FRONTLINE DISPATCHES – VOLUME I, NUMBER 7, JULY 2019

“Thriving wildlife resources have a tremendous potential to be instrumental in sustainable socio-economic development through associated wildlife-oriented businesses such as eco-tourism, hunting and photographic safaris, among other benefits,” said Zimbabwean President Mnangagwa in his opening statement on June 23, 2019, at the inaugural

African UnionUnited Nations Wildlife Economy Summit. “[The Southern African region remains] guided by [the] principle of sustainable utilization of wildlife . . . [communities] must experience the value and developmental benefits of living with and conserving wildlife . . . safari hunting is a vital cog in successful wildlife economies . . . we continue to call for the free trade in hunting products as these have a positive impact on the national and local economies of our countries.” Pres. Mnangagwa concluded with, “Currently Zimbabwe has about US$600 million worth of ivory and rhino horn stocks, most of which is from natural attrition of those animals. If we are allowed to dispose [of] the same under agreed to parameters, the revenue derived therefrom would suffice to finance our operational conservation efforts for the next 20 years!” Read also Zimbabwe Independent reporter Nyasha Chingono’s interview of CITES Secretary-General Ivonne Higuero concerning the ivory trade, trophy hunting and CITES CoP 18.

More than 40 community representatives from 12 countries across

Africa
met at Africa’s first Wildlife Economy Summit at Victoria Falls in late June 2019. They called  for a “A New Deal for rural communities and wildlife and natural resources” in Africa, including the recognition of community rights to the ownership, management and use of resources; strengthening community governance and institutions; recapitalizing communities and their natural resources across boundaries; ensuring that community voices are heard in shaping policy and decision-making; using evidence-based adaptive management; incorporating indigenous knowledge; promoting investment partnerships in community-owned wildlife economies; ensuring that a full and fair share of benefits from these economies flow directly to the communities; and changing the development model from doing things for communities to enabling well-governed communities to act for themselves. 

Botswana’s recent lifting of the ban on elephant hunting
is drawing much opposition from protectionists, who argue the move might lead to an upsurge in poaching and would compromise elephant genetics. Martin Rowan, in a detailed report in the Daily Maverick, June 30, 2019 (“The Great Elephant Debate: Let’s remove emotions and pseudoscience from wildlife management and get down to scientific facts), concludes that unwarranted mud-slinging by some non-objective scientists who on principle oppose all forms of consumptive use smacks of “Heaven forbid that native Africans could manage their own natural resources.” 

“I hate elephants: Behind the backlash against Botswana’s giants
” is the title of a May 21, 2019, Washington Post article by Max Bearak with powerful photographs by Carolyn Van Houten. The compelling story articulates the voices of the rural people of the Chobe Enclave.

The future of African elephants
is inextricably linked to the well-being of the continent’s rural people, writes Jason G. Goldman in National Geographic’s Wildlife Watch, May 28, 2019. He concludes by quoting Maxi Louis, director of the Namibian Association of CBNRM Support Organizations, that “rural Africans often suffer the costs of living with large, dangerous animals without deriving much if any benefit from that coexistence. Perhaps solving the elephant crisis means treating it as an issue of human rights and social justice, rather than solely one of wildlife conservation.”

His experiences during a week at Nyae Nyae in Namibia
are the basis of a highly critical article by John Grobler on Mongabay.com. Gail Potgieter, an independent researcher and science communicator, writes in a follow-up Mongabay commentary (“Community conservation in Namibia requires balance and understanding), on May 29, 2019, that Grobler’s report leaves much to be desired. Also read Gerhard Damm’s response to Grobler (“How The Truth On Community Wildlife Conservation In Namibia Is Twisted) in Conservation Frontlines, April 2019.

Table Mountain’s wild predators are exposed to rat poison through their prey. The effects of anticoagulant rat poisons on genet, Cape eagle owl, water mongoose, caracal, otter, honey badger and more species are highlighted in an investigation by University of Cape Town scientists. The findings echo those for predatory species also found near cities in Europe and North America, including polecats, owls and other raptors, coyotes, foxes, fishers and bobcats. 

The IUCN Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Office
issued a statement regarding the report “Africa is Changing: Should its Protected Areas Evolve? Reconfiguring Africa’s Protected Areas” by Bertrand Chardonnet. Chardonnet is being widely cited—especially by the Campaign to Ban Trophy Hunting—as representing the official views of IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature. However, IUCN ESARO states that Chardonnet’s report did not pass its peer-review process and so cannot be assumed to reflect the views of IUCN ESARO. (The NGO is currently reviewing Chardonnet’s report; further details will be “shared in due course.”)

Pangolins are the most heavily poached mammal on Earth
, but these elusive animals receive far less attention than more charismatic species such as rhino, elephant and lion. Pangolins were once hunted as bush meat, but now their scales (and fetuses) have become valuable as folk medicine in China and Vietnam. One ton of scales represents some 1,900 dead pangolins; in 2018, 48 tons of scales—91,200 pangolins—were seized. Read Tony Weaver’s June 4, 2019, report in the Daily Maverick and watch Bruce Young and Johan Vermeulen’s documentary, Eye of the Pangolin. 

Kenyans support the consumption of game meat,
the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife has found: “Countrywide consultations indicated much support for consumptive wildlife use among Kenyans generally, provided there are proper and strict regulations in place.” A report by Bernardine Mutanu in Kenya’s Daily Nation, June 4, 2019, quotes the African Wildlife Foundation’s Alistair Pole saying that “Wildlife thrives in countries where communities have diverse revenue streams from wildlife, the key ones being sustainable utilization of the resource.”

Africa’s flagship wildlife training institutions will collaborate.
In a joint press release, the College of African Wildlife Management, Mweka (CAWM), in Tanzania, and the Southern African Wildlife College (SAWC), in South Africa, have announced they will “work together to find appropriate and scalable solutions to the conservation of African wildlife through capacity building and development.” One of the first joint projects will be to develop and implement a Responsible Resource Use module for training students in natural-resource management.

NAPHA President Danene Van Der Westhuyzen
spoke on the benefits of regulated hunting on the BBC’s Emma Barnett show, on June 17, 2019, to explain why such hunting is the only wildlife-conservation model proven to work in Africa. (This is an excellent primer on the challenges of explaining hunting to non-hunters and anti-hunters.)

The
Working Wild Program of the South African Hunters and Game Conservation Association advances conservation through partnerships with like-minded organizations. Members volunteer for habitat restoration, antipoaching, research, species re-introductions, biomonitoring programs, raising awareness, supporting wildlife rehabilitation facilities and more. Partner organizations have access to more than 40,000 SAHGCA members in South Africa. For more information contact lizanne@sahunt.co.za.

“Conservation Partnerships to combat wildlife crime in Namibia”
is a new publication of the Namibian Partnerships Against Crime. The overall aim is to continue and expand Namibia’s successful campaign of environmental restoration and wildlife recovery begun after independence.

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