Why poachers persist in hunting bushmeat — even though it’s dangerous

(jbdodane/Flickr)
(jbdodane/Flickr)

The illegal hunting of bushmeat, or game meat, has long distressed wildlife conservationists. It has persisted in sub-Saharan Africa, attracting international attention and debate. Enforcement by authorities and community-based initiatives have been tried as anti-poaching approaches, but with mixed results. Overall, wildlife populations have continued to plummet.

Why has poaching refused to go away? The answer, as suggested by poachers themselves, is simple: because poaching pays.

We conducted a study with poachers in western Tanzania. Our findings shed new light on what motivates people to poach and shows that poachers benefit considerably while the costs are negligible. The study also knocks down the general perception about who poachers are – they’re not necessarily the poorest of the poor. Rather than hunting for basic subsistence, they take risks to widen their livelihood options and improve their situation.

Our research therefore suggests that current approaches to dealing with poaching are misplaced for a simple reason: poachers vary widely. Bottom-up, or community-based, interventions like providing meat at a reduced cost, are unlikely to work unless the benefits can offset what they gain through poaching. And for those who are poaching out of necessity, top-down measures, like longer prison sentences or greater fines, are unlikely to be effective because they don’t have alternative ways to make an income.

Cost benefit analysis

Our study focused on individuals who lived in villages that bordered two premier national parks in Tanzania: Serengeti National Park and Ruaha National Park.

We interviewed 200 poachers, asking them questions about their lives, livelihood alternatives and motivations for poaching. Respondents volunteered information freely and were neither paid nor given incentives for their participation.

We found that illegal hunters are making rational decisions. They earn far more through hunting than through all the other options combined for rural farmers. Over a 12-month period, poachers on average generated US$425. This is considerably more than the amount earned through typical means – such as trade, small business, livestock sales and agricultural sales – which amount to about US$258 each year.

Obviously, benefits are meaningless unless compared to the costs involved. Hunting large animals in the bush carries economic and physical risks. Hunters could get injured, risk imprisonment or lose the opportunity to farm or do other forms of legitimate business.

But, in places like rural Tanzania, the benefits outweigh these costs.

Where farming is the main income generator, there is lots of time available to hunt between planting and harvesting seasons. And with high formal unemployment, labour in a typical household is rarely a limiting factor. We compared poaching and non-poaching households and found that the opportunity costs forfeited by poaching households amounted to just US$116, far below the amount gained through bushmeat sales of US$425. Because other income generating opportunities are few and pay little, poachers have little to lose by poaching.

Other economic costs may come in the form of arrests, imprisonment and subsequent fines. Each time a poacher entered the bush, he faced a 0.07% chance of being arrested. Once arrested, poachers may be fined, imprisoned, beaten or let off. Two-thirds of poachers had never been arrested. Those who had spent just 0.04 days in prison when averaged over a career of 5.2 years. Of those arrested, just over half (56%) had been fined, with fines averaging US$39. For every trip taken, poachers paid just two cents when averaged over their career.

The story here is simple. The majority of poachers never get arrested. And those who do pay a penalty that is paltry compared to the income typically earned.

Physical costs, including injury and possibly even death, have been far more difficult to assess. Outside Serengeti National Park, dangerous wildlife was frequently encountered in the bush and one-third of the poachers questioned had been injured during their hunting careers. Recovery times averaged slightly more than a month. But when averaged over the number of days a poacher spends in the bush (1,901 days), the likelihood of being injured on any given day was remarkably low, just 0.02%.

Still, poaching isn’t easy. Eight in ten respondents claimed it was a difficult activity and that they did it primarily because they didn’t make enough money from legal activities.

Moderately poor

Poverty has long been assumed to be a primary driver of poaching activities, however it may not be that poachers are the poorest of the poor.

Our analysis of poachers living along the borders of Ruaha National Park, revealed that they are poor, but not absolutely poor. In the language of the economist Jeffrey Sachs, many poachers may be “moderately poor”. They are unlikely to go hungry in the short term and are able to focus more on expanding their livelihood options.

Regarding their economic self-perception, these poaching households were similar to non-poaching households. Over half (54%) of poaching households considered themselves economically “average” rather than “poor”.

So, if poachers don’t consider themselves to be poor and consider poaching difficult, why do they do it? The answer may lay in a concept that the Nobel Peace Prize winner Amartya Sen has called“capability deprivation”.

Many poachers lack choices by which to improve their lives. They lack access to income which reduces their chances for further education or entrepreneurial opportunity. Deprived of capabilities to make a better life, many poachers —- at least in Tanzania —- continue to poach to gain agency, rather than just to make ends meet.

One respondent, outside Ruaha National Park, stated that after poaching for six years, he gave it up. His livestock numbers had grown enough to ensure sufficient income the whole year through. This poacher’s story reveals that some threshold of affluence is attainable for longtime poachers to curb illegal activity.

