35th IUGB Congress: Opening Ceremony and Keynote Speakers

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On September 21, 2021, the International Union of Game Biologists (IUGB) kicked off its 35th IUGB Congress in Budapest, Hungary. The Congress is a forum to present research and conduct workshops related to wildlife management, conservation, agriculture, forestry, hunting and trapping, urbanisation, ecosystem and economic development, and human-wildlife coexistence. Their goal is to build awareness around wildlife management’s critical issues and identify current challenges and opportunities. The central theme of this event is Mission Anthropocene: Wildlife Management in the XXIst Century.

The Congress was opened with a welcome speech from Congress President, Prof. Dr. Sandor Csányi. His speech emphasised the achievement in organizing the 35th IUGB Congress, despite the obvious difficulties posed by the global pandemic. It was stated that each IUGB Congress has always had its own challenges, therefore the organization must always look to adapt to society which is constantly changing around us.

Prof. Dr. Csányi highlighted the strong contingent of young people at the Congress as one of the key elements to developing a successful community going forward. The Young Wildlifers Forum, which will take place as part of the Congress, will be the first time that the youth will have their own platform at the conference. Its aims are to introduce, empower and involve the youth in today’s conservation efforts. It was also mentioned that the second key element to secure the long-term success of the IUGB is to have a permanent Secretariat.

Following this, a welcome speech was given by George Aman, President of the International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation (CIC). He expressed the CIC’s support for the IUGB and made an official offer from the stage:

I am making, here and today, an offer to IUGB. The CIC is prepared to take on the task to host the Secretariat of the IUGB in future… We stress that IUGB needs to keep its independence, and the CIC colleague possibly charged with managing the IUGB Secretariat would be supervised and guided by the Presidents and Secretary Generals of IUGB”.

Dr. Zoltán Kovács, Government Commissioner of the One with Nature (OWN) World of Hunting and Nature Exhibition, then welcomed the participants on behalf of the Hungarian Government and the organizers of the OWN Exhibition, while mentioning that the Congress is the first international conference in the framework of OWN, and the first international audience using the completely new conference facilities at HUNGEXPO.

The other five international conferences that will take place during the OWN exhibition were also touched upon, as well their importance in showcasing the sustainable use of natural resources to the public in a modern and accessible way. He wished all participants successful deliberations and an enjoyable time in Budapest.

Ferenc Kovács, Head of the Wildlife Management Department at the Hungarian Ministry of Agriculture, took the stage as a representative of his Ministry. He expressed the Ministry’s support of the conference and wished the audience a successful week. He also emphasised the importance of involving the young generations in the deliberations, and mentioned that the Ministry is eager to support wildlife research. The work of the 35th IUGB Congress, specifically in its role elaborating on the recent challenges in wildlife management, was stated as a welcome course of action.

After a coffee break, the auditorium filled up again, this time with keynote speakers taking the floor. In his keynote speech, Prof. Dr.  Rory Putman (Professor and Emeritus Chair in Behavioural and Environmental Biology at Manchester Metropolitan University, Visiting Professor at the University of Glasgow and the University of Utrecht) outlined the critical challenges facing the current and future management of ungulate populations and their wider impacts.

Prof. Carol Chambers (Professor of Wildlife Ecology, PhD in Wildlife Sciences with a minor in Forest Science at Oregon State University) then spoke about the importance of social diversity in the field of wildlife conservation.

Highlighting a new perspective on sustainable development was Dilys Roe (Chair of the IUCN Sustainable Use and Livelihoods Specialist Group (SULi), Principal Researcher and Team Leader at the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED)), whose speech focused on rethinking the sustainable use of wildlife in a post Covid-19 world.

Finally, Péter Pál Hajas, a representative of the 15th Perdix Congress, closed the keynote speaker session with his talk entitled “Understanding human and social dimensions of partridge conservation and management in Central-Eastern Europe”. He elaborated on how the intensification of land use, and the political changes influencing it, are resulting in the destruction of the countryside.

Today’s opening speeches and keynote presentations set the tone for what will be a deep dive into the prevailing issues facing the world of wildlife management.

Summaries of each day of the Congress will be provided as we progress through the four-day event. More information on the sessions and presentation will become available on the 35th IUGB Congress website.