Lobbying for Wild Animals

WHERE HAVE ALL THE RHINO GONE?

WORLD RHINO DAY 2021

The guardians of the singular, largest group of wild rhino in the world announced the long awaited number of rhino in their care, the figures confirmed a devastating loss of life. 

Using a sample block counting method, 50% of the total Kruger National Park was surveyed. The resulting estimated number of rhino was published in the SANParks 2019-2020 Annual Report

The number of rhinos illegally killed annually in the national parks of South Africa  realistically reflects the minimum number of deceased rhino.  There is a certain amount of difficulty in detecting or finding the remains of every deceased rhino in the dense African bush.  The accuracy of the published information is also reliant upon the data handed in and collated by authorities.  

The very low number of remaining rhino in the Kruger National Park is indicative of  the illegal killing of rhino for their horns by often unknown attackers since 2008.  Hundreds of rhino were also sold to locally based trophy hunters, canned lion hunters, to international trophy hunters, to international zoos and to rhino breeders. 

In addition, the EMS Foundation’s retrospective report Where Have All the Rhino Gone includes familiar names of people involved in the game breeding industry, ex policemen and veterinarians who have been arrested and charged with wildlife crimes over the past two decades.  This information demonstrates that the illegal killing of rhino in South Africa for their horn has not only been carried out by anonymous individuals. 

The research revealed the disappointing reality that Howard Buffett, the American philanthropist and businessman, was not able to complete his R255 million grant to the Kruger National Park to assist with the prevention of the illegal killing of rhino due to a poor internal work ethic. 

In a statement made by SANParks board on the 20th of February 2012 they confirmed that they had received an inquiry from the office of the Public Protector in Nelspruit. A number of companies contracted to the Kruger National Park were alleged to be owned by family, friends or associates of senior officials in the Kruger National Park. 

Whilst the EMS Foundation was unable to substantiate the aforementioned allegation, we were, however able confirm that a company contracted to the Kruger National Park and to SANParks from 2002-2016 was directly linked to Jacob Zuma. 

Over the past two decades the survival of the rhino living in the Kruger National Park has had everything stacked against them including questionable, critical management  decisions, the possible involvement of corrupt politicians, the direct involvement of wildlife veterinarians, members of the South African police servicesSANParks employees which has directly or indirectly led to their deaths. 

IMAGE CREDIT: Gurcharan Roopra

WHERE HAVE ALL THE RHINO GONE? THE FULL REPORT COMING SOON

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WORLD ELEPHANT DAY 2021

Elephants Killed for Trophies in the Kruger National Park System, South Africa

The EMS Foundation has confirmed, via an access to information request to the Limpopo government (LEDET), that in 2020 four male elephants were killed for trophies in an open system with the Kruger National Park – the Balule Reserve. In addition, in 2020, one male elephant was also trophy hunted in the Maremani Nature Reserve, which belongs to the Danish Aage V. Jensen Foundation – https://avjcf.org.                                       

Trophy Hunting VS Ubuntu

Trophy hunting is the killing of wild animals for recreation with the purpose of collecting trophies such as horns, antlers, skulls, skins, tusks or teeth for display. Trophy hunting, like poaching, artificially selects the biggest and strongest animals (largest tusks and thickest manes), weakening populations’ genetic health and variation. Therefore, while revenue may be forthcoming in the short term from such extraction, the longer-term effects are that population growth dynamics are negatively affected.

The incentives that drive trophy hunting (selecting the strongest) are fundamentally at odds with the conservation imperative (preserving the strongest). Beyond the negative ecological effects, the practice remains rooted in colonial modes of extraction. Some also argue that trophy hunting is reinforcing deep apartheid era social and racial inequalities in Africa because organised hunting of endangered wildlife mostly benefits wealthy white landowners while exploiting black workers by paying them pitiful wages. 

