British actor Stephen Fry is backing a campaign calling for an end to the slaughter of dolphins in Japan.

The funnyman is urging fans to sign a petition to ban the annual dolphin hunt off the coast of Taiji, during which thousands of the mammals, along with small whales, are driven into a cove and killed by fisherman who sell the meat for human consumption.

The brutal methods by which the dolphins are killed have long made the practice a target for animal rights activists, and the hunt was the focus of Oscar-winning 2009 documentary The Cove.

In a post on his Twitter.com page, Fry shares a link to a harrowing YouTube.com video showing the dolphin cull, and writes, "Help stop the horror behind the killing of dolphins in Taiji. Check out the shocking footage. Sign the petition."