Statement for the Record by
Corey Mason, Executive Director of the Dallas Safari Club
July 18, 2019
Chairman Grijalva, Ranking Member Bishop, and Members of the Committee, the Dallas Safari Club (DSC) strongly opposes the passage of H.R. 2245, the “Conserving Ecosystems by Ceasing the Importation of Large Animal Trophies Act.” This bill solely represents an attempt to stop well-regulated, legal hunting and does not address conservation needs or concerns in Africa. It is evident that the bill’s author has not consulted with any African Wildlife Departments or rural communities, as they have and will testify that this bill would result in the reduction of conversation measures, would harm rural communities and does not address the pressing threat to Africa’s wildlife – loss of habitat.
Both history and the IUCN have shown that well-regulated, legal hunting positively contributes to the conservation of game, non-game and wildlife habitats. As the IUCN 2016 Briefing Paper states, “Legal, well-regulated trophy hunting programs can – and do – play an important role in delivering benefits for both wildlife conservation and for the livelihoods and wellbeing of indigenous and local communities living with wildlife.” Further, “In many parts of the world indigenous and local communities have chosen to use trophy hunting as a strategy for conservation of their wildlife and to improve sustainable livelihoods.”
Additionally, a study published in the African Geographic Journal in 2017 revealed that Botswana’s shift from hunting in 2014 had some major detrimental effects: 1) Negative attitudes towards wildlife conservation by local people; 2) An increase in poaching; 3) Game meat resources, usually provided to local communities for free by the hunting operators, were drastically reduced or became non-existent; and 4) Land use was lost. Thus, in many areas, wildlife conservation is only sustainable when hunting plays a central role.
H.R. 2245 also undermines the established scientific authorities that are trained and charged with management of wildlife resources. These include Wildlife Departments in host countries, Parties to CITES, IUCN, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Wildlife should be managed by those trained and charged to do so, thus ensuring the conservation of habitats and populations in a healthy and sustainable manner.
Lastly, there is great arrogance and hypocrisy in Americans attempting to manage and determine the fate of Africa’s diverse wildlife resources and rural people. How would Congress react to an African country passing a law that impacts the food securities and jobs of Americans? Local governments and people and trained scientific authorities are responsible for managing wildlife, not U.S. Congress.
In conclusion, if passed, H.R. 2245 would result in the loss of millions of acres of wildlife habitat in Africa and would have significant negative consequences for rural communities. Additionally, this bill would result in safari operators discontinuing anti-poaching activities, negatively impacting all wildlife species, from elephant to pangolin. Lastly, wildlife diversity and abundance would be negatively impacted. For example, one needs to look no further than the loss of elephant in Kenya since their hunting ban. When Kenya closed elephant hunting in 1977, their elephant population was 167,000. Today Kenya has 25,000 elephants.
I close with a quote from Botswana President, Mokgweetsi Masisi – “It bamboozles me when people sit in the comfort of where they come from and lecture us about the management of species they don’t have.”
- Corey Mason is the DSC Executive Director and a Certified Wildlife Biologist®