Trophies of cheetah, black-faced impala and Cameroon Elephant have not been importable. We’ve been leading the effort to establish importation of those trophies and have developed the following strategies. Conservation Force has three separate "enhancement" trust funds: one for conservation of cheetah in Namibia, one for black-faced impala in Namibia and one for elephant in Cameroon. The funds are used exclusively for the enhancement of the three species. 100 percent of the funds are dedicated to the conservation of the species in the respective countries, both to "enhance" the survival of the species through safari hunting and to document that enhancement for the US Fish & Wildlife Service (USF&WS) that administers the importation of hunting trophies of "threatened" and "endangered" species under the US Endangered Species Act (ESA).
A "special regulation" requires proof of enhancement to import elephant hunting trophies. In the early 1990’s, yours truly established through litigation against the USF&WS that proof of "enhancement" was not necessary under CITES. The CITES Parties at COP9 in Fort Lauderdale confirmed that proof of "enhancement" was not required. The Parties resolved that only a non-detrimental determination finding has to be made, and the exporting country’s biological non-detrimental finding should be accepted unless there is specific good cause not to accept it. The scheme of CITES is to have the exporting country make the biological findings, not the importing country. Nevertheless, the USF&WS prevailed in the end by adopting a "special rule" under the ESA (not CITES) requiring proof of enhancement. That was on the eve of yours truly establishing the importation of elephant hunting trophies from Cameroon. Consequently, we established a special "fund" in the hopes of demonstrating the "enhancement." It helped me get those trophies imported in 1995 and again in 1997.
In 2001, the Service denied the importation permits for 1998 and 1999 (all others are still pending). In its reasons for denial of the 1998 and 1999 permits, the Service cited various concerns about the "fund." To dispel all concerns, Conservation Force created its own fund that it operates. All of the trophy import applicants whose permits were denied in 1998 and 1999 have contributed $500 to the new fund, even those who went on unguided chasse libre hunts. If you take an elephant and you hope to import your trophy, then you should make a $500 "enhancement" donation to Conservation Force. We will send you an appropriate acknowledgment and include it in a periodic report to the USF&WS and all stakeholders. When you complete your import permit application before the hunt, state that you "pledge to pay $500 to the Conservation Force Cameroon Elephant Conservation Fund if your hunt is successful." Also, send us a copy of your permit application and the number it is assigned to help us make it all work.
The situation with cheetah and black-faced impala in Namibia is different. They are listed as "endangered" under the ESA, though the impala is not listed under CITES at all and there is a quota for cheetah under CITES. The ESA and Code of Federal Regulations expressly provide for import of "endangered" species when there is proof of "enhancement". In the mid 90’s, yours truly created a "Compact" within Namibia that included the payment by successful cheetah hunters of a conservation fee. The sum agreed upon was 1,000 Namibian dollars which monetary value diminished with time. The problem is, an unwritten policy within the USF&WS has prevented that agency from issuing permits for the import of an "endangered" species, despite provisions in the law allowing for the issuance of such permits. The USF&WS also denied the petition to downlist the cheetah from "endangered" to "threatened" that I had filed on behalf of Namibia and SCI. Both developments led to an understandable backlash within Namibia. Initially, there were motions within the Namibian Professional Hunter’s Association to abandon the "Compact." In the end, however, a new and improved "Enhancement Agreement" was adopted between the Namibian Professional hunters Association and Conservation Force. It provides for the donation of $1,000 (US) "on or before export" of the cheetah trophy. Of course, this "enhancement" donation is administered cost-free and expended exclusively on cheetah in Namibia. You should pledge to pay it in your import permit application and copy us.
The black-faced impala program is modeled after that of cheetah but with one difference. The "enhancement" donation is to be paid by every successful hunter regardless of nationality immediately upon being successful. Unlike the cheetah, the payment dues not await the export. It is to be paid then. If the particular landholder should fail to collect it, then Conservation Force will accept it directly. Should you file a trophy importation application before your hunt, pledge that you will pay it and cite the Conservation Force/NAPHA enhancement program. The "enhancement" donation is $500 (US). It has been used to prepare a strategic management plan for the impala and various studies with our partners in Namibia. It will ensure the perpetuation of pure black-faced impala in Namibia forever.
Contributions to the cheetah, black-faced impala and Cameroon enhancement funds are voluntary. They should be tax-deductible because Conservation Force is a 501 (c) (3) public charitable foundation and the funds are expended exclusively on the conservation of the respective species. The funds are expended collaboratively with the ministries, professional hunters associations and other stakeholders. The more hunters who donate to the funds, the greater the conservation force can be. The additional conservation revenue arising from the safari hunting of the species should be recognized as "enhancement" warranting importation of the trophies. Then it will gain momentum and give the animals greater conservation value. The more hunters, the greater the fund and the greater the enhancement.
We welcome all contributions to the enhacement funds by all interests. Anyone can contribute at any time, but it is unlikely to work if most of those who hunt don’t know or care enough to make the special enhancement contributions. As the fund builds, the USF&WS will be placed in an untenable position if it doesn’t issue trophy importation permits that, in turn, will fuel the fund. Thanks is due to those who have pre-paid.