Groups Urge President Xi Jinping to Ban Ivory Sales and Trade as an Immediate Priority

Washington D.C., July 9, 2015 -- In a letter to Chinese President Xi Jinping, members of the Species Survival Network (SSN) have given a cautious welcome to the announcement by China that it will “strictly control ivory processing and trade until the commercial processing and sale of ivory and its products are eventually halted.”

SSN’s letter to the Chinese President urges him to end the domestic ivory trade in China as an immediate priority, inform his citizens of the importance of the measure, and use his influence to encourage leaders in other countries with a domestic ivory trade to do the same.

According to Will Travers OBE, President of SSN and the Born Free Foundation, “An immediate ban on the importation and sale of all ivory in China would be the single most valuable, effective and unequivocal action that could be taken to end the elephant poaching crisis in Africa.”

As many as 30,000 African elephants, and probably more, are being killed by poachers each year across Africa for their ivory. As a consequence, populations of forest elephants in central Africa are thought to have been reduced by almost two-thirds in the past decade. Further, the ongoing pan-African elephant census has highlighted huge losses of elephants in a number of countries, most recently in Mozambique which has lost almost half of its elephants over the past 5 years. In Tanzania, a reduction of 60%, or more than 65,000 animals, is reported to have occurred over the same period.

Although international trade in ivory was effectively banned by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) Appendix I listing of African elephants in 1989, China is one of a number of countries that continues to permit domestic trade in ivory. It has also consistently been identified as the principal destination for both legally and illegally obtained ivory since CITES permitted China to import 62 tons of ivory in a “one-off sale” in 2008. The closure of domestic ivory markets is seen as an essential component of efforts to control elephant poaching.

China has already taken steps to destroy parts of its ivory stockpile. Six tonnes of ivory were crushed in Guangdong province in January 2014 and a further 662kg in Beijing in May this year, coupled with similar decisions in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region in May 2014. However on April 29, 2015, a few weeks before the recent ivory destruction, China issued a new list of 34 ivory processing factories and 130 sales outlets, with authorizations valid until the end of 2016 and subject to renewal.

The Species Survival Network (SSN), founded in 1992, is an international coalition of over one hundred non-governmental organizations 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.

Caged in a metal beast wagon, Born Free wants to rehome Jora and Black to South African sanctuary

Washington D.C., July 6, 2015 -- Today, an appeal for the rescue of Bulgaria's last two circus lions was launched by the Born Free Foundation and Born Free USA, in a bid to secure their relocation to the international wildlife charity's sanctuary at Shamwari, in the Eastern Cape of South Africa.

Jora and Black (due to the latter’s distinguishing black mane) are two, seven-year-old lions known to be brothers. They are caged in a metal beast wagon in the back yard of an ex-circus trainer's remote mountain lodge near the capital, Sofia.  With no readily available water supply or shade, and pending summer temperatures that will turn their barred container into oven temperatures, these animal’s terrible plight has made international headlines and pulled at the heartstrings of animal lovers around the world.

According to legendary actress and animal activist Virginia McKenna OBE, co-founder of Born Free USA and the Born Free Foundation, “It is hard to exaggerate how the heat of the summer will affect these magnificent animals in their cramped quarters but, on the positive side, we are very pleased that their owners have agreed to Born Free rehoming them in one of our sanctuaries. We do hope that, with public support, this will become a reality. They certainly deserve, at last, to walk on grass and rest in the shade of trees.”

The lions were taken in as small cubs and were part of a traditional circus act travelling Eastern Europe and Turkey. They performed until the end of summer 2014, but due to a government ban that came into force at the beginning of the year, Bulgaria now prohibits the use of wild animals in circuses - a move that has been widely welcomed by animal welfare experts.

Jora and Black's elegant feline features are in stark contrast to the shabby tin can cage that has been their home for many years. With little to no environmental enrichment, and with each cage measuring some 2.5 meters, it barely allows them to move around as they stare out and intermittently nuzzle and paw each other.

Dr. John Knight, Born Free's Senior Veterinary Consultant added, “Although they appear to be in good health, the conditions in which they live are totally inappropriate. Jora is lame and once he is in our care we will be able to give him the required examinations and treatments.”

Born Free is now actively working with the owners, who are co-operating, to secure Jora and Black's future, and a move to Born Free’s renowned rescue centre at Shamwari, which is already home to a number of lions and leopards rescued from a dire life in captivity.

