African Wildlife Conservationists, U.S. Hunters Advocate for Elephant Sustainability
Safari Club International 05.14.14
On May 7 and 8, African conservation officials and advisors traveled to Washington, D.C. to demand that the U.S. government reverse its recent decision to ban sport-hunted elephant imports from Tanzania and Zimbabwe.
Secretary General Edson Chidiyza of Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife, along with fellow wildlife conservation advisors from Tanzania and Zimbabwe met with the U.S. Department of Interior, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S. State Department to demand a reversal of this arbitrary change in U.S. import policy. They pointed out in the meetings that the ban will have a tremendous negative impact on wildlife conservation in their countries.
“As hunters, we have been the most significant funders for wildlife conservation and management in Africa, more so than any other tourists over the past 50 years,” said SCI President Craig Kauffman. “I find it distressing and shameful that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has made a scientifically baseless decision that will financially devastate the people and communities that depend on safari hunters for their livelihoods.”
Despite the fact that 800,000 families in Zimbabwe depend on the safari hunting industry, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) bureaucracy freely admitted they instituted their ban on sport-hunted elephants from Zimbabwe and Tanzania without any basis in scientific data. This admission that “anecdotal evidence” was the basis for their decision was made in their own announcement of the ban, then repeated by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe on May 7th and subsequently repeated by FWS Deputy Director Steve Guertin on May 8th. Even Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife, and Parks Nominee Rhea Suh echoed the lack of scientific justification they had for their policy decision.
“As an American conservationist, I’m proud that our entire system of wildlife management in North America is based on science. Yet somehow, the U.S. government felt compelled in their decision to ban sport-hunted elephant imports to the U.S. without any data or consultation with local officials. We will be requesting an oversight hearing by the U.S. House of Representatives in the coming weeks to investigate the arbitrary nature of the decision making process,” said SCI Foundation President Joe Hosmer.
The following conservation officials were in Washington, D.C. to fight against this decision: Director General Edson Chidiyza, Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife; Director General Charles Jonga, CAMPFIRE Foundation, Chairman Emmanuel Fundira, Safari Operators Association of Zimbabwe; Ms. Adri Kitshoff, Chief Executive Officer of Professional Hunters Association of South Africa and Secretary General of Outfitters and Professional Hunters’ Associations of Southern Africa; Chairman Louis Muller, Zimbabwean Professional Hunters and Guides Association; Secretary General Mike Angelides, Tanzania Professional Hunters Association also representing Tanzania Hunting Operators Association; Board Member Piet Fourie, Tanzania Professional Hunters Association; and Wildlife Management Specialist Rowan Martin.