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For Immediate Release: 01/15/13

Do Africa’s Elephants Face Extinction?

Website Exposes Bloody Ivory Trade and Tracks Global Ivory Seizures and Poaching Incidents

Born Free USA and the Born Free Foundation, global leaders in animal welfare and wildlife conservation, have relaunched a compelling website, www.bloodyivory.org, that reveals the shocking truth behind the criminal illegal ivory trade and the challenges facing elephants throughout their natural range.

Will Travers, chief executive officer of Born Free USA, says: “The ivory trade is a brutal business, devastating entire elephant families, causing massive suffering to individuals — and now severely impacting populations in all four regions of Africa. It may be putting some of the most vulnerable at risk of extinction. Our site, www.bloodyivory.org, shows what is really happening to elephants and encourages all compassionate people and ‘elefriends’ everywhere to lend their voice to the chorus declaring, ‘No more ivory trade!’”

Bloodyivory.org has been updated and expanded, and features new information exposing the depth of this ongoing crisis. Just last week, news out of Kenya reported that an insidious criminal cartel had wiped out an entire family of 12 elephants for their ivory in the worst single incident of its kind in the country.

On Jan. 5, Hong Kong’s customs agents seized 779 ivory tusks weighing more than one English ton and valued at more than $1 million U.S. This, the most recent of the four largest seizures in four months (a total of 12 tons) is clear evidence that Asian demand continues to drive brutal elephant poaching and ruthless international profiteering.

Human lives are also lost as well-armed poachers have gunned down park rangers in Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, and elsewhere across Africa.

Virginia McKenna, OBE, founder and trustee of Born Free, expressed her sadness over the current plight of African elephants and called on the international community and the public at large to fight for elephant protection. In a statement released today, McKenna said: “Elephants are living treasures. Nature’s gardeners. Nature’s great teachers. For many, the symbol of Africa. Tragically some people don’t give a damn. They prefer the dead trinket to the living treasure. It’s all about bloody ivory.”

This vital website includes a petition calling on the Parties to CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora) to reject any future proposals for trade in ivory and to support improved protection for elephants. The 176 CITES Parties will meet this March in Bangkok and elephant ivory trade will be high on the agenda. The Born Free team will attend this critical meeting to fight for elephant conservation.

Travers concluded: “There are currently 38 African countries with wild elephant populations. Within five years I estimate that between five and 10 could see their elephants disappear forever unless intensive action is taken. Elephants need ‘elefriends’ now more than ever. I urge everyone to visit www.bloodyivory.org and make their voice heard before it’s too late.”

Born Free USA is a nationally recognized leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation. Through litigation, legislation and public education, Born Free USA leads vital campaigns against animals in entertainment, exotic “pets,” trapping and fur, and the destructive international wildlife trade. Born Free USA brings to the United States the message of “compassionate conservation” — the vision of the United Kingdom-based Born Free Foundation, established in 1984 by Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna, stars of the iconic film “Born Free,” along with their son Will Travers, now chief executive officer of both organizations. Born Free’s mission is to end suffering of wild animals in captivity, conserve threatened and endangered species, and encourage compassionate conservation globally.

More at www.bornfreeusa.org; on Twitter at http://twitter.com/bornfreeusa; and Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/BornFreeUSA.

Media contact: Rodi Rosensweig, publicrelations@bornfreeusa.org, (203) 270-8929.

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