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 ®.
Unlike salmon fishing in the Yemen, lion farming is very real, as reported by The Guardian on Monday. Pictured are two of six pregnant African lionesses waiting in a concrete cage for their soon-to-be-born cubs to be snatched away and shipped off to the Middle East, destined for lives as "trophy pets" in private collections.
The shipping of big cats — captive-bred or wild — out of the horn of Africa into the Middle East and potentially farther afield is unacceptable. Firstly, it’s a trade that threatens species that are already struggling for survival. Secondly, it’s a creating a welfare nightmare. Thirdly, it puts money into regions where lawlessness, banditry and security issues are a global concern.
For these reasons alone, the international community should investigate and, if necessary, suspend all wildlife trade permits out of Somalia and into Yemen. Furthermore, the Saudi authorities should demonstrate leadership and publicly condemn the private ownership of exotic wild animals as pets or status symbols. Without resolute action, species are threatened, animals will die and people’s lives will be put at risk.
It is thought that the lions orginate in Ethiopia, via Somaliland. Stephen Brend, director of Born Free's wild animals rescue projects in Ethiopia, said: "The trade is extensive, lucrative and with a low risk of prosecution. That’s probably why the trade is flourishing. This is having a devastating effect on wildlife populations in the region and also impacts civil society.”
Our wildlife rescue centre in Ethiopia is home to a number of big cats who have been rescued from the wildlife trade. But of course, as with all things at Born Free, it is in need of funds. If you would like to donate to our project in Ethiopia you can do so here.