Safari Club International Foundation (SCIF) is preparing for the 19th African Wildlife Consultative Forum, to be held November 8-12, 2021. This year’s Forum is hosted by the Botswana Department of Wildlife and National Parks at the Cresta Mowana Resort in Kasane. Due to continuing COVID-19 restrictions, in-person capacity is limited to only 50 people, leading SCIF to organize the event as a hybrid meeting with a number of participants joining the discussions online. Botswana had also hosted the 2020 AWCF, which was held completely on a digital platform.
“Despite all the logistical challenges and ongoing tragedies from the pandemic, we are motivated to host this important meeting as an in-person event again to maintain action for conservation in Africa, and at the very place AWCF began almost twenty years ago,” said Joe Goergen, SCIF Conservation Manager and AWCF organizer. “AWCF continues to be a critical function to SCI and SCIF’s mission in Africa and a critical service to our African partners.”
AWCF is a major annual wildlife conference in Africa first facilitated by SCIF in 2002. The collaborative forum brings together African government officials, community representatives, professional hunting association leadership, policy experts, wildlife managers and biologists from across southern and eastern Africa. The event facilitates collaboration on solutions to wildlife management challenges and allows coordinated responses to current events regarding conservation issues.
This year African conservation has faced numerous attacks by way of a proliferation of trophy import ban proposals. In Canada, the Jane Goodall Act is intended to ban elephant trophy imports to Canada. A proposed ban on all CITES listed animals has been introduced to Switzerland’s National Council. In the United Kingdom, the Department of Environment, Food & Rural Affairs has considered several options to ban the import of all or select trophies into the UK, and the Parliament vowed to address the issue as well, possibly enacting a full import ban. The CECIL Act in the United States would ban elephant and lion trophy imports from Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe, and require all species proposed for listing under the U.S. Endangered Species Act be treated as if they are already listed. It would also require public notice and comment for all trophy imports of listed species, making importation more difficult. Plus, state trophy import and possession bans have been considered or were introduced in Connecticut, Illinois and California. The AWCF provides African representatives the platform to unite in an effort to combat and end the intervention of African wildlife conservation programs by misinformed Western activists and politicians.
“SCI and SCIF is the leading organization fighting the import ban proposals around the world,” says Laird Hamberlin, CEO of SCI/F. “We’re the only organization with the staff resources, legal expertise and established working relationships with leaders on the ground in Africa to help protect conservation efforts and the right to hunt worldwide. We appreciate the commitment from African governments and community leaders to the AWCF and look forward to continuing our work together in Botswana this coming November.” Participating countries in AWCF include Botswana, Cameroon, DRC, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.