Saturday, February 5, 2011

Dolphin Crusader AG Saño is Newest WWF Hero

With each masterful brushstroke, 34-year old Filipino artist AG Saño brings a dolphin back to life. His passion has rallied hundreds of volunteers to transform over 120 once-barren concrete walls into colourful murals bearing a singular message – stop the slaughter and trade in dolphins!

(Save the Dolphins! Newest WWF Hero of the Environment AG Saño (L) after completing a mural on C-5 road. Photo by Dino L. Dimar)

A former landscape architect, commercial photographer and WWF volunteer, Saño left his lucrative job photographing clients on a Walt Disney cruise ship to campaign against both the annual Taiji Bay dolphin slaughters in Japan and captive dolphin shows in the Philippines. He also established the Dolphins Love Freedom Network, whose members come from some 40 countries.

From April to December of 2010, Saño painted over 23,000 dolphins in scores of towns and cities throughout the Philippines – representing the 23,000 killed in Japan yearly. “Dolphins are meant to be free,” he declares.

For his actions, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF-Philippines) has recognized Amado Guerrero ‘AG’ Saño as its newest environmental hero.

Against Dolphin Hunts, Dolphin Shows

At least 2000 dolphins are annually driven into a hidden cove in the Japanese town of Taiji each September. Unscarred or show-quality adults are captured and sold to aquaria and sea parks, while the rest are harpooned for meat – leaving the cove awash in blood. The Taiji hunt was the subject of ‘The Cove’, a 2009 Oscar-winning documentary and the catalyst for Saño’s campaign.

(The Medium is the Message – Over 23,000 dolphins have been brought to life in various towns and cities nationwide. Photo by Dino L. Dimar)

WWF opposes the Taiji dolphin drive hunts chiefly because they are not conducted for either subsistence or cultural reasons. WWF believes that a switch from hunting to dolphin and whale-watching would be the best recourse.

“The fishing town of Donsol, where WWF has developed a commercially-successful whale shark eco-tour, serves as an excellent example,” notes WWF-Philippines Conservation Programmes Vice-President Joel Palma. “In just over a decade, the once sleepy 6th-class municipality transformed into a prosperous 1st-class municipality – proving that conservation can indeed be profitable.”

WWF-Philippines CEO Lory Tan adds, “AG’s crusade is nothing short of phenomenal. He has used the medium of his mastery to creatively champion a worthy cause. Whether you are a lawyer, fisherman or an artist, remember that your skills may be used to champion a greater good.”

Since 2009, WWF-Philippines has actively recognized ordinary individuals which show decisive environmental action through its WWF Heroes of the Environment Program. Saño is currently its 15th recipient. Awardees have ranged from an 8-year old student who helped save a stranded Risso’s dolphin (Grampus griseus) to a fisherman who dissuaded others from slaughtering a wounded Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops aduncus).

Concludes the newest environmental hero, “If we don’t fight for what we believe in, nothing will happen. Remember that dolphins have been cruising Earth’s oceans for over 50 million years. Humans have been here for less than 200,000 years. We can’t play God.”

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