The CIC Trophy Measuring and Monitoring System
Gerhard R Damm
The author presented a paper on the evolution of the CIC Trophy Measuring and Monitoring System and its synergies with the CIC Project on Sustainable Hunting Tourism during the CIC General Assembly in Marrakech to highlight that the innovative CIC Trophy Measuring and Monitoring System may serve regionally and globally as key wildlife management tool, as indicator of sustainable trophy hunting practices and as a bridge for cooperation with the IUCN Sustainable Use Specialist and Species Specialist Groups.
“The innovative CIC approach to trophy hunting, trophy evaluation and trophy monitoring will concentrate on scientifically viable trophy measurements focusing on methods which provide on one hand comprehensive and species-specific biological data and on the other hand the means to intelligently use and interpret these data.”
Global scientific circles like the IUCN species specialist groups and many field researchers have demanded such an approach for years. Regulatory authorities in the European Union and the United States, but also international treaties like CITES require detailed data sets based on sound science and broad sampling sizes to determine the non-detrimental status of game hunting, particularly for the high profile game species in the CITES appendices. The evolutionary development of the CIC system will position the CIC model to connect the hunting trophy and the environment with scientifically viable data as foundation stone of the ethical and sustainable extractive use of game species.
At the CIC General Assemblies of Warsaw (1934) and Prague (1937) the first rules and regulations of the CIC Trophy Measuring were established based on the work of Graf Meran, Bieger and Nadler (1930). Minor alterations were adopted for the International Hunting Exhibition, Berlin 1937. Further development of the system led to the Madrid Formula (CIC General Assembly 1952), which again formed the basis for more adaptations in Dusseldorf (1954) and Copenhagen (1955).
Subsequently a working group with numerous international experts, prominent amongst them CIC members like Andre-Jacques Hettier de Boislambert, Kenneth Whitehead, Werner Trense and Veljko Varicak presented further results at the international exhibition in Budapest (1971). The end result was the establishment of the current CIC trophy scoring system in 1977. Hence, change and adaptive evolution are not new to the CIC system, but actually formed an essential part of its historic development.
Existing systems should not be changed for the sake of change, but it is common knowledge that every system needs to adapt to changing circumstances in order to remain relevant. Changes need to be based on significant new knowledge about game, game populations, game genetics, zoogeography and the socio-biological importance of horns and antlers in terms of geometry, morphology etc, but also on changing societal perceptions of hunting. Much of the scientific facts known today as well as new scientific statistical evaluation methods based on state-of-the-art information technology were not available 30 or 40 years ago..
Comparability with existing trophy data will not disappear, if existing formulae are adapted and/or changed, provided the complete historic data sets are available to be incorporated into a new relational data base. Comparability of scientific datasets is achieved as a result of the statistical evaluation of individual measurements, trophy characteristics and habitat parameters and not by comparing mere point totals.
Many researchers have highlighted the influence that selective hunting may have on the population dynamics of game and non-game species. Yet data sourced from hunts are inherently biased. Hunters typically select a non-random subset of a game population usually based on anthropocentric intentions thus making hunting the contrary of a random process. A similar constraint applies to the trophies scored for traditional recording purposes – in many cases only a relatively small percentage of the trophies taken are scored resp. are entered into databases or record books. We need to adopt corrective measures for bias introduced this way, since it may have important consequences for the correct interpretation of hunting and trophy data.
The hunter’s anthropocentric objectives during the hunt and the resulting selection usually has an effect, sometimes significant, on the characteristics of the hunted game and consequently on the antlers or horns of trophy males since hunter selection usually focuses on males bearing larger trophies and/or trophies with certain characteristics. This focus could result that these animals are more likely to be killed when actually still needed in the reproductive cycle. At the same time, game animals usually experience natural selection pressures towards being large and/or heavy to ensure breeding success and survival. These complex dynamics need to be taken into account to safeguard the scientific and ethical integrity of hunting trophy scoring and monitoring methods and to elevate a scoring system above mere anthropocentric purposes often with a competitive undertone, i. e. like in “I killed the best, largest or heaviest”.
