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Virginia McKenna Award for Compassionate Conservation 2018 Has Been Awarded to the Director of Congolese Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education





|| October 29: 2018 || ά. Mr Jackson Mbeke, the Director of Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education:GRACE, of the Democratic Republic of Congo:DRC, has been awarded the sixth Virginia McKenna Award for Compassionate Conservation. The £15,000 award provides support and recognition for outstanding individual conservationists and carers, who place a high priority on animal welfare, while undertaking environmental education around the world, conservation policy or the protection of species under threat.

GRACE is the world’s only sanctuary for critically endangered eastern lowland gorillas, which are considered one of the 25 most endangered primates in the world, with only 3,800 remaining. GRACE cares for 14 orphaned gorillas rescued from poachers and works to rehabilitate them so they can return to the wild. Furthermore, GRACE maintains 39 acres of forest for the gorillas and partners with local communities to run education and conservation initiatives to protect a critical population of wild gorillas living in Tayna Nature Reserve.

As the DRC Director of GRACE, Mr Jackson Kabuyaya Mbeke manages a team of 33 Congolese, who operate the award-winning gorilla sanctuary and conducts GRACE’s education and community conservation initiatives. Mr Mbeke started with GRACE when it was established in 2009 and has advanced with the project, first working as a Logistician, then, as GRACE Centre Manager and now as the first Congolese DRC Director. Next year, through his role at GRACE, he will lead the first census in over a decade to get an accurate estimate of the number of individuals, that remain in one of the last strongholds for this imperilled great ape.

Born Free Foundation Co-Founder and Trustee Ms Virginia McKenna OBE said, "I am delighted that Jackson Mbeke and his life-saving work on behalf of the endangered Grauer's gorilla, has won this award. His unswerving dedication to the conservation of these highly threatened animals, the forests they inhabit and the communities, who share those same forests, should be an inspiration to all. Together with everyone at Born Free, I am determined that by supporting outstanding individuals, such as, Jackson and his team, with both recognition and resources, we can help make the natural world a more compassionate and safer place."

Mr Jackson Mbeke said, “I am honoured to receive the Virginia McKenna Award and to be recognised for the work GRACE is doing for the gorillas. Life in the DRC can be hard; for many months I could not sleep because I was worrying about the safety of our team and gorillas but I had to take courage because the gorillas depend on us and we refuse to give up on them. This award means so much to me, the team and the local communities we partner. I can not thank Born Free enough. This has boosted our spirits and we will work to multiply our efforts for gorillas.”

Dr Sonya Kahlenberg, GRACE’s Executive Director, said, “Jackson has led the GRACE DRC team through a very difficult period, navigating the major challenges of armed conflict and now Ebola. But he never once considered giving up. Instead, he took things a day at a time and kept everyone focused on the important work of caring for gorillas. Truly nobody loves GRACE more than Jackson does and I am thrilled that his outstanding dedication to gorillas and courage are being recognised by this award.”

Past winners of the Virginia McKenna Award for Compassionate Conservation include: Ms Shivani Bhalla, of the Ewaso Lions Project, for her work on human:lion conflict; Professor Anna Nekaris, of Oxford Brookes University and the Little Fireface Project, for her work on slow loris conservation and welfare; The Mad Dog Initiative, a project, which aims to deliver conservation benefits to endangered species by humanely controlling domestic and feral dogs in and around Ranomafana National Park, Madagascar and Neotropical Primate Conservation in Peru, tackling illegal wildlife trade by partnering with wildlife authorities, police, public prosecutors and grassroots organisations.

A call for the Virginia McKenna Award for Compassionate Conservation 2019 will be announced in the New Year.

About Born Free: Born Free’s mission is to ensure that all wild animals, whether living in captivity or in the wild, are treated with compassion and respect and are able to live their lives according to their needs. Born Free opposes the exploitation of wild animals in captivity and campaigns to keep wildlife in the wild. Born Free promotes Compassionate Conservation to enhance the survival of threatened species in the wild and protect natural habitats while respecting the needs of and safeguarding the welfare of individual animals. Born Free seeks to have a positive impact on animals in the wild and protect their ecosystems in perpetuity, for their own intrinsic value and for the critical roles they play within the natural world.

Caption: Jackson Kabuyaya Mbeke at the Sanctuary he leads: The Director of Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education:GRACE: The Democratic Republic of Congo:DRC: Image: Born Free:::ω.

