Africa’s final battle to save its wildlife and its national parks
In the third essay in this series I made a statement to the effect that the integrities of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), The World-Wide Fund for Nature (WWF); and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), had degenerated so badly in recent years that they are no longer worthy of the support of honest and responsible people in society. In fact, these U.N. wildlife organisations are now such a serious deterrent to the proper and honest science-based wildlife management practices in Africa that I believe African states should withdraw all official relations with them.
Note: I say “honest science-based wildlife management practices” – because many wildlife (and other) scientists today are no longer honest to their professions. Many wildlife scientists, for example, are funded by animal rights NGOs and they now sprout raw animal rightist propaganda on radio, on television and in the press. These include scientists who have contrived responsibility for wildlife management programmes in our national parks. This says volumes about the morass into which our one time justly proud national parks and wildlife management organizations have sunk. It must also warn us that the animal rightists are using this route to gain control over wildlife management practices in Africa’s most treasured protected areas.
If a scientist’s opinions and conclusions can be swayed by money,
he is not a scientist at all, but his ‘paymaster’s puppet’.
Unfortunately, the public don’t know this. When a professor of wildlife management stands up in public and make’s wildlife management pronouncements that have no basis in fact, and which are not supported by science-based wildlife management principles, the man-in-the-street will not pick up the deception and he cannot be blamed for believing what he hears – when the man saying it is “a professor in one of the wildlife management sciences”. In this manner many incorrect statements are broadcast by “professors” or “learned doctors” and the public is duped. The general public, remember, is not imbued with great wildlife management and ecological knowledge. When people of apparent authority – like a professor or a doctor – say something (anything) the public tend to believe it; and the scientific fraternity are greatly at fault, generally, for not contesting, correcting or verifying, erroneous (or even just dubious) statements when they become controversial.
One very senior (retired) scientist in South Africa – who wrote to me out of the blue – agreed with my public criticisms of the statements made by certain professors – and he encouraged me to continue ‘the good fight’ – but, when I asked him to come out of his closet, he stated that because he was now retired he no longer wished to enter into what he knew would become a public dog fight. And I have had similar discussions with other honourable scientists. The scientific community generally, in fact, remains mum over most wildlife controversies. They neither take my side of the debate nor the other side; and they condemn nobody. So whatever has been said remains – in the public mind – FACT!
This is a major reason why the animal rightist NGOs are winning the war for the hearts and minds of society in southern Africa. It is also why the animal rightist NGOs are being integrated so easily into international wildlife organizations like the IUCN, WWF and CITES; and by national First World government organizations like the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.
It grieves me – greatly – to have made my statement (in the last – the third – article of this series) that the IUCN has fallen from grace. It grieves me because I have held that organisation in the highest esteem for such a long time. But I cannot ignore the facts; and although I have said them before, I am going to repeat them again now. I repeat it in this article because it is VITAL that people all over the world understand just WHAT has been going on inside the IUCN.
In 1980 the IUCN produced the World Conservation Strategy (WCS) – which nailed the IUCN’s colours to the mast. The WCS is/was the IUCN’s mission statement (in full measure). In 1986 The IUCN was still resolute in its determination to honour its ‘conservation of living resources’ obligation to the world – because that year it tactically eliminated the possibility of having animal rightists infiltrate the organization. It did this by introducing a new requirement in the application for IUCN membership by insisting that all new applicants endorse their support for the WCS. This was a justifiable requirement which is supported by good business management practices.
The relevant business management principle states that: an organization will fail if it harbours
members that do not work towards its mission objectives – and especially when it’s members
actively engage in activities that are designed to sabotage the attainment of those objectives.
The third objective of what the WCS called “living resource conservation” states:
To ensure the sustainable utilization of species and ecosystems (notably fish and other wildlife;
forests and grazing lands), which support millions of rural communities as well as major industries.
Note: This includes the “sustainable utilization of fish and other wildlife” for both commercial and subsistence purposes. Furthermore, the “sustainable utilization of other wildlife (wild animals)” has, since time immemorial, has been carried out by way of hunting; and the “sustainability” of hunting can only be achieved by way of condoned and controlled hunting practices. I have no idea how else the “sustainable utilization of wild animals” can be carried out other than through hunting; and hunting results in the killing of animals. This must have been clearly understood by the IUCN in 1980 when the World Conservation Strategy was promulgated.
After 1980, however – since the IUCN opened its membership doors to everybody in creation (including the animal rights brigade) – the IUCN has become virulently “anti-hunting” and it has, in the most undignified manner imaginable, hounded and embarrassed, the highest profile people in world society because they are hunters. HRH King Carlos of Spain has been figuratively whipped in public because he is a hunter. HRH Prince Charles (and the younger princes) in the British royal family have been similarly abused. And the IUCN now makes no bones about its current anti-hunting and anti-hunter opinions.
It is a general animal rights objective to stop all hunting!
