Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries

CONFIRMATION OF THE SCALE OF THE CAPTIVE WILDLIFE INDUSTRY IN SOUTH AFRICA

PUBLIC STATEMENT

World Environment Day 5th June 2021

The EMS Foundation will be making a series of statements, the contents of which are in the public’s best interest. We are focusing our attention on the conservation of South Africa’s wildlife, especially with regard to the essence of the decision making process following the release of the Report by the High-Level Panel of Advisors to the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment.

THE IMPLEMENTATION PROCESS OF THE RECOMMENDATIONS MADE BY THE HIGH LEVEL PANEL OF ADVISORS TO DFFE


How are laws and policies about wildlife, the biodiversity and the natural environment made in the South African government?


Making new laws and policies involves a number of stages during which times key issues are debated and negotiated before being finalised as official government policy or being passed as a new law. This process can take years from the proposal stage until it’s impactful. 


A government policy outlines what DFFE hopes to achieve and the methods and principles it will use to implement them. A policy document states the goals and laws required to achieve these goals. 

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TROPHY HUNTING OF LEOPARDS IN SOUTH AFRICA

PUBLIC STATEMENT

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.

LEOPARDS: SACRIFICED ON SOUTH AFRICA’S BLOODY TROPHY HUNTING ALTAR

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. 

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EARTH DAY 2021 HOW MANY ASIAN TIGERS ARE IN CAPTIVITY IN SOUTH AFRICA

EMS FOUNDATION COPY OF OPEN LETTER TO MINISTER CREECY

22ND APRIL 2021

Tigers (Panthera tigris tigris) are included in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which assembles 183 Parties, including South Africa.

On several occasions since early 2016 we had been asking your Department (DFFE) if it knew the number of Asian tigers in South Africa and if they monitor and audit the facilities in South Africa that keep Asian Big Cats. They continuously and consistently replied that they do not have any information as tigers are ‘exotics’ and therefore not their responsibility. This despite the fact that they are CITES Appendix I animals.

In 2016 CITES Decision 17.229 forewarned the Parties that the Secretariat was going to conduct a review of the number of facilities keeping Asian big cats in captivity in the territories of Parties and the number of Asian big cats kept in these facilities; and to review legal and illegal trade in Asian big cats from or through such facilities to identify any facilities which may be of concern.

On the 16th February 2018 we became aware that the CITES Secretariat has issued a Notification to the Parties to seek such information from the Parties, we emailed your department on the same day asking if they had this information available and the reply was, “we will be communicating with Secretariat on how we will deal with this matter as you can appreciate that there are 9 Provinces in South Africa and we have to coordinate the information”. On the 28th February 2018, together with Ban Animal Trading, we sent a letter to the CITES Secretariat in relation to Decision 17.229. Appended to our 2018 letter to CITES was a non-exhaustive list of 66 facilities/individuals keeping tigers in South Africa that we were able to trace as a result of internet searches and on-site investigations.

According to DFFE, in response to an EMS Foundation Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) request1 there are 72 facilities/individuals keeping 451 Asian big cats in captivity.2 

This information has not been independently verified. Nonetheless, it is clear that South Africa is allowing intensive operations breeding tigers on a commercial scale.

The increasing trade in tigers and tiger parts is part of the unsustainable growth in the legal global wildlife trade. The The commercial flow of captive-bred tigers is largely driven by the increasing demand for live tigers and tiger parts and derivatives from Asia. This demand is therefore one of the most important factors for the current high levels of tiger poaching, captive breeding, and trafficking. Any trade in captive-bred specimens from South Africa is having an indirect but significant impact on tiger species whose populations are already depleted. In addition, allowing such trade obstructs global anti-poaching and trafficking endeavours.

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DENIAL AND WHITEWASHING IS PUSHING THE RHINO SPECIES TO EXTINCTION

PUBLIC STATEMENT

TUESDAY 2ND FEBRUARY 2021

South Africa bears the enormous responsibility of being the custodian of ninety percent of the world’s southern black and white rhino population. 

Yesterday the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF) published a graphic stating  that during 2020, 394 rhinos were poached for their horn in South Africa. This is apparently 33% less than the 594 rhinos that were killed in 2019, and furthermore it marks the sixth year that rhino poaching has continued to decrease in South Africa. 

Minister Barbara Creecy stated: “While the extraordinary circumstances surrounding the battle to beat the COVID_19 pandemic contributed in part to the decrease in rhino poaching in 2020, the role of rangers and security personnel who remained at their posts, and the additional steps taken by the government to effectively deal with these and related offences, also played a significant role.”

There is no mention or published graphic, however, stating that from 2011 there has been a 67% decrease in the number of white rhino, from an estimated 10 621 rhino to an estimated 3529 rhino. 

According to DEFF there were an estimated 415 black rhino in 2013 and now there are an estimated 268 black rhino, a 35% decrease in numbers.  

The confirmation of the decimation of the wild rhino population, was published, for the first time in many years, and is available in the South African National Parks Annual Report 2019/2020. 

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CLEAR AS MUD – The Official Response to Questions Relating to Trophy Hunting in the Associated Private Nature Reserves, the Greater Kruger National Park

3rd November 2020

On the 6th August 2020 the EMS Foundation wrote an open letter to the Minister of the Environment, Forestry and Fisheries Barbara Creecy, the CEO of SanParks Fundisile Mketeni, the Minister of Tourism Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane and SH Makhubele the CEO of LEDET with regard to our concerns relating to the elephant hunt that took place in the Balule Nature Reserve an associated Private Nature Reserve which joins the Kruger National Park on the 5th December 2019. To date we have not received a response to this letter.

In a meeting of the National Assembly on the 16th October 2020, Ms Hannah Winkler of the Democratic Alliance, asked the Minister of the Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, Barbara Creecy the following important questions: 

What is the reasoning behind the Kruger National Park dropping fences to areas bordering the Park known as the Associated Private Nature Reserves, is this to allow free movement of protected animals or to allow for trophy hunting of these protected animals? 

What are the reasons that the decision to drop the fences to the surrounding APNRs was not brought before the Portfolio Committee on Environment Affairs, Forestry and Fisheries when it undermines the purpose of protecting wildlife in national parks?

Would Minister Creecy provide the concept document for the dropping of fences between the Kruger National Park and the Associated Private Reserves?

What are the terms of agreement on trophy hunting in these Associated Private Nature Reserves, and which authority provides oversight thereof?

Was Minister Creecy informed about the hunting of the bull elephant, who was shot eighteen times in the Kruger National Park on the 5th December, and what is the Minister’s position on this particular unethical hunt?

Minister Barbara Creecy responded to the questions as follows: 

“According to information at my disposal, the said elephant bull was hunted in a reserve within the APNR, in accordance with the relevant statutory requirements and the APNR Hunting protocol.  

Such hunts are overseen by the management structure of the reserves, together with the Provincial Conservation Authorities, they being the regulatory authorities tasked with monitoring compliance with the Protocol.

I am advised that during the particular hunt being refereed to, no tourists besides the hunting party were witness to the hunt.  I am also advised that the LEDET provided the documentation to substantiate that the permits were legally issued and that no laws were contravened.

According to information at my disposal, the hunt was legal and took place in accordance with the APNR Hunting Protocol.  The APNR off-take committee furthermore reviewed the incident and provided a ruling that the hunt was in accordance with the Protocol.  The provincial environmental authority LEDET conducted a full investigation into this matter.” 

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