Website Exposes Bloody Ivory Trade and Tracks Global Ivory Seizures and Poaching Incidents

Born Free USA calls on public to act now

Washington D.C., January 15, 2013 -- Born Free USA and the Born Free Foundation, global leaders in animal welfare and wildlife conservation, have launched a compelling website www.bloodyivory.org, which reveals the shocking truth behind the criminal illegal ivory trade and the challenges facing elephants throughout their natural range.

Will Travers, CEO of Born Free USA says, “The ivory trade is a brutal business, devastating entire elephant families, causing massive suffering to individuals - and now severely impacting populations in all four regions of Africa. It may be putting some of the most vulnerable at risk of extinction. Our site www.bloodyivory.org shows what is really happening to elephants and encourages all compassionate people and ‘Elefriends’ everywhere to lend their voice to the chorus declaring ‘no more ivory trade!’” Bloodyivory.org has been updated and expanded, and features new information exposing the depth of this ongoing crisis. Just last week, news out of Kenya reported that an insidious criminal cartel had wiped out an entire family of 12 elephants for their ivory in the worst single incident of its kind in the country.”

On January 5, Hong Kong’s customs seized 779 ivory tusks weighing more than one tonnes and valued at more than one million dollars. This, the most recent of the four largest seizures in four months (which totals 12 tonnes) is clear evidence that Asian demand continues to drive brutal elephant poaching and ruthless international profiteering.

Human lives are also lost as well-armed poachers have gunned down park rangers in Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, and elsewhere across Africa.

Virginia McKenna, OBE, Founder and Trustee of Born Free, expressed her sadness over the current plight of African elephants and called on the international community and the public at large to fight for elephant protection. In a statement released today, McKenna said, “Elephants are living treasures. Nature’s gardeners. Nature’s great teachers. For many, the symbol of Africa. Tragically some people don’t give a damn. They prefer the dead trinket to the living treasure. It’s all about bloody ivory.”

This vital new site includes a Petition calling on the Parties to CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora) to reject any future proposals for trade in ivory and to support improved protection for elephants. The 176 CITES Parties will meet this March in Bangkok and elephant ivory trade will be high on the agenda. The Born Free team will attend this critical meeting to fight for elephant conservation.

Travers concluded, “There are currently 38 African countries with wild elephant populations. Within five years I estimate that between five and 10 could see their elephants disappear forever unless intensive action is taken. Elephants need Elefriends now more than ever. I urge everyone to visit www.bloodyivory.org and make their voice heard before it’s too late.”

Born Free USA is a nationally recognized leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation. Through litigation, legislation, and public education, Born Free USA leads vital campaigns against animals in entertainment, exotic “pets,” trapping and fur, and the destructive international wildlife trade. Born Free USA brings to America the message of “compassionate conservation” -- the vision of the U.K.-based Born Free Foundation, established in 1984 by Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna, stars of the iconic film Born Free, along with their son Will Travers, now CEO of both organizations. Born Free’s mission is to end suffering of wild animals in captivity, conserve threatened and endangered species, and encourage compassionate conservation globally. More at bornfreeusa.org; twitter.com/bornfreeusa; and facebook.com/BornFreeUSA.

Mega-Ivory Seizure Puts Future of Elephants in Doubt

 

December 12, 2012 -- A massive seizure of 1,500 ivory tusks in Port Klang, rumoured to weigh a staggering 20 to 24 tonnes, has stunned the conservation world.

 

"Last year, 2011, was described by trade experts as the worst year for elephants in decades," said Will Travers, CEO Born Free Foundation and Born Free USA. "This latest seizure coming, as it does, on top of 900 kg seized in New York in July, 1,500 kg in Colombo, Sri Lanka, in May and two seizures, one of 3,810 kg in October and another of 1,330 kg in November in Hong Kong, means the bloody ivory trade has reached new heights of destruction and depravity in 2012.”

