Amongst us in the Safari Hunting fraternity there lies an army more powerful, more dedicated and plenty more experienced to carry out the very essentials of conservation, than any other resource or group. We are not scientists, we don't have fancy PHD's and accolades of honor in the great conservation halls. We don't plaster our achievements in newspapers and social media and shy away from the limelight and accusations, the frothing haters of our tradition.
Day in and day out we protect those parts of rural Africa where safari hunting is a designated tool aimed at stopping biodiversity destruction. These are age old reserves declared by governments as multiple use zones with one concern in mind - stop human encroachment by providing an alternative source of income to the traditional methods of poaching, logging and slash and burn agriculture. This is fact - more habitat in Africa is protected under the system of Safari Hunting than any other form of conservation - we cannot escape this and need to look at the system critically because in some cases it does not work anymore.
It so happens that trophy hunting has proven to be a low impact high yield method of ensuring this purpose (as opposed to photographic or Eco tourism) - allowing communities and governments to benefit. However in many cases an over reliance on safari hunting as the sole source of revenue has seen African governments over utilizing their resource regardless of conservation principals. More often than not these hunting zones are corruptly allocated to operators who do not hold the same ethical and moral commitment many of the older more experienced safari operators and professional hunters hold.
To be sure, to truly hold the protection of a piece of Africa as priority, you need to have grown up in it, you need to have played and fondled in it and it needs to be part of your soul and very existence - there are not many professional hunters or operators who can say that with authority!
"If I didn't have to kill the animals in my government enforced hunting zone, but rather receive the funds that trophy hunting provides, from another source, I'd give up trophy hunting today and dedicate my time to anti poaching, habitat protection and community welfare - I bet many professional hunters and safari operators would rather do this"
Land for Lions is a SafariBwana initiative - based upon a lifetime of living in the Zambian wilderness and interacting with Lions and all other creatures in close proximity.
First off, I have spent the majority of my adult life as an active and well known Professional Hunter operating under the name Safaribwana llc. Through this I have been afforded the opportunity to witness and experience a great deal more than the average scientist or PHD working with one species in one area of Africa. I hold no science based education yet my hands on experience over 3 decades is unquestionable and valuable.
In Zambia I have lived in most of the protected areas for extended periods of time, I know the people and the officials throughout the country and I know the problems each area faces and the solutions that are needed to allow an acceptance of conservation principals - over an extended period of time.
In addition I have traveled through much of South Africa, Namibia and Botswana over the last 25 years. In 2012 I set up a hunting conservancy outside of Tete in Mozambique and operated safaris and Coutada management in the wild Niassa reserve area. The Pembi Conservancy near Tete still operates today and is one of our long term focal areas.
Perhaps my strongest asset is that of being involved in the safari hunting industry as an independent operator making use of the many different hunting areas and seeing the failures and successes from a third party position - calling for a qualified and direct approach to solutions.
The decision to re examine the role of the Safari Hunting system in Zambia (and elsewhere) has been a pressing issue on my agenda for many years and now that we are facing dwindling resources in much of Africa it is necessary to redesign and adopt new measures for the GMA protected area systems in Zambia.
A precedent and possible way forward exists in the large privately owned UNFENCED game ranches and conservancies which lie close to the GMA's and National Parks and their success is already in practice and proven. Yet forces unique to the African environment of business, politics and tribalism prevent the logical and necessary transition to a secured future for biodiversity enhancement.
To be sure, one of the most pressing issues facing the future of Zambia's wilderness is the exclusion of the local people and their benefit from the land they rely upon. Public Private Partnerships are the solution to enhanced wilderness protection and the model of community based management and decision making over their resources is the way forward and one solution to more habitat and wildlife protection.
We are devoted to preserving nature and the diversity of life on Earth, mitigating the consequences of pollution, and preventing environmental degradation. To achieve these aims, we work with the community to provide environmental information, attract the public's attention, and raise funds to organize activities addressing various environmental issues.