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Life-size jaguar spotted on the prowl at Tesco stores in Essex

19 Nov Life-size jaguar spotted on the prowl at Tesco stores in Essex

Early this week, staff and customers at Tesco stores in Chelmsford’s Princes Road and Springfield Road and in Braintree’s Notley Green were greeted by a life-size animatronic jaguar, roaring from the roof of what appeared to be a Tesco delivery van.

The jaguar, built by Millennium FX alongside award-winning puppetry consultant Mikey Brett (Warhorse), emerged from the top of the van surrounded by forest foliage. Flames engulfed Tesco’s strapline on the sides of the van, which had been subverted to read ‘Every Little Harms’.

Greenpeace UK is taking the van and its angry occupant on a tour of Tesco stores to raise awareness of the supermarket’s part in the destruction of forests like the Amazon.

Industrial meat and dairy production is the biggest driver of global deforestation and each year forests are felled and fires are deliberately set across Brazil to clear land for cattle ranches and to grow crops like soya – the vast majority of which is used in animal feed for industrially produced meat.

Tesco sells more soya-fed meat than any other UK supermarket, much of it produced by companies owned by known forest destroyer, JBS. The supermarket promised to end deforestation in its supply chain by 2020 but in 2018 it quietly changed that goal to 2025 and still has not published a credible plan to show how it will be achieved.

Devastating fires raged across Brazil this year consuming an area of land the size of the UK in places like the Amazon rainforest, Pantanal wetlands and Cerrado savannah. These habitats are vital for threatened jaguar populations, globally important in the fight against climate change and, ever more crucially, key to keeping new, potentially deadly viruses contained.

Last week, the UK Government announced a new ‘due diligence’ law designed to curb deforestation in the UK supply chain. But the new law will only tackle deforestation deemed illegal in the country of origin rather than all deforestation. This will allow UK companies to continue buying from those operating in countries like Brazil where the Bolsonaro government is systematically dismantling forest protection, rather than finally forcing retailers to end all deforestation in the food system as they promised ten years ago.

Elena Polisano, Greenpeace UK Forests campaigner, said

“Tesco sells huge volumes of industrial meat that’s fuelling deforestation and they’re trying to hide it behind the government’s new toothless law that will let them continue business as usual. It’s wreaking havoc on forests’ unique wildlife, on Indigenous Peoples and on the health of our planet.

“Tesco have a moral obligation to stop selling products that are trashing forests. That’s why we’ve brought this jaguar here today – to send the message that by dropping forest destroyers and replacing half the meat on their shelves with healthy plant-based options, Tesco’s new chief exec could lead the way in the fight against climate change, biodiversity loss and the emergence of deadly new viruses.

“Forests like the Amazon are already facing a tipping point – there’s no time to waste.”