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sport hunting and customary use [#359]
My feeling is that this issue (raised in Question 8) particularly needs in-depth discussion by, and input from, indigenous peoples' and local communities' organisations.
posted on 2009-02-17 16:59 UTC by Dr Maurizio Ferrari, Forest Peoples Programme
RE: sport hunting and customary use [#365]
There are a lot of good case studies coming out of the Conservation Hunting research program headed by Dr. Milton M.R. Freeman at the University of Alberta (  One case study in North America that is somewhat contentious is sport hunting for polar bears.  Canadian territories and provinces, along with indigenous co-management boards and local communities determine an allowable take and then communities can allocate bear tags to sport hunters.  It has worked well for the more robust populations, but the success depends on knowledge of population dynamics, how well community-based management systems are working and what the level of demand is for hunting.  In Alaska, sport hunting of polar bear and walrus used to be legal until the 1980s; the walrus sport hunt in several communities reduced the demand for ivory from walrus because guiding was more lucrative than hunting.  Whether or not communities are interesting in promoting this economic activity would be best addressed by those communities.  One barrier to resource access like these is the cultural attitudes that environmental or government biologists may have towards the consumptive use of animals.  In Alaska, what could have been effective, localized management plans have stalled in the past because agencies and communities have not agreed on what type of products are allowable under law.  These discussions often hinge on ideas of what are "traditional" uses.  A discussion focused on acceptable levels of risk and thresholds for resilience would be more objective.
posted on 2009-02-18 07:34 UTC by NK Keny, Love Care Home Indigenous womenand Children
RE: sport hunting and customary use [#387]
With polar bear hunting in Nunavut, Canada all of the tags from a population and allocated to a community can be used. The community decides how many could be used for non-resident (sport) hunts and how many for local hunts. If non-resident hunts were prohibited or if the community did not want any non-resident hunts (and some community dont), the number of tags would not be reduced. Therefore, in this system non-resident hunting does not increase hunting mortality. In fact, it can reduce the mortality because once a tag is allocated to a non-resident hunter, it can not be used later by anybody if the hunter is not successful.
posted on 2009-03-10 05:03 UTC by Dr. Michael Ferguson, NordEco
RE: sport hunting and customary use [#390]
Responses to Questions for the CBD 10c Forum

The Safari Club International Foundation appreciates the opportunity to join the discussion in this forum on Article 10(c) of the CBD.  We apologize for the length of this intervention, but the reference to sport hunting and its place in relation to customary use of natural resources raises many interesting points.

Background on the Safari Club International Foundation

The Safari Club International Foundation (SCI Foundation) conducts and supports science-based conservation programs and scientific technical studies in the field of wildlife conservation to improve wildlife management and to demonstrate the constructive role that hunting and hunters play in the conservation of wildlife.  The organization is predominantly supported by hunters.    There is a growing interest in international sport hunting, primarily by Americans and Europeans.  One of the major focal points of this activity is southern Africa. 

For several years, the SCI Foundation has been working with several countries in Southern Africa, including South Africa, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique, Malawi and Swaziland.  Our organization works closely with the governments of these countries and with organizations within those countries.  We host an annual forum of government wildlife officials, NGOs and members of the professional hunting industry to discuss wildlife conservation matters. 

Other focal points for hunting are all three countries in North America, Central Asia, New Zealand and Australia, Europe and several countries in South America.  Our organization has wildlife conservation activities in all these areas.

Our expertise includes one of the originators of the CAMPFIRE program for community involvement in natural resource management, one of the originators of the CITES treaty that governs trade in protected species of wildlife and plants, and wildlife biologists with experience in wildlife management.

