At a Breakfast Press Round Table at the 63rd General Assembly of the International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation, important issues related to trophy hunting and wildlife conservation in Africa were discussed.
The main issue centered on the reaction of African countries to the proposed ban on importing hunting trophies into the European Union.
Barbara Thomson, Deputy Minister of Environmental Affairs of the Republic of South Africa; very clearly stated that the principle of sustainable use of natural resources represents a cornerstone of the livelihoods of local communities in her country. The same was confirmed by Prince Mupazviriho, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Environment, Water, and Climate of the Republic of Zimbabwe, who underlined the vital contribution of sustainable hunting for the benefit of the local communities in Zimbabwe. Paul Zyambo, Director of Wildlife Authority of Zambia, strongly reconfirmed the socio-economic benefits of properly managed conservation hunting, not only for the communities in this country, but for wildlife itself. A ban on hunting would result in the destruction of the population structure of the local game and could open the flood gate of poaching and thus effect the structure of their habitat.
Karl-Heinz Florenz, Member of the European Parliament and the President of the parliamentary Intergroup “Biodiversity, Hunting, and Countryside” welcomed these clear statements of these high-ranking African representatives by stating that the a proposed ban on the import of legally taken game trophies into the EU would result in disruption of the best practice of sustainable wildlife use standards as exercised in the above mentioned African countries. Interfering with the wildlife management in African countries in particular does not lie within the mandate of the European Union.
Barbara Thomson welcomed this clear position of Karl-Heinz Florenz and underlined that South Africa fully supports conservation hunting, which is practiced in 40-70 million hectares of land in her country. In her words, “African communities would be deprived, and they cannot benefit from what hunters offer them.”
This again was strongly confirmed by the Permanent Secretary, “We would find ourselves in a situation, where we cannot manage our species due to foreign interference. We need to stand up and act!”
Quoting Paul Zyambo, decisions concerning their wildlife can only be taken after responsible consultation especially with the communities involved: “Decisions should be imposed by everyone who is involved in trophy hunting and we need to regulate through consultation, especially with the rural communities on the ground.”