Africa Program: Capacity Building
African Wildlife Consultative Forum
SCI Foundation concluded the 10th annual African Wildlife Consultative Forum at the Royal Swazi Sun Hotel in Swaziland. This forum is one of the largest activities supported by the SCIF Conservation Committee and brings together most of the hunting countries in sub-Saharan Africa for a week-long forum to discuss a wide range of wildlife management, conservation and hunting priorities. The 2011 forum had over 50 participants representing wildlife professionals, ministers and regulatory officials from 13 countries.
As such, the forum provides the only real opportunity these countries have annually to come together to compare problems and develop common approaches to the future management of their wildlife resources. SCIF is proud to be the prime catalyst and support base for this invaluable discussion forum as a basis to ensure that sustainable use hunting remains a management priority within each of these countries.
In North America, wildlife managers and other interested parties have many such collaborative opportunities through an assortment of societies, clubs, organizations and working group meetings where wildlife management experiences (successes and failures) can be discussed. In Africa, governmental agencies, non-governmental agencies, wildlife biologists, managers, hunting associations and others have no other opportunity to get together for important discussions on sustainable wildlife management. Safari Club International Foundation understood this need ten years ago when it initially sponsored AWCF. The AWCF is now the largest meeting of its kind in Africa.
Over the past decade, the AWCF annual meetings have included the major themes in African wildlife science with human dimensions, over-abundance of certain populations and rarity in others, predator-prey interactions, habitat use, subsistence hunting, recreational hunting, non-consumptive uses of wildlife, anti-poaching campaigns and much more. Non-governmental organizations gave updates on their African conservation projects. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) has also been in attendance for many years and participates heavily in discussions about CITES policies and answers questions regarding importation of legally sport-hunted trophies.
This year the Professional Hunting Associations announced that a standard code of conduct for hunting had been established. Standardizing guiding practices is important to reduce allegations of misconduct and promote ethical, fair-chase techniques across Africa. Also this year the international hunting community is facing a major effort by the anti-hunting community to place the African lion on CITES Appendix 1. As such, this will effectively shut down all hunting and imports of lions. The members present at the AWCF committed to develop what may become the most effective counter to this effort by agreeing to organize and support the collection and update of current lion census data from all of the range state nations. The attending government entities agreed to fully cooperate to address the ambitious deadlines set for the CITES Periodic Review of the African lion. The Periodic Review will use the best science available to determine if lions are appropriately listed in the CITES Appendices.
The AWCF is an ideal opportunity for SCI Foundation to promote its conservation mission in Africa directly through interaction with African wildlife officials. Our involvement with AWCF also promotes SCIF as the voice for sustainable wildlife conservation with decision makers around the world.