“We can change things, one step at a time. Please share the Born Free vision of a better, kinder, more compassionate future. The happiest day will be when the institutionalised confinement of wild animals for human entertainment is no more, when the juggernaut destruction of the natural world grinds to a halt and we nurture our planet with a true sense of respect.” Will Travers.
Will Travers has dedicated most of his life to wildlife issues, ever since he lived with his family in Kenya while his parents, Viginia McKenna and Bill Travers, made the film Born Free (1966). In 1984 he co-founded the charitable organisation which has become known as The Born Free Foundation www.bornfree.org.uk Born Free is an international wildlife charity working throughout the world to stop individual wild animal suffering and protect threatened species in the wild with projects and campaigns now spanning five continents and that are supported worldwide.
In 1989, in response to the brutal slaughter of elephants for the ivory trade, Elefriends was formed. The huge 'Ivory Out' petition collected 1.6 million signatures and was submitted to CITES by Will Travers, helping to ban the international ivory trade. The campaign for elephant protection continues through Born Free Foundation. Will Travers believes there is 'something very special about elephants'. In the late 1990s, Will Travers helped Elefriends, together with the Kenya Wildlife Service, carry out the largest 'elephant relocation' project in Born Free's history, saving the lives of 29 wild elephants.
Born Free's core campaign is Zoo Check, which has taken on the might of the multi-billion pound global zoo industry. Milestones include launching the 'Zoochotic Report' which exposed the abnormal behaviour and suffering of captive animals and helping draft the Zoo Directive (passed in 2002) which seeks to address the conditions endured by animals in Europe's slum zoos. Will has served as a member of the UK Government appointed Zoos Forum, the body which advises DEFRA and other working departments on the future of UK zoos as well as on the UK government's Circus Working Group.
Will is also President of Born Free USA www.bornfreeusa.org a national animal advocacy nonprofit 501©(3) organization, which aims to end the suffering of wild animals in captivity, rescue individual animals in need, protect wildlife – including highly endangered species – in their natural habitats, and encourage compassionate conservation globally.
Born Free USA's primary campaign areas currently include animals used in entertainment, captive exotic animals, trapping and fur, and the international wildlife trade.
The Born Free USA Primate Sanctuary, located in Dilley, Texas, offers more than 500 primates, many of whom were rescued from abusive situations in laboratories, roadside zoos and private possession, life in as natural an enviroment as possible with minimum human interference.
Will is the President of the Species Survival Network (SSN) www.ssn.org an international coalition of more than 80 organizations committed to the promotion, enhancement and strict enforcement of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Through scientific and legal research, education and advocacy, the SSN is working to prevent over-exploitation of animals and plants due to international trade. He represents the Species Survival Network www.ssn.org at CITES Conference of the Parties meetings.
Will helped Ian Redmond (Born Free consultant and conservationist) and the United Nations Enviroment Programme initiate GRASP (Great Ape Survival Partnership) which is creating a strategic global framework for wild great ape conservation.
Will is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, a member of the IUCN SSC Reintroduction Specialist Group and a member of the Special Forces Club.
Will is a regular contributor to national and international press publications, radio and TV and other media.
Will has travelled extensively: Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Chad, Chile, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Denmark, Egypt, Ethiopia, France, Germany, Greece, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Malawi, Mexico, Monaco, Netherlands, Niger, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Sweden, Switzerland, Tahiti, Tanzania, Thailand, Tunis, Turkey, Turks and Caicos Islands, Uganda, USA, Venezuela, Zambia and Zimbabwe.