The International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation (CIC) partnered with several other organizations to put on a workshop at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Hawai’i, USA on the provocative topic: Does hunting have a future?
Among our community, one might wonder why that is even a question; but the reality is that hunting, in all of its forms, is increasingly facing criticism across the globe. Attacks on hunting persevere despite proof that it plays an essential role in wildlife management, conservation, food security, and the generation of livelihoods. This workshop examined how and why hunting does have a future in different parts of the world. There is, however, the mounting problem that the public opinion mistakenly puts poaching and illegal wildlife trade in the same basket as hunting.
It must be said that governance of hunting is still not perfect or equitable in many countries. While community-based management is ideal, well-implemented programs need to be scaled up in size. “Top down” models of centralized control are often not sustainable in the long-term and disregard the needs and rights of local and indigenous communities.
The panel of speakers included Angus Middleton (Namibia Nature Foundation, Namibia), Walter Ritte (Native Hawai’ian activits, Moloka’i, Hawai’i), Dana Yermolyonok (GIZ, Kazakhstan), Helder Queiroz (Instituto de Desenvolvimento Sustentável Mamirauá, Brazil), Larry Carpenter (Wildlife Management Advisory Council, Northwest Territories), and Shane Mahoney (Conservation Visions). Moderated by Rosie Cooney, Chair of the IUCN Sustainable Use and Livelihoods Specialist Group (SULi), each panelist had the opportunity to share how hunting plays a critical role in their region of the world from subsistence in the Amazon where 10-30% of meals have game meat in them; to Namibia where tourist hunting provides funds for conservation, gives local communities rights to their land and wildlife, and increases wildlife populations; to the Inuvialuit in Canada’s Western Arctic where the Inuvialuit Game Council, Six Community Hunters and Trappers Community, and Wildlife Management Advisory Council comprised of indigenous people manage their wildlife under sustainable use principles through hunting. Ms. Yermolyonok’s presentation was entirely focused on the case study of the Tajikistan Mountain Ungulate Project as a shining example of how hunting works and highlighted that the project won the CIC Markhor Award in 2014.
Several comments were received from the audience, but it was clear that this panel was speaking mainly to an audience of those who understand the significant contributions hunting makes to many aspects of conservation which could not be replaced. When this became clear, the moderator openly encouraged and welcomed parties with opposing views to take the floor, but there was silence.
This silence was encouraging as there were organisations and individuals in the audience that were opposed to hunting and their lack of questions meant that they were considering the factual evidence presented.
The WCC is the world’s largest gathering of conservation professionals and a great forum for a robust exchange of views as we work together to conserve our precious wildlife. We are pleased that the views of hunters were so well presented by the panel and well accepted by the audience.