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PROPOSED AMENDMENTS TO THE MEAT SAFETY ACT

30TH JUNE 2020

A JOINT SUBMISSION BY THE EMS FOUNDATION AND ANIMAL LAW REFORM SOUTH AFRICA

ADDRESSED TO:

Dr M. Molefe

Director: Veterinary Public Heath

Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development 

AND

 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[1] (“Proposed Amendments”), as read with the: 

  1. Meat Safety Act 2000 Act;[2] (hereinafter the “Act”, the “MSA” or “Meat Safety Act”)
  2. 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[3] (hereinafter the “Clarificatory Notice”)
  3. and various other documents / information included in this Submission.

Kindly confirm receipt of this Submission (“Submission”) and address further correspondence to the email addresses: michele@emsfoundation.org.za and amywilson@animallawreform.org.

We look forward to receiving a response to the requests made herein and are available to engage on any queries, comments, concerns which you may have in respect of the Submission.


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SUBMISSION IN RESPECT OF DEFF HIGH LEVEL PANEL THE EMS FOUNDATION AND ANIMAL LAW REFORM SOUTH AFRICA

15TH JUNE 2020

MANAGEMENT, BREEDING, HUNTING, TRADE, HANDLING AND RELATED MATTERS: ELEPHANT, LION, LEOPARD AND RHINOCEROS

“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

Disclaimers

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.

© 2020 EMS Foundation. All rights reserved.

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THE DEMOCRATIC ALLIANCE FULFILLING IT’S ROLE AS A CREDIBLE ALTERNATIVE TO THE RULING GOVERNMENT

EMS FOUNDATION

OPEN LETTER

DEMOCRATIC ALLIANCE LEADER’S OFFICE

Marks Building (2nd and 3rd Floor) Parliament
Plein Street
Cape Town 8001
Via email: leader@da.org.za

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.

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THE BREAKING POINT REPORT – PRESS RELEASE 22ND MAY 2020

OUTCOME OF THE MEETING BETWEEN BAN ANIMAL TRADING SOUTH AFRICA, THE EMS FOUNDATION AND THE MINISTER OF THE ENVIRONMENT, FORESTRY AND FISHERIES

The Minister of Environment, Barbara Creecy, initiated a meeting with the EMS Foundation and Ban Animal Trading in response to the publication of The Breaking Point Report which highlighted the shameful live wildlife trade between South Africa and China. The meeting was held this morning.

We welcome the Minister’s commitment to investigate the serious issues raised in our Report, within a three month period. 

We also welcome the Minister’s commitment to strengthening the permitting system, her commitment to greater transparency within governmental systems and access to information produced by the Department, and the provinces. The Minister acknowledged that civil society has a role to play in holding government to account and therefore government should be transparent. 

The Minister recognised that national government has the overall responsibility and the obligation to ensure that the system implementing CITES complies with CITES regulations. 

The Breaking Point Report showed the fundamental problems which are systemic in nature and relate to overarching policy issues. We were disappointed that the Minister was not willing to engage in policy discussions at this stage but she did commit to doing so in appropriate forums. 

The Minister would not agree to a moratorium on the international export of live wild animals. We believe a Moratorium is an appropriate first-step response to addressing the expansive systemic problems. Given the degree and nature of the failings of the current system, it would be irresponsible to continue exporting wild animals until the investigation has been completed and the problems have been addressed. For these reasons, particularly given the fallout from COVID-19, we will continue to push for a Moratorium. 

We believe our Breaking Point Report contains sufficient information to enable the Minister and her Department to identify the transgressions immediately. Over and above our Report, which is the tip of the iceberg, the Minister’s Department has all the information to hand to begin with their investigation immediately.  

The organisations agreed to provide the Minister with a Memorandum that will highlight issues to be included in her investigations as well as recommendations that will address the inadequacies in the systemic framework.  

We look forward to the results of the investigation.  As environmental, social justice and animal protection organisations we will continue to speak up for animals and the environment. 

The report can be sourced here: https://emsfoundation.org.za/the-breaking-point-uncovering-south-africas-shameful-live-wildlife-trade-with-china/

Contact Details:

Smaragda Louw , DIRECTOR, BAN ANIMAL TRADING smaragda@bananimaltrading.org

 Michele Pickover, DIRECTOR, THE EMS FOUNDATION michele@emsfoundation.org.za                                                      

                          

                                           

IMAGE CREDIT: BAN ANIMAL TRADING

© 2020 EMS Foundation. All rights reserved.

