Superstars of screen and science battle to save endangered lions

Virginia McKenna and Stephen Hawking call on David Cameron to ban importation of body parts

Virginia McKenna led the march on Downing Street

VIRGINIA McKENNA OBE, the iconic Born Free star, Braveheart actor James Cosmo and Professor Stephen Hawking have joined forces to call on Britain’s Prime Minister to ban the importation of lion “trophies” — in an effort to save the world’s last big cats from being wiped out by hunters.

McKenna said: “I refuse to believe our Government will not act,” as she led a rally of up to 1,000 people at Downing Street.

The veteran actress and campaigner, who with her husband Bill Travers founded the charity Born Free, handed in a letter to David Cameron, also signed by Professor Hawking, Cosmo and a host of other celebrities, politicians and charity leaders. Continue reading

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Pressure on auction houses for ivory sales ban

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Campaigners staged a protest outside Christie’s auctioneers in London

LEADING auction houses are coming under pressure to end sales of ivory, as conservationists are stepping up the battle to have the trade outlawed in Britain.

Dozens of campaigners staged a protest outside Christie’s auctioneers in London, calling for an end to all ivory trade, which they say is speeding the extinction of elephants.

Supporters of the Action for Elephants group rallied, waved placards and handed out leaflets to publicise the role that ivory sales in the UK play in allowing poaching to continue. Continue reading

The day the world united in defence of superior species (and humanity)

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Protesters in London spoke passionately of the need to prevent elephants’ extinction

EVERY now and then, the world has a unifying moment. A moment of a mass, shared sense of joy and inspiration, of determination and hope. The fall of the Berlin Wall was one; the 2012 Olympics opening ceremony was one. This, a weekend in 2015, might just have been another.

In cities around the globe, tens of thousands of people took to the streets with one shared aim – to save two of the planet’s largest and most awe-inspiring species from extinction.

Many had travelled long distances to be there, had booked hotel rooms and cancelled social events for a march that they said it was a privilege to attend. Continue reading

Global stampede for elephants and rhinos

Tens of thousands of people worldwide call for action against China to halt to the massacre of wildlife heading for extinction

THERE is a sensational creature on this Earth. It discovers water sources and nurtures waterholes that allow other animals to also thrive, even in dry seasons; it enriches forests by tearing down old trees and ploughing nutrients back into the soil, giving life to all creatures great and small; spreads plant seeds, and it creates woodland clearings to let sunlight penetrate in, regenerating growth cycles. In short, this animal is pivotal to the ecosystems on which swathes of land masses depend.

Further, it is highly intelligent and sensitive, with complex and wide family bonds; it demonstrably experiences a host of emotions, from love, attachment and happiness to alarm, grief, and fear. Herd members have highly developed communications systems that remain a mystery to human beings.

This amazing creature – the elephant – even earns an income for its host countries, through binocular-toting tourists anxious to catch a glimpse of it – and to shoot it through a camera lens.

Yet humans are rapidly wiping it out.
Continue reading

The final roar: Cecil’s tragedy must mark a turning point

Outrage at lion’s murder must spur us into halting the decline in the ‘crown jewels’ of Africa and the natural world

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Cecil, who has come to represent what the world loves about wildlife

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AS WALTER PALMER raised his fatal bow and arrow, did he look into the eyes of the lion he was about to murder? Did he consider, even for a second, his minuscule significance in the world compared with that of the innocent, gentle creature whose life he intended to steal?

It’s doubtful he can have done, because if he had, even without knowing his target was one of the most revered animals in Africa, he would have understood in a flash the moral repulsiveness of his actions. Continue reading

Broadcasters are ignoring the elephants disappearing from the room

AS IF we hadn’t already had enough clues from our ever more ridiculous weather, climate change has become a greater threat than ever, as the UN has warned. The world will experience more severe flooding, dangerous heatwaves and violent conflicts over water and food, unless carbon emissions are rapidly cut, it said.

Rising temperatures have already started to raise the frequency of flooding and other extreme weather, but this is only just the start, the IPCC report says.

For years, meanwhile, conservationists have been fighting to raise awareness of extinction and loss of habitat, affecting species from farmland birds to the exotic South China Tiger and Javan rhino. In all, 16 species are on the WWF “critically endangered” list, with dozens more categorised as “endangered” and “vulnerable” – an appalling and shameful legacy of human activity. Continue reading