Born Free USA Blog
by Adam M Roberts,
Chief Executive Officer
When it comes to animals, Adam Roberts not only talks the talk, but also walks the walk. Since beginning his animal advocacy career in Washington, D.C. in 1991, Adam's ambition, tireless involvement, and profound knowledge of conservation and wildlife issues have cemented him as a go-to voice for protecting animals — and he has elevated Born Free USA to the respected and impactful organization that we know today. Adam's compassionate, informed, and forward-thinking blogs will surely motivate you to join us in our fight to Keep Wildlife in the Wild.
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?
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.
Good grief, the list of celebrities committing moral crimes against animals is lengthening. Just in the past two years I’ve written about Bob Parsons, Michael Vick, Rosie O’Donnell, Louis Tomlinson and Cee Lo Green.
I am beyond weary of high-profile people who go so low as to treat animals like props or “pets.” And now I have to write about Justin Bieber. Again.
At the 16th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), world leaders deliberated in Bangkok for two weeks on some of the most important wildlife conservation issues of our time.
So far, discussions about elephants at the two-week CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) meeting in Bangkok have centered around the current poaching crises hitting many African populations. It’s been announced, for example, that more than half of elephants’ deaths are due to poaching, and that poaching outpaces births.