CEO, Born Free Foundation and Born Free USA
[pullquote]The Act is, in my mind, America’s durable commitment to the protection of wild animals wherever they live, as well as a replicable example of the value of governmental support for wildlife conservation.[/pullquote]Growing up spending so much time in the wilds of Kenya, surrounded by majestic lions, cheetahs, elephants, and rhinoceroses, inspired me to dedicate my life to protecting these iconic animals. My parents, actors Virginia McKenna and Bill Travers, fell in love with Africa during the filming of “Born Free” in the early 1960s, and from their compassionate artistry, the Born Free Foundation was created.
For three decades, I have witnessed wildlife exploitation—poaching, snaring, poisoning, and live trade—that threatens the well-being of individual animals and the long-term viability of entire species. The Endangered Species Act recognizes these threats and establishes a determined blueprint for protecting imperiled wildlife everywhere. The Act is, in my mind, America’s durable commitment to the protection of wild animals wherever they live, as well as a replicable example of the value of governmental support for wildlife conservation.
The work Born Free accomplishes in the field for wild animals, protecting species on the brink, is enhanced by the protection afforded to these species under the Act. And, as the Endangered Species Act implements the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), there is a continuing global, robust partnership that ensures CITES works effectively for the animals listed for protection under the treaty. I have attended every meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES since 1989, and my experience tells me that the success of such agreements depends on mutual collaboration and international cooperation to combat the trans-boundary threat of animal extinction.
The Endangered Species Act remains as powerful a platform today as it did forty years ago for the continued triumph of conservation over extirpation. The indiscriminate slaughter, capture, trade, and sale of animals, including exotic and endangered species within the United States and abroad, brings forth both dire and complex conservation issues. Born Free will always remain on the front lines, working to combat these threats across the globe. We sincerely hope the U.S. commitment to doing the same, through the Act, will remain as steadfast. Wildlife belongs in the wild. And with the Endangered Species Act—unweakened and fully enforced—each and every protected species can survive and thrive for years to come.