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Good governance and EC Wildlife Trade Regulations

The European Commission recognizes five principles that underpin good governance: openness, participation, accountability, effectiveness and coherence. In addition,  Council Regulation (EC) 338/97 concerning the EC Wildlife Trade Regulations (WTR) mentions that hunting of species for import into the EU should be:

• Based on sound biological data collected from the target population(s);
• Demonstrably sustainable in terms of harvest levels;
• Monitored by professional biologists;
• Modified if necessary to maintain conservation aims;
• Producing significant and tangible conservation benefits for the species;

 

So lets put the two together and have a look at lion trophy hunting as presently carried out?

Openness

 

We can scratch that principle immediately. Hunting concessions are not open to independent evaluation by scientists. Indeed, Craig Packer commented on  “a veil of secrecy” about hunting operations in all countries except perhaps Tanzania where the Government maintains relatively open records. Indeed, many countries rely on the concession operators to do their own counts of game, and then assign quotas based on those numbers. I have commented before that this practice is akin to a customer informing a bank as to the status of their account in order to keep making withdrawals. The US appeal to Secretary Salazar specifically mentions the example of hunting concessions in Mozambique, where independent lion counts rarely match those put forward by the operator – the latter are ubiquitously inflated.

Participation

 

Again, that principle can be scratched off the list. Operators use national resources, but their profits are not spread to the local population living with wildlife. As the CAMPFIRE “experiment” has made abundantly clear, communities are not stakeholders but rather disenfranchised participants in a process that awards little benefit. Profits are skimmed at all levels, and most communities are left worse off in terms of realizable benefits than they would be without the heavy hand of the hunting operators. There are no means of assessing operator profits as they are not disclosed, and there are many ways of “hiding” income as most safaris are booked overseas. Meanwhile the resource continues to decline.

Accountability

 

Scratch that one too. Hunting concessions are awarded under lease terms, but there is no mechanism to recover damage. Currently, hunting concessions are operated much like a rented house – but the operators can move out with all the furniture and knives and forks and carpets at the end of the rental period with few repercussions. There is little sense of pride or a necessity of handing a concession on in a better shape than you found it. So milk it for all it is worth and then depart. 

Effectiveness

 

I have my doubts. In terms of being effective for conservation, hunting operators should attend to the listed conditions under the EC WTR. Currently, they fall very far short in all the categories listed above. Specifically, they are NOT:

• Based on sound biological data collected from the target population(s);
• Demonstrably sustainable in terms of harvest levels;
• Monitored by professional biologists;
• Modified if necessary to maintain conservation aims;
• Producing significant and tangible conservation benefits for the species;

Hunting concessions rely on a relaxation of all those clearly stated rules and have done so facilitated by range state complacency and likely complicity. Operators are greatly effective in garnering profits for their hunting companies, but are not concerned with conservation effectiveness, nor community participation.

Coherence

 

Scratch that final one. Hunting operators have no coherent conservation plan, merely a plan to continue utilization. They have failed their clients, the species, cannot come up with self-limitations, do not want to listen to outside voices urging caution at least, and want to maintain, as long as they are permitted, an abhorrent and anachronistic fantasy that lion hunting will benefit the species. 

 

Image: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Rosa_Bonheur_L%C3%B6we.jpg

Posted by Pieter Kat at 17:39

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