DEPARTMENT FORESTRY, FISHERIES AND THE ENVIRONMENT

COMMERCIAL ZOOS – LOCKING UP CITES POTENTIAL TO BAN THE COMMERCIAL TRADE IN CRITICALLY ENDANGERED SPECIES

This document is written by the EMS Foundation with the acknowledgement of the investigative findings of Mr Karl Ammann

19th MEETING OF CONFERENCE OF THE PARTIES TO THE CONVENTION ON INTERNATIONAL TRADE IN ENDANGERED SPECIES OF WILD FAUNA AND FLORA (CITES CoP19)

Introduction

There is a huge glaring loophole in CITES. A loophole so big that the very intention of CITES can be undermined with no more that the use of of one letter.

The intention of CITES has always been to ensure that the trade in endangered species is tightly regulated, including a requirement that critically endangered species cannot be traded for commercial purposes. Despite this clear intention, commercial trade in critically endangered animas continue by simply eternising purées code Z (which applies to zoos), rather than purpose code T (which applies to commercial transactions).

In practise it does seem to matter if the zoo in question is unable to provide any conservation benefits or even meet minimal welfare requirements, nor does it matter if the trade to this so-called zoo has huge commercial value. Countless examples have shown that by simply proclaiming the transaction to be zoo purposes, a commercial enterprise and transaction is able to escape from CITES most fundamental safeguard.

Full Document:

Image Credit: Export of African elephants from Zimbabwe to the UAE https://m.facebook.com

Image Credit: https://cites.org/

©The EMS Foundation 2022. All Rights Reserved.

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HUNTING FOR ANSWERS

IS THE SLAVISH SUPPORT FOR THE HUNTING INDUSTRY INTERFERING WITH DUE PROCESS AND BALANCED STAKEHOLDER ENGAGEMENT IN SOUTH AFRICA?

A PUBLIC STATEMENT 25TH OF MAY 2022

CONTEXT

The 19th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (CoP19) to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), will take place in Panama City, Panama between the 14th and 25th of November 2022. 

South Africa has made a formal declaration that it will be bound by the provisions of CITES, thus South Africa is called a Party to CITES currently there are 184 Parties. The deadline for Parties to the Convention to submit documents and amendment proposals is the 17th of June 2022.  

THE SADC BLOC’S RECKLESS SUPPORT FOR THE TROPHY HUNTING INDUSTRY AND WILDLIFE TRADERS

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) is a Regional Economic Community comprising 16 Member States.  Zimbabwe announced last week that it wanted to sell off its ivory stockpile and voiced its frustration at not being allowed to export live elephants to zoos in China or the United Arab Emirates. Namibia recently exported twenty elephants to zoos in the United Arab Emirates in a commercial transaction and has also expressed an interest in selling stockpiles of what, in rhetorical and loaded language, it refers to as “valuable wildlife products”.  The value of Zimbabwe and Namibia’s ivory stockpiles have been grossly overstatedBotswana has been condemned for lifting the ban on the hunting of elephants, has also expressed its desire for the CITES ban on the sale of ivory to be lifted. 

TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT

South African government and hunting industry representatives attending the November 2019 African Wildlife Consultative Forum meeting at Victoria Falls sponsored by Safari Club International.  

The African Wildlife Consultative Forum (AWCF)  is  a signature programme of the Safari Club InternationalFoundation.  According to the SCI Foundation website AWCF brings together senior government officials, professional hunting association leadership, international policy experts to tackle sustainable use issues. 

THE HIGH COURT SUSPENDS SOUTH AFRICA’S TROPHY HUNTING QUOTA FOR BLACK RHINO, LEOPARDS AND ELEPHANTS 

In May 2022, the High Court of the Western Cape granted urgent interim relief pending the judgement of the interim interdict against the South African Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE) hunting and export quota for leopard, black rhino and elephant.

The application for the hunting and export quotas was brought by animal protection organisation Humane Society International Africa (HIS-Africa) and was based upon the argument that DFFE failed to comply with the consultative process prescribed by the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act 10 of 2004 (NEMBA) when making the quota decision.   

HSI-Africa asserts that the relief provided will provide opportunity to fully review the Minister’s Record of Decision by which these quota allocations were made. 

NEMBA prescribes a specific and comprehensive consultative public participation process that must be undertaken prior to such a decision being taken. 

MERELY A NEOLIBERAL BOX TICKING EXERCISE? 

