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 ®.
Often I have written about the dangers, significantly traceable to human activities of varying force, faced by the African elephant — about how just a few decades ago there were around 1.3 million in the wild but today that number has plummeted to around 450,000.
As tragic and foreboding as that is, the situation for Asian elephants is considerably worse.
The latest news out of Thailand, whose national symbol is the elephant, is that three of every four wild elephants have been poached in the past two years, and that only an estimated 1,750 remain in this southeast Asian nation.
In the first week of 2012, four male elephant carcasses were found in a western province. Foreign hunters are suspected in the killings. The poachers shot the animals in the forehead, carved out the area around the bullets’ entry in a strange attempt to hide their method of murder, then removed the tails, tusks and sexual organs.
Why is this kind of thing happening? Most of you know about the illegal ivory trade, which decimates wild elephant populations and puts wildlife rangers in direct conflict with well-armed and well-funded poachers. The bushmeat trade also threatens elephants, snared and slaughtered for their meat.
But now we hear, perhaps with little surprise, that elephants’ sexual organs are being consumed by humans who perhaps fancy that their own sexual insecurities will be rectified as a result. A similar psycho-sexual motivation drives some hunters to feel “macho” when they bring down such a giant animal — an animal, it must be noted, who is a vegetarian and who in no realistic way can compete in any sort of fancied “game” with modern weaponry.
It’s all so sick and twisted, and wild elephants in Asia and Africa are facing eventual extinction unless something bold and dramatic is done soon. I will lead a Born Free team fighting to prevent any further ivory trade at the March 2013 meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) to be held in, most appropriately, Thailand. Meanwhile, learn some of the things you can do by visiting our elephant page and please sign our elephant pledge.