Readers of this blog will remember that on Friday, April 4, 2014, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) unilaterally banned importation of sport-hunted elephants from Zimbabwe and Tanzania for 2014. Here's some follow-up to that news.
Many hunters worry that a "2014 ban" will likely turn into "forever." Any hunters who booked an elephant hunt in Zimbabwe or Tanzania this year are fat out of luck. They can postpone their safaris based on hope the FWS will rescind the decision but ... see "forever."
In response to what many in the hunting community are calling a rash decision by the FWS, Safari Club International President Craig Kauffman sent a letter on April 7 to FWS Director Dan Ashe. In it, Kauffman says conservation in Africa will suffer. Millions of conservationists worldwide, he wrote, were "shocked" at the decision.
"The FWS's decision appears to have been made without any consultation of the affected African nations," Kauffman writes. "If anything, removing the U.S. hunter from the landscape of Africa's great outdoors will permanently handicap government bodies and communal wildlife administrators in their fight against poachers," he continued. "Problems with poaching in either Zimbabwe or Tanzania will be exacerbated by this ill-advised ban by the FWS.
"International hunters are the first line of defense for conservation, management, and anti-poaching throughout Africa," Kauffman explained. "The role of international hunters has an incredible impact on the ability of Tanzania to manage its wildlife and conduct anti-poaching activities. ... The unilateral decision by FWS on Friday, April 4, 2014, will effectively defund conservation efforts across thousands of communities in Zimbabwe and Tanzania."
SCI says it has received tremendous support the past several days from the hunting community. It asks concerned conservationists to do two things:
1) Hunters should immediately contact their member of Congress to express their dislike for the ban, and to urge him or her to oppose the ban. NRA members can use NRA-ILA's "Write Your Lawmakers" tool.
2) Please consider traveling to Washington, D.C., on Thursday, May 8, 2014, for SCI's Congressional Lobby Day on Capitol Hill, when hundreds of hunters will make their voices heard to lawmakers.