Results here present a new twist for those seeking to protect dwindling wildlife populations. It means that strategies to stop poaching can no longer focus merely on the poorest of the poor. Without other ways to improve their livelihoods, even poachers who can meet their basic needs will continue poaching. For one really simple reason: it pays.

Eli Knapp, Assistant Professor of Intercultural Studies, Biology and Earth Science, Houghton College

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

End Trophy Hunting in the National Park Where Cecil the Lion Was Brutally Murdered

http://www.onegreenplanet.org/news/end-trophy-hunting-national-park-cecil-lion-brutally-murdered/

We all know his name … it appeared on countless news channels … he was even projected on the Empire State Building. Cecil the lion’s tragic death brought trophy hunting to the forefront of global conversation like no other case did. People from all walks of life spoke out, changed their Facebook profile pictures, and donated money to the cause, but as media hype died down, the vast majority forgot all about it after a few short weeks. Unfortunately, trophy hunting is still happening and innocent animals are still suffering – in the same place Cecil called home.

A petition on Care2 has been launched demanding that the Zimbabwean government intervene and stop allowing heartless trophy hunters to kill endangered animals around Hwange National Park. This is where Walter Palmer paid $50,000 to brutally end Cecil’s life without even actually “hunting.” Many other disturbing facts behind the infamous case are being brought to light in a new book by the man who studied Cecil for eight years before the tragedy, including how Cecil was lured to the nearby conservatory where lion research was performed and how the Zimbabwe government slid it all under the rug.

The bottom line is that as long as trophy hunting is allowed, animals will be murdered for profit. If Cecil’s story touched you, signing the petition is a simple step you can take in his honor. There is no reason this had to happen to Cecil, and no other animal should be put in the position of being murdered and tortured for the pleasure of cruel and evil trophy hunters. Zimbabwe’s government needs to be held accountable for not taking the crime seriously, and it’s time they call an end to all trophy hunting in and around Hwange National Park once and for all!

Buzz Petition

Tell the Trump Administration: Stop Promoting International Trophy Hunting!

https://act.nrdc.org/letter/trophy-hunting

In a new low, the Trump administration has created an advisory council dedicated exclusively to promoting the killing of imperiled wildlife species for sport.

Filled with trophy hunters and gun industry lobbyists, the International Wildlife Conservation Council now wields considerable influence over America’s international hunting policies, putting the future of vulnerable species like elephants, lions, and giraffes at grave risk.

Tell Interior President Trump and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to stop promoting international trophy hunting and immediately dismantle the IWCC.

Your message will be sent to:

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke
President Donald Trump

Subject line:

Dismantle the International Wildlife Conservation Council

(Consider adding your own thoughts — personalized messages are especially effective)

Your Information

First name*
Last name*
Email address*
Street address

Eleven lions die at Ugandan national park in suspected poisoning

Authorities suspect poisoning caused deaths at popular tourist destination

Lions
 Eleven lions were found dead in Queen Elizabeth national park Photograph: Alamy

Eleven lions, including eight lion cubs, have been found dead in Queen Elizabeth national park in Uganda after possibly being poisoned, a conservation official said on Thursday. The three lionesses and eight cubs were found dead near Hamukungu fishing village in the popular tourist destination.

“An investigation has been opened, but we suspect poisoning,” said Bashir Hangi, a communications officer with the Uganda wildlife authority. “It is still only a suspicion. We will try to establish the real cause of death.”

Lions have been killed in a number of poisoning incidents in Uganda. In May 2010, five were killed in the park in another possible poisoning case. Between May 2006 and July 2007, 15 lions died in the area in attacks blamed on landless herdsmen defending their cattle.

The parks grasslands are home to more than 600 species of bird and about 100 types of mammal including buffalo, waterbuck, leopards, hyena and elephants.

Six park rangers killed in ambush in DRC’s famed Virunga gorilla park

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/04/09/six-park-rangers-killed-ambush-drcs-famed-virunga-gorilla-park/

Five wildlife rangers and a driver guarding one of the world’s most important refuges for mountain gorillas and other critically endangered species have been killed in an ambush.

Authorities in the Virunga National Park, the Democratic Republic of Congo’s famed haven for gorillas, said the men were gunned down by militia men early on Monday near the border with Uganda.

“Virunga National Park is deeply saddened to confirm reports of an attack on our staff today,” the park said in a statement.

The Virunga National Park 
The Virunga National Park  CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES

“Five Virunga rangers and a staff driver were killed during an ambush in the Central Sector of the Park. A sixth ranger was also wounded.”

Joel Malembe, a park spokesman, said the team had been driving through the bush between the sectors of Lulimba and Ishasha when a group of militia men opened fire on their vehicles at about 6 AM local time.

