Banner Image: Courtesy of Michelle Riley HSUS
The Minster (Barbara Creecy), the Republic of South Africa, Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment (DFFE) has released, for public consultation, a Draft White Paper on Conservation and Sustainable Use of South Africa’s Biodiversity:
Government Notice 2252 of 2022 “South Africa’s Biodiversity 2022: Consultation on the Draft White Paper on Conservation and Sustainable Use” (“Draft White Paper”) as notified in Government Gazette, Vol. 685, No. 46687, Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment (DFFE), dated 8 July 2022
There are many positives to be taken from the Draft White Paper.
The Draft White Paper’s spirit is progressive and commendable, potentially offering a renewed relationship with animals/wildlife and sparing them from human over-exploitation and suffering. There are clear, key definitions within the Draft White Paper, providing a level of clarity that previously alluded stakeholders – a vacuum that in the past allowed abuses/interpretations to take hold and exacerbate exploitative practices.
The Draft White Paper encompasses the ethos that an individual animal’s sentience, welfare and treatment is enshrined within a legally binding future policy. However, how that ethos is applied and how wide-spread acceptance of its application may be in reality is the key.
As with any complex area of policy, there is much work to do to reach a level of unambiguous clarity, aligning the Draft White Paper’s ethos across the DFFE’s own spectrum of policies. For example, the DFFE simultaneously released “Game Meat Strategy for South Africa, 2022: Consultation on Draft,” Gazette 47024, Notice 2293 of 2022, 18 July 2022 – offering the spectre of industrial exploitation of animals/wildlife in unnatural captive environments, making it impossible to reconcile the DFFE’s Game Meat Strategy with the ethos of the DFFE’s Draft White Paper and how these two documents could emanate from the same DFFE.
The DFFE’s Game Meat Strategy has precedent, with the 2020 Animal Improvement Act (AIA) listing 32 wild animals, including lions, giraffes, white and black rhinos, lions and cheetahs, effectively rendering them farm animals subject to manipulation and consumption – there was no evidence cited in the AIA amendment that any potentially negative risks to any species had been considered when adding them to the AIA listings, in fact the government chose to ignore the advice of its own scientists.
The recent DFFE, “Draft policy position on the conservation and ecologically Sustainable Use of elephant, lion, leopard and rhinoceros” (Government Gazette, Vol. 672, No. 44776, Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE), dated 28 June 2021) also contradicts the Draft White Paper, with its perpetuation of trophy hunting of leopards for example – suggesting leopard trophy hunting should continue to be promoted within the draft policy because leopards “are an important component of international hunting packages, making such packages internationally competitive” – these are commercial arguments, not ones based on a recognisable conservation imperative (as espoused with the Draft White Paper’s ethos).
Then there are all the other spheres of government and society to align with the Draft White Paper’s ethos, not to mention the dedication and commitment it will take to champion this ethos through all barriers to its successful future implementation.
However, the Draft White Paper does offer an historical opportunity to reposition South Africa’s animal/wildlife reputation in a positive, enlightened manner – one that acknowledges that welfare, individual animals, sentience and the intrinsic value of animals/wildlife matter more than ever to the future of our planet and our own species’ survival upon that planet.
“Political parties agree — captive lion breeding must end,” Daily Maverick, 29 November 2022
“Inside South Africa’s Brutal Lion Bone Trade,” OCCRP, 26 October 2022
“Trophy hunting, game viewing both have ecological and economic pros and cons,” Daily Maverick, 7 September 2022
“Claws out — catfight looms on lion breeder exit strategy,” Daily Maverick, 6 September 2022
“New Lion Film Shocks, Informs and Reinforces Need to Ban Captive Breeding of Lions,” IFP, 5 September 2022
“End trophy hunting in South Africa, or we won’t visit your country, say tourists,” Daily Maverick, 31 August 2022
“South Africa’s new environmental policy – a positive shift or a licence to kill?” Daily Maverick, Op-Ed, 23 August 2022
“Trophy hunting puts South Africa’s tourism industry in peril,” World Animal Protection, August 2022 – “Research reveals South African citizens, international, and UK tourists want to see an end to trophy hunting.”
The key findings from the research revealed…
- 84% of international and 88% of UK tourists agreed that the South African government should prioritise wildlife-friendly tourism over trophy hunting.
- 74% of international and 79% of UK tourists agreed that making trophy hunting a key pillar of policy will damage South Africa’s reputation, and 72% (UK 77%) would be put off from visiting the country altogether.
- 7 in 10 South African citizens agree their country would be a more attractive tourist destination if they banned trophy hunting.
- Three-quarters (74%) of South African citizens agree that trophy hunting is unacceptable when wildlife-friendly tourism alternatives have not been fully utilised.
“SA in ground-breaking rethink on protection of biodiversity,” Daily Maverick, 8 July 2022
“Challenge to leopard hunting quota proof that the DFFE should change its spots,” IWB, 22 March 2022
“South Africa’s Draft Policy Position – Elephant, Lion, Leopard and Rhinoceros,” IWB, 26 July 2021
“Living with wild animals (Part Two): Eat them like there’s no tomorrow,” IWB, 8 April 2020
“Animal Farm,” IWB, 21 October 2019