The Bristol meeting in May, which included a well attended AGM, was an excellently conceived and organised scientific meeting with an added bonus package. Combining our meeting with the Bristol Festival of Ideas was a master stroke by the meeting conveners which enabled us to benefit from the opportunity to hear from Peter Singer 35 years on from the publication of his book ‘Animal Liberation’. There is detailed comment elsewhere in this edition about that. We had a very well attended meeting which also enrolled 55 new members and boosted our funds by £3900. There was also a relaxed and highly enjoyable evening dinner which facilitated social and post-conference exchange of ideas and comments.
Our funds are now sufficient to enable us to pay for the development of the much needed revised AWSELVA website. This will include functions to allow on-line membership applications and subscription payments; information about attending conferences, payment and opportunity for feedback. There will be a members’ only section which will include the full electronic edition of the Journal, whereas the open section of the site will only contain abstracts.
Future meetings will include an autumn conference in London, and in 2011 it is intended to have a meeting in Scotland to engage with the considerable and valuable amount of animal welfare work that goes on there.
I have just returned from Tanzania where I climbed Kilimanjaro for charity. On this occasion it was not an animal welfare charity, but Guildford Street Angels which is more about the welfare of clubbers on Friday and Saturday nights between 10pm and 4am. Whilst in Tanzania I also took part in a community project for a group of subsistence farmers in the Uru north district of Moshi, the principal town at the base of Mount Kilimanjaro. These farmers grow bananas, maize, sorghum (millet), papayas and the like. They are not primarily livestock farmers. The animals they do keep amount to a few free
range chickens (for meat and eggs), lambs and goat kids (for meat), and I saw one pig which was tethered to a banana plant by a hind leg. There are no piped water supplies and the animals are supplied with water once a day when it is carried to them. The goats and lambs were fed on cut maize plants and other fresh green herbage. This was provided in racks, the animals being kept in raised wooden pens where the bedding was the previous day’s left over herbage. These observations led me to think about the difficulties of OIE producing global standards which do not take into account differences in societal, legal and cultural values. Standards need to be applied which are applicable to local circumstances. I found myself having to re-examine the EU and UK standards that are familiar to me and wonder about the rationale of trying to transfer these to other ethnic and cultural communities where Western education and knowledge bases are just not available. Standards are
different, not necessarily bad or wrong.
I look forward to seeing you at our future meetings, and we welcome any suggestions about the Association’s programme.