Black and Jora video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=polL5v5x7Os

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. The Foundation rescues animals from lives of misery in tiny cages and gives them lifetime care. Born Free protects lions, elephants, tigers, gorillas, wolves, polar bears, dolphins, marine turtles, and many more species in their natural habitats, working with local communities to help people and wildlife live together without conflict. The Foundation’s high-profile campaigns change public attitudes, persuade decision-makers, and get results. Every year, Born Free helps hundreds of thousands of animals worldwide. More at www.bornfree.org.uk.

Born Free USA is a global 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 North America the message of “compassionate conservation”—the vision of the United Kingdom-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. 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; www.twitter.com/bornfreeusa; and www.facebook.com/bornfreeusa.

Born Free urges greater protection for Africa’s lions following confirmation of catastrophic population declines

International science body highlights dire status of King of the Jungle

 

Following the release yesterday of a lion assessment by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the Born Free Foundation and Born Free USA are urging immediate international action to halt catastrophic recent declines in lion populations across Africa.

In its most up-to-date assessment of the species, IUCN, the world’s oldest and largest global environmental scientific organisation, reported devastating reductions in lion populations across much of the African continent. The new assessment revealed:

  • The number of lions across Africa has reduced by approximately 42% over the past 21 years (approximately three lion generations, 1993-2014)
  • Excluding Namibia, South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe, lions across the rest of Africa have declined by an average 60%
  • In West Africa, the declines suggest lions should be classified as Critically Endangered
  • Lions have disappeared altogether from at least 12, possibly up to 16, African countries in recent years.

“The IUCN reassessment confirms what we have known for some time: that lions are in serious decline across much of Africa,” said Adam M. Roberts, Chief Executive of the Born Free Foundation and Born Free USA.

“The trade data suggests that international trade in lion parts and products is putting pressure on these vulnerable lion populations, which they clearly can’t sustain. We call on the international community to increase the protection for lions from the impact of trade through the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), and for the United States Fish and Wildlife Service to issue its long-overdue final rule on listing the lion as endangered under the US Endangered Species Act.”

Trade in lions and lion parts has been increasing. According to the official CITES trade database, from 2009 to 2013 the total number of lions and lion parts exported doubled compared to the previous five year period. The figures reveal particularly worrying increases in the trade in lion bones and skeletons (presumably to supply demand for Asian traditional medicines and tonics), skins, and trophies from captive bred animals.

“These iconic animals can’t wait,” added Roberts. “Lions used to roam all over Africa, west Asia and even southern Europe. Now we risk seeing them disappear from much of their remaining sub-Saharan African range. We cannot sit by and watch this species disappear under our watch.”

Born Free is working with the United Nations Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) and African lion experts to improve collaboration between African range states on lion conservation, identify the reasons for the reported declines, and help range states to reverse them.

About Born Free

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 about Born Free please visit: www.bornfree.org.uk

Bill will provide vital funds for conservation of vulnerable wild cats and dogs

Washington, DC, June 10, 2015 -- Born Free USA, a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation, applauds Representative Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) for introducing H.R. 2697, legislation to provide essential funding for the conservation of wild cats and dogs (felids and canids). Many of these wild species, once considered common, are now in decline due to pervasive threats such as habitat loss and disease. The long-term survival of many wild felids and canids is in serious jeopardy of survival.

Of the 37 wild felid species worldwide, all but three are currently recognized as species in need of protection. Of the 36 wild canid species worldwide, 20 are recognized as in need of such protection. 

According to Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA and the Born Free Foundation: “Reversing the global decline of felid and canid species demands a profound international investment and I commend Representative Grijalva for taking action. Felid and canid species around the world are simply unable to cope with the endless barrage of threats before them, including hunting, disease, and habitat destruction. Reversing the population declines that most of these species face requires the conservation leadership long shown by the U.S. government.”

The bill is based on other crucial laws enacted to conserve African and Asian elephants, tigers, rhinos, great apes, marine turtles, and migratory birds. The projects funded by these successful laws have produced marked results and significantly aided vulnerable species.

“Humans have been killing these species, destroying their habitats and driving them away for far too long, and the damage done to the world around us speaks for itself,” Grijalva said. “The best science we have, combined with a healthy respect for nature, demands that we pass this bill. At the end of the day, if we don’t protect these species, they’ll disappear and take large food chains with them. We’ll have nowhere to look but the mirror to understand the cause.”

