Born Free USA Blog
by Will Travers,
Chief Executive Officer
What can you say about a big-hearted bloke who has rescued dolphins, tigers, elephants and more and whose parents once helped a lion cub from a department store by caring for him in their backyard and engineering his rightful return to Africa? You can safely say that he's got great animal instincts! In 1984, Will Travers joined his parents — "Born Free" film stars Virginia McKenna and Bill Travers — to form what became The Born Free Foundation. With knowledge, passion and compassion dripping from his every word, Will's blogs are sure to make you embrace our crusade to Keep Wildlife in the Wild ®.
We’re only one week into September but already we’ve heard reports about two major law enforcement actions that symbolize the widespread, vicious destruction of wild elephants. In Zambia, police in Ndola made three arrests tied to the confiscation of 166 pieces of ivory that were to be transported out of the country. More than 5,000 miles away in Malaysia, 695 elephant tusks destined for China were seized in Kuala Lumpur — the third of three summertime seizures there that totaled more than 1,750 tusks.
By some estimates, 100 elephants a day are poached to satisfy the illegal ivory trade. As I wrote recently, whereas Africa not too many decades ago had 1.3 million elephants in the wild, now it has closer to 450,000.
All this death, all this plundering of a species, all this criminality … for what? The profit of petty thieves and unscrupulous merchants? The manufacture of trinkets? Bragging rights for the buyers, whose household or office dust gathers on those trinkets?
The international trade of ivory was outlawed more than two decades ago at a meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Although that ban had a positive impact — reducing poaching, stabilizing elephant populations, drying up ivory markets — the ban has been slowly eroding since 1997. And lately there has been an upsurge in elephant poaching to satisfy a growing demand for ivory in China, elsewhere in the Far East and in other parts of the world, including the United States. Many people — many criminals, that is, who show no mercy for the noble elephant, surely one of the most magnificent creatures ever to reside on Earth — are involved in this illegal trade.
Some of these vile people are arrested. Some may even live to regret their actions. But make no mistake about it: As long as there’s a demand for ivory, there will be people hungry enough, greedy enough, cruel enough to continue the slaughter of elephants.
Those of us who are doing all we can to protect elephants cannot let our guard down until all elephant poaching stops. And we must find a way to do even more.