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EXPOSED: ILLEGAL WILDLIFE TRADE BOOMING THANKS TO LEGAL WILDLIFE TRADE

WRITTEN BY: JARED KUKURA

Illegal wildlife trade negatively impacts economies and ecosystems around the globe. In contrast, legal and regulated wildlife trade greatly benefits people and their surrounding environments.

Those two prior statements are opinions, not necessarily facts, held by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Secretariat. CITES being an international treaty aimed at regulating the trade of many animal and plant species and the Secretariat being the group responsible for administering the treaty.

The Secretariat reiterated their stance on legal and illegal wildlife trade when questioned about their role in preventing future pandemics. Many called for CITES to expand their role in wildlife trade beyond regulation, but the Secretariat responded they do not have the competence to comment on the link between wildlife consumption and zoonotic diseases.

Despite the Secretariat’s attempt at sidestepping responsibility for public health, wildlife trade and zoonotic diseases remain as intertwined as ever. A United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report shows that 60% of known and 75% of emerging infectious diseases are zoonotic. COVID-19 likely followed the same path, jumping from wildlife to humans. Research also confirms wildlife exploitation, like hunting and trade, is increasing opportunities for future disease transmissions from wildlife to humans. As well, a report from Traffic, an organisation dedicated to monitoring global trade in animals and plants, demonstrates that the public health risk remains with both legal and illegal wildlife trade, although noting illegal practices can cause additional risk.

And just as the Secretariat fail to assume any responsibility for the public health threats associated with wildlife trade, they fail to acknowledge the link between illegal and legal wildlife trade. It is all too easy to promote the benefits of legal wildlife trade while criticizing illegal trade. But the reality is that legal wildlife trade fuels illegal wildlife trade by providing cover for illicit activities.

An investigation by EMS Foundation (EMS) and Ban Animal Trading (BAT) culminated in a report confirming the connection between illegal and legal wildlife trade. The report, BREAKING POINT: Uncovering South Africa’s Shameful Live Wildlife Trade with China, details the illegal and questionable trade of thousands of live animals under the pretense of legal trade.

Large-scale illegal wildlife trade between South Africa and China is not surprising. Research shows China is a major source of illegal trade thanks to their revitalization of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), investment in the developing world, and expansion of accessible trade routes. Add to this that many African nations’ growth strategies encourage prosperity at the expense of biodiversity loss and there is a perfect storm of illegal wildlife trade.

The more than 5,000 live animals listed in the report represent only a fraction of all wildlife exports from South Africa to China between 2015 and 2019. The level of regulation provided for trade in different species varies from strict to lenient. And while many of the species are under CITES regulation, there are also a number of concerning examples of trade in non-CITES regulated species. The Secretariat would, no doubt, absolve themselves of any responsibility of illegal trade in non-CITES regulated species which only raises more questions about the efficacy of the treaty and legal wildlife trade.

Species listed under CITES Appendix I are noted as being threatened with extinction and should theoretically receive the most comprehensive protection and their trade the strictest regulation. Trade in Appendix I species is only allowed if a non-detriment finding (NDF), an analysis ensuring trade does not hinder species’ survival, is made from a scientific authority body from both the exporting and importing countries. Trade, for these species, is not allowed for primarily commercial purposes and only under exceptional circumstances. 

However, guidelines for NDFs are left ambiguous and there is also a caveat that allows captive breeding facilities to trade Appendix I species for commercial purposes if the facility is registered with CITES. The registration process is as simple as filling out a questionnaire for review by the Secretariat. No guidelines provided by CITES are legally binding and allow for easy exploitation by parties wishing to make a quick profit.

For example, chimpanzees, an Appendix I species, were legally exported from South Africa to China without an appropriate NDF and primarily for commercial purposes between parties not registered with CITES. There is no evidence to suggest the 18 chimpanzees, two of which were reported as pregnant at time of export, sold by Hartbeespoort Snake and Animal Park were captive bred and not taken from the wild and illegally imported into South Africa. The only evidence suggesting the chimpanzees were captive bred came from a letter signed by the export agent, Christa Saayman of Mystic Monkeys and Feathers. A signed letter from an export agent is not sufficient proof of legality.