Lions and Ethiopian wolves are of particular concern to Born Free USA.  An estimated 32,000 or fewer lions remain across Africa, which represents more than a 50% decline since 1980. They face indiscriminate poisoning, shrinking habitats, lack of prey species, trophy hunting, poaching, and illegal trade. The survival of the West African lion is in particular peril; they face possible extinction with only 400 remaining.  With fewer than 500 adult Ethiopian wolves, this species is one of the rarest carnivores in the world. Living in small, isolated populations within Afroalpine regions of Ethiopia, these wolves are severely threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation, rabies, and hybridization with domestic dogs.

“There must be resources available so that meaningful action can be undertaken to protect these and other species,” said Roberts. “West African Lions, Ethiopian wolves, and other imperiled felids and canids are running out of time. I strongly urge members of Congress to support the Rare Cats and Canids Act and ensure its swift passage.”

Born Free USA is a global 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 North America the message of “compassionate conservation” — the vision of the United Kingdom-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. 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; www.twitter.com/bornfreeusa; and www.facebook.com/bornfreeusa.

Ban is critical to save animals from extinction

Washington D.C., June 8, 2015 -- A coalition of leading animal welfare organizations including Born Free USA, MSPCA-Angell, Zoo New England, International Fund for Animal Welfare, The Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International, have joined together to encourage the passage of legislation to ban the sale of ivory and rhinoceros horn in Massachusetts.

Senate Bill 440 and House Bill 1275, introduced by Senator Jason Lewis and Representative Lori Ehrlich, would ban the sale of ivory and rhino horn in Massachusetts, a critical step in the fight to save these animals from extinction. Ninety-six Massachusetts legislators have signed on as co-sponsors.

African elephants and rhinos are being killed at an unprecedented rate as demand for their tusks and horns continues to grow. Between 2010 and 2012, 100,000 elephants were killed for their ivory — representing the worst mass slaughter of elephants since the international ivory trade was banned in 1989.

According to Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA and the Born Free Foundation, “The elephant poaching epidemic across Africa has reached crisis levels and rhino poaching is escalating exponentially. The U.S. is a major ivory market, and we cannot afford to wait any longer to take action. Senator Lewis and Representative Ehrlich's timely action addresses the market for these products, which is a crucial part of ending the slaughter.”

“Massachusetts has the opportunity to lead during this critical time for elephants and rhinos. By banning the sale of elephant ivory and rhino horns, Massachusetts can also raise consumer awareness, reduce poaching and be an example for other states and other countries,” said Cynthia Mead, Zoo New England executive vice president of external affairs and programming.

"Although this problem might seem like only an African tragedy, our actions here at home make a huge difference abroad. Elephants are the only ones who need ivory; rhinos are the only ones who need their horns. Massachusetts doesn't need either,” said Azzedine Downes, IFAW President and CEO.

“With this alarming rate of poaching, African elephants could be gone from the wild in a few decades,” said Iris Ho, wildlife program manager for Humane Society International. “The situation is also devastating for rhinos as all five remaining rhino species are threatened with extinction. The very true possibility of disappearance of these majestic animals over human greed for vanity items is a moral and ecological disaster.”

As documented in Born Free USA’s groundbreaking reports, Ivory’s Curse and Out of Africa, poaching is not only a wildlife conservation and animal welfare issue but also directly linked to transnational criminal syndicates. Furthermore, the scale of poaching today supplies a $7-10 billion wildlife trafficking enterprise that is intertwined with terrorism and government corruption.  These groups use poaching as a substantial source of funding for their brutal activities, which also threatens U.S. national security.

“The proposed legislation would neither criminalize possession of ivory already legally owned by Massachusetts residents, nor would it prohibit inheritance or noncommercial ivory gifts,” said Laura Hagen, deputy director of advocacy for the MSPCA-Angell.  “But it would help stop the killing, trafficking and demand that is driving these iconic species to extinction—and that is essential if they are to have a chance at survival.”

New York and New Jersey passed similar laws last year.  A host of states, including, California, Connecticut, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont have similar pending legislation to shut down the ivory and rhino horn trade in their jurisdictions.

Born Free USA is a global 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 North America the message of “compassionate conservation” — the vision of the United Kingdom-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. 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; www.twitter.com/bornfreeusa; and www.facebook.com/bornfreeusa.

