Marginalizing the Successful!
02 November 2017

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The UN Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) held its Conference of Parties (COP) in Manila, Philippines last week. Themes relevant for hunting, such as lead in ammunition, the illegal killing of birds and a number of species listing proposals were of immediate interest to the hunting community. The CMS convention is growing in importance, yet there are issues of its competence to be clarified. The hunting community is well advised to closely follow developments.

The hammer of the Chairman of the COP of CMS banged on the table the last time in Manila, Philippines on Saturday the 28th of October 2017. More than 1,000 delegates from 129 countries had discussed and negotiated for 8 days with associated set-backs and successes. The sustainable use community was represented next to the CIC as intergovernmental observer organization of the Convention by international and national NGO colleagues from the International Association for Falconry and Conservation of Birds of Prey (IAF), from the US (Safari Club International, Safari Club Foundation, the US Association of Fish and Wildlife Services), from Europe (by the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC), the Swedish Hunters’ Association and the European Federation of Associations for Hunting and Conservation (FACE)). Furthermore, colleagues from the Association of European Manufacturers of Sporting Ammunition (AFEMS) and from the US based Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers Institute (SAAMI), who followed and the debates and lobbied participants on wildlife poisoning issues dealing also with lead in ammunition.

The CIC was honored to be invited to participate in a high-level panel discussion at the beginning of the COP along with Ministers, executives of international conventions and organizations and celebrities serving as UN Goodwill Ambassadors. The discussion was related to the question on how CMS and its work can be contributing to the achievements of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

September 25th 2015, countries adopted a set of goals to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all as part of a new sustainable development agenda. Each goal has specific targets to be achieved over the next 15 years.

For the goals to be reached, everyone needs to do their part: governments, the private sector, civil society as us in the CIC. In this context, it is recommended for the CIC to elaborate the linkage between the activities of its members and as their umbrella with the different SDGs. Hereby, the “SDG Wedding Cake” of the Stockholm Resilience Institute could be of assistance as a tool.

Of interest to the hunting community were the subjects discussed of

a, illegal killing, taking and trade of migratory birds

A first Meeting of the Intergovernmental Task Force on “Illegal Killing, Taking and Trade of Migratory Birds in the Mediterranean (MIKT)  took place in 2016. The illegal killing, taking and trade of migratory birds is recognized as a global problem, but work focusses on the Mediterranean as a region where this activity is especially acute and needs a proactive approach to find solutions that can help to prevent or minimize it. The hunting community will have to actively participate as recognized important stakeholder in the work of the task force as to demonstrate its important role in combatting the illegal killing, taking and trade of migratory bird species.

b, prevention of bird poisoning, latter in relation to lead in hunting ammunition.


The EU suggested to enlarge the already existing working group on poisoning with a sub-group specifically addressing lead poisoning. The Parties of the Convention agreed after discussions in the working groups to support the creation of a Lead Task Group, which will be a subgroup of existing CMS Preventing Poisoning Working Group with the aim to share knowledge and information, contribute to education and public awareness raising in order to minimize poisoning of migratory birds from anthropogenic environmental sources of lead, prioritizing lead in ammunition and fishing weights. The hunting community needs to find a solution to closely follow the developments in this Lead Task Group, through appropriate representation in the new Lead Task Group.

c, CMS Annex II listing proposals on Lion (Panthera leo), Leopard (panther pardus), Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis).

The process of dealing with these three species was all the same. The proposals were submitted by selected African or Near Eastern states (Lion: Togo, Chad , Niger; Leopard: Iran, Ghana, Kenya, Saudi Arabia; Giraffe: Angola and then supported by mostly other African States, including Senegal, Gambia, Liberia, Burkina Faso, Cap Verde and Animal Welfare NGOs. It is interesting to note that the EU supported all listing proposals of the CMS COP 12 in principle and announced this relatively early in the course of discussions and negotiations.

In the case of the lion, leopard and the giraffe proposals, always the same 4 countries opposed the proposal: Zimbabwe, South Africa, Uganda and Tanzania. It is interesting to remark that these 4 countries are the ones, where the populations of the species in question can or is even growing. The 4 opposing countries each time exclaimed what also the CIC lamented in its statements, that the lion, the leopard and the giraffe are not migratory species per definition and that the populations of these species are in favorable conservation status in their countries. Hence these listing proposals were not applicable to their countries. However, their opposition was interpreted by the COP as an attempt to block the listing proposals, whereas South Africa e.g. clearly offered not to block the proposal and to foster cooperation between the range states, however, asking for the exclusions of their populations from the listing. In the end, the COP for the first time in the history of the “Friendly CMS Family” chose the instrument of voting instead of consensus building. In the vote, the opposing countries were defeated heavily with some few countries abstaining. As Bradnee Chambers, the CMS Executive Secretary said mutatis mutandis in the closing ceremony: “A little democracy does good to the Convention”. For hunting, the listings have no direct consequences, but is there a hidden agenda?

 It is hoped that the well -funded actions programs on the conservation of the three iconic species now hopefully following the listings under CMS are not excluding those countries, which opposed the listing for their countries. It would be only logical to use the lessons learned from successful conservation models of Southern African nations to be applied also by other range states, which were less successful in their conservation efforts.

To have the successful nations Tanzania, South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe leaving the COP with the feeling of having been marginalized, will not serve conservation of wildlife and continues to create a divide between African nations themselves.


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