GRAVE CONCERNS ABOUT THE MPUMALANGA PROVINCIAL AUTHORITIES ENABLING THE CRUEL, INDISCRIMINATE AND UNSCIENTIFIC MANAGEMENT OF VERVET MONKEYS

The Members of the Wildlife Animal Protection Forum of South Africa addressed an urgent letter to the Chief Executive Officer of the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency with regard to their concerns about permits issued by the MTPA which would enable the cruel, indiscriminate and unscientific management of vervet monkeys in Mpumalanga.

GRAVE CONCERNS ABOUT MPUMALANGA PROVINCIAL AUTHORITIES ENABLING THE CRUEL, INDISCRIMINATE AND UNSCIENTIFIC MANAGEMENT OF VERVET MONKEYS

The Wildlife Animal Protection Forum of South Africa (WAPFSA), a collective of thirty organisations, has a history of interest in the protection and conservation of wild animals in South Africa, sharing a body of expertise from different sectors including but not limited to scientific, environmental, legal, welfare, rights, social justice, climate, indigenous and public advocacy backgrounds.

Members of WAPFSA are also part of the Ministerial Wildlife Well-being Forum, instituted by the Department of Forestry, Fishery and the Environment (DFFE) in May 2023, by special request of Minister Barbara Creecy, in order to consult with organisations focused on best practices for the protection of wildlife.

The NEM:BA amendments came into effect on 30 June 2023. The Honourable Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment, is currently in the process of implementing a legislative mandate to prohibit activities that may have a negative impact on the well-being of wild animals and to make regulations in relation to the well-being of wild animals, as per Section 2 of NEM:BA.

In the aforementioned section of NEM:BA, it is specified that all procedural activities that constitute biodiversity management, conservation and sustainable use of wild animals, including the issuing of permits, must consider the well-being of animals.

Section 9A of NEM:BA in particular, refers to any activity where there is reasonable evidence of a potential negative impact on animal well-being, using the wording “that may have a negative impact” which means that it is not required to have absolute proof of a negative impact to prohibit any activity. It implies that a precautionary approach, in line with the NEMA principles, must prevail.

URGENT REQUEST FOR INCLUSION OF INDIGENOUS NON-HUMAN PRIMATE SPECIES IN THE SOUTH AFRICAN THREATENED OR PROTECTED SPECIES LISTING

WAPFSA members wrote a letter to the Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment on the 14th December 2023 requesting the inclusion six indigenous non-hum primate species in the South African Threatened or Protected Species Listing.

It is the Minister’s discretion to list species that fall into the criteria in Section 56 (1) (d): protected species. Such species do not necessarily have to be mentioned in other conservation lists such as the IUCN List or any other external lists. Provided that the proposed species fall into the description of those categories, they can be added to the TOPS list.

This followed the formal request from WAPFSA members on the 21st November 2023.

Image Credit: KVET Pringle Bay, South Africa

©WAPFSA 2023. All Rights Reserved.

TOPS LISTINGS AND TOPS REGULATIONS 2023 A SUBMISSION OF COMMENTS FROM WAPFSA WITH A FORMAL REQUEST FOR THE ADDITION OF NON-HUMAN INDIGENOUS PRIMATES TO THE TOPS LISTING

Despite new provisions in NEM:BA and a new vision of “secured, restored, and rewilded natural landscapes with thriving populations of Elephant, Lion, Rhino, and Leopard, as indicators for a vibrant, responsible, inclusive, transformed, and sustainable wildlife sector” this version of the TOPS Regulations remains focussed on the monetization of wildlife, including the endorsement of the continuation of certain activities such as commercial exhibitions, travelling exhibition of TOPS species, which include zoos and circuses and the continuation of the breeding, trading and exporting of TOPS.

In a reply from Minister Barbara Creecy to a letter from WAPFSA members Ban Animal Trading/EMS Foundation:  “The legislative mandate to regulate the well-being of wild animals, which has been included in NEM:BA as an amendment through the National Environmental Management Laws Amendment Act, 2022 (Act No. 2 of 2022), came into force on 30 June 2023 when Proclamation Notice No. 125 was published in Government Gazette No. 48869. I now have the legislative mandate to prohibit activities that may have a negative impact on the well-being of wild animals, and to make regulations in relation to the well-being of wild animals. These legislative amendments will be initiated in due course.”

WAPFSA members have proposed the addition of non-human indigenous primates to the current TOPS list as protected species. 

South Africa is home to six indigenous non-human primate species: the Chacma baboon, Samango monkey, Vervet monkey, Thick-tailed Bushbaby, Southern lesser Bushbaby, and Mozambique dwarfed Bushbaby.

WAPFSA Members strongly support the fact that non-human primates have high conservation value and national importance which require regulation