George Aman at the top of the CIC – Exclusive interview with George Aman by Markus P. Stähli from Jagd & Natur
14 July 2016

The original interview is published in Jagd & Natur July 2016 edition

You have been involved with the CIC for decades and have served in several different bodies and functions in this organization throughout this time. What is your motivation to continue actively working for the CIC?

I am now 62 and have learned a lot through my hunting activities and observations of nature. I have personally benefitted enormously from these experiences. It is about time that I give something back to hunting. I am sure many of you hunters and huntresses, who had the same privilege of taking your children out for a hunt in their early ages, experienced the development of a deep and indelible bond with nature. To preserve this bond, and to ensure that future generations have the chance to have the same, it is essential that we fight for it.

In 2009, when I resigned from being the Treasurer of the CIC, my father, who was also an enthusiastic CIC member and Head of the Swiss Delegation, told me: “Please do not forget—despite the many tasks you have—the CIC.” This was also a motivation for me to uphold this tradition of serving the CIC.

In the past, the CIC was cynically described as the association of bankers and aristocrats and was considered a gentlemen’s club. What does the CIC look like today?

The world has changed enormously since the foundation of the CIC in 1928. Our standards and values are not the same anymore. In the past, hunting had an undisputed place in society. Today, the picture has changed drastically and with this the CIC has as well in its tasks and composition.

What are the most important projects for the CIC and for you?

The CIC has developed four strategic priorities, which cover all aspects of hunting: to combat wildlife crime, promote the conservation of wild flora and fauna, partner with international organizations, and sustain our global cultural heritage. One important element of this is the gathering and target-oriented cooperation with those likeminded stakeholders who are confronted with the same, or similar, issues as hunting faces; the first coming to my mind being those from the fishing community and friends of dogs and horses.

Time after time we are confronted with political approaches which we need to address with determination. Most often these are based on ideology or emotions and are missing any scientific background. Without our timely interventions these approaches may have had detrimental, long-term consequences for hunting. Some current key words to underline: trophy import bans and embargos by different airlines and transport companies on the transport of trophies.

Since the 2004 IUCN World Conservation Congress in Bangkok and the Addis Ababa Principles and Guidelines, hunting has been officially acknowledged as part of nature conservation. Is the CIC acknowledged by the big conservation NGOs as well?

The CIC is already known and renowned in the field of international conservation. We have been a member of IUCN for many years. The IUCN with its 1 500 member organizations and approximately 17 000 scientists and other experts is the global umbrella organization of all conservation institutions and is trend-setting for worldwide conservation policy. Through IUCN we can discuss and jointly decide with many NGOs on a partnership basis. The purely ideological animal rights organizations know us and take us seriously as their “opponents”.

Lately, Botswana has forbidden trophy hunting. This has devastating consequences for local communities and wildlife. What are these?

Botswana is the only African country, which has issued a general hunting ban. This was mainly fueled by the anti-hunting president with very active anti-hunting NGOs which operate internationally in the background. In the past, hunting in Botswana was sustainable and beneficial to nature, which is underlined by sound expert opinions. To protect their livestock, local people shot and poisoned far more lions than were previously legally taken by hunters. Furthermore, many poor communities profited from hunting. These incomes are missing today and thus there are fewer incentives to protect wildlife. The hunting ban also hinders the San people (Bushmen) in continuing their traditional subsistence hunting. This ban, therefore, contributes to further destroying the culture and the identity of these people. The long-term effects of a hunting ban can be seen in Kenya where hunting was banned in 1978. Their wildlife populations have decreased by 80% since then. Not really a success story!

What financial resources does the CIC have, to achieve something at the local level?

As President, it is also my task to find new ways of financing the work of the CIC. Our courageous plans need more resources than have been provided by our income to date. The willingness of the hunting community to put some money on the table for our goals leaves a lot to be desired. If every hunter and huntress in the world gave just one euro to the CIC per year, we would have 30 million euros available annually, which we could reasonably and effectively invest in the conservation of wildlife and hunting. However, would hunters and huntresses worldwide be willing to invest one euro, dollar, etc. per year for our important common goals?

The CIC is not yet represented in all countries of the world. Where does the CIC want to get additional influence in the coming years?

Though we have many contacts established on all continents, we need to concentrate on the countries in which hunting plays a crucial role. Africa is an extremely important continent for this, where uncountable sums are put into anti-hunting propaganda through opposing organizations. The CIC must be at the forefront of this battle! At our latest General Assembly in Brussels we have shown how important it is to open the lines of communication and gather our sometimes rather undiscerning European politicians with ministers and state representatives from Africa.

In Asia, hunting plays a less important role nowadays; however, we would like to contribute to a possible re-opening of regulated hunting in China. We have received several requests for assistance from Central Asia where sustainable hunting schemes will be established with direct involvement of local communities. The same is true for the Americas, where we are working on extending our membership basis. We also plan to intensify our activities in Australia and New Zealand.

In 2017 the CIC General Assembly will be held in Montreux. What are your expectations regarding this event?

We are counting on having 500 members and guests in Montreux. The motto of next year’s event “In Harmony with Wildlife – Urban and Rural Perceptions” has great importance today, and I am hoping to see many interesting and also controversial discussions taking place.