M m


Mackerel    noun

Oxford Dictionary definition:  Edible sea fish.

Our definition:  The Atlantic mackerel (Scomber scombrus) is a beautifully streamlined, fast-swimming fish. It has silver underparts and metallic green and blue upper parts with irregular bands along the back.

Mangel-wurzel (also mangold)    noun

Oxford Dictionary definition:  Large beet used as cattle food.

Our definition:  The mangelwurzel, or mangold, or mangel beet, is a cultivated root vegetable derived from beta vulgaris.  Considered a crop for cool-temperate climates, the mangelwurzel sown in autumn can be grown as a winter crop in warm-temperate to sub-tropical climates.  Both leaves and roots may be eaten.  Leaves can be lightly steamed for salads or lightly boiled as a vegetable if treated like English spinach.  Grown in well-dug, well-composted soil and watered regularly, the roots become tender, juicy and flavoursome.  The roots are prepared boiled like potato for serving mashed, diced or in sweet curries.

Marten    noun

Oxford Dictionary definition:  Weasel-like flesh-eating mammal with valuable fur; its fur.

Our definition:  Martens are omnivorous animals related to wolverines, minks, badgers, ferrets, and weasels.  Their diet consists of squirrels, mice, rabbits, birds, fish, insects, and eggs, and they will also eat fruit and nuts when these are available.  They are slender, agile animals, adapted to living in taigas (boreal forests or snowforests), and are found in coniferous and northern deciduous forests across the northern hemisphere. They have bushy tails, and large paws with partially retractible claws.  Their fur varies from yellowish to dark brown, depending on the species.

Martens are cruelly killed for their fur by trapping since attempts to farm them have been largely unsuccessful due to martens being difficult to raise in captivity.  Fur farms and trapping in the wild are hideously cruel.

Massacre    noun

Oxford Dictionary definition:  General slaughter

Massacre    verb    (-ring)

Oxford Dictionary definition:  Make massacre of

Oxford Dictionary synonyms:  annihilate, butcher, execute, kill, murder, slaughter, slay.

Our definition:  That which happens to billions upon billions of non-human animals every year.

Milk    noun

Oxford Dictionary definition:  1. Opaque white fluid secreted by female mammals for nourishing young.  2. Milk of cows, goats, etc, as food.

Our definition:  1. Milk is the fluid produced by mammalian mothers for their young.  It is designed specifically for their own offspring for whom it provides all the nutrition they need for healthy growth until they are weaned onto solid foods.  When they are fully weaned they no longer need their mother’s milk.  2.  Drinking milk after weaning is unnecessary and completely illogical. Drinking that of another species is even more so.  It is also very dangerous to human health, increasing the risk of osteoporosis, diabetes and cancer, among other things.  The milk industry is also hideously cruel.

Mink    noun

Oxford Dictionary definition:  1. Small semi-aquatic stoat-like animal.  2. Its fur.  3. Coat of this.

Our definition:   1.  Mink, either of two species of the weasel family (Mustelidae) native to the Northern Hemisphere.  Wild mink are semi-aquatic and obtain most of their food near the water’s edge. Typically following shorelines and banks, they investigate holes, crevices, and deep water pools for hidden prey.  Strictly carnivorous, mink eat mostly frogs, salamanders, fish, crayfish, muskrats, mice, and voles, along with aquatic birds and their eggs. Occasionally, mink will search for terrestrial prey such as hares and rabbits. Mink are strong and agile swimmers and often dive to probe underwater nooks and crannies.  They are small, discreet, and most often nocturnal, and they live in close proximity to water.

Mink are solitary, except during the mating season in spring. Both males and females may mate with several individuals, but females raise the young alone. Gestation typically lasts 51 days for the American mink, but this period can vary, as implantation of the fertilized egg can be delayed for 1–14 days. Litter size averages four young but ranges from two to eight. Young become independent after six months.

2.  The European mink (Mustela lutreola) and the American mink (Neovison vison) are both exploited for their luxurious fur.  The American mink is one of the pillars of the fur industry and is raised in captivity throughout the world.

American mink raised in captivity for fur are bred during early spring, and harvest of pelts occurs when the animals reach adult size and the pelt is at maximum quality—usually during winter when mink are 6–8 months old.

