Born Free USA Global Field Projects
(Photograph by Born Free Foundation)
Ethiopia is home to dozens of rare and endangered species. They face numerous threats including wildlife trade and habitat loss. Born Free USA partnered with the federal democratic government of Ethiopia to begin developing a comprehensive rescue facility for many of these animals in 2007.
Prior to the construction of the Wildlife Rescue Center, laws regarding wildlife trade were impossible to enforce. When the Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority discovered an illegally held animal, it would have had nowhere to take the animal.
The new rescue and rehabilitation center was designed to accommodate a variety of species, to rehabilitate those who are able to return to the wild, and provide lifelong care for those who are not.
Animals find their way to the Wildlife Rescue Center in many different ways. Some were confiscated “pets,” others were victims of the wildlife trade, and some were simply found by the side of the road in desperate need of assistance. The sanctuary sits on almost 80 hectares and is home to many animals, including cheetahs, tortoises, seven elephants and two lions.
Although lions are deeply revered in Ethiopian culture they often languish in zoos and menageries without adequate space to roam or environmental enrichment. The rescue center is equipped with large grassy areas, trees and water to provide these lions with a natural environment in which to live out the rest of their lives.
In addition to providing direct care to animals, the center offers educational programming to Ethiopian adults and children as well as tourists. Teaching conservation techniques and basic animal stewardship, the Born Free sanctuary in Ethiopia is working hard to reduce the number of exotic animals kept in private care who ultimately require the safety of the sanctuary to live out their lives peacefully.
(Follow the blog by Stephen Brend, sanctuary director.)