 

This latest seizure was carried out by Royal Malaysian Customs officers at Port Klang, just outside Malaysia's capital city Kuala Lumpur. The shipment, reportedly, involved 10 crates, divided between 2 containers, shipped from the Port of Lomé in Togo, West Africa, destined for China, via Spain. The ivory was hidden in secret compartments underneath "wooden floor tiles.”

 

Travers continued, "I thought that when the international ivory trade ban was agreed in 1989, we would see a permanent reversal of fortunes for this beleaguered species. How wrong I was - the respite was temporary. Experts estimate that between 20,000 and 30,000 elephants are being illegally killed each year to fuel demand, largely driven by China. No part of Africa is now safe. Across the continent, for the first time, the number of carcasses recorded as a result of poaching exceeds the number reportedly dying from natural causes."

 

And the situation could get even worse.

 

With only three months to run before the 16th meeting of 176 Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), a proposal has been put forward by Tanzania seeking approval for the sale of more than 100 tonnes of stockpiled ivory to China and Japan. Analysis by Born Free's trade experts concludes that, far from meeting demand and depressing poaching, this is fuelling demand and incentivising another wave of slaughter.

 

"I fear that elephants may disappear entirely from those parts of Africa least able to protect them from the onslaught" said legendary actress Virginia McKenna, OBE, Founder of The Born Free Foundation and Born Free USA. "The fragile elephant populations of West and Central Africa are most at risk, but even countries such as Kenya, with the well-trained and well-resourced rangers of the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), are operating at full stretch and losing their lives in the process."

 

There are no easy answers but Born Free, together with other conservation charities with many years' experience working in Africa, are calling on Tanzania to withdraw its proposal; for China and Japan's ivory trading nation status to be revoked; and for the international community to come forward with the resources necessary to fund the African Elephant Action Plan, the only viable blueprint for elephant survival agreed by all 37 African elephant range States.

 

Born Free is calling on the public to make its opposition to any further ivory trade known by registering at http://www.bloodyivory.org where the latest details of the Malaysian mega-seizure and other interceptions can be found.

 

About Born Free USA: Born Free USA is a nationally recognized leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation. Through litigation, legislation, and public education, Born Free USA leads vital campaigns against animals in entertainment, exotic “pets,” trapping and fur, and the destructive international wildlife trade. Born Free USA brings to America the message of “compassionate conservation” -- the vision of the U.K.-based Born Free Foundation, established in 1984 by Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna, stars of the iconic film Born Free, along with their son Will Travers, now CEO of both organizations. Born Free’s mission is to end suffering of wild animals in captivity, conserve threatened and endangered species, and encourage compassionate conservation globally. More at: www.bornfreeusa.org; twitter twitter.com/bornfreeusa; Facebook facebook.com/BornFreeUSA.

 

About the Born Free Foundation: The Born Free Foundation is a dynamic international wildlife charity, devoted to compassionate conservation and animal welfare. Born Free takes action worldwide to protect threatened species and stop individual animal suffering. Born Free believes wildlife belongs in the wild and works to phase out zoos. We rescue animals from lives of misery in tiny cages and give them lifetime care. Born Free protects lions, elephants, tigers, gorillas, wolves, polar bears, dolphins, marine turtles and many more species in their natural habitat, working with local communities to help people and wildlife live together without conflict. Our high-profile campaigns change public attitudes, persuade decision-makers and get results. Every year, Born Free helps hundreds of thousands of animals worldwide. For more information visit: www.bornfree.org.uk.

The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee Hosts

Remembering Bella Day – June 2, 2012

A Special Event to Honor the Inspirational Relationship between

A Dog Named Bella and Her Elephant Tarra

HOHENWALD, TENN. (May 23, 2012) – The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee’s Welcome Center in Hohenwald, TN is hosting a day of special activities to honor the memory of Bella, the little stray dog who befriended the Sanctuary’s founding elephant Tarra and captured the hearts of animal lovers around the world. Remembering Bella Day will be held on Saturday, June 2 from 11:00AM – 4:00 PM at the Welcome Center on 27 E. Main St. in Hohenwald, located approximately four miles from the elephant habitat. In honor of Bella and the unique relationship she shared with Tarra, The Elephant Sanctuary is also encouraging the public to adopt a homeless stray from their local humane shelter in Bella’s memory during the month of June.