The American mink was originally found throughout North America except in the arid regions of the Southwest. The popularity of the American mink as a fur animal led to the establishment of numerous fur farms throughout the world, particularly the northern countries of North America and Eurasia.  Natural disasters, poor facilities, and the voluntary and involuntary releases of captive mink have led to the establishment of many populations of American mink far outside its native range. Today the American mink inhabits many areas of Europe, Scandinavia, Russia, South America, and even Iceland.  Where introduced to the European mink’s habitat, the American mink has become a problem, displacing the less aggressive and less adaptable European species, which is now rare or threatened in many parts of Europe where it was once abundant. The invasion of European waters by the American mink has also led to the decline of wetland species such as water voles and some birds. This is the fault not of the American mink, who are only doing what they need to do to survive, but of the humans who exploit and abuse them for money or vanity.

Mullet    noun

Oxford Dictionary definition:  Edible sea fish.

Our definition:  The mullets or grey mullets are a family (Mugilidae) and order of ray-finned fish found worldwide in coastal temperate and tropical waters, and in some species in fresh water.  They are distinguished by the presence of two separate dorsal fins, small triangular mouths, and the absence of a lateral line organ. They feed on detritus, and most species have unusually muscular stomachs and a complex pharynx to help in digestion.


Musk    noun

Oxford Dictionary definition:  1. Substance secreted by male musk deer and used in perfumes.

Our definition:  Musk comes from the musk gland, located in a sac between the genitals and navel, of adult male musk deer.  Traditionally, musk pods are harvested by killing the deer, although it is possible to obtain musk from a live deer. The high value of musk has often been an incentive for the illegal hunting of musk deer. Only male musk deer produce musk, at the rate of about 25 g of musk, per animal, per year. In East and South Asia, musk has been used as an ingredient in medicine and as a perfume for about 5000 years. Today it is contained in about 300 pharmaceutical preparations in traditional Chinese and Korean medicine, as a sedative and a stimulant to treat a variety of ailments relating to the heart, nerves, breathing and sexuality.

Musk deer have been hunted by humans for thousands of years.  However, the meat is not considered tasty and even the hide is not particularly valuable as the hairs fall out easily (Heptner and Naumov, 1961). The overriding cause for the intense hunting of musk deer has always been the demand for musk.  Jackson (1979) describes the traditional hunting methods of some of the mountain peoples in western Nepal.  Musk deer and Snow Leopards are killed with poisoned bamboo Arundinaria spp. spears.  In other parts of their range, musk deer are hunted with modern guns, snares, traps and dogs. They may either be hunted as the prime target for their glands, or shot incidentally in hunting other animals (Ivanovic, 1996).  Investigations in the Himalayas showed that particularly large numbers of female and young deer are killed during musk deer hunts.  In considering the impact of hunting on musk deer populations, it is important to bear in mind the fact that at least three to five animals may have to be killed in order to secure one male with a sufficiently large musk gland (Green, 1986; Jackson, 1979 and Prikhod‘ko, 1997).

The musk gland is four to six centimetres long and 3.5-4.5 cm wide. The opening of the gland is only a few millimetres from the opening of the urethra.  In the Himalayas, most musk is produced in the months from May to July, immediately prior to the autumn rut.  At this time the yellow musk secretion flows via ducts into the musk sac.  It ripens here within about a month into a scented red-brown substance.  When removed from the animal, the gland is dried, whereupon the red-brown creamy substance within blackens and becomes granular and powdery (Mukerji, 1953). Musk may enter the trade either as whole pods or as the granular red-brown contents of the pod, which is also known as musk grain.

Poaching is a significant problem in many countries across the musk deer range. Michael Green, conservation biologist and musk deer expert, points to the example of one Nepalese valley, where he observed a density of 500 to 600 snares per square kilometer (0.6 square mile).

“The musk deer has been persecuted for many centuries for cosmetics and medicine,” said Green, though trade in musk for cosmetics has become much less important over the last decade (end of twentieth century).  “Musk was still commonly used in perfumes by top perfumers in Western Europe and Japan during the 1980s,” he said.

Today perhaps only 5 per cent of all musk traded is used in perfumes.  In 1999 the European Union banned the import of musk, forcing cosmetics producers to switch to synthetic alternatives.  However, it is still being used in hundreds of Chinese and Korean traditional remedies, making it one of the most common—and most valuable—medicinal products to come from an animal.

Sign this petition to help musk deer now!

Muskrat    noun

Oxford Dictionary definition:  1. Large North American aquatic rodent with smell like musk.  2. Its fur.

