Safari Club International Foundation (SCIF) kicks off the 18th annual African Wildlife Consultative Forum (AWCF) this week. Virtual coverage of the event is already underway with live sessions running November 10 – 12. To learn more about the AWCF, visit awcfinfo.org. For the most complete virtual coverage of the conference please follow @official_sci on Instagram and Safari Club International on Facebook.
Originally scheduled to take place in Kasane, Botswana, SCIF is charging ahead with the 2020 AWCF as an entirely virtual event. One of the most impactful wildlife conferences in all of Africa, the AWCF brings together senior wildlife officials from African government agencies, the leadership of professional hunting associations, community-based support organizations, wildlife biologists, and other stakeholders each year to discuss sustainable use conservation and wildlife management issues throughout the continent.
The forum’s virtual agenda includes official remarks from SCIF’s President Craig Kauffman, CEO Laird Hamberlin, and Africa Coordinator George Pangeti, who helped found the AWCF nearly two decades ago. The AWCF will also feature Botswana partners Fino Masire, Chair of the Botswana Wildlife Producers Association, and Dr. Kabelo Senyatso, Director of the Department of Wildlife and National Parks.
“AWCF has grown into one of the largest annual wildlife conservation meetings in Africa,” said Joe Goergen, SCIF Conservation Manager and organizer of the AWCF. “While we’re disappointed to not be together, we are continuing the momentum virtually and offering an opportunity to engage during these challenging times.”
Foremost on the agenda is the global pandemic and the deep cutting economic impact it has had on the hunting and tourism industries, community livelihoods, and wildlife conservation efforts across Africa. Much of the meeting will focus on strategies for recovering from these challenging times with an emphasis on leveraging the funds raised through SCI’s Share The Impact fundraiser earlier this summer into tangible benefits for SCIF’s partners in Africa moving forward.
Agenda sessions will also include highlighted remarks from USFWS Director Aurelia Skipwith and presentations from the USFWS on international trophy importation. Collaboration between the United States and its African peers is one of the most valuable aspects of the AWCF, and SCIF will continue facilitating these relationships as best virtually possible. Other topics include international conventions such as CITES, strategies to fight against anti-hunting legislation, community engagement, giraffe conservation, and leopard research. The virtual-based event will also feature film screenings, panel Q&As, and group discussions.
With this year’s forced change to a virtual format, attendees have less opportunity to engage directly with our Botswana partners; however, SCIF and the Botswana Ministry of Environment, Natural Resource Conservation and Tourism are committed to hosting the 19th AWCF live in Kasane in November 2021. With persistent threats to hunting, conservation, and wildlife management during these uncertain times, the AWCF is necessary now more than ever.