro nos estados de Minas Gerais e Bahia, sendo a maior parte localizada na Serra do Espinhaço.

Segundo o estudo científico “The deadly route do collapse and the uncertain fate of Brazilian rupestrian grasslands”, divulgado em maio, se as formas de uso da terra continuarem insustentáveis e considerando os efeitos das mudanças climáticas em curso, a previsão é a perda de 82% desse ecossistema até 2070. Isso comprometerá os serviços ecossistêmicos em escalas regionais, incluindo fornecimento de água e segurança alimentar, e afetará potencialmente mais de 50 milhões de brasileiros.

“A mineração é uma das atividades que causam impactos negativos. Outras são construções mal planejadas de estradas, invasão biológica, expansão urbana e a total incapacidade dos órgãos ambientais de fiscalizar e agir devido à ignorância sobre o ecossistema. O turismo predatório e a silvicultura são outros vetores de grande relevância. Tudo tem sinergia e colabora para uma rota de colapso”, explica Geraldo Wilson Fernandes, um dos autores do estudo.

Efeito cascata na biodiversidade

Assim como as áreas florestadas, os campos rupestres sofrem o efeito cascata dos impactos na biodiversidade quando há atividade humana descontrolada. “Espécies não existem sozinhas e muitas dependem de outras para sua sobrevivência”, alerta Fernandes. “A retirada de espécies vitais resulta em uma cascata de eventos que pode levar ao colapso de todo o ecossistema e à mudança na produção de bens naturais”.

Um dos pontos importantes destacado pelo estudo, que inclui dados coletados há 30 anos, é considerar o uso sustentável e a conservação dos campos rupestres respeitando suas características. Ou seja, não tratá-lo como floresta.

Os ambientes de campos rupestres têm milhões de anos e não há condições de solo para manter uma floresta sobre pedra. Há uma harmonia entre as forças naturais que permite a sobrevivência de determinadas espécies. Retirá-las e plantar árvores, de acordo com Fernandes, atende apenas a interesses econômicos.


“Mais do que ter áreas preservadas em formato de parque, nosso plano é estabelecer com a sociedade e tomadores de decisão uma proposta de pacto pelo uso racional dos campos rupestres, baseada em conhecimento científico, e trabalhar em rede com as partes interessadas. Do contrário, medidas políticas podem não ser efetivas”, conclui o pesquisador.

Resumo em imagens

1. Os campos rupestres são complexos vegetacionais muito antigos e megadiversos, que abrigam mais de 5000 espécies de plantas vasculares
2. Se as formas de uso da terra continuarem insustentáveis, serviços ecossistêmicos como fornecimento de água ficarão comprometidos

3.  Os campos rupestres sofrem com o efeito cascata dos impactos na biodiversidade quando há atividade humana descontrolada e não devem ser tratados como florestas 


4. Os pesquisadores pretendem apresentar uma proposta de acordo para o uso racional dos campos rupestres baseada em conhecimento científico e trabalhar em rede com todas as partes interessadas

Crédito das fotos: Ricardo Solar


*Jornalista ambiental (Ambiente-se Comunicação Socioambiental) e Gerente de Comunicação do Projeto GAP Internacional

Campos rupestres brasileños están amenazados



Por Jaqueline B. Ramos*

Los bosques son las areas mas ricas en biodiversidad y deben tener toda la atención y prioridad para conservación y uso sostenible? La respuesta es: no necesariamente... 
En Brasil, investigadores de Universidad Federal de Minas Gerais, Unesp-Rio Claro y Universidad Stanford hacen un alerta acerca de las graves amenazas sufridas por los campos rupestres (foto). Estos son complejos vegetacionales muy antigos y megadiversos, que albergan mas de 5000 especies de plantas vasculares y tienen uno de los niveles mas grandes de endemismo del mundo. En el suelo brasileño, ocupan cerca de 83 mil km2 en montañas de quartzo y fierro en los estados de Minas Gerais y Bahia. 
De acuerdo con el estudio científico "The deadly route to collapse and the uncertain fate of Brazilian rupestrian grasslands”, publicado en Mayo, si las formas del uso de la tierra continúen insostenibles, y además considerando los efectos de el cambio climático, se prevé una pérdida de 82% de ese ecosistema hasta 2070. Por consiguiente, servicios ambientales como distribución de agua y seguridad alimenticia se quedarán comprometidos, lo que afectará mas de 50 millones de brasileños
“La minería es un de los usos negativos. Otros son construcciones mal planeadas de carreteras, invasión biológica, expansión urbana, el turismo exploratório, la silvicultura y la total incapacidad de órganos ambientales de el Gobierno para fiscalizar y actuar por falta de conocimiento de el ecosistema. Todo contribuye para la ruta de colapso”, explica Geraldo Wilson Fernandes, uno de los autores de el estudio. 
Efecto catarata en la biodiversidad 
Como los bosques, los campos rupestres sufren con el efecto catarata de los impactos en la biodiversidad cuando hay actividad humana sin controle. “Las especies no existen solas y muchas dependen de otras para su supervivencia”, Fernandes alerta. “La retirada de especies importantes genera una catarata de acontecimientos que pueden llevar a un colapso de todo el ecosistema y a un cambio de los recursos naturales.” 
Uno de los puntos importantes informados en el estudio es la necesidad de tener en consideración el uso sostenible y la conservación de los campos rupestres respetando sus características; o sea, no tratarlos como bosques
Los ambientes de campos rupestres tienen millones de anos y no hay condiciones en sus suelos para mantener árboles sobre piedras. Hay una harmonia de las fuerzas naturales que permiten la existencia de especies especificas. Retirar estas especies y plantar árboles, de acuerdo com Fernandes, solamente se hace por intereses económicos