Our definition:  1.  Muskrats are large rodents that always live near water.  They have thick fur and webbed back feet.  They are active throughout the day but especially when it gets dark and are excellent swimmers, able to stay under water for as long as 15 minutes without coming up for air. They can even chew food under water.  They can swim forwards or backwards, using their long, scaly tales to steer.  Their diet consists mostly of plant foods but they will also eat fish, frogs and snails.

Muskrats are very important as marsh managers, removing extra plants and making sure waterways are clear.  They build lodges to live in out of aquatic plants and these also provide homes for other animals such as snakes, turtles, frogs, toads and Canada geese.

2.  Muskrats are trapped in the wild for their fur, resulting in a slow, agonising death.

Mussel    noun

Oxford Dictionary definition:  Edible bivalve mollusc.

Our definition:  Mussel is the common name used for members of several families of clams or bivalve molluscs, from saltwater and freshwater habitats.

Like most bivalves, mussels have a large organ called a foot. In freshwater mussels, the foot is large, muscular, and generally hatchet-shaped. It is used to pull the animal through the substrate (typically sand, gravel, or silt) in which it lies partially buried. It does this by repeatedly advancing the foot through the substrate, expanding the end so it serves as an anchor, and then pulling the rest of the animal with its shell forward. It also serves as a fleshy anchor when the animal is stationary.

In marine mussels, the foot is smaller, tongue-like in shape, with a groove on the ventral surface which is continuous with the byssus pit.  In this pit, a viscous secretion is exuded, entering the groove and hardening gradually upon contact with sea water. This forms extremely tough, strong, elastic, byssus threads that secure the mussel to its substrate. The byssus thread is also sometimes used by mussels as a defensive measure, to tether predatory molluscs.

Both marine and freshwater mussels are filter feeders; they feed on plankton and other microscopic sea creatures which are free-floating in seawater. A mussel draws water in through its incurrent siphon. The water is then brought into the branchial chamber by the actions of the cilia located on the gills for ciliary-mucus feeding. The wastewater exits through the excurrent siphon. The labial palps finally funnel the food into the mouth, where digestion begins.

Both marine and freshwater mussels are gonochoristic, with separate male and female individuals. In marine mussels, fertilization occurs outside the body, with a larval stage that drifts for three weeks to six months, before settling on a hard surface as a young mussel.  Freshwater mussels reproduce sexually.

For human consumption mussels are smoked, boiled, steamed, roasted, barbecued or fried to death.

Myxomatosis    noun

Oxford Dictionary definition:  Viral disease of rabbits.

Our definition:  Myxomatosis was deliberately derived from the Myxoma virus which only causes a mild cutaneous fibroma in its natural wild hosts: the jungle rabbit, Sylvilagus brasiliensis – Tapeti (Mexico or Argentina) and Sylvilagus bachmani – Brush rabbit (California).  However, when European rabbits are infected it causes a serious, life threatening, systemic viral disease (myxomatosis) in its aberrant host.

After its discovery in 1896 in imported rabbits in a laboratory in Uruguay, the relatively harmless strain spread quickly throughout the wild populations in South America.

In Australia, the virus was first field-tested for population control in 1938.  (NB:  In 1879 wild rabbits were deliberately sent to Victoria to provide game for wealthy settlers to shoot. They soon spread all over Australia, except in the tropics, and became Australia’s major animal pest.)  A full-scale release was performed in 1950.  It was devastatingly effective, reducing the estimated rabbit population from 600 million to 100 million in two years. However, the rabbits remaining alive were those least affected by the disease. Genetic resistance to myxomatosis was observed soon after the first release and most rabbits acquired partial immunity in the first two decades. Resistance has been increasing slowly since the 1970s, and the disease now only kills about 50% of infected rabbits.  In an attempt to increase that number, a second virus (rabbit calicivirus) was introduced into the rabbit population in 1996.

Myxomatosis was introduced to France by the bacteriologist Dr. Paul Armand Delille, following his use of the virus to rid his private estate of rabbits in June 1952.  By 1954, 90% of the wild rabbits in France were dead. The disease spread throughout Europe.

The disease reached the UK in 1953. The first outbreak in the UK to be officially confirmed was in Bough Beech, Kent in September 1953.  It was encouraged in the UK as an effective rabbit bio-control measure. This was done by placing sick rabbits in burrows, though this is illegal in the UK.  By 1955, about 95% of rabbits in the UK were dead.  However by 2005 – fifty years later – the UK Land Registry reported that the rabbit populations had increased three-fold every two years – likely as a result of increasing genetic resistance to the Myxomatosis virus.

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