For eight years, Bella and Tarra were inseparable, swimming in ponds, wandering trails, exploring meadows, and resting side by side in the sunshine on their 2700 acre Sanctuary.

Steve Hartman introduced the unlikely duo to the world in a 2009 segment for CBS Evening News, and Tarra and Bella’s story quickly went viral on the internet, inspiring people around the world. Of the two, Hartman said,They harbor no fears, no secrets, no prejudices. Just two living creatures who somehow managed to look past their immense differences.

When Bella sustained an injury in 2007, Tarra held vigil for weeks outside of the Asian Barn at The Elephant Sanctuary, waiting for her companion to recover. In October of 2011, Bella passed away, apparently a victim of a coyote attack, and Tarra’s devotion to Bella was shown in a final act of friendship: Tarra picked up Bella’s body and cradling her in her trunk, carried her home.

At Bella’s passing, The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee established The Bella Fund—a memorial fund to honor Bella’s life at The Elephant Sanctuary and her friendship with Tarra. Donations to The Bella Fund support both the ongoing care of the resident elephants as well as the care of strays, like Bella, who wander into Hohenwald seeking sanctuary and friendship. A portion of the proceeds from The Bella Fund are used to support local humane associations and their efforts to care for strays in need of a permanent home.

Remembering Bella Day activities will include a presentation from their Caregivers about Bella and Tarra’s inspirational friendship, a photo display of their history at The Sanctuary, a Pet Adoption Day where visitors can adopt a Hohenwald stray in honor of Bella, and a presentation of contributions from The Bella Fund to support High Forest Humane Society.

Sanctuary Board Member, dog rescuer and author Sharon Langford will also be on hand for a book signing and all proceeds will benefit The Bella Fund. In her book, “Living with the Rescues,” she shares inspirations and life lessons she learned from her rescued dogs.

For a complete schedule of the day’s events and more information about Remembering Bella Day, The Bella Fund, and The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, please visit www.elephants.com

Calendar of Events: Remembering Bella Day

When: June 2, 2012 11:00 AM – 4:00 PM

Where: The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee’s Welcome Center

27 E. Main St. Hohenwald, TN 38462

Schedule of Events: Pet Adoption Day 11:00 AM – 4:00 PM

A Book Signing of “Living with the Rescues” by author Sharon Langford 12:30-2:30 PM

Presentation on Tarra and Bella’s friendship by their Caregivers 2:30 PM

Contribution from The Bella Fund presented to High Forest Humane Society 3:30 PM

About The Elephant Sanctuary

The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee is the nation's largest habitat for needy elephants and provides a spacious and natural environment in which elephants, retired from circuses and zoos, can spend their remaining years in peace. Established in 1995, the 2,700 acre non-profit Sanctuary is located 2 hours south of Nashville in rural Tennessee and to date has provided a safe haven for 24 elephants in need. After a life on exhibit and entertaining the public, to ensure minimal intrusion on the sanctity of their Sanctuary, the elephants’ habitat is not open to the public.

The Elephant Sanctuary is, however, dedicated to education, and has installed a unique system of solar powered, wireless cameras ("Elecams") throughout the three habitats, providing non-invasive opportunities for observation and education through the website www.elephants.com, through Distance Learning Programs to schools and community groups around the country, and also with Caregiver Presentations at The Welcome Center located several miles from the elephant habitat.

###

 

Warner Bros. Pictures, New Line Cinema, Walden Media and ContraFilm Productions present a PG, 94 minutes action, adventure, comedy directed by Brad Peyton, written by Brian Gunn and Mark Gunn with a theatrical release date of February 10, 2012.

