Safari Club International and other groups have helped reveal the challenges and solutions of African wildlife conservation to the European Union where officials from three African countries outlined the formula for success, which includes hunting.
Saving Africa’s wildlife hinges on Africans’ involvement in efforts that actually work, a meeting of the Biodiversity, Hunting, Countryside Intergroup of the EU Parliament was told.
“Keep Calm and Let Africa Take the Lead!” was the theme of the conference in Brussels, Belgium recently, that was organized by SCI, The European Federation for Hunting and Conservation (FACE), the International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation (CIC) and the European Landowners’ Organization (ELO)
The conference revealed to decision-makers in the European Union how hunting in Africa contributes significantly to wildlife conservation, habitat improvement and the fight against poaching and illegal trafficking.
In particular the speakers explained the importance of community-based conservation as the key to Africa’s success in bringing species back from need for protection and maintaining healthy populations.
MEP and Intergroup President Karl-Heinze Florenz, SCI’s most recent International Legislator of the Year, introduced the discussion and presided over the event. Ali Kaka, Vice President of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the largest umbrella organization for nature conservation organizations in the world, a national of Kenya, moderated the discussion.
Panelists included Joanna Drake (Deputy Director DG Environment), Maxi Louis (NACSO, representing communities from Namibia), H.E. Prof. Kaire Mbuende (Ambassador Namibia), H.E. Tadeous Chifamba (Ambassador Zimbabwe), Joanna Yawitch (Chairperson of the South African National Parks), Arnaud Goessens (Wildlife Conservation Society) and Wilfried Pabst (Zimbabwean landowner).
The message that the panelists and participants in the event delivered to the EU was clear. Africa’s wildlife management authorities and the leaders of sustainable use conservation related organizations in southern Africa are successfully managing and conserving their wildlife through sustainable use methods, including hunting. Decision-makers in the EU should work with Africa’s leaders in order to continue, support, enhance, and replicate their success.
Even one of those who disapproved of hunting recognized its legitimacy. MEP Stefan Eck, Vice-President of the Animal Welfare Intergroup in the European Parliament, expressed his disapproval of trophy hunting, but at the same time acknowledged that in order to safeguard a healthy population of wildlife the off-take of one percent of the population though trophy hunting could be an acceptable management tool. This could be the beginning of a constructive dialogue between trophy hunting opponents and trophy hunting supporters in the interest of conservation of wildlife.
Representatives from African countries detailed their perspectives:
- Tadeous Chifamba highlighted that one of the biggest threats to wildlife in Zimbabwe is poaching. He stressed the importance of sustainable hunting, as a counter measure, and as its revenue going back to the local communities, motivates communities to live with their wildlife in harmony.
- Maxi Louis added that despite of the challenges Namibia is facing in terms of their wildlife management, such as drought, human-wildlife conflict, poaching and the issues of land use, Namibia has success stories, creating large connected landscapes, with proper governance and real benefit sharing.
- Kaire Mbuende expressed his concerns over some attempts to ban the import of trophies to the EU, which would have disastrous consequences, as 80 percent of Namibia’s wildlife revenue is coming from the hunting industry!
- The Minister of Environmental Affairs of South Africa, Dr. Edna Molewa, addressed conference through a recorded video message. Minister Molewa reiterated South Africa’s approach to wildlife management should benefit both wildlife and people. “South Africa is committed to promoting responsible hunting that is conducted in line with the applicable legislation,” she said. Minister Molewa reported that trophy and meat hunters respectively contributed R1.9 and R8.6 billion (approx. between 129 and 584 million euro) to the economy of South Africa in the 2015-2016 hunting season. Hunting further contributes to food security in the form of healthy, free-range, lean protein of between 31,000 and 87,000 tonnes per annum.
SCI was represented at the meeting in Brussels by President Paul Babaz, President-elect Steve Skold, European Regional Coordinator and Lusitania Chapter President Joao Corceiro, Senior Advisor for International Affairs Johan Svalby and Director of Government Affairs and Director of Litigation Anna Seidman.