The legacy of Cecil the Lion
Posted on Apr 20, 2016
The mixed emotions surrounding sport hunting may be failing to take into account the views of local communities whose livelihoods may be affected by a proposed EU ban on trophies.
British MEP Neena Gill has tabled a Written Declaration in the European Parliament calling for a ban on trophy hunting imports into the European Union.
“Trophy hunting is a cruel and cynical business,” Gill said. “The European Commission and EU Member States should follow their own rules which demand that trophies from threatened species should not be imported unless a positive conservation benefit can be demonstrated and verified. Imports of trophies from canned hunts should be banned immediately.”
Various media in southern Africa have responded with discussions on any potential impact that might follow any EU wide trophy ban:
FROM The Southern Times on the 19th April, 2016:
Nam, Zambia, Zim against EU wildlife trophy ban . . . Yet Botswana government welcomes the move
Governments of Namibia and Zimbabwe have voiced their concern against the European Union (EU) Parliament’s proposed wholesale ban of importation of wildlife trophies into Europe. Botswana has, however, welcomed the proposal, as it strengthens Botswana’s domestic stance against trophy hunting.
Zambia issued new guidelines to direct and regulate trophy hunting of big cats this week after lifting a ban on trophy hunting last year.
The EU Parliament is planning to vote to ban hunting trophies entering the European Union. This follows the eruption of global outrage against the trophy hunting industry in Africa, mostly in Southern Africa, after the illegal killing of a popular lion affectionately called Cecil the Lion in Zimbabwe in July 2015 by an American trophy hunter.
Namibia’s Environment and Tourism Minister Pohamba Shifeta said the EU legislators are overlooking the importance of trophy hunting to local economies – how the money generated from the activity assists conservation efforts, and sustains local communities.
“The ban is expected to have negative repercussions on the Namibian tourism sector and the national economy in general in that the funds currently generated from trophy hunting will no longer be flowing into the national economy as a result of hunters not coming to Namibia for hunting of trophies,” Shifeta told The Southern Times.
Zambian tourism minister Jean Kapata this week said that without trophy hunting, most of Zambia’s wildlife in game management areas could have been decimated by now. Trophy hunting, she says, contributes significantly to wildlife conservation and to the socio-economic wellbeing of the Zambian people, Lusaka Times reported.
“[Trophy] hunting plays a very critical role in protecting the wilderness in [game management areas] and therefore, ecosystem provide goods and services the wilderness to our people,” Kapata said in a speech read for her at the cat hunting training workshop at Lusaka’s Cresta Golfview Hotel by Tourism and Arts Permanent Secretary Stephen Mwansa.
Zimbabwe’s Minister of Environment, Water and Climate Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri says the ban would have major repercussions on Zimbabwe’s economy. “These machinations have far-reaching consequences, perpetuating negative perception of Zimbabwe’s hunting industry. From this meeting, the emphasis is on community benefits and participation, as we try to lobby the EU. It is important that we clearly point out the losses that the communities will incur if sport hunting is banned,” said Muchinguri-Kashiri while addressing delegates at a stakeholders’ conference on the code of ethics in safari hunting in Zimbabwe on April 11.
However, Botswana’s Environment, Tourism and Wild Minister Tshekedi Khama said he welcomes EU’s plan to ban trophy hunting and what the EU is doing is better than nothing. “They haven’t informed us officially and we are waiting to hear from them as to what exactly it is that they intend to achieve,” said Khama.
Shifeta nevertheless says the Namibian rural economy, which is “currently generating substantial revenue for communities involved in conservancies programme, will be affected by the ban too and poaching will increase, as communities will see no incentives in living with wildlife.”
Europeans are the major importers of wildlife trophies from hunting expeditions with reports indicating that between 2004 and 2013 more than 117 000 animal products identified as animal hunting trophies were legally imported into the EU. Trophies from African elephants are the most sought after by European hunters, followed by hippos and American black bears, while lions, leopards and baboons are also top on the list.
EU believes that it has to be a key player in the fight against wildlife crime across the world. Hence EU Parliamentarians are of the view that they have to participate in the call for a complete ban on trophy hunting imports entering EU.
