US animal advocacy group wants Obama to visit African lions

Will Travers

Will Travers, the Chief Executive Officer of Born Free USA, an American based national animal advocacy nonprofit organization has called on U.S. President Barack Obama to reconsider his decision to not visit African lions during his upcoming visit to Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania from June 26 to July 3.

According to the White House, the President’s African tour forms part of plans to reaffirm U.S. commitment to peace, security, development, and prosperity across Africa.

The Obama Presidency is considering adding the African lion to the list of protected species under the Endangered Species Act. Due to this, Will Travers felt going on a Safari while in South Africa will offer the Obamas an opportunity to demonstrate America’s support for the conservation of these animals and their habitats.

I therefore set myself on a quest to find out why it was so important for Born Free USA that President Obama visits with lions during his trip to Africa by having a conversation with Adam M. Roberts who is the Executive Vice President of Born Free USA in Washington DC.

Listen to the audio of my interview here.

During my insightful conversation with Adam M. Roberts, I discovered that it was important for the U.S. President to reconsider his cancellation to go on a Safari while in South Africa because Born Free USA believes such a visit will help revitalize the declining number of African lions. Such an act will also create an awareness to the call to end animal exploitation by highlighting the importance of global conservation of animals in their natural habitats and the defense of animal rights.

Adam also revealed that the reason given for the cancellation did not hold much water for his group because the security apparatus of the White House was more than enough to protect the American president from any harm from these animals. In any case, he continued to say that he himself has visited with such animals time and again and not had to worry about any harm befalling him.

Such a non consumptive, non hunting safari if done by President Obama will show support for the fate of the African lions and bring more awareness to acts across Africa that are endangering wildlife like poaching of wildlife in Kenya, the conservation of the last remaining 500 Ethiopian wolves, and a reduction in the African pet trade which is thriving in areas like the Middle East and China due to alarming demands for exotic pets.

Over the past 20 years, Born Free USA has played a major role in the reduction of the illegal ivory trade which has left dozens of elephants in Africa dead. It has done so by getting governments in Africa to establish an international agreement of elephant protection and the creation of a fund to finance the actions of this, which if fully supported could go a long way in the protection of not just elephants but all the other animals that are being threatened with extinction.

The journey has not been all smooth for this U.S. Based organization and it says one of the biggest problems it faces in relation to their work in Africa is the exorbitant amounts people pay in Asian countries like China and Japan for African Ivory which has fueled the trade in illegal ivory through elephant poaching. Another unfortunate happening is the poaching of elephants by militant groups like the LRA in Uganda to raise funds with which they use to purchase weapons for warring.

Born Free USA, established in 2002 as a national wildlife conservation and animal protection organization with offices in Washington DC and California is an offshoot of the Born Free Foundation which was started in England in 1984 by Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna, the stars of the film Born Free.

Born Free believes an Obama safari will help fight such problems in Africa and have a far reaching benefit for not just lions on the continent, but other wild life as well as bring economic and environmental benefits says the organization, which has blossomed into an international force in wildlife conservation and animal protection.

Source: Oral Ofori

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