Archive for February, 2016

World Wildlife Day

Wednesday, February 24th, 2016

3rd March. World Wildlife Day. Make it Special!

Dear Friends

Sometimes it seems a bit overwhelming.  Every day of the year must be ‘world something day’ – World UFO Day, World Rose Day, World Thinking Day.  Do they make any difference?  Well, of course, they do. Some of the more well-known ones touch on very important issues – World Literacy Day, World Environment Day.  So here’s one for your diary – please put it in right now! 3rd March is World Wildlife Day.  If, throughout the entire 365 days of 2016, you do nothing else for wildlife and the future of some of the world’s most iconic species then this is the time to put your best foot forward for wild animals in need and do something  – anything.

We all know how serious the situation is.

At home, habitats and native British wildlife are under threat;  populations of species such as hedgehogs are in serious decline; bees are disappearing; butterflies are in short supply; badgers are the targets of retribution, anger and prejudice.

Overseas, the picture seems just as grim.  Whales are still persecuted by the Japanese; trophy hunters are killing some of our most magnificent individual animals (like Cecil) for “fun”; the ravages of the ivory trade are constantly in the headlines; the potential commercialisation of rhino horn (and the brutality of rhino poaching) confound logic; the rapacious consumption of bushmeat (meat from wild animals, usually brutally snared) that is emptying the forests and savannahs of Africa goes almost unnoticed; lion numbers are down; orca are still locked away in tiny tanks for human ‘entertainment (despite the amazing progress of the Blackfish effect)….. Where do you start? RIGHT HERE!

It may seem overwhelming but the truth of the matter is that if we can harness the combined intelligence and determination of hundreds of millions of people of compassion, people like you, right around the world, we can turn the situation around.

So what can you do?

Firstly, don’t do nothing.  Speak out and speak up.  Talk about why you care for wildlife on World Wildlife Day (and Born Free) to your family, your colleagues at work, your schools, your club, down the pub, etc.

Secondly, support what we are doing for wild animals in need the world over. Your support doesn’t have to be financial but I would love it if, on World Wildlife Day, you decided to become a member or adopt an animal. But you can decide to join a campaign, become one of our Activate team, or sign up to our E-News.

Thirdly, let’s make our fingers do some work – a few clicks is all it takes to create a global conversation about conservation!  Use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Periscope, in fact, every social media platform going, to make sure that the challenges faced by wildlife are pushed to the top of the social media agenda and are trending relentlessly on 3rd March – #InOurHands.

I am going to be in The Hague in the Netherlands on 3rd March as part of a key Conference which will launch the European Union’s Action Plan to Tackle Illegal Wildlife Crime.  From my perspective it doesn’t  matter whether you want to be inside Europe or outside Europe.  From my perspective what  we need to do is work together, all of us, to end the brutal exploitation of wild animals and to secure their long-term future  - in our gardens and parks, in our woods and fields, in our great forests, savannahs and oceans – and make sure life on earth is properly protected from the single greatest threat they face – us!

I’ll be looking for you all on 3rd March. Let’s make World Wildlife Day mean something extraordinary!

Blogging off!


PS  For all those who are in the Brighton area of the UK this Saturday (27th February), you can join the March Against the Badger Cull!  For more information about the March, visit our Events page.

The Best Place for a Sumatran Tiger

Wednesday, February 17th, 2016

Guest blog from Born Free USA:

The best place for a Sumatran tiger is in Sumatra—not the Sacramento Zoo. Yet, it’s now reported that a 15-year-old Sumatran tiger died after being attacked by another captive tiger there. These tigers were forced together in unnatural confinement, devoid of all that they need innately, biologically, physically, and environmentally… all in an effort at forced breeding. The male became aggressive and killed the female.

This is, of course, shocking; it is, of course, sad; but, most importantly, perhaps, it is, of course, totally predictable and preventable. I feel as though I’ve said it so many times before, and I wonder how many more times I’ll have to say it again… Wild tigers belong in the wild. Their welfare is compromised in captivity, and there is zero conservation benefit to keeping them or even breeding them in captivity.

Should these tigers have bred successfully, they would not see their offspring shipped to the wild in Asia to repopulate forested areas of that tiger-depleted continent. They would have languished in the Sacramento Zoo in perpetuity (unless they were shipped to some other zoo instead). TV news reports note that the female, now deceased, had been at the zoo since 2002 and had five offspring. When I heard this, my mind immediately turned to thoughts of horrific puppy mills throughout the United States, where poor dogs are kept confined in cages, forcibly bred to supply the pet trade. We rarely think of wild animals in zoos this way, and I know I never have before, but that’s what it seems like here. This majestic, highly endangered animal, living in captivity for 15 years, forced to breed, with no chance of freedom. How pathetic.