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Born Free Invites for Public Support as It Launches New Aviation Plans to Reduce Poaching: Support the Dragon Initiative











|| October 10: 2018 || ά. The illegal wildlife trade is estimated to be worth as much as £15.5 billion a year with organised crime groups seeing wildlife as a low risk, high-value commodity. Now, ahead of the Illegal Wildlife Trade:IWT Conference in October, Born Free is calling on the public to help them provide rangers with the ultimate tool to fight back against wildlife crime, a Dragon! Allowing rangers to patrol vast areas of land in minutes rather than weeks and to scope out seemingly inaccessible land to protect wildlife, a Dragon GBT 1170 is an auto-gyro light-aircraft, which will help Born Free and its partners, have a major impact on poaching.

This will transform the reach and capacity of intelligence, using live-tracking technology, secure data, video and voice communications with rangers and control points on the ground and high-performance, conventional and infra-red optics. Born Free is teaming up with Chimera Aviation to launch these ‘dragons of the sky’ for ranger patrols. The aircraft, first seen being flown by James Bond, since used by special military units, can take off in areas the size of a small garden, are quiet, can fly safely at low speeds and can carry a pilot, a passenger or observer and technical equipment.

Mr Howard Jones, the CEO of Born Free, said, “Sometimes, the campaign against poaching and other illegal activity, has felt like a debilitating, endless battle. Rhinos are systematically targeted by poachers for their horns. Fewer than 29,000 remain and between 2008 and 2017, more than 7,000 were killed by poachers in South Africa alone. And, as our Born Free ‘Elephants in Crisis’ campaign earlier this year highlighted, an average of 55 African elephants are killed by poachers every day for their tusks. That’s about one every 25 minutes.

Despite the fact that men and women around the world are putting their lives on the line to tackle the dreadful crimes of illegal wildlife trade and poaching, it just isn’t possible to deter and protect, all day, all night and every day.  To cover these vast and challenging areas, to, then, fight through thick vegetation in time to reach poachers or, to prevent their presence in the first place, has seemed, almost, impossible.

Deploying the Dragon will transform our capability and help turn the current balance on its head.  This will allow our rangers to protect extensive areas safely, economically and efficiently, with much-enhanced surveillance capacity and flexibility, when compared to other aircraft.

We are launching the Dragons at Shamwari Private Game Reserve in South Africa, the home of our two big cat sanctuaries and a 250km haven for wild animals, which has some of the most advanced anti-poaching units in South Africa and on the front-line at Garamba in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

We are hoping that, with public backing, we can prove this method of poaching reduction is effective and roll out the Dragon initiative in 10 other key areas of Africa, including, Kenya, Ethiopia and Zambia within the next 12 months and provide training for all local pilots and rangers.”

About Born Free: Born Free’s mission is to ensure that all wild animals, whether living in captivity or in the wild, are treated with compassion and respect and are able to live their lives according to their needs. Born Free opposes the exploitation of wild animals in captivity and campaigns to keep wildlife in the wild.

Born Free promotes Compassionate Conservation to enhance the survival of threatened species in the wild and protect natural habitats while respecting the needs of and safeguarding the welfare of individual animals. Born Free seeks to have a positive impact on animals in the wild and protect their ecosystems in perpetuity, for their own intrinsic value and for the critical roles they play within the natural world. .:::ω.

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Important Victory for the Asian Elephants Paves the Way for Increased Protection: Only If Words Translate Into Actions: That’s Where Elephant Family and Born Free and Other Such Agencies Must Keep On Working Together


|| October 03: 2018 || ά. World Governments today expressed overwhelming support to strengthen international laws, that will help protect endangered Asian elephants. The move comes following undercover investigation work carried out by UK charity Elephant Family, that exposed an emerging illegal trade in Asian elephant skin. Alarmed by the discovery of skinned elephant carcasses in Myanmar, Elephant Family found that the skin was being turned into beads for jewellery and powder to treat medical conditions and sold online through Chinese language forums.

The sharing of their findings today helped secure a much needed strengthening of the laws, that protect Asia’s endangered elephants. Working together, Born Free Foundation and Elephant Family informed delegates at a meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species:CITES in Sochi, Russia of the skin trade and pushed for more urgent attention to tackle the trafficking. Representatives of two Asian elephant range states, Sri Lanka and Thailand, expressed concern over the emerging threat.

