Hosmer’s speech at the 2011 African Wildlife Consultative Forum (AWCF) held in Swaziland.
Good morning everyone. My name is Joseph Hosmer. Over the past year, you will have noticed some changes to Safari Club International Foundation, we have improved our focus to make the Foundation an institution devoted exclusively on our core missions of science based wildlife research, improving wildlife conservation education, and increasing on the ground efforts for our humanitarian work. I am quite humbled to continue serving as the President of the Safari Club International Foundation.
First, I would like to thank everyone for joining us for the 10th African Wildlife Consultative Forum. This year we have representatives from the countries of Botswana, Ethiopia, Namibia, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe; seven NGOs and scientific bodies; and representatives from seven professional hunter associations. The AWCF has grown significantly in 10 years, and we are looking forward to investing in this meeting for the next 10. We hope that throughout the coming year, you are able to discuss the importance of the AWCF with your colleagues who could not join us this year. By increasing participation annually, we can increase the effectiveness of our work improving wildlife conservation and management. However our work must continue if we are to build on our past successes.
Africa continues to face great challenges in wildlife conservation. Human population growth and consequent loss of wildlife habitats will be a continual problem – globally – but especially in Africa. This is because Africa still has much undeveloped space and unexploited natural resources that will be of greater and greater value to both wildlife and humans. More urgently, the world is begging for a solution to put an end to rhinoceros poaching and illicit trade of elephant ivory and rhinoceros horn. In the past year we have seen dramatic increases in anti-poaching and enforcement efforts, but the problems remain. Perhaps today we will have some creative ideas shared to help us find solutions to the problem.
I want to discuss with you today, and also throughout this week, how SCIF can become a resource for you, so that together, we can improve wildlife conservation in your countries and improve relations with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Over the past 10 years that we have gathered for AWCF, you have had the opportunity to work with our incredible staff; Matthew Eckert who manages SCIF’s conservation programs, our staff from the South Africa Office and George Pangeti who has always been such an asset. What many of you do not realize is that we have a larger staff working in Washington, DC; well positioned to meet with representatives of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, or with members of embassy staff. It is my hope that at the conclusion of the 10th AWCF, we can collectively agree on principles of conservation that need to be improved with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and others in Washington. Safari Club’s staff is ready to do more for conservation than we ever have in the past. We want to act not only as a partner, but more importantly, as your voice when we discuss conservation concerns with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. By agreeing upon a core set of conservation principles at this meeting, Safari Club will be more proactive to improve wildlife conservation both at home and in Africa.
We must continue to witness tangible improvements – across the continent – in wildlife management and the professional capacity of many of the people sitting in this room. We need to encourage our colleagues to attend AWCF next year. We need to inform more of our conservation partners, government officials and the general public about the incredible work that needs to be done to ensure wildlife conservation continues for future generations. I hope the cooperative spirit that lives in this Forum continues throughout this week and many years into the future.
Thank you all.