Animal rights campaigners have reported the first cull of the six-month dolphin hunting season in Japan.
Animal activist organisation Sea Shepherd, who have been monitoring the situation in Taiji Bay, southwestern Japan, claimed this morning that eight to nine Risso dolphins, including a calf, had been slaughtered.
The campaigners, who call themselves the Cove Guardians, live streamed yesterday’s events, tweeting: “First pod of 2014-15 being driven into cove now.”
According to the activists, the dolphins were killed before being taken to Taiji harbour where they were unloaded to the butchers house and sold.
"Today a pod of Risso's were murdered at the Cove," Zoe Ng, a local animal rights campaigner, told the South China Morning Post.
"We're frustrated beyond words,” she said. “This year [the fishermen] hide behind tarps and still carry on their brutal murderous ways."
Activists claimed that tarpaulin covers erected around the butcher’s harbour entrance and over the waters of the cove were because “they want no-one to see what they [dolphin hunters] are doing.”
Earlier Sea Shepherd members, in footage live streamed from Taiji Bay cove and harbour, said: “This shows the length they will go to, as well as how shameful this action is. The way they want everything hidden from prying eyes.”
Last year, United States ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy tweeted her concern over the "inhumaneness of drive hunt dolphin killing".
The culls have been defended on the grounds they are traditional. Pro-cull campaigners also point out the dolphins killed are not endangered.
Despite calls to do so, the Japanese government has refused to condemn dolphin hunting, with the season opening on 1 September and continuing until the end of February.
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