Our Mission

The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, founded in 1995, is the nation's largest natural habitat refuge developed specifically for endangered African and Asian elephants. The Sanctuary operates on 2,700 acres in Hohenwald, Tennessee — 85 miles southwest of Nashville.

The Elephant Sanctuary exists for two reasons:

  • To provide a haven for old, sick or needy elephants in a setting of green pastures,
    dense forests, spring-fed ponds and heated barns for cold winter nights.
  • To provide education about the crisis facing these social, sensitive, passionately intense,
    playful, complex, exceedingly intelligent and endangered creatures.

The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

Accredited by The Association of Sanctuaries
Licensed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)
and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA)

www.elephants.com

 

 Leader in elephant and wildlife conservation Will Travers, CEO of Born Free USA, is shocked at being expelled

Geneva, August 17, 2011 - -  In a shocking move that could not have been anticipated, some of the world’s leading wildlife conservation organizations were this morning summarily expelled from an international meeting on wildlife conservation in Geneva, Switzerland by a seven to six vote.  

The move was initiated by the government of Kuwait on behalf of the Asian region and was supported by Botswana, Iran, Kuwait, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominica and Norway. The organizations were removed from deliberations concerning elephant conservation, the international trade in ivory, and concerns regarding China’s increasing involvement in illegal ivory trade.  There is a fear that the decision may set a precedent and that such methods may be used to exclude NGOs and civil society from participating in debates on other issues such as rhino and tiger trade.

The measure was approved at the 61st Standing Committee meeting of CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), despite the strong objections of the UK and Kenya. Democratic Republic of Congo, Bulgaria, Ukraine, United States of America and Australia also voted against the action in an effort to support transparency and public participation.  A simple majority in favor meant that the Species Survival Network (SSN),  Born Free Foundation, International Fund for Animal Welfare, Humane Society International, Environmental Investigation Agency, Elephant Family, World Wildlife Fund, and numerous others - -organizations with decades of experience working on the frontline of wildlife conservation and representing tens of millions of members of the public from around the world - -  now sit in the lobby of the CIGC (Centre International de Conférences Genève) unable to assist and participate in debates on which the future of wild elephants may depend.

Will Travers, President of the SSN and CEO of Born Free USA and the Born Free Foundation said, “I am almost lost for words.  This is a terrible precedent and jeopardizes the effective conservation of not only elephants but potentially many other species if we are prevented from participating in other debates.  The SSN, together with the American delegation nearly a decade ago successfully championed the participation of civil society representatives in Standing Committee meetings which, until this morning have been as open and transparent as possible, in line with UN principles.  That achievement, on behalf of the citizens of the world, is now in jeopardy.  Clearly, there is a coordinated initiative by some Parties to stifle open debate.  This simply must not be allowed to happen.”

Conservation organizations of all persuasions have played an active and positive role in helping CITES achieve meaningful and positive results for species that are or may be threatened by international trade.  In addition, thanks to the generosity of the general public, they contribute tens of millions of dollars each year to conservation efforts in some of the world’s most vulnerable places. 

Travers concluded, “This is a bleak day for principles that we all should hold dear - the principles of openness, transparency, accountability and responsibility.  It is imperative that CITES, a Treaty to which more than 175 countries subscribe, addresses this matter as a high priority and ensures and enshrines the participation of individuals, organizations and experts who have only one thing in common, their desire to ensure the long-term, sustainable survival of life on earth.”

