Record numbers of participants and huge exhibition halls with tens of thousands of people wandering between booths of hunting outfitters and equipment manufacturers are not the trademark of the CIC. Nevertheless, the 62nd General Assembly of the International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation, or in short the CIC (the acronym of the French Conseil International de la Chasse et de la Conservation du Gibier, under which the organization was founded in 1928), has developed indeed into the World Forum for Sustainable Hunting.
The April 2015 General Assembly in Bulgaria at the Riu Pravets Resort Hotel was opened by H.E. Boyko Borisov, Prime Minister of Bulgaria, addressing an illustrious selection of guests and CIC members. The list included Desislava Taneva, Minister of Agriculture and Food of Bulgaria; Dr. Pia Bucella, European Commission Directorate General Environment; Dr. Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD); Karl-Heinz Florenz, Member of the European Parliament and President of the Parliamentary Intergroup Biodiversity, Hunting and Countryside; Prof. Dr. Ladislav Miko, Acting Director General of DG Health and Food Safety of the European Commission; as well as leaders and representatives of major hunting associations from around the world.
In his welcome speech, CIC President Bernard Lozé reviewed the four priorities of the CIC strategic vision: Combat Wildlife Crime – Promote Wildlife Conservation – Partner with international Organizations – Sustain our Global Cultural Heritage.
H.R.H. Senior Chief Inyambo Yeta from Zambia outlined the importance of community involvement in the rehabilitation of entire African landscapes in particular in the huge Simalaha Community Conservancy in his native Barotseland. He said that “as a people whose traditional culture and way of life revolves around sustainable use of natural resources, we simply have no choice but to safeguard it this proud [wildlife] heritage”. This speech was followed by a lively podium discussion moderated by the CIC Ambassador Dr. Ali Kaka, Kenya. Dr. Kaush Arha, CIC Vice President (USA), Dr. Adelheim Meru, Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (Tanzania) and Senior Chief Yeta agreed that “sustainable hunting is one of the few types of land use, which provides enough incentives and benefits to preserve landscapes in their natural form”. Hunters are a key element in this conservation success.
This General Assembly also discussed in depth the increasing threats from wildlife diseases, hence the motto Healthy Wildlife – Healthy People. Dr. Bernard Vallat, Director General of the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) presented a strong case for hunter training in the detection, monitoring, and control of wildlife diseases. He announced that OIE and CIC are planning establishment of a Center for Wildlife Diseases in Bulgaria in partnership and would jointly work towards enhancing the communication and cooperation between the hunting and veterinary communities. In the working sessions Prof. Dr. Christian Gortázar (Spain) reviewed the geographic, economic, and conservation impact of wildlife diseases like avian influenza, African swine fever, and tuberculosis; Prof. Dr. Torsten Mörner (Sweden) discussed the role of hunters in managing wildlife diseases.
The European Union Large Carnivore Platform meeting on the day preceding the official opening brought together 120 wildlife researchers and managers, as well as hunters from the region on the topic of conserving predators like lynx, brown bear and wolf, etc. They discussed three key issues: transboundary cooperation, moving from conflicts to coexistence, and prioritized key issues for large carnivores in the Balkan and Carpathian regions. The Platform members were informed by Finnish Reindeer Herders’ Association of their plans to convene a second regional workshop in Finland later this year. Following up this pre-congress meeting, the CIC Applied Science and Policy & Law Divisions investigated the role of hunters in the conservation of large carnivores in the countries around the Pannonian Basin with speakers like Dr. Harald Egerer (Austria) representing the Carpathian Convention, Prof. Dr. Ovidiu Ionescu (Romania) and Prof. Dr. Klaus Hackländer (Austria).
The CIC Culture Division presented some fascinating insights by international experts like Dr. Madeleine Nyman (Finland) and Hannes Siege (Germany) on teaching conservation to young children and connecting hunting heritage and conservation. The keynote address of Dr. Shane Mahoney (Canada) One Natural World, One Humanity, One Chance… Conservation Matters left the audience spell-bound.
In the sessions of the Artemis and Young Opinion Working Groups, Edson Gandiwa (Chinhoyi University, Zimbabwe) and Patience Zisadza (Greater Mapungubwe Transfrontier Conservation Area, Zimbabwe) discussed issues surrounding large mammals and local people’s knowledge and perceptions of wildlife.
An important side event of the 62nd General Assembly was the first-ever meeting of CIC State members, where representatives of 15 governments discussed wildlife conservation and sustainable hunting with the CIC Executive Committee members. The first follow-up actions from this meeting are already well under way when you read this article.
The 63rd General Assembly of the CIC will take place in April 2016 in Brussels in cooperation with the European Landowners’ Organization (ELO) and the Federation of Associations for Hunting and Conservation of the EU (FACE).
Author: Gerhard R Damm