In the last fifty years, an extensive “marketplace” has grown up around international sport hunting.  This begins with:
• the hunters, for whom this is a recreational activity, and
• includes hunt outfitters, who bring the clients to the game and handle all of the necessary arrangements,
• government officials in both range countries and the countries into which the trophies of the hunt are imported,
• organizations such as Safari Club International (SCI) which provide an opportunity for the hunters, outfitters and officials to get together and which deal with the legal and governmental issues involved in sport hunting and the shipment of trophies;
• organizations such as the Safari Club International Foundation (SCI Foundation) which pursue wildlife conservation programs and strategies; which are designed to protect, strengthen and propagate both game and other species.
• Local organizations such as CAMPFIRE which involve local communities.


CBD Secretariat Question 8: Are there cases where commercial activities such as sport hunting should be considered as within the parameters of sustainable customary use, as a means of revenue generation for indigenous peoples and local communities? For instance, in Namibia, foreign hunters can pay high prices to shoot an elephant that has already been marked for culling as part of local management strategy.

SCIF Comment, Africa:  Prior to the European colonization of Africa, wildlife -- from honey-bees to lions, antelope, buffalo and elephants -- was part of the landscape occupied by local and indigenous communities.  Life at that time was virtually all rural.  Intricate systems evolved over centuries that governed the levels and forms of use of the wildlife, based on social, economic and political relationships.  For example, the killing of an elephant required the payment of tribute from the valuable meat to the local chief.  In other areas, the taking of eland was controlled by the chief because the fat of the eland was the best source of oil for cooking -- a valuable commodity in that region.  The totem system in Zimbabwe protected certain animals from being killed in certain localized chiefdoms or tribal areas. For example if your tribe is of totem elephant (Samanyanga-local language) literally translated as (of big horns) you did not eat elephant meat. The same goes for local tribes of totem, kudu, eland, crocodile, impala etc. This system was and is still able to protect many species in the various communal areas of Zimbabwe.   Another control measure is that no killing of wildlife for food or any other use was allowed during the period when animals had young on hoof. This was to ensure protection of the young animals by adults.

As colonization proceeded, many big game areas were set aside as parks or preserves by European colonial administrations.  The pattern continued after independence, but it was carried out by central governments.  Local people were sometimes forcibly removed from the land or forbidden to use it for customary activities (e.g., hunting, honey-gathering, wood-gathering, obtaining reeds and grasses for domestic and household use, grazing of livestock, etc.).  Access to hunting areas was centralized and offered to international sport hunters.  The hunting activity was managed by entrepreneurs (hunt outfitters).  Some benefits flowed from these entrepreneurs to local people, in the form of employment in hunting camps as trackers, game scouts, etc., and meat from game animals made available for purchase or donated to local communities, orphanages, etc.  However, in these instances there was often no direct link between the hunting activity and benefits accruing from it to the communities. As such there was no appreciation regarding the benefits of wildlife conservation to the community.

In the 1980’s, Zimbabwe began a far-sighted experiment to improve wildlife conservation while at the same time bettering the economic situation of rural people.  In fact the two concepts were intimately intertwined.  The stimulus for these innovations was the recognition that more and more land was being cleared for agriculture and that biodiversity was on a steep decline.  Despite the game parks and national parks, most wildlife (and its habitat) was still found outside these protected areas.  In addition, the newly-independent governments of the region did not have the resources to patrol the parks.  The situation became one where local people resented the central government for denying them legal access to resources while at the same time they developed ways to get around the restrictions.  Snaring of wildlife, which is non-selective and highly destructive, soared.

The idea occurred to wildlife managers and others that if local people were given a meaningful stake in the wildlife and its habitat, they would have a strong incentive to maintain the areas in their wild state rather than converting them to agriculture.  This was stated forcefully at the 1985 Meeting of the Parties to the CITES treaty (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) by the Director of the National Parks and Wildlife agency in Zimbabwe.  During a debate over the hunting of leopards and the export of their trophies by international sport hunters, he said that a failure to recognize the value of the sport hunting of leopards would be a “victory for the cow and the plow.”  He said that people, given their need to survive and prosper, would make the best economic use of their land and if wildlife such as the leopard continued to be nothing more than a useless (and sometimes dangerous) pest, the wildlife and its habitat would inevitably disappear in favor of using the land to plant crops and graze domestic livestock.

