When you read this I will probably still be at CITES’ 13th Conference of the Parties (COP 13) in Bangkok, Thailand. The game species at issue there will include black rhino, leopard, crocodile, elephant and African lion. My next bulletin (November) will have a full report on this important Conference of the Parties.
Kenya’s proposal to list the African lion on Appendix I is, of course, the greatest threat to the hunting community at this Conference of the Parties. We have expended every possible effort to defeat this proposal, which has come under a great deal of attack. In response to those attacks, Kenya has simply amended its proposal to address some of the points raised and stubbornly persisted. Kenya has been fortified by the Species Survival Network (SSN), a coalition of protectionist and animal rights organizations led by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). The SSN is circulating a "Fact Sheet" on the African Lion that fully supports the Kenya lion proposal. HSUS, of course, along with the Fund for Animals, IFAW and other members of SSN, are against all forms of sporthunting but they don’t mention that. Their position mimics Kenya’s, or vice versa:
"An Appendix I listing will not prevent trophy hunting from taking place, but may assist in ensuring stricter regulation of this activity, encouraging more detailed research into the wild status of lions, and the sustainability of lion trophy hunting…. Appendix I listing would also encourage importing Parties, prior to issuing an import permit, to ensure that trade in lion trophies will not be detrimental to the survival…." (SSN "AFRICAN LION FACT SHEET")
We are proud to report that those opposing the Kenya proposal have been relying upon the Chardonnet lion population study, which is Conservation Force’s population study of the African lion. That study is of 144 separate populations across Africa, in contrast to the "incomplete" estimate Kenya cites. That estimate looked at only 100 subpopulations and excluded most hunting reserves. For example, there are probably more lions in Tanzania alone than Kenya acknowledges to exist in all of Africa. Yet most of Tanzania’s lion were not included in Kenya’s figures.
Kenya carefully planned its proposal and even claims to support safari hunting. It argues that listing the lion on Appendix I and creating country-by-country safari hunting trade quotas will only cause better country-by-country management. Conservation Force has made and mailed a videotape on the lion issue to the CITES delegates. The videotape explains the Chardonnet lion status review and the unique role of safari hunting plays in lion survival. The cover letter explains the drastic consequences that would flow from an Appendix 1 listing even if the listing is accompanied by quotas for hunting trophies. Few people understand the impact of the listing and even fewer people will admit they don’t understand the effects listing will have. Conservation Force’s letter explains that the USF&WS does not honor CITES trophy quotas. We cited many examples where an Appendix 1 listing had obstructed US import of trophies, including elephant, white rhino, leopard and markhor. Kenya’s quota argument has presented a challenge, but we anticipated it and have addressed it from the inception, just as we addressed Kenya’s incorrect lion population figures. A large number of lion experts agree and align themselves with our position.
Though Kenya and the SSN persist in arguing that there has been a drastic decline in lions, our Chardonnet study and a film we commissioned, Fate of the African Lion (see box at right), have been a critical strategy. This expensive fight will leave Conservation Force’s treasury bare. Moreover, we must host an all-of-Africa lion symposium this March if we are to stay ahead of the protectionists and animal rights interests. We most desperately need support. All contributions are tax deductible. Mail to Conservation Force, One Lakeway Center, 3900 N. Causeway Blvd., Suite 1045, Metairie, LA 70002-1746….
In addition to determining the future of lion hunting, COP 13 will also separately decide whether Namibia and the Republic of South Africa can have black rhino safari hunting trophy quotas. Neither country has internally allowed black rhino trophy hunting to date. A favorable vote by CITES will no doubt provide the acceptance those two countries have desired from the world conservation community before beginning black rhino hunting. Denial of the request by the Parties of CITES will probably only delay black rhino hunting and trophy trade for now. We have been working with Namibian and South African interests on this for several years and feel that the opening of hunting and trophy trade (export-imports) is inevitable because of the groundwork that has been laid and good conservation practices of both countries. Get ready.
The Conference will also probably authorize an increase in the leopard hunting quotas in both Namibia and South Africa as both countries have requested. We have also assisted with those requests and have used Tanzania’s leopard quota request from the last conference as a model.
Also at issue this year is a request by Namibia to downlist its Nile crocodiles to Appendix II. That request arises from Conservation Force’s initiative to import those trophies. The pending trophy import permits that we have been processing as a public service should not be necessary if those crocodile are downlisted. The US Endangered Species Act (ESA) has a special provision for species listed as "threatened" on the ESA when simultaneously listed on Appendix II of CITES, (Dingell Amendment). Namibia is doing a last-minute population survey suggested by some commenters to its proposal. That survey is expected to be completed in the nick of time. In reality, Namibia’s crocodile population is part of a larger crocodile population in that region that has already been downlisted.
Zambia also has requested a quota for its crocodile, which the US Fish & Wildlife Service (USF&WS) has not permitted to be imported for a number of years. At this point, the Secretariat of CITES (the office that administers CITES for the UN) has advised that no quota is needed because Zambia’s crocodiles have already been unconditionally downlisted to Appendix II. This opinion surprised USF&WS, which had been representing that Zambia had to renew its quota before crocodile trophy imports would be allowed. Conservation Force has formally asked USF&WS for its official position in light of the Secretariat’s statement. Zambia’s crocodiles were downlisted to Appendix II some time ago with a prescribed quota that then later expired. If the Secretariat is correct, Zambia does not need a quota and no import permit is needed for trophies unless the USF&WS chooses to be more restrictive under the ESA. This issue should be resolved at the Conference.