Calling for “collaboration and support” with and from Safari Club International and SCIF, the Honorable Sylvia T. Masebo, MP, Zambia Minister of Tourism and Arts, addressed the SCI Board of Directors at the Convention in Reno Thursday, January 24, 2013.
Recently, Zambia halted much of its hunting pending development of accurate data about the numbers and status of wildlife in that Southern African country.
“As a representative of the Zambian government, I’m here first of all to learn and understand more on the safari hunting industry on a global perspective. Secondly, we wish to use this opportunity to clarify the measures taken by our government to ban hunting of big cats and suspend the granting of safari hunting concessions in some of the hunting area…. Last but not the least, we are here to request for collaboration and support in addressing the problems of poaching and inadequate information on the populations of wild animals in Zambia,” she told the SCI Board.
During her address, the Minister explained the status of hunting that is not affected by recent actions that put certain hunting on-hold.
“We have currently other outfitters who still have valid licenses or hunting licenses for some other hunting blocks, and these outfitters, their licenses are not expired because they had different terms and conditions. Some of them, the licenses may be expiring in this year 2013, and others maybe next year. And so, the suspension of hunting does not extend to those who still have licenses that are still running and to the end of that time,” she explained. “The fact of the matter is, for the last 15 years, Zambia has not conducted a scientific survey on these species, including the cats. And so even the quotas we have been giving out in the past were not based on science, and so we thought it was only responsible that we stop in order to give ourselves time to do what needed to be done.”
Looking forward, Minister Masebo shared her thoughts about the recent hunting ban, noting that the government will be take a close look at the entire subject:
“The question is, is this ban forever or not?” she asked. “The answer is simple—this ban, this suspension, is meant to give government time to re-look at the policy structure; to re-look at the institution that has been mandated to manage the wildlife in Zambia, which institution clearly has several challenges which need to be addressed by government; to re-look at the core issue of the communities benefiting and participating effectively in the management of the wildlife so that they can be the ones to conserve and protect the wildlife for future generations; and also to ensure that the government and the communities derive benefits for the good of the country from this industry.”
Minister Masebo told the SCI Board that she and her government need time to do the necessary policy reviews to protect wildlife, noting the previous permits were not based on science.
Minister Masebo then told the SCI Board that SCI is the “body that has the know-how” to help her government have the scientific data necessary for them to make the best decisions. She added that in some respects, SCI has more data and information than the government does.
“I come to you today appreciating that you are the body that has the know-how, that may even have more information than government, especially those that have been to Zambia, that have hunted, or that have participated in the wildlife sector in Zambia. I want to appeal for collaboration between yourselves and government in using this period of the ban to do the following:
“First, to do a scientific survey on the viability of these species, in particular the lion and the leopard; to also support us in our effort to review our legislation, to review our policy and come up with sustainable legislation that will bring about sustainable wildlife and hunting; thirdly, for support against poaching because even as I speak now, I want to tell you that I am clear in my mind that every day, more animals are being poached, in particular the elephant, the lion and the leopard,” she said.
“As a country, we can not manage the 20 national parks, plus the 56 game management areas, the two animal sanctuaries, the one main sanctuary alone as government without the cooperation of the private sector and therefore, we want to appeal to you to come on board and support us as a country in our endeavor if indeed we have to have sustainable hunting in the future. Without taking the necessary steps, especially of protecting the animals where those animals are, in a country that is large, whose wildlife estimate covers over 250,000 square kilometers, where manpower is very low, where tools to protect the animals are not available, where the resources are not enough, there will be no hunting to talk about in the next few years. There will be no difference between this ban, and the actual ban that is self-inflicted from the fact that all of the animals have become extinct,” the Minister noted.
“The issue at hand here is for us to take stock of the animals that we have, to put the necessary measures that will help us increase our populations for the purpose of hunting,” she said.
Steve Chancellor, member of the Hunter Legacy Fund, stressed to Board members: “Her mind is open,” noting that this “certainly is a tenuous moment” in hunting. As Chancellor pledged his support, he emphasized that “we could lose all of Africa–If Africa goes,” the anti-hunters will focus on other continents.
Dr. Paula White, who has been conducting lion research in Africa, told the Board that following her discussions with Minister Masebo, “we’re very hopeful she will re-open hunting next year.”
The minister also has called for continued interactions between the hunting community and the anti—poaching rangers to improve enforcement throughout the many national parks and game reserves in Zambia.
“Safari Club International is incredibly appreciative of Minister Masebo taking the long journey to Reno, Nevada, to address the conservation-focused hunters of our organization,” said SCI President John Whipple. “Her commitment to work collaboratively with SCI and the entire hunter-conservationist community is truly welcome.”
All charitable donations go to the SCI Foundation Wild Lion Conservation warchest.
SCI President Whipple also asked that all SCI members at the Convention attend the Saturday evening function where they will be able to make a crucial difference in the future of hunting. Focus of a special segment of the Saturday evening events at the Peppermill Hotel is the African lion and lion hunting.