The Way I See It
Editorial by Dieter Schramm, President of the CIC
In this special issue – at the occasion of the 57th CIC General Assembly “the World Forum for Sustainable Hunting” a number of CIC-initiatives and activities are presented. 11 years of serving as President of this organization should qualify me to ask you: Who is CIC? – “Ah, those are the people with the ‘CIC points’ who measure trophies”, right?
Not quite as there is definitely more to it. Certainly, three quarters of a century ago we developed the CIC (International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation) measuring system for game animals. Today we are working on adapting methods and parameters of this venerable system to the requirements of 21st century conservation biology. The CIC system has not been designed to serve the ego-trip of certain people to advertise their “hunting achievements”. To reduce our activity as hunter-fisher conservationists to such a primitive level is a disfavor to all serious members of the hunting and fishing community. I will get to this subject later-on when we discuss the credibility of the hunter.
Now then, what is the true role of the CIC? Self adoration is not my motivation, but with the President’s responsibility, let me explain: The CIC, with governments, associations, universities, game-biologists and private individuals as members in 84 countries is acting on behalf of the average, true hunter and fisher. The man or the woman honoring fair chase and sustainability principles by truly enjoying one of mankind’s original activities: hunting and fishing. The man and the woman who realize: we are a minority of the total population and are obliged to properly explain what we are doing. Hence, we must unite ourselves and speak with one voice where the individual cannot reach, where even individual associations are simply too small: at the decision-making level of the “global conservation scene”. Mind you, for decades the hunting community had totally neglected this “conservation-conference-tourism-platform”! The anti-hunting community, however, long before we woke up, had grabbed the chance and dominated the scene - until we realized this and got our act together…. In our stormy 80 year–history we positioned ourselves:
• As global organization on the forefront of the development of policies for the Sustainable use of Biodiversity as a basis for conservation – and, subsequently, the promotion of hunting as a valuable tradition for ourselves and the future generations;
• As seeing such tradition as an obligation to use all efforts in order to ensure that nature/species conservation first of all is oriented on nature itself: an interpretation which guides our own life, the society supported by us and which gives us the logical and scientific background for all respective measures and actions.
• As a competent pro-sustainable hunting consultant for decision makers, administrative entities and international organizations on the basis of scientific know-how in specific and interdisciplinary fields;
• As neither purely private nor purely governmental: in the cooperation between governmental authority and the flexibility of private membership lies the dynamic of the CIC, which differentiates it from other so-called NGOs and makes it unique;
• The CIC also takes up the challenge not to leave the conservation of nature exclusively in the hands of those who out of political, ideological, society-critical or even one sided scientific views, e.g.
• desire to “protect” one-sidedly, at the expense of other species;
• attempt to curb personal freedom of man under the umbrella of “nature protection” leading in extremes to “expropriation” – it is not a coincidence that slogans appear like “Eco-terrorism” or: “Who protects nature and man from nature protectors”.
One important aspect of the CIC’s underlying philosophy must be outlined here: in all our endeavors we insist on man being an integral of our ecosystems – and not outside of nature.
I consider one of our foremost achievements that we were able to serve the betterment of people by using our common passion for wildlife to bridge over different religions, backgrounds – and to overcome frictions, separations burdening us. One of the foremost “best practice examples” is the pilot project which we initiated and manage successfully since 10 years: the “CIC – Coordination Forum Southeast and Central Europe”.
It is truly astonishing how the common denominator of caring for wildlife in war-torn former Yugoslavia resulted in caring for people – by the way the motto of our 2007 General Assembly in Belgrade.
It is my distinct honor to mention a name here: Veljko Varicak, former Vice-President of the CIC, and Honorary Chairman of the above mentioned Coordination Forum. His never tiring work achieved something which neither the UN nor the EU really brought to live: a round table where representatives of civil society, in our case all hunting associations of the new Balkan Countries, are confidently working together for wildlife management across borders. Within this CIC introduced coordination-framework let me point out a classical example, which is filled with life by our friends in Bosnia Herzegovina: here, all three fractions, the Serbs, the Christians and the Moslems join forces and by now have decided to speak with one voice! A noble cause –may be not in the eyes of certain ideologically motivated activists depicting hunters and fishers as criminals waging war against animals….but in the eyes of the majority of responsible conservationists. Other CIC Coordination Forums are “under construction “ – e.g. in the Mediterranean area.
