Zambia has most definitely opened safari hunting of elephant as planned. The hunting is limited to only a few areas this safari season, but that is a beginning. We have been after Zambia to open elephant hunting for more than a decade. Some readers may remember that I began the Zambia Initiative within Safari Club International in the middle 90’s to rebuild Zambia’s failing safari industry. That initiative was successful, but we were unable to persuade the Zambian officials to add elephant hunting to their safari menu. Periodically, the authorities have continued to consult Conservation Force about opening elephant hunting and this season have finally begun some limited elephant hunting.
Conservation Force has met recently with Zambia’s management and with CITES permit authorities and has pledged to assist all US hunters with their trophy import permit applications as a free legal service until they are approved and accepted routinely. We are, in fact, already assisting all of the known US hunters. Their permits have been filed. We’ve also met face to face with the US Fish & Wildlife Service as a facilitator to expedite the necessary information exchange between that agency and Zambia for issuance of elephant trophy import permits. The necessary intergovernmental correspondence between the USF&WS and Zambia is ongoing.
Under the USF&WS regulations adopted in the early 90’s, the USF&WS must make two findings before issuing an elephant trophy import permit. First, under CITES, it must determine that the trophy import is for a "purpose" that is not "detrimental". Second, under the US Endangered Species Act (ESA), it must determine that the underlying hunting benefits, or enhances, elephant conservation. In making the second determination under the ESA, the Service essentially re-makes the biological non-detriment determination made by the exporting country (Zambia) and additionally must be provided hard evidence of conservation enhancement. Permit applicants should collect and furnish the USF&WS evidence of the abundance of elephant where they hunt, the effect of their hunting on reducing or controlling poaching, all related revenue directed towards conservation of the elephant, community programs and incentives derived from the hunting and other benefits. Remember that the renowned CAMPFIRE PROGRAM in neighboring Zimbabwe that began in the early 1990’s rested on elephant safari hunting. Sixty-eight percent of the revenue of that program was derived from the safari hunting of 54 elephants per year. The pre-existing poaching was largely eliminated and the number of elephants killed in problem animal control was greatly reduced. We wish Zambia every bit the same success, though their initial elephant hunting is limited to problem animals in a small number of indigenous communities.
Getting A Handle On "Sustainable Use"
There are developments in North America and around the world that you should know about. The concept of "sustainable use" is evolving and benefiting hunters. That concept has taken on a growing importance to hunting and our way of life. This is an update.
In its simplest sense, using natural resources sustainably means use that does not cause the resource to decline in the long term. That is the definition of "sustainable" not "sustainable use". The meaning of the phrase "sustainable use" is far greater than use within sustainable limits. It symbolically signifies use to conserve or perpetuate renewable natural resources. The emphasis is on the fact that use can benefit species, biodiversity, ecosystems and people. It can generate revenue and incentives that benefit the wildlife being used. It can increase the productivity of the used population and cause other positive biological effects. It incorporates the realization that non-use and/or protection can deprive a species of benefits and worsen its status. This is sometimes expressed as "use it or lose it".
Conservation Force has been deeply involved in the development and implementation of this concept from its first popularization in the early 1990’s. In early July, Conservation Force leaders met with the leadership of the International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation (CIC) in Munich, Germany, to finalize a long-range strategic plan for the CIC’s Sustainable Use Commission. This was the second phase of a similar meeting held in Zurich a year ago. The CIC took an early leadership position through the implementation of this concept by merging its Environmental Commission, Pro-Chasse Taskforce (pro-hunting) and its Ethics Taskforce into a Sustainable Use Commission. The CIC formed the first and only Commission (committee) in the hunting world totally devoted to the development and implementation of the concept of sustainable use, and it continues to maintain that leadership. Yours truly has been the President of that commission from its inception. Consequently, I also serve on the Executive Committee that governs the CIC itself. Shane Mahoney of Conservation Force’s Board of Directors serves as a Vice-President on the Sustainable Use Commission of CIC as well. The CIC participated in the drafting of the Addis Abba Principles and Guidelines for Sustainable Use finalized in Addis Abba, Ethiopia. It then lobbied for their adoption at the Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Biodiversity, CBD. After the CBD adoption of the Principles, the CIC was instrumental in getting the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to adopt the IUCN’s Policy Statement favoring sustainable use at its Second World Congress in Amman, Jordan, in 2000, and later adopting the Addis Abba Principles and Guidelines for Sustainable Use of Biodiversity at the IUCN’s Third World Congress in Bangkok in 2004. The CIC also lobbied at the Thirteenth Conference of the Parties of CITES for the use of the Addis Abba Principles and Guidelines by CITES and recently participated in the CITES Animals Committee Meeting in Geneva to test the value of using the Principles in quota-setting and making non-detriment findings for trade of listed species. For example, Namibia is going to test its elephant hunting determinations against the principles to see how they conform.