The EU Parliament is expected to vote this year on whether to adopt the motion calling for the ban or not. This was after British lawmaker Neena Gill tabled a declaration in the EU Parliament earlier in February calling for a ban on trophy hunting imports into Europe.
The Namibia Cabinet has directed the Ministry of Environment and Tourism to actively campaign against any attempt to ban or restrict hunting and the export of wildlife products from the country.
“We have been hard at work engaging a variety of stakeholders both at home and abroad. I was privileged to have an opportunity to address the European parliamentarians in Brussels, Belgium, and in addition I have engaged the ministers of environment across Europe to present facts on hunting and the expected consequences the ban of trophies will have on our conservation efforts,” said Shifeta.
Khama observed that the EU has not done enough to help countries affected by poaching over the years. “They should do more on poaching; for instance, like the control of guns that are used by poachers. I think it’s a welcome move; they should go all the way and see how best they can help in anti-poaching. We have never got any help from the EU to stop poaching in Botswana,” said Khama.
Botswana instituted a ban on trophy hunting in 2014 and the decision is said to have resulted in loss of jobs and revenues by communities that relied on hunting activities. The local hunting industry generated about P336 million annually and more than 500 people at different levels of the tourism industry are said to have lost their jobs.
The decision was criticised by insiders, who believed that they should have been consulted before the decision was taken.
The Chairperson of Botswana Guides Association, Kenson Kgaga, said there was nothing they could do as far as the EU’s intension is concerned because even when the Botswana Government instituted the ban they were not brought on board.
He said they have tried on a number of occasions to have dialogue with relevant authorities in the country on how best the issue could be addressed but their efforts bore no fruit. Kgaga argued that there was no need to impose the ban because there are mechanisms already in place to control hunting.
The Botswana Wildlife Management Association had also weighed in arguing that government should continue to hunt for elephants in specific areas. Its spokesperson, Debbie Peake, was quoted as saying that “elephants are not declining or threatened as they are increasing at approximately 4 percent per annum and thereby spreading to other areas resulting in human-wildlife conflict”.
Shifeta said the Namibian government has “reached out to them [EU] by presenting facts on hunting and the expected consequences the ban of trophies will have on our conservation efforts”.
Several conservancies across Namibia have written letters not to institute a ban on the importation of wildlife products. There are 83 conservancies in the country that benefit more than 300 000 people in rural communities.
“This proposed ban is largely spearheaded by urban-oriented international community. People who have never lived with wildlife and therefore have no full understanding of the negative impact this possible ban will have on conservation. People who do not understand that trophy hunting has been an integral part of the successful Namibian conservation model,” Shifeta said.
The Governor of the Zambezi Region, Lawrence Sampofu, has pleaded with the European Parliament in a letter dated April 1, urging them to investigate how hunting has secured conservation in the north-eastern region, and not threatened it.
There are 15 community conservancies in Namibia’s Zambezi regions, which generated more than N$17 million (about Euros 1.1 million) in 2015.
“The results speak for themselves – since conservancies were established starting in the late 1990s, we have seen dramatic increases in the populations of wildlife in our region, including key species such as lions and elephants.
“Over the past two decades, the citizens of this region in partnership with the Ministry of Environment and Tourism have worked hard to secure a future for wild animals in our region,” Sampofu said a letter dated April 1, 2016, that was availed to media.
“In the Zambezi Region, if trophy hunting was to stop then 16 conservancies representing 30 632 adults covering 3 896 square kilometres would lose their most important source of income and in our region alone, 91 permanent and 71 temporary jobs would be lost.
“If the EU was truly committed to conservation, then we would urge you to further investigate the evidence that demonstrates how hunting has played a very critical role in securing sustainability through conservation, rather than threatening it,” the governor said.
Maxi Louis, the Director of the Namibian Association of Community Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) Support Organisations (NACSO) said they fully support the position of the Namibian government in its opposition to a ban on the importation of hunting trophies to the EU, on the grounds that this would damage the Namibian economy and conservation efforts.
NACSO has also thrown its weight behind communal conservancies and Regional Conservancy Associations in their opposition to any ban on the importation of hunting trophies to the European Union.