Cosma Wilungula, the director of the DRC’s national parks, said the attackers were from one of the country’s “Mai Mai” militia groups, which were initially founded in the 1990s to fight cross-border attacks from Rwanda.

More than 150 rangers have been killed protecting the Virunga national park, which covers an area three times the size of Luxembourg, over the past twenty years.

Virunga was established established in 1925 and describes itself as Africa’s oldest national park.

Covering more than 3000 square miles of wilderness on the Rwandan and Ugandan border, it is one of Africa’s most diverse habitats and is home to about a quarter of the world’s surviving 880 mountain gorillas.

Emmanuel de Merode, the Belgian director of the Virunda national park, was wounded in an ambush in 2014
Emmanuel de Merode, the Belgian director of the Virunda national park, was wounded in an ambush in 2014 CREDIT:  JEROME DELAY,/AP

It is also a refuge for significant populations of eastern lowland gorillas, chimpanzees, okapis, lions, elephants and hippos.

But it has been ravaged by the unrest sweeping Congo’s troubled North Kivu province, with dozens of armed groups preying on the local population and battling for control of rich reserves of timber, gold and other resources.

They also often poach animals in the park for bush meat.

Ranger outposts are regularly attacked and it not unknown for rangers and militias to fight battles with automatic weapons to for several hours. Emmanuel de Merode, the park’s Belgian director, was shot and wounded in a road ambush between the park and Goma, the capital of North Kivu, in 2014.

The Democratic Republic of Congo has seen increasing instability of the past year, after Joseph Kabila, the president, refused to step down at the end of his term in 2016.

Refugees from Tchomia in the Democratic Republic of Congo arrive on boat in Uganda
Refugees from Tchomia in the Democratic Republic of Congo arrive on boat in Uganda CREDIT: JACK TAYLOR/GETTY

Mr Kabila has agreed to fresh elections in January, but the United Nations and aid agencies have warned that escalating violence and lawlessness threatens to spiral out of control.

Violence has escalated in the east of the country in particular since February, raising fears of a return to the horrific civil wars that claimed millions of lives in the region between 1998 and 2008.

A Mai Mai militia was blamed for shooting dead a Catholic priest in North Kivu over the weekend.

The United Nations has said over 5.1 million people have been displaced in recent years and 13 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, putting the scale of the crisis on a par with Syria.

The national government has rejected that description of the situation and has said it will not attend a United Nations pledging conference to raise money to deal with the crisis in Geneva on Friday.

The United Nations has 15,000 peace keepers in the Democratic Republic of Congo, making it the largest peace keeping mission in the world.

‘Hunt Like a Girl’: Meet the women who spend their weekends looking for a kill

Bec and Sharna don’t look like the kind of people you’d call “psychotic murderers”, “disgusting whores” or “killers with a sick fetish”.[… but they are.]

They’re normal, friendly women. They’ve got normal jobs. They live in normal, regional towns.

Bec and Sharna

Bec and Sharna

But when killing wild animals on the weekend is what you call fun, they’re the kind of names they’ve come to expect.

Between them, Bec and Sharna have killed enough animals to pretty much fill a zoo. Deer, a zebra, a giraffe, a mountain lion, a pigeon, foxes, kangaroos, impalas, baboons, a feral cat, a cow and a wild dog have all found themselves in the crosshairs of Sharna’s rifle or the target of Bec’s bow.

Some end up on their dinner table, some in their dog’s bowls, and some end up hanging in their living rooms.

Hunting hangings

Sharna’s living room

“In a way it’s a trophy, it’s a memento of the hunt,” Sharna told Sarah McVeigh for the ABC’s new podcast, How Do You Sleep At Night?

“Each of those have their own story and for us, we don’t want to see any of it go to waste either. That’s probably the best use of those skins.”

The Hunting “lifestyle”

Hunting has been part of her life for so long, Bec can’t even remember the first time she fired a gun. A sixth-generation hunter; it’s in her blood.

“It was the same as other kids going and playing footy. We went hunting. It was just something that was done.

“I learnt really quickly that when I went to school that not all families were like my family. We ate a lot of homekill meat; I grew up on a sheep farm so Dad always slaughtered our own lambs.

“Sometimes that meant that we even ate our pets,” Bec says, remembering her pet lamb Blinky who eventually ended up on her plate.

“I remember friends coming over after school and they were like, ‘What the hell is going on here?’ and then I started to realise that that wasn’t how other families did it.”

Bec and Sharna are both licensed hunters and only hunt animals permitted by local authorities. They both insist hunting, for them, is more than a hobby.

Why hunters find joy in the kill

Sarah McVeigh spent five days with Bec and Sharna in the Victorian High Country to understand how they tick and why they get satisfaction from killing animals.

“Hunting is a challenge. And sitting around the campfire is fun,” Sharna says. “Pushing myself when it’s freezing cold up that mountain, that’s the fun part. Taking the actual shot is something where, you’re in the moment, there’s that adrenaline rush.

