SCI Keeps Pressure On FWS To Reverse Ban On Elephant Importation

Elephant1firstforhunters040714Washington, DC – Today, the House Natural Resources Sub-Committee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans, and Insular Affairs held a hearing on U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) policies regarding the importation of sport hunted elephants and other lawful ivory trade. Safari Club International (SCI) was represented by Air Force Veteran Scott O’Grady who highlighted the impact that the importation ban has on conservation in Africa Former Congressman Jack Fields and Itai Hilary Tendaupenyu, principal ecologist of the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority also testified as to the important role that hunting plays in conservation and the devastating effect that the importation ban is having on conservation funding in Zimbabwe.

“Today’s hearing before the sub-committee gave hunter-conservationists the opportunity to express how important sustainable wildlife management is in Africa and around the world,” said SCI President Craig Kauffman. “SCI is proud of the Members of Congress who understand that funding generated by hunting is absolutely essential to conservation in Africa.”

On April 4, 2014 the FWS banned the importation of sport hunted elephants from Tanzania and Zimbabwe. The FWS’s decision is having serious impacts on the ability of Zimbabwe and Tanzania to conserve and protect their elephants from poaching. As intended by the FWS, the bans are discouraging U.S. hunters from visiting these countries to hunt elephants. Fewer U.S. hunters result in less hunter-generated funds for elephant conservation and community projects. In Zimbabwe the social and infrastructure programs in the most rural parts of the country will be financially gutted. The loss of hunter revenues will affect over 770,000 families in Zimbabwe. The FWS decision also devastates anti-poaching funding on over 30% of Tanzania’s lands and which are managed exclusively by safari hunting companies for wildlife. U.S. hunters represent 60% and 90% of clients in Zimbabwe and Tanzania respectively. Without the financial contributions from U.S. hunters, there will be a vacuum of anti-poaching enforcement which will be filled by those who seek to illegally exploit wildlife.

Former Congressman and author of the African Elephant Conservation Act of 1989, Jack Fields testified today. He provided an overview of his experience during the 1980’s to pass legislation to curtail international poaching while maintaining the existing funding avenues provided by U.S. hunters.

OGrady Test PrepAir Force Veteran Scott O’Grady’s testimony focused on his recent experience traveling and hunting in Zimbabwe. Scott discussed the anti-poaching personnel who were on the ground throughout Zimbabwe, and how those anti-poaching teams were exclusively funded by hunters. He detailed for the committee that without hunter dollars, there was little in the way of economic incentives to conserve wildlife in Zimbabwe.

Itai Hilary Tendaupenyu is a wildlife ecologist from Zimbabwe’s Parks and Wildlife Management Authority. He was able to give highly detailed accounts on Zimbabwe’s current wildlife management programs. He also discussed those programs that are being harmed because of the April 4th decision by the FWS.

“Like all of my fellow hunters, I was shocked by the U.S. FWS decision on April 4th. I was even more shocked when I learned that neither Tanzania nor Zimbabwe were contacted by the FWS prior to this financially devastating decision. If other countries could wield such a devastating influence on America’s wildlife, then I can only imagine what the response would be here at home. I hope that the U.S. FWS sees the errors of its ways and reopens sport hunted elephant imports so that the countries of Tanzania and Zimbabwe can get their wildlife conservation programs back up and running,” concluded Air Force Veteran Scott O’Grady.

About SCI’s Strategy to Overturn the Importation Ban: SCI thanks members of the Sub-Committee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans, and Insular Affairs for holding the June 24th congressional hearing to highlight these clear overreaches by the FWS. Safari Club International is leading the effort to reverse the FWS ban on importation of sport hunted elephants from Tanzania and Zimbabwe. Immediately following the announcement on April 4th of the ban, SCI contacted both Tanzania’s and Zimbabwe’s wildlife management agencies. Within a very short timeline both countries had filed formal complaints through their respective U.S. embassies due to the incredible financial impact the ban would have on their wildlife and their people. SCI members visited their Congressional representatives in force on SCI’s May 8, 2014 Lobby Day and encouraged their government officials to request a reversal of the importation bans. As a result of these meetings over 20 Members of Congress signed a “Dear Colleague” letter that letter asking the FWS to immediately reverse their importation ban.SCI DC Staff

SCI has also filed a lawsuit against the FWS and has been joined by the NRA in this effort. The lawsuit seeks an expeditious reversal of the bans for both countries. The suit’s long-term goals are to deprive the FWS of the ability to repeat this tactic for elephant importation from Zimbabwe and/or Tanzania for 2015. In addition, SCI and NRA’s suit is intended to prevent the FWS from imposing similar bans for other countries and/or other species.

Collectively, SCI’s strategies are the best and most comprehensive actions currently being undertaken by any individual or entity to protect sustainable use conservation in Africa and around the world.

All of today’s witnesses will be available for interviews upon request.

Contact: Nelson Freeman, Media@safariclub.org

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Comments
2 Responses to “SCI Keeps Pressure On FWS To Reverse Ban On Elephant Importation”
  1. Richard W. Cantrell says:

    Keep up the good work. I have sent two e-mails to my congressman Steve Southerland but have gotten a less than satisfactory reply. This is a terrible assault on private property and hunters rights and will not save a single elephant from the poachers.

  2. Richard Bonander says:

    I have an elephant hunt booked for Nov. of this year in Zimbabwe. I booked this hunt last year and have paid for most of the hunt, Business class airfare and prepaid for a photographer to film this hunt. Banning imports for the year on April 4 for the current year is criminal if not illegal. Our Government Bureaucrats are demonstrating a complete disregard for whom they work as well as overstepping what should be their limited responsibility. Since when does the USA Government manage all of the worlds wildlife? They have already demonstrated they can not even manage wildlife effectively here at home. Obviously this is simply bad politics.

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