The holidays are supposed to be about peace and goodwill, but every Boxing Day, one small group of people seems to forget that and invades the countryside with packs of dogs to chase down, terrify and violently kill foxes.
The Boxing Day hunts that take place every year make a mockery of the 2004 Hunting Act, and they are horrifically cruel. Foxes stand little chance against riders on horseback and packs of hounds who have been bred to sniff out animals and chase them for hours on end. When the foxes become exhausted or cornered and are unable to escape, the dogs often rip them apart – an excruciating and slow death.
It's illegal to hunt foxes with packs of dogs under the Hunting Act, and more than 500 individuals have been prosecuted under the act from the time the legislation took effect in February 2005 to the end of last year. Figures released by the Ministry of Justice in July revealed that hunting prosecutions in 2013 were at an all-time high. One person, on average, is prosecuted under the act every week, and around two-thirds are found guilty.
The vast majority of the British public opposes releasing packs of dogs to chase down and tear apart terrified foxes, and in the 10 years since the Hunting Act was passed, support for it remains robust.
Yet in spite of overwhelming public support and a decade of successes, the Hunting Act is in danger of being overturned. Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss has called for the act to be repealed, and has promised to put the issue to a free vote when she feels there will be enough MPs in office who will vote in favour of overturning the ban.
National Geographic photography contest 2014
National Geographic photography contest 2014
1/17 Nature Winner
Jump of the wildebeest at the Mara River. Photo Location: North Serengeti, Tanzania
Photo and caption by Nicole Cambré
2/17 Nature - Honorable Mention
On a windy day right after a Cyclone passed the far northern Great Barrier Reef I took some friends out to the reef. Never before I saw that many glass fish on this particular coral 'bommie'. Just when i setup my camera, this Napoleon Wrasse swam right through the school of fish building a living frame. Photo Location: Cairns, Great Barrier Reef, Flynn Reef, Australia
Photo and caption by Christian Miller
3/17 Nature - Honorable Mention
Honorable Mention: Stag Deer Bellowing in Richmond Park. Photo Location: Richmond Park, London, UK
Photo and caption by Prashant Meswani
4/17 Nature - Honorable Mention
A wild short eared owl completes a shoulder check in case something was missed. Northern harriers were also hunting in the field and these raptors will often steal a kill from the owls. Photo Location: Boundary Bay, BC, Canada.
Photo and caption by Henrik Nilsson
5/17 Nature - Honorable Mention
This playful fight amongst two young sub adult Tigers was indeed a brilliant life time opportunity, that lasted exactly 4-5 seconds. The cubs were sitting in the grass as dusk approached when suddenly one of them sneaked up behind the other and what happened next is captured in this image. This playful fight amongst the siblings is what prepares them for their survival in the wild. The sheer power of the Tiger is beautifully captured in this image and portrays the sheer muscle power that these magnificent cats possess. Photo Location: Bandhavgarh National Park, Madhya Pradesh, India.
