On The Front Lines

By W. Laird Hamberlin

SCI does what it does better than any other organization of hunters in the world. This is because of SCI’s unique combination of volunteer leadership and professional staff.

This reality really sunk in this past fall when I was fortunate to be able to attend the 19th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in Panama.

Among the roughly 2,000 people from countries around the world who attended the CITES meeting were 11 in the contingent representing Safari Club International and Safari Club International Foundation. That’s the most we have ever sent to a CITES meeting, even though SCI has been attending CITES meetings since the first in 1975.

In his President’s Message recently in Safari Times, SCI President Sven Lindquist outlined the strategic implications of CITES for SCI and all hunters. I hope to explain how the SCI/F contingent executed on that strategy — how the boots on the ground, so to speak, made a positive difference on behalf of hunters everywhere.

Leading SCI/F’s staff is not unlike conducting an orchestra. Even though we have the right people in the right spots to succeed, someone has to make sure everyone is on the same page of the score if we are to make music. And what beautiful music it was!

SCI/F’s presence was felt at the recent CITES meeting, not simply because we had more than a double handful of representatives in our contingent, but because we helped sponsor an event there in addition to making the critical personal contacts that will be needed for us to continue to expand our presence and importance in the future.

We were literally on the front lines in the fight to save hunting and the true conservation that hunting creates. And we were at the tip of the spear in efforts to have the voices heard of people and communities who live with the world’s wildlife. For too long, wildlife decisions in many areas have been made by people and organizations that are located half a world away from the day-to-day realities.

SCI/F are leading the charge to assure that those most directly affected by wildlife have a voice in how wildlife is treated and viewed around the world. These are the same people who are in the best position to help save wildlife through hunting-involved conservation. The combination of volunteer leaders and professional staff in the SCI/F contingent at the CITES meeting was effective because it was organized and comprised of representatives who were both knowledgeable and enthusiastic about SCI/F’s missions.

For me, this was not surprising because the professional staffs of both SCI and SCIF are the best there are in the world and are there for hunters, day in and day out.

As I repeat often, the future of both SCI and hunting rests on six pillars: Advocacy, Chapters, Event Services (Convention), Hunting, Membership and Conservation. I am honored to be able to lead the professional staff that builds upon those pillars every single day.

Please join me at the SCI Convention Feb. 22-25 in Nashville. We can talk about SCI/F, CITES and, of course, hunting. See you in Nashville.