Following the recent death of Cecil the lion and a huge tusker in Zimbabwe, trophy hunting has come under considerable pressure from governments and conservation organizations. Questions have been raised about whether trophy hunters are protectors of biodiversity, as they claim, providing funds and a reason to protect wild areas, or whether they are simply killers of wild animals?
Safari Club International has a large and wealthy membership keen to counter negative publicity about trophy hunting. The agenda at the South African meeting makes it clear that they aim to convince African delegates to support trophy hunting and act as a bulwark against growing distaste among members of CITES.
The South African Government's enthusiastic support for this line of thinking, despite scientific studies which show that little money from hunting goes to communities and that killing the biggest and fittest animals, is detrimental to species, is of concern to many involved in genuine conservation.
"It is of grave concern that issues of this nature and importance are discussed at closed meetings with what appears to be predominantly pro-hunting representation," said Karen Trendler of the NGO Working Wild. "Many conservation and response organizations will be affected by the various issues being discussed, as will broader South Africa, and it would be preferable to have wider representation."