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Zambia lobbies US over elephant trophy hunting

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Zambia lobbies US over elephant trophy hunting

From BWALYA NONDO (Public Relations Officer, Zambia Ministry of Tourism, Environment & Natural Resources), Nevada, USA
The Daily Mail 27 January 2007

ZAMBIA has launched a campaign to lobby the United States government to recognise elephant trophy hunting as key to the conservation of the earth’s largest mammal. The American government does not allow its citizens to participate in elephant safari hunting in Zambia, and advances the Convention on Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) banning, dealing in ivory among others, as the reason for its position. Zambia has since met the United States Fisheries and Wildlife Services authorities to argue that increased quotas for trophy hunting in selected areas with trans-boundary elephant populations, was necessary. These areas include the Zambezi valley, where the elephant population was shared by Zambia and Zimbabwe. Zambia considers a quota of eight for the Lower Zambezi, far below the limit settings recognised for elephant trophy hunting quotas.

Minister of Tourism, Environment and Natural Resources, Kabinga Pande, who is leading a delegation of Government, Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA), and Zambia National Tourist Board (ZNTB) officials to the annual hunters convention in the American desert city of Reno, said he was concerned that while Zimbabwe was allowed a gigantic 500 quota in the shared trans-boundary elephant population for sport-hunting, Zambia was restricted to a paltry 20, annually. Speaking when he met United States Fisheries and Wildlife Services, director, Ken Stensil, at the Reno Convention Centre, Mr Pande observed that sport-hunting had the potential to bring large financial benefits to the country and empower local communities economically and motivate them to participate in conservation projects. He said sport hunting would also go a long way in easing animal-human conflicts in game management areas and therefore enhances conservation of animals such as elephants. He said sport hunting was a conservation tool that would help Zambia plough back proceeds into the community. He regretted that in the past, the government has been subsidising conservation of elephants through funds raised from other species when the elephant could itself contribute to its own management. Between 2001 and 2005, 115 elephants were killed on control programmes, resulting in a loss of US$1.1 million in licence fees. If the same animals were hunted for trophy, communities would have realised US$575,000 for investment in various socio-economic areas to reduce poverty. Mr Pande said although many elephants were killed on control programmes every year, the only benefit to the community was meat. He said it was for this reason that communities supported the resumption of trophy hunting.

The United States was an important market for Zambian trophies and appealed to authorities to rescind the decision not to allow their citizens to bring trophies from elephant-hunting safaris. Mr Pande also cautioned the American government to be wary of some safari hunters who were maligning the Zambian government through e-mails, suggesting that safari hunting in Zambia was corruptly handled.

And Mr Stansell assured the Zambian delegation that US authorities would study the Zambian case. He appealed for more information to enable the American authorities appreciate Zambia’s elephant situation clearly. The five-day convention organised by Safari Club International, has attracted 19,000 delegates from around the world.