Lobbying for Wild Animals

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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Kataza can stay in the Cape Province, has this been considered?

AN OPEN LETTER TO THE CAPE OF GOODHOPE SPCA REGARDING IT’S ROLE IN BABOON MANGEMENT ON THE PENINSULA

Mr. Mqabuko Moyo Ndukwana Chief Executive Officer
Cape of Good Hope SPCA

MONDAY 18TH JANUARY 2021

Dear Sir,

In the absence of an official enquiry the EMS Foundation would like to continue to raise important questions about how humans are failing to successfully manage the baboon population in Cape Town.

The steady growth of human settlements and development has led to escalating interaction between humans and baboons on South Africa’s Cape Peninsula. Baboons, whose natural habitat is under endless threat and is increasingly diminishing, are being forced into residential areas where there is a ready availability of food discarded inappropriately by humans.

For the record, the EMS Foundation is not in agreement with the baboon management protocols which include paintballing, firing bare bangers, the inappropriate relocation, permanent captivity of male baboons or the killing of baboons. “On average for management purposes, we kill about seven baboons a year – habitual raiders – it is a danger to the public to have them in urban areas” -Julia Wood, Biodiversity manager for the City of Cape Town. Cape Town ratepayers have been paying fourteen million rand a year for the services of a baboon management company.

Human Wildlife Solutions, employed for many years to manage baboons in Cape Town, state on their website that they have worked very closely with the SPCA as part of the baboon management project, to quote their exact words “preventing and mitigating cruelty to baboons on the Cape Peninsula.”

According to the Cape of Good Hope Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals website, the CoGH SPCA is committed to the credo that wild animals belong in the wild.

In 2017 the City of Cape Town extended it’s agreement with the CoGH SPCA to the value of nine million rand. The agreement means that the SPCA supports Law Enforcement with the impoundment of stray animals or animals involved in attacks and homes them for the prescribed impoundment periods. It is interesting to note that despite the contractual agreement, during the height of the so-called Kataza debacle, Kataza was captured and taken to the Westlake Conservation Centre, which is owned by the City of Cape Town. The CoGH SPCA and their appointed wildlife vet Gina Du Toit were denied access to the property, obstructing them from the execution of their duties. On the 10th September 2020 the CoGH SPCA issued a statement to say that: “Our only alternative is to obtain a court order in terms of the Animal Protection Act to gain access to the property so that a veterinary assessment can take place tomorrow.” There was no follow-up statement in this regard.

On the 23rd October 2020 the CoGH SPCA released the following statement regarding Kataza: “The CoGH SPCA has spent an extensive period of time monitoring the integration, movements and behaviour of SK11/Kataza since we were notified of his relocation to Tokai. We hoped he would integrate and be able to live out his natural life on the Peninsula but we are now concerned about his wellbeing and welfare, and that of other animals and the public in general. For this reason, we approached the City of Cape Town on the 21st October 2020 with a proposal to capture SK11/Kataza and relocate him to the Riverside Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre in Limpopo. All costs associated with the relocation process will be borne by the CoGH SPCA on receipt of approval from CapeNature.”

On the 12th January 2021 the SPCA once again submitted an application to CapeNature for a permit to capture and translocate Kataza to a centre in Limpopo. Is the SPCA aware that it is unlikely that Kataza will be released back into the wild?

On what basis has the CoGH SPCA made the decision to relocate Kataza to Riverside in Limpopo? Have other rehabilitation centres or sanctuaries – particularly those in the Eastern Cape – been considered? What assurance has the CoGH SPCA been given by Riverside that Kataza will be released back into the wild? The EMS Foundation is particularly concerned because CapeNature’s Dr Baard has indicated to us in writing that CapeNature will only provide a permit for permanent captivity and/or euthanasia and definitely NOT for rehabilitation and release.

We would very much like an answer to these questions as a matter of urgency.

