By W. Laird Hamberlin, CEO of Safari Club International
This month, I want to focus on the “I” in SCI because as this message is being written, I am in Europe, taking care of SCI business. And, of course, the “I” in SCI stands for International.
One stop for me is at Cinegética, an international hunting and fishing fair held in Madrid, Spain annually. This exciting event sees more than 40,000 hunters and companies in the hunting world gather in one place, at one time.
Cinegética began in 2013 when two big hunting fairs, Venatoria and FICAAR, united to form one of the largest events of its kind in the world. And this year, there were an estimated 550,000 supporters of hunting who demonstrated in Madrid in a display of unity. (To read more about the protests, see page 22 of your April edition of Safari Times.)
SCI, along with our European Chapters and members from throughout Europe, continue to be a part of this event, which helps us realize our mission to protect the freedom to hunt and promote wildlife conservation worldwide.
It also fits solidly among the six pillars upon which the future of SCI and hunting rest: Advocacy, Event Services (Convention), Membership, Conservation, Chapters and Hunting.
For a number of years, the European Chapters have held one of their two annual meetings in conjunction with Cinegética. At these meetings, SCI members and chapters from around Europe report on their successes and map out their plans for the future.
As much as we continue to make progress in expanding hunting opportunities in the western part of Europe as a result of the meetings we’re having, the situation to the east is not good for hunting or for the conservation of wildlife.
The war in Ukraine and global reaction to it are precluding hunting activities in both countries involved. Hopefully, the hostilities can end soon, and we can return to protecting hunting and conserving wildlife in those places, as well as around the rest of the world.
At the beginning of our meeting during Cinegética, SCI and our European Chapters pledged solidarity with the people of Ukraine and especially our Ukrainian Chapter.
Meanwhile, this is the time of year when the safari season in Africa and hunting seasons in other parts of the Southern Hemisphere kick into high gear.
I encourage all SCI members to do what we all do best — go hunting. This is a critical year for us to go on as many hunts as possible to help the guides and outfitters around the globe recover from the devastating pandemic.
The hunting industry, of which SCI is a major part, took a major hit when hunts were closed down during the now two-year-long COVID crisis.
We are pulling out of the depths of the pandemic, but there is a lot of recovery that still needs to happen for the hunting world to return to anything that approaches normal. It is heartening to know that the solution also happens to be something we all love to do.
When we go hunting around the world, we have fun, the hunting industry thrives and the money from all of that activity helps the long-term conservation of wildlife resources. It is a total win/win/win for everyone, and everything involved.
And it is not too early for all SCI members to plan to attend SCI’s annual Hunters’ Convention in Nashville, Tennessee, Feb. 22-25, 2023. We are looking forward to a fantastic event as SCI takes its Convention east of the Mississippi River where it literally will be in the backyards of millions of hunters. See you there.