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More dolphins slaughtered

Solomon Star & Island Journal
Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Despite the huge worldwide outcry over the slaughter of 700 dolphins by villagers of Fanalei in Honiara, Solomons, new reports unveiled the slaughter of an extra 300 dolphins that were later sold.

The Solomon Star reports the villagers refuse to back down and continued the slaughter last week. The newspaper reports, Fanalei chief Willson Filei said the villagers were on a "killing spree".

"I actually spoke out against the hunt which started early this week with over 700 dolphins, but villagers were encouraged by the Fanalei Honiara-based Committee Members, who have been working against the Fanalei-Earth Island Institute (EII) project, since day one of establishing the agreement," Chief Filei reportedly said.

The report further states that he said he was the anointed chief recognised by the southern region of Malaita to represent Fanalei.

"But villagers seemed not to take heed of my advice because they were badly influenced by members of the Fanalei Honiara-based committee members."

He said he was not part of the mass slaughter of dolphins which started this week.

"But to confirm, more than 300 were slaughtered, 240 of them were calves (baby dolphins).

"That was a total waste because these calves not worth anything. Calves do not have teeth, so it was a waste of the young dolphins' lives. Even if they were released, they won't survive because their mothers were already killed."

He continued to point a finger at the Honiara based committee which he said was influenced by those who should be helping the community.

"We are from one tribe but these people seem not to care about the welfare of those people at home. Chief Filei said he cared more about the deal with EII because he was the person who struck the deal at the first place.

"The Honiara based committee was only formed when they learnt that money was actually coming in. They refused and discourage us at the first place.

"But when money came in they tried to push their way in. They then messed up the whole project and encouraged villagers to return to hunt.

"I wash my hands from this recent string of slaughter."

The mass slaughter on Monday this week has attracted widespread condemnation from people, environmentalists and conservationists overseas.

The Solomon Star reported they understand the community is in their hunting period which often takes three months. The traditional hunting practice is carried out once a year for three months, from January to March.

The current hunting period is expected to continue until March.

Earth Island journal magazine founded by an environmentalist to surge against threats to mother earth have condemned the act. The organisation is made up of environmental activists.

The magazine deemed the killing of about over 1,000 dolphins the worst massacre in the region in recent years.

International Marine Mammal Project's (IMMP) says that dolphin traders, who can make as much as $150,000 per dolphin sold to aquariums and marine parks in China, the Middle East, and the Caribbean, may have helped sabotage their conservation efforts.

The magazine reports the killings occurred in two spates — the first last week Monday, when 700 dolphins including about 240 calves were killed, and the second on Thursday that led to the death of 300 more dolphins.

The initial slaughter triggered off a spate of news reports in Australian and New Zealand media that said the slaughter was in protest against (IMMP) failure to pay up funds promised to the villagers to help support sustainable development without dolphin kills.

The reports relied on allegations made by Fanalei Association chairman Atkin Fakaia who claims that IMMP hadn't paid up the full amount it had promised and that the villagers had no option but to resume killing in order to survive.

IMMP rubbishes this allegation.

It says the dolphins were killed by a break-away band of villagers from South Malaita's Fanalei village. The rest of the people of the three villages — Fanalei, Walende, and Bitamae say the project had reached agreement back in 2010 andwere not involved in the killings, it said in a statement.

The sudden decision to kill dolphins lies with a disparate group from one community, Fanalei, who broke from the consensus we have built around ending the dolphin killing," the statement said. "Many in this very community we helped are furious over these renegades."

Killing dolphins for their meat and teeth, which is also used as currency on some of these islands, has been a traditional practice in these islands. But in recent years villagers have also been capturing dolphins to sell to international traders who supply the mammals to dolphinariums across the world.

The magazine reports the project's regional director Lawrence Makili, who's based in Honiera, blamed the Fanelei-Honiara association for allegedly misusing the money the project given to them in 2011.

IMMP intends to continue with efforts to support sustainability projects for the village tribes. "We asked the communities to apply to us for projects like lighting, sanitation and education. We will go through their project proposals before funding is made available," Makili said.

IMMP says there are reasons to believe there is corruption at work, and the dolphin captivity forces are behind this tragic resumption of the dolphin kill. The mass slaughter would make live dolphin trade seem like a more benign option.

Fanalei villagers claim EII had promised last April to pay them S$2.4 million (NZ$400,000) over two years not to kill dolphins, but villagers claim they had only received S$700,000.

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