Trophy scoring and monitoring methods based on state-of-the-art species-specific conservation biology will assist in developing and applying the most appropriate wildlife management regimes; they will encourage that trophy animals are targeted primarily after having reached the transition period between prime and post-prime status. As a consequence, hunter induced mortality will not significantly increase natural mortality patterns, since the targeting of post-prime age classes will by-and-large result in compensation between natural and hunter-induced mortality.
Scientifically, antlered, horned or tusked trophies today are seen today as bio-indicators. Their precise measurements and statistical evaluation can play an important role for the implementation of sustainable use regimes of wild living resources, if the data come from a sufficiently large pool. However, to a greater of lesser extent, the existing trophy measuring systems provide only a relatively limited data pool, and more importantly, often neglect geometry, morphometry, statistics, socio-biological value and metabolic achievements. They value subjective anthropomorphistic “ideals”, which are often the reason for controversies (Bubenik, 1988).
A. Bubenik said in a contributing chapter to former CIC Secretary General Werner Trense’s “The Big Game of the World” (Paul Parey 1989) “in dealing with [the assessment of trophies] I have to question the legitimacy of the present assessment formulas .... From a historical point of view, most of the inadequacies of the formulas are understandable”. The proposed evolutionary development of the CIC Trophy Measuring and Monitoring System intends to incorporate Dr. Bubenik’s challenges and will work on adequate solutions.
At the CIC Press Conference in Vienna/Austria (April 2007), Dr. R Guertler said “game deserves the name game only if it is free-ranging year-round” and CIC Expert Prof. F. Reimoser stated that “the hunt focuses on hunting of self-sustaining wild and free ranging game”. Prof. K. Hackländer mentioned that “trophy scoring methods based on number of points, length of beams and presence of crowns lead to a reduction of genetic diversity”. CIC President Dieter Schramm announced during the same press conference that “the CIC will start to re-evaluate existing trophy scoring methods at the 54th GA and re-think the inclusion of subjective beauty criteria (color, pearls, etc) and give greater emphasis to the age of the trophy animal. Ad-hoc scoring should be abolished and hunt area managers and/or owners should sign an affidavit that the hunted game originated from free-range conditions”. These remarks formed the basis for the present work.
The 2007 Trophy Workshop at the 54th General Assembly in Belgrade analyzed the complex issue of trophy scoring and trophy recording. At the final meeting of the workshop participants, CIC Honorary President Dr Nicolas Franco stated „that ongoing cooperation with scientists seems to be of essence, especially since a trophy record book should be monitoring species and habitat and include scientific data. Trophy recording is for the good of the species and not for the ego of a hunter.”
During the past twelve months, ongoing individual discussions, correspondence with CIC members and outside scientific experts kept the topic on the agenda – last not least in connection with the objectives of CIC 2010!
My interpretation of the objectives of CIC 2010 require the CIC and its partners to assume a global leadership position in the scientific evaluation of sustainable trophy hunting through the establishment and administration of a comprehensive database of hunting trophies combined with current detailed descriptions of the hunted species, their geographical distribution and the habitats these species live in.
The creation of a task force of committed CIC members cooperating with representatives of national and international hunting organizations, IUCN specialist groups, field researchers, universities and national regulatory authorities is an important milestone on this path. This task force got its mandate through clear terms of reference from the CIC Executive Committee at the CIC General Assembly in Marrakech in April this year. I have been appointed to coordinate the task force and the work of the Commission Exhibitions & Trophies under the present leadership.
This task has been tackled vigorously during the weeks following the Marrakech General Assembly and I am proud to report that a unexpected high number of eminently qualified scientists from all over Europe, as well as a good number of CIC members have offered to contribute knowledge and manpower. I am also in contact with the National Delegations regarding the issues discussed during the meetings of the Commission Exhibitions & Trophies in Marrakech.
The task force will review and if and where necessary, adapt, the existing CIC Red and Blue Books as well as the procedures and organization of the Commission. All CIC members who feel that they can contribute towards the work of the task force should please contact Gerhard R Damm by email (Gerhard @ muskwa.co.za). Correspondence can be in English, German and Spanish.
Our joint objective will be the establishment of sound principles, criteria and indicators for trophy hunting as well as of a scientific database suitable to support exemplary wildlife management regimes and sustainable hunting tourism.