3 May 2006
New draft regulations on hunting and on threatened plant and animal species in South Africa will close the loopholes that have allowed “environmental thugs” to get away with activities like canned hunting, illegal trading and unethical breeding in the country.
The Threatened and Protected Species Regulations and the National Norms and Standards for the Regulation of the Hunting Industry – released for public comment on Tuesday – seek to control the breeding, trade, transport and hunting of threatened and protected species in the country.
Uniform system of regulation
Briefing the media at the De Wildt Cheetah and Wildlife Centre in Brits in North West province, Environmental Affairs and Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk said one of the biggest obstacles to effective conservation in the country was the lack of a national system to regulate the management and sustainable use of protected species.
“This was one of the reasons we passed the Biodiversity Act in 1994 – to empower authorities, at all levels, to better protect our natural heritage,” he said, adding: “Today we will use this legislation to address the need for better regulation of listed species.”
The drafts are to be gazetted on 5 May for public comment over the next six weeks.
“The greatest value of these documents is that they will establish, for the first time, uniform national systems that will apply the same standards across the country.”
Van Schalkwyk said measures to manage South Africa’s threatened and protected plants and animals did exist, in the form of provincial ordinances, but that there were inconsistencies among these.
End to ‘environmental thuggery’
The new regulations would clear up the current confusion and close the loopholes that allowed “environmental thugs” to get away with activities like canned hunting, illegal trading and unethical breeding.
“No longer will ‘province hopping’ allow them to escape the law,” Van Schalkwyk said. “No longer will there be any excuses for their abuse of our natural heritage, and hunting will now be permitted only to hunters registered with recognised hunting bodies.”
The draft regulations ban the so-called “intensive breeding” of listed large predators like Cheetahs, Lions, Leopards and Wild Dogs for any purposes of hunting or sale.
They also provide for the formal registration of all captive breeding facilities, nurseries, scientific institutions, sanctuaries and rehabilitation facilities.
“Existing operations will have three months from the commencement of the regulations to apply for registration,” the minister said.
Anyone who contravenes these regulations will be liable for a fine and imprisonment of up to five years – penalties that the Environmental Management Inspectors (the “Green Scorpions”) will be instructed to apply with vigour.
The government will also establish a scientific authority representing SA National Parks, the SA National Biodiversity Institute, the National Zoological Gardens and the country’s natural history museums to help regulate and restrict trade in protected species.
“In this way the monitoring and reporting on issues relating to the management of protected species will be much improved,” the minister said.
Hunting: humane methods only
On hunting, he said this would now be permitted only using humane methods, in accordance with strict “fair chase” principles, by hunters registered with recognised hunting bodies, and in terms of carefully monitored and reviewed off-take limits.
There will be no hunting on private land that borders national or provincial protected areas where fences have been dropped, unless the landowner and the management authority allow this and the environmental MEC or minister approve it.
The SA National Biodiversity Institute will also keep and maintain a National Hunting Register, detailing how many animals have been hunted, for what purpose, where, and by what method.