Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and international travel restrictions, the Safari Club International Foundation will now host the 18th African Wildlife Consultative Forum entirely virtual from Nov. 10-12, 2020. SCIF’s premier activity in Africa, the AWCF, brings together government officials, professional hunting associations, wildlife biologists, community-based organizations and other stakeholders annually to discuss priority wildlife conservation issues in Africa.
The event was originally scheduled for Kasane, Botswana – where the first AWCF was held in 2002 – in partnership with the Botswana Ministry of Environment, Natural Resource Conservation and Tourism. The host country’s selection was in recognition of President Masisi instituting Botswana’s sustainable use of wildlife reform, which reopened borders to tourist hunting and its sustainable benefits after a 5-year ban. Before his 2019 decision, President Masisi employed a lengthy consultation process with local communities affected by the lack of elephant management. The reformed policy has been a significant win for conservation.
Our Botswana partners will now serve in a more limited host role for this virtual format in 2020, but they have already committed to hosting the next AWCF in 2021. Despite the challenges of hosting a major event amid a global pandemic, SCIF is committed to continuing this critical event that has a significant impact on Africa.
SCIF’s virtual agenda will include an opening session with official remarks, discussions on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on wildlife conservation, livelihoods and hunting tourism, an address from the Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on trophy importation policy, and a highlighted session featuring community leaders and support organizations. Breakout sessions will cover anti-hunting legislative issues and international conventions such as CITES, and the event will also address the pressing needs in giraffe and leopard conservation.
With ongoing threats to hunting, conservation, and community wildlife management in an uncertain political climate, the AWCF is necessary now more than ever.