The International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation (CIC) held its 57th annual meeting in May in Dubrovnik, Croatia. At no other event do so many hunting associations and leaders from around the world join together in one meeting for the common conservation interests of hunters at this scale. Its participants span the globe and include governments and agencies. It is a congress that may indeed be internationally what the American Wildlife Conservation Partnership (AWCP) is domestically in the United States. That said, there is nothing quite like it.
The rank and diversity of the speakers in the first two hours of the program demonstrates the nature and potential networks and partnerships that arise at the event. The speakers during the opening ceremony included John Scanlon, the new Secretary-General of CITES; Moujahed Achouri, Forestry Team Leader of the FAO; Willem Wijnstekers, the retiring Secretary-General of CITES; Bert Lenten, acting Deputy Executive Secretary of the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS); Ted Rowe, President of the World Forum on the Future of Sport Shooting Activities (WFSA); Angus Middleton, Chief Executive Officer of the Federation of Associations for Hunting and Conservation of the EU (FACE); the Vice President of Croatia and the President of the host organization, the Croatian Hunting Federation. The CIC collaborates and cooperates with international entities, like CITES and FAO, that clearly want to join forces.
Chrissie Jackson of Conservation Force is the Head of the new United States Delegation. This year a number of new individuals and organizations from the US were admitted to the CIC. Individually, Peter Horn (Beretta USA), Michael Cassidy (ESPN), Barbara Crown (The Hunting Report), Ted Rowe (President of World Forum on the Future of Shooting Sports) and Rick Patterson (SAMI) joined. Two US organizations were admitted, the Boone & Crockett Club and the Wild Sheep Foundation. Kaush Arha, a B & C graduate and the Assistant Undersecretary of Interior during the final period of the Bush Administration represented the Boone & Crockett Club. He explained that B & C was joining because of the broad international influence of the CIC. The CIC, he said, has great potential because it is informed by science, the unique prestige of its members and a broader view than individual organizations. Joining together there is great potential to be harnessed for conservation and development. He thanked Chrissie and I for the introduction.
The Presidency of the CIC also changed hands. Dieter Schramm stepped down after being President of the CIC for 10 years and Bernard Lozé of Paris, France, was elected by acclamation as the new President. Bernard is a very successful businessman and respected international hunter and angler. Dieter, now Past-President, will remain active as an “Honorary President” and as the Chairman of a new transition Steering Committee.
Some developments of particular importance to Conservation Force should be of interest to readers. Yours truly continues to serve as the President of the Sustainable Use Commission (CSU) of CIC and consequently serves on the Executive Council. Shane Mahoney of Conservation Force’s Board of Directors serves as a Vice-President of the Commission. The Sustainable Use Commission held an open forum breakfast each morning to informally discuss issues across the globe. At that breakfast, the individuals participating included Peter Flack with his new film that Shane Mahoney is narrating about the historical development of hunter-based conservation in South Africa. It was initially inspired by Shane’s Opportunity for All DVD. The dozens of breakfast participants included Gary Bowers, President of CHASA, Ben Carter, CEO of Dallas Safari Club, Gray Thornton of the WSF and Rob Cahill of the Canadian Fur Institute. Topics ranged from the dire ramification of a potential ban on all lead ammunition to preparations for the upcoming Conference of the Convention on Biodiversity.
The province of Newfoundland and Labrador joined the CIC as the newest State Member through its Department of Environment and Conservation. Also, Shane is to Head the newly established Canadian delegation. In a side program, Shane gave a presentation on the cutting edge work he is doing on predator-prey wildlife management, the seal controversy and many other topics of interest to hunters. I too gave a presentation on polar bear.
