News24 (South Africa)

2018-12-04 21:44

Newly appointed Environmental Affairs Minister Nomvula Mokonyane is expected to review policies and practices on hunting and trading in endangered species.

The minister will appoint a high-level panel to look at current legislation involving the breeding, hunting, trading and handling of rhinos, leopards, elephants and lions.

Departmental spokesperson Albi Modise said the panel would conduct public hearings into the matter, as well as consider scientific evidence and other forms of information.

“The panel will identify gaps and seek to understand and make recommendations on the basis of the subject matter. It will also review the implementation of the recommendations of the committee of inquiry into the feasibility, or not, of a legal rhino horn trade, and any future decision affecting trade-related proposals to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES),” said Modise.

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The department says it has, for years, dealt with a number of emotive and complex conservation and sustainability issues, including elephant management, the ivory stockpile, trade in rhino horn, and the emerging issue of the lion bone trade.

There are 3 500 African lions in the wild in South Africa, making the country one of seven in the world with substantial populations. The Non-Detrimental Finding (NDF) found there were presently no major threats to the wild lion population.

Modise said approximately 7 000 lions were kept in around 260 captive breeding facilities in South Africa.

“Lions are bred in captivity for various reasons; including hunting, but also as a potential source for the establishment of new lion populations. Some are sold to start new conservation areas, whilst others are donated to countries whose own lions have long become extinct,” said Modise.

He added that, taking into account the current compliance inspections of lion captive breeding facilities being conducted throughout the country, there was a need to harmonise sustainable use with strictly controlled legal international trade and monitoring.

“In accordance with regulations, the minister has amended the 2018 lion bone export quota to 800 skeletons, from 1 500 skeletons announced in June 2018. The new quota is the same as the allocation for 2017.

“The maintenance of the 2017 quota will allow the department to reflect on the effectiveness of the implementation of the quota, enhance compliance and monitoring systems, and further allow the high-level panel being appointed to incorporate these issues into their work,” he said.

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