Stakeholders include people who should have a say and be involved in decisions, as well as groups of people who represent particular interests, like environmental groups and NGO’s.  Some stakeholders may have considerable impact, they contribute perspectives and expertise which will result in better decisions and policies.   High levels of stakeholder engagement go hand in hand with increased transparency and accountability, leading to increased trust. 

Thirty-six working days before the deadline expires for the South African government to submit proposals to CITES for consideration at CoP19 on the 25th of April 2022, a notice was published on the website of the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment. Stakeholders were given fourteen days to submit proposals by the 9th May 2022 for consideration during the 19th meeting of the CITES COP. 

Three days later, on the 28th of April, the Department – very peculiarly through the Inter Provincial Professional Hunting Committee (IPPHC), which is chaired by DFFE – sent email communications to approximately 360 individuals stating that some stakeholders had not seen the notice on the government website and that the deadline for the submission of proposals was extended to the 16th of May 2022. The vast majority of invited stakeholders, whose email addresses are visibleare from the public sector and the hunting lobby and include government officials from DFFE, representatives of the provincial offices of environmental affairs, representatives from national parks, and the police and revenue services. The narrative of the supporters of trophy hunting is that the human rights and right of choice of the indigenous communities is being forgotten by global anti-hunting sentiment. Yet the EMS Foundation could not detect if any community and indigenous-based stakeholders were included in the invitation.  

The communication includes an invite to attend the CoP19 Stakeholder Consultation Meeting which will take place in the form of a hybrid event in Pretoria on the 25th May 2022.  This consultation event is a preamble to the Nineteenth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties which will be held from the 14th to the 25th of November 2022 in Panama City in Panama and the notice included an agenda for the meeting which is marked confidential. 

The EMS Foundation sent in extensive written proposals. However, subsequent to doing this – via a Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) response from the department to the EMS Foundation – we have discovered that there may be procedural unfairness and possible bias in this stakeholder process as South Africa’s position may have already been decided and this consultation may likely therefore be merely a ‘box-ticking ’exercise, particularly since South Africa’s proposals need to be sent to CITES by 17 June. 

The two excerpts below – from the Wildlife Forum Meeting on 19 October 2021 – speak for themselves.  The Forum is an exclusive and exclusionary platform for the hunting industry  and those with vested wildlife consumptive interests to shape government wildlife policy.

When asked in a Wildlife Forum meeting “what is the strategy of the Government to make sure that when they go to CITES, as Africa and SADC, they really have negotiated a lot of these issues sufficiently to make sure that they have a cohesive and a strong position on certain issues. “

 Mr Mpho Tjiane, Deputy Director CITES Policy Development & Implementation at DFFE] responded that:

SADC and South Africa are almost the same. They have standing items in their engagements with each other, especially building up towards a CoP. They will be appointing a service provider to coordinate the SADC countries in preparation for CoP in order to have similar positions on certain issues as where they agree and usually those positions are made clear and they develop a position paper before the CoP that all SADC countries agree to. As you would know that not all the issues that are discussed are agreed upon, even within SADC. There is still a possibility that one country might not agree with one or two agenda items that they were supporting. All that is negotiated prior to get into CITES and they are well aware of which SADC country might not support SA going forward when they get to the CoP.”

In the same meeting Mr Tjiane said in relation to the preparation for the upcoming CITES COP (COP19): 

It is also important [for the SA wildlife industry] to be there so that they are part of the discussions in between meetings and all the committees that are happening. It’s important that the South African industry is available so that they can engage with the Department. They can also engage with other countries and other countries NGO’s are going to be there and they are also going to be doing their bit of engaging with other parties and making sure that the language that they are speaking to is the same. The Department will be facilitating that coordination as soon as they get closer to the date of attending the CoP. The Department will give information early next year when they start preparing for the CoP and finalizing all the documents.”

Is DFFE’s CITES COP19 stakeholder consultation designed to limit participation and engagement? 

We rest our case. 

©The EMS Foundation 2022. All Rights Reserved.

