In January, Virginia McKenna OBE, Born Free’s Co-Founder & Trustee, called for the BBC’s Antiques Roadshow to ban ivory from its programme. Within hours of her powerful article appearing in Radio Times, the BBC confirmed it was reviewing its policy.
In March, we launched research revealing nearly 5,000 dangerous wild animals are being kept privately, and legally, in Great Britain under the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976. Thanks to the support of more than 13,500 people, we petitioned the government for a change to the legislation.
We have increased our focus on sustainability as part of our continued commitment to be a responsible and sustainable charity. In March, we created the new role of Head of Sustainability and are looking at ways to make sure our footprint is as gentle on the environment as possible.
We confirmed there could be as many as 183 lions and 198 hyenas living in Dinder National Park (DNP) on the Sudan-Ethiopia border following a survey led by Dr Hans Bauer from the University of Oxford’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit and in partnership with Born Free, the Sudan Wildlife Research Centre and the Lion Recovery Fund. The team plans to return to DNP to continue to survey the lion population there.
In April, we relaunched our website to showcase our crucial work across the world to protect and preserve wildlife in its natural habitat. With a brand new look, and new sections – including Take Action and Wildlife – we were shortlisted for The Mission Good Web Guide Website of the Year Awards!
In April, we launched Wildlife Heroes – a year-long celebration of inspirational men and women from all walks of life who have dedicated their lives to the protection and conservation of wildlife. We add new profiles every month to recognise and thank those on the front line of Compassionate Conservation for their dedication, courage and support for wildlife. Please do share their incredible stories with your family and friends.
We were delighted to assist with the rescue of Bo and Bella, two young chimps who were victims of the illegal pet trade in Guinea-Bissau. The two western chimpanzees have now happily settled into their new home at Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary in Kenya.
The story of King the young lion – an innocent victim of the exotic pet trade – touched hearts worldwide. Thanks to your overwhelming generosity, in July we gave King a lifetime home at our big cat rescue centre at Shamwari. Two months later, we were delighted to accept the Animal Rescue Award at the Daily Mirror Animal Hero Awards 2018 on his behalf.
You helped us raise more than £80,000 to help us continue our vital elephant protection work in Ethiopia, Cameroon and Kenya through our Elephants in Crisis campaign. The campaign highlighted the shocking fact that one African elephant is killed every 25 minutes.
We’ve been hard at work making sure the wildlife on our doorstep is protected. As well as our continued action against the badger cull, we also worked closely on the launch of the UK Wildlife Crime Policing Strategy for 2018-2021 which emphasises the importance of tackling wildlife crime in the UK.
We held our first Big Cat Workshop in the summer to teach children about conservation through drama, writing and art. The three groups of 9-11 year-olds worked together on a theatrical production of Living with Lions, which explained the daily struggles of people in remote Kenyan villages who live alongside wild lions. Look out for further workshops next year!
Celebrities including Ricky Gervais, Bryan Adams and Rachel Hunter threw their support behind our campaign on World Elephant Day to highlight the plight of African elephants. Our powerful graphics were shared across social media, and our billboard was spotted in London, Manchester and Birmingham, too.
We launched our hard-hitting Cash Before Conservation report, lifting the lid on the South African government’s role in the controversial captive lion breeding industry. Born Free’s Head of Policy, Dr Mark Jones, also gave evidence at a parliamentary committee colloquium on the future of the industry. The committee is now calling for an end to captive lion breeding.
A Born Free-backed vaccination programme is helping pre-empt outbreaks of rabies among Ethiopian wolves. The launch of the first oral vaccination campaign followed a decade of intensive research and field trials by the Ethiopian Wolf Conservation Programme.
We launched a ground-breaking campaign to deploy Dragon GBT 1170 autogyros in Africa that will allow rangers to patrol vast areas of land in minutes and have a major impact on poaching. The campaign is part of our innovative Integrated Wildlife Protection approach, which aims to build partnerships and coalitions to ensure the long-term sustainability of wildlife protection and promote co-existence. Look out for more on Integrated Wildlife Protection and Enter the Dragon in 2019!
We were delighted when the Welsh government announced it planned to ban the use of wild animals in circuses. We responded to their consultation and asked you to take action, too. More than 4,000 of you took part. Thank you!
We’re very proud of our new merchandise range, launched in the autumn to help Keep Wildlife in the Wild. From charm bracelets to travel cups – and a special range chosen by Virginia herself – we’ve got the perfect gifts for wild animal lovers everywhere!
We’ve been cheering on the Maasai Olympics 2018, an initiative to offer Maasai warriors an alternative to killing lions as part of their traditional rite of passage. The event saw 120 participants compete and the finals took place on 15th December. Congratulations to everyone who took part!