“Mas que crear áreas de preservación como parques, nuestro plano es presentar para la sociedad y los sectores que toman decisiones una propuesta de acuerdo para el uso racional de los campos rupestres, basada en conocimiento cientifico, y trabajar en rede con todas las partes interesadas. De lo contrario, las medidas políticas de conservación no serán efectivas”, finaliza. 

Resumen en imágenes
Crédito de las fotos: Ricardo Solar
1. Los campos rupestres son complejos vegetacionales muy antigos y megadiversos, que albergan mas de 5000 especies de plantas vasculares

2. Si las formas del uso de la tierra continúen insostenibles, servicios ambientales como la distribución de agua se quedarán comprometidos

3. Los campos rupestres sufren con el efecto catarata de los impactos en la biodiversidad cuando hay actividad humana sin controle y no deben ser tratados como bosques

4. Los investigadores planean presentar una propuesta de acuerdo para el uso racional de los campos rupestres basada en conocimiento cientifico y trabajar en rede con todas las partes interesadas

Link para el artículo original (em ingles, PDF): https://www.dropbox.com/s/jids0n1i49qh5yt/Fernandes_et_al-2018-Biodiversity_and_Conservation.pdf?dl=0

* Periodista ambiental (Ambiente-se Comunicação Socioambiental) y Gerente de Comunicación del GAP Project International

quinta-feira, 19 de abril de 2018

“I respect animals and appreciate their beauty”

Interview with Mio Hashimoto, artist and sculptor. 

By Jaqueline B. Ramos*


When art speaks out for respecting all forms of living beings, the experience of sensing it is unforgettable. And kind of speechless… But to try to put on words the reasons behind the beauty, I talked to Japanese artist and sculptor Mio Hashimoto, who is famous in her country and abroad for her astonishing animal sculptures, and also for teaching and sharing her techniques in books and workshops. Yes Mio san, when you recreate the creatures untouched, people are moved. Thank you for that!


What’s the main motivation for your work of animals sculptures? How long have you been doing it?
動物の彫刻家として働くことの、最大の動機は何ですか?動物彫刻家としてのキャリア期間はどれくらいですか。

Since I was a little kid, I liked animals. I wanted to be a vet someday. However, things changed after the Hanshin Awaji Earthquake happened. I was 15 years old. A lot of animals disappeared. And I heard about the deaths of a lot of animals. That was my experience of "the sudden disappearance of beautiful lives I love." Medicines never help them get their lives back. 
What I loved about animals is the beautiful forms of lives in front of me.  I wanted to keep the forms as they were. I wanted to touch them again. That was my reason to be a sculptor who could create them as they are.
I became a professional sculptor when I was 26 years old. That was 12 years ago. I started sculpture when I was a student, 18 years old.  That was 20 years ago.

