With the news headlines dominated by depressing statistics and stories of human suffering, as a result of the ongoing global pandemic, there’s no doubt that many will want to consign 2020, the world’s annus horribilis, to the dustbin of history just as fast as they can. However, in doing so they might miss some important good news that has given animal lovers everywhere the opportunity to celebrate.
1. Zoo rescues and relocations
When Bloemfontein Zoo in South Africa closed and the animals were left to starve, Born Free, working with Panthera Africa Big Cat Sanctuary and Bloemfontein SPCA, rescued and relocated two leopards.
Mowgli, a melanistic leopard approximately 18 months old, and Zeiss a spotted leopard around six years old, were give a lifetime home at Born Free’s big cat sanctuary in Shamwari Private Game Reserve.
2. France bans wild animals in circuses
After many years of campaigning, France announced that it will introduce a ban on the use of wild animals in circuses. It has also signalled an end to the keeping of dolphins and orcas in captivity, and banned mink farms.
3. Orangutan baby boom
An astonishing six baby orangutans were born in Borneo’s Lamandau Wildlife Reserve during 2020.
4. More than 40 Ethiopian wolf pups born
A total of 48 new Ethiopian wolf pups were born this year. With only an estimated 500 individuals left in the world, this is great news for Africa’s most threatened carnivore and the world’s rarest canid (member of the dog family).
5. Amboseli elephant births
More than 140 elephants have been born in Amboseli National Park this year, including two sets of twins— this brings Kenya’s overall wild elephant population to more than double that of 1989.
6. China bans trade in wildlife for human consumption
Following the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, China finally banned the production of and trade in wildlife for human consumption. They also removed pangolin scales from the traditional Chinese pharmacopeia.
7. Lions numbers in Kenya increase
According to the Kenya government, the official estimate for the number of lions living in in the country has increased by 25%, from 2,000 in 2010 to 2,489 – fantastic news for a species conservationists fear may be heading for extinction across much of its wild range.
8. Two cheetah cubs saved from the illegal wildlife trade
Two cheetah cubs were saved from the illegal wildlife trade. They were only months old when they were seized by the Somali regional authorities in Ethiopia, having most likely been torn from the wild for the brutal exotic pet trade in the Middle East.
9. Grey crowned cranes population recovery in Rwanda
Dr Olivier Nsengimana, Founder & Executive Director of the Rwanda Wildlife Conservation Association (RWCA), won the 2020 McKenna-Travers Award in recognition of his incredible work to protect and increase the population of grey crowned cranes from 487 in 2017 to 748 in 2019.
Dr Olivier Nsengimana observing grey crowned cranes
He also established a permanent facility for disabled or injured cranes, meaning that, except for those in the care of the RWCA, there are no captive cranes left in Rwanda.
10. Zambia Primate Project releases vervet monkeys back into the wild
A total of 19 vervet monkeys and baboons were rescued from illegal captivity in 2020, and 21 confiscated vervet monkeys were released back to the wild in Kafue National Park, Zambia, by the Born Free-supported Zambia Primate Project.
11. Installation of 62 new predator-proof bomas
This year Born Free has helped to protect 18,000 head of livestock and secured the livelihoods and safety of over 1,300 people thanks to the 62 new predator proof bomas it installed in southern Kenya and over the border in Tanzania.
Bomas are simple, cost-effective fenced corrals that protect livestock from predation at night thus reducing retaliatory killings and human-wildlife conflict.
12. Wildlife started to reclaim the world during lockdown
Dolphins were spotted in the canals of Italy, West African giraffe in Niger are ranging more widely and even moving closer to the capital city Niamey than ever before, and a jaguar was spotted in a protected area in Chaco/Yungas in Argentina – 70km south west of where jaguars are usually found!