Legislation has been reintroduced in the Connecticut legislature which would ban the import, possession, sale, offer for sale or transport of all big six African species, including African elephant, African lion, African leopard, black rhinoceros, white rhinoceros and African giraffe.
Identical legislation was introduced and killed in the state legislature last year.
HB-5104 has been referred to the joint Committee on Environment. A hearing on the bill has been scheduled for this Friday, February 21.
This legislation ignores the benefits that U.S. hunters, including those from Connecticut, bring to African wildlife. African range states have repeatedly expressed the desire to maintain the flexibility to use hunting as part of their management strategy for these species. More importantly, they also want to maintain sovereignty over their own wildlife resources. For each of the species listed, the healthiest and most stable populations are in countries with active hunting programs.
For example, at least two of the species targeted by HB-5104 owe their recovery to hunting. In Africa in 1895, there were fewer than 100 white rhinos. Today, according to the International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN), there are an estimated 20,000 white rhinos, largely due to hunting programs and the conservation efforts associated with them.
Sustainable, regulated hunting programs are responsible for increasing the number of black rhinos from approximately 1,000 in the 1890s to more than 3,500 today.
The IUCN reports that importation restrictions on species targeted by HB-5104 such as the African elephant, black rhino, white rhino and African lion “could likely cause serious declines of populations.” Nevertheless, the drafters of HB-5104 aim to impose obstacles that are likely to undermine the conservation of these animals.
SCI adamantly opposes this legislation. While the intention may be the conservation of the African species listed, HB-5104 is antithetical to scientifically-based conservation management principles which include hunting as a critical component. The data proves that hunting provides tangible conservation benefits to wildlife and local African communities.
To monitor the progress of this bill, and other legislation important to hunters across the nation, sign up for SCI’s Hunters Advocacy Action Center today!