Archive for April, 2012

Hip Replacement? How about Moral Compass Replacement!

Monday, April 16th, 2012

So, Spain is in dire straights. Massive debts and nearly one in four unemployed. A new government may be about to take charge but who knows. People are hurting!

And so, apparently is Juan Carlos, the King of Spain – but not for any of the above reasons.

While his fellow countrymen are wondering how to make ends meet, the King was adventuring in Bostwana hunting elephants (without his moral compass).

What? Yes, the picture of the King (with white hunter) standing in front of a magnificent bull elephant, slumped dead against a tree, has shocked millions of people for a variety of reasons.

Shouldn’t the King be setting an example and working to help lift his fellow citizens out of the mess they are in?

Shouldn’t the King be setting an example and, as elephants face annihilation across much of Africa, join efforts to protect a species under threat (poaching and the illegal ivory trade are rampant across many parts of the continent – see for details).

Newspaper and media reports in Spain are highly critical of his lifestyle and his pursuit of threatened species. In an attempt to justify his ‘sport’, it has been claimed that trophy hunting of elephants in Botswana (which is legal) is a method of controlling elephant numbers. Poppycock! It is nothing of the sort. It simply terminates a number of the most magnificent (and possibly the most genetically significant) bulls while doing nothing whatsoever to control numbers (if numbers need to be controlled in the first place).

Apparently, the King suffered an accident while on his sojourn of slaughter – requiring hip replacement surgery. Maybe his time convalescing will give him the opportunity to reflect on just how badly his actions are viewed both at home and internationally. His hip may heal but the elephant is dead, gone forever.

A modern monarch should be in touch with the people.  Juan Carlos seems to be all at sea.

Blogging off (in disgust),


PS – An interesting article on this story can be found here –

A ban should mean a ban

Friday, April 13th, 2012

Dear Friends of Wildlife

So I watched Panorama – Ivory Wars: Out of Africa last night (12th April 2012) and maybe it’s just because I am immersed in this issue (and have been for so long) that despite a very impressive presentation by Rageh Omaar and a lot of travel to different places, a number of  key elements seemed to be missing.

The tragedy of the loss of life suffered by rangers and wildlife wardens across Africa at the hands of organised criminal syndicates and their henchmen.

The lack of accountability of the British Government and the other members of the CITES Standing committee who approved Japan and China as ivory trading nations (in 2006 and 2008 respectively) and the subsequent legal sale of more than 100 tonnes of stockpiled ivory to those two nations – which has led directly, in my view, to the massive increase in the price of ivory, the massive increase in illegal shipments and the massive increase in elephant poaching levels.

The burning question is not ‘What’s going on?

It is “What are we going to do about it?” and quite clearly the British Government, the European Union, the international community should, without delay, revoke China and Japan’s ivory trade nations’ status.   There should be no accommodation of any more legal ivory trade – no more stockpile sales, no more ‘one-off sales’ – nada, niente, rien, nichts, nothing.

A ban should mean a ban.  Individual countries should amend their legislation to make it illegal to sell ivory in the airport in Cairo, in the markets of Bangkok and on the street-stalls of Kinshasa.

Only then will the message be loud and clear – as it was twenty years ago.  That ivory is not desirable, it is destructive.  That the ivory trade doesn’t support livelihoods, it steals away life. That ivory, far from being white gold is stained with blood.

Blogging off.


PS  Born Free is trying to help some of the poorest elephant range State countries to protect their elephants and if you would like to help, please check out and donate via


Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

The next few weeks could be critical for animals in Europe’s zoos and for wild animals kept as ‘pets’ and I will need your help!

Please contact your MEP (if you don’t know who your MEP is then see website details at the end of this blog) and seek their involvement and support  - these dates are top priority:

April 20th – The European Parliament will consider and vote on the EU’s revised  Biodiversity Strategy. Born Free has worked hard to make sure that there are new restrictions placed on the trade in, and private keeping of, wild animals. These restrictions have been agreed by the Environment Committee but we must make sure they are not lost when it comes to the full Parliamentary vote!

April 24th – Born Free and ENDCAP will host an exhibition on the findings of the EU Zoo Inquiry (three years’ work assessing over 20,000 enclosures in 200 zoos in 20 EU countries – see for details) highlighting the plight of wild animals kept in zoos. The week-long exhibition will be launched at a special Reception on 24th at 6.30pm (I’ll be there with Virginia). Please encourage your MEP to attend and ask them to contact Jayney Caspar ( for details.

April 25th – Parliament’s Environment Committee will discuss zoos and their lack of commitment to conservation. If your MEP is on the Environment Committee then ask him or her to require zoos to make a meaningful and measurable contribution to the conservation of biodiversity and the care of their animals.

April 25th – On the same day the Environment Committee will discuss the EU Strategy on Animal Welfare. If your MEP is a member of the Environment Committee ask him or her to ensure that the interests and welfare of wild animals in zoos and those kept as ‘pets’ are fully discussed and included in the strategy.

April 27th – The EU Parliament’s Environment Committee will vote on the issue of Animal Welfare. If your MEP is a member of the Committee, ask him or her to vote for the highest possible welfare standards and protection for animals, including wild animals in zoos or kept as ‘pets’.

May 19th – The Agriculture Committee will vote on the content of the Parliamentary Report on the EU Animal Welfare Strategy. We need ‘wild animals in captivity’ to be included!

Details of MEPs

Environment Committee go to

Agriculture Committee go to

All MEPs go to

Strong positions and full participation by MEPS, both at the committee level and at the Parliamentary level, can make a real difference but they need to hear your voice.

So please do get in touch with your MEP and ask for their support – and resend this blog far and wide to anyone you know who cares about animals, wherever they live in the EU, and ask them to help too by contacting their MEP!

Blogging off!


Born Free Foundation