Category: Pacific Islands

Week 42 South Pacific Animal Welfare (Pacific Islands/NZ)


Samoans getting Zumba fit, but obesity still on the rise

Physical activity in Samoa has increased…Yet obesity and other “first world diseases” are still on the rise, with the government declaring them a “national emergency”.

Dr Walter Vermeulen, who runs weekly nutrition seminars, said he often saw people who complained they had been exercising for years and had not shed any weight.

“Exercise alone will not make you lose weight,” he said.

Instead, he prescribes exercise in combination with a “whole-foods, plant-based diet”.

“Corned beef has now been elevated to a status food, driving farmers to use their revenues from the sale of their health-promoting [vegetables] to buy pounds of tins of corned beef.”

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Photo: Processed meat fills shelf after shelf in Samoan supermarkets, and is often blamed for rendering 80% of adult overweight or obese. (Supplied: Iona Salter)


I looked up Dr Vermeulen as I liked his message and found an article by him titled WFPB without Borders.  I thought WFPB…WTF?

Google told me it means Whole Food Plant Based. Of course!

There is a whole nutritional institute based on this principle.  Dr Vermeulen joined it after watching the documentary Forks Over Knives.  When he found personal benefits from the diet he adopted this principle professionally as well.

(If only there was Google in 1985 so I didn’t have to ask my mum what ‘wanker’ meant…)

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Forks Over Knives movie

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( Whole foods plant based: Good for people, good for animals, good for the environment!)


SPAW is a New Zealand run animal aid organisation working on Pacific Islands. We recruit industry professionals and work with local agencies to run professional veterinary care and mass spay/neuter clinics within communities on our neighbouring Pacific Islands.  SPAW is a NZ based registered charity.

Our depth of services to Pacific Islands includes Veterinary Care, Spaying and Neutering, Animal Husbandry – Livestock care, parasite and vaccine programmes, humane education, training and skills development, outreach & village field clinics, assisted companion animal export services and research.

We are a full volunteer organisation. Our volunteers contribute to our efforts by funding their own volunteer experience.

“Saving one animal won’t change the world, but it will change the world for that animal”


To find out more about Samoa:

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Week 12 Animals Fiji (Fiji)

Compassion Fatigue originally referred to a state of stress and psychological exhaustion that can affect caring for people or animals in distress.

Nowadays a Google search offers a common alternative definition: public indifference to charitable appeals on behalf of suffering people, experienced as a result of the frequency or number of such appeals.

“…sooner or later the outside of the envelope is reached. No matter how graphic the images, we become inured to the tragedy of subsequent disasters.”

– Susan Moeller, COMPASSION FATIGUE How the Media Sell Disease, Famine, War, and Death

Of course it’s not just compassion that fatigues quickly, we are attracted to the novel and new and soon bored with the familiar.

Look at this ‘horse girl’ before and after picture…

…if you haven’t seen it before it is quite fascinating.

But the second time you see it, it’s already less interesting.

And the more people who do it, the more ‘same old same old’ it gets so the modifications needed to stand out progressively get more extreme.

Frankly, if you aren’t willing to cut off your nose to look more like a skull, then you’re not even trying!

But what has this to do with animals?  Fiji? Animals Fiji? Well I realised this week that the devastating Cyclone Winston to hit Fiji registered a lot more strongly on the meteorological radar than it did on my own personal radar. 

There are big ticket items that grab and hold the public consciousness – The 1980’s famine in Ethiopia, Port Arthur, September 11 terrorist attacks, the Boxing Day tsunami, MH370 etc, but for those not directly impacted, eventually attention wavers and is lost.

For subsequent tragedies, particularly if they are becoming a regular part of the landscape, the public and private response seems to diminish even though the suffering of those involved certainly doesn’t.

This is also a problem facing animal charities, a massive backlash followed the euthansing of Verema on track during the 2013 Melbourne Cup, but the next year it was business as usual.  The initial outcry over live export atrocities and greyhound live baiting were huge, but these too have lost their media steam.

But just because an issue is no longer a media darling, doesn’t mean it has gone away.  I needed to remind myself of this.

I want to acknowledge all of the wonderful people who keep working tirelessly for good, when it seems like the rest of the world has forgotten.

Humans are unpredictable things aren’t we…body modders seem genuinely proud when they claim they are ‘doing it for themselves; not for others’ … yet people volunteering for charities seem to find their fulfillment the opposite way – by doing things for others and making little claim for themselves.



Animals Fiji

Animals Fiji provides emergency care for sick animals and plays a vital role in the management and control of Fiji’s feral cat and dog populations. It is currently the only veterinary or animal welfare organization in the Western and Northern Division and relies on donations to function as it receives zero government funding. Animals Fiji play’s a vital role in ensuring the health of Fijians and their animals.

Animals Fiji is registered in NSW, Australia for fund-raising activities and is operated there by two volunteers who are long-term animal welfare supporters.