Born Free USA Blog
by Adam M Roberts,
Chief Executive Officer
When it comes to animals, Adam Roberts not only talks the talk, but also walks the walk. Since beginning his animal advocacy career in Washington, D.C. in 1991, Adam's ambition, tireless involvement, and profound knowledge of conservation and wildlife issues have cemented him as a go-to voice for protecting animals — and he has elevated Born Free USA to the respected and impactful organization that we know today. Adam's compassionate, informed, and forward-thinking blogs will surely motivate you to join us in our fight to Keep Wildlife in the Wild.
For twenty years, we have been calling attention to the bloody trade in bear parts. It is an intricate global web of illicit wildlife commercialization that leads to American black bears being poached for their gallbladders, which are consumed domestically or smuggled overseas; Russian brown bears killed for their gallbladders, which are shipped throughout Asia or smuggled to America; and endangered Asiatic black bears incarcerated in tiny coffin-like cages, so small that they can’t turn around, forever trapped and “milked” of their valuable bile.
I recall walking the streets of Cancun, Mexico on break from a meeting and witnessing misguided tourists taking photographs with a chimpanzee. $1 / one picture. One chance for a photo with an endangered animal who belongs in the wild. One chance for a horrible accident; an attack; a life-altering, painful incident.
The Government of Botswana has announced an intention to join the mounting movement across Africa in banning “canned” hunting, where wild animals, perhaps captive-bred, are slaughtered in fenced areas by pathetic “hunters.” Earlier this year, Botswana had already banned trophy hunting to preserve wild animal populations.
The African Elephant Action Plan; the Elephant Protection Initiative; the National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking… So many high-level efforts to address the current elephant poaching crisis and, hopefully, to protect elephants before it’s too late. Sometimes, the simplest solution is the most effective: a uniform and unequivocal prohibition on the international trade in elephant ivory. And, while you’re at it, destroy the stockpiles around the world. Remove ivory from the global marketplace, once and for all.
Animal rescue, rehabilitation, and release (or providing lifetime care) is complicated stuff. It requires intelligence, determination, steadfastness… and, well, money.
Soon, I will travel to Ethiopia for the Annual General Meeting of the Board of Trustees for Born Free Foundation Ethiopia. Together, we oversee the fabulous rescue center there, founded by Born Free USA and Born Free Foundation, where compassionate lifetime care is offered to animals in desperate need: lions, cheetahs, leopard tortoises, and more. Other animals who can be rehabilitated and released back to the wild are prepared for a life of freedom again.
It is a special privilege to know someone who has authored a book, and even more exciting when it’s one of your best friends. I have known Dr. Rob Atkinson for more than a decade, and can honestly say that he’s one of the people in my life I admire most. Rob and I have been together on safari in Kenya, searched for wildlife in the jungles of Vietnam, eaten lunch from stalls on the streets of Bangkok, and discussed wildlife trade policy for hours in Geneva coffee shops.
China has now joined the U.S., Gabon, and the Philippines in recently crushing its ivory stockpile – six tons of confiscated elephant tusks. It remains to be seen whether China’s ivory crush is a true step in the right direction for the world’s largest consumer of ivory. Publicity stunt or move toward an end to China’s domestic ivory market?