“To date, the Kunene Regional Community Conservancy Association, representing 29 conservancies, 15 Zambezi Region conservancies, and the Kyaramacan Association representing residents in Bwabwata National Park have all written letters to MEPs, and conservancies in Kunene South and Erongo are currently writing letters in opposition to any proposed ban,” she said in an April 5 press statement.
Louis said NACSO is actively engaging with EU ambassadors in Namibia to apprise them on the risks of any ban.
In Zimbabwe, Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri said trophy hunting and wildlife movement were important in curbing the negative impacts of drought in the country.
“In light of the drought that has been induced by the El-Nino phenomenon, there is need to move wildlife from one area to another in order to reduce pressure on the ecosystem,” she said.
“However, before such measures, there is need to work together to ensure transparency. All translocations have to be done with the approval of the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority and I urge all those intending to do so to inform the Parks Authority of the numbers involved.”
She said the nation should strive hard to conduct the hunting business in a lawful manner saying illegal movements could result in losses to both the wildlife ranchers and the country’s economy.
“Not only does hunting and wildlife ranching benefit the individual players, but has far-reaching benefits on the lives of the most vulnerable citizens who are in communities around wildlife areas,” Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri said.
“This therefore implores us to ensure that our actions and activities do not compromise the most vital stakeholder in the industry because any negative impact results in loss of benefits to these communities and mean loss of value of wildlife to them, a situation that will lead to increased conflict and poaching.” – Additional reporting by The Herald and Lusaka Times
By Lahja Nashuuta & Mpho Tebele (Windhoek/Gaborone)
FROM The Namibian on the 19th April, 2016:
Namibia: Conservancies Not Happy With Trophy Hunting Ban
A BAN on trophy hunting products by the European Union (EU) will not only translate into an increase in wildlife crime, but will also affect the war against poverty eradication.
This is the view of the members of the Kunene Regional Community Conservation Association (KRCCA).
The European Parliament on 24 February 2016 had a discussion on trophy hunting, which concluded that Europe needs to be a key player in the fight against wildlife crime globally.
There was also a call for a complete ban on trophy hunting imports into the EU or for current legislation to be tightened, according to international reports.
The KRCCA held a peaceful demonstration at Opuwo on Friday, during which they handed a petition over to Opuwo urban constituency councillor Weich Mupya.
The petition is to be channelled through the relevant offices of members of the European Parliament, and calls for a reconsideration of the possible ban of trophy hunting products to Europe.
"Our livelihoods will be disrupted by such a ban, and we can't sit idle," the chairperson of the KRCCA, Gustav Tjiundukamba said.
According to him, conservancies have managed to prevent the poaching of elephants and black rhinos in the region, all thanks to funds generated through trophy hunting to pay game guards.
"Without game guards, we would be helpless," he told Nampa.
The KRCCA also argues that some parts of the Kunene region are dry and unattractive to tourists and community development, and thus survive solely on trophy hunting.
The request of the association to the EU is for the body to visit these conservancies and see how conservation has contributed to the increase in wildlife, as well as how the income generated from trophy hunting has changed lives.
"We would also like to speak in person with representatives of the EU as the affected communities," the petition reads.
Mupya, who sympathises with the group, promised to channel the petition as requested.
The KRCCA is representative of 29 communal conservancies in the Kunene Region.
FROM The Herald (Zimbabwe) on the 12th April, 2016:
Zimbabwe: Govt, EU Clash Over Trophy Hunting
Government is against the European Union's call to ban the importation of trophies hunted from Zimbabwe saying the move has major repercussions on the country's economy, a Cabinet Minister has said.
This comes as Zimbabwe is severely affected by the ban on trophy hunting in the region.
The ban was imposed after the killing of Cecil the Lion by an American dentist Walter Palmer.
Addressing delegates at a stakeholders' conference on code of ethics in safari hunting in Zimbabwe yesterday, Environment, Water and Climate Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri said the proposed ban was a setback to the country's hunting industry.
"The USA imposed a ban on trophies hunted from our region and as we speak, the EU Parliament intends to move a motion to ban the importation of trophies hunted from Zimbabwe," she said.
"These machinations have far-reaching consequences, perpetuating negative perception of Zimbabwe's hunting industry. From this meeting, the emphasis is on community benefits and participation, as we try to lobby the EU. It is important that we clearly point out the losses that the communities will incur if sport hunting is banned."
Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri blamed Western countries for their continuous scrutiny of Zimbabwe's environmental policies.
"It is no secret that the world's eyes are upon Zimbabwe, scrutinising each and every step we make in an effort to point out our wrong-doings in the wildlife industry," she said.
"We need to deliberate how best we can work together and speak with one voice to engage the EU and USA, in the process correcting the negative perception of our wildlife," Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri said.
The Minister further said trophy hunting and wildlife movement were important in curbing the negative impacts of drought in the country.
"In light of the drought that has been induced by the El-Nino phenomenon, there is need to move wildlife from one area to another in order to reduce pressure on the ecosystem," she said.
"However, before such measures, there is need to work together to ensure transparency.
"All translocations have to be done with the approval of the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority and I urge all those intending to do so to inform the Parks Authority of the numbers involved."
She said the nation should strive hard to conduct the hunting business in a lawful manner saying illegal movements could result in losses to both the wildlife ranchers and the country's economy.
"Not only does hunting and wildlife ranching benefit the individual players, but has far reaching benefits to the lives of the most vulnerable citizens who are in communities around wildlife areas," Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri said.
"This therefore implores us to ensure that our actions and activities do not compromise the most vital stakeholder in the industry because any negative impact results in loss of benefits to these communities and mean loss of value of wildlife to them, a situation that will lead to increased conflict and poaching."
By Samantha Chigogo
FROM The Namibia Economist on the 1st of April, 2016:
Namibia: Conservation Hunting Should Continue - Nacso
The Minister of Environment and Tourism, Hon. Pohamba Shifeta this week pleaded earnestly with environmental lobby groups against hunting, to put an end to what he explained would be detrimental to the conservation of rhinos and elephants. He made the plea in response to a lawsuit filed by the American lobby group Friends of Animals to set aside the importation of black rhino horns in April 2015.
A recent court ruling in the District Court of Columbia, Washington DC, dismissed an application by a consortium of US-based non-governmental organisations, on the grounds that no impact was found on the conversation of black rhinos, Shifeta explained. Said Shifeta, "the NGOs jointly applied to ban the importation of black rhino products. A first attempt was dismissed, not on merit but on legal standing." Making a case for hunting, Shifeta argued, "our programmes are known to be good projects. Our species of both black and white rhino are on an increase and there is nothing to worry about. Our conservation efforts are clearly known. We have ethical hunting programmes."
He added, "conservation programmes will be harmed if hunting stops," explaining that hunting supports 82 conservancies and accounted for 60% of income. "Imagine if you take that away." "It is not fair to use a shotgun approach, each country should be treated on its 'morals'," Shifeta pleaded. "In accordance with our legislation and policies, the proceeds generated by means of trophy hunting should be reinvested into the conservation of that species. This fund pays for black rhino conservation projects approved by the Fund's board, such as law enforcement and anti poaching units, community benefits and surveys."
A recent visit by the Economist to the Zambezi Region confirmed Shifeta's claim, with conservancies heading their own anti-poaching units while generating sizeable incomes from the proceeds of trophy hunting. Said Shifeta "our story has been hailed across the globe as it also seeks to empower Namibian citizens, particularly those in rural areas through employment creation and income generating activities. Delivering the judgement this week, Judge Amy Berman Jackson said the conservation lobby application was dismissed because the permits were issued by the Namibian Government after considering the possible impacts on conservation.
"The court recognises the plaintiffs' sincere commitment to the preservation of endangered animals, and this ruling does not suggest that there is no relationship between the importation of trophies of endangered animals and protecting these species. "But the relationship between the particular permits challenged here, which authorise the import of spoils of hunts that were entirely within Namibia's control, and plaintiffs' feared diminished enjoyment of black rhinoceros in Namibia in the future is too attenuated to confer standing on plaintiffs," Jackson added.
