W. Laird Hamberlin, longtime member of Safari Club International, has been named SCI’s Chief Executive Officer, effective April 1. He succeeds Richard M. Parsons, who will serve as his deputy during a transition period. Continue reading W. Laird Hamberlin Named SCI CEO
In a widely publicized meeting on Thursday, Feb. 21, a group of government ministers presented a recommendation to the President of the Republic of Botswana to lift the four-year moratorium on hunting in that country.
The President has not issued any statement on the matter and there has been no official policy change in the status of hunting in Botswana; however, many pro-sustainable use groups hailed the recommendation as a first step toward reinstating regulated hunting as an important component of wildlife management in the country.
The subcommittee cited damage to important vegetation communities and increased human-wildlife conflict, particularly resulting from an abundant elephant population, as important reasons for considering a lift of the ban.
Legal, regulated hunting was an important component of the tourism economy and wildlife management system in Botswana prior to the institution of the ban in 2014. Research has shown that rural communities in Botswana, particularly in the northern regions of the country, have suffered reduced incomes and employment opportunities since the ban was instituted.
Perhaps of greater concern is the documented development of negative attitudes among rural residents towards wildlife over that time. The recommendations to President Masisi noted these changes and expressed the potential for lifting of the moratorium to increase support for wildlife conservation in these rural communities.
The report to the President was developed after lengthy consultation with stakeholders in Botswana, including community groups, conservation NGOs, and representatives from the hunting industry.
In addition to lifting the 2014 ban on hunting in Botswana, the report recommends that a legal framework be established to support a regulated safari hunting industry, that game ranches be used as buffers between protected areas and communal areas, and that several options to mitigate wildlife damage to communities be considered.
Most controversially, the recommendations also include the option of limited elephant culling in problem areas. According to the 2016 IUCN Elephant Status report that SCI Foundation helped fund, Botswana has the largest elephant population in the world, at over 130,000, and human-elephant conflict was a primary concern in consideration of the hunting ban.
President Masisi will now consider the recommendations in the report and consult with his cabinet before any official policy changes are made. SCI and SCIF recognize the value of carefully regulated hunting in supporting wildlife conservation and rural livelihoods and respect the decisions of Botswana regarding the best ways to manage their abundant wildlife resources.
John Dingell, Jr. of Michigan served in the U.S. House of Representatives from his first election in 1955 until 2015—an incredible six decades—making him the longest serving Member of Congress in U.S. history.
Throughout his life and Congressional service, Dingell was an avid sportsman and friend to America’s hunters.
SCI President Paul Babaz observed, “I learned of his passing last night and was reminded of the many accomplishments of this great man and the debt we, as hunters, owe him. The sportsmen and women of America lost a titan in our community.”
Dingell served as a member and chairman of the powerful Energy & Commerce committee, where he a championed hunting and defended the Second Amendment, serving on the NRA board of directors for several years.
Known as “The Chairman” by friends and foes alike, Dingell served in the House for 59 years and 22 days, casting 28,551 votes, according to the House historian.
Dingell was at the forefront of supporting legislation that impacted wildlife conservation. The Dingell-Johnson Act, which provides financial assistance for state fish restoration and management is just one example of Dingell’s dedication to wildlife management.
In recognition of his tireless work on behalf of hunters, SCI awarded Chairman Dingell with both its prestigious Legislator of The Year Award and Heritage award.
“I want to extend the condolences of SCI’s members and my personal condolences to Chairman Dingell’s widow, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, and to his family and friends,” said Paul Babaz. “We have truly lost a great leader in the hunting world.”