Both chambers of the U.S. Congress are in session this week following the August recess. With partisan agendas back in full swing, SCI is looking ahead to an issue in the 50-50 split Senate: an international hunting import ban.
Despite the efforts of SCI, other hunting and conservation organizations, and African leadership, the House passed the Interior Appropriations Bill in July, including the anti-hunting and anti-conservation Section 436. Section 436 eliminates funding for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to process imports from a sport-hunted elephant or lion from Tanzania, Zambia, or Zimbabwe, effectively banning these trophy imports. This decision by the Democrat-led house goes against the best science, African testimonials, and conservation strategies. The Zambian and Zimbabwean Ambassadors to the United States wrote letters to House leadership outlining how Section 436 was an attack on African sovereignty and the effective conservation tactics of African range countries, but were ignored. Importantly, the effective ban would have devastating impacts on anti-poaching efforts in Africa, the stated intent of Section 436 to help in the first place.
International hunting is one of the most effective methods of species conservation, habitat protection, and wildlife management in Africa. Rural communities depend on the employment opportunities hunting creates, the community development and infrastructure opportunities it provides, and the human-wildlife conflict mitigation that it brings. Wild animals and protected habitat are often dangerous and costly, and put excessive burden on those who live closest to wildlife. Communities often turn to poaching for meat or as a last-resort way to scrape together a livelihood; with regulated hunting, these same community members are often employed as anti-poaching rangers and the communities receive game meat. Without financial support, local communities lack the resources or incentives to conserve species and ecosystems.
In addition to international hunters assisting communities and actively contributing to conservation efforts, the management of African wildlife and habitat is a right that belongs to Africans. The United States has no place in dictating this management, but since the house has passed the bill, the next big fight is in the Senate. Over the next few months, the Senate will consider the funding bill. SCI is continuing to work diligently to ensure all language pertaining to international import bans is removed. This is important not only for American hunters, but also for the sovereignty of African nations and critical conservation efforts.
Stay tuned for more updates on this and other issues affecting sportsmen and women across the country. Visit our International Hunting, Focus on Africa page for more information on the benefits of international hunting and sign up for our Hunter Advocacy Action Center for legislative updates.