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Is French Reunion Island Still Using Dogs and Cats as Shark Bait?

You may have seen the photos on the web, may have seen the very disturbing videos of dogs and kittens being hooked alive and thrown into the water to catch sharks or large fish. The cries of the kittens is enough to make anyone's eyes tear but the laughter of the fishermen is sickening and can only make one angry at the unnecessary cruelty to these helpless creatures.

This was more than a curiosity to me but a mission to find out the truth behind these stories and pictures. Unfortunately what I found was disturbing and confusing.

In late 2005 when National Geographic ran a story about this horrific cruelty to animals, the island received backlash from animal lovers everywhere. The French embassy stated that these cases were isolated and assured people that the people responsible were arrested and charged. But is a 2 year sentence and a 5000 Euro fine enough for this act?

In September 2005, the government of Reunion responded to the outcries by passing into law a bill that makes it illegal for fishing boats to carry any dogs or cats, alive or dead. My question would be, how are these boats monitored? Are they searched? In an island as big as Reunion, I would probably have to guess that's a no.

With a population of over 800,000 people, the 969.9 square mile French island, which is located in the Indian Ocean, East of Madagascar, is administratively run by France. In fact, as of January 3, 2005, just 9 months before the National Geographic story, a decree was signed, transferring the administration of the outlying islands to the Prefet, a higher administrator of the Terres Australes et Antarctiques Françaises (TAAF).

Reunion Island is made up of people originally from France, Mozambique, India, China, Madagascar and the Comores but they are all administratively French citizens. Although French is the official language, Creol is the language spoken. Their major exports are sugar, rum, vanilla, and perfume essences. Imported commodities include manufactured goods, food, beverages, tobacco, raw materials, machinery and transportation equipment, and petroleum products.

According to E Turbo News, in 2011, 471,268 tourists landed in La Reunion, an increase of 12.1 percent when compared to 2010. What that means, is that in 2012, Reunion Island or La Reunion as the natives call it, made 388.7 million Euros in tourism revenue, a rise over 2010 by 18.3 percent. In American dollars, that works out to $505,465,480.00, enough I think to control criminal activity such as fishermen who use dogs and cats as bait and more than enough to be a bit worried about their tourism ratings if they anger enough people about this activity.

In 2010, Stephanie Roche of the Brigette Bardot Foundation, an animal welfare organization in France that has been fighting Reunion Island to stop its cruelty to its animals for shark baits for over 10 years, stated that this practice is not widespread.

A few months ago, I myself spoke to one representative of La Reunion Island Tourism Board, who stated to me that this practice stopped in 2005, which I know is untrue, since even the Bardot Foundation in 2010 said otherwise. When I asked more questions, I received less answers until I was eventually ignored. All I wanted was some kind of documentation to prove their defense so I could write this article and put peoples minds at ease. To this date, I have yet to receive a reply. Sometimes the silence is the answer.

There is no real way to know unless you go on your own to investigate but from my perspective, the truth remains intact; La Reunion Island did in fact use barbaric methods to kill, maim and dismember animals to use as shark bait. Their laws are obviously not stiff enough to prevent illegal activities on the island and the French, who no doubt know what is going on are doing absolutely nothing to prevent future incidents or prefer not to get involved.

The reason is not important because a fact never changes. The only thing we can do if we want to get involved is share, network, communicate and remember that every time we spend our hard earned money, we choose what happens in our world. We control our planet and we can change it by one simple act; not feeding the machine that kills.

WARNING: Do not watch if you have a sensitive stomach

Please Sign the Petition


Rosana Modugno (author) from USA on June 29, 2013:


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Thank you for your kind words. I appreciate what you're doing. If only everyone did their part, or even half their part, our world would be a much better place.

Eric Booister on June 28, 2013:

hi Rosana i will do for what is in my power i can do i already contacted thierry robert and the link you gave me to the office of tourism

and will tell all my friends on face book and ask them to send it to their friends so it will be spread around the world .

its true when people say when its of the eye its off the heart so people have to see this and respond on it .also here in holland animals have more rights evrytime and animal cruelty is beeing punished harder evry year but still not hard enough . i hope i will have any response on the links i posted and the 1 i contacted ... if u like i will let u know

thank u for waking me up , i really want to make a diffrence

Rosana Modugno (author) from USA on June 27, 2013:


I am not sure why your comment was identified as spam but I wasn't notified of your contact. Still, I'd like to reply to you.