This led to the CAMPFIRE program.  CAMPFIRE devolved authority over land and wildlife to local communities that met certain minimum requirements.  It not only gave these communities control over access and a share of the benefits of the use, but it involved the local communities in management decisions about the sustainable uses of wildlife.  It was found through research that the involvement in management was a more powerful stimulus and incentive than had been realized.

Several far-sighted outfitters saw the opportunity to combine their clients’ interests in big game hunting with the needs and opportunities of the local communities.  Partnerships were developed in which a flow of benefits, from cash to the building and equipping of schools, clinics, water facilities and game-proof fences, came from the profits from “tourist hunting.” 

The total value of sport hunting in Zimbabwe in the communal area, as reported at the CITES meeting in 2007, was US$2.7 million, 60% of which came from elephant hunting.  A total of 500 elephants can be taken in the entire country, per year, with 210 of those allocated to communal lands.  Zimbabwe has a serious over-population of elephants, with twice as many animals as can be supported by the available habitat.  The 2007 elephant population estimate was more than 66,000 animals.  Therefore the hunting quota of 500 represents less than 1% of the population annually, and the population grows at the rate of more than 5% per year.

The implementation of CAMPFIRE has not been a perfect story, but local and foreign conservationists, wildlife managers and community activists continue to grapple with a variety of issues and to improve the implementation of the program.  The concept behind CAMPFIRE has found great appeal and has been put into practice in various formulations in other African countries, including South Africa, Tanzania, Namibia and Botswana, Zambia, and elsewhere.

One of the most serious hurdles faced in trying to implement the innovative ideas behind CAMPFIRE has been the resistance of the international animal protectionists, both states and non-governmental organizations, to allowing the use of the wildlife involved.  Driven by local ideas of conservation, which have tended toward complete protectionism, both Europe and the United States have often made it difficult for the entry of hunting trophies.  Without the ability to bring home trophies, many big game hunters will not go hunting.  This pattern was seen with both leopards and elephants in the 1980’s and 1990’s.  In the United States, conservationist-managers in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service saw the benefits to wildlife that could flow from sport hunting, and over a period of years compromises were worked out that allowed hunting trophies to enter with a limited amount of difficulty, but only from a limited number of countries.  These U.S. officials, driven by the demands of the Endangered Species Act and a vociferous protectionist political constituency, were very restrictive and required the range countries from which the trophies originated to show the capacity for a Western-style management system.  Sometimes this required resources that simply were not available to the range countries.

SCIF Comment, North America:  One of the comments in Week Two of the forum raised the issue of polar bear hunting in Canada.  Such hunting by Americans was essentially outlawed by the Marine Mammal Protection Act due to the prohibition on the import of marine mammals.  An amendment in the mid-1990’s opened up opportunities in local, indigenous Canadian communities to take a resource – the polar bear -- that was limited primarily to customary use for subsistence, handicrafts and traditional and religious purposes, and to expand the use to include limited sport harvest. 

The allocation of the polar bear harvest was controlled by the Canadian federal and provincial governments, working with the local communities.  Polar bears were divided into management regions and extensive scientific work was carried out using the Western model of resource management.  Quotas were set for each village.  Most of the bears were taken for local consumption and use, but the villages were allowed to offer opportunities for sport hunters to take some of the bears.  This created a local guiding industry, which worked in conjunction with established hunt outfitters in Canada to market the opportunities.  There was always a low level of interest from sport hunters in Europe, but the amendment of the U.S. law opened new and significant marketing opportunities.

SCIF has been told by Canadian biologists and other scientists working on this program that the opening of the American market was important for the overall conservation of the resource.  Scientists such as Dr. Milton Freeman, along with others in Canada, have confirmed this information .  The opportunity for benefit to the local communities and their involvement in the management of the bears made the communities more inclined to work with the government to implement a number of record-keeping and reporting requirements that were critical to maintain the harvest at a sustainable level.  Thus, in addition to direct economic benefit to remote native communities which have very limited opportunities to generate cash revenues, there was a direct benefit to conservation of the polar bear.