Speaking for Sri Lanka, which will host the CITES Conference of Parties in 2019, Mr Ranjan Marasinghe, the Head of Enforcement of the Department of Wildlife Conservation, said, “As a range state we are aware of the multiple threats, faced by Asian elephants and are concerned that the skin issue will expand to all range states, if, not stopped.”

The European Union and United States gained approval for amendments to existing text, which included a requirement for investigations into illegal trade and improved reporting on implementation. ‘’This is a big step forwards for Asian elephants, since the discussion at CITES is, often, dominated by African elephant ivory trade.’’said Elephant Family’s Conservation Programme Manager Ms Caitlin Melidonis. “Our investigations helped shape the outcome of this important meeting but there is more to be done. Our job now is to ensure that the decisions outlined on paper translate to protection in the field.”

Speaking on behalf of Born Free Foundation, Mr Gabriel Fava, said, ‘’These important developments must lead to better co-operation and co-ordination across range States and help to identify gaps in capacity. We look forward to supporting countries to address those needs and ensure a sustained enforcement response against illegal trade.”

Mr Justin Gosling, a Law Enforcement Specialist, working with Elephant Family, urged caution over the result, “Trade in Asian elephants has been prohibited under CITES for over 40 years, but poaching and trafficking continues and is expanding. Countries implicated in this trade now need to make concerted efforts to investigate the criminal networks and take action to prevent further poaching and trade.”

Next week, Heads of States from around the world will meet at the Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference in London. Elephant Family will be there to continue to garner further support for Asian elephants.

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora:CITES is an international agreement among governments. Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.

About Elephant Family: Elephant Family is an international NGO dedicated to protecting the Asian elephant from extinction in the wild. In the last fifty years their population has roughly halved and 90% of their habitat has disappeared. Poaching, a growing skin trade and demand for wild-caught babies for tourism remain a constant threat along with the deadly and escalating conflict between people and elephants for living space and food. Elephant Family funds pioneering projects across Asia to reconnect forest fragments, prevent conflict and fight wildlife crime. Since 2002 Elephant Family has funded over 180 conservation projects and raised over £15m through public art events for this iconic yet endangered animals.

About Born Free: Born Free’s mission is to ensure that all wild animals, whether living in captivity or in the wild, are treated with compassion and respect and are able to live their lives according to their needs. Born Free opposes the exploitation of wild animals in captivity and campaigns to keep wildlife in the wild.

Born Free promotes Compassionate Conservation to enhance the survival of threatened species in the wild and protect natural habitats while respecting the needs of and safeguarding the welfare of individual animals. Born Free seeks to have a positive impact on animals in the wild and protect their ecosystems in perpetuity, for their own intrinsic value and for the critical roles they play within the natural world.

About Asian Elephants: Asian elephants are found across 13 range states and number c. 46,282. The largest population of wild elephants, c27,312, live in fragmented pockets in the south west, north and north east of India, the smallest population of c.118 live in Vietnam.

Pregnant for 22 months, breeding females have one calf every two to four years. As a slow breeding species losing breeding females and calves is a sure-fire route to extinction. Female calves tend to stay with the herd while males disperse at between 09-12 years old. Smaller than their African cousins only adult males carry tusks, few big tuskers remain. :::ω.
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Apparently: Basking in Shark Tale



|| September 26: 2018 || ά. A team of scientists, including, two from the University of Roehampton, has discovered that basking sharks, hundreds of which live off the shores of Cornwall, Ireland and Scotland, can jump as fast and as high out of the water as their cousin, the famously powerful and predatory great white shark. Basking sharks, the second largest fish in the world reaching lengths up to 10m, 33ft, have previously had a reputation for being slow and languid as they scour the sea for their staple diet of plankton.

The research used video analysis for both species to estimate vertical swimming speeds at the moment of leaving the water. Furthermore, they fitted one large basking shark with a data recording device to measure speed, movement and which, also, stored video. At one point during deployment of the recording device, in just over nine seconds and 10 tail beats, the basking shark accelerated from a depth of 28m to the surface, breaking through the water at nearly 90 degrees.

The shark cleared the water for one second and peaked at a height of 01.2 m above the surface.