Trophy hunting is in stark contradiction with African value systems such as Ubuntu (where harmony, connectedness and respect extend beyond human relationships to the whole living world) and notions of communal commitment to the protection of animals. As Dr Mucha Mkono noted in her article: Neo-colonialism and greed: Africans views on trophy hunting in social media, while a hunter might have a permit to hunt and shoot an animal, if the community and environment suffer it is considered that the principles of Ubuntu have been violated. Furthermore, she says that: “Ubuntu, being grounded in an attitude of caring and compassion, does not excuse gratuitous violence towards individual animals.”  

Balule Private Nature Reserve and the Killing of Elephants

Elephants are irreplaceable ecosystem engineers and their removal negatively impacts ecosystem integrity and biodiversity preservation.  Trophy hunters justify targeting older bull elephants on the grounds they are “redundant”. But, a recent study shows that old male elephants play a key role leading all-male groups. Also, when trophy hunters eliminate older bulls, they destroy elephant family integrity (through trauma and removal of the discipline and knowledge transfer functions executed by patriarchs) and force matriarchs to mate with younger bulls they would otherwise not have selected, thereby skewing reproduction patterns.   

Pre-Covid-19, approximately 950 000 people visited the world-renowned Kruger National Park (KNP) every year. With an annual budget of close to 1 billion ZAR 80% of this conservation income is self-generated through its thriving tourism activities within these wild, natural and protected spaces. 

A classic example of entrenched white privilege is the Associated Private Nature Reserves (APNR) in South Africa, bordering the KNP. The six private reserves each comprise a number of different private owners and farms. By 1996, these reserves had almost no elephants left as they had been hunted to near extinction. The fences were dropped in 1993 – before the end of apartheid – on the premise of creating ‘ecological unity’ between the APNR and the KNP itself. Commercial hunting, in the 1996 agreement, was not mentioned at all. Animals under public custodianship (KNP) now move freely between the APNR and the KNP. Far from creating ecological unity, however, they are treated as res nullius (nobody’s property) in the APNR and are hunted. The APNR allows the commercial trophy hunting of a number of animals, including elephants, lions and buffalos. These animals are part of the country’s national heritage but are permitted to be shot by foreign trophy hunters for the benefit of a small number of wealthy white landowners. How much money actually accrues to local communities remains unknown due to a lack of transparency in the industry. 

Balule Private Game Reserve is located along the banks of the Olifants River between Phalaborwa and Hoedspruit in the Limpopo Province. Balule shares an un-fenced border with the KNP and is one of the APNRs. According to various websites there are twenty-six unique options from budget to luxury accommodation available. 

The ecological benefits of sharing an open system with the KNP has made Balule a popular ecotourism destination and protection efforts have ensured that the wildlife population includes an abundance of lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard and black rhino. 

Trophy hunting is permitted in Balule Private Nature Reserve despite what this article states. 

The Portfolio Committee on Environmental Affairs raised concerns regarding the law governing hunting in the Kruger National Park and about contractual arrangements between the Kruger National Park and the Association of Private Nature Reserves in September 2018.

Unfortunately, over the past three years a number of trophy hunts in Balule have provided very negative media attention. On the 28th of November 2018 Balule issued a statement:

“We wish to express deep regret that visitors to the reserve had to endure a harrowing and traumatising incident in which an elephant was shot by hunters near the lodge that visitors were staying at.  We apologize profusely and unreservedly to those affected.

Based on witness accounts gathered to date, this incident seems not to comply with the sustainable utilisation model of ethical hunting in accordance with the hunting protocol that governs all reserves within the Associated Private Nature Reserves to which Balule and hence Maseke are bound.”