The plight facing elephants

In 2009, over 20 tonnes of ivory was seized and countries have started to report localized extinctions of very vulnerable elephant populations. Since Standing Committee last met in March 2010, over 23 tonnes of ivory have been seized by customs and police agencies worldwide and so far this year at least 11.5 tonnes have been seized.  More at www.bloodyivory.org

SSN

The Species Survival Network (SSN), founded in 1992, is an international coalition of over eighty non-governmental organizations (NGOs) committed to the promotion, enhancement, and strict enforcement of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Through scientific and legal research, education and advocacy, the SSN is working to prevent over-exploitation of animals and plants due to international trade. www.ssn.org

Born Free USA

Born Free USA is a nationally recognized leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation. Through litigation, legislation, and public education, Born Free USA leads vital campaigns against animals in entertainment, exotic “pets,” trapping and fur, and the destructive international wildlife trade.  Born Free’s Primate Sanctuary in Texas is home to more than 500 primates rescued from laboratories, roadside zoos, and private possession. Born Free USA brings to America the message of “compassionate conservation” -- the vision of the U.K.-based Born Free Foundation, established in 1984 by Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna, stars of the iconic film Born Free, along with their son Will Travers, now CEO of both organizations. Born Free’s mission is to end suffering of wild animals in captivity, conserve threatened and endangered species, and encourage compassionate conservation globally.  More at: www.bornfreeusa.org; twitter http://twitter.com/bornfreeusa; Facebook http://www.facebook.com/BornFreeUSA.

CITES

The international trade in wild animals and plants is worth billions of dollars every year. Levels of exploitation and rates of wild capture can have a serious detrimental impact on the future survival of thousands of animal and plant species across the globe. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES) is an international agreement between Governments, which provides varying levels of protection for species that are or may be in danger of extinction as a result of the impact of  international trade. www.cites.org

Campaign on Change.org calls on the USDA to remove circus elephant who collapsed from Ringling Bros., citing concern for animal’s health and history of Animal Welfare Act violations


WASHINGTON, DC – More than 2,000 people across the U.S. and Canada have joined a campaign on Change.org, started by a California resident concerned by the collapse of a Ringling Bros elephant in Anahaim, Calif., calling on the USDA to remove the ailing animal from the circus.

Laura Goldman, an animals blogger and California-based activist, launched the campaign on Change.org after seeing the video of Sarah, the 53-year-old elephant, collapsed on the ground beside a Ringling Bros boxcar. Just two months ago, the USDA cited Ringling Bros for violating the Animal Welfare Act by failing to treat Sarah’s chronic medical problems; meanwhile, the circus boasts that the sick elephant has never missed a performance.

“About 20 years ago, before I was really aware of circus animal abuse, I went to a Ringling Bros. show in Anaheim,” said petition creator Laura Goldman. “I was appalled by the sight of the elephants all wedged together with chains around their legs, standing on the hot asphalt in the parking lot. All these years later, I wonder if Sarah was one of those miserable elephants.”

“Sarah has an untreated, chronic infection that experts say can be fatal if not addressed, yet Ringling insists she’s perfectly healthy and continue forcing her to perform,” the petition creator continued. “I started the petition on Change.org because she’s suffered for too long already and needs to be removed from the circus.”

In less than a week, more than 2,000 people have signed the online campaign on Change.org, the world’s fastest growing platform for social change. Animal Defenders International has already filed a formal complaint on Sarah’s behalf and the growing support from people across the continent adds to the pressure on the USDA to act. Protesters are planning demonstrations at upcoming Ringling Bros events in California and other locations.

“We’ve seen an incredible outpouring of concern for this elephant’s welfare after her collapse,” said Change.org Senior Organizer, Stephanie Feldstein. “Thousands of people worry that she’s in serious danger, especially as Ringling Bros continues to make Sarah perform after her fall. It has been remarkable to watch as more than 2,000 people join in to ask the USDA to step in before it’s too late.”

Live signature totals from the campaign:
http://www.change.org/petitions/tell-the-usda-remove-the-collapsing-elephant-from-the-ringling-bros-circus

Video of collapsed elephant:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8X7jbxiy29Y

For more information on Change.org, please visit:
http://www.change.org/about
Change.org is the world’s fastest-growing platform for social change — growing by more than 400,000 new members a month, and empowering millions of people to start, join, and win campaigns for social change in their community, city and country.

###

Page 5 of 5