Readers may remember that the CIC adopted a Resolution urging lion action plans last year at CIC’s 56th Conference in Paris. Philippe Chardonnet of Conservation Force’s Board of Directors and the CEO of the International Game Foundation (IGF) presented an update on progress made in developing national lion conservation action plans. Philippe announced from a not-yet-released report that there is good news on the status of lion numbers in Tanzania. CIC has participated in many of the lion action plan workshops and lion aging guidance. Incidentally, ESPN Outdoors has just pledged $5,000 towards African lion national action plans through Conservation Force.
Yours truly participated in a sort of fireside chat on CITES and the 15th CoP in Doha with former Secretary-General of CITES Willem Wijnstekers and the new Director-General of CIC, Tomas Marghescu. Willem was the Secretary-General of CITES at CoP15, so it was an honor for me to share the stage beside him and respond to the questions Tomas put to the two of us. Of note, Willem described the polar bear proposal as being “politically motivated” and pointed out that “CITES does not make ice.” He seemed to lament that the bobcat, Tanzania and Zambia elephant did not get downlisted.
Gerhard Damm of Conservation Force’s Board of Directors described the ongoing African Indaba publication as well as the Caprinae Atlas that he and Nicolas Franco are completing. CIC has assumed all the costs of the publication. African Indaba is now exclusively a CIC publication. Although it is no longer a Conservation Force publication it will still be posted on our website. Nicolas Franco’s invited guest was Richard Harris who helped formulate the recent Mongolia Caprinae survey.
The members passed two resolutions/recommendations, one concerning Zimbabwe and the other, the Giant Sable. The first calls upon the Zimbabwean government to maintain acceptable management practices “before a social and environmental catastrophe becomes irreversible.” It encourages donors and the private sector to cooperate and support the Government of Zimbabwe to revive and conserve the wildlife sector, “in particular private and communal conservancies and protected areas.” The second resolution called for “Support for Giant Sable in Angola.” The CIC and International Game Foundation (IGF) were among the first to initiate giant sable conservation, which accelerated in 1998 when CIC and IGF provided $10,000 in support for the program in a public ceremony with the Angola President. Then-CIC President Nicolas Franco took special interest and the CIC’s Tropical Game Commission headed by Bertrand des Clers (deceased founding board member of Conservation Force) led the effort. Since then, other contributors have included Dallas Safari Club, Shikar Safari Club, Conservation Force, SCI’s Utah Chapter, SCI’s All of Africa Chapter (since disbanded) and others. For a more comprehensive history of the effort to save and restore Giant Sable, see the May 2010 issue of African Indaba at http://www.conservationforce.org/publications.html.
The sable resolution at this conference calls for international hunting organizations to support the ongoing projects to capture, radio-collar, and adaptively manage both captive and free-roaming giant sable and to establish the necessary infrastructure to conserve the sable. It calls upon international development agencies and multilateral environmental agreements to help with support in the conservation effort.
The CIC has other unique features, including a Culture Division and a youth group called Young Opinion. The Culture Division really delves into and awards art that depicts hunting and its meaning. Young Opinion has several activities of its own, independent of the main organization, which appeal to young adults at a time in their lives when they may not otherwise participate.
The Russian Association of Hunters and Fishermen (over 2 million members) will host the next, 58th, CIC General Assembly in St. Petersburg, Russia, 11-15 May, 2011. The theme of the event will be “Hunting - A Part of Cultural Heritage.” That theme stands for the fact that “[h]unting was a main part of human life and played a basic role in formation of culture from ancient times.” Of course, this is not to be a backwoods event. St. Petersburg is known as the cultural center and Versailles of Russia. The main hotel of the event will be the Corinthia Nevsky Palace, a 5-star hotel. The opening ceremony will take place in the Grand Hall of the Philharmonic and the Gala Dinner will be in the Russian Museum of Ethnography. Being the hunters that they are, the hunters in Russia will no doubt host a never-to-be-forgotten event. US individuals and organizations interested in joining and attending next year should contact Chrissie at 504-837-1233.
Conservation Force (Chrissie, Gerhard, Philippe, Shane and I) will remain active in CIC to help it realize its full potential of influence for the good of all.