From World Conservation Force Bulletin, by John J. Jackson, III – May 2018 issue
The Secretary of Interior’s International Wildlife Conservation Council has been formalized and has held its first meeting. The meeting was held on March 17, 2018 in the penthouse atop of the Department of Interior Building.
Secretary Ryan Zinke treated the 16 members to beverages in his office the day before the first meeting and even lead a personal tour of the of the Lincoln Memorial including its little-known basement. The irony of that tour for me was that this was the very location that Martin Luther King delivered his famous I Have a Dream speech to 250,000 people (see photo). I had taken those words from Dr. King’s speech at the First Eco-World Congress in South Africa at its opening plenary in 1996 to explain my personal feelings for Africa. I addressed those at the Eco-World Congress that I had a dream that the growth in big game hunting in America would spill over into Africa to save its wild places, wildlife and benefit its people. I made a whole presentation around that dream. Believe me; the speech was from the bottom of my heart, 22 years ago. It struck me to be fitting to come across the very place Dr. King’s speech was made. Indeed, I have had a real dream not yet realized. Hopefully, the IWCC can bring the dream closer to reality.
The 16 members selected by the Secretary are well known to the hunting-conservation community. The sixteen are Jenifer Chatfield, Paul Babaz, Ivan Carter, Steven Chancellor, Cameron Hames, Peter Horn, Chris Hudson, Mike Ingram, John J. Jackson, III (yes, that is me), Gary Kania, Terry Maple, Keith Mark, Olivia Opre, Erica Rhoade and Denise Welker. The members have in turn selected Congressman Bill Brewster as Chair, and he in turn created three initial subcommittees. Those three are the Conservation, Policy, and the Trafficking/Poaching/Communities committees chaired by Denise Welker, Chris Hudson and Ivan Carter, respectively.
Little business was conducted at the first meeting outside of the necessary administrative matters to get started. It is an advisory committee to advise the Secretary of Interior so it is subject to a host of transparency laws and regulations to prevent secret deal making. The members did discuss the plight of Tanzania wildlife and people arising from the apparent collapse of the safari industry due to import permit delays and denials, but only for an expression of the urgency to get to work as a functional working council. The sub-committee meetings are starting in mid-April and will be reported on at the next public meeting in May or June, not yet set at this writing.
There was an unusual number of media representatives present, 20, but little of interest for them. They generally misunderstand the SCI/NRA litigation and are so eager to report negatively on President Trump that they are blinded to the fact that it is a court decision, not a decision by the president. Moreover, the decision of the court and the Administration’s compliance was to invalidate the positive findings that underlie elephant imports like those from South Africa and Namibia, but it also invalidated the October and November positive enhancement findings for lion and elephant for Zambia and Zimbabwe imports.
Ultimately the Council’s activism will be reported on its website at: https://www.facadatabase.gov/committee/committee.aspx?cid=2636. It provides a forum to advise the Secretary on how to get international hunting back on track and to ensure safari hunting is recognized for the essential conservation role it plays and the ecosystem services it provides.