One of the most important programs this year, in fact in decades, is planned in October at the Zoological Society of London. It potentially is to be a milestone. Though it is about the impact that hunting has on wildlife and habitat, the symposium is expected to have a significant influence or impact on the future perception and role of hunting itself.
The symposium and resultant publication will for the first time look comprehensively at many issues, which are fundamental to an understanding of the role of recreational hunting in conservation and rural development. It will examine the key issues, ask the difficult questions and seek to present the answers to guide policy. Where the answers are not available, it will highlight gaps in our knowledge and lay out the research agenda for the next decade.
In the field of conservation, few activities attract more controversy or misunderstanding than hunting for recreational purposes. On the other hand, hunters insist that their activity is an important conservation tool, and there is evidence to support this where careful management is in place. Hunting is also a significant economic activity and can in principle provide significant livelihood benefits in rural areas where opportunities are scarce. The question for conservation science is whether these potential benefits are realized in practice. In addition, ethical concerns are raised about hunting methods and the morality of hunting for ‘pleasure,’ whatever its benefits.
From a biological perspective there are direct links between the removal of individual animals and the study of population dynamics, population genetics, reproductive rates, life histories and ecology. In theory, the intensity of hunting can be made sustainable but in practice controlling it can be difficult. The role of biology in the search for sustainability is more limited than generally appreciated. At a global level, there has been no systematic attempt to review the impacts of recreational hunting or to provide an evidence-based assessment of its role in conservation and rural development. By focusing on examples of recreational hunting in different contexts in the symposium, we hope that scientists from a wide variety of backgrounds can themselves begin to separate the facts from conventional wisdom and pure myth.
The symposium is so important that Dallas Safari Club and Conservation Force have partnered to contribute $20,000 (US) dollars to the program. The following letter summarizes well the nature of the program:
As Chair of the IUCN/SSC Sustainable Use Specialist Group I am writing formally to thank you for your generosity in supporting the forthcoming Conference entitled “Recreational Hunting, Conservation and Rural Livelihoods” which will be held in London on 12th and 13th of October, together with the subsequent closed meeting which will discuss a number of initiatives that focus on standards and certification in recreational hunting.
This independent meeting is organized by the IUCN/SSC Sustainable Use Specialist Group. IUCN (The World Conservation Union) was founded in October 1948 and is the world’s largest conservation network. The Union brings together 82 States, 111 government agencies, more than 800 non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and some 10,000 scientists and experts from 181 countries in a unique worldwide partnership. The meeting is held under the auspices of the Zoological Society of London. This famous institution, established in 1846, remains the vanguard of European zoological institutions and houses the Institute of Zoology, one of Europe’s pre-eminent research institutions. The proceedings of the meeting will be published by Blackwell Publishing, which is the world’s leading society publisher, partnering with 665 academic and professional societies. Blackwell publishes over 805 journals and 650 text and reference books annually, across a wide range of academic, medical and professional subjects.
All in all, the two day conference will, we believe, bring recreational hunting into the academic mainstream, raising the profile of the issues and bringing them to the attention of the world in a way that has never been achieved before. (emphasis added)
Most of your sponsorship will be used to bring many of the authors and presenters to the meeting and support their accommodation and living costs during the four day period. Many if not most of these individuals will be from developing countries. Your support will be formally acknowledged at the invitation-only session which starts on Saturday 14th October. It will also be clearly acknowledged in the brochure for the meeting which will be handed out to participants on the 12th of October, and in the acknowledgement section of the resultant book.
Jon Hutton MA, D.Phil.
Director, UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre United Nations Environment Program 219 Huntingdon Road, Cambridge CB3 0DL, UK
Tel: + 44 1223 277314 extension 200
Fax: + 44 1223 277365
The International Council of Game and Wildlife Management, CIC, is also to hold a planning meeting on “Why we hunt” the day before on October 11. Yours truly is the President of the CIC’s Commission on Sustainable Use (CSU) and Conservation Force Board Member Shane Mahoney is a Vice President. Shane and I with the other members of the CSU, will develop a traveling symposium on the importance of hunting to hunters in human terms aside from its conservation value and service to the world. Our objective is to make hunting so morally relevant and important that it can better withstand the endless attacks the future may hold.