Photo and caption by Archna Singh
6/17 Nature - Honorable Mention
Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania, is the world's largest inactive volcanic caldera. It is a collapsed volcano that harbours a range of African wildlife that live in relatively close proximity and competition of each other. Zebras are amongst the most common animals in the crater along with wildebeest, gazelles, hyenas, and lions. On a clear day, a 360º view of the crater rim can be seen whilst being inside. Photo Location: Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania
Photo and caption by Zik Teo
7/17 Nature - Honorable Mention
Ice art on the window. Photo Location: Estonia Tabasalu
Photo and caption by Maie Kirnmann
8/17 Grand-Prize Winner and People Winner
In the last ten years, mobile data, smartphones and social networks have forever changed our existence. Although this woman stood at the center of a jam-packed train, the warm glow from her phone told the strangers around her that she wasn't really there. She managed to slip away from "here" for a short moment; she's a node flickering on the social web, roaming the Earth, free as a butterfly. Our existence is no longer stuck to the physical here; we're free to run away, and run we will. Photo Location: Hong Kong
Photo and caption by Brian Yen
9/17 People - Honorable Mention
Disabled children living in Syria war. Photo Location: Syria - Termanin
Photo and caption by Abdullah Alghajar
10/17 People - Honorable Mention
Our road trip down to Miami traversed this outlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway. We rested on this ridge overlooking the mountains. Though we argued consistently throughout the journey, here we were reminded of our brotherhood. Photo Location: Blue Ridge Parkway
Photo and caption by Tyler G
11/17 People - Honorable Mention
The chef of Ramnami people in Chhattisgarh,India. Ramnami tattoo the name of the lord “Ram” on their body. Their entire focus is on the name of Ram, the name of God that is most dear to them. The Ramnami Samaj is a sect of harijan (Untouchable) Ram. Formed in the 1890s, the sect has become a dominant force in the religious life of the area. The tattoo is the result of their devotion and also, a gift and an acknowledgement from Ram. Photo Location: India, Chhattisgarh
12/17 People - Honorable Mention
Seekers of eternal youth coat themselves in mineral-rich mud, at the Dead Sea in Israel. Photo Location: Dead Sea, Israel
13/17 People - Honorable Mention
He was waiting on the bed, lost in thoughts, while his wife was preparing the bread to be blessed for the orthodox Eucharist. Photo Location: Village of Sarbi, Maramure, Romania
14/17 Places Winner
The thermal spas in Budapest [are] one of the favorite activities of Hungarians, especially in winter. We were fortunate to gain special access to shoot in the thermal spa thanks to our tour guide, Gabor. I love the mist, caused by the great difference in temperature between the hot spa water and the atmosphere. It makes the entire spa experience more surreal and mystical. Photo Location: Budapest, Hungary
Photo and caption by Triston Yeo
15/17 Places - Honorable Mention
During I was taking photo with my nephew, the storm came and I caught this beautiful moment. Photo Location: Kocaeli, Turkey
Photo and caption by Aytül AKBAŞ
16/17 Places - Honorable Mention
Birds fly over the destroyed houses in Khalidiya district in Homs, Syria. In the vast stillness of the destroyed city center of Homs, there are large areas where nothing moves. Then, suddenly, wind blows a ripped awning, or birds fly overhead. Photo Location: Homs, Syria.
Photo and caption by Sergey Ponomarev
17/17 Places - Honorable Mention
I was up at an ungodly hour to make it to the Tsukiji Fish Market, in Tokyo. With so many amazing things to see in the city, I had hardly slept, and managed to get off at the wrong station. Wave after wave of people kept coming through the station passageway. I spied a coffee shop with a vantage point and managed to snap a free shots, camera resting on the ledge. After the caffeine kicked in, i was ready to brave the river of people... Photo Location: Shinagawa Station, Tokyo, Japan
Photo and caption by Peter Franc
The RSPCA – which has led the charge in prosecuting people who openly flout the law – has recently come under intense criticism and scrutiny for the amount of resources it must devote to pursuing cases of illegal fox hunting.
It shouldn't be up to a charity to enforce the law, but because the RSPCA has been so successful at prosecuting cruelty cases, the police and Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) leave the majority of crimes against animals to the RSPCA to handle. Last year, the RSPCA investigated 153,770 complaints of alleged cruelty and secured almost 4,000 convictions in the magistrates' court, with a tremendous prosecution success rate of 98 per cent.
But amidst intense criticism last summer, the charity said it may give up prosecuting fox hunters altogether. This would almost certainly cause more foxes to be ripped to bits by dogs, and more lawbreaking fox hunters would go unpunished unless police and CPS pick up the slack.
And it couldn't come at a worse time. Hunters were recently filmed intentionally feeding foxes in areas where foxes are hunted – apparently to encourage the animals to breed and remain there so hunters can kill them.
Fox hunters want the ban overturned because they enjoy the bloody “pastime” of terrorising and killing animals. But chasing down and killing foxes is as abhorrent as chasing down and killing dogs, and we won't stand for it. Hunting of any kind has no place in modern Britain.Reuse content