Apart from this, how effective then is the CIC as the professed Global Forum for Sustainable Hunting on such levels where decisions concerning our future as hunter-conservationists are made, within the UN-System, IUCN, CITES, all those international conventions such as CMS and CBD with its Addis Ababa Principles and Guidelines - just to name a few?
I do not want to bore you with a list of our tangible achievements, let me just quote a classical example: our work for and within IUCN. In the year 2000, at the IUCN World Congress in Aman I suffered my first shock when I realized there were 2.000 more or less professional conservationists who, with a few exceptions, made their living from “conservation” – and did not give a hoot about us, the hunters. Nonetheless, from the sideline – and as 100% volunteers, we could contribute to an IUCN Policy Decision: “Use, if sustainable, can serve human needs on an ongoing basis while contributing to the conservation of biological diversity”. In 2004, at the following IUCN World Conservation Congress in Bangkok – with more than 6.000 participants! The CIC, the hunting community, was by far better established; we had our proper workshops: the CIC supported the adoption of a motion of our South African friends: Recreational Hunting, if sustainable, is considered a tool for conservation. At the end of the day, IUCN formally adopted the Addis Ababa Principles as policy basis! And in 2008, again at the next IUCN Summit in Barcelona, the CIC held a daily briefing for all members of the sustainable use community and thereby served as a convener of all those supporting sustainable hunting.
The CIC, in 2004, had been instrumental in motivating the international community – all in all 194 states – to sign into action these vital Addis Ababa Principles. In essence they give us the framework for “use it or lose it” but also for our behavior as responsible users of our renewable natural resources. No doubt, as always with such wide-ranging strategic principles – the issue remains how to implement them. This is our personal challenge as a responsible user of nature, as farmer, as forester, as tourist, as sportsman, as hunter, as fisherman.
Which brings me to my second main topic: our credibility as hunters. We, as CIC, try to unite all serious forces active in promoting sustainable hunting, attempt to serve as an umbrella organization true to what our Patron, HM Juan Carlos of Spain said: “We hunters are much stronger than we believe, if we only would unite and join our forces”.
However, how do you react if somebody tells you "I cannot compete in sports, I am also too old to get stars in the Army, but I can get my full satisfaction in my Hunting Club, since I can afford to gain their great "AWARDS" through my "RECORD" trophies.....". Indeed, there exist commercially oriented organizations predominantly recruiting their membership through offering the chance to take the biggest trophies in the world –and get them imported into their home country. This might be as it is - laudable if part of their revenue also goes into conservation programs, but does the end exculpate the means? Indeed, to give highly visible awards for the person bagging such “record” trophies without linking it to the strict adherence to fair chase principles is quite another matter. A system, which puts the man or the woman on the very top of the stage for having killed hundreds of “record-book-trophies”? Sorry, this is contra-productive to all levels of our CIC-work to promote ethical and sustainable hunting, it is neither explainable to the public nor sellable to the international conservation "industry: it severely damages the credibility of the serious hunter and fisher.
I am a realist and not a preacher. Trophy hunting is important, is a vital part of sustainable hunting, when and if it serves the benefit of the local people, activates the fight against poverty, furthers rural development and last but not least serves the conservation of wild places and wild animals. We support and highly appreciate this and love and measure the trophies obtained in our hunts. But, any trophy hunting database should honor the region and the game population from where an exceptional animal originated and should also serve wildlife management tool. One of the many CIC projects, consequently, centers on devising and establishing a system for the “certification of hunting tourism“.
By the same token we strictly adhere to a fundamental code of ethics. One of the CIC’s tasks is enhancing the credibility of hunters and fishers. The killing of drugged, half-tame, artificially “created” monster trophies in small holding pens may be legal in some places and apparently there is a market for this kind of activity. It is also apparently legal to pluck thousands of artificially raised pheasants from the skies and let the meat go to waste. But these excesses must not be called hunting. We know how to define a true hunt, a proper Fair Chase, respected traditions and we adhere to the moral obligation that harvested game must not be wasted. The CIC can and will not liaise with parasites of hunting (“Jagd-Schmarotzer”, “parasites de chasse”). My call to all of us: let’s clear the decks!
Gerhard Damm’s African Indaba is a wonderful and serious publication to get our message across. Thank you, Gerhard, in the name of the CIC, in the name of all serious hunters!