I am aware that this is a contained area on the island but I am concerned about the areas we don't see. This is an island. It can be canvased relatively easier than an area that is not.

I also know about the one fisherman you write about. The penalty was not enough and that's not just my opinion. And yes, this did happen long ago, 2005, correct?

I'm not talking about 2005 however. I'm talking about recently. Mayor Thierry Robert himself considered a culling of sharks as early as 2012 because of the surfers being killed by sharks on the island marine. He did in fact retract this idea due to French legislation regarding the protection of the bull shark but that's another issue altogether, still connected though because I wonder what he would have used as bait.

And if you read my article, you would have seen that I myself contacted your tourism, which denied there was a problem, saying the same exact thing you did, in fact using the same words about how this one fisherman was fined.

You really don't expect me to believe only one fisherman did this, right?

There have been countless witnesses who have seen this going on, animals found baited, hooked, taken to vets right there on the island.

I understand what you mean by the media, sure they can stir people into a frenzy. But I wanted to contact someone before writing this and asked for proof or documentation showing this arrest and no one had anything to show me. My emails went ignored and I was left to realize that sometimes silence is a far stronger response.

The problem on Reunion Island with strays, you say you keep seeing on the roads is the lack of governmental intervention. Spaying and neutering pets, placing stiffer penalties on pet owners, ensuring the safety of animals on the island and educating people on the responsibility of owning a pet, would most likely decrease the population of your strays.

I have to believe that Reunion Island is far more civilized than China, who as you know also has a problem with strays. They skins their animals alive and sell to the fur trades, among other things.

And no, I do not trust the media. That's why I research before I write about a topic that may be sketchy. My article did not condemn nor absolve the island. It merely left it up to the reader to decide, hence the title.

Reunion Island has come under the watchful eye of the public all on its own just be choosing to be vacant to its own defense. It's hurting itself.

Regardless, I do appreciate your comment and concerns. And you may want to ask Hubpages why you're marked under "spam".

Rosana Modugno (author) from USA on June 27, 2013:

Well, if you're as angry as I am, don't read my other articles about eggs and furs. In order to voice your opinions, here are some ideas:

1. Contact Office of Tourism:

2. Find them on Facebook (there were too many pages to list)

3. Contact Mayor of Saint-Leu, Thierry Robert:

4. Start a petition.

Look online now and you'll see just last month there were 2 surfers killed in their shark infested water and last year, Mayor Roberts renewed a call for shark culling, (one can only guess what he was using as bait) but then retracted it when he realized that the French legislation made it illegal to hurt bull sharks in the marine.

I always believed that hurting companies where it hurts, is the only way they pay attention to the public. They rely on tourism. When they notice a dip in funds, they will make the changes necessary to ensure the trust of the people.

Thanks for your passion, Eric.

Eric Booister on June 27, 2013:

people who are able to do those kind of cruelty are also a danger to anybody else . there sick in the head and shut be punished .there murderers , there the one who shut be feed for the sharks .... aaaarrrrggggg i am so fucking angry how can we do more to stop this !!!!!!!!!!??????????????

Rosana Modugno (author) from USA on December 12, 2012:

Thank you for trying. I will find another one. There are many online. But I think the best way to change things is to remember we do buy our own world in the choices we make with our money. I boycott things I detest, I make sure I know what I'm buying before I buy it. That's why I included those products they export, along with the name of the TAAF, somewhere you can direct your mail and inquiries. We really do need to be more proactive as a society in order for change to happen. Doing nothing gets the same results; nothing.

Rosana Modugno (author) from USA on December 12, 2012:

I know. It makes me cry to see the videos. I have friends that actually travel there and they have since stopped going. I have read that this is a fake story circulating the web but I can assure you it is not. I've gone as far as contacting them on their Facebook pages as well, posting on their walls to get answers because my questions keep getting ignored. It's a red flag to me when a country that depends on its tourism is ignoring this issue.

Sarra Garrett on December 12, 2012:

This is just horrific!!!!

Sleepylog from Australia on December 11, 2012:

It's really sad and heartbreaking to know that animals are still being tortured in this day and age.

I went to the link you left at the bottom of the page to sign the petition but it says the petition is now closed.

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