Today, as the world celebrates ‘International Jaguar Day’, marvelling at these magnificent and increasingly rare creatures, what few will draw is the connection between their decline and the global growth of factory farming. Yet, the plight of incarcerated chickens and pigs is utterly linked to the demise of the forest home of some of the world’s most iconic wildlife, the jaguar being a standout example.
International Jaguar Day celebrates the Americas’ largest wild cat as an umbrella species for biodiversity conservation, an icon for sustainable development and the centuries-old cultural heritage of Central and South America.
#JaguarDay is also intended to draw attention to the need to conserve jaguar corridors and their habitats as part of broader efforts to achieve the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.
A few weeks ago, I was delighted to see Greenpeace launch a superb new cartoon ‘There’s a Monster in my kitchen’ to show how the jaguar’s forest home is being burned to grow animal feed for the factory farmed meat industry. It shows how, if we don’t act now, more precious habitats will be destroyed, Indigenous Peoples could lose their homes and we’ll lose the fight against climate change. ‘There’s a Monster in my kitchen’ is a sequel to ‘Rang-Tan‘ which highlighted the role of palm oil in deforestation, and this new cartoon tells the story of how industrial meat is wreaking havoc on forests across South America.
Meat is big business and companies are producing it on a scale that our planet simply can’t sustain.
This was brought home to me so powerfully during a visit to Brazil, where I saw for myself the true cost of ‘cheap’ factory farmed meat on some of the most precious parts of the natural world that remain on our planet.
Combine harvesters crop soybeans in Campo Novo do Parecis — a former rainforest in Mato Grosso Brazil | Credit: Yasuyoshi Chiba
I witnessed the devastating consequences of habitat loss first-hand for Brazil’s iconic big cat: the jaguar. Home to half of the world’s remaining 15,000 jaguars, Brazil holds the fate of this beautiful big cat in the palm of its hand. When people think of habitat loss through deforestation, they tend to associate it with logging to make way for housing and crops for human consumption.
In fact, a major driver is the farming of soya and corn on a huge industrial scale, much of it destined for factory farmed animals around the world. Vast areas are turned over to these.
Yet, it’s not soya per se that’s the problem, but the way it’s produced and what it’s used for. If those crops were produced without pesticides, without monocultures, with mixed rotational farming, on existing farmland rather than deforestation, then things would be better. If the land was producing food directly for people, it would be better still. Soya is a wonder-crop, a complete source of protein for humans. Yet, the vast majority of soya goes for animal feed, 35 million tonnes of it a year to Europe, largely to feed factory farmed animals.
How many people imagine, when they eat factory-farmed meat, that their bargain-basement chicken nuggets and pork chops reach their plates via the felling of rainforest trees and the loss of iconic species?
How many people know that in the last 50 years, since the widespread adoption of factory farming, the total number of wild mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish worldwide has declined by more than two-thirds?
But it’s not too late to change things.
At Compassion in World Farming, we provide the platforms to help you stand up for animals, both farmed and wild; for our planet, and for the future of our families. As Covid-19 has so cogently demonstrated, the health of animals and people are so closely intertwined. Only by protecting animals and the environment can we properly protect people. And that means ending factory farming. For Jaguars, chickens, people and the planet.
Join our call to the world’s most influential organisations, including The World Bank, the United Nations and the World Health Organisation, to replace factory farming with a food system that respects animals, nurtures our planet and reduces the risk of pandemics.
Please use this link to sign our petition and join the call for a future without factory farming (www.ciwf.org.uk/pandemic).