For the first time ever, on September 9th 2015, the CPW arranged a full day forum dedicated to the issue of sustainable wildlife management within the framework of the World Forestry Congress (WFC) in Durban, South Africa. The high level opening platform, as well as the four subsequent parallel sessions, covered a broad range of topics, the most notable being involving local communities in wildlife management, human-wildlife conflict, wildlife crime, and bush meat.
In his opening words, Mr. Braulio Dias, chair of the CPW and Secretary General of the CBD, specifically referred to the CBD Strategic Goal 4 as part of the “Aichi targets which encourage all Signatory Parties to the Convention to achieve sustainable use targets by 2020”.
Jan Heino, CPW Vice-Chair and President of the Policy and Law Division of the CIC, presented the main outcome of the forum in a plenary setting of the World Forestry Congress. He thanked the session’s leaders, speakers, and audience for an outstanding forum which provided abundant, timely, and cross-sectoral information.
The main messages of the Forum:
- Sustainable management of wildlife is an important part of integrated approaches to the multipurpose use of natural resources. It plays a decisive role in addressing the Sustainable Development Goals. Sustainable wildlife management provides crucial benefits for food security, livelihoods, natural heritage, biodiversity, and ecosystem conservation.
- Combining knowledge, through multidisciplinary approaches and strong community participation, is required to properly design sustainable wildlife management programs that allow for the sustainable use of game and the trade of wild meat and other non-timber forest products. Legal frameworks and health protocols will be strengthened; law compliance, cross-sectoral collaboration, innovative market approaches, and best practices will be promoted.
- The participatory role of local communities in wildlife management is vital and must be strengthened. This includes wildlife monitoring and the fight against poaching and wildlife crime.
- The sustainable harvest of wild meat and other non-timber forest products is an integral part of conservation. It improves livelihoods, food security, and nutrition. It is crucial to gain a better understanding of the causes and effects of human-wildlife conflict based on in-depth analyses of each local situation. Only then can workable models be created to mitigate conflicts and raise the awareness of local communities to positively co-exist with wildlife.
- Combating the illegal trade of wildlife requires: (1) a coordinated effort at all levels to treat such crimes seriously by following the same protocol used to combat other serious crimes; (2) the involvement of local communities, recognizing that basic levels of security must be in place first in order for communities to benefit from the legal use of wildlife; (3) stronger interagency and cross-border collaboration; and (4) the deployment of innovative approaches, including the use of new identification and traceability tools, for the monitoring of wildlife populations, sustainable use, and trade.
The CIC organized an interactive and exciting field event in a separate afternoon session—the only excursion during the entire Congress! Participation was on an invitation-only basis, reserved for about 60 high-level experts of the Congress. The turnout was impressive. The excellent logistical support was largely provided by the local hunting association of KwaZulu Natal.
Participation was on invitation-only basis and reserved for about 60 leading personalities of the Congress. The turnout was impressive.
The main event of the excursion was a visit to a community/private sector game reserve called Tala Game Reserve, located about an hour north of Durban. After viewing the reserve’s abundant wildlife, the participants held a discussion on the reserve’s current concept as well as the future of sustainable use in not only South Africa but in Africa as a whole. The issue of rhino horn trade entered the discussion when the Government of South Africa requested to make a statement about the topic.
Ali Kaka, CIC Ambassador for Africa, acted as moderator. The panel consisted of three community members, Mr. Willy Pabst, and Dr. John Hanks. They stated their personal views on sustainable use, applauding the Tala Reserve as a model example. A lively, engaging discussion with participants evolved from there.
The conclusion of the discussions underlined, once again, the vital importance of sustainable use for the future of wildlife in Africa considering the increasing loss of habitat, and other forms of incompatible land use, illegal bushmeat trade, poaching, and poverty.
The CIC was highly commended for organizing this innovative event which definitely raised participants’ awareness of this pertinent subject.