NOTE: Decisions of the EU Scientific Review Group on Trade in Wild Fauna and Flora, April 2016, Volume 14-2
Council Regulation (EC) No 338/97 establishes a Scientific Review Group (SRG) consisting of representatives from the Member States’ Scientific Authorities. The role of the SRG is to examine scientific questions relating to the application of the Regulations and it has specific tasks relating to Articles 4.1.a, 4.2.a and 4.6 of the Regulation. The Commission conveys opinions of the SRG to the Committee. Those relating to import controls are also published on the internet in a database managed for the Commission by UNEP-WCMC in Cambridge, United Kingdom. It is understood that these opinions are also those of each Member State’s Scientific Authority and will be reflected in any opinion. These opinions will remain valid unless or until circumstances related to the trade or conservation status of the species change significantly.
The Scientific Review Group of the European Union took the following decisions relating to wild specimens (information current as of April 1st 2016) For a definition of SRG opinions click HERE.
- Negative opinion for import of specimens including hunting trophies of African Lion (Panthera leo) from Mozambique; recommendation based on the following guidelines: The species is in trade or is likely to be in trade, and introduction to the Community from the country of origin at current or anticipated levels of trade is likely to have a harmful effect on the conservation status of the species or the extent of the territory occupied by the species. (SRG 74th meeting 15 December 2015)
- Positive opinion confirmed for import of specimens including hunting trophies of African Lion (Panthera leo) from Tanzania (SRG 75th meeting 7 March 2016)
- Positive opinion for import of specimens including hunting trophies of African Lion (Panthera leo) from Zambia (SRG 75th meeting 7 March 2016, modified from a no opinion expressed at the SRG 73rd meeting 15 September 2016).
- Positive opinion for import of hunting trophies of African Elephant (Loxodonta africana) from Zambia (SRG 73rd meeting 15 September 2015).
- Negative opinion* for import of hunting trophies of African Elephant (Loxodonta africana) from Tanzania confirmed/maintained – NOT to be formalized in the Regulation prohibiting the introduction in the EU (SRG 75th meeting 7 March 2016).
- Negative opinion* for import of hunting trophies of African Elephant (Loxodonta africana) from Mozambique confirmed/maintained – NOT to be formalized in the Regulation prohibiting the introduction in the EU (SRG 74th meeting 15 December 2015).1
- Positive opinion for import of specimens of Nile Crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus) from Zimbabwe (W, R) (agreed on 25/01/16). All applications to be referred to SRG: The species is not currently (or is only rarely) in trade, but significant trade in relation to the conservation status of the species could be anticipated (SRG 74th meeting 15 December 2015) .
- Zimbabwe African Elephant (Loxodonta africana) and African Lion (Panthera leo) trophies have both a positive opinion of the SRG.
Hunters who want to import the trophies of the above mentioned species into the European Union are advised to supply prove of the date when the specimen was taken and check if the date of take was before the respective SRG opinion was formulated. This applies especially to Mozambique lions.
In this context readers should also take note that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on December 23, 2015, listed African lion from Western and Central Africa as “endangered” and Eastern and Southern as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act. They also promulgated a “special rule” requiring an enhancement permit to import Eastern and Southern African lion. The enhancement import permit requirement became effective January 22, 2016. Furthermore, on March 15 2016, the USF&WS announced a 90 day finding on two petitions to up‐list all African elephant from “threatened” to “endangered.”
Hunter advocacy organization Conservation Force has developed a three‐year plan to reestablish import into the United States of lion trophies from Eastern and Southern Africa. In this context Conservation Force contracted consultants in Tanzania and Zambia assisting with answering questionnaires from the USF&WS. Conservation Force is also working with safari operators throughout Africa to develop Operator Enhancement Reports to submit to the USF&WS. These reports will provide hard data on the significant anti‐poaching, community assistance, and revenue benefits of hunting.
References & Explanations: SRG 73th Meeting (15 September 2015), SRG 74th Meeting (15th December 2015), SRG 75th Meeting (7th March 2016) (The negative opinion for African Elephant trophies originating from Tanzania and Mozambique was formulated at the 72nd Meeting of the SRG on 2 July 2015. A negative opinion for the same species originating from Zambia was formulated at the 71st Meeting of the SRG (9 April 2015) and then withdrawn at the 73rd Meeting of the SRG)
 Recommendation based on the following guidelines: The species is in trade or is likely to be in trade, and introduction to the Community from the country of origin at current or anticipated levels of trade is likely to have a harmful effect on the conservation status of the species or the extent of the territory occupied by the species.