It is surprising that at this day and age, there is still evidence that humans are still the most vicious of all animal species. While predators such as lions or great white sharks kill other animals, these are done instinctively for the purpose of survival. They do not choose specific animals to feed on, nor do they do it for rituals or cultural traditions. And they do not kill for sport, only humans do.
In the Faroe Islands (Denmark), a tradition that has caused controversy is their traditional whale hunts or the “grindadráp” in Faroese. It has been a tradition by their ancestors since the tenth century to hunt and kill long-finned pilot whales. It is a non-commercial activity where most of the community participate. Hunters surround the pilot whales with a semi-circle of boats and drive them into a bay where they are slaughtered. According to Faroese, the hunt is an important part of their culture and history. However, pictures and videos of the hunt paint a different picture of this tradition.
Long-finned pilot whales are part of the dolphin family and they are protected species in the US. However, they are classified by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) as “Low Risk Least Concern” among animal species. Pilot whales are very social creatures and usually travel in large groups of up to 200. This is the reason they have been targets of whalers because they can be driven and herded together in groups.
While Faroese whale hunters have been the subject of scrutiny by environmental groups and organizations that protect animals, they defend themselves by saying that this tradition also provides them food for the winter. Whale meat taken from the hunt is never sold, but instead divided among the community. They also defend themselves by claiming that the pilot whales are not an endangered species and that their kill is even more humane than those done to cattle or pigs which are kept in captivity until their slaughter. Though there is still no definite answer on the impact of the hunt to the pilot whale population, animal-activists believe that the hunt is not done by the Faroese to provide food for the community. The Faroese have sufficient food for the winter and health experts warn of eating too much pilot whale meat as they contain high concentrations of mercury.
Maybe there is no definite answer to what is wrong and right in this situation. However, the emotions evoked by the pictures of the hunt from non-Faroese does hint towards its inhumanity and cruelty. Look at the pictures and decide for yourself.