“I think they say it’s the same chemical release as kissing and that sort of thing. You’re getting that big rush of endorphins.”

Critics of Bec and Sharna – mostly on their public posts on Facebook – don’t buy their argument. They call Bec and Sharna serial killers; they call them sick; they say Bec and Sharna should turn their weapons on themselves.

“Put a rifle up your c***,” someone wrote, “and pull the trigger”.

Sharna with her gun

Sharna

Bec and Sharna understand why people are quick to judge hunters. But they say criticism tends to be clouded by false assumptions, and – unless their critics are vegans – embedded in hypocrisy.

“They think we go out there to torture animals where we don’t,” Sharna says. “They don’t understand what we do. That’s definitely an aspect of why people dislike us so much.”

But Bec and Sharna’s reasoning for hunting boils down to a few things: they enjoy hunting for fitness, they eat the animals they’ve killed, and they only kill animals that are a sustainable resource.

“I’d much rather know where my meat is coming from,” Sharna says. “I don’t want to just walk into the supermarket, pick it up off the shelf and not know where it’s come from.

“There’s a genuine respect for the animal. There’s no regret [when we kill]. But there’s… it’s very hard to describe. It’s not remorse, it’s not regret.

Hunter Bec with her bow

Bec

Are all animals equal?

Bec and Sharna often go back to this existential point: when it comes to hunting in the animal kingdom, there is no hierarchy. Apart from endangered or rare species, no life is worth more than another. Squishing a spider is the same as shooting a baboon in South Africa – where they are a sustainable resource, Bec says.

Bec shot a giraffe in South Africa, and the animal was butchered that day for the locals to eat.

Bec in South Africa

“The amount of food that this guy provided for the local community is possibly still being enjoyed,” Bec says.

“I’m not a serial killer”

Bec says none of the criticism she’s received online has made her “second-guess” her hobby and lifestyle choice.

But for Sharna, one comment caught her off guard.

A commenter once took issue with Sharna’s taxidermy animals. “That’s what a serial killer does, a serial killer collects tokens,” the commenter told Sharna.

“For me I was like, ‘I want to know what separates me from a serial killer’ and that’s a pretty big thing to think about within yourself. That comment made me sit down and think about that.”

So what does separate Sharna and Bec from, say, Ivan Milat? Is it just the victims they choose?

“There’s plenty of things,” Sharna says.

“I’m a nurse and I have compassion for people. Obviously serial killers don’t think about their actions – they’re sociopaths. So there’s quite a bit that separates me from a serial killer.

Sarah McVeigh with Bec and Sharna

Sarah McVeigh with Bec and Sharna

Both Bec and Sharna are careful about calling killing “fun”. They insist the act of hunting – the whole experience – is fun, but pulling the trigger is not.

“If I were to say that to pull the trigger is fun, the way people view me might change,” Sharna admits.

“You take the shot, pull the trigger, and if that animal falls over straight away, hasn’t really known what’s going on, that’s a success. So you do get excited about it, and it is a fun activity.”

Sharna and Bec know it’s hard for people to understand how killing could be fun.

“Instead of just sitting behind a keyboard and telling me that what I’m doing is wrong, come and see it.”

Listen to Bec and Sharna in episode 1 of How Do You Sleep At Night? a new ABC podcast hosted by Sarah McVeigh. Download all the episodes now on the new ABC Listen app, or subscribe on Itunes.

Trophy Hunting: Pathetic and twisted

 FILE - In this Friday, March 2, 2018 file photo, keeper Zachariah Mutai attends to Fatu, one of only two female northern white rhinos left in the world, in the pen where she is kept for observation, at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Laikipia county in Kenya. According to four new United Nations scientific reports on biodiversity released on Friday, March 23, 2018, Earth is losing plants, animals and clean water at a dramatic rate. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)

 FILE – In this Friday, March 2, 2018 file photo, keeper Zachariah Mutai attends to Fatu, one of only two female northern white rhinos left in the world, in the pen where she is kept for observation, at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Laikipia county in Kenya. According to four new United Nations scientific reports on biodiversity released on Friday, March 23, 2018, Earth is losing plants, animals and clean water at a dramatic rate. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)

As a result of the Trump Administration recently announcing a decision to let trophy hunting imports into the United States on a case by case basis, many animal conservation organizations are suing to prevent this, arguing that the decision violates the Endangered Species Act. These conservation groups include the Humane Society International and the Center for Biological Diversity. By bringing these lawsuits against the decision, these groups are bringing more attention to the barbaric and cruel pastime known as trophy hunting. Thousands of animals are killed globally every year simply for sport or for “trophies,” such as ivory tusks from elephants. This practice is not only cruel and brutish but also cowardly and pathetic. America has been faced with popular news stories regarding trophy hunting over the past few years, one notable example being the killing of Cecil the lion in 2015, and another being the pictures of Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr. with trophy-hunted carcasses.

