SCI Foundation Facilitates 14th Meeting of the African Wildlife Consultative Forum

South Africa AWCF 2015 PR resized

Washington, DC – ( Joseph Hosmer, President, Safari Club International Foundation (SCI Foundation), announced today that Safari Club International Foundation facilitated the 14th meeting of the African Wildlife Consultative Forum (AWCF) hosted by South Africa in Limpopo Province from 9-13 November.  The forum introduced wide-ranging perspectives of wildlife professionals focused on Africa’s highest priority conservation issues.

Government officials, non-governmental conservation organizations and a diverse group of wildlife stakeholders from thirteen countries participated in the four-day conference.  The hunting community was well represented by heads of Professional Hunting Associations, who have provided crucial perspectives on the management of hunting to the participating governments since the first AWCF in 2001.

“We strongly believe a cooperative approach to conservation is key to ensure wise decisions are made in wildlife management and policy,” said SCI Foundation President Joseph Hosmer.  “The AWCF not only provides a unique opportunity for wildlife professionals to deliberate on conservation issues, it presents new scientific information to the officials who are managing Africa’s wildlife.”

Major outcomes of the 14th AWCF include reviews of government anti-poaching programs, the identification of new resources that can be applied to fight poaching, the development of new science on carnivore population dynamics, a new initiative that will assess the social and conservation benefits derived from wildlife utilization at a local level, and continued range state cooperation on finalizing a continental status review for the African lion.

Participants were given a sobering reminder that Kruger National Park is losing two rhinos each day to poachers, but were inspired by the dedication of South Africa National Parks rangers who are on the front lines of protecting those rhinos at great personal risk to themselves.

The Tanzania Wildlife Division, the Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute, and Mississippi State University presented preliminary results from a 2015 survey of Serengeti National Park’s lion population.  The results are significant because they suggest that a new and improved approach to estimating lion populations may soon be available.

This pro-sustainable use conservation forum also discussed the importance of long-term land use planning to sustain wildlife and wildlife habitats.  Forum participants were challenged to look several decades into the future and anticipate what environmental conditions will be like if current projections of human population growth become reality.  “Well thought approaches that allocate space for wildlife habitats is essential to secure wildlife populations, as well as approaches for minimizing adverse human impacts to these habitats,” said the delegation from Mozambique.

International policy was addressed at this forum in the context of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).   A representative of the CITES Secretariat was invited to review the leading issues relevant to Africa that will be addressed at upcoming CITES meetings in 2016.  CITES regulates the international trade of threatened and endangered biodiversity to ensure their conservation and their value to people.  Sometimes counter-intuitive to the general public, hunting is recognized by CITES to have important conservation benefits to threatened and endangered species.

“For many years, hunting has been vital to conservation worldwide because of the incentives it provides people to conserve wildlife and their habitats,” said SCI Foundation Conservation Chairman Alan Maki.  In the words of the Namibia’s delegation from their Ministry of Environment and Tourism, “If you remove hunting, you have also removed conservation.”

South Africa’s Department of Environmental Affairs recognizes that hunting contributes significantly to conservation, tourism, job creation and sustainable development, especially in rural areas, and is part of the broader biodiversity economy.  The AWCF embraces these values that hunting brings to people and wildlife.

Safari Club International Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that funds and directs worldwide programs dedicated to wildlife conservation and outdoor education. Any contribution may tax deductible under Internal Revenue Code section 170(c) as a charitable contribution to the extent permitted by law. Tax deductible amount of gift is reduced by the “Fair market Value” of any goods, services, or advantages that a sponsor receives for the donation. EIN #86-0292099