News… News…. News
Progress Reported On
Black Faced Impala
Progress continues in the effort to establish the importation of trophies of black faced impala. The draft black faced impala management plan has been revised and is being circulated at the highest level of government in Namibia for final approval and adoption. Simultaneously, yours truly has appealed the denial of the seven “test” import permit applications to the Director of the US Fish &Wildlife Service. That is scheduled for oral argument before the Director in early July.
Readers may remember that trophy import permit applications were filed by Conservation Force on behalf of seven prominent US trophy hunters as part of Conservation Force’s Black Faced Impala Initiative. After several years, the permit applications were denied by the Service primarily on the grounds that the Service could not find “enhancement” as it had with the “bontebok” in RSA because Namibia did not have a management plan for the “endangered” species comprehensively addressing its hybridization with common impala. That hybridization is considered the primary threat to the species today.
Fortunately, Conservation Force and the Namibian Professional Hunters Association’s Black Faced Impala Committee in partnership with the Namibian Ministry of Environment had already drafted such a plan at the time the permits were denied. Conservation Force petitioned the Service to “reconsider” the permits. A “reconsideration” is the first level of appeal within administrative agencies of the US Government such as the Department of Interior and its US Fish & Wildlife Service. Again, the permits were denied by the Service for the same but more succinctly stated reasons. The permits are to be denied until Namibia adopts a formal management plan directly preventing and containing the hybridization that threatens the species.
Conservation Force appealed the denials to the Director which is the last level to appeal a denial administratively. We also asked and were granted an oral hearing before the Director of the US Fish & Wildlife Service and were granted an extension of time until July.
It remains to be seen if Namibia can finalize the adoption of its management plan before the appeal is argued orally. The plan is again being re-revised by Tammie Matson, PhD, as a result of its third passage through the Ministry and is soon to be presented to the Cabinet of Namibia’s government. If the plan is adopted in time we hope to win the appeal before the Director. If it is not adopted in time, then we have to convince the Director of the US Fish & Wildlife Service that it is an adaptive process and that all of the work that has been done constitutes enhancement, i.e., the $500 (US) contributions by each hunter, the funding by NAPHA, the funding by Conservation Force - the whole effort which is much too long to list here. One must remember that ordinary culling in captive herds is a necessary husbandry practice and that US Fish & Wildlife Service regulations on their face have long recognized the reduction of excess males as necessary and “enhancement”. This is independent of all of the work that we have been doing and is another stand-alone reason these initial permits may be granted. Of course, we favor the long-term use of tourist hunting as a force for Conservation.
Only after exhausting the administrative appeal process before the Director do we then have the right to proceed to US Federal District Court to challenge the legality and rationale of the US Fish and Wildlife Service denials. The merits of the potential litigation depends on the written reasons for the denials and what documents are in the administrative record at the conclusion of the process. It may be a hard call whether or not to litigate, but hopefully not necessary.
If we don’t prevail this time, then in lieu of litigation we must and will file the seven permits again when Namibia adopts the plan that is now undergoing final review and adoption. Re-filing is an enormous amount of work. Conservation Force has just wired $3,600 (US) to NAPHA’s Black Faced Impala Enhancement Fund account for the finishing touches on the draft plan by contractor Tammie Matson before it is presented to the Cabinet. This sum is above and beyond the $500 each US hunter/permit applicant contributed and the sums NAPHA added to the account itself. We will shortly be orally arguing those special contributions are acts of “enhancement”. At all times, NAPHA, MET and Conservation Force have partnered in this determined initiative. No effort is being spared. Each has played a critical role. Yours truly initiated the whole process years ago and serves on NAPHA’s three-member Black Faced Impala Committee.
This is the kind of important but laborious expert work that Conservation Force does as a public service for the hunting conservation world and developing countries and their communities. We need your help. Contributions to Conservation Force are tax deductible, as we are a 501 (c) 3 public charitable foundation. All of the services of yours truly and Conservation Force have been provided free. Hopefully others will finally step up to the plate to help with this worthwhile initiative. This is just the tip of the iceberg of what all we do for you.