A JOINT SUBMISSION BY THE EMS FOUNDATION AND ANIMAL LAW REFORM SOUTH AFRICA
Dr M. Molefe
Director: Veterinary Public Heath
Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development
Minister of the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries
We, Animal Law Reform South Africa (“ALRSA”) and the EMS Foundation (“EMS Foundation”), welcome the opportunity to provide our comments and hereby do so in relation to the Proposed Amendments to the Meat Safety Act gazetted for public consultation on the 28th February 2020 (“Proposed Amendments”), as read with the:
Meat Safety Act 2000 Act; (hereinafter the “Act”, the “MSA” or “Meat Safety Act”)
Extension of the Commenting Period and Clarification of the Purpose of the Amendment to Schedule 1 of the Meat Safety Act, 2000 issued by National Executive Officer: Meat Safety Act on 30 April 2020 (hereinafter the “Clarificatory Notice”)
and various other documents / information included in this Submission.
“IF WE DO NOT DO SOMETHING TO PREVENT IT, AFRICA’S ANIMALS AND THE PLACES IN WHICH THEY LIVE, WILL BE LOST TO OUR WORLD AND HER CHILDREN FOREVER” NELSON MANDELA
Please note that this Submission is non-exhaustive and does not represent all the responses to the issues and matters raised herein. We reserve the right to provide any further or additional information on aspects raised herein.
We are submitting so as to be able to record our initial high-level views and resources; however, our Submission is by no means a complete one in relation to the topics, objections or matters that may be raised.
We wish to note upfront that we believe there are various issues with the contents, processes, and related matters in respect of the Panel generally, as well as the Call for Submission. Consequently, our Submission does not constitute a waiver of any rights we may have, including but not limited to challenging the Department, the High-Level Panel/ Advisory Committee or otherwise, or take any other action we deem fit in respect thereof.
Specifically, we believe that insufficient time and notice has been provided for us to provide complete comments. The entire process on this Call for Submissions has been done during a declared National State of Disaster and lockdown of the country. During this time, particularly as NGOs, we have experienced major strain on our resources and capacity to deal with matters.
The views expressed herein are those of the two organisations and do not necessarily represent those of every individual director, member, employee, representative, volunteer, affiliate or others of either EMS and/or ALRSA.
We have attempted to be as comprehensive as possible, given the time, resources and other relevant factors and constraints, however we may not have responded or included each and every relevant consideration. Accordingly, it should be noted that different persons have provided input and we have tried within these constraints to collate this input as effectively, consistently, and practicably as possible.
We have further attempted to reference as footnotes or hyperlink the resources relied upon for this submission. Should you require any further information in respect of these or the Submission more generally, we are happy to provide these.
We reserve any and all rights, remedies and actions available to us.
Marks Building (2nd and 3rd Floor) Parliament Plein Street Cape Town 8001 Via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday 1st June 2020
Dear Mr John Steenhuisen,
THE DEMOCRATIC ALLIANCE FULFILLING IT’S ROLE AS A CREDIBLE ALTERNATIVE TO THE RULING GOVERNMENT
The EMS Foundation hereby officially acknowledges the press release issued by Ms Hannah Shameema Winkler and we refer to the news article published in the foreign media on the weekend.
It is refreshing to note that the Democratic Alliance, the official opposition political party in South Africa, has finally, publicly questioned decisions taken by the Department of the Environment, Forestry and Fisheries.
The EMS Foundation published a report called the Extinction Business in 2018. The report highlighted a two year investigation into South Africa’s Big Cat Captive Breeding Industry which included the concise details of South Africa’s controversial Lion Bone Export business. The publication of this report led to a two-day colloquium held in Parliament in 2018. The Parliamentary Committee recommended that this industry be shut down immediately. Minister Creecy has ignored this recommendation. Judge Kollapen rule in August 2019, in the Gauteng High Court, that the lion bone export quota is unlawful and constitutionally invalid.
In May 2019 the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries made an amendment to the Animal Improvement Act, 1998 to include thirty-three wild mammal species under Table 7 of the regulations. The thirty-three species include Black and White rhino, cheetah, giraffe, lion and twenty-eight indigenous and non- indigenous game species, are now treated in the same manner, as livestock in so far as the recognition of breeders rights is concerned. These decisions taken without any public consultation. In November 2019 a coalition of twenty-one South African animal protection organisations responded to the AIA.
The world has been negatively affected by the zoonotic disease known as COVID-19, this zoonotic disease highlights the dangers of the trade and consumption of wild animals.
Legal Representatives of EMS Foundation Appeal to the South African Government
Letters have been written to the offices of Minister Barbara Creecy, Minister of the Enviornment, Forestry and Fisheries, to the offices of Minister Zwelini Mkhize and the offices of Minister Thoko Didiza.
The letters were sent to the South African government by the EMS Foundation and by their legal representatives Cullinan and Associates.
The subject matter of these correspondences relates specifically to the dangers to human life with regard to diseases and the wildlife trade.
Epidemiologists have long considered a pandemic like COVID_19 to be an inevitability and there is consensus that without massive changes to public health regulation a pandemic of zoonotic origin will happen again.
Until there is more information available about the risks of the captive breeding of lions and other big cats and the lion bone trade, both in terms of human health and to the survival of lions, a risk-averse and cautious approach requires that a moratorium is placed on the industry as outline above.
An Open Letter to the Minister of the Environment, Forestry and Fisheries Barbara Creecy
25th March 2020
Dear Honourable Minister Creecy,
Since at least as far back as the late 1990s, various NGOs have warned your department about the harmful and negative effects of breeding lions (and other big cats) in captivity. Yet, the South African government has done nothing to slow the growth of the captive lion breeding industry, nor has it given any indication of wanting to do so. This letter lays bare the facts and calls for immediate action.
First, it details the risks embedded in captive lion (and other big cat) breeding and why the industry should be terminated.
Second, we note that letter after letter to your Ministry and Department goes unheeded. It seems that industry voices – those with a vested interest in acquiring short-term benefits from exploitative breeding of lion (and other big cat) cubs for human interaction, canned hunting and the lion bone trade – provide the tune to which the policy fiddle dances.
Finally, tourism – the goose that lays the golden egg in the South African economy – is dead for the foreseeable future. Not only has South Africa’s willingness to supply Asian wildlife markets created zoonotic disease spillover risks, which have led to the need for travel bans, but the imposition of the latter means that thousands of captive lions (and other big cats) will now be left to starve to death without tourism dollars. Had the government acted in 2009 (when a plan was presented to your Department) and when there were far fewer lions (and other big cats) in captivity, this catastrophe would have been avoided.