Petition to U.S. Government to protect rural African communities and the conservation of wildlife
CAMPFIRE Association Zimbabwe and the Ngamiland Council of Non-Governmental Organizations (NCONGO) Botswana Petition for revisions to the regulations implementing the Endangered Species Act to conform with U.S. President Joseph Biden’s Executive Order on Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities through the Federal Government.
CAMPFIRE ASSOCIATION PRESS STATEMENT ON PETITION TO U.S. GOVERNMENT TO PROTECT RURAL AFRICAN COMMUNITIES AND THE CONSERVATION OF WILDLIFE
CAMPFIRE Association (Zimbabwe) and the Ngamiland Council of Non-Governmental Organizations (NCONGO) have petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to revise federal regulations implementing the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA) to recognize the critical role of communities in wildlife conservation. The petition demands that regulations be revised to conform with the directives of the Executive Order on Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities through the Federal Government.
The petition specifically requests that the USFWS amend a number of regulations to effectively take into account the conservation efforts of range countries, and thereby protect the rights of underserved indigenous or rural communities in Africa and around the world.
The Executive Order provides a much-needed directive to “advance equity for all” and to “embed fairness in decision-making processes.” Too often, actions have been taken by the USFWS to list wildlife species or adopt regulations over the express objections of range states and rural communities. These objections were raised because the USFWS actions would—and do—impair the conservation incentives and damage the livelihoods of people living alongside wildlife, who must tolerate its negative impacts on their lives. This petition represents an important first step to cause the USFWS to appreciate, recognize, and accommodate the concerns of communities, as well as range states that are successfully conserving wildlife.
It is imperative to understand the importance of sustainable use conservation, including regulated hunting, to range countries and underserved communities in Africa. Countries that rely heavily on regulated hunting as part of their conservation success are home to the world’s largest populations of elephant, lion, leopard, rhino, and many other so-called “threatened” species, which are not threatened in our countries. The sustainability of these populations is a result of national management plans and conservation systems that give wildlife great value, especially for the communities who are most at risk to human-wildlife conflicts as a result of shared land use.
Regulated hunting generates revenues for anti-poaching efforts, wildlife management, job creation, social services, and also provides in-kind benefits like game meat distribution and problem animal control. These incentives cause private and communal stakeholders across southern Africa, parts of Asia, and throughout the rest of the world to see wildlife habitat conservation as an economically competitive use for land.
Therefore, the petition requests that our wildlife authorities have a larger say in the USFWS process, and that the USFWS take into account the views of affected communities as a paramount consideration, before adopting policies that will detrimentally affect our conservation system and livelihoods. As Africa works to recover from the financial devastation of COVID-19, our countries deserve to be more involved in these decisions that affect us directly.
The tangible benefits of importing legally harvested wildlife from the U.S. have been proven to contribute to the success of African conservation programs, the financial stability of rural communities, and the physical safety of the members of these communities. If the USFWS adopts the petition, it will embed fairness in the decision-making process by ensuring that these benefits are fully considered and the views of range states and rural communities are taken into account.
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