These stories have rightly caused outrage over the terrible practice.

Trophy hunting is often part of a business, often peddled by the Safari Club International (SCI). This organization encourages wealthy hunters to kill animals for rewards and import them back to America. Animals often targeted include lions, elephants and rhinos . This is a despicable practice that has no place in a civilized society. Killing animals is not a sport, and it does not make you a more interesting person, merely a smaller one. If you feel the need to spend a vacation targeting and shooting beautiful animals just to bring back a trophy that serves as a reminder of the kill, then it demonstrates that you are a person of abhorrent character. Much of the time, it is not even a challenge to bring these animals down; professional guides may bait animals with food so that hunters can more easily find and kill them, or traps may be used to trap the animal until the hunter can shoot them. It is truly despicable to see how far one will go in order to feel the false thrill of being a “hunter,” as Donald Trump Jr. calls himself. With the recent news of the death of the last male northern white rhino, animal conservation is back in the news cycle. Many argue that, ironically, trophy hunting can aid animal conservation efforts because wealthy people pay great sums in order to have the chance to hunt exotic animals, and these funds can be applied to conservation programs. However, this is assuming that the funds will actually be used for this purpose; in many regions where trophy hunting is rampant, so is corruption ( https://www.vox.com/2018/3/7/17091000/ban-lifted-elephant-trophy-hunting). For instance, Cecil the lion was killed in Zimbabwe, where there is much political unrest, making conservation efforts not a priority. We cannot trust that trophy hunting will help conservation efforts, especially if more animals are being hunted anyway. Instead, countries should focus on raising money for conservation efforts from other tourist activities such as safaris where the animals are appreciated for their beauty, not killed in order to satisfy someone’s fragile ego.

It is a bit concerning that Trump has allowed some trophy animals to potentially be imported into the United States on a case-by-case basis. He has expressed disgust with the practice himself, calling trophy hunting a “horror show”; however, it is likely that he wants the case by case clause in order to satisfy his sons, who participate in trophy hunting. This is especially frustrating because this is not a complete condemnation of trophy hunting, which is what we need from the President of the United States. Trophy hunting is a vile activity, and Americans should not be encouraged to engage in it. The first step in finally changing the attitude towards it completely is banning the importation of carcasses into the United States; Trump should make a moral stand for once and make all cases illegal.

http://dailycampus.com/stories/2018/3/30/trophy-hunting-pathetic-and-twisted

Trump’s Wildlife Protection Board Stuffed With Trophy Hunters

(AP) — A new U.S. advisory board created to help rewrite federal rules for importing the heads and hides of African elephants, lions and rhinos is stacked with trophy hunters, including some members with direct ties to President Donald Trump and his family.

A review by The Associated Press of the backgrounds and social media posts of the 16 board members appointed by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke indicates they will agree with his position that the best way to protect critically threatened or endangered species is by encouraging wealthy Americans to shoot some of them.

One appointee co-owns a private New York hunting preserve with Trump’s adult sons. The oldest son, Donald Trump Jr., drew the ire of animal rights activists after a 2011 photo emerged of him holding a bloody knife and the severed tail of an elephant he killed in Zimbabwe.

The first meeting of the International Wildlife Conservation Council was scheduled for Friday at the Interior Department’s headquarters in Washington. Council members aren’t being paid a salary, though the department has budgeted $250,000 in taxpayer funds for travel expenses, staff time and other costs.

Trump has decried big-game hunting as a “horror show” in tweets. But under Zinke, a former Montana congressman who is an avid hunter, the Fish and Wildlife Service has quietly moved to reverse Obama-era restrictions on bringing trophies from African lions and elephants into the United States.

Asked about the changes during a congressional hearing Thursday, Zinke said no import permits for elephants have been issued since the ban was lifted earlier this month. The Fish and Wildlife Service said permits for lion trophies have been issued since October, when imports from Zimbabwe and Zambia were first allowed, though they could not immediately provide a number for how many.

A licensed two-week African hunting safari can cost more than $50,000 per person, not including airfare, according to advertised rates. Advocates say money helps support habitat conservation and anti-poaching efforts in some of the world’s poorest nations, and provides employment for local guides and porters.

In a statement last year, Zinke said, “The conservation and long-term health of big game crosses international boundaries. This council will provide important insight into the ways that American sportsmen and women benefit international conservation from boosting economies and creating hundreds of jobs to enhancing wildlife conservation.”

But environmentalists and animal welfare advocates say tourists taking photos generate more economic benefit, and hunters typically target the biggest and strongest animals, weakening already vulnerable populations.

There’s little indication dissenting perspectives will be represented on the Trump administration’s conservation council. Appointees include celebrity hunting guides, representatives from rifle and bow manufacturers, and wealthy sportspeople who boast of bagging the coveted “Big Five” — elephant, rhino, lion, leopard and Cape buffalo.

