10 years of achievements for wildlife
With your help, we have achieved some amazing things for wild animals over the past 10 years. Here's what you helped make possible:
Broke new ground by hosting Untangled – the world’s first ever symposium on the impact of marine litter on animal welfare. This event, partly sponsored by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), inspired 60 international experts to sign a declaration pledging to take action to protect the world’s marine animals from needless suffering. It laid firm foundations for the Global Ghost Gear Initiative that we set up in 2014.
Celebrated the end of bear dancing in India where we had worked with the Indian government and our partner the Wildlife Trust of India to eradicate this cruel entertainment. Together we trained more than 400 Indian officials in anti-poaching techniques. And through our education work we convinced local people that bear dancing is cruel and destructive to the country’s wild bear population. We also persuaded bear owners to give up their animals for alternative ways of making a living.
Stopped hundreds of sea lions being killed by the Chilean government by mobilizing 100,000 supporters, local partners and people to stop the cull. We also launched our campaign Seen and Not Hurt to galvanize tour operators to press the Namibian government to stop the commercial clubbing to death of around 85,000 seal pups and 6,000 adults each year. We highlighted that seal watching would bring in far more revenue to the country than seal hunting.
Exposed cruel caged civet coffee production. This resulted in 20 major retailers – including Harrods – in five countries refusing to sell it by the end of the year. Known as Kopi Luwak, civet coffee is one of the world’s most expensive drinks. Traditionally, it was made from coffee beans partially digested and excreted in the wild by civets – small cat-like creatures. However, demand led to civets being trapped in the wild and farmed in horrendous conditions to get the beans.
Mobilized 185,000 supporters to call for the Cayman Turtle Farm, a popular tourist attraction, to protect the 9,500 green sea turtles kept on site. The turtles were enduring cannibalism, disease and genetic defects caused by the farm’s appalling conditions. Our campaign led to the farm recruiting a full-time vet, stopping turtle rides for tourists and selling turtle meat-based meals in its restaurant. We also persuaded the farm to stop an annual turtle release into the wild because of lack of procedures to protect sealife from disease.
Moved 2,000 mosque leaders in Pakistan to give anti-bear-baiting messages to their followers through our work with our partner the Bioresource Research Centre (BRC) of Pakistan. And we continued to give a safe haven to bears saved from the horrors of bear baiting at our beautiful Balkasar bear sanctuary managed by BRC. Bear baiting is a cruel and illegal ‘sport’ where dogs are set upon tethered, defenseless bears.
Started our Sea Change campaign to save marine animals from entanglement and death in the 640,000 tonnes of abandoned nets, lines and ropes left in our oceans annually. We did this by creating a collective of influential problem-solving experts from the seafood industry, governments, international and local organizations. This collective, later named the Global Ghost Gear Initiative, held its first meeting in November.
Convinced the Brazilian government to protect Botos – the Amazon’s pink river dolphins – from being cruelly hunted and killed as fishing bait. The government introduced a five-year moratorium on their hunting as a result of our campaign and we started work with local communities to find alternatives to Boto bait. We also ran education programmes with local communities encouraging children and animals to protect these iconic animals.
Rescued five bears from cruel captivity and gave them a safe haven in our Romanian bear sanctuary near Zarnesti with 79 other bears. Our supporters’ generosity enabled us to support our partner Asociatia Milionane de Prietnei to run the sanctuary and operate an education programme. More than 22,000 people and 28 school parties visited the sanctuary during the year and learned the importance of protecting Romania’s bears.
Launched our Wildlife. Not Entertainers campaign and exposed the holiday horrors of wild animals including elephants, lions, dolphins, tigers and bears being cruelly used for entertainment. This led to 88 travel companies committing, by the end of the year, to longer sell or promote elephant rides to their clients. Thomas Cook, one of the world’s largest travel companies, eventually listened to the calls of 248,226 of our supporters and did the same in 2016.
Developed sea changing partnerships, through the Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI) with local and national groups dedicated to saving animals from marine entanglement. With them we removed a massive 92 tonnes of ghost gear – nets, lines, and lobster pots from the world’s seas and oceans.
Told the real story behind the seemingly harmless tourist activities of walking with lions and cub stroking in Africa. Our report – ‘Breeding cruelty – how tourism is killing Africa’s lions’, launched after the shooting of Zimbabwe’s Cecil the lion revealed the unacceptable exploitation and violence lions endure for entertainment.
