The elected officials of California State Assembly’s Water, Parks, and Wildlife Committee approved SB 1175, a bill that would ban the possession and importation of thirteen species of African game animals. In doing so, the committee willfully ignores the overwhelming scientific evidence that confirms that legal, regulated hunting is an irreplaceable component of any effective African wildlife conservation plan.

Safari Club International has steadfastly opposed this legislation at every turn and has done so hand-in-hand with African wildlife officials such as Maxi Louis of Namibia and George Pangeti of Zimbabwe, who see SB 1175 as an existential threat to the wildlife species they have committed their lives to conserving.

Maxi Louis, the Director of the Namibian Association of Community Based Natural Resource Management Support Organizations (NACSO), testified in front of the committee today in order to communicate the ways in which Namibia communities rely on sustainable hunting as part of a larger conservation effort that protects animal species health and wildlife habitat, while also supporting local jobs and livelihoods.

“Conservation hunting protects large habitats that can be otherwise used for agriculture of not deriving livelihoods from their farmlands,” said Louis. “Namibia is one of the driest countries in sub-Saharan Africa and badly affected by drought due to climate change. Wildlife conservation is proven to be one of the best resilient and adaptation tools that are currently used by rural communities in the semi-desert areas.”

George Pangeti, the former Deputy Director of Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority,  also testified today and urged the committee to consider the assessment of African conservationists more seriously, who have clearly explained why this proposed legislation is detrimental to conservation and sustainable management of wildlife in Zimbabwe and surrounding regions.

“Revenues from hunting on state land are used to fund conservation programs and administrative services for the Wildlife Agency,” said Pangeti. “At all times, there is constant communication with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to ensure that there is compliance with the CITES regulations, the Endangered Species Act of U.S. and local Zimbabwe legislation governing trophy hunting. My plea is that such a big state like California should not be party to the reversal of good wildlife management practices and benefits that have been established so far at great cost.”

SCI CEO W. Laird Hamberlin commented on the committee’s decision to ignore conservation science, saying, “I continue to be disappointed by California’s elected officials who support SB 1175, even when expert conservationists from Africa have clearly demonstrated how the legislation will have the opposite of its intended effect. As this bill goes onto the next step in the legislative process, I hope that other members of the California General Assembly will take what Mr. Pangeti and Ms. Louis have said here today to heart and stand up for African wildlife conservation efforts by voting ‘no.'”