Brigitte Bardot, the 1950s and 1960s film star turned animal rights campaigner, has called on the French government to halt the reported use by fishermen on the island of Reunion of live puppies and kittens as shark bait.
"It is imperative that the government does something to end this practice," she said in a letter to the minister for French overseas territories, Francois Baroin, a copy of which was given to AFP Thursday.
According to Clicanoo, a newspaper in Reunion, a French island located in the Indian Ocean, a six-month-old puppy was found last month with hooks implanted in its snout and one of its legs.
The French Society for the Protection of Animals (SPA) told the daily the dog was the victim of cruel fishermen who attract sharks by throwing puppies or kittens into the water, tied to fishing lines, and wait for the predators to swallow the thrashing animals.
"We don't see that every day, but it's not the first time, either," Marie-Annick Chantrel, the vice-president of the Reunion branch of the SPA, told Clicanoo. "We've already seen cats six or seven months old with hooks in them."
Bardot told Baroin that "unfortunately these are not isolated incidents, and the people of Reunion are the first to be horrified by this despicable barbarity which mars the image of their island."
The campaigner, who runs an animal defence association, said she had written to authorities on the island to have them put a stop to the crime.