Activated more than 558,000 people to join us and call for TripAdvisor to stop promoting and profiting from wildlife entertainment. We also launched our ‘Checking out of cruelty’ report which exposed the world’s ten cruellest wildlife tourist activities. Supporter action and widespread media attention convinced TripAdvisor to announce they would no longer sell any wildlife experiences involving direct contact with animals.
Persuaded the UK government to continue funding the London-based National Wildlife Crime Unit (NWCU) after it was threatened with closure. NWCU works closely with Interpol to combat the illegal wildlife trade that in 2016 was estimated to be worth up to £14bn a year. London continues to be an international hub for the trade.
Worked with our partners in Vietnam, South Korea and China to end the suffering of around 25,000 bears farmed for their bile. We tested a micro-chipping programme in Vietnam to ensure bear farmers comply with existing laws stopping bear bile production. Bears farmed for their bile endure intense suffering. They are confined throughout their lives to cages so small they cannot move around while bile is painfully extracted from their stomachs.
Moved more than 250,000 of our supporters in just two months to persuade social media giant Instagram to protect wild animals from the cruelty of being used as selfie props. Our campaign was prompted by noting a 292% increase in the number of wildlife selfies publicly posted on the social media site since 2014. Instagram introduced warning and education pages about wild animal abuse caused by selfies, animal trafficking and irresponsible tourism.
Microchipped 230 captive bears in southern Vietnam as part of our work to ensure no new bears enter the industry to endure the pain of bear bile farming. We started microchipping in 2016 and by the end of 2017 the number of bears in captivity dropped by 69% to 1,350. This project continues to run alongside other activities to protect bears carried out by our partners Education for Nature – Vietnam and Four Paws. By the end of 2021 there were 294 bears left on bear farms in Vietnam.
Continued our stewardship of the GGGI by launching eight ghost gear-linked marine animal protection projects worldwide. These included a project to remove almost 8,000m2 of illegal nets in the habitat of the critically endangered vaquita porpoise in San Felipe, Mexico and then recycle them. We also supported the development of a ghost gear reporting app and data base, for launch in 2018, to help build global evidence on the issue.
Celebrated moving a total of 1,639,576 people since 2015 to support our Wildlife. Not Entertainers campaign to protect wild animals from abuse and cruelty. We welcomed 59,327 new people to our movement during the year.
Organized an educational exotic pet workshop across 3 locations in Canada with more than 200 attendees. Most agreed existing laws are inadequate in Canada for addressing the welfare of exotic pets, and 84% felt they have a role to play in addressing the problem.
Exposed the horrendous suffering of wild animals – including dolphins, orangutans and elephants – in 26 wildlife tourism venues in Bali, Lombok and Gili Trawangan, through our ‘Wildlife abusement parks’ report. This galvanized companies including Qantas, FlightCentre and Apollo to stop promoting the venues.
Attracted 37 new members, including Thai Union, Bumblebee, Nestle and Tesco, to the GGGI to tackle the deaths and injuries caused to sea life by abandoned, lost and discarded fishing gear. They brought the total membership of this influential group to 100. At the end of the year, we handed the baton of GGGI leadership to Ocean Conservancy. This US-based, non-profit environmental group is dedicated to safeguarding the sustainability of the world’s oceans.
Moved the Canadian Government to join the Global Ghost Gear Initiative, committing to reducing ocean plastics and addressing one of the deadliest forms of plastic debris for marine animals like whales and turtles.
Supported two elephant venues in Thailand – ChangChill and Following Giants – to become inspiring elephant-friendly, observation-only tourist attraction examples of elephant-friendly businesses. We also persuaded 17 more travel companies to commit to becoming elephant friendly bringing the year-end total to 260 elephant-friendly travel companies.
Published ‘Risky Business, the unregulated pet trade in Canada’, a report exposing the number of wild animals kept as pet in the country. Since releasing the report, it has been widely cited and used by governments at all levels.
Launched Fooled by a Smile, our global campaign to end the suffering of the more than 3,000 captive dolphins held in cruel captivity worldwide. Our accompanying report ‘Behind the Smile’ outlines the massive scale and profitability of the multi-billion-dollar dolphin entertainment industry. Most captive dolphins live out their lives in small, barren tanks measuring just 444m² on average –200,000 times smaller than even a conservative estimate of a dolphin’s wild range.
Convinced Transat, Air Canada, WestJet, and Sunwing to stop selling tickets to venues that exploit dolphins for entertainment.
Helped pass new legislation (Bill S-203 a.k.a. the Free Willy Bill) which banned the trade, breeding, and display of cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) for entertainment in Canada by mobilizing Canadians to write letters and presenting parliamentarians with the scientific evidence against keeping marine mammals in captivity. Together, we demonstrated to the federal government that Canadians are against the keeping these social, intelligent, and vast roaming marine mammals in small, barren tanks for entertainment.
