Stuart A. Marks, PhD
Director of Research and Community Development
Safari Club International
November 4, 1997

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee, we appreciate the opportunity to testify before you today.

My name is Stuart Marks. I am Director of Research and Community Development for Safari Club International. I have a PhD in animal ecology and have taught anthropology. Having grown up in rural central Africa where my parents were medical missionaries, I have spent some thirty years researching community uses of wildlife and assessing community-based wildlife programs. More to the point, I am the project administrator for a successfully completed African Elephant Conservation Act Grant. Support to CAMPFIRE in Zimbabwe on behalf of SCI and have been associated with the grant since the inception of this project.

Safari Club International strongly supports S. 627, the reauthorization of the African Elephant Conservation Act. In addition, SCI supports the passage of S. 1287, the Asian Elephant Conservation Act. The money appropriated under the authorization of these two Senate bills goes to the Secretary of the Interior for the administration of fluids in support of conservation goals for a species which we all believe is important. We would like to thank Senator Jeffords for his leadership on these significant issues as well as you Mr. Chairman for holding this hearing. While SCI supports the passage of both bills, our testimony today will focus specifically on the African Elephant Conservation Act and the ways in which our organization has enhanced elephant conservation in Africa.

Currently, SCI administers two on-going African Elephant Conservation Act (AECA) grants in Tanzania. In addition, SCI has just successfully completed another grant in Zimbabwe. I begin with the Zimbabwe project for it allows us to specify concrete outcomes and goals supported under the AECA grant program and to clarify SCI's objectives for participating in these significant conservation projects.

The Zimbabwe AECA grant is for $85,000 in support of the CAMPFIRE program [CAMPFIRE stands for Communal Areas Management Programme for Indigenous Resources whose objectives and goals are determined by residents within Zimbabwe]. The total project exceeds $150,000 in costs and is collaboratively administrated by SCI in conjunction with Zimbabwe's Department of National Parks and Wildlife Management (DNP&WLM), the CAMPFIRE Association, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), and Zimbabwe Trust (ZimTrust). The project was initiated by conservation concerned citizens within the host country who in terms of skill, resources, and time contributed far more to the project than the above monetary figures indicate. So my first point is to indicate that these grants facilitate cooperative efforts among a range of host country organizations which participate together to conserve elephants and their habitats.

Secondly, by demonstrating that harvesting of small quotas of wildlife can restore and maintain an appropriate balance in biodiversity, CAMPFIRE programs demonstrate that local management of wild resources, coupled with property rights and economic incentives, do serve the interests of both human development and biodiversity conservation. CAMPFIRE programs not only provide economic incentives to tolerate and sustain wildlife, in this case particularly elephants, but also help erase the stigma of earlier colonial institutions while promoting those of rural development. The Zimbabwe AECA grant provides the means by which local communities can make their own assessments and evaluations of wild resources as they are empowered through institutions to sustain these processes. The ultimate aim of CAMPFIRE is for wildlife, including elephants, to be managed at the community level. Given the colonial and centralized past history of wildlife management, this decentralization is indeed a lofty and progressive goal. To succeed, several key elements must be in place. Notable among these elements are suitable methodologies to assess the size of the resources, the setting and monitoring for appropriate quotas, as well as other activities such as wildlife protection, habitat management and ultimately the marketing of products to pay the ``opportunity cost'' for conservation to the community. The outputs from this project are impressive: the writing, fieldtesting, and production of quota setting and teaching exercise manuals that are readily understood by villagers. The project held 13 workshops in 10 districts attended by some 363 participants. Upon returning to their respective wards and villages, these participants are expected to train a cadre of local managers to assess, set quotas, and protect wildlife habitats and populations.

SCI is an organization of conservationists who hunt. Just as sportsmen continue to pay for conservation in our own country, SCI's contributions make possible conservation and management of wildlife in many lands. In addition to the millions of dollars which our members contributed directly through the purchases of hunting licenses around the globe, we spend millions of dollars nationally and interntionally on conservation projects. At indicated by our projects under the AECA program, elephant conservation is one of our organization's primary objectives.

Unlike other African countries, elephant populations in both Zimbabwe and Tanzania, which are both hunted populations, have increased in recent years. Attention to assessing elephant populations and allowing quota offtakes from these populations (mainly bulls and rogue animals) allows for sustainable uses and support for conservation programs. That's what the two AECA grants in Tanzania are about.

The initial AECA grant in Tanzania is for $84,240 which is to help fund a basic survey of that country's elephant populations, which may turn out to be the largest in Africa. The total cost for this project is for $216,110, the balance of which, like that for Zimbabwe, is made up by resources and contributions from other donor and host organizations. This grant finds an aerial survey in three specific areas completing the collection of data which will provide a new baseline for elephant populations within Tanzania.

The second grant in Tanzania is for $36,050, with a total project costs of over $60,000. This pilot program is to train government game scouts to gather elephant information which is pinpointed geographically using a hand-held Global Position System. Once trained in this methodology, these scouts accompany safari hunting parties into the field at the expense of the. hunter and accurately record important biological information useful for conservation purposes. Donor agencies, such as GTZ and conservation organizations, have adopted this approach as a model and use it elsewhere. A second grant of $25,950 (out of total project cost of $69,200) has been allocated to increase the number of scouts trained. Besides teaching game scouts about biological parameters, they also learn about these populations from the standpoint of trophy quality (one aspect of economic importance to conservation funding). This is important because it maximizes the revenues that can be obtained from the sustained use of this natural resource, while minimizing the biological impact of the program. The revenues generated through the legal hunting of elephants are a key incentive to conservation, both at the national and local levels.

The African Elephant Conservation Act was enacted to conserve elephants. In cooperation with various conservation organizations and ministries, this program provides both means and incentives for African range nations to actively manage their natural resources including elephants. As demonstrated by these four grants administered through SCI, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is appropriately addressing the concerns of rural people and the needs of the elephant, both of which will lead to the elephants survival.