Worse yet, exporting chimpanzees to a zoo, Beijing Wild Animal Park in this case, can hardly be considered an exceptional circumstance and for non-commercial purposes. There is no conservation value in exporting chimpanzees to Chinese zoos. These chimpanzees are living in concrete rooms surrounded by glass panels and serve only as attractions for paying visitors. Unable to ever go outside, they are reduced to nothing more than museum exhibits.

Other Appendix I species including cheetahs, jaguars, lemurs, and tigers were shipped from South Africa to Chinese zoos and fail to meet the criteria of being primarily non-commercial and exceptional. Surely, many will seek to defend these transactions by arguing the conservation benefits of some zoos. While the positives and negatives of zoos can be debated for some specific facilities around the world, the zoos listed in the report offer nothing more than entertainment for paying customers at the expense of wildlife.

About half of the animals listed in the report fall under protection of CITES Appendix II and III. Trade in Appendix II and III species is less restrictive than for Appendix I species but still regulated, nonetheless. EMS and BAT found many instances of invalid permits and documentation being incomplete or incorrect, or both.

Most of the animals under Appendix II and III protection were sent to Chinese wholesalers and brokers without a disclosed destination or to breeding farms where they can no longer be traced. A disturbing piece of the report shows that hundreds of primates were sold to laboratories or laboratory breeding farms. The fate of these animals is unknown, but it can be surmised they are being used for commercial purposes and have no value in conservation.

As mentioned, a few species exported from South Africa to China are not offered protections under the CITES framework. The most concerning being the African wild dog, listed as an endangered species. Assumptions are often made that an endangered species listing would automatically garner the most comprehensive protection possible from CITES. Unfortunately, those assumptions are wrong. CITES framework only regulates trade of species the Secretariat deems appropriate. This means the 35 African wild dogs shipped to China since 2018 received no protection under CITES.

A past instance of African wild dog trade detailed by the report demonstrates why this is alarming. Manus Pretorius claims to have exported African wild dogs around the world, including China. He was also wrapped up in a controversial relocation of African wild dogs from South Africa to Zimbabwe. Pretorius held 24 wild caught African wild dogs in captivity before releasing them to Painted Dog Conservation. Only 16 were released back into the wild with seven believed to have died and one being a pregnant female. Of the 16 individuals released back into the wild, Painted Dog Conservation found only two of them were from the original 24 and the rest were captive bred.

CITES protection of African wild dogs was discussed in 2016. But the Secretariat deemed the work needed to protect the species too significant without evidence of trade threatening the species. An important note is that trade is not viewed as a threat simply because there is no official data surrounding international trade in the species. However, African wild dogs are found in zoos around the world. How does the Secretariat think they got there?

It is painfully obvious there is a burgeoning international market for African wild dogs. Instead of the Secretariat working to protect the endangered species, they dodge responsibility on a technicality of no official data being present. This sums up the Secretariat, and many other groups promoting legal wildlife trade, perfectly. Everyone wants to take responsibility for the positives of wildlife trade, namely the economic impact. But no one is willing to accept responsibility in preventing the negatives like zoonotic disease proliferation and illegal wildlife trade.

Often lost in the discussion of legal wildlife trade is the topic of animal welfare. When the value of a living being is calculated in monetary terms, it is easy to treat it like a commodity. The only language in the CITES framework surrounding animal welfare consists of shipment practices aimed at minimizing cruelty and recipients of Appendix I species providing suitable housing and care.

Apparently, a cement room surrounded by glass panels is suitable housing for chimpanzees. Even animals housed outside, like African wild dogs and hyenas, are restricted to stone and cement pathways with grass behind fences and beyond their reach. Captivity in these environments means animal suffering, pure and simple.

Until advocates of legal wildlife trade can decouple the inherent consequences of the industry, we can expect more coronaviruses and less biodiversity. The thing is, though, we do not necessarily need the consequences decoupled from legal wildlife trade. There is an easier and better option. We can ban wildlife trade.

Bans have lower transactional costs than regulations since less technical expertise is needed to enforce them. As the report also points out, bans send a clear message that this type of wildlife exploitation is no longer socially and ecologically acceptable. The EMS and BAT investigation makes another thing clear, illegal wildlife trade is not the only problem facing our world. The legal wildlife trade is just as problematic.

Jared Kukura is a freelance wildlife conservation writer based in California. He founded Wild Things Initiative to highlight the negative ramifications of the wildlife trade and hunting industries.

Image Credit: Karl Ammann on location in China. Karl Ammann is a conservationist and wildlife photographer.

© 2020 EMS Foundation. All rights reserved.

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