Dominion [The Compass]

Episodes

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01Dominion: The Animals And The Lawyers2019092520190929 (WS)

Science writer Heidi Ledford travels to the Hague, centre of political power in the Netherlands and home to the Party for the Animals. She’s shown around the House of Representatives by Marianne Thieme, leader of the party, who describes the resistance to her work, and the terrible impact of factory farming on climate change. She is passionate to represent the voiceless in society: “Once you have them covered, everyone is protected.”

Along with exploring ways in which laws protect animals collectively, Heidi turns to the work of animal rights lawyers who are seeking ways for animals to be considered persons, at which point they stop being ‘things’. She considers Happy, the 48-year-old Asian elephant who lives alone in the Bronx Zoo, who is at the centre of an important case of legal personhood. The hard work has been in the hands of Steven Wise, a non-human animal rights lawyer, who has been working for the recognition of animals as persons for 30 years. Wise draws attention to the fact that many animals meet the criteria of personhood, and must be awarded certain rights and protections or the rest of law becomes a nonsense.

Producer: Kate Bland and Victoria Shepherd

Image: A baby Asian elephant walking with its herd at the Minneriya National Park in north central Sri Lanka (Credit: Alex Ogle/AFP/Getty Images)

The people seeking to strengthen animals' legal rights

The Compass - exploring our world.

Science writer Heidi Ledford travels to the Hague, centre of political power in the Netherlands and home to the Party for the Animals. She’s shown around the House of Representatives by Marianne Thieme, leader of the party, who describes the resistance to her work, and the terrible impact of factory farming on climate change. She is passionate to represent the voiceless in society: “Once you have them covered, everyone is protected.”

Along with exploring ways in which laws protect animals collectively, Heidi turns to the work of animal rights lawyers who are seeking ways for animals to be considered persons, at which point they stop being ‘things’. She considers Happy, the 48-year-old Asian elephant who lives alone in the Bronx Zoo, who is at the centre of an important case of legal personhood. The hard work has been in the hands of Steven Wise, a non-human animal rights lawyer, who has been working for the recognition of animals as persons for 30 years. Wise draws attention to the fact that many animals meet the criteria of personhood, and must be awarded certain rights and protections or the rest of law becomes a nonsense.

Producer: Kate Bland and Victoria Shepherd

Image: A baby Asian elephant walking with its herd at the Minneriya National Park in north central Sri Lanka (Credit: Alex Ogle/AFP/Getty Images)

The people seeking to strengthen animals' legal rights

The Compass - exploring our world.

Science writer Heidi Ledford travels to the Hague, centre of political power in the Netherlands and home to the Party for the Animals. She’s shown around the House of Representatives by Marianne Thieme, leader of the party, who describes the resistance to her work, and the terrible impact of factory farming on climate change. She is passionate to represent the voiceless in society: “Once you have them covered, everyone is protected.”

Along with exploring ways in which laws protect animals collectively, Heidi turns to the work of animal rights lawyers who are seeking ways for animals to be considered persons, at which point they stop being ‘things’. She considers Happy, the 48-year-old Asian elephant who lives alone in the Bronx Zoo, who is at the centre of an important case of legal personhood. The hard work has been in the hands of Steven Wise, a non-human animal rights lawyer, who has been working for the recognition of animals as persons for 30 years. Wise draws attention to the fact that many animals meet the criteria of personhood, and must be awarded certain rights and protections or the rest of law becomes a nonsense.

Producer: Kate Bland and Victoria Shepherd

Image: A baby Asian elephant walking with its herd at the Minneriya National Park in north central Sri Lanka (Credit: Alex Ogle/AFP/Getty Images)

The people seeking to strengthen animals' legal rights

The Compass - exploring our world.

02Dominion: The Animals And The Linguists2019100220191006 (WS)

Zimbabwean author and essayist Panashe Chigumadzi asks what part language plays in our regard for other animals.

In Zimbabwe, animals are an integral part of life.

Cattle are treasured animals materially, socially and spiritually, and indigenous people celebrate wild animals too. Elephants, lions, buffalo, zebra, rhinoceros, giraffe, leopard, crocodile and monkeys - many now endangered - were numerous in pre-colonial times, living together with the ancestors who chose different species as the totems for their clans.

Chigumadzi questions the so-called “human-wildlife conflict” that is readily discussed by people she meets, but isn’t convinced the non-human animals have a say in the matter. “Isn’t this a human-human conflict?” she asks.

Along the road west of Harare, Chigumadzi encounters treasured, hard-working cows, roaring lions, emotional elephants, clever vultures and sleepy rhinos, and reflects on what our attitude to other animals reveals about humanity.

Contributors include animal behaviourists Frans de Waal, Peter Mundy, Noxolo Mguni, Beks Ndlovo, Francoise Wemelsfelder, Ian Harmer and Anele Matshisela.

Image: Panashe Chigumadzi and rhinos in Matopos Park,Zimbabwe

What part does language play in how we think about other animals?

The Compass - exploring our world.

Zimbabwean author and essayist Panashe Chigumadzi asks what part Language plays in our regard for other animals. In wild animal reserves in the south of the country, she talks to ethologists to understand lions, rhinos and vultures. She asks if our greatest problem in entering the mind of another animal has been its inability to communicate as we do? She looks to her ancestral culture of animal totems and praise poems, and the relatively recent explosion of scientific interest in the animal’s point of view

Producer: Kate Bland

(Photo: Panashe Chigumadzi and rhinos in Matopos Park, Zimbabwe)

03The Animals And The Philosophers2019100920191013 (WS)

As awareness grows of the destructive impact of people on the natural world, four writers explore our attitude to animals and attempt to uncover what our human values are.

Two vivid stories of human dominion over the natural world infuse the Abrahamic faiths: Adam’s naming of the animals and Noah’s stewardship of animal pairs to safety during the floods. In both, God is said to have given mankind dominion “over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth."

Today, whether dominion means stewardship or power, non-human animals are in serious trouble. The human population is 300 times what it was, while non-human animals are diminishing in species and number.

Set in Holland, Zimbabwe, India and Scotland and building on a story by JM Coetzee called The Lives of Animals (1999), this series explores attitudes to non-human animals at a point in human history when it has never been more important to reflect on the impact of people on the natural world.

Four different writers from the sciences and the humanities take a different perspective to frame their inquiry.

Programme 3: The Animals and the Philosophers.
Environmental journalist Gayathri Vaidyanathan considers the impact of Philosophy and Religion on animals as food. In and around Chennai in India, she reveals how India is managing a terrible dilemma in the massive rise of buffalo meat production next to the catastrophe of animal welfare and environmental pollution. She talks to Jains, Hindus and Buddhists and visits fast food restaurants where young people associate eating burgers with independence and modernity. She also spends time at a pioneering dairy along with one of the many animal sanctuaries in the city.

Writers explore our attitude to animals and attempt to uncover what our human values are.

The Compass - exploring our world.