If it is so antagonistic towards hunting, how then does the IUCN, expect to achieve the third objective of its “living resource conservation” ethic – when hunting is the only real “sustainable utilization” option that is capable of achieving this objective? The simple answer is that it can’t; and that means the IUCN will fail in its efforts to achieve the objectives of its mission statement (the WCS).
All this has happened SINCE the IUCN opened its membership doors to the animal rights brigade.
What better example is there than this, to vindicate the veracity of the business management principle mentioned above – that businesses and organizations will fail if their members do not all strive to attain their mission objectives? So it validates, too, my statement that the IUCN is being destroyed from within. And it clearly certifies that the animal rightists have successfully infiltrated the IUCN – which they have been trying to do since the early 1980s – and that they are now succeeding in reversing ALL those (sustainable use) provisions of the WCS of which they disapprove.
It does not require the righteousness of a cause, or a majority, to prevail – but rather a tireless
and fanatical minority keen to set brushfires in people’s minds. There is nothing “right” about
what the animal rightists are trying to achieve – the abolition of ALL animal uses by man – but
they are winning the war (for the hearts and minds of society) because their strategy has been
constant, relentless and enduring over the last 30 years and more.
It is truly a good time NOW, therefore, for all sovereign states that cherish what is “right” to abandon this now leprous ship. The IUCN is foundering – badly. It has abandoned the principles which caused its state members to join the organization in years gone by; it is abandoning the principles of its mission; and it is now just another fellow traveler of the animal rights brigade. Sadly and as much as I hate to have to admit this – because of its current prohibitionist tendencies – the IUCN it is now an impediment to the successful application of science-based and responsible wildlife management practices in Africa.
Now we can get back to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
CITES was created in 1975 for the express purpose of stopping the illegal international wildlife trade. Its purpose (then) was understandable and supportable. One of the biggest contributing factors to the illegal trade was the fact that once any kind of wildlife contraband had crossed a country’s international borders – and had entered another country – there was no way the producer-country could do anything about it. CITES, therefore, contrived to get every country in the world to work together to help stop the illegal trade. It set about this task by getting every sovereign state to join the convention and to get each member to embrace common rules of engagement.
In theory, every country in the world COULD suffer the consequences of the seemingly uncontrollable international black market in wildlife and wildlife products. It made sense, therefore, to get every sovereign state in the world to cooperate; and to subject itself to the CITES rules. Since 1975, 180 countries – from all corners of the globe – have become signatories to the convention.
In order to impose a universally applicable, and workable, set of international trade rules on every member of the convention – equally – it was deemed necessary for every signatory (every sovereign state member) to surrender its sovereign right to trade in its own wildlife, and in its own wildlife products. The responsibility for controlling the international trade in those commodities, thereafter, devolved to the convention. This did not mean these countries could not trade in their own wildlife and wildlife products. It meant that they could only do so under a strict CITES permit system.
The items comprising the international wildlife trade, therefore, could not legally travel from one international destination to another, without complying FULLY with the CITES permit system. Any wildlife, or the products of wildlife, therefore, that did not travel with CITES certification, was considered illegal and it could be seized by the authorities of the country where it was intercepted.
On the surface, this system was deemed to be workable and acceptable to the signatories – who readily handed over, to the convention, their sovereign rights to trade in their own wildlife and wildlife products. They did this in the spirit of international cooperation and for the good of all concerned – and because they really believed that CITES would bring the illegal international wildlife trade to its knees.
The ‘parties’ or ‘signatories’ to the convention also agreed to abide by majority decisions made by the official delegates during the “conferences of the parties” (CoPs) – which were initially scheduled to take place every two years. They now take place every three years!
Each sovereign state is given ONE vote – which its delegate casts when called upon to do so by the CITES secretariat. Each conference lasts two weeks during which time every item on the agenda is thoroughly debated. Items – such as South Africa’s recent request to trade in rhino horn – are placed on the agenda by the sovereign states well before each CoP. Voting determines the consensus opinion of the delegates present, on each and every issue on the agenda.
It is important to understand that when they signed to join CITES, the sovereign state agreed to abide by the consensus decisions made by the majority.
In retrospect, it has now been realised there was great naiveté in the whole CITES concept; and the return that many sovereign states have received from CITES – for passing on to CITES their sovereign rights to trade in wildlife and wildlife products – has NOT be handled honourably or responsibly. And it has left many countries doubting the wisdom of them signing the CITES accord in the first place.
One of the principal problems about CITES is the fact that many (the majority) of the current 180 delegates know nothing at all about most of the animals and/or plants they are required to vote upon – and even less about the complex issues of their individual proper management. How any intelligent person can believe that such people can make honest, responsible and pertinent decisions about the management needs of ANY such species is beyond my comprehension. Compounding this bewildering state of affairs is the very serious fact that the decisions these people make are often crucial to the continued existence of the species, vital to rural human communities that depend upon them for survival, and fundamental to the country’s economy. Furthermore, no CITES delegate has any accountability for bad decisions that he and his colleagues might make! It matters to them not at all, and it will affect them even less if their decision causes the extinction of the species concerned. Nevertheless, these unqualified arbiters of the world’s valuable wildlife resources continue to be entrusted with making these life-or-death decisions.
