The European Union is working on an initiative to prevent the illegal trade in wildlife as it continues to threaten biodiversity, ecological health, and human well-being, particularly in the wake of the COVID-19 Pandemic. SCI and SCI European Chapters submitted feedback on the initiative this week encouraging the European Commission (EC) to avoid any trophy bans or further restrictions on the legal, regulated trade in wildlife. Significant aspects of wildlife conservation, habitat sustainability, local community benefits, and anti-poaching initiatives are benefited and provided for by international hunting, and further restrictions would harm rather than help these efforts. SCI encourages the EC to listen to science and proven conservation strategies over emotionally driven animals rights initiatives. Read the full letter below.
2 November 2021
Re: Feedback on the Commission’s Roadmap on Preventing Illegal Trade in Wildlife—Revision of EU Action Plan
Safari Club International and its European Chapters appreciate the opportunity to provide feedback on the European Commission’s initiative to help EU institutions and EU countries continue to coordinate measures and to address the most important issues related to wildlife trafficking and illegal trade in wildlife. Safari Club and its Chapters believe it is critical that any revision to the Action Plan should aim to increase effectiveness of existing policy. Implementation of new actions should be guided by consideration of costs of implementation, reasonable expectation of effectiveness, and impact on stakeholders.
Safari Club International
Safari Club International is a nonprofit corporation with approximately 50,000 members worldwide, including many European members. Safari Club also has chapters throughout the world, including ten chapters in Europe, both within and without the European Union. Safari Club members contribute to the conservation and management of wildlife species through habitat conservation initiatives, donations to research and management programs, and participation in regulated hunting. Safari Club’s missions include the conservation of wildlife, protection of the hunter, and education of the public concerning hunting and its use as a conservation tool. Safari Club is an international leader in hunting and conservation advocacy, and routinely participates in CITES meetings, advocates in other international fora, and provides relevant information regarding hunting to government entities. Without exception, Safari Club and its Chapters oppose poaching and wildlife trafficking. Those activities are distinctly different from legal, regulated hunting, and thus must be regulated differently.
Increasing Effectiveness of the Action Plan
The Roadmap identifies perhaps the most critical issue regarding the effectiveness of the EU Action Plan:
Yet implementation and enforcement are still suffering from a lack of capacity in many of the relevant agencies and authorities, and the recent loss of revenues from wildlife tourism, due to the pandemic and related restrictions, has worsened the situation in many places. The revision of the Action Plan provides an opportunity to also address resource issues, even if it is unlikely to generate additional funding by itself.
Addressing effective implementation and enforcement of existing measures should be the primary objective of any revision to the Action Plan. The EC should aim to address lack of capacity and inadequate funding to implement existing measures. By no means do Safari Club and its European Chapters consider that simply throwing money at the problem will address existing issues, but concerted efforts to support capacity building and address funding shortfalls should be implemented.
Trophy hunting, although certainly not a solution for all problems associated with poaching and wildlife trafficking, does play a significant role in funding anti-poaching programs, providing incentives for maintaining robust wildlife populations, and reducing impacts of human-wildlife conflict that may otherwise lead to poaching and subsequent trafficking. The EC may consider hunting as a preventative measure that promotes enforcement of anti-poaching programs and reduces the need for additional enforcement of other measures.
Further, as the Roadmap recognizes, wildlife trafficking has negative impacts on local communities and others who depend on legal and sustainable trade for their livelihoods. Similarly, legal, regulated trade in wildlife has positive impacts on those same stakeholders who depend on such trade for their livelihoods. As the EC considers new measures to address illegal trade, due consideration should be given to potential negative impacts from further restriction on legal trade. At a minimum, the EC should not consider bans or overly burdensome restrictions on legal wildlife. Such restrictions are not effective in preventing poaching or wildlife trafficking and are not supported by science or successful conservation programs.
Safari Club and its European Chapters look forward to continued participation and cooperation regarding the EU’s efforts to prevent poaching and wildlife trafficking. Please contact Jeremy Clare at email@example.com for additional information or questions about this letter.
Sven Lindquist President, Safari Club International