小さい頃から生き物が好きで、獣医になろうと夢見ていました。
しかし15歳の時に、阪神淡路大震災という、大きな地震にあい、たくさんのどうぶつたちの失踪や、死んでしまったお知らせを聞き、「大好きなうつくしい命の存在が、ある日突然消えてしまう」ということを体験しました。
医学では、なくなってしまった命を、取り戻すことはできない。私は、どうぶつたちの何が好きだったかというと、生きている目の前のうつくしいその姿が、とても好きだったのでした。命のそのままの形を残したい、もう一度触れたい、の思いから、どうぶつたちのそのままの姿を残す彫刻家になろうと、決意しました。
26歳の時に彫刻家として独立したので、12年になります。彫刻経験は学生時代から含めると18歳からですので、20年になります。


A lot of animals represented in the sculptures have their names presented. All of them are/were animals that you live/lived with. What about dog Tsuki, was he your pet-friend?
展示されていた彫刻の多くには名前がありました。全て一緒に住んでいたのでしょうか。月くんを飼っていたことはわかったのですが。

Tsuki
Those sculptures have models. They were pet dogs of somebody else in Japan.  They were stray cats.  Some of them live in zoo. One thing in common is that they were loved by somebody else and they have names. The only pet I lived with is Tsuki.

彫刻になってくれたどうぶつたちは、日本のどこかで誰かが飼っている犬だったり、野良猫だったり、動物園にいる子だったりします。みんな人のそばで愛された子たちなので、名前があります。一緒に住んでいたのは、月くんだけです。


About the apes/monkeys presented on your exhibition, are they animals you observed in zoos or sanctuaries? Can you tell about your “relationship” with chimpanzee Max, mandrill Manjuro and orangutan Kyu, for instance?
展示されていた類人猿や猿は動物園や保護区で観察したものですか。例えば、チンパンジーの「マックス」やマンドリルの「マンジュロー」、オラウータンの「キュウ」とあなたの関係性について教えてください。

Max family (2012)
Max and Kyu are in Tama zoo, Japan. Kyu is the son of Gypsy, the oldest orangutan in the world. I communicated with the keepers and I tried to recreate them as loyal as possible. I support Borneo Conservation Trust Japan, and I am especially focusing on making orangutan sculptures. Manjuro lives in Higashiyama zoo. I talked with the zoo director in order to put even Manjuro's personality in it.

チンパンジーのマックスくん、オランウータンのキューさんは、日本の多摩動物園で飼育されている子たちです。キューは、ジプシーという、世界最高齢だったオランウータンの息子です。飼育員さんたちと意見を交わし、そのままの姿をできるだけ忠実に再現しました。ボルネオトラスト協会というものがあり、そちらにも参加し、特にオランウータンの制作については力を入れています。
マンドリルのマンジュウロウさんは、東山動物園にいる子です。こちらも、園長さんに話を聞きながら、性格まで忠実に再現しました。

Kyu (2010-2013)

Do you believe that your work can help general public to realize and get aware about sentience of animals/non-human beings, their beauty, complexity etc?
あなたはあなたの仕事によって、ヒト以外の動物の感性や美しさ、その複雑さを、一般の人々に対して伝えることができると信じていますか。

Yes. I respect animals and appreciate their beauty. I believe they are more beautiful when they are untouched (as they are). So I believe that if I recreate them as they are, it conveys the excitement or certain impression to general public. I hope that when they see my sculptures, they could be moved as if they see the real creatures.

私は、どうぶつたちをとても尊敬し、そのままの姿が一番うつくしいと信じているので、できるだけ自分の見えた素直な目でどうぶつたちの姿を再現すれば、それがたくさんの人たちにおなじ感動をもって伝わると信じています。私のつくった彫刻のどうぶつたちを見た時、その子そのものに出逢えたような感動を、見る人にも伝えたいと思って制作しています。
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To know more about Mio Hashimoto’s work - http://kirinsan.awk.jp/pages_english/pages_e/home.html

Other images of Mio Hashimoto's exhibition

















* Environmental journalist (Ambiente-se Comunicação Socioambiental) and Communications Manager for GAP Project International

quinta-feira, 8 de fevereiro de 2018

"Doing good behavioral researches help to get good funds and also help developing their enrichment programs”

Interview: Fumihiro Kano, psychologist of primates, researcher in Kumamoto Sanctuary - University of Kyoto/Japan


By Jaqueline B. Ramos*

After United States, Japan has the largest number of captive chimpanzees in the world. According to GAIN (Great Ape Information Network), 316 chimpanzees currently live in 49 institutes (zoos, research centers and a sanctuary) - along with 6 bonobos, 21 gorillas and 45 orangutans.

This number is a inheritance of the dark times when chimpanzees were used in biomedical invasive experiments in the country. Studies show that, in the 1970’s, for instance, 150 chimpanzees were taken from the wild directly to Japanese laboratories for medical studies of Hepatitis B and C. In 1997, the country reached a peak of 393 chimpanzees in captivity. By that time, researchers and primates keepers joined in a strong effort to revert the situation, retire the chimps and provide them with humane treatment, socialization and environmental enrichment and life-long care.

