§ SIR HARRY SETON-KARR (St. Helens)
To ask the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the provisions of the International Conference, held in London in May, 1899, for the preservation of big game in Africa have now been ratified by all the Powers represented thereat; and, if not, what Powers have not done so and for what reasons; whether the provisions of the conference are now being carried out in all parts of Africa under the control of the Foreign Office, and particularly if the prohibition of the export of elephant tusks under 11 lbs. in weight is being strictly enforced, and by what means; also whether, having regard to the regulation that licensees must make a return of game killed, these returns from the date the regulation come into force can be collected from all territories in Africa under the control of the Foreign Office and presented to Parliament; and whether he can state in what game reserves in Africa officials and natives are allowed to kill game, and to what extent and under what conditions; also to what extent and at what cost the sanctity of the game reserves in Africa is enforced by game wardens, police, or otherwise.
(Answered by Lord Cranborne.) The ratifications of the Powers have not been deposited owing to the fact that in signing the Convention the French Government reserved its obligation to ratify until Abyssinia and Liberia had acceded. These Powers had been repeatedly urged to accede, but have hitherto hesitated to do so owing to their fear that they may not be able to carry out all the provisions of the Convention. Negotiations with them are still proceeding. The provisions of the Convention are now being carried out in all the Protectorates under the control of the Foreign Office by means of the game 931 regulations. These regulations forbid, amongst other things, the export of elephant tusks under 11 lbs. in weight, and it is the duty of all administrative officers of the Protectorates and of the Customs officials to see that they are strictly enforced. It was at first found impossible to collect accurate returns of the game killed under licences, but the returns for 1901–2 for the British Central Africa Protectorate were laid before Parliament in August last (No. 2872 of the Annual Series of the Diplomatic and Consular Reports); for Somaliland in April last (see Appendices in No. 2948 of the Annual Series of the Diplomatic and Consular Reports). Those for East Africa and Uganda will be laid shortly. Officials are not allowed to shoot game for the purposes of sport in any of the reserves in the Protectorates administered by the Foreign Office. It has not yet been found possible to deal with the natives in those reserves in such a way as to prevent their hunting game within them, but the importation of firearms is carefully checked and natives are not allowed to own weapons of precision as defined in the Brussels Act. As already stated, it is the duty of all administrative officials to see that the game regulations are enforced; and in the East Africa Protectorate a special officer with the title of game ranger has been appointed for the purpose at a salary of £250, with £100 for expenses. There is no other sum specially appropriated to game preservation. Observations on the preservation of game in the Soudan will be found at page 80 of Egypt, No. 1 (1903), laid before the House in April of this year.