Most are high-profile members of Safari Club International and the National Rifle Association, groups that have sued the Fish and Wildlife Service to expand the list of countries from which trophy kills can be legally imported.

They include the Safari Club’s president, Paul Babaz, a Morgan Stanley investment adviser from Atlanta, and Erica Rhoad, a lobbyist and former GOP congressional staffer who is the NRA’s director of hunting policy.

Bill Brewster is a retired Oklahoma congressman and lobbyist who served on the boards of the Safari Club and the NRA. An NRA profile lauded Brewster and his wife’s five decades of participation and support for hunting, and his purchase of a lifetime NRA membership for his grandson when the boy was 3 days old.

Also on the board is Gary Kania, vice president of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, a group that lobbies Congress and state governments on issues affecting hunters and fishermen.

Zinke described the purpose of the council as representing the “strong partnership” between federal wildlife officials and those who hunt or profit from hunting. Council paperwork said the panel’s mission was “to increase public awareness domestically regarding conservation, wildlife law enforcement, and economic benefits that result from United states citizens traveling to foreign nations to engage in hunting.”

In its charter, the council’s listed duties include “recommending removal of barriers to the importation into the United States of legally hunted wildlife” and “ongoing review of import suspension/bans and providing recommendations that seek to resume the legal trade of those items, where appropriate.”

In a letter this week, a coalition of more than 20 environmental and animal welfare groups objected that the one-sided makeup of the council could violate the Federal Advisory Committee Act, which requires government boards to be balanced in terms of points of view and not improperly influenced by special interests. The groups said they nominated a qualified representative, but Zinke didn’t select him.

“If Trump really wants to stop the slaughter of elephants for trophies, he should shut down this biased, thrill-kill council,” said Tanya Sanerib, a spokeswoman for the Center for Biological Diversity. “The administration can’t make wise decisions on trophy imports if it only listens to gun-makers and people who want to kill wildlife.”

Interior Department spokeswoman Heather Swift said the makeup of the council fully complies with the law.

“There are members on the council that represent all areas of conservation and varying opinions,” Swift said.

CONNECTIONS TO TRUMP

Among Zinke’s appointees is Steven Chancellor, a longtime Republican fundraiser and chairman of American Patriot Group, an Indiana-based conglomerate that includes a company that supplies Meals Ready to Eat to the U.S. military.

According to Safari Club member hunting records obtained in 2015 by the Humane Society, Chancellor has logged nearly 500 kills — including at least 18 lions, 13 leopards, six elephants and two rhinos.

In early 2016, records show Chancellor filed for a federal permit to bring home the skin, skull teeth and claws from another male lion he intended to kill that year in Zimbabwe, which at the time was subject to an import ban imposed by the Obama administration.

Later that same year, Chancellor hosted a private fundraiser for then-candidate Trump and Mike Pence at his Evansville, Indiana, mansion, where the large security gates leading up the driveway feature a pair of gilded lions.

Chancellor did not respond to a phone message seeking comment on Thursday.

In the fight to win approval for imports of lions from Zimbabwe, Chancellor was represented by Conservation Force, a non-profit law firm in Louisiana. It was founded by John Jackson III, a lawyer and past Safari Club president who also has been appointed to the advisory council by Zinke.

Chris Hudson, a lawyer and past president of the Dallas chapter of the Safari Club, also was appointed. He made headlines in 2014 when the club auctioned off a permit for $350,000 to kill an endangered black rhino in Namibia. Hudson later joined with Jackson in providing legal representation to the winning bidder, who sued Delta after the airline refused to fly the rhino’s carcass back to the United States.

‘HUNTING LIFESTYLE’

Appointees include professional hunters. Peter Horn is an ex-vice president of the Safari Club International Conservation Fund and a vice president for high-end gun-maker Beretta. He runs the company’s boutique in Manhattan, where well-heeled clients can drop as much as $150,000 for a hand-engraved, custom-made shotgun.

Horn wrote in his 2014 memoir that he co-owns a hunting property in upstate New York with Trump Jr. that has a 500-yard range “put together” by Eric Trump.

The AP reported last month that the Trump sons were behind a limited-liability company that purchased a 171-acre private hunting range in the bucolic Hudson Valley in 2013, complete with a wooden tower from which owners and their guests shoot at exploding targets.

Horn did not respond to a message seeking comment.

Trump Jr. also is friendly with another member of the advisory council — hunting guide and TV show personality Keith Mark. He helped organize Sportsmen for Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign and recently posted photos on his Twitter page of himself with Trump Jr. and Zinke, standing before an array of mounted big-horn sheep and a bear.

“I see the world from a hunting lifestyle,” Mark told the AP, adding that he has no preconceived agenda for his service on the conservation council. “It’s the most pure form of hands on conservation that there is. I will approach all decision-making with my background.”

