This week, SCI Foundation is in Hawaii participating in the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) World Conservation Congress, a meeting of the world’s leading scientific experts held every four years. This is SCI Foundation’s first time representing the sustainable use community at IUCN, after just being accepted as a new member organization.
SCI Foundation has attended a number of discussions on topics ranging from animal rights and illegal wildlife trafficking to transboundary conservation areas and community-based approaches. A session of particular interest was facilitated by the IUCN Sustainable Use and Livelihoods (SULi) Specialist Group, entitled “Does Hunting Have a Future?”
The diversity of speakers, representing different hunting practices from around the world, all told compelling stories of the benefits derived from sustainable use wildlife conservation. A native Hawaiian activist explained the importance of hunting in local culture and how hunting rights and opportunities on the islands are being eroded by development. Hawaiians are fighting to preserve their hunting traditions.
Another speaker from Brazil stated that some 20 million people of the Amazon live near wild areas and are supported by subsistence hunting. However, wildlife utilization and hunting are illegal in Brazil, yet completely unregulated. The communities that depend on wild game have not been engaged by the government.
There was also much discussion on the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation. This system that has been so successful for wildlife recovery is based on the principles of democratic assess and sustainable use of wildlife. The 15.5 million hunters and 45 million anglers in the US and Canada are the economic engine and irreplaceable source of revenue for conservation in North America.
Does hunting have a future? The consensus of this workshop was a resounding yes, and SCI Foundation works to ensure that future by defending our conservation value as hunters.
Hunting has a future as our continued heritage and in its role in wildlife conservation. But as the media climate here in the US and across the EU becomes more and more hostile to hunters, what is our future? Wildlife conservation is vital to the future of hunting and society needs to accept hunters as part of the equation.
To learn more about these discussions and recent events at the IUCN World Conservation Congress, visit their website at http://www.iucnworldconservationcongress.org/.