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 ®.
Growing up in front of the public can't be easy, and perhaps it gives some a sense of entitlement. But that's no excuse for Justin Bieber to take absence of his common sense. The latest of Bieber's string of escapades involving animals is having his baby capuchin monkey, Mally, confiscated in Germany when he mistakenly thought that he could parade the little critter as part of his entourage. Wrong. German officials jumped on him, asking for proper paperwork to possess the capuchin and when Bieber couldn't oblige, they confiscated little Mally and essentially put him in isolation for two months… until Bieber relinquished ownership last month.
The Minnesota Court of Appeals reached a curious and troubling conclusion when asked to rescind the recent decision to allow grey wolves to be hunted and trapped. The court claimed that the groups had no standing, as their interests were not negatively affected by this law.
I am deeply concerned about the human rights violations in Africa generally and the Central African Republic specifically. Born Free USA has so many wonderful and determined colleagues living throughout Africa who are trying to do exceptional wildlife conservation work in areas that are rife with human suffering and violent conflict.
It's a good time to be a mountain lion in Santa Cruz, California! The Department of Fish and Wildlife, researchers at UC Santa Cruz, and other organizations successfully relocated a mountain lion found in an aqueduct recently. This was one of the first relocations since the establishment of the new state policy of utilizing non-lethal methods when wild animals are found in populated areas. The Department of Fish and Wildlife and the researchers at UCSC deserve congratulations for this important step in learning how to coexist peacefully with our wild neighbors.
I’m delighted to hear that an investigation by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has resulted in an indictment by the Department of Justice for violations of the Endangered Species Act and the Lacey Act in a case involving the sale of two African elephant tusks. The subject of the case, Charles Kokesh, is acknowledged to have imported the tusks into the United States legally from Namibia as his “sport trophies,” but was arrested when he allegedly attempted to sell them to a buyer in Florida.
News reports out of South Africa with respect to the rhinoceros crisis are alarming, with more than 290 animals already poached so far in 2013 — annualized that will be more than 800 by year end — and even dehorned rhinos are being slaughtered.
I’m shocked in this day and age to hear that global fur sales are at an all-time high, thanks to surging demand in China, Japan and South Korea. It makes me feel as though a proverbial trap has snapped on us. China, with its rapacious determination to pilfer the world of its wild animals, is not only a major driver in the elephant ivory, tiger bone and bear gallbladder trades, but now is pushing the global fur market. Shame!
Last November a worker was killed in a bear attack at a captive-animal facility in Montana, which we have since come to learn has been the site of several exotic-animal escapes. Benjamin Cloutier, 24, died in a cage he was cleaning that still contained its two residents, Syrian brown bears Griz and Yosemite.
A clear case of negligence, right? An avoidable tragedy?