Soňa Chovanová Supeková, President of the CIC Artemis Working Group, spoke of the current roles that women play in the field of conservation. More than 100 women from 14 countries attended the 4th Women and Sustainable Hunting Conference, which discussed the topic of large carnivores in various countries, and an invite was extended for audience members to attend the 5th conference on 8-10 November, hosted in Bydgoszcz, Poland. Following this, she provided an update on the work of Artemis WG, which has run 3 episodes (sustainable hunting management and women for conservation in Namibia) on Fishing and Hunting TV channel now in 10 countries in Europe.
In addition, an outline of her personal work in conservation was provided, which involves a dedicated wildlife area of almost 80sq.m, with no interior fences or domestic stock. Selective ethical and sustainable trophy hunting is allowed, with only 2% of the population taken annually as trophies. With land owners shifting to the use of wildlife, this has led to the development of wildlife enterprises and has resulted 3 times more game, and twice as much wildlife on commercial farm and conservancies than in NP.
Working with local communities and educating children were underlined as key areas for hunters to focus on. The practice of conservation hunting was also praised for its qualifications requirements and relatively high wages when compared to other land uses.
Adriana Sojáková, a Young Opinion member/student from Slovakia, gave her experiences investigating ungulates in a pine and mixed forest in the west part of Slovakia. The aim was to find out more about ungulate numbers and activity, and to inform students at her school on the findings. She also conducted a study within her local town to find out how much people knew about ungulates and hunting; the results showed that knowledge about ungulates appeared to be limited, and that most people saw hunters as killers and did not like them. People changed their views after sharing information on hunting, although the utility of hunters in controlling population numbers was an issue that had contrasting opinions.
Panelist Pauline Hurt (Robin Hurt Safari Company) then talked about her involvement in the habitat for rhino project, which has 14 employees and eight rhinos in their care. Recent droughts in Namibia have caused rhino owners to have to import feed from South Africa, and the food shortages appear to be an issue that will persist in the near future. It was also suggested that rhino owners feel that the sale of rhino horn should be legalized; this would provide much needed financial help and would only be taken off 4-5 times in the life of a rhino.
Speakers, including Marina Lamprecht, who owns and personally runs her safari company, the Hunters Namibia Safaris, then addressed a question on how to attract more women into conservation. Engaging women in education for children was stressed as a key driver – the example of Slovakia was given, where the ministry of education gives accreditation to put a formal education program for environmental conservation and hunting issues to pre-school students. In addition to this, they organize camps and lectures for kindergarten teachers who will teach children. Being part of an official education program in schools is a big advancement, and is as a way to educate and inform others on what the hunting community does for conservation.
The discussion then moved on to getting youth involved in conservation, as it appears that the youth are getting increasingly disconnected to nature. Adriana stated that there are many educational programs that are being conducted, and said that she worked with 8000 children across Slovakia in 2 days. The Dallas Safari Club, based in the US, is another organization that works closely with the youth, and provides high school students with lectures and training. For Namibia, it was suggested that wildlife associations and the government should do more to introduce conservation into the curriculum to engage young people.