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 ®.
Did you know that for every 10 elephants who die these days, eight are killed by poachers?
That’s a shocking statistic. And what makes it even worse is that less than a decade ago, four of every 10 elephant deaths were attributed to poaching. In other words, criminal activity against one of the planet’s iconic species is surging upward.
Why? Two words: bloody ivory.
The blatantly insensitive and callous quest for ivory, which is carved into social-climber trinkets, took center stage last week in New York City. Two of the city’s jewelers pleaded guilty to selling and offering to sell ivory items whose total value is an estimated $2 million. The sale and distribution of ivory has been banned in the United States for 23 years.
However, I can’t say that I feel satisfied by the penalty these two criminals face, as they merely forfeit the items and must each pay a $45,000 fine. We are talking, after all, about the brutal exploitation of a species whose numbers in the African wild are less than half what they were 30 years ago. In many places, the elephants’ future existence in the wild is clearly in doubt.
However, the fact that these two men were pursued and brought to justice (of any sort) gives me hope. And rest assured that a week from now, when the Standing Committee of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) meets in Geneva, I will be there lobbying forcefully on the elephants’ behalf. And my Born Free USA colleague Adam Roberts and I will continue the fight at the 16th CITES Conference of the Parties next March in Bangkok, Thailand.
We must find a way to stop poaching and the bloody ivory trade. The alternative is too grim to bear and extinction is indeed forever.