The SPCA has apparently threatened legal action against the City of Cape Town if “the Kataza debacle” is repeated. “We will not relocate a baboon like this again, we have it made it clear to the City that this is the last time”. Is it fair to say that despite a fourteen million rand a year cost to the ratepayers of Cape Town the baboon management company has failed at their task of mitigating human interaction with wild baboons?

The City of Cape Town has not made any visible attempt to control the poor waste control in the urban areas closet to the baboons shrinking natural habitat. The EMS Foundation has filmed the areas in Kommetjie most often visited by the baboons and have failed to find any effective waste control.

We continue to question the methods of deterrence as well as poor enforcement of regulations to make urban areas less attractive to baboons. HWS failed to stop the baboon from “breaking the line” and raiding in the Kommetjie village. It seems that the new service provider has not been successful either.

Surely, after more than a decade of repeating the same mistakes we cannot possibly expect a different result.

We look forward to your urgent response.

The EMS Foundation 

IMAGE CREDIT Rob Tarr Photography

© 2021 EMS Foundation. All rights reserved

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KATAZA

STATEMENT OF CONCERN: KATAZA AND BABOON MANAGEMENT IN THE WESTERN CAPE

FRIDAY 15TH JANUARY 2021

According to their own statement, on the 12th of January 2021, the Cape of Good Hope SPCA submitted an application to CapeNature for a permit to capture, transport and relocate Kataza/SK11 from the Western Cape to Limpopo.  Receipt of such application was not confirmed to the EMS Foundation on the same day by Dr Ernst Baard, Executive Director of Conservations Operations, CapeNature.  

Furthermore, according to media reports, this application was made after a meeting was held between members of the City of Cape Town Municipality and the Cape of Good Hope SPCA on the 5th of January 2021;  where it was discussed that Kataza/SK11 had not reintegrated with the Slangkop troop of baboons in the Kommetjie area. 

In August 2020, Kataza/SK11 was forcibly removed from his Slangkop troop in Kommetjie and relocated to the urban area of Tokai, and despite his own best efforts to return to Kommetjie he was forced to live in the highly populated area of Tokai for a period of over eighty  days. 

The reasons given for the relocation of Kataza/SK11 from his troop included the suggestion that he was a “raiding” baboon, that he was leading a splinter group of baboons to “raid” and that he was weakening the gene pool. 

The rapid rate of urbanization and development in Cape Town specifically, but also elsewhere in the Western Cape, is negatively affecting and placing extensive pressure on ecosystems, nature and wildlife. 

The forced removal of Kataza/SK11 from Kommetije to Tokai not only placed his life at risk but exposed him even further to humans.  Day to day sightings of Kataza/SK11 during this time period indicate quite clearly that he adapted to  being fed by humans and food inappropritately discarded by humans.  

A successful court application by a concerned member of the public, Ryno Engelbrecht, saw Kataza finally returned to his natal troop in Kommetjie but unfortunately Kataza/SK11 has not reintegrated with his natal troop and the behaviours he acquired in Tokai as a result of human interference has continued.

There is great local and international concern for Kataza/SK11, particularly  because, in relation to indigenous primates, specifically baboons, the Western Cape has, over decades, made a number of very  poor decisions.   The EMS Foundation believes that the general public should be kept apprised of the facts in a transparent and open way. 

Alarmingly CapeNature does not support relocation and rehabilitation of wild animals. Dr Baard, the Executive Director: Conservation Operations, CapeNature, has confirmed that “conservation agencies in South Africa use IUCN Red List Assessments and various Guidelines in their exercising of their mandates”. According to the IUCN Guideline on Reintroductions and other Conservation Translocations, “given the risks (to the individual(s)) and risk mitigation, we do not support translocation(s). The alternative would be placement in permanent captivity or euthanasia. For CapeNature this is a standard and we will continue implementing these”.

It is therefore logical  that if CapeNature issues a permit it will be for Kataza to be removed from the Western Cape and into PERMANENT captivity. 

