Washington, DC – (August 31st, 2020) – The California Assembly voted to pass the Iconic African Species Protection Act (Senate Bill 1175). With misguided intent and a misleading name, this legislation will ban the possession and importation of twelve species of African game animals. Although the bill purports to “protect” these species, most of them, including elephants, lions, and rhinos, are stable or increasing in the range countries where they are currently hunted.
By reducing the revenues and incentives generated from regulated hunting, this legislation will have detrimental effects on wildlife populations and rural communities throughout Africa, which was highlighted by the African government and community representatives who wrote statements and testified before the Assembly to drive home the negative impact of this legislation.
The most troubling part of the legislative process surrounding this bill is the deliberate effort of elected officials in California to ignore expert voices from on the ground in Africa.
Weeks ago, members of the Assembly Committee on Water, Parks, and Wildlife willfully ignored two expert witnesses from Africa – Maxi Louis (Director of the Namibian Association of Community Based Natural Resource Management Support Organizations) and George Pangeti (Former Deputy Director of Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority). The committee did not ask these experts a single question about the impact of this legislation on their countries’ management, conservation, and rural development programs. Instead, they let the bill’s main sponsor, Senator Henry Stern (D), distort facts about hunting and COVID19 and twist the truth to fit PETA’s and Center for Biological Diversity’s talking points before the bill passed out of committee.
The Assembly committee also ignored written testimony submitted by the African Wildlife Consultative Forum, which included formal comments from organizations and government agencies in 10 different African countries, warning the California legislature how devastating the passage of this legislation would be for their livelihoods and conservation efforts.
Earlier this summer, elected officials in California also ignored the published opinion of Fulton Mangwanya, the current director of the Zimbabwe Parks & Wildlife Management Authority. Mr. Mangwanya addressed legislators in California and explained that the legislation, “crafted far away from Africa and without input from Africans,” would not achieve its purported objectives. Instead, he noted, “Our generation has witnessed unprecedented decimation of wildlife and habitat due to a misguided mentality that non-consumptive tourism – such as photography safaris – is a panacea for all conservation and sustainable financial requirements. It is not.”
The Assembly also ignored information which highlights the fact that revenues raised by hunting have underwritten the conservation of an area more than twice the size of the U.S. National Park System. This habitat is essential to protecting and growing the very species impacted by this bill, and its funding will be cut by bans like the Act.
Worse, the Act will reduce funding for in-state conservation efforts as well. The Assembly was warned by the former head of the California Fish and Game Warden’s Association that the State already has one of the lowest numbers of wardens, per capita, in the country. Enforcement of the African species ban will pull these wardens away from their critical duties managing and protecting California’s natural resources and reduce their ability to pursue wildlife poachers.
“The California legislature has chosen to willfully ignore the opinions of wildlife experts while kowtowing to the political contributions of animal rights extremists. SCI members call on Governor Newsom to prioritize livelihoods and conservation by vetoing this unenforceable bill” said Benjamin Cassidy, SCI’s Director of Government Affairs.
Safari Club International and its members have been engaged on this legislation from day one, sending over 7,500 emails and phone calls to legislators in California in opposition to this bill. SCI will continue to provide a platform for residents of California to urge their Governor to veto this trophy ban.
Safari Club International – First For Hunters is the leader in protecting the freedom to hunt and in promoting wildlife conservation worldwide. SCI’s approximately 200 Chapters represent all 50 of the United States as well as 106 other countries. SCI’s proactive leadership in a host of cooperative wildlife conservation, outdoor education and humanitarian programs, with the SCI Foundation and other conservation groups, research institutions and government agencies, empowers sportsmen to be contributing community members and participants in sound wildlife management and conservation. Visit the home page www.SafariClub.org or call (520) 620-1220 for more information.
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