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Born Free USA Blog
Adam M Roberts

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.

When is an elephant like a fish?

(Reporting from CITES in Geneva)

Published 07/16/08

When is an elephant like a fish? I was wondering about this today ... why?

Well, let’s imagine that the EU — including the UK — recognised that an increasingly rare fish species — found only in EU waters — was subject to high levels of illegal trade. Let’s imagine too that the EU felt that the best way to protect this species was to prevent all further trade. It might be anticipated that other countries, such as all the African countries (none of which had this fish species), would support the EU in its effort to prevent the fish from becoming extinct. That’s what you’d do right? Support the EU in its effort to prevent further decline. It’s polite, respectful, and appropriate.

Now imagine that those same African countries decided that they did not want any further trade in ivory to be legalised. That they wanted their elephants to benefit from maximum protection and that to do so, trade in ivory with a fabulously wealthy state known to be a major illegal ivory trade destination would have to be shelved. Wouldn’t you expect the EU to show respect and support Africa in their endeavours?


The EU has no elephants but continually acts as if it does and consistently ignores the views of the many (majority) of African elephant Range States who want no more trade. Why? I don’t know. With power comes responsibility and, frankly, that’s in very short supply here in Geneva.

Oh, and by the way, after yesterday’s high-risk vote approving the inclusion of China as an ivory stockpile trader, two female Chinese nationals were intercepted at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi, caught in the act of smuggling nearly 40 pieces of ivory out of the country.

It’s endless and it’s going to get worse — and the CITES Standing Committee has just, in my view, made things a whole lot worse.

Blogging off,


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