The incident took place on the 23rd November, a young elephant bull was shot 13 times in front of our eye-witnesses standing on a viewing deck overlooking Balule’s Maseke Game Reserve where the hunt took place. The eye witnesses disputed the findings of the investigation

In August of the same year, again in Balule, a collared male elephant aged between 20 and 30 years with tusks of 30 pounds each was shot and killed illegally.  Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Authority laid criminal charges against the culprit. Frikkie Kotze pleaded guilty to the charges and was fined five years in prison or R50 000.00 both suspended for five years.  He had to pay Elephants Alive R35000.00 to replace the collar.   The hunting party consisted of Kotze, the professional hunter and outfitter JJ Horn, the client and his wife. 

The reason that this hunt was illegal was because the permit for this hunt was issued by the Limpopo Department of Economic Development, Environment and Tourism known as LEDET, whose mission it is to create and facilitate the development of a competitive economy, sustainable environment and tourism growth, the elephant was killed in the Mpumalanga Province.

The elephant was collared and part of an ongoing research project by Elephants Alive!  The chairperson of Balule Nature Reserve, Sharon Haussmann, stated that she was determined to stamp out illegal activities and actions that breach accepted protocol. 

Balule Private Nature Reserve was in the global headline news once more when in 2019 the People for the Ethical Treatment  of Animals PETA published the facts about Aaron Raby who killed an elephant on the 5th December 2019 there.  The elephant suffered a cruel, needlessly prolonged and inarguably painful death. 

Hunting of iconic wild animals in the APNR’s has a negative effect on South Africa’s conservation reputation, on eco-tourism and on Brand South Africa.  The problem with simplistic analyses supporting hunting is that they fail to recognise that trophy hunting and non-consumptive ecotourism are increasingly mutually exclusive. Moreover, the training and so-called qualifications of professional hunters is of an extremely low standard with provincial legislation accepts a training certificate from a 10-day course as the minimum standard.

The EMS Foundation believes that an immediate moratorium on trophy hunting in the APNR reserves should be imposed while: 

  1. policy is being developed
  2. a review and feasibility of the agreement between SANParks and the APNR and all relevant protocols is undertaken and the public given an opportunity to participate meaningfully in all these processes. 

©The EMS Foundation 2021. All Rights Reserved.

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EMS FOUNDATION AND WILD LAW INSTITUTE COMMENTS ON DFFE DRAFT POLICY POSITION 28TH JULY 2021

28TH JULY 2021

THE CONSERVATION AND ECOLOGICALLY SUSTAINABLE USE OF ELEPHANT, LION, LEOPARD AND RHINOCEROS

Please read the full submission:

Concluding Comments of the EMS Foundation and Wild Law Institute DFFE Submission:

Humanity has overstepped the planetary boundary in respect of biological diversity and consequently has entered a “danger zone” where it will be negatively affected by sudden events (e.g. pandemics) and irreversible changes. Part of the reason is that we have collectively failed to value the ecological systems (and the individuals that comprise them) on which our survival ultimately depends.

Instead of conserving that which has been entrusted to us, we have over-exploited terrestrial and marine ecosystems. The trade, sale and hunting of South Africa’s wild animals is driven by commodification, commercialisation and profit rather than by robust science, ethics or compassion. The threats wild animals are facing are powerfully linked to South Africa’s current conservation policies of consumptive use and inadequate policing and enforcement measures. A fundamental paradigm shift is required if we are to stem the rapid decline in biodiversity.

We are of the view that a new approach to human beings’ relationship with nature is not only warranted, but is absolutely critical. Current legal frameworks are not succeeding in stemming the tide of rapid biodiversity decline. What is required is a complete overhaul of the legal and administrative system, and a change in the relationship between people and Nature. It is with this paradigm shift in mind that the Draft Policy must be developed.

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GUIDELINE FOR COMMENTS ON DFFE DRAFT POLICY POSITION

Upon request, the EMS Foundation has provided useful information for interested individuals who want to get involved with the important decision making processes which concern us all.

