June 14, 2007 "In The Crosshairs"

In The Crosshairs Newsletter

June 14, 2007

SCI Lion
Elephants: Cautious Compromise

After nearly two weeks of behind-the-scenes negotiations, the 172-nation CITES treaty has agreed to allow some commercial sales of elephant ivory stocks. In addition, the ability of sportsmen to ship their elephant ivory hunting trophies from range states was assured. Commercial trade in elephant hair, hide and certain carved ivory items was also approved.

These decisions occurred at the 14th meeting of the CITES party nations, which began on June 3 in The Hague in Holland. The meeting will end tomorrow and while it is possible for some results to change in the final moments, it is unlikely that this compromise, which was hammered out literally in the wee hours of Thursday morning, will be changed.

SCI’s chief of delegation, John Monson, said that “the result was recognition of the good management of elephants in southern Africa and the dramatic increase in those populations.” Rick Parsons, SCI’s Director of Governmental Affairs, added that “the CITES parties have moved a long way in recognizing that the sustainable use of wildlife, including sport hunting, can have substantial benefits for wildlife conservation.”

The day prior to the two-week meeting, the CITES executive body, the Standing Committee, agreed that the final conditions had been met for the sale of varying amounts of ivory in governmental stocks that had been agreed in principle at the CITES meeting in Chile five years earlier. These stocks are held by Namibia, Botswana and South Africa.

As a result of the compromise reached at the 14th meeting of the parties in Holland, those three countries, plus Zimbabwe, got approval to sell governmental ivory stocks that had accumulated through January, 2007. This trade in the “Chile-approved” stocks and the stocks accumulated through January, 2007, can be suspended if it is shown that there has been non-compliance with the many conditions attached to the trade, or “in the case of proven detrimental impacts of the trade on other elephant populations.”

The governmental stocks come from elephants that died of natural causes or from elephants taken to protect local communities. The proceeds from these sales must go entirely to elephant conservation and to development of the local communities that live with the elephants.

Once the sale of the “Chile-approved” stocks occurs, there will follow a 9-year period in which no sale of ivory stocks can occur. The Standing Committee was charged with coming up with a “decision-making mechanism for a process of trade in ivory…” by the time the parties have their 16th meeting.

SCI Lion
China Open to Re-Opening Hunting

Past President John Monson and Governmental Affairs Director Rick Parsons met with the Minister of Forestry for China during the CITES conference that is taking place right now in The Hague in Holland. Minister Jia Zhibang told Monson and Parsons that China was ready to reopen hunting by foreigners but was debating different approaches to the management of hunting. Minister Zhibang asked for SCI’s views and assistance.

The meeting was arranged by Dr. Xianlin Meng, who is the director of the CITES office for China. Meng has met Parsons at CITES meetings over the last several years and has expressed his support for trophy hunting in China.

In the last few months, SCI President Ralph Cunningham has sent two letters to Minister Zhibang urging the reopening of sport hunting by foreigners in China and offering the help of SCI. Clearly, all these contacts and efforts are bearing fruit.

Follow-up communications to the Minister are being developed through the SCI Foundation.

SCI Lion
Questions on Rhino Darting Hunts in South Africa

There have been numerous questions about darting rhinos in South Africa since a new series of regulations were announced this year. Information has been confirmed at the on-going CITES meeting in The Hague. The darting of rhinos is allowed only for legitimate veterinary purpose and it must be done by a veterinarian. However, the South African government has no problem with a veterinarian using a hunter to do the actual darting. The government is aware that there are hunters who want to be able to dart rhinos and they don’t care, as long as the hunt and the darting meet the requirements of their new regulations (which go into effect on February 1, 2008).What the South African regulations say specifically about darting is that darting means “to shoot the specimen with a projectile loaded with a tranquilizing, narcotic, immobilizing, or similar agent,” and that this can be done “by a veterinarian or a person authorized in writing by a veterinarian and in possession of a valid permit, whether on foot or from a motorized vehicle or aircraft, to immobilize or tranquilize the animal for the purpose of (a) carrying out a disease control procedure or a scientific experiment or for management purposes; (b) veterinary treatment of the animal; or (c) translocating or transporting the animal.”