(Kasane, Botswana) – Last Month, Safari Club International Foundation (SCIF) concluded its 19th annual African Wildlife Consultative Forum (AWCF), hosted in-person and online with the Botswana Ministry of Environment, Natural Resource Conservation and Tourism at the Cresta Mowana Safari Resort in Kasane. This diverse forum was made up of African government officials and wildlife managers that support sustainable use, such as professional hunting associations, international policy experts, and wildlife biologists from across southern and eastern Africa.
While the challenges this forum sought to address are as numerous as they are complex, last week’s five-day conference also gave specific attention to the proliferation of baseless import bans on legally harvested African wildlife throughout various jurisdictions worldwide.
Participants from Africa and around the globe agreed that the threat of import bans on hunting trophies, made by misinformed Western activists and politicians, threatens the sustainability of African wildlife conservation programs, the right of sovereign African nations to manage the wildlife in their respective countries, and sustainable development benefits to rural communities.
Specifically, disincentivizing hunting in Africa with these policies would endanger:
- Initiatives for private landowners and communal conservancies to protect wildlife habitat instead of converting vast areas to farmland or commercial development;
- Direct revenue, employment opportunities, and other socio-economic benefits for African communities provided by hunting;
- Funding for management efforts such as wildlife research and anti-poaching efforts;
- Incentive structures that increase tolerance for human-wildlife conflicts in rural communities.
The ability to bring together so many stakeholders to discuss not only import bans but also other pressing issues such as the sustainability of wildlife conservation programs, and the benefits hunting provides rural communities, elephant population management, and the management of African big cats is why, to quote Dr. Fulton Mangwanya, Director General of the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, “AWCF is one of the most progressive wildlife conservation forums that we host in Africa annually.”
SCI and SCIF CEO W. Laird Hamberlin remarked at the conclusion of this year’s forum, saying, “While this year’s hybrid AWCF was a great success, now the hard work begins. We must ensure the vision of African-led conservation is implemented going forward and that western countries stand with African wildlife experts instead of setting up roadblocks to successful conservation strategies. SCIF and our partners in Africa look forward to making concrete progress on these issues between now and the 20th AWCF next year.”
SCIF’s Conservation Manager Joe Goergen also commented on last week’s conference, saying, “SCIF’s facilitation of this AWCF came at a pivotal time due to the many harmful import bans being implemented as Africa is still recovering from the tourism shock of COVID-19 pandemic. The discussions at the forum were critical to tackling the global misinformation on international conservation hunting and managing Africa’s iconic species.”