Fortunately the result of so much work came in 2006, when the use of chimpanzees in labs definitely comes to an end in Japan. Six years later, the last three former exploited individuals were transferred to Kumamoto Sanctuary (KS), a facility run by University of Kyoto where the apes live their retirement.

KS is also a facility where behavioral specialists take their researches, as it is the case of Dr. Fumihiro Kano, psychologist and PhD in Biological Science, with concentration in Primatology and Comparative Psychology. He works with chimpanzees and other great apes - including humans! - and in this interview he talks a little bit about his main impressions on behavioral researches.


What are the main conclusions of your comparative psychology work with human and non-human apes? Is it possible to compare, generally speaking, chimpanzees to human infants and bonobos, orangutans and gorillas to human adults in terms of cognition and intelligence?

I mainly studied gaze pattern of great apes. Overall, great apes are similar to humans. For instance, they focus on others' faces and actions intensely when viewing others' images. They even anticipate others' actions based on others' goals and intentions. Also there are some differences between great apes and humans, and also among great ape species. For instance, bonobos view others' eyes while chimps view others' mouth when viewing others' faces. Such difference may be related to each species' unique temperament (e.g. bonobos may experience less pressure when facing others and therefore may produce more prolonged eye contact). 

Generally speaking, it is sometimes useful to compare between great apes and human adults. However, a big difference between human adults and apes/human infants is that human adults are extremely cultural. This includes the way of looking at movies. We consciously or unconsciously know how to view movies based on certain cinematographic rules. Apes and infants may not so much compared to us. 

You also have field experience in behavioral observation of wild chimpanzees and bonobos in Africa. Can you point any relevant difference in the behavior and general skills of the individuals in the wild and the ones in captivity (especially the ones retired from lab research)?

In the filed, compared to the captivity, I more easily see that many of chimps' or bonobos' behaviors are adapted to the forest lives. For instance, a chimp can climb the tree trunk very fast like running vertically on the tree, with their long arms and short legs. In the captivity, compared to the field, I more easily see their intelligence because I can more closely look at their behavior in controlled conditions, including cognitive tests. 

I think that the environment that they grew up either in forest or in captivity surely makes them different. But in terms of fundamental physical and cognitive capabilities, they are more or less similar in my feelings. Anyway, we cannot know such answers completely. 

The ones retired from lab research can be different from others for the same reasons, e.g. the ones socially isolated when youth can be socially less motivated even now, but they are not terribly different from others because, currently, and already for many years, they all live in the same enriched environment. 

Does your work support animal welfare or environmental enrichment programs for the apes who live at KS? 

For me, more or less indirectly. But directly, doing good behavioral researches help to get good funds and also help developing their enrichment programs.


More about Dr. Fumihiro Kano’s work - http://www.fumihirokano.com/p/main-page.html



* Environmental journalist (Ambiente-se Comunicação Socioambiental) and Communications Manager for GAP Project International

quinta-feira, 21 de dezembro de 2017

Ellos no son propiedad, pero cómo probar?

Marcelino y Cecilia en el Santuario de Grandes Simios en Brasil (GAP)

Por Jaqueline B. Ramos * 

Viendo recientemente una serie de televisión sobre abogados, me sorprendí con la historia de un caso sobre la disputa por la custodia de un chimpancé. Sin entrar en el mérito de la historia, uno de los abogados que estaba defendiendo el simio en un desahogo dijo algo que resume todo: yo sé que él no es una propiedad, pero no hay ley para probar eso! 

Hay que ser muy insensible para no concordar que los animales non humanos no son cosas o objetos. Ellos son seres vivos con habilidad cognitiva, que sienten dolor, miedo, hambre etc. Por esto, tratar a un chimpancé, un elefante o un perro como un objeto no tiene sentido. Sin embargo, actualmente en el Derecho de los Hombres todos los otros animales aun son considerados como cosas, no seres con derechos. De esto viene la inquietud del mundo jurídico que el guionista de la serie televisa ha percebido y la resumió en el diálogo del personaje. 

Por suerte hay abogados muy atentos y luchando para cambiar nuestra relación ultrapasada de dominación y explotación de los animales no humanos. Y de hecho conseguir cambios en las leyes y empezar a hacer las paces con nuestros dilemas éticos y morales. Esto será necesario para que avancen los trabajos del Derecho de los Animales en todo o mundo. 