H.R. 2016/S.1081would prohibit body-gripping traps on National Wildlife Refuges

Washington, DC, April 27, 2015 – Today, leading animal welfare and wildlife conservation organizations -- Born Free USA, the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) –  announced support for the reintroduction of the Refuge from Cruel Trapping Act (H.R. 2016/S.1081) in both the U.S. House of Representatives by Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) and the U.S. Senate  by Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.). This bill would ban the use or possession of all body-gripping animal traps -- including snares, Conibear traps, and steel-jaw leghold traps -- on lands within the National Wildlife Refuge System (NWRS).

Born Free USA, AWI, and IFAW commend Congresswoman Lowey and Senator Booker for backing the bill and urge swift passage of the legislation to ensure that all National Wildlife Refuges are safe havens for wildlife.

“Indiscriminate body-gripping traps on public land affect the welfare of wild animals and humans alike,” said Congresswoman Lowey. “That’s why I reintroduced the Refuge from Cruel Trapping Act to prohibit the use of inhumane steel jaw leghold traps, Conibear kill traps, and snares within our National Wildlife Refuge System. We need to address this inherent cruelty and restore the true meaning of ‘refuge.’”

"The use of body-gripping animal traps in federal wildlife refuges is contrary to the very mission and purpose of these protected areas. These cruel traps don't distinguish between targeted animals and protected animals, endangered species or pets, and are a safety hazard to people. It's past time to remove this antiquated and inhumane practice from federal wildlife refuges," said Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J).

According to Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA and the Born Free Foundation, “Animals and people should have the freedom to enjoy these Refuges without the threat of stepping into a body-gripping trap. The brutality of these traps is shocking; they can crush limbs and organs, and animals often remain trapped for days, in massive pain, before dying. It is inexcusable to subject any animal to such a fate on lands intended for their preservation.”

The NWRS encompasses the most comprehensive and diverse collection of fish and wildlife habitats in the world, and provides a home for more than 240 endangered species. Overall, the NWRS harbors species of more than 700 birds, 220 mammals, 250 reptiles and amphibians, and 200 fish. Despite the NWRS’ mission “to administer a national network of lands and waters for the conservation, management, and where appropriate, restoration of the fish, wildlife, and plant resources and their habitats within the United States for the benefit of present and future generations of Americans,” a staggering 54 percent of the refuges within the system allow trapping on refuge grounds.

"Body-gripping traps slam closed with bone-crushing force on any animal that trips the device, while strangling snares tighten around the neck or body of their victims until death finally ends the torture. This cruelty should not be permitted in any place that is called a ‘refuge,’” said Cathy Liss, president of AWI. “Passage of this legislation would be a crucial step toward reducing the suffering inflicted on our nation’s wildlife.”

IFAW Campaigns Officer Carson Barylak added, “The Refuge from Cruel Trapping Act will put a stop to the use of cruel and ecologically destructive traps on wildlife refuges, allowing these public lands to serve their intended purpose--preserving wildlife and ensuring that all Americans can enjoy our shared natural heritage on refuges.” 

Born Free USA, AWI, and IFAW assert that animals and people should have freedom to enjoy National Wildlife Refuges without that danger present, and urge other members of Congress to join Congresswoman Lowey and Sen. Booker in support of H.R. 2016/S.1081.

Born Free USA is a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation. Through litigation, legislation, and public education, the organization leads vital campaigns against animals in entertainment, exotic “pets,” trapping and fur, and the destructive international wildlife trade. Born Free USA brings to North America the message of “compassionate conservation” — the vision of the United Kingdom-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. Born Free USA’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, www.twitter.com/bornfreeusa, and www.facebook.com/bornfreeusa.

The Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) is a non-profit charitable organization founded in 1951 and dedicated to reducing animal suffering caused by people. AWI engages policymakers, scientists, industry, and the public to achieve better treatment of animals everywhere—in the laboratory, on the farm, in commerce, at home, and in the wild. For more information on AWI, visit www.awionline.org.

Founded in 1969, IFAW saves animals in crisis around the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW rescues individual animals, works to prevent cruelty to animals, and advocates for the protection of wildlife and habitats. For more information, visit www.ifaw.org. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Winning poems from children in CA and IL

 

Washington, D.C., January 5, 2015 -- Today, Born Free USA, a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation, announced the winners of the 13th annual National Bird Day poetry contest. In the fall, children ages 5 to 18 were invited to submit original poems around the theme “Poetry Uncaged,” reflecting the plight of exotic birds in captivity, the pet bird trade, and the dangers to birds in the wild: the focus of National Bird Day (January 5, 2015). Winning submissions came from children in California and Illinois.

