The Born Free Foundation is an international wildlife charity, working to rescue mistreated animals, stop suffering and protect species around the world. In addition to rescue and care, the charity works with communities to promote peaceful coexistence with wildlife, with educational activities to increase understanding and respect. It has also launched a number of high-profile public campaigns against issues such as the ivory trade, hunting and the exploitation of wild animals in circuses and zoos. The charity’s founders are Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna, stars of the hugely popular and award-winning 1966 film Born Free, along with their son, Will Travers.
One of the Born Free Foundation’s most high profile campaigns is Zoo Check, through which it has worked to phase out zoos around the world for more than 30 years. The charity works to increase awareness of the physical and mental suffering that captivity can cause to wild animals such as gorillas.
It promotes a clear message that wild animals do not belong in zoos, circuses or animal shows, and that this kind of animal exploitation should be a thing of the past.
Limbe Wildlife Centre
A sanctuary for gorillas and other primates, the Limbe Wildlife Centre near Douala in Cameroon is one of the Born Free Foundation’s international partners. A team of dedicated workers care for more than 360 animals that have been rescued from the pet trade, or ‘bushmeat orphans’ whose mothers have been killed for food.
In addition to the rescue, care rehabilitation and – where possible – release of wildlife, the centre also involves the local community, aiming to secure the long-term survival of Cameroon’s threatened primate populations.
The Great Apes Survival Project
The Born Free Foundation is a major partner in the Great Apes Survival Project (GRASP), a global partnership coordinated by the United Nations, which is focused on saving gorillas, chimpanzees, orangutans and bonobos from the imminent threat of extinction. Born Free provided GRASP’s core technical support team for the ten years up to 2011, and remains active within the partnership.
Eastern Lowland Gorilla Conservation
The charity, in partnership with Australia’s Humane Society International, supports and funds a monitoring and research team at the Kahuzi Biega National Park, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This team is dedicated to protecting the endangered eastern lowland gorilla, whose global population is thought to number just a few thousand following a steep decline since the mid-90s.
The Last Great Ape Organization
The Born Free Foundation has been supporting the Last Great Ape Organization (LAGA) since its formation in 2002. LAGA works to increase the enforcement of wildlife laws in Cameroon, including the illegal trade in gorilla and other bushmeat.
Prior to LAGA’s foundation, there were no wildlife prosecutions in Cameroon, but thanks to their work, arrests of wildlife dealers now occur on a weekly basis – most of whom are immediately placed behind bars. LAGA works to promote public awareness of wildlife laws via daily press and broadcast communication.
Great Ape Film Initiative
The Foundation has provided seed funding to the Great Ape Film Initiative, which aims to improve awareness of conservation issues via the distribution of award-winning films to the 23 great ape range states in Africa and south-east Asia.