En abril de 2017, un caso en America Latina se destacó internacionalmente: la chimpancé Cecília, que vivió más de 10 años en una jaula de cemento muy pequeña en un zoológico en Argentina, fue finalmente trasladada para un santuario de grandes simios en Brasil por medio de un Habeas Corpus. Ha sido la primera vez en el mundo que un animal no humano ha disfrutado de verdad del derecho de libertad permitido por un instrumento jurídico exclusivo de los hombres. 

El proceso fue coordinado por AFADA, una asociación de abogados que trabaja con los derechos de los animales en Argentina, y esta es una de las acciones judiciales de ellos. 

En Diciembre de 2014 , la orangutana Sandra, que vive en el zoológico de Buenos Aires, fue considerada como una persona no humana después que una juez de esa ciudad analisó su pedido de libertad. Su traslado al santuario aún no ha sido posible, a pesar de haber sido autorizado. El dia 28 de Noviembre, AFADA también presentó un pedido colectivo de un Habeas Corpus en nombre de los chimpancés Martin, Sasha y Kangoo, que también viven en el zoológico de la capital argentina. 

Con relación a esa situación, Pablo Buompadre, presidente de AFADA, le explicó a la prensa: “Después de varios intentos de consenso con las autoridades para lograr el traslado de los ejemplares, que se encuentran en estado de precariedad, decidimos recurrir una vez más a la Justicia”. Y afirmó que ya "hay antecedentes en jurisprudencia nacional e internacional”. 

Osos y elefantes 

Cuando se defienden pedidos de Habeas Corpus para grandes simios hay ventajas en los argumentos, porque ellos son muy cercanos a los humanos (al final, también somos grandes simios) y porque su avanzada capacidad de autonomia e inteligencia ya es conocimiento científico. Portanto los antecedentes y jurisprudencia citados por Buompadre pueden, deben y son facilmente aplicados a las otras especies. 

En Julio de 2017, también en América Latina, en Colombia, la Suprema Corte de Justicia aceptó el pedido de Habeas Corpus para el oso Chucho y determinó que él sea trasladado del zoológico de Barranquilla para un local donde pueda vivir en condiciones adecuadas. En la decisión, la Corte escribió: “los animales son seres sintientes, no cosas. Por esto deben tener derechos de acuerdo con la ley.” 

En Estados Unidos, hay una organización de referencia llamada NhRP (Non Human Rights Project), fundada y presidida por el abogado Steven Wise. Esta organización ha comenzado el trabajo de retirar el rótulo de "cosificación" de los animales en la ley con chimpancés. El equipo de Wise aún no ha tenido suceso en la Justicia norteamericana, que siempre niega el reconocimiento del derecho a la libertad, pero su trabajo esta lejos de terminar. 

En Noviembre, la ONG presentó un recurso en la Suprema Corte del Estado de New York, que es la más alta instancia de la Justicia. Este recurso se refiere al pedido de Habeas Corpus de los chimpancés Tommy y Kiko, mantenidos en cautiverio de manera inadecuada. “Deseamos que les llegue su dia en la Justicia de New York. Tenemos confianza que les será reconocido su derecho a la libertad”, dijo Wise cuando el NhRP promovió la nueva apelación. 

La ONG se propuso un nuevo desafio: en Noviembre envió el primer pedido (del mundo) de Habeas Corpus en nombre de tres elefantes a la Corte Superior del estado de Connecticut. Las elefantas Beulah, Karen y Minnie son mantenidas en cautiverio en el zoológico de Commerford. Ellas fueran capturadas en su ambiente natural y utilizadas en circos por muchos años. 

NhRP le está pidiendo al tribunal que liberte a las elefantas para que vivan en el santuario de PAWS (Performing Animal Welfare Society), donde su derecho a libertad corporal será respetado. Wise explica: “No estamos afirmando que el zoológico está violando los estatutos de bienestar animal. Lo que está sucediendo es la privación de la libertad de ellas. Vemos eso como una cruel violación de sus derechos fundamentales como elefantes." 

Todo parece indicar que felizmente es una cuestión de tiempo para que los abogados tengan en sus manos la ley que necesitan para probar que los animales no humanos son seres con derechos, y no propiedades u objetos. 


* Periodista ambiental (Ambiente-se Comunicação Socioambiental) y Gerente de Comunicación del Proyecto GAP Internacional

quinta-feira, 7 de dezembro de 2017

They are not properties, but how to prove it?