The other thing I often find myself saying is that I get very annoyed when those of us in animal protection are referred to as Chicken Little or “joy-killers” trying to take away people’s fun through our animal advocacy positions. But, then again, it doesn’t take a genius to realize that keeping wild animals in captivity is potentially dangerous. In 2003, a different Sumatran tiger at the Sacramento Zoo attacked a zookeeper, and in 2005, a male lion at the Sacramento Zoo killed a female lion. So, while some might attempt to self-servingly present this new tiger death as a freak occurrence, history suggests otherwise.

What wild tigers need simply cannot be provided in a zoo. What wild tigers need is to be safe and protected in the wild. We mustn’t compromise their individual welfare, ever. They deserve better than that. And, we surely mustn’t treat them as breeding machines to supply new animals for captive display throughout the country. I don’t appreciate people who breed cats or dogs to sell commercially in pet stores in America because I know such intensive breeding creates sick animals and the unfortunate euthanasia of others for whom loving homes are not available. Similarly, I can’t support intensive commercial breeding of tigers for public display: not when the animals suffer, not when there’s no conservation benefit, and not when the tigers of Sumatra are critically endangered, numbering around 500—and potentially disappearing forever.

Keep Wildlife in the Wild,

Adam Roberts
CEO Born Free USA and Born Free Foundation

Lions, Rhino and People: Special Field Report From Kenya

Tuesday, February 9th, 2016

In early February I went to the offices of the Kenya Wildlife Service, just outside Nairobi City and adjoining the famous Nairobi National Park, and received my official identification card confirming that, together with Virginia my mum, I am now an Honorary Warden with the KWS.

Modesty aside, in this special year – when we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Born Free’s film premiere – this recognizes the commitment we as individuals but, more importantly, as Founders of The Born Free Foundation have made to Kenya, its people and its wildlife.

I have just returned from two field trips, one to the north and one to the south of this magnificent country.

As part of Born Free’s ‘Year of The Lion’, I travelled with Born Free Kenya’s Country Manager, Tim Oloo (one of our top rhino conservation experts and also an Honorary Warden). In Amboseli, to the south and overlooking Mount Kilimanjaro, we reviewed two of our programmes.

The first involves building ‘Predator Proof Bomas‘ designed to keep livestock safe from lions and hyenas at night time. We have now completed 219 units and, with the help of Land Rover, we shall compete another 30 this year bringing the total to an impressive 250. This is delivering tangible benefits to many thousands of people and tens of thousands of cattle, sheep and goats. Importantly, it also helps reduce conflict with predators and minimizes revenge killings, thus helping conserve some of Kenya’s estimated 2,000 lions.

The second involved visiting two schools we are assisting. Both face numerous challenges in this remote and, at times, harsh part of the country. Lack of reliable water; school infrastructure; the presence of large and potentially dangerous species such as lion and elephant; the failure of some of the solar lighting systems (installed only a few years ago as part of a Spanish Aid Programme but without any follow up or maintenance); seasonal food shortages; and the cost of teaching aids – these are just some of the issues that confront these communities on a daily basis. Our partners at Schools For Kenya have been amazingly helpful and generous and Born Free’s own Global Friends Programme is making a real difference but there is so much more to do.

In the north, we again focused on lions. This time working with KWS to count them in the wild expanses of Meru National Park, part of the 4,000 square kilometre Meru Conservation Area. Again, we could not have done it without Land Rover and their sponsorship of key equipment (not to mention our trusty Land Rover Defender 110). Once we know how many lions there are we can determine whether our conservation efforts, working with KWS, the County Council, local communities and our friends at Elsa’s Kopje Lodge, are making a positive contribution to lion conservation. Our goal is simple: to ensure that Meru and the MCA remain lion strongholds for generations to come.

Our trip also provided an opportunity for Tim to deploy his considerable rhino expertise. Meru has one of Kenya’s famous Rhino Sanctuaries, home to 84 rhino (27 black and 57 white). Tim’s experience has been brought to bear on plans to almost double the size of the Sanctuary and Born Free has already donated important Anti-Poaching equipment thanks to support from Kenya Airways. In addition, on this trip, my friend, photographer Margot Raggett, donated a set of hi-tech night vision goggles to the Meru Wildlife Protection Unit.

Protecting wildlife and assisting the communities that live alongside wildlife is a major part of Born Free’s ‘Compassionate Conservation’ agenda. I am proud of all that we have achieved so far, with the help of you, our supporters.

Of course, being made an Honorary Warden is very special but I truly believe this is recognition for all that we have achieved together and is in anticipation of all we shall achieve in the future – making the world a better place for wildlife, one animal at a time.

Blogging off!