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Born Free USA Blog

Born Free USA Blog

On the Conservation Frontlines ... but Which Ones?

Published 04/25/08
By Adam M. Roberts, Senior Vice President

Conservation work is sexy — in the field monitoring rehabilitated Asian elephants; waiting for hours up in a tree stand to see the elusive tiger approach a stream for a drink; protecting nests of endangered turtles along white, sandy coastlines; removing crude but deadly snares laid throughout dense forests to catch unwitting wildlife destined for the pot.

Unfortunately, not all of us get to engage in any of those thrilling, “roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty” conservation efforts.

Sometimes conservation work is downright tedious.

We have to engage at another level — a political and scientific level — through the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). I’m in Geneva, Switzerland, right now for the meeting of the CITES Animals Committee (the scientific body of the Convention). I’m not sure which is worse: the rainy April streets of Geneva or the stale UN Conference center in which we operate every day (or the $15 veggie burger!).

But there are real life-and-death issues being discussed at this CITES meeting and the others in which Born Free USA united with API is involved. We roll up our sleeves and get dirty in a slightly different way here.

For consideration this week:

  • A review of numerous species whose parts, products, or the live animals themselves are traded internationally in significant numbers: hundreds of thousands of alligator skins; thousands of hippo bones, skins, teeth and other parts; hundreds of lion trophies, etc.
  • Sharks slaughtered just for their fins.
  • The state of numerous Felidae species, including the bobcatin North America, which the US delegation to CITES regularly tries to remove from the Treaty’s protections.
  • International transport of live animals.

The zoo industry is represented here. The pet industry is represented here. The hunting industry is represented here.

And Born Free USA united with API is represented here.

Here it’s all done with paper, and scientific research assessments, and lobbying, and coalition-building, and speeches from the floor ... and it ain’t sexy at all!

But it couldn’t be any more vital for the literally thousands of species protected by CITES. Would I rather be translocating giraffes in Kenya or on a boat looking for basking sharks this week? With what’s at stake in Geneva, not a chance (well, maybe just a little ...).

Blogging off,


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