Glimpse of the conference
The International Women and Sustainable Hunting (WaSH) Conference was organized for the 3rd time in Wageningen, The Netherlands on behalf of the Working Group Artemis of the CIC, International Association for Falconry and Conservation of Birds of Prey, Working Group Diana of the Netherlands last weekend, mainly focusing on education with its mission to convey hunting tradition for future generations, with an eye toward species protection, conservation and sustainability.
Women are said to stay at home and raise children – not go out hunting. This stereotype has no historical basis as women hunters are known from early history to be active members of hunting – a woman was captured on a 3500 year old hieroglyphic in a royal hunting party on the marshes of the Nile Delta; in the twelfth century flying and training hawks was an essential part of the nobelwoman’s education; Queen Eleanor of Provence flew goshawks; Queen Eleanor of Castile hunted with gyrfalcons, and Catherine the Great was a keen falconer just like Elizabeth I and her cousin, Mary Queen of Scots.
Soňa Chovanová Supeková, the President of the Working Group Artemis of the CIC, introduced the four priorities of the CIC and the Women the Hunter project to the participants. The President highlighted that nowadays, the number of women taking an active part of hunting is increasing: in Slovakia there are 1700 registered huntresses, and there are more than 3000 in the Czech Republic and Poland. Women are also known to take an active part of education about hunting. A good example of this is the women who teach at a falconry school in Štiavnické Bane, Slovakia where pupils have classes about falconry and horse breeding embeded in their curriculum.
Today, women undoubtedly play a major role in hunting and falconry in the Slavic communities.
The number of huntresses has been increasing over the past few decades. Involving huntresses in education and the spread of information about hunting can help to help to improve the image of hunting as they can convince non-hunting women, who are more likely to participate in anti-hunting activism than men, about the importance of hunting and conservation as was explained by Catherine E. Semcer (USA).
Urbanization (already 50% of the human population lives in cities), deforestation, and biodiversity loss have lead to people –mainly kids, having less and less interaction with nature and consequently know a little about hunting and conservation. This limited information may lead to a huge number of anti-hunting campaigns.
Annelies Henstra (the Netherlands) presented the IUCN’s resolution “Child’s Right to Connect with Nature and to a Healthy Environment” and the results of it. The idea is to provide a healthy environment for children and give them and an opportunity to connect with nature.
Elisabeth Leix (Germany) told her story about how nature and falconry can have an extremely good effect on parenting a kid as it teaches responsibility. Falconry can also help schools to have international relationships as it was presented by Nicola Dixon (UK) through the School Links Program which provides educational resources using falcon conservation and falconry in biology, ecology, conservation, history, literature, and cultural topics that can be easily fit into the curriculum.
Drs Laurens Hoedemaker (the Netherlands) emphasized how important it is that we, as hunters, should tell people why we hunt. The Royal Dutch Hunters Association decided to dramatically change in the approach of their communication and brought hunting to the public, to the media and to politicians. The Communications Manager, Drs Janneke Eigeman created a story that lead to a huge success and support by both the Dutch public and politicians by interviewing many stakeholders and hunters.
Marina Lamprecht (Namibia) reflected how important it is to educate local people about hunting and create opportunities for them. In Namibia, the Namibian Professional Hunting Association achieved the allowance of verbal examinations for the Professional Hunter qualification as many quite talented people working in hunting business (as skinners or trackers for example) is illiterate or semi-literate. Since 2001, more than 300 Namibians could qualify as a guide or Professional Hunter because of this.
Dr Heli Siitari (Finland) showed how local hunters and conservationists can benefit if information about a species (e.g. black grouse) is spread. As the ecology, behavior, and breeding habits become widely known, local hunting clubs can slightly change the hunting season and greatly increase the population numbers.
Ineke Smets (New Zealand) reported that falconry was legalized in 2010, in New Zealand, as it is a relatively new concept – and was banned previously since 1980. Now more and more enthusiasts try to campaign, educate people, and make falconry more popular.
As George Aman President of the CIC highlighted in his welcome note “It is really my sincere belief that huntresses are our hope for a prosperous and fruitful future and the survival of hunting, because, among many other things, they are educating our future generations with the necessary respect of nature which includes sustainable hunting. And you, Ladies, are the best to take care for the Education of the young generation, who are the future of our passion.”