Secured a global embargo from Turkish Airlines to stop transporting African grey parrots, one of the world’s most trafficked animals. Thousands of African grey parrots are poached from the wild annually. Many die after capture, in transit and never make it to their final destination. We mobilized more than 20,000 Canadians and 190,000 people globally who called on Turkish Airlines to stop transporting these parrots.
Advised on stronger animal protection legislation in Ontario, the PAWS Act, which passed in December and gave the provincial government the opportunity to restrict animals that are inhumane and unsafe to keep.
Published our report, ‘the Show can’t go on’, which put a spotlight on two Canadian zoos for offering elephant rides and big cat selfies in contravention of professional zoo guidelines. We mobilized letters pushing the zoo industry and provincial government to take action.
Mobilized more than 1 million people in support of our #EndWildlifeTrade campaign in response to the global COVID pandemic. We raised mass awareness of the link between the exploitation of wild animals and the transfer of diseases to people, and pressured G20 countries to take action.
Saved captive elephants in Asia at 12 observation-only high welfare elephant camps from starving and paid for the staff to look after them when tourism stopped because of COVID-19. Ten camps were in Thailand; one in Nepal and one in Cambodia. High welfare means in the pre-covid world tourists would have observed elephants feeding, grazing, and socializing with each other on their own terms. Two of the camps were ChangChill and Following Giants that we set up as elephant-friendly examples.
Launched an emergency appeal to give vital financial support to help feed and care for the bears at the Romanian bear sanctuary run by our partner Asociatia Milionane de Prieteni (AMP). COVID-19 meant their visitor funding – a critical source of revenue had dried up. Our generous supporters enabled AMP to pay all their operating costs and ensured they could rescue six more bears from abuse to the sanctuary. By the end of the year the sanctuary was caring for 107 bears.
Joined the World Cetacean Alliance to promote the Whale Heritage Sites programme. This global accreditation recognizes outstanding destinations that implement and celebrate responsible and sustainable whale and dolphin watching. We proposed Tenerife-La Gomera in Spain, Dana Point in the USA and Algoa Bay, South Africa as potential heritage sites. They were granted Whale Heritage Site status in 2021.
Invited to join the Ontario government’s Advisory Table on Animal Welfare to help inform new regulations developed under the Provincial Animal Welfare Services (PAWS) Act.
Educated animal welfare, conservation, and public health officers and enforcement and government staff on the risks of the exotic pet trade. More than 400 people registered for our webinar series contributing to a 96% increase in awareness and understanding. 94% of attendees surveyed agreed they have a role to play in addressing exotic pet problems.
Influenced the Travel Corporation to strengthen their animal welfare policy and to take a firmer stance against venues that keep cetaceans in captivity and becoming one of the first companies to promote the Five Domains of Animal Welfare.
Hosted a virtual parliamentary reception in Canada to demonstrate support from scientists, celebrities, and MPs across parties for curbing the cruel commercial wildlife trade and to prevent future zoonotic pandemics.
First organization to testify on the importance of animal welfare to pandemic prevention to Canada’s Standing Committee of Health.
Ended elephant rides and shows at African Lion Safari and pushed Canada’s Accredited Zoos and Aquariums to prohibit these activities at their member zoos.
Pushed for animal welfare to be a federal election issue through our Vote For Animals campaign, achieving commitments to curb the wildlife trade and protect animal welfare in the main party platforms. We also co-hosted the first ever animal welfare election debate reaching an audience of 10,000.
Helped achieve a commitment to a captive lion breeding ban by South Africa’s government after our two-year campaign with our partner Blood Lions and other organizations. When made law, the ban will halt the horrendous abuse inflicted on 8,000–12,000 captive lions annually bred for hunting, tourist interactions and for the traditional Asian medicine trade.
Achieved an amazing milestone through people power when Expedia – one of the world’s largest travel brands – banned dolphin entertainment sales and promotion. More than 350,000 of our incredible supporters kept pressing this global travel giant for change for three years thorough our Fooled by a Smile and #NoTanksExpedia campaigns.
Celebrated when continued pressure on South Korea’s government, with our long-time partner Green Korea United (GKU), resulted in a landmark achievement regarding the country’s farmed bears. Bear bile farming will stop in the country from 1 January 2026. The South Korean government also approved the budget for an animal shelter to house confiscated, illegally bred bears. Stricter penalties for aggravated wildlife offences, including illegal breeding of bears, were introduced too.
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