The winning poems were posted today on the Born Free USA and National Bird Day websites and will be featured in an upcoming issue of Born Free USA’s national magazine, Animal Issues Digest. The children also received tee shirts, DVDs, and more.

The first place winner from the 5 to 12 year old age group is Jacelyn Freitas, age 11, of CA. Her poem, “A Duck Named Phillip,” begins with the poignant line: “I am a duck that is stuck in a cage with no friends to play with.”

 

The first place winner from the 13 to 18 year old age group is Alyssa Graveline, age 17, of IL. In her poem, “Happier Free,” she implores: “Let me find treetops, & fly from them when I just have that urge to meet the sky again.”

According to Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA, “We are impressed by the scope and creativity of these children and their understanding of the plight of birds. Our judges enjoyed reading the poems and had a tough time making their final decisions! We are thrilled that future conservationists—these young children—can help spread the word that birds belong in the wild, and help National Bird Day continue to be a success. We thank them and their parents for entering the contest.”

National Bird Day is when Born Free USA, in conjunction with Avian Welfare Coalition, focuses on issues critical to the protection and survival of captive and wild birds. The annual initiative features education and action to stop the international trade in wild birds, raise awareness about standards of care for birds who have been adopted as pets, and push for a deeper respect and understanding about the plight of all birds.

Born Free USA is a global 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. 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, www.twitter.com/bornfreeusa, and www.facebook.com/bornfreeusa.

Born Free USA roundup of federal and state bills

Washington, D.C., December 30, 2014 -- Born Free USA, a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation, works with federal, state, and local legislators to strengthen existing animal protection laws and establish new ones that tackle crucial wildlife issues including exotic animals kept as “pets,” the barbaric trapping industry, and the trade in wildlife parts. This year was significant in legislatures around the country, with animal bills seeing both big wins and frustrating defeats.

According to Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA and the Born Free Foundation, “We fight with unsurpassed determination to protect animals and preserve wildlife. We are grateful to those who support our efforts to reduce animal suffering, increase public safety, and help ensure compassionate conservation everywhere. All American citizens can help influence their state and federal leadership and impact the way we treat wildlife. Every voice can be heard, and we are asking people to step up for the sake of wildlife protection and the future of our planet.”

Born Free relies on its dedicated constituents to help persuade legislators to act for animals throughout the year, and encourages everyone to join its eAlert team for regular updates on ways to assist (www.bornfreeusa.org).

Born Free USA’s hit and miss list for 2014 bills:

Exotic animals and other primates:

From the slaughter of wild animals in Zanesville, Ohio in 2011 after a man released them from his property, to the Connecticut woman who was mutilated by her neighbor’s pet chimpanzee in 2009, to the nearly 100 other incidents detailed in the Born Free USA Exotic Animal Incidents Database throughout 2014, the stories of private ownership of exotic pets are gruesome and preventable. To protect wildlife and the public, Born Free USA worked on the following bills:

1) Federal Bill: Captive Primate Safety Act (H.R. 2856/S. 1463)

Purpose: To prohibit the interstate commerce in nonhuman primates for the exotic pet trade.

History: In 2003, the Captive Wildlife Safety Act was signed into law to prohibit interstate commerce in lions, tigers, and other big cats as pets. Because primates face similar inhumane treatment and pose similar threats to public health and safety, advocates seek to add them to the list of species prohibited in commercial trade.

Progress in 2014: Born Free USA, along with partners, worked to attract more attention to this bill. The list of cosponsors soared to more than 150, and members of Congress spoke out in passionate support of the bill at a press conference highlighting Charla Nash: a woman who was severely injured in an attack by her neighbor’s pet chimpanzee, and who lent her voice to highlight the importance of this measure.

Outcome: While the bill had strong bipartisan support and passed the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, it was ultimately overlooked due to other Congressional priorities. Born Free USA will capitalize on the favor it accrued to start strong in the next Congress.

2) Federal Bill: Humane Care for Primates Act (H.R. 3556)

Purpose: To change CDC regulations to allow sanctuaries to import primates into the country for the purpose of providing humane lifetime care.

History: Current CDC regulations allow the importation of primates for “bona fide scientific, educational, or exhibition purposes,” which excludes sanctuaries and prevents needy primates overseas from being rescued by U.S. organizations, such as the Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary.

Progress in 2014: After securing introduction of the bill in 2013 with Rep. Ellmers (R-NC) as a sponsor, Born Free USA worked to raise awareness and build support for the bill in Congress. With more than 40 cosponsors, this bill was well-received.

