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 ®.
So I watched “Ivory Wars: Out of Africa,” an episode of the BBC series “Panorama,” last night and maybe it’s just because I am immersed in this issue (and have been for so long) that despite a very impressive presentation by host Rageh Omaar and a lot of travel to different places, a number of key elements seemed to be missing:
The tragedy of the loss of life suffered by rangers and wildlife wardens across Africa at the hands of organized criminal syndicates and their henchmen.
The lack of accountability of the British government and the other members of the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) standing committee who approved Japan and China as ivory trading nations (in 2006 and 2008, respectively), and the subsequent legal sale of more than 100 English tons of stockpiled ivory to those two nations — which has led directly, in my view, to the massive increase in the price of ivory, the massive increase in illegal shipments and the massive increase in elephant poaching levels.
The burning question is not, “What’s going on?” It is, “What are we going to do about it?”
And quite clearly the British government, the European Union and the international community should, without delay, revoke China and Japan’s ivory trade nations’ status. There should be no accommodation of any more legal ivory trade — no more stockpile sales, no more “one-off sales” — nada, niente, rien, nichts, nothing.
A ban should mean a ban. Individual countries should amend their legislation to make it illegal to sell ivory in the airport in Cairo, in the markets of Bangkok and on the street-stalls of Kinshasa.
Only then will the message be loud and clear — as it was 20 years ago. That ivory is not desirable, it is destructive. That the ivory trade doesn’t support livelihoods, it steals away life. That ivory, far from being white gold, is stained with blood.