A community of 29 Tanzanian villages and the Niassa Game Reserve in Mozambique received the “Markhor Award” from the CIC at the 9th Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity in Bonn.
The International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation (CIC) has selected two conservation bodies from Tanzania and Mozambique for the “Markhor Award” 2008. The award ceremony took place on May 27th, 2008, during the Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Bonn. The recipients are the Selous-Niassa Wildlife Corridor and the Niassa Game Reserve. The latter is Mozambique’s largest conservation area, funded mainly through sustainable hunting tourism. The Selous-Niassa Wildlife Corridor with its community of 29 villages links this reserve with Tanzania’s Selous Game Reserve. The corridor is intended to secure genetic exchange and migratory movements of elephants, antelopes, African wild dogs and other wild animals between the two reserves. Here, too, hunting tourism will be the principal source of income for the villages. In this way transboundary conservation of biodiversity is achieved in an area of more than 120.000 km2.
Dieter Schramm, President of the International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation (CIC) presented the CIC Markhor Award to Gilberto Vincente, Mozambique, and David Ngalla, Tanzania, appreciating their work in the implementation of this unique transboundary cooperation in wildlife conservation in Africa and emphasized that peace underlies conservation. “In many African countries, sustainable hunting and hunting tourism have increased populations of wildlife and secured species diversity. Hunting bans have achieved the opposite.” He called upon African governments to use revenue from hunting tourism to benefit the local people who live side by side with wildlife, and to reinvest in game conservation.”
Ursula Heinen, Parliamentary Secretary of State in the Federal Ministry for Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection, noted during the award ceremony at the Ministry in Bonn the importance of sustainable use, which forms the second pillar of the Biodiversity Convention.
Dr. Sigurd Lehman-Tolkmitt, Head of the German CIC Delegation, thanked Tanzania and Mozambique for their outstanding conservation efforts. He pointed out that the CIC feels strongly connected to conservation efforts in Tanzania and Mozambique and highlighted the importance of hunting principles that are guided by the sustainable use of natural resource.
In his key-note address, Robert Hepworth, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS), emphasized the efforts of the local communities of the Selous-Niassa Wildlife Corridor and the Niassa Game Reserve in the conservation of nature including migratory species through transboundary cooperation: “Not unlike the Markhor project in Pakistan, both use hunting and sustainable use of wildlife for their own benefit and for the alleviation of poverty and so create strong incentives to conserve nature.” Hepworth indicated that choosing to name the award after the rare wild goat of the Torghar Mountains in Pakistan, the Suleiman Markhor, bears significance. Hepworth said that the Suleiman Markhor has become associated with a highly successful community-based conservation project. This project builds on the high trophy value of the Markhors “snake horns”, and the small CITES export quota established since 1997. Foreign hunters pay close to 70,000 dollars per trophy now. The resultant revenue flows into rural development initiatives such as health care, education and water management creating a strong incentive for local people to protect the Markhor. The result in terms of population numbers has been astounding: In 1985 less than 100 Markhor were all that was left in the Torghar area.
Then the Torghar Conservation Program was initiated. In 2005, the markhor population size in the same area was estimated to have risen to over 2500 animals. A 25-fold increase in numbers in twenty years – what an achievement! The Convention on Biological Diversity refers to the Torghar project in Pakistan as the single best example of “best practices” of sustainable use. Hepworth continued saying “thus I welcome the initiative of the International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation (CIC) to use the Markhor as its flagship species for its new award to honor conservation projects that are community-based and that successfully use hunting as a tool for rural development.”
The two recipients of the CIC Markhor award have shown dedication and stamina, putting them successfully to use to conserve wildlife in Tanzania and Mozambique. “Not unlike the Markhor project in Pakistan, both use hunting and sustainable use of wildlife for their own benefit and for the alleviation of poverty and so create strong incentives to conserve nature”, Hepworth said. The 29 villages aim to use hunting tourism as a way to sustain their livelihoods and at the same time conserve elephants, Roosevelt’s sable antelopes, lions and many other wildlife species in their own interest. The Niassa Reserve uses sustainable hunting tourism in a similar fashion in order to finance management and conservation. Together both projects facilitate transboundary conservation and cooperation. The engagement of Germany has been vital not only during the CBD COP9 in Bonn, but also in the Niassa Game Reserve, where Germany’s support is very much facilitating the implementation of this large-scale initiative. Hepworth concluded saying that the initiative of local people in driving this vision from the bottom-up has been the key to success. Such efforts with a strong emphasis on transparency and best practices as defined in the recent European Charter on Hunting and Biodiversity, which was coauthored by CIC, deserve international attention.
The Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity, Ahmed Djoghlaf, characterized the CIC in his message as a leading organization in conservation of biodiversity and appreciated the newly created award: “The sustainable use of renewable biological resources is one of best ways to ensure the continued conservation of biological diversity. (…) The CIC Markhor Award for Outstanding Conservation Performance Through Sustainable Use is a unique award, in that it recognizes and celebrates the efforts of personalities, institutions and conservation projects who and which link the conservation of biodiversity and human livelihoods through the application of the principles of sustainable use including hunting.”