Last week, Safari Club International sent letters to Canada and the United Kingdom regarding potential damaging regulations to the legal, already-regulated trade of internationally hunted animals. While these regulations seek to protect species, further restrictions on hunting and wildlife imports will harm, rather than help, international conservation efforts. Hunting plays a critical role in the protection of species and habitat and is an important mechanism towards increasing the world’s biodiversity.
Environment and Climate Change Canada is currently seeking public comments on potential further restrictions on the import and export of elephant ivory, specifically including a ban on hunting trophies. SCI’s letter details strong opposition to this consultation, as southern African countries already have well-regulated hunting of elephants, with extensive benefits to elephants and local communities. A vital component of elephant conservation is species management, which international hunting provides in addition to game meat, employment, anti-poaching efforts, and revenue benefits to communities. Additionally, this consultation limits participation to Canadians, and seeks no input from the people it will affect most: rural Africans. There is very low trade of ivory in Canada currently, and it is highly regulated by range states and CITES, making additional regulations completely unnecessary.
SCI also sent a letter to the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee in the United Kingdom in strong opposition to the Animals Abroad Bill, which similarly seeks to impose new trade restrictions and prohibitions on legally hunted animals. Extensive research not only shows numerous benefits to wildlife and communities from international hunting, but also shows that restrictions or bans often have the unintended consequence of reducing crucial conservation incentives and therefore harming protection efforts. Southern African countries rely on hunting for conservation, with most of southern Africa’s wildlife living in the countries where they are legally hunted. Hunting provides incentives to conserve habitat which otherwise would be converted to other economic use without the revenues for conservation. Similarly, revenues from hunting both deter poachers due to higher economic benefits from hunting, and also employ anti-poaching rangers and efforts. Most importantly, international hunting supports rural community livelihoods. The management of African wildlife inherently belongs to Africans, and the Animals Abroad Bill wrongfully infringes on this right.
Both these efforts go against the best available science, against proven conservation initiatives, and against the sovereignty of African nations. Neither seeks the input from the people whom the potential restrictions will affect most and both will have harmful effects on the wildlife they claims to protect. For more information on the benefits of international hunting to conservation, visit SCI’s International Hunting – Focus on Africa page. SCI will continue to work in Canada, the United Kingdom, and around the world to stop any initiative harmful to hunting and international conservation.