SUBMISSION DATE: 28TH OF JULY 2021

ACTION 1

PLEASE CONSIDER COMMENTING ON DR SOUTH AFRICA USING THIS LINK: 

COMMENT: Conservation Policy (captive breeding) | Dear South Africa

ACTION 2

USING THIS EASY GUIDELINE, WHICH EXPLAINS HOW TO SEND YOUR COMMENTS ON: THE DRAFT POLICY POSITION FOR ELEPHANT, LION, LEOPARD, AND RHINOCEROS:

ADDRESS THE EMAIL TO: 

The Director-General: Department of Forestry, Fishery and the Environment

Private Bag X447

PRETORIA

Attention: Dr Kiruben Naicker 

knaicker@environment.gov.za

  • DATE : ON OR BEFORE 28TH JULY 2021
  • HEADING : MY COMMENT ON THE DRAFT POLICY POSITION FOR ELEPHANT, LION, LEOPARD, AND RHINOCEROS
  • Introduce yourself as a stakeholder, specifying your interest as, for example, a conservationist, or environmentalist, or a tourist, photographer, or a journalist, blogger, private individual with a passion for Africa / wildlife / the environment / Nature / South Africa. 
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A HOLISTIC FRAMEWORK TO RESOLVE HUMAN AND WILDLIFE ISSUES IN THE CAPTIVE BIG CAT SECTOR

LETTER TO MINSTER BARBARA CREECY, DEPARTMENT FORESTRY, FISHERIES AND THE ENVIRONMENT, 19th JULY 2021

The EMS Foundation commends the Honourable Minister for her commitment to ending inhumane and irresponsible practices in the wildlife industry which greatly harm the reputation of South Africa and to ending the captive lion industry so that South Africa does not captive breed lions, keep lions in captivity, or use captive lions or their derivatives commercially.

Furthermore, the EMS Foundation applauds the Honourable Minister for meeting with animal welfare and animal protection advocacy groups on the 17th June 2021 and the resulting discussion.

The EMS Foundation notes the call for comments on the draft policy position on the conservation and ecologically sustainable use of elephant, lion, leopard and rhinoceros, gazetted on 28th June 2021.

The EMS Foundation notes with concern violations of workers’ rights and job security issues in the captive wildlife sector.

The EMS Foundation notes that recent research shows the highly racialised and discriminatory practices in the wildlife industry (1) as well as the exploitation of poor black workers who often have to deal with wild animals with very little safety and minimal pay. (2)

There are dangers to marginalised and exploited workers involved in the industry and in the slaughter for meat or bones.(3)  Generally the wildlife industry violates the rights of farm workers who are disproportionally exposed to risks while living and working with dangerous animals like lions. In addition, generally these workers do not receive employment benefits, such as medical insurance nor do they have the means to protect themselves from harm, disability or death.(4)

READ THE FULL LETTER:

References:

(1) Nomalanga Mkhize ‘Game farm conversions and the land question: Unpacking present contradictions and historical continuities in farm dwellers’ tenure insecurity in Cradock’ (2014) 32 Journal of Contemporary African Society 207-219; Femke Brandt and Marja Spierenburg ‘Game fences in the Karoo: Reconfiguring spatial and social relations’ (2014) Journal of Contemporary African Society 1- 18.

(2) Femke Brandt ‘Trophy hunting in South Africa: Risky business for whom’ Daily Maverick (17 Nov 2015) available at http://www.dailymaverick.co.za/opinionista/2015-11-17-trophy-hunting-in-south-africa-risky-business-for- whom/?utm_source=Daily+Maverick+Mailer#.VqCRDLZ97IV.


(3) Peet Van Der Merwe et al., “The Economic Significance of Lion Breeding Operations in the South African Wildlife Industry,” International Journal of Biodiversity and Conservation 9, no. 11 (2017): 314–22, https://doi.org/10.5897/IJBC2017.1103.

(4) Femke Brandt Trophy Hunting in South Africa: Risky Business for Whom? DAILY MAVERICK (17 Nov 2015)

IMAGE CREDIT: Richard Smith / Alamy Stock Photo

©The EMS Foundation 2021. All Rights Reserved.

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