In January, the USFWS finally issued elephant trophy import permits for Zambia for the year 2012. Permits have been granted for all the hunters that Conservation Force was assisting. If there are any hunters who have not filed an application, they should file now.
The Division of Scientific Authority (DSA) had made a positive non-detriment finding during the summer, which is a finding that the elephant tourist hunting was sustainable. The delay was the need for the Division of Management Authority (DMA) to make an “enhancement finding” under its ESA special rule for elephant trophies. The Zambia authorities had furnished a great deal of information documenting the special purpose of the elephant quota to reduce human/elephant conflict and also the large percentage of the hunting fees being directed to the communities. The DMA wanted more proof of enhancement than that. It wanted to know what the Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) did with its own share of the elephant hunting revenue that furthered elephant conservation. The 2010-11 approval was based upon the condition that there would not be further US import approval until ZAWA furnished the additional information.
Conservation Force tracks both the DSA and DMA determinations through Freedom of Information Act requests. We in turn furnish the information to the ZAWA authorities so they know better what to do.
The 2012 approval was on a year-by-year basis. For approval in the future, the ZAWA authorities will have to provide what was done towards elephant with the revenue. Unfortunately, the concession applicants for the 19 hunting concessions that are closed for 2013 were informed that there would not be an elephant quota in 2013, so elephant are not included in their tenders. No reason was provided, and the director of ZAWA did not respond to Conservation Force’s inquiries. When Zambia tourist hunting reopens, it may be without elephant hunting.