Sustainable Hunting: A Crucial Conservation Tool

Hunting makes critical contributions to the future of wildlife populations around the world.


"Sustainable hunting will continue to be a major conservation tool in the 21st century. It conserves wildlife populations and biodiversity in general, whereas hunting bans can speed up extinction," said the President of the CIC Tropical Game Commission, Dr. Rolf D. Baldus, at a conference during the international IWA-Outdoors Classic trade fair in Nürnberg, Germany. The conference on "Hunting and Sportshooting in the 21st Century" was organized by the "World Forum on the Future of Sport Shooting Activities" (WFSA). The WFSA represents over one hundred million sport shooters from all around the world.

There is no reason for hunters to be defensive or to hide their passion. The high expenditures of hunters all over the world and their investments into the conservation of natural habitats are major and often critical contributions to maintain biodiversity. At the same time this saves the taxpayers millions of dollars, which they otherwise would have to spend for the same purposes. The income hunters provide for landowners serves as a powerful economic incentive for the conservation of nature.

“Total protection of wildlife and hunting bans often achieve the opposite,” Dr. Baldus said, “as they remove the economic value of wildlife, and something without value is defenselessly doomed to decline and in final consequence to extinction.”

The CIC is very concerned about the present effort of a coalition of anti-hunting and animal rights groups to list the African lion under the US Endangered Species Act. This would outlaw the import of lion trophies into the USA. All large cats, which have been formally protected for decades are indeed more and more endangered: the tiger, the snow leopard, and the jaguar. In Kenya the lion has not been legally hunted for over 30 years and during that period, the lion population size has crashed to roughly about 10% of the neighboring Tanzanian lion population, which has been hunted all along the same period! Bans clearly not only do not work, but accelerate the extinction of species.

Wild lion populations outside national parks only have a future if rural people see a direct benefit of living with lions. Official and controlled hunting encourages the lion range states to leave hunting blocks as wilderness and refrain from converting them into pastoral rangeland and agricultural land with little biodiversity left. Banning lion trophy hunting or creating barriers for hunters to take home legally obtained trophies removes the economic as well as management and law enforcement incentives that are necessary for conservation. These counter balances were removed in Kenya that downgraded the lion to vermin, and led poor rural herdsmen to poison lions with easily obtainable insecticides. It is difficult to prevent retaliatory killings when livelihood strategies are threatened: the law is reluctant to impose stiff sentences that compromise poverty alleviation. Conservation authorities cannot defend their justification to conserve lions in such circumstances.

It is a disgrace to observe how the animal welfare organizations follow a neo-colonialist approach. They want to force sovereign African nations and poor rural people to adopt their Disneyland-like version of African nature. Banning lion hunting is a first step to terminate all official hunting in Africa. It aims at depriving developing countries and rural communities from earning necessary revenues from biodiversity. This is a direct violation of the main principles of the Convention on Biological Biodiversity (CBD). The CIC is confident that the United States will not follow this ill-conceived petition of the animal rights organizations.

During the conference, the WFSA presented their "Sports Shooting Ambassadors Awards" to the Namibian Minister of Environment and Tourism, Hon. Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, and Marina Lamprecht of the Namibia Professional Hunting Association (NAPHA) for their achievements to conserve Namibia's wildlife through hunting tourism.

Ms. Nandi-Ndaitwah explained that wildlife has more than tripled in recent years, as hunting tourism encourages landowners to have game on their land. Wildlife has turned from a cost into an asset. This has been the case on farms and ranches, but more importantly many rural communities have formed  conservancies, and the income from wildlife now contributes to their livelihoods. Game is back on land where it had not been seen in years.

"Come to Namibia and hunt," she encouraged the international hunting community. "By hunting you help Namibia to keep its wildlife for future generations."--International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation (CIC). For more on CIC, see www.cic-wildlife.org
 

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