Donald Trump and his administration are under intense scrutiny once more as people are questioning the credentials of the members of the newly formed International Wildlife Conservation Council. Interestingly, some of the people tasked to provide advice regarding the conservation of wildlife are those who hunt them down as trophies.
The International Wildlife Conservation Council will hold its first-ever meeting on Friday, and among the members expected to be in attendance include the host of a reality TV safari hunting show, representatives from the gun industry, a controversial veterinarian, a former beauty queen, and members of big game hunters groups, one of which counts the person responsible for the death of Zimbabwe’s famed Cecil the Lion as its member, Mother Jones reported.
The council is chaired by Steven Chancellor, the coal mining tycoon and an avid supporter of Trump and the Republican Party, according to the Daily Mail. Chancellor is also a big game hunter and his lavish home in Indiana is filled with hundreds of stuffed trophy animals.
Other members of the council include Safari Club International president Paul Babaz. The SCI is an international organization made up of “hunters dedicated to protecting the freedom to hunt.” Walter Palmer, the dentist who killed Cecil the Lion, is one of its 50,000 members. Babaz is also a board member of the National Rifle Association. Two other council members are former lobbyists of the NRA.
Peter Horn, vice president of Beretta USA and co-owner of a private hunting preserve in New York, was also chosen for the council. Ivan Carter, a Zimbabwe native who is a famed hunting guide in Africa, John Jackson, ex-president of a pro-hunting group, along with two well-known American hunting guides are also part of the Trump’s International Wildlife Conservation Council.
Olivia Opre is one of four women in the Wildlife Conservation Council. Opre stars in her own reality show, Extreme Huntress. Denise Walker, another council member, was named “Huntress of the Year 2018” by the Houston Safari Club. Council member Erica Rhoad is the director of hunting policy of the NRA. Jenifer Chatfield is a zoo and wildlife veterinarian professor. Her father, John Chatfield, is accused of being involved in the exotic animal trade.
Cameron Hanes, a friend of Donald Trump Jr., hosts a hunting TV show. The Wildlife Conservation Council member once said killing elephants and other animals give them “value,” according to the Slot.
As expected, some groups and individuals expressed their discontent over the members chosen for the council. Masha Kalinina, the international trade policy specialist of Humane Society International, is one of those who are questioning the credentials of the council’s members.
“It’s embarrassing,” Kalinina said. “I just question the qualifications of each and every one of these people. Notably missing from this trophy hunting council are legitimate representatives of the conversation community with proper scientific credentials and a record of successful conservation programs.”
Kalinina also wondered why there were no wildlife law enforcement experts chosen for the council. She also threw shade at some council members when she asked why “biologists who have no financial stake in promoting trophy hunting” were not included.
U.S. Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke, himself a hunter, announced the establishment of the International Wildlife Conservation Council last year. The purpose of the council, as stated in a Department of the Interior press release dated November 8, 2017, is to give expert “advice and recommendations to the Secretary of the Interior” and to “focus on increased public awareness domestically regarding conservation, wildlife law enforcement, and economic benefits that result from U.S. citizens travelling abroad to hunt.”