Outcome: While it did not pass, the awareness raised ensures that the bill is well-poised to be reintroduced in the House in 2015, and to find a Senate champion.

3) West Virginia Bill (S.B. 428/H.B. 4393)

Purpose: To prohibit private ownership of exotic species, with that list to be defined by the Department of Natural Resources.

History: West Virginia was one of only six states left lacking restriction or oversight for the private possession of exotic animals. This historic bill was initiated by Born Free USA in 2012, though it failed to pass that year.

2014 SUCCESS: This bill passed the legislature and was signed into law by the governor.

Trapping:

Born Free USA is addressing this cruel, unregulated industry. Tens of thousands of targeted and non-targeted animals are caught in traps that leave them injured, maimed, or dead. To prevent further harm, Born Free USA worked on the following bills:

1) Federal Bill: Refuge from Cruel Trapping Act (H.R. 3513)

Purpose: To ban trapping in the National Wildlife Refuge System. The bill aims to restore the original intent of the National Wildlife Refuge System to create havens for wildlife that are safe and free from unnatural intrusion. The bill would also protect people and companion animals incidentally caught by brutal traps.

History: Born Free USA played a key role in drafting the bill when it was originally introduced in the 2009/2010 Congress.

Progress in 2014: Born Free USA lobbied to gain support for this bill in the House, and engaged our Members in a grassroots effort to emphasize the need for this ban.

Outcome: This bill failed to gain traction in the 2013-2014 Congress. However, Born Free USA will continue its efforts to educate members of Congress about trapping.

2) Illinois Bill (S.B. 3049)

Purpose: To add the gray wolf, American black bear, and cougar to the list of protected species under the Illinois Wildlife Act.

History: Under Illinois law, it is unlawful for any person at any time to take, possess, sell, offer for sale, propagate, or release into the wild any “protected species,” with exemptions for scientific, educational, or zoological institutions. The gray wolf, American black bear, and cougar populations are in need of these protections afforded to the other threatened species protected under the Illinois Wildlife Act.

2014 SUCCESS: Born Free USA lobbied in support of this bill through grassroots outreach and by submitting testimony to the legislature. The legislature recognized the importance of these wildlife protections, passed the bill, and the governor signed it into law.

3) Virginia Bill (S.B. 42)

Purpose: To prohibit the construction of new fox penning enclosures, although current fox pens may continue to operate until 2054.

History: There has been an ongoing battle to ban fox penning, a cruel “sport” in which organizers force dozens of dogs to compete in a fenced-in area to chase—and sometimes rip apart—foxes and coyotes. The wild animals are caught in leghold traps that cause anguish through broken bones or other wounds, and are transported in cages to the pen. With dogs tearing apart the captive animals, there is a constant demand for fresh wildlife for the fox pens.

2014 SUCCESS: Born Free USA worked closely with a coalition of groups to usher this bill through the legislature, where it ultimately passed and was then signed by the governor. While it is not an outright ban, it is a positive step in a state in which the practice is so entrenched.

Wildlife trade:

Illegal wildlife trade is ranked among the top five global crimes in terms of profitability. The trade in bear gallbladders, sport-hunted wildlife trophies, and other animals—including threatened and endangered species—could drive some populations or species to the brink of extinction. In particular, Born Free USA’s two groundbreaking reports, Ivory’s Curse and Out of Africa, revealed the insidious links between terrorist networks and the ivory trade. To address this crisis, Born Free USA worked on the following bills:

1) Federal Bill: Targeted Use of Sanctions for Killing Elephants in their Range (TUSKER) Act (H.R. 5454)

Purpose: To require certain nations to work with the U.S. on anti-poaching efforts, or face sanctions if they fail to cooperate.

History: As Born Free USA’s Ivory’s Curse report revealed, African nations must play a significant role in cracking down on corruption within governments and poaching within their boundaries. This bill is designed to incentivize African nations to make the poaching crisis a priority.

Progress in 2014: Born Free USA assisted sponsor Rep. DeFazio (D-OR) with crafting the language of the bill. It contributed to the ongoing discussion in Congress about how to best tackle the poaching crisis, and demonstrated that the U.S. is serious about finding a solution.

Outcome: This bill did not make any progress in 2014, but Born Free USA will continue to promote it, as well as other Congressional efforts to end the ivory trade, in 2015.

