CIC: Sustainable Hunting and National Parks – two sides of the same coin
'Sustainable hunting and national parks are no contradictions. Instead, they complement each other. They are two sides of the same coin', said Dr. Rolf D. Baldus, President of CIC’s former Tropical Game Commission. He commented the increasing reports on dramatic decreases of wildlife in African national parks. Just recently the University of Cambridge published a research report according to which the abundance of key species including lion, wildebeest, giraffe, buffalo and zebra had declined on an average by almost 60% between 1970 and 2005. Main reasons are poaching for bush meat and the lack of financial and personnel resources.
The International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation supports national parks wherever they make sense. The CIC opposes, however, the establishment of parks which cannot be financed in the long run and which are rejected by the local people. Sometimes parks do not even generate the expenses for the tourism infrastructure and its maintenance. In such cases it is much better to introduce sustainable hunting tourism. No infrastructure is needed and with a minimum of environmental impact maximum revenues can be secured. This allows benefits for the local population and strengthens their interest in conservation.
West Africa and Kenya face the highest decreases of wildlife in their parks. This is symptomatic, as hunting is mostly banned in these countries. In Southern Africa on the other hand populations are mostly stable or are even characterized by significant increases. One important explanation is the revenues earned by landowners and rural communities from hunting. National parks are no islands, and if wildlife numbers decline outside, populations inside will suffer too.
The CIC appeals to African Governments, development aid donors and NGOs to include sustainable use of wildlife, including hunting, in programmes for wildlife conservation. This is also in line with Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).
Together with the UN-Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) the CIC has recently published a report about the experiences with Community Based Natural Resources Management in Africa during the last three decades. It shows clearly the potential for conservation and poverty alleviation.
Dr. Rolf D. Baldus