A similar situation has been documented in the cooperative management of caribou.  In that situation, the initial focus was on recovering populations used solely for subsistence and traditional purposes.  The population had declined drastically.  The cooperative management system, in which the local communities had a substantial voice in management decisions, resulted in a significant recovery of the population.  This opened the opportunity to expand the uses of the caribou to sport hunting.

Another comment can be made about North America in relation to customary use by indigenous and local people.  Sport hunting on this continent (Canada and the United States) evolved along the lines of what is called the “North American model” in which wildlife is managed for the public good on the basis of wildlife science, through wildlife management professionals.  The money for this management comes largely from the hunters themselves, in the form of license fees and in the U.S., through an excise tax that is dedicated to wildlife conservation on the basis of grants to the states.  This created a “user pays” approach in which the wildlife had value in the eyes of the sportsman and he was willing to provide the funding to assure its convservation. 

A similar system that includes some of the approach used in Africa has evolved in Mexico.  There, private landowners and indigenous communities engage in a cooperative, science-based program with the government to assure conservation, and in return are given rights to utilize the wildlife in various ways including sport hunting by foreigners. 

Considering wildlife in other areas of the world and the role of sport hunting, one could say that this North American model has been, essentially, exported to other areas.  If the wildlife has value in the view of the people most able to conserve it, then it has a chance at survival.  The sport hunter from overseas is one of the things that brings value to the wildlife in other countries.  Further, with sport hunting in North America came the science of wildlife management which could be applied to the business of wildlife production. Sustainability, population control and habitat protection and management all are part of wildlife management.   This same “Western” aspect is now often applied to wildlife in other areas of the world, especially when some of the value comes from “marketing” that wildlife in the West. In addition to the economic value of wildlife, it is often true that indigenous species are central elements of a peoples' culture. To that extent that this North American approach enables the customary users of this wildlife to maintain it, then the kind of wildlife management that comes with sport hunting is also important to the perpetuation of cultures around the world.  So what we have is a blend of indigenous and Western values and approaches.  If used correctly, everyone, including the wildlife, benefits.

In this context it is worth noting that in many indigenous cultures there is an ethic about limiting the harvest of wildlife to that which is necessary in order to conserve it, and of sharing the harvest within the community in order to maximize the benefits.  These are similar to values in sport hunting culture in North America and Europe.  For example, it is unethical to waste wildlife, so when a hunter makes his attempt to take the game, he aims for a killing shot that limits suffering and assures that the resource can be recovered and will not be wasted.  If the hunter should wound the game, he makes every effort to recover it, again to avoid wasting the wildlife resource.

CBD Secretariat Question 4: Are there any potential negative impacts of recognizing and documenting rights to customary use (for example, on the ability of indigenous peoples and local communities to adapt practices to changes in environmental and social conditions over time)?

SCIF Comment:  The network of hunters, outfitters, government officials, organizations and local communities is necessary in order to provide the benefits and value to wildlife and its conservation that are inherent in sport hunting.  For example, without a healthy outfitting industry making a reasonable profit, there is no way to connect the benefit to the wildlife and from the wildlife to the communities.  Without the connection between organizations, government officials and local communities, there is no way to recognize and deal with the potential barriers to the accrual of benefits and the conservation benefits.  Therefore, recognition and documentation of rights to customary use needs to take into account the importance of giving all stakeholders and actors a proper participation.  If, for example, hunt outfitters cannot have reasonable tenure at fair prices in their hunting concessions, the system will collapse and the benefits will not flow.  Several countries in southern Africa have recognized the importance of this segment of the enterprise and are taking steps through governmental policy innovations to bring more indigenous people into the commercial side of the activity through black empowerment programs in order to broaden the benefits.
posted on 2009-03-10 20:52 UTC by Mr. Richard Parsons, Safari Club International Foundation