2) Federal Bill: Rare Cats and Canids Act (H.R. 5836)

Purpose: To provide a source of funding for projects to enhance conservation of international felids and canids.

History: This bill was previously introduced in 2007 and 2009, and it passed the House of Representatives both times. Wild cats and dogs desperately need these conservation efforts. Of the 37 wild felid species worldwide, all but three are currently recognized as species in need of protection. Of the 36 wild canid species worldwide, 20 are recognized as being in need of protection.

Progress in 2014: Born Free USA worked with sponsor Rep. Grijalva (D-AZ) to update the language, find original cosponsors, and recruit the support of other groups before it was introduced.

Outcome: This bill was introduced too late in the session to make progress, but will be reintroduced in 2015.

3) Massachusetts Bill: Shark Fin Ban (H.B. 4088)

Purpose: To prohibit the possession and sale of shark fins, with exemptions for certain species and purposes.

History: Shark finning is a cruel practice in which people cut the fins off of live sharks and return their bodies to the water, where the sharks inevitably die. Similar laws exist in California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, New York, Oregon, Washington, Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands.

2014 SUCCESS: Born Free USA worked closely with a coalition to usher this bill through the legislature, where it ultimately passed and was signed by the governor. While it is not an outright ban, it is a positive step in a state with a large fishing industry. 

4) New York Bill: Restrict the Sale of Ivory and Rhino Horn (A. 10143/S. 7890)

Purpose: To prohibit the sale, purchase, trade, barter, and distribution of ivory and rhino horn articles, but with certain exemptions.

History: New York had a much weaker law regulating the sale of ivory, but it was not sufficient to ensure that no illegal ivory was sold in the state. As the elephant and rhino poaching crisis grows, New York was one of the first states to recognize the need to crack down on the trafficking of these products.

2014 SUCCESS: Born Free USA worked with partners to provide grassroots support of the bill. The legislature recognized the urgency of this matter and passed the bill, allowing the governor to sign it into law.

5) New Jersey Bill: Ban the Sale of Ivory and Rhino Horn (S. 2012/A. 3128)

Purpose: To prohibit the sale, purchase, or barter of ivory or rhino horn.

History: This bill passed the first year it was introduced, establishing New Jersey as the state with the strongest prohibition on ivory and rhino horn.

2014 SUCCESS: Born Free USA worked closely with partners to secure this bill’s passage, including testifying before a committee, engaging with media, and providing grassroots support. The bill passed the legislature and was signed into law by the governor.

To find out more about these bills, and how to take action, visit http://bornfreeusa.org/b4b_lawmakers.php.

Born Free USA is a global 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 North America the message of “compassionate conservation”—the vision of the United Kingdom-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. Born Free’s mission is to end suffering of wild animals in captivity, conserve threatened and endangered species, and encourage compassionate conservation globally. www.bornfreeusa.org; twitter.com/bornfreeusa; and facebook.com/bornfreeusa.

 

Global leader in wildlife conservation says certain populations may face extinction in our lifetime  

Washington D.C., October 28, 2014 – According to Born Free USA, a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation, the world has become a scary place for many wild animals. In advance of Halloween, the organization highlights 13 of the scariest facts concerning wildlife today.

Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA, says, “These are some of the blackest times we have ever seen for tigers, lions, rhinos, and elephants. Some of these species may face extinction not in my daughter’s lifetime, but in my own. Furthermore, we have a horrific epidemic still going on with exotic animals being kept as pets and for entertainment purposes, which is not only inhumane, but also a severe public safety issue. We have more to be afraid of from private ownership of big cats than black cats this Halloween.”    

Thirteen seriously scary facts about animals:

