There are “winners” and “losers” in the conservation of wildlife in Africa. H.E. the Ambassador of Zimbabwe, proclaimed in a conference “Keep Calm and Let Africa Take the Lead! The EU- Africa Dialogue: Supporting communities in wildlife conservation” on the 6th of March, 2018 at the European Parliament. He stated that Southern African nations were amongst the “winners” with increasing national wildlife populations.
At this conference, organized by MEP Karl Heinz-Florenz, President of the “Biodiversity, Hunting, Countryside” Intergroup of the European Parliament, representatives of the wildlife management authorities, parliaments, embassies and non-governmental organizations from Zimbabwe, South Africa and Namibia explained why the EU must “Keep Calm and Let Africa Take the Lead” in decisions about the management and conservation of Africa’s wildlife.
MEP Stefan Eck, Vice-President of the Animal Welfare Intergroup in the European Parliament, expressed his disapproval of trophy hunting, but at the same time he acknowledged that in order to safeguard a healthy population of wildlife the off-take of 1% of the population though trophy hunting could be an acceptable management tool. This could be the beginning of a constructive dialogue between trophy hunting opponents and trophy hunting supporters in the interest of conservation of wildlife.
Ali Kaka, Vice President of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the largest umbrella organization for nature conservation organizations in the world, a national of Kenya, moderated the discussion and encouraged interventions and questions from the audience.
The panelists explained to an audience that included Members of the European Parliament, representatives from the EU Commissions and leaders in the hunting and sustainable use community, how hunting in Africa contributes significantly to wildlife conservation, habitat improvement and the fight against poaching and illegal trafficking. In particular the speakers explained the importance of community-based conservation as the key to Africa’s success in bringing species populations back from decline while contributing vitally to the livelihoods of the communities.
MEP Bendt Bendtsen, Vice-President of the Intergroup “Biodiversity, Hunting, Countryside” Member Franz Obermayr expressed their appreciation for the important information received from the African delegates, and stressed the necessity to repeat similar events periodically to hear the voice of Africa. MEP Annie Schreijer-Pierik, Vice-President of the Intergroup “Biodiversity, Hunting, Countryside”, gave important conclusions and closed the session.
The message that the panelists and participants in the event delivered to the EU was clear. Africa’s wildlife management authorities and the leaders of sustainable use conservation related organizations in Southern Africa are successfully managing and conserving their wildlife through sustainable use methods, including hunting. Decision-makers in the EU should work with Africa’s leaders in order to continue, support, enhance, and replicate their success.