It has been a long road for Conservation Force, CIC and others, but it is paying off. The development and worldwide broadcasting of the concept of sustainable use has been the turning point in modern wildlife conservation governance. The new perception of the benefits of use is largely responsible for rebuilding public support for utilization of wildlife. This includes hunting, as evidenced by the most recent CITES meeting creating or increasing use (hunting) of black rhino, leopard and crocodile in trade. This in turn has led to the phrase conservation hunting which also means more than recreational hunting within sustainable limits, i.e., limits that won’t cause a long term decline. It means hunting to save animals, habitat and biodiversity. Hunting to conserve them and increase their numbers. We establish or reform hunting programs to better save game species, habitat and biodiversity. This embraces one of the meanings of Conservation Force’s corporate name, which is using hunting as a force for Conservation. Hunting is the force. It is no accident that Conservation Force was formed to do that and has had a leadership role in the inside development of this positive concept that benefits all hunters, our wildlife, wild places and our way of life.
The development of the sustainable use concept within IUCN was carried by its Sustainable Use Specialist Group. Yours truly has also been a participant in that Group from the inception. The North American Regional Group of the Sustainable Use Specialists was chaired by Dr. James Teer of Conservation Force’s Board of Directors from its inception and for most of its existence. After leadership changes several times after Dr. Teer chairmanship, the Group dissolved. Conservation Force has been attempting to assist in restarting it. That regional group was sparked back to life at an Edmonton, Alberta, Conference held by the Canadian Circumpolar Institute in October, 2004 attended by both Conservation Force and CIC. A new North American Sustainable Use Specialist Group has been reconstituted, based at the University of Alberta. Its initial program focus is to be "Conservation Hunting". Conservation Force is providing a substantial part of the Group’s initial startup and operating funding. It will begin with a focus on conservation hunting in Northern regions of North America, i.e., Canada and Nunavut. The effort is bound to help advance the perception and conservation benefits of hunting in those northern regions with species such as polar bear, grizzly and caribou. You can expect to hear a lot more about "conservation hunting" in the future and will understand its origin from the concept of sustained use – using it to save it.
In a related and timely matter, the CIC’s Sustainable Use Commission has been invited to Irkutsk on Lake Bai Kal, Russia in early August to participate in a CIC Symposium with the Russian Academy of Science and Russian Union of Hunters to resolve the complex problems there, particularly the hunting closures. Conservation Force and CIC are partnering to put all that we have come to know and understand to work in Russia to foster sustainable hunting policies.
In still another related project, Conservation Force is assisting the Hunting for Tomorrow Foundation in Alberta with a public outreach program about the North American Model. The success of wildlife conservation in North America is proof of the benefits that can arise from use. The model was the single greatest development in wildlife conservation in the past century. The goal of the program in Alberta is to begin to solidify general public support for hunting and the conservation contributions of hunters. It will be accomplished via a series of "community meetings" across Alberta with related public relations and media delivery. Shane Mahoney of Conservation Force and Conservation Visions (an entity he operates) is to be the spokesperson. The Hunting for Tomorrow Foundation describes Shane as a "brilliant and riveting public orator" who is expert on the "relevance of hunting" in modern times.
If you wish to support Conservation Force’s efforts within the CIC, its work within the IUCN, the Russian Symposium or Shane’s North American Model program with the Hunting for Tomorrow Foundation, tax deductible contributions can be dedicated by contacting me at 504/837-1233 or by email at email@example.com.