  1. With as few as 3,500 wild tigers left in the world, and numbers rapidly decreasing, the future for this iconic species in its natural habitat is precarious. There are more tigers kept in captivity in the U.S. than there are in the wild.
  2. The elephant poaching crisis has reached historic levels, and some elephant populations may face extinction in our lifetime. An estimated 35,000 to 50,000 elephants are poached each year for their ivory. Elephants are now being killed faster than they are being born.
  3. Approximately 35,000 African lions remain in the wild, declining more than 50% since 1980.
  4. Only six northern white rhinos are left on the planet, and rhinos in South Africa are being poached in greater numbers every year to supply horns to Asia.
  5. Since 1990, more than 200 people — including children — have been injured by captive primates in the U.S.
  6. Over half (54%) of National Wildlife Refuges allow cruel trapping. These lands are not safe havens for humans, wildlife, or pets.
  7. Cheetahs may be the fastest land animals, but they are no match for criminals who capture them from the wild as cubs, take them away from their mothers, and smuggle them to the Middle East, where they are highly prized as pets and live with a chain around their necks. Cheetahs can fetch $10,000 each on the market and only 10,000 remain in the wild.
  8. Born Free USA has recorded 225 captive exotic animal incidents in America alone since 2013. Each case shines a horrific spotlight on the dangers of human/exotic animal interaction.
  9. Six states do not require a license or permit to own exotic animals.
  10. Consumption of bushmeat has been linked to anthrax, Ebola, monkeypox, SARS, and foot and mouth disease. Experts estimate that the bushmeat trade could eliminate all viable populations of African apes within the next five to 15 years.
  11. Nearly 100,000 native carnivores are killed by the federal government on public and private lands each year in the U.S., including by poisons, steel-jaw leghold traps, strangulation neck snares, denning (killing coyote pups in their dens), hounding, and shooting.
  12. Ninety percent of foxes raised on farms are killed for the fur trim market. The number of animal pelts used for trim may soon outnumber those used for full-length fur coats.
  13. Bear gallbladders and bile have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years. There are approximately 10,000 bears in barbaric Asian bear farms in China, Korea, and Vietnam, caged and “milked” cruelly for their bile. American black bears are poached in our forests to slice out their gallbladders and feed the same bear parts markets globally.

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. 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, www.twitter.com/bornfreeusa, and www.facebook.com/bornfreeusa.

 

New Jersey has emerged as a powerful leader, says Born Free CEO

Washington, DC, August 5, 2014 – Governor Chris Christie signed S. 2012 into law today, ending the sale of ivory and rhinoceros horn in New Jersey. This bill, introduced by Senator Raymond Lesniak (D-20) and Assemblyman Raj Mukherji (D-33) and endorsed by Born Free USA, a global leader in animal welfare and wildlife conservation, sets a historic precedent for state action on the devastating wildlife parts trade.

According to Adam M. Roberts, CEO of Born Free USA, “New Jersey has emerged as a powerful leader on these issues. This new law is of particular importance because the port of Newark is a hub for illegal wildlife trade. The elephant poaching epidemic across Africa has reached crisis levels and rhino poaching is escalating exponentially, so we have no time to waste in enacting legislation. I hope that other states will follow this example.  We are grateful to Governor Christie for signing this bill into law.”

The new law entirely eliminates the trade in ivory and rhinoceros horn, except where this authority is superseded by federal regulations.  Illegal trafficking of these wildlife products is directly responsible for shocking declines in wild populations in recent years, and this bill is a crucial step toward reducing the target market.

According to Born Free USA, the elephant poaching crisis has become increasingly severe over the past several years, and it is estimated that more than 86,000 elephants have been poached since January 2012.  “If the killing rate continues, certain African elephant populations could be extinct within a decade,” says Roberts. “As proven in our recent groundbreaking report Ivory’s Curse, illegal ivory trafficking is exploited by transnational criminal networks that enable terrorism, weapons, and human trafficking, feeding devastating  violence and instability in Africa.”   

Assemblyman Mukherji, sponsor of the Assembly bill, said, “Terrorist organizations such as Al Qaeda-affiliated Al-Shabaab, The Lord’s Resistance Army, and Janjaweed, are funding their operations with profits from poaching and the illegal ivory trade.  With New Jersey ports serving as a hub for illegal wildlife trafficking and our proximity to New York City, the largest ivory buyer in the country, we as a legislature needed to act now.”

Additionally, all five rhino species are in serious danger due to poaching. Africa’s black rhinos are critically endangered, with a population of fewer than 5,000. There are only 3,000 one-horned rhinos remaining in India and Nepal, and Southeast Asia’s Sumatran and Javan rhinos number only in the hundreds and tens, respectively. The horns, made of a substance akin to fingernails, are used in traditional Chinese medicine. Despite conclusive evidence that they have no curative properties, hundreds of rhinos are killed for their horns every year.

Senator Lesniak, a leader in wildlife trafficking legislation, stated, “Illegal ivory threatens the very existence of elephants on the face of the earth. We know [this bill] will be an inspiration to other states, Congress, and indeed other countries in the world to follow our lead.”

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 North America the message of “compassionate conservation” — the vision of the United Kingdom-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. Born Free USA’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,www.twitter.com/bornfreeusa, and www.facebook.com/bornfreeusa.

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