Sunday, August 17, 2014

In defence of bulls and wild birds

Anti-bullfighting campaigners are planning their biggest public protest outside the Albufeira bullring in opposition to what is expected to be one of the country’s most attended bullfighting events of the year.
The campaigners have unveiled a huge billboard by the side of the N125 between Boliqueime and Albufeira proclaiming in Portuguese and English: “Bullfighting = shameful torture. We demand abolition!”  
The organisers are hoping as many protesters as possible of various nationalities will come together for a peaceful demonstration scheduled to start at 8.30pm next Friday (August 22). Police are likely to be on hand to ensure that no one outside the ring comes to any harm - unlike the animals inside it.
 In addition to wanting bullfighting abolished nationwide, one of the concerns of the protesters is what they claim is the failure of the security authorities to uphold the law in regard to under-age children being admitted to bullfights.
Isabel Searle, a founder member of Cidade de Albufeira Anti Touradas (CAAT), says their group have repeatedly asked why the Inspeção-Geral das Atividades Culturais (IGAC) are “doing nothing” to stop children under 12-year-olds being allowed into bullfights.
“They have ignored us,” she said.
Both the United Nations and the European Commission have expressed concern in the past about the possible affects of bullfight violence on child spectators.
On the other hand, many generations of young people have witnessed bullfights in Portugal and Spain and many today would claim they have not been traumatised or emotionally affected by the experience.
The CAAT group have written to the president of the Albufeira Câmara asking him to look into safety aspects of the bullring building, which they claim has badly deteriorated over the years.
“The Câmara president has ignored us as well. We are simply not being given answers,” said Ms Searle.
Those in favour of bullfighting believe it to be a traditional art form, a deeply-rooted integral part of Iberian culture steeped in ritualistic grace and confidence in mastering the bull.
“Bullfighting is the only art in which the artist is in danger of death and in which the degree of brilliance in the performance is left to the fighter’s honour,” wrote Ernest Hemingway.
Appalled by such notions, opponents see bullfights as an outmoded and cruel form of entertainment, mainly for holidaymakers, mostly from the UK and elsewhere in northern Europe where animal cruelty is generally outlawed.

*  Protesters will meet at the roundabout of ‘ Corcovada  in the parking lot opposite Roberto´s chicken restaurant at 8pm and then march the 50 metres to the bullring at 8.30pm. 

 As with bullfighting, the shooting and trapping of wild birds is entrenched in the culture of Portugal. A new hunting season has just started. The following is an extract from the e-book People in a Place Apart.
« Most at risk are migratory species that pass through southern Europe in vast numbers on their way to and from wintering grounds in Africa. Among the Mediterranean countries, Malta, Italy and Cyprus are probably the worst offenders in terms of sheer numbers of birds killed, but Portugal, especially the Algarve, is not far behind, according to Dr Colin Key, a resident ornithologist and strong advocate of greater protection.
Traditionally, wild birds were shot by the poor in Portugal to put food on the table. Now it is sport. Although there are regulations on where and when hunting is allowed and what species may be killed, the regulations are often ignored. Attitudes are undoubtedly changing as a result of the spread of information and enthusiasm about wildlife, especially among the young. “Hunting with guns and dogs is now the preserve of the middle-aged and older generations. Also, Portugal is now ‘on the map’ for visiting foreign birdwatchers, especially the British, and this has lead to an awareness of the value of ecotourism. The situation is improving, but it is a slow process. The cultural aspects of killing wildlife, whether for food or sport, will take at least another generation to grow out.” »
The hunting season runs from mid-August to the end of February but is restricted to Sundays, Thursdays and national holidays. 

* On the first day of the new hunting season GNR police arrested two hunters for shooting protected species and fined 33 others for firearms and ammunition infringements. Six weapons were confiscated. 

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