The cheetah cub lies in the dust, a rope tightly knotted around his neck at a restaurant. Intelligent baboons tied to a tree for entertainment, their paws outstretched, pleading for the food they are being teased with. Raw and worked ivory, hippopotamus tusks, wildlife skin rugs, tails of giraffe, nail of leopard and lion, ostrich eggs openly sold. A pair of lovebirds, barely able to stretch their wings, caught from the wild and now for sale in a make-shift cage - scrutinised by thousands each day.
These are all scenes which Born Free witnesses in many countries, and has witnessed in Ethiopia. The scenes, though shocking, are a motivation, a driving force in our joint efforts with the Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority (EWCA) to identify a solution which will help change the way Ethiopia views its wildlife.
In December 2006, a meeting was held to discuss ways to halt the illegal practice of capturing, holding and selling wildlife in Ethiopia. One of the recommendations of the ‘Consultative Meeting on Captive Wild Animals in Ethiopia’ was the need for a Wildlife Rescue, Conservation and Education Centre to provide improved care and naturalistic enclosures for existing captive wild animals, and care for orphaned or injured wildlife. Recognising that a comprehensive solution was required for such wide-ranging issues, Born Free and EWCA devised plans for a Wildlife Rescue, Conservation and Education Centre 30km from Ethiopia’s capital city, Addis Ababa.
His Excellency, President Girma Wolde-Giorgis and the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development both pledged their support and been instrumental in securing the site for the Centre. Born Free is honoured that President Girma has agreed to become a Patron of the Centre.
Being accessible from Addis Ababa ensures the Centre will meet the needs of the EWCA, schools and universities, national and international conservationists and even tourists, ultimately providing the following:
Wildlife Rescue; assisting the EWCA in rescuing wildlife from illegal exploitation and poor captive facilities, rehabilitating and releasing wildlife back to the wild where possible and for others providing lifetime care in large natural enclosures.
Wildlife Conservation; providing a hub for the conservation of species in the wild in Ethiopia
Environmental Education; offering awareness and education on wildlife and environmental issues.