Archive for April, 2007

Anne, the last circus elephant and more

Wednesday, April 18th, 2007

Dear Friends

New images and information about Anne the elephant, the last circus elephant in the UK, were published by the Sunday Mirror last weekend and have been sent on to Born Free.  I find them upsetting and I worry deeply about Anne’s future.  It seems to me that the days of an elephant being transported around the UK to appear under the Big Top should have been consigned to history some time ago but this is not the case.  Of course, many people say what can be done and currently, while Anne remains the property of Mr Bobby Roberts, it is hard to make any real progress.  We hope he will respond positively to our request for a meeting so that we can discuss what the future might hold for this elderly lady.

I have also been thinking about the government.  The Chancellor’s budget which cut the basic rate of income tax from 22p to 20p may well have been welcome by many people but, of course, it has a negative impact on charities since it means that we can claim less tax back through Gift Aid.  Nevertheless, Gift Aid is of enormous value to Born Free and so, if by any chance you are thinking of making a donation and you are a UK tax payer, please don’t forget to ask for our Gift Aid form or click here.

Finally, Amboseli National Park in Kenya was the venue for a ”stakeholders meeting” last week where a large planning document was put forward which discussed the future of the Park.  It seems slightly strange to me that such detailed plans were under discussion while the very future of the Park itself is the subject of a lawsuit in the Nairobi High Court following the announcement last year that Amboseli would be handed over to the local council.  For more details, click here .

Blogging off!

Will

Zoovolution

Friday, April 13th, 2007

Dear Friends

There’s been quite a lot of muttering in the Press recently about the future of zoos – no doubt encouraged by the new Gorilla Kingdom exhibit at the London Zoo (cost: $10 million). It’s fascinating to see how far society has come in the last 25 years (since Born Free was formed more or less) when it comes to zoos. In the UK at least the easy acceptance of collections of wild animals confined in small cages and enclosures in the middle of our own urban sprawl no longer fascinates or captivates us (pardon the pun). Even die-hard zoo fanatics temper their enthusiasm with a recognition that there may be something ever so slightly disturbing about the living collection mentality, whether it is dressed up as conservation or not. Meanwhile, in the USA the pace at which zoos are shedding their elephants seems to grow. More lucky animals have recently arrived at the PAWS sanctuary in California and The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, where a few hundred square yards in the zoo have made way for enclosures measuring tens and sometime hundreds of acres. It’s all part of a process. Barely 20 years ago there were dolphins in captivity in the UK, now there are none. There were Polar bears, now there is one. Things do change but it seems to take forever! That’s zoovolution for you!

Blogging off

Will P.S. If you are thinking of flying on business or for pleasure then please have a look at http://www.bornfree.org.uk/get-involved/carbon-offsetting/  

A better deal for animals – but circuses must wait

Wednesday, April 4th, 2007

Dear Friends

Monday, 9th April 2007, will be remembered as a great day for many animals in the UK. The new Animal Welfare Act will come into force which radically modernises, as it relates to in particular, cats and dogs.

It largely replaces legislation that came into force in 1911 and so is not a moment too late! Importantly, it establishes the need to prevent suffering rather than prosecute for suffering once it has taken place. Thus, it will allow the RSPCA and other animal welfare organisations to take a more pre-emptive role in preventing abuse.

However, one of the areas that remains unresolved and that Born Free is particularly concerned about is the use of animals in circuses – and indeed, animals in entertainment. The circus debate has been rumbling on for years and our position is quite clear that, at the very least, all wild animals (species not normally domesticated in the UK) should be excluded from circuses. This would mean the end of the solitary elephant, the handful of lions and tigers, the zebras and the bear, which currently languish in British circuses. Not the end of their lives but the end of their circus lives. However, the government remains confused on this issue. The Minister, Mr Ben Bradshaw MP, seems determined to permit certain species of wild animal in circuses under license. It simply cannot be right, in my opinion, for wild animals to be used in this way – in and out of beast wagons, kept in restricted and temporary accommodation, made to perform in the ring and shunted around the country.

Together with the RSPCA, and in collaboration with Animal Defenders International and other respected animal protection organisations, Born Free has submitted evidence to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) supporting our case for the ending of this outdated form of so-called entertainment. We await the government’s decision – and so do the animals.

Blogging off

Will

Read more about animals in circuses here

EU – a soft touch for illegal wildlife trade

Monday, April 2nd, 2007

Dear Friends

A new study commissioned by the European Union (EU) into the illegal wildlife trade within the Community reveals some shocking results.  The illegal trade into and within the EU may total billions of Euros each year and is believed to have increased in recent years.  Illegal trade, according to the report, is more easily carried out amongst Member States since the EU is a single market.  Illegal traders exploit easy entry points into the EU (presumably under-resourced land and sea borders) and then carry out their despicable business with relative impunity.  The report also says that illegal trade appears to be driven by domestic demand and the legal trade pointing out, for example, that in Member States where there are many collectors of exotic birds and reptiles, demand for illegal live specimens appears higher. 

And if illegal traders are caught, fines and prison sentences vary considerably from country to country.  For example, the maximum fine for a CITES offence in Poland is 250 Euros whereas it is 75,000 Euros in Italy.  In some Member States, penalties vary according to whether they apply to individuals or companies. So the maximum individual fine in the Netherlands is 45,000 Euros and the maximum company fine is 450,000 Euros but, in any event, a 2002 report confirms that most penalties rarely exceed one-quarter of the maximum fine or prison sentence available.  For example, in France the maximum prison sentence of six months is almost always suspended or replaced by community service.  In Italy, a payment can be made in place of a prison sentence and this payment removes the offence from the individual’s criminal record. 

For goodness sake, what kind of nonsense is this? It is time the EU got its act together, got organised and got tough on illegal wildlife crime. 

Blogging off 

Will