Marcelino and Cecília at Great Apes Sanctuary of Sorocaba/Brazil - GAP Project International

By Jaqueline B. Ramos *

Watching a TV show about lawyers recently, I was surprised when it dropped a case involving the dispute over the custody of a chimpanzee. Veracities of the story aside, one of the advocates involved in the defense of the animal makes an outburst that sums it all up: I know he's not a property, but I have no law to prove it!

It takes a lot of insensitivity to disagree with the fact that nonhuman animals are not things or objects. They are living beings with cognitive abilities, who feel pain, fear, hunger, thirst, etc. Therefore, treating a chimpanzee, an elephant or a dog as a mere thing or object is at least meaningless. But in the Justice of Men today, all other animals are still considered to be things, not living beings, and lack the capacity of possess any legal rights. Hence comes the restlessness of the legal world that the screenwriter sensibly captured and summed up in the speech of the character.

Fortunately there are very attentive advocates struggling to reverse this outdated view of our domineering and exploratory relationship with non-human animals. They aim to change the Law, so we can begin to make peace with our ethical and moral dilemmas, and build the necessary foundation for the various efforts around the world for Animal Rights to take off.

In April 2017, a case in Latin America was highlighted internationally: chimpanzee Cecília, who lived for more than 10 years in a tiny zoo cage in Argentina, was finally transferred to a great apes sanctuary in Brazil thanks to the concession of a Habeas Corpus. It was the first time in the world that a non-human animal actually enjoyed the right to freedom due to a legal instrument previously exclusive to humans.

The lawsuit was conducted by Afada, an association of lawyers that works for animal rights in Argentina, and is just one among other actions. In December 2014, orangutan Sandra, who lives in Buenos Aires zoo, was considered by a local judge, after a deep examination of the request for her freedom, as a non-human person (her transfer to a sanctuary has not yet been made possible, although it is already authorized) and, last November, a collective request of Habeas Corpus was presented on behalf of the chimpanzees Martín, Sasha and Kangoo, who live at the same zoo.

"After several attempts at consensus with authorities for the transfer of the chimpanzees, who are in a precarious state over there, we decided to appeal once more to Justice. There are national and international precedents and jurisprudence”, affirmed Pablo Buompadre, president of Afada, to the Argentine press.

Bears and elephants

Defending Habeas Corpus claims for great apes may have its advantages in argumentation, due to their proximity to humans - after all, we are also one out of five great apes species - and their already proven autonomy and intelligence. But the antecedents and jurisprudence commented on by Buompadre can, should and are comfortably applied to other species.

In July 2017, also in Latin America, Colombia, the Supreme Court of the country accepted the request of Habeas Corpus on behalf of the bear Chucho, and ordered that he should be transferred from the zoo of Barranquilla to a place where he lives in adequate conditions. In the decision, the Colombian court quoted: "animals are sentient beings and not things, and therefore must be endowed with rights in the eyes of the law."

In the United States, the NGO Non-Human Rights Project, founded and chaired by attorney Steven Wise, is a reference entity, and began the work to prove that animals are not things, but persons under the Law, with chimpanzees - in this case, apes who were used in laboratories. Wise's team has not yet succeeded in US justice, which always ends up denying recognition for the right to freedom, but the work is far from over.

In November, the group filed a motion with the New York Supreme Court for permission to appeal to New York’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, on behalf of Tommy and Kiko, who are still kept under inhumane conditions in captivity (the first one on a used trailer lot and the second on a private home)."We look forward to Tommy and Kiko having their day in court before New York’s highest court. And we remain eager to have their right to bodily liberty recognized by the Courts and respected and hope they will soon go to a sanctuary where they will be able to live their lives in freedom”, Wise declared.

One more step forward, also in November, NhRP filed an application for Habeas Corpus in Connecticut Superior Court on behalf of three elephants - the first n=in the world - held in captivity at the Commerford Zoo: Beulah, Karen and Minnie. All three were captured in the wild and used for many years in circuses.

The NhRP asks the court to release the elephants into the sanctuary of the Performing Animal Welfare Society, where their right to bodily freedom will be respected. Wise explains: "We do not claim the Commerford Zoo is violating any animal welfare statutes. What they are doing is depriving Beulah, Karen, and Minnie of their freedom, which we see as an inherently cruel violation of their most fundamental right as elephants.”

Fortunately, it seems to be just a matter of time for lawyers to have the Law they need to prove that non-human animals are living beings who deserve to be proper legally treated, not mere properties or objects.


* Environmental journalist (Ambiente-se Comunicação Socioambiental) and Communications Manager for GAP Project International