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Wales risks becoming loophole for ‘exploiting endangered species’ say campaigners

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THE WELSH GOVERNMENT is being urged to support legislation at Westminster which would help end the abuse of wild animals across the world exploited to entertain British holidaymakers.

The Animals (Low-Welfare Activities Abroad) Bill, which recently had an unopposed second reading in the Commons, would help end many endangered species including elephants, tigers, monkeys and dolphins being cruelly exploited as part of the tourism trade.

Elephant calves are deprived of food, water and sleep and then subjected to torture and beatings to force them to submit to giving rides to tourists and performing tricks. The Bill proposes a ban in the UK of the advertising and sale of practices abroad where animals are exploited, harmed and killed for financial gain.

The Bill requires legislative consent from the Welsh Assembly but the Welsh Government is refusing to support the Bill on the grounds it has not been given enough time to consider the draft law.

Unless the Welsh Government changes its approach, and supports the legislation, then either it will proceed through the parliamentary process but exclude cruel holidays advertised and sold from Wales, or the entire Bill risks being withdrawn.

Chief Executive of the charity, Save the Asian Elephants, Duncan McNair said: “It would be a tragedy if the Welsh Government jeopardised the entire future of the Bill by withholding support and also failed to legislate in Wales. At present no commitment has been made for either of these.

“There are well over 1,000 UK firms promoting these abhorrent activities abroad. If the Welsh Government doesn’t legislate alongside Westminster it risks becoming a loophole in the law, as tourists will simply book from Wales instead.”

In 2016 a British holiday maker was killed after being thrown from an elephant during a trek in Thailand.

The elephant was reportedly stabbed by its handler after it failed to respond to commands before rearing up and throwing off and crushing 36-year-old Gareth Crowe.

Prior to that in 2000 Helen Costigan’s sister Andrea Taylor was killed in a violent attack by a traumatised elephant, also in Thailand. Helen has since spoken of the shocking scenes which led to her sister’s death, yet still today 120 UK companies advertise this cruel and dangerous tourist attraction.

Helen Costigan supports the new legislation and says: “New law is long overdue to regulate an often greedy and heartless tourism industry, placing profits far above any concerns for animal welfare or human safety. I plead with the Welsh Government to support these measures in memory of Gareth Crowe and my own dear sister Andrea, taken from us so horrifically aged just 20.”

Duncan McNair added: “This Bill is a significant, long awaited and well-supported piece of legislation which is not only an important step towards protecting numerous animals from hideous cruelty, but can also prevent needless deaths such as Gareth’s and Andrea’s, both killed by animals driven to insanity by the cruelty they’d been subjected to.”

An Electoral Calculus poll carried out last year shows overwhelming support across every single UK Parliamentary constituency, including throughout Wales, for such a new law. Of those polled, 85% support a new law to ban advertising venues abroad where this type of cruelty occurs. Only 2% are opposed.

The Bill will go to Committee stage in the House of Commons on March 8.

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Community

The Harbourmaster: Special rail excursion draws crowds to Milford Haven

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MILFORD HAVEN witnessed an extraordinary event yesterday as a special charter train, operated by UK Railtours, made a unique visit to the town, drawing in 500 railway enthusiasts. Departing from London Paddington, the 13-carriage train, which included both first class and standard accommodations, travelled off the usual passenger routes to provide a scenic journey along the south Wales coast.

Starting the day with pick-ups from various locations including Slough, Reading, Swindon, and Bristol Parkway, the train ventured through the Severn Tunnel into Wales, showcasing a series of rarely used freight tracks. Notably, the locomotive switched at Newport to a pair of GBRf Class 66 freight engines, enhancing the experience for those on board by traversing tracks seldom seen by passenger services.

The journey took passengers through Cardiff, Bridgend, and Port Talbot Parkway, deviating at Court Sart Junction to follow the diversionary Swansea District line. The train paused at various locations including Llanelli and Haverfordwest, where passengers enjoyed a 90-minute break while the train was serviced.

A major highlight of the trip was the exploration of the seldom-visited Robeston branch, a treat for the rail enthusiasts who filled the train to capacity, necessitating a waiting list for hopeful travellers. The venture concluded at Milford Haven, where passengers disembarked for a photo session before the train commenced its return journey to London, including a final scenic pass via the Swansea Avoiding line and the Bishton flyover.

Local Councillor Nicola Harteveld of Milford Haven Town Council expressed delight at the influx of visitors, noting, “What an incredible sight at Milford Waterfront today with passengers enjoying our local scenery. It’s a testament to the unique charm and appeal of special rail tours.”

First class passengers were treated to The Great British Breakfast and a four-course dinner, while a buffet car served those in standard class, ensuring all passengers enjoyed their journey with comfort and style.

This tour, fully booked in all classes, underscores the continuing enthusiasm for unique rail experiences in the UK, combining a love for heritage rail with the exploration of less-travelled tracks. As the train made its way back to London Paddington, the participants reflected on a day filled with adventure and picturesque landscapes, leaving them with memories of a rare rail journey along the historic and scenic routes of Wales.

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Crime

Police appeal after girl, 15, assaulted at Lydstep Point to Point

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DYFED-POWYS-POLICE says it is investigating an assault which occurred at Lydstep Point to Point event near to the announcers stand, between 4.30-4.45pm on Monday, April 1, 2024.

The victim, a 15-year-old girl, was allegedly assaulted by two other females, one believed to be in her late teens and the other in her late thirties. The young victim sustained facial injuries.

Police are now appealing for anyone who attended the event that may have information that could help them with their investigation to contact PC 772 Boyt either through a direct message on social media, online at: https://bit.ly/DPPContactOnline, by emailing [email protected] or by calling 101.

Quote reference: 24*310890

Alternatively, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously by calling 0800 555111, or visiting crimestoppers-uk.org.

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News

Major search in the area of The Cleddau Bridge and Hobbs Point

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A MULTI-AGENCY rescue response was initiated first thing on Saturday following reports of a person in difficulty in the area surrounding The Cleddau Bridge, The Herald has been told.

Police were joined by two coastguard rescue teams, the RNLI and a coastguard rescue helicopter during the search.

A police launch was also used in the operation.

Details are still unclear, but we understand that the search has now been stood down.

MORE TO FOLLOW.

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