Also named to the board is Cameron Hanes, a celebrity archer who advocates for trophy hunting. In a podcast last month, he said hunting allows animals such as elephants to “have value.”

But while supportive of African trophy hunting as an aid to conservation, he said he is more interested in North American wildlife management and sees the council as a way to represent hunters’ interests. He said he hopes to take Zinke out to the archery range.

“We’re trying to make that happen,” he said. “If you have somebody’s ear, you want to tell them what’s important to you.”

Hanes also said he knows Trump Jr. and has been speaking with him about hunting for “quite a while.”

EXTREME HUNTRESS

Also on the council is Olivia Opre, a TV personality and former Miss America contestant who received Safari Club’s top prize for female hunters, the Diana Award.

Opre, who co-produces a competition called Extreme Huntress, has killed about 90 different species on six continents, bringing home some 150 animal carcasses. Many are stuffed and mounted in her house, she told the British newspaper The Telegraph in 2016.

“I’m tired of hearing the words ‘trophy hunter’,” she told the paper. “We’re helping to preserve wildlife; we hunt lions because we want to see populations of wildlife continue to grow.”

Opre, who did not respond to messages seeking comment, has previously recounted killing a hippo, buffalo, black rhino and lion, all in Africa.

She said in the NRA’s Women’s Leadership Form newsletter published last year that she and another Diana Award winner, Denise Welker, had “shed tears over her appreciation for life in all its forms.”

Welker also has been appointed to the conservation council. She shot and killed an African elephant from just five paces away, according to a blog post on the Safari CIub-affiliated site, Hunt Forever. Included was a photo of a smiling Welker posing next to the carcass of the big bull, a large bullet hole visible between its eyes.

She also has hunted animals across the U.S., in Mexico, New Zealand and Cameroon, posting photos of herself with a dead leopard, eland and Greenland musk ox, according to a post she wrote on Hunt Forever three years ago.

On the website scout.com, Gayne Young wrote that he hunted elephants with Denise, her husband, Brian, and hunter and tracker Ivan Carter in Botswana in 2013.

Carter — a British citizen who runs a non-profit anti-poaching initiative alongside his guide business — also was appointed to the conservation council. He is a Rhodesian-born professional hunting guide who resides in the Bahamas. On social media postings, he has said banning elephant imports does not reduce how many elephants are hunted, and wrote an article after the infamous shooting of Cecil the Lion in Zimbabwe declaring that anti-hunting forces were on the march.

“This event and the subsequent events have been the ‘Twin Towers’ of the hunting world — our 9-11,” he wrote in a 2016 article, deploring airlines’ move to stop accepting hunting trophies as air cargo. He proposed fighting back in a war of public opinion, with hunters as infantrymen, organizations like Safari Club International as generals and the pro-hunting media as “a machine gun that can spew thousands of bullets into the opposition’s fighting force.”

In an interview with AP on Thursday, he described himself as a conservationist first and a hunter second. He said he did not have a problem with the council’s membership skewing toward trophy hunters.

“They are what makes the wheel turn in the form of bringing big dollars” to conservation, he said. Without trophy-hunting revenue, the governments of African nations will turn over conservation land to private interests for development, he said.

“The business model doesn’t work with the closure of lion and elephant imports,” he said.

The Fish and Wildlife Service declined to provide information on Thursday on whether any appointees to the advisory committee had applied for or received import permits for animal trophies over the last year. Agency spokesman Gavin Shire suggested filing a Freedom of Information Act request for copies of the permits, a process that can take years.

ANIMAL EXPERTS

One of two non-hunters named to the board is Terry Maple, a former director of the Atlanta zoo. Legally importing rare live animals also requires government permits issued by Fish and Wildlife. Maple helped write “A Contract with the Earth,” a book by Newt Gingrich making the politically conservative case for environmentalism.

The other is Jenifer Chatfield, a zoo and wildlife veterinarian professor who has family ties to the exotic animal trade.

The book “Animal Underworld: Inside America’s Black Market for Rare and Exotic Species” accused her father, John Chatfield, of diverting zoo animals to the private market, where they would become pets or stock private hunting ranches.

In one 1997 instance — reported by the AP — the elder Chatfield ended up in possession of endangered lemurs and pronghorn antelopes that were to have gone to a zoo in Indiana. Simultaneously, Chatfield listed lemurs and pronghorn antelope for sale in a publication called “Animal Finders.”

An investigation of the zoo director’s activities resulted in his expulsion from the American Zoological Association. Chatfield denied any wrongdoing at the time. He did not respond to a request for comment from the AP on Thursday.