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LEOPARD TROPHY EXPORTS AND RE-EXPORTS FROM SOUTH AFRICA

WITHOUT CONSCIENCE FROM 2016 TO MAY 2021

Monday 15th November 2021

PLEASE READ FULL DOCUMENT WHICH INCLUDES THE TABLES OF INFORMATION:

Official information obtained by the EMS Foundation from the South African Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment via the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) pertaining to leopard exports from one South African port of exit revealed that:

  1. 20 live leopards were exported from the Free State, North West, Gauteng and Limpopo provinces. 
  2. In 2016− eight leopards to Canada, Chile, China, Côte d’Ivoire and the Philippines
  3. In 2018−six leopards from the Free State to China. 
  4. In 2019−six leopards to China and Vietnam. 
  • From 2016 to May 2021, at least 260 export, import and re-export permits were issued by South African authorities for trophy hunted leopards. These included permits for the export and re-export of 380 leopard body part (including full bodies, skulls, skins and bones) to 205 hunters/individuals as follows: 
  • 109 “full mounts”/bodies (37 exports and 72 re-exports);
  • 171 skulls (59 exports and 112 re-exports)
  • 78 skins (33 exports and 45 re-exports)
  •  8 rug-mounts (4 exports and 4 re-exports)
  • 14 ‘floating’ bones (8 exports and 6 re-exports) 
  • An analysis of the permit data from 2016 to May 2021 from this single South African port of exit, also shows that:
  • The United States of America was the biggest importer of leopard trophies from and through South Africa, accounting for 231 trophy parts−over 60% of the exports and re-exports from South Africa.
  • Countries South Africa imported leopard body parts from−largely for presumed re-export include: Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
  • South Africa is a major gateway in the trade in leopard body parts by the trophy hunting industry. 
  • According to LEDET, 4 male leopards were hunted in Limpopo in 2020:
  • Two in the Vhembe District (Maswiri Farms and Oatland 251MS)
  • One in the Mopani District (Portion 18 & 19 of the farm Harmony 140 KT)
  • One in the Capricorn District (Portion of farm Rondebosch 157 MR and Doornfontein 155 MR)

5. Below is a breakdown of the exports and re-exports from South African for this period.

[1] The exports from South Africa also included 83 vials of leopard blood from Mpumalanga to Florida in the USA in 2019

Image Credit: Brian Abrahamson

©The EMS Foundation 2021. All Rights Reserved.

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EMS FOUNDATION COMMENTARY ON THE PROPOSED 2021 ELEPHANT TUSK HUNTING QUOTA

THE SUGGESTED 2021 ELEPHANT TUSK QUOTA

EXCERPT FROM THE EMS FOUNDATION SUBMISSION:

Elephant status quo in the current NDF

Elephant are listed as ‘protected’ in terms of the TOPS Regulations. They are accordingly “indigenous species of high conservation value or national importance that require protection.”

Elephant populations in South Africa are listed on Appendix II of CITES for the purposes of trade in trophies for non-commercial purposes only.

There is no current final published NDF for elephant. The Summary Report: Non-detriment findings made by the Scientific Authority published on 5 April 2019 indicates that a draft NDF dated December 2015 was to be submitted to the Minister for her to publish for public input.

However, it also notes that there is a “growing market for the trophy hunting of large-tusked bulls” which “could decrease the average tusk size of elephants within South Africa and potentially result in a loss of genetic diversity. Over exploitation of older bulls may socially disrupt elephant populations. Furthermore, the hunting of females has behavioural consequences not only for the individual’s offspring but for the entire family unit. It is therefore recommended that guidelines for the trophy hunting of elephants be developed.”

The NDF also found that the then current offtake of bulls as DCA from the Greater Mapungubwe Transfrontier Conservation Area (GMTFCA) elephant population exceeded the 10 trophy bulls that could be harvested sustainably per annum for the entire population (inclusive of Botswana and Zimbabwe). It therefore recommended that DCA or hunting trophy removals from this population in South Africa be reduced to no more than 5 bulls per annum, while the offtake from the entire GMTFCA elephant population must be addressed.

The NDF noted that the Scientific Authority was aware at that point of increased poaching of elephant and the illegal trade in ivory in other parts of Africa and indicated that it would review the NDF assessment “should the number of poaching incidents in South Africa increase.”

There has in fact been a well-documented, marked increase of elephant poaching in South Africa. In 2012 two elephants were killed for their ivory in South Africa’s flagship Kruger National Park. In 2015 twenty- four elephants were killed for their ivory. In 2016 forty-six elephants were killed for their ivory. In 2017 sixty-seven elephants were killed for their ivory. In 2018 seventy-one Elephants were killed for their ivory, and according to Minister Creecy, thirty-one elephants were killed in the Kruger National Park in 2019. These figures demonstrate the intentional targeting by organised criminal syndicates of elephants in eastern South Africa, specifically in the region bordering Mozambique.

The NDF argues “that local and international trade in elephant poses a low and non-detrimental risk for the species in South Africa. The species is well managed in South Africa and the Scientific Authority does not have any current concerns relating to the export of elephants in accordance with Article IV of CITES.”

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