Tag Archives: Will Travers

Christian the Lion lived in my garden

A remarkable video documenting a reunion between a lion named Christian and two men who had cared for him early in his life has been making the rounds on the internet and in the media and I wanted to share some additional information about this story because it is very personal to me and central to the being of Born Free Foundation as an organisation.

This lion used to live in my garden.

Christian was bought from Harrods pet store in London and came, via a furniture shop and my garden in England, to live in Africa (Kora in Kenya), where he was returned to the wild by the world-famous George Adamson.

My late dad (Bill) filmed this great adventure.

The film is extraordinary and exemplifies the spirit that underpins Born Free – every individual matters. Even way back in the 1970’s, this was our way of giving Christian a shot at freedom.

This is part of the Born Free legacy. If it wasn’t for Born Free, the film, my dad and mum (Born Free’s founder, Virginia McKenna) would never have met Ace and John (the two young men in the clip) who would never have brought Christian from London to my garden. My dad, Bill, would never have negotiated with the Kenyan government for Christian’s return to Africa. We would never have had this memorable and inspiring story – and Christian would never have had his freedom (see image below © Bill Travers).

Christian the Lion © Bill Travers

Today, the Born Free Foundation (and Born Free USA in the States) carry on the spirit of Born Free – helping wild animals in need, fighting injustice, cruelty and neglect and working to change animals’ lives for good.

You can purchase the film, Christian: The Lion at World’s End from Born Free at http://www.bornfree.org.uk/shop/acatalog/Videos_and_DVDs.html and you can become part of the Born Free family by joining as a member.  I also have my own blog on our Born Free website which you can view at http://www.bornfree.org.uk/blog/.

To watch the clip of Christian that has wowed the world, visit: http://www.bornfree.org.uk/campaigns/big-cats/about/christian-the-lion/

You can also Subscribe to Born Free Wildlife Direct blog by Email

Thank you.  Do share this story and film clip with your friends.

Will Travers
Born Free Foundation

P.S. Born Free does not advocate the keeping of any wild animal as a ‘pet’. Christian’s story was from another era and was unique. Today we must do all we can to ‘keep wildlife in the wild’.

John Rendall is based in the UK and still supports wildlife conservation both with Born Free and with the George Adamson Wildlife Preservation Trust. Ace now lives in Australia.

Christian lived the life of a free, successful lion, in and around the Kora area until he was seen no more. It was assumed by George Adamson that he had crossed over the Tana River and out of the Reserve.

China is approved as a trading partner for over 100 tonnes of stockpiled ivory


It’s crunch time for elephants (again!)

The decision by the Standing Committee of CITES (Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species) to approve China as a ‘trading partner’ for over 100 tonnes of stockpiled ivory from South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe has left many conservationists and wildlife managers stunned and appalled.

“Unbelievable, naïve and deadly.” states Will Travers CEO of the Born Free Foundation, a member of the Species Survival Network. “It was bad enough when Japan was approved as a trading partner more than a year ago but approving China is, in my view, like pouring petrol on an open fire.”

The reasons why China should not have been approved are numerous:

  • The lack of comprehensive internal law enforcement and trade controls
  • The steady stream of illegal ivory shipments destined for China.
  • The increasing involvement of Chinese nationals based in Africa in ivory trafficking
  • The continued high levels of elephant poaching (estimated to be running at between 20,000 and 25,000 animals a year)
  • The rising price of ivory (poached Sumatran ivory tusks have reportedly increased in value by 300% since 2005)
  • The fragile nature of most African elephant populations (only half a dozen or so African countries have robust and significant elephant herds out of a total of 36 countries that are home to the species)

Carved ivory © BFF

“Now, in addition to all these challenges and threats, we are faced with the prospect of China and Japan bidding against each other for the ivory stockpiles, driving up the price and heightening still further the incentive to poach and smuggle ivory” said Mr Travers, speaking from Geneva where the Standing Committee of CITES is convened.

Born Free and the SSN have comprehensive records relating to massive and entrenched levels of elephant poaching over the last 10 years. Together with other conservation groups, Born Free has consistently argued against any relaxation in the original ivory trade ban approved by CITES in 1989 following a decade when Africa’s elephant population fell by more than 50% from 1.3 million to 600,000. Today, elephant numbers are estimated to hover at around 475,000 – 500,000. Asian elephant numbers stand at a precarious 30,000-40,000

EB herd in Amboseli National Park © BFF

The role of the United Kingdom and the EU has been subjected to significant criticism throughout this process.

“Overwhelmingly the UK public are opposed to any ivory trade but the UK government has steadfastly refused to take a principled lead on this issue, using the notion of EU unity as an excuse for lack of independent action. The UK has also continued to state that it supports sustainable utilisation of wildlife species, including the killing of species such as elephants.” commented Shelley Waterland, International Trade Specialist with Born Free. “Quite clearly, today’s decision will encourage poachers, traders and traffickers and may well sound the final death knell for small, vulnerable elephant populations in West and Central African countries.”

It will also be shocking to many conservationists to learn that the decision to approve China as a trading partner was supported by WWF amongst others.

The illegal black market in ‘white gold’ seems set to cause parts of Africa to run red with elephant blood once more.

For some elephants E may well be for Extinction.

To help West African countries fight increasing and existing poaching and increase protection in the poorest African elephant Range States please consider donating to Born Free Foundation through Wildlife Direct or at www.bornfree.org.uk