The Chatfield family since has moved to Dade City, Florida, where they operate a facility housing nearly 200 exotic animals that state business records show Jenifer partly owns. In 2013, Florida Fish and Wildlife officials cited the farm for improperly storing kangaroos after one escaped, then died after being tranquilized and shocked by sheriff’s deputies. According to the state’s report, Chatfield initially denied that the kangaroo was his — but accepted responsibility after the fish and wildlife inspector proposed DNA testing. The inspector noted that Chatfield was unable to say how many kangaroos he currently had.

Though Jenifer Chatfield is a part owner of the exotic animal facility and was present at the time of the kangaroo escape, state wildlife officials did not cite her for a violation along with her father.

She did not return messages seeking comment.

Pearson reported from New York.

Follow Associated Press investigative reporters Biesecker at http://twitter.com/mbieseck , Pearson at http://twitter.com/JakePearsonAP and Horwitz at http://twitter.com/JeffHorwitz

South Sudan bans wildlife hunting

Source: Xinhua   2018-03-06 21:25:35
 http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2018-03/06/c_137020350.htm

JUBA, March 6 (Xinhua) — South Sudan on Tuesday banned all forms of wildlife hunting, including commercial trade in wildlife trophies, the country’s conservation agency said Tuesday.

The ministry of wildlife conservation and tourism banned wildlife products such as skin, meat, fur, bird feathers, among others.

According to the directive, any person caught dealing with wildlife products shall be arrested, prosecuted and those found guilty would face a two-year jailed term or fines.

Thomas Sebit, deputy spokesman of the ministry of wildlife conservation and tourism, told Xinhua that the ban seeks to clamp down on poaching of wild animals in the country’s national parks.

He said the government recently noticed increased poaching of gazelles, buffaloes and elephants by armed groups and civilians across the country.

“There are people who are holding guns, they go to the national parks and kill our animals randomly not discriminating whether old or young. You get cooked bush meat in hotels and being sold in markets openly,” Sebit said.

War-torn South Sudan has the world’s second largest animal migration and is considered a good place for ecotourism, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC).

The East African country is also known for its vast swamp region of the Sudd, sometimes referred to as one of the largest wetlands in the world hosting about 400 species of birds.

However, the tourism industry made up only 1.8 percent of South Sudan’s GDP, WTTC said in 2013.

“We are urging our citizens to respect the law. These are animals for us and will help us in the future when well managed to boost our economy,” Sebit appealed.

Conservationists find birds in central African rain forest are facing major threats from bushmeat hunting

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-03/sdzg-cfb022818.php

SAN DIEGO ZOO GLOBAL

In a new study released this month, conservationists are sounding the alarm about a growing hunting crisis plaguing rainforests in central Africa. The study, published in the journal Biological Conservation, found that more large forest birds such as raptors and hornbills are being killed to provide bushmeat (wildlife taken for food) than previously thought. Researchers concluded that unless the threat posed by unsustainable hunting is reduced, bird populations will continue to decline–potentially leading to devastating consequences for the biodiversity of the region.

The study was conducted in the Littoral Region of Cameroon, where scientists surveyed 19 villages that border the proposed Ebo National Park in the western part of the country. Researchers used direct and indirect questioning and statistical models to quantify the socioeconomic predictors, scale and seasonality of illegal bird hunting, and bird consumption in the area.

“Understanding why people eat birds and quantifying how many are killed is just the first step in understanding how bushmeat hunting can affect birds like hornbills and eagles,” said Robin C. Whytock, a Ph.D. researcher at the University of Stirling in Scotland and lead author of the study. “I think birds such as crowned eagles are particularly threatened by hunting in Cameroon, both because of direct persecution and because their prey base has been depleted by hunting. These and other similar large-bodied birds that reproduce slowly are therefore a conservation priority.”

The science team also found surprising information they believe ties education levels to the amount of time people spend hunting and how much wildlife they consume.

The team originally thought that younger, unemployed men at lower education levels would consume more wild birds than other hunters. While the study did conclude that birds were primarily hunted and consumed by unemployed men during the dry season, the data unexpectedly revealed that hunting has increased among those with higher education.

This discovery may change the way scientists tailor future conservation programs, in reaching out to urban populations as well as rural communities. Conservationists could also focus on better informing those at higher education levels about the importance of specific bird species to their ecosystem. Moving forward, researchers said closer examination of other habitats will be necessary to fully understand the totality of the growing bushmeat hunting crisis.

The two-year study and analysis was conducted by numerous conservation and educational facilities, including the University of Stirling, the University of Dschang, Drexel University, Wageningen University and Research Centre, The Peregrine Fund, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, and San Diego Zoo Global.

Bringing species back from the brink of extinction is the goal of San Diego Zoo Global. As a leader in conservation, the work of San Diego Zoo Global includes on-site wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) at the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, as well as international field programs on six continents. The work of these entities is inspiring children through the San Diego Zoo Kids network, reaching out through the internet and in children’s hospitals nationwide. The work of San Diego Zoo Global is made possible by the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy and is supported in part by the Foundation of San Diego Zoo Global.