But there is more……
The CITES Secretariat – the senior and permanent office bearers who administer the convention in all its dimensions – and who guide the delegates in their deliberations – are well aware of the convention’s deficiencies in this regard. So they contrive – at every conference of the parties – to supply information sheets to the official delegates concerning the subject(s) on the agenda. This, however, is a pious gesture of little consequence because the decisions that have to be made really must be based on a deep insight into, and thorough knowledge about, the complexities of the subjects on the agenda. This is not an easy matter to resolve because most delegates do NOT have the necessary knowledge or the passion.
Understanding this, too, and in order to fill this gap, the secretariat – in its wisdom (or lack of it) – invited every Tom, Dick and Harry NGO to accredit themselves to CITES; and to make their knowledge and their expertise available to ‘inform’ the uninformed delegates. All that is required to achieve accreditation is that the NGO be registered as an NGO in their home country – in some discipline concerning wildlife and its management. The only difference between the official delegate and the NGO delegate is that the official delegate commands a vote; and that the accredited NGOs have NO vote.
Many (most) of these accredited NGOs are animal rightist in orientation. It is their purpose, therefore, to ABOLISH man’s use of animals in every dimension – including trade. One must, therefore, question the reason why they ever joined CITES – which is a United Nations sponsored organization that is designed to REGULATE the wildlife trade.
Accredited NGOs are able to participate in every capacity enjoyed by the official delegates. So they have FULL access, 24/7, to every official delegate that attends every conference. They may continue to have no “voting power”, therefore, but they now have HUGE “persuasion power”. The animal rightists NGO’s, of course, are delighted with this official access to the entire world’s wildlife-trade decision-making body. And, over the years, CITES has developed into the most powerful weapon in the animal rightists’ arsenal.
The NGO’s now wine and dine the official delegates at every CoP. They take them on booze-cruise expeditions – wherever such are available. And they pay them huge outright bribes – to get them to vote on particular issues the way the NGO prescribes. Certain delegates have had ALL their expenses paid for, at every CoP, by their NGO friends. And those who have no particular interest in a subject make the NGO’s acquisition of their votes relatively easy.
Last year, in a video interview, Marco Pani, a former member of the CITES secretariat, had this to say about the convention:
“CITES is a treaty to regulate international trade in wildlife; but from regulation, now we have a
trend in recent years, that is going into prohibition. And this is not really helping some African
countries which are very much devoting their efforts into proper management of elephants.
“The recent trends in the international arena, has been mainly based on law enforcement and a
reduction in the supply of ivory (as a commodity into the trade), world-wide.
“But at a certain point the convention has lost part of its mandate – which was (originally) the
proper regulation of true sustainable (wildlife) utilization.
“(At CITES) the word ‘utilization’ has, unfortunately, almost disappeared.”
Because it now harbours the enemy, CITES is now doomed,
This is a sad synoptic reflection of what I have been predicting for CITES since 1989 – when the elephant was declared an ‘endangered species’ and the international ivory trade ban was instituted. And, in 1975, the convention had held so much promise! The causes of the changes that happened in CITES are – except for differences in application and execution – just the same as those which resulted in the erosion of the integrity of the IUCN… infiltration by the animal rights brigade! In both cases U.N. sponsored international organizations that once advocated, promoted and regulated the sustainable use of living resources for the benefit of mankind, have been corrupted – and they have both now started promoting, instead, the animal rights doctrine. And many WWF offices – some more than others – have been spouting animal rights propaganda for an even longer period of time.
In 1989 the accredited animal rightists NGOs at CITES – notably the British-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) – contrived, with the help of a well-primed press, to have Eugene Lapointe fired – for exceeding his authority. In 1989 Lapointe was the very pro-sustainable-use-of-wildlife Secretary General of CITES. The EIA succeeded – but it was a pyrrhic victory. Their subterfuge was exposed and, two years down the road, Lapointe was vindicated by the United Nations. Nevertheless, he lost his much treasured job.
This little story is a warning not to take the power and the determination of the animal rightists lightly. They are formidable opponents and they will penetrate every chink in our armour.
A friend of mine recently suggested that because the animal rightists are “with us” and are, seemingly, “here to stay” that we should accommodate them within society. That would be suicidal for our wildlife. Animal rightists are a destructive force in the world today – working against many civilized standards – and they need to be seriously marginalized if wildlife is to progress with mankind into posterity. I reminded my friend that paedophiles have been “with” mankind since time began so, “because they are seemingly here to stay” does that mean we must accommodate them in society, too. I don’t think so! We will probably never eliminate the animal rightists but, overtime, we might be able to push them underground; and that would be better than doing nothing at all.
At the moment the animal rightists are winning. Why? Because: “Evil succeeds wherever good men do nothing!” And that is exactly what is happening in southern Africa: “Good Men are doing NOTHING!”
There is a lot more to come!
Publised in AFRICAN OUTFITTER magazine 2015