No wrinkles, no cruelty
A man who has bred sheep with no wrinkles said yesterday the animals were a cruelty-free alternative to mulesing, the painful cutting of the hide to prevent disease. Australian wool is boycotted by some retailers because of concerns about the practice, which is carried out to prevent the animals dying from fly-strike. Jim Watts, who runs the breeding consultancy SRS Company, said merino sheep genetically bred to be wrinkle-free were immune to fly-strike. The former research scientist said animals with smooth skin had less chance of urine and moisture getting trapped in tight skin folds and thereby developing the conditions suitable for flies to lay eggs.
Cancer threatens devil
The Tasmanian devil will be listed as an endangered species this week as a result of a deadly and disfiguring cancer outbreak, the state government said yesterday. The disease, a fast-growing head tumor which spreads over the marsupial’s face and mouth and prevents it from eating, often killing it, has cut the island’s devil population in the wild by as much as 60 percent. A spokeswoman for Tasmania’s primary industries minister said the animal would be listed as an endangered species tomorrow. The facial tumor is extremely unusual in that it is a contagious cancer, spread from devil to devil by biting.
Officials allow ‘human zoo’
Provincial officials have allowed a “human zoo” featuring “long-necked” or “giraffe” women to open in Sattahip near Bangkok despite mounting international criticism of the exploitative tourism practice, reports said yesterday. The residents are part of an ethnic group whose women wear brass rings around their necks. They are called the Padung or long-necked Karen in Thailand, but they consider those terms denigrating and call themselves Kayan. The new “village,” which recently opened in Sattahip in Chonburi Province, charges an entrance fee of 25 baht (US$0.80) for Thai visitors and 250 baht for foreigners, the Daily XPress said.
Cops easy on elderly crooks
Police are letting some elderly criminals off with a caution in a new, soft approach. Nearly 1,300 people aged 65 and above were arrested last year, mostly for minor shoplifting, the South China Morning Post reported. A policy has been introduced to let many of the suspects off with a caution. Officer guidelines allow them to issue a caution in cases where the senior citizen is not part of a criminal gang and is not involved in sex offenses or child pornography. Fifty-five cautions have been issued out of 371 arrests of seniors since the policy was introduced in January.
Voters may block peace deal
Voters could block a proposed revenue-sharing deal aimed at ending a protracted Muslim separatist rebellion in the south, Manila’s chief peace negotiator warned yesterday. Rodolfo Garcia said Manila has agreed in principle to give Muslims a bigger share of revenues from the natural resources on Mindanao Island, but that voters could reject the change to the Constitution this would require. Peace talks with the 12,000-strong Moro Islamic Liberation Front have stalled after the rebels accused Manila of delaying. The rebels’ claims for “ancestral domain” in the region are also “potentially controversial,” because they would force a change in the law. Only Congress, dominated by the Christian majority including Mindanao landowners, can pass laws.