Yesterday morning, the House Natural Resources Committee held a forum titled “Supporting African Communities: Highlighting International Conservation Efforts Worldwide.” The forum examined the role sustainable hunting plays in supporting both international conservation and the global economy. The panel of witnesses included His Excellency Ambassador Tadeous Chifamba, Embassy of the Republic of Zimbabwe; Dr. Maurus Msuha, Director of Wildlife, Tanzanian Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism; and Ms. Maxi Pia Louis, Director, Namibian Association of Community-Based Natural Resource Management Support Organisations.
The forum highlighted the African perspective of wildlife conservation and management, particularly the role of international hunters. As evidenced by these witnesses, overwhelming scientific data, and community perspectives, international hunting is an irreplaceable component of habitat protection and wildlife conservation. The countries with well-managed hunting have the highest populations of hunted and non-hunted species, in addition to the largest successfully managed protected areas. Most importantly, local communities and African governments both benefit from international hunting and are the only ones who should be regulating African wildlife. As The Dean of the House Rep. Don Young put it, “If you don’t manage wildlife, you don’t have wildlife.”
The witnesses also testified on the latest threat to hunting in Africa: the House Interior Appropriations bill, which included a defacto trophy ban on lions and elephants from Tanzania, Zambia, or Zimbabwe. All three witnesses unequivocally stated that this ban would severely harm, rather than help, wildlife and local communities. This is simply an effort by Washington politicians that ignores science, infringes on the rights of sovereign nations to manage their own wildlife, and will damage proven, sustainable conservation strategies.
This hearing was critical to international hunting efforts as the voice of Africans is so often ignored in Washington. The full video can be found here – please watch!
SCI extends a thank you to Ranking Member Rep. Bruce Westerman for holding yesterday’s forum and Rep. Young, Rep. Newhouse, Rep. Joyce, Rep. Fulcher, Rep. Harrel, Rep. Bentz, and Rep. Rosendale who all participated. With the threat of trophy bans coming from all over the Western world, it is critical now more than ever to listen to Africans and work for the best, sustainable solutions for people and wildlife.