To achieve this breach, the basking shark exhibited a six-fold increase in tail beat frequency and attained a top speed of approximately 05.1 m:s. This is more than twice as fast as the average competitor in the Olympic men’s 50m freestyle swim. The videos from boats and the land of both basking sharks and great whites breaching showed similar speeds of breaching in other individuals.

The basking shark videos were recorded in 2015 at Malin Head, Ireland. The white shark videos were recorded in 2009 at two sites in South Africa, during predation attempts on Cape fur seals using seal shaped decoys.

Mr Lewis Halsey, a Reader in the Department of Life Sciences at the University of Roehampton and one of the scientists involved, said, “The results of the research put the basking shark in a new athletic light.

While there are no recorded incidents of them being of danger to swimmers or small boats, unlike the great white shark, we now know, they do have an impressive ability to swim at great speeds and jump clear of the water.”

The research team was comprised with Queen’s University Belfast, University of Roehampton, Trinity College Dublin, University of Cape Town, Irish Basking Shark Study Group and the South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity.  

About the University of Roehampton: The University of Roehampton, London, is an established international higher-education institution providing a high-quality learning and research experience with the aim of developing personal growth and driving social change. The University has a proud and distinguished history dating back to the 1840s and it was one of the first institutions in the UK to admit women to its colleges of higher education. This tradition of commitment to equality continues to be part of the ethos of the University, which has one of the most diverse and thriving communities of students in the UK; its 9,000 student body includes international students from over 146 countries. Today the University is renowned for its broad range of expertise across teacher training, business, social sciences, the arts and humanities, as well as human and life sciences, with world leading and internationally recognised research in these fields.

Image: Apparently, this is not a Basking but Angel Shark:::ω. 

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Born Free Cautiously Welcomes the News That Thomas Cook Is to Stop Selling Tickets to Facilities Keeping Orca in Captivity



|| July 30: 2018 || ά. Born Free has cautiously welcomed the news that holiday operator Thomas Cook is to stop selling tickets to facilities keeping Orca:Killer Whales in captivity. This includes the controversial Sea World parks and Loro Parque in Tenerife. Sustained efforts to inform the travel industry over many years by Born Free, Peta and others have undoubtedly influenced a decision, which Thomas Cook states is based on a review of the scientific evidence.

Born Free is convinced that the complex needs of Whales, Dolphins and Porpoises:Cetaceans can not be met in captivity and calls for an end to the keeping of these animals in dolphinariums. The Foundation believes this decision is symptomatic of a rapidly growing shift in public attitudes away from the exploitation of wild animals in captivity. “The captive exploitation of marine mammals, elephants for riding, lion and tiger cubs for petting and primates and other species for photographic props is falling from favour, particularly, in European and North American markets and Thomas Cook’s decision accurately reflects the public mood.” said Born Free CEO, Mr Howard Jones.

Dr Chris Draper, Head of Animal Welfare and Captivity at Born Free, said, “The physical, sensory and social environment in which Cetaceans live in the wild contrasts dramatically with the restricted and barren tanks found in dolphinariums where Cetaceans are kept purely for human ‘entertainment’.

It is our hope that Thomas Cook’s lead will cause others in the travel industry to abandon promoting visits to dolphinariums and that this will mark the beginning of the end for the captive Cetacean industry once and for all.

On a cautionary note, the announcement by Thomas Cook appears to apply only to facilities keeping Orca: it remains to be seen whether they or other travel agents respond to the risk of suffering endured by other Cetaceans, such as, Dolphins and Beluga kept in captivity and take appropriate action. Furthermore, it is imperative that we investigate the keeping of Cetaceans for entertainment purposes across the globe to ensure that Thomas Cook’s decision does not simply shift the problem from North America and Europe to emerging markets for captive Cetaceans in the Middle East, Asia and the Far East.

While there is a long way to go, I hope, we will soon welcome an era where the global travel industry starts to work with Born Free and other welfare and conservation NGOs, to promote the protection and long-term future of Cetacean in the wild where they belong.” :::ω.

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Life's Laurel Is You In One-Line-Poetry A Heaven-Bound Propagated Ray Of Light Off The Eye Of The Book Of Life: Love For You Are Only Once



Life: You Are The Law The Flow The Glow: In Joys In Hurts You Are The Vine-Songs On The Light-Trellis


























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