The EMS Foundation believes that baboons on the Cape Peninsula, as they are key to the health of the fragile and dying ecosystem in the Western Cape, need to be protected and a concerted effort made to increase their numbers. Yet, it seems that baboons are being targeted for permanent removal by all the government agencies, including CapeNature and SanParks.  

All the letters we have written to the Western Cape government remain unanswered. Once again, the EMS Foundation calls for an official enquiry relating to the questionable decisions taken in the Western Cape with regard to baboon management.

AMENDMENT: Ernst Baard has contacted the EMS Foundation to confirm receipt of the aforementioned application from the Cape of Good Hope SPCA.

Image Credit: Kataza NCC Environmental Services

© 2021 EMS Foundation. All rights reserved


 

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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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The EMS Foundation and Animal Law Reform South Africa – Answers to the DEFF High Level Panel Written Questions

1st November 2020

INTRODUCTION

The Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries appointed a “High Level Panel of Experts for the Review of Policies, Legislation and Practices on Matters of Elephant, Lion, Leopard and Rhinoceros Management: Breeding, Hunting, Trade and Handling” (“HLP” or “Panel”) in October 2019. The Panel made a call for submissions from stakeholders on 27 March 2020.

The EMS Foundation (“EMS”) and Animal Law Reform South Africa (“ALRSA”) (hereinafter collectively “we” or “us”) made a formal written submission (the “Submission”) to the HLP on 15 June 2020. We also made a virtual presentation at the public consultation held by the HLP on 6 October 2020 and answered questions orally (the “Oral Presentation”) (collectively our “Submissions”).

In this regard, we wish to refer to Appendix III of our Submission, being a copy of the written submission presented by the South African Institute for Advanced Constitutional, Public, Human Rights and International Law, a centre of the University of Johannesburg (“SAIFAC”) as well as their virtual presentation at the public consultation held by the HLP on 6 October 2020 and their questions answered (“SAIFAC Submission”).

The Secretariat of the HLP sent further questions to EMS and ALRSA at 15h13 on the 20 October 2020. These are reproduced below in bold text. The Panel requested that answers be submitted by 26 October 2020, effectively giving EMS and ALRSA less than 5 working days to formulate further responses to over 15 highly complex questions (the “Questions”). Note that both EMS and ALRSA had other prior commitments particularly at this time and our capacity to respond at this time. In terms of an email from the HLP Secretariat to us dated 25 October 2020, the Panel agreed to accept answers by 2 November 2020.

The answers below therefore constitute a brief and non-exhaustive summary of EMS’ and ALRSA’s position on these issues given the prevailing circumstances at the current time. This document is to be read with our full Submission as well as in the context of the Oral Presentation.

We also wish to note that:
1. We have answered some of these questions in our Submissions;
2. Many of the questions received from the HLP are suggestive of a slant in favour of a pre-determined outcome and against the tenor of our submissions. Some of the questions make assumptions that are simply not accurate; and
3. Reference is made in the questions to “wildlife”. We were under the impression that the HLP was reviewing for “Subject Species” being – lions, elephants, rhinos and leopards.

We are non-profit organisations not mandated to determine all potential solutions to the issues considered by the Panel nor wildlife more generally in South Africa. We have pointed out issues with the current status quo, as well as provided potential solutions which will require further input and consideration. Accordingly, we have attempted to highlight some additional resources for the Panel which may be of assistance in providing further context and information. These are in addition to those included in our Submission and Oral Presentation.

We have included some clarifying points and questions below in order to properly equip us to answer the questions posed. These are indicated as “Clarificatory Question for the Panel:” below.

The disclaimers as contained in our Submission apply equally to this document with the necessary adjustments.

Michele Pickover

Director
EMS Foundation

Amy P. Wilson

Director
Animal Law Reform South Africa

THE FULL DOCUMENT:

© 2020 EMS Foundation. All rights reserved

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