Endangered Species Day 21st May 2021

The EMS Foundation will be making a series of statements, the content of which is in the public’s interest. We are focusing our attention on the conservation of South Africa’s wildlife, especially with regard to the essence of the decision making processes.


Exquisitely beautiful and elusive, leopards unsurprisingly form part of South Africa’s so-called iconic ‘Big Five’, yet their current conservation status is a population in persistent decline[1] and, alarmingly, they are extinct in 67% of South Africa[2].  

According to peer-reviewed research papers human-mediated leopard mortality is widespread, especially amongst private agricultural and wildlife ranches in South Africa. Climate change, trophy hunting, illegal hunting, killing for skins,’ legal destruction’, revenge killings, by-catch from snares for the bush meat trade and lack of adequate protection from government, are pushing leopards in South Africa to the brink of extinction.  Moreover, unreported and illegal killing of wildlife is widespread across southern Africa and therefore also extremely pertinent. 

Nonetheless, it appears that the Department of Fisheries, Forestry and Environment (DFFE) is attempting to appease the powerful hunting lobby by steamrolling through a trade and trophy hunting agenda of leopards without adequate scientific evidence. 




Open Letter

Minister Barbara Creecy, Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, PPCEFF Members, Fundisile Mketeni CEO SanParks, SH Makhubele LEDET, Jared Goodman PETA and Senator Henry Stern

Thursday 6th August 2020

The EMS Foundation and Ban Animal Trading (BAT), are registered Non-profit Organisations concerned, among other things, with the protection of wild animals. The EMS Foundation is a South African based social justice NGO with the purpose of achieving lasting solutions, alleviating and ending suffering, raising public awareness and providing dignity through supporting and sustaining humane solutions, interventions and research for the protection of children, the Aged and wild animals. BAT aim is to end animal exploitation through facilitating positive and meaningful change, recognising that change is incremental, and created through awareness and education and legislative enactment.

On Monday 3rd August 2020, the Daily Mail newspaper with a readership of over 2.3 million people in the United Kingdom published an article with images and a video which were supplied by the organisation called People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). The article is about a Californian trophy hunter called Aaron Raby who, on 5th December 2019, killed an elephant in the Balule Nature Reserve in the Associated Private Nature Reserves (APNR) which adjoins the Kruger National Park in South Africa.

Wild animals that are protected in the KNP, but then move across imaginary borders and are part of the National Estate and South Africa’s national heritage, are being hunted for profit by private entities.

Currently there is a strong public perception―locally and internationally―that hunting is not being properly regulated within the Greater Kruger National Park area, particularly in the APNR.

Trophy hunting reinforces deep apartheid era social and racial inequalities in Africa. The foundational values of the Constitution include dignity, equality and freedom. There is a growing body of research and resources that incorporate these values and the achievement thereof, together with an ethos of respect for nonhuman animals.

We note that recent research shows, for instance, the highly racialised and discriminatory practices in the hunting industry as well as the exploitation of poor black workers who often have to deal with wild animals with very little safety and minimal pay.

Currently, around the world, thousands of people are calling for an end to racial injustice, inequity and oppression. The current government approach has really been a continuation of the colonial attitude to the environment as well as the ethos inculcated by the apartheid government. The wildlife sector in South Africa is an example of anti-constitutional values, with blatant inequality in the ownership and management of wild animals, wildlife operations and land on which these animals live and are utilised. It is clear that there is an interlinkage between the oppression of nonhuman animals and human animals and this is a subject which is increasingly being developed and has come to the fore during the COVID-19 pandemic. The answer is not to widen the oppression of non-human animals but to end it and change the relationship between humans and non-humans.


Image Credit: PETA

© 2020 EMS Foundation. All rights reserved.




WRITTEN BY: Jared Kukura

Dare to criticize the opinions of those promoting the exploitation of wildlife for economic benefit, and you will likely find yourself engulfed in frivolous drama that takes away from the real issues facing conservation. Craig Packer, and many others, know this all too well.

Packer was once Tanzania’s leading lion conservationist with decades of research experience. That is until he was banned from the country for his outspoken criticism of the trophy hunting industry. His criticism was well supported though, his studies showed that trophy hunting was the leading cause of declining lion numbers in his areas of study.

Subsequent research confirmed Packer’s studies and noted lion numbers declined most in areas with short-term hunting leases. The short-term leases were both the most unsustainable and the most profitable for the government (surprise, surprise). Additional research also suggested Tanzania’s policies failed to adequately protect habitat and reduce illegal harvest of other species, leading to continual declines in wildlife numbers.

But, conveniently for Tanzania, trophy hunting is largely portrayed in a positive light when it comes to conserving the country’s wildlife. Trophy hunting, proponents state, protects more land than any other industry and creates economic benefits for rural communities. However, the difference in perspective has less to do with the promotion of trophy hunting’s positives and more to do with the silencing of trophy hunting’s negatives.

Criticism of the trophy hunting industry and Packer’s dismissal, while dramatic, failed to spur changes in Tanzania’s conservation policies. This happens all too often in conservation but it cannot happen now with the wildlife trade considering the implications of the COVID_19 pandemic. The debate over whether we should ban the wildlife trade can be dramatic. But we must ensure the debate goes not detract us from acting and transforming conservation to benefit humans and wildlife.

We are in the midst of a global pandemic likely caused by a virus jumping from wildlife to humans. To date, COVID-19 has killed more than 240,000 people and has ramifications beyond an increasing death toll. Global poverty is expected to rise for the first time in decades because of mandated shutdowns aimed at stopping the spread of the virus.



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