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 ®.
Born Free USA is greatly saddened by the March 31 slaying of Heritage, a jumbo elephant who had been the first elephant to be outfitted with a GPS collar at the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. Heritage, like tens of thousands of African elephants every year, was poached. His tusks were indelicately removed from his carcass, which was left to rot in the Nyakweri Forest.
The Mara Elephant Project so far has put the $3,000 collars on Heritage and 10 other elephants. The idea is that Kenya Wildlife Service can monitor the bulls’ whereabouts and habits and use that information to help protect local farmers’ crops.
Such worthy, humane-based efforts are being overwhelmed by the brutal, illegal trade in ivory, fueled mainly by consumer appetites in China. African elephants, whose wild population was an estimated 1.3 million in 1979, now number 600,000 or fewer. A 1989 worldwide ban on ivory trade has been compromised to the point where it is ineffective, and poachers are not just decimating elephant herds but also outgunning law enforcement charged with combating the killings.
Unless steps are taken soon, with firm funding and unwavering conviction by the international community, elephants someday will be seen just in sanctuaries and zoos. The world must recommit itself to an absolute ban on ivory trade; the criminal operations behind ivory trafficking must all be brought to justice; the markets for ivory must be sealed shut in China, Thailand and elsewhere; and consumers must become educated about how shiny ivory trinkets are poor excuses for status symbols if for no other reason than they are causing the genocide of an iconic species.
To find out more about the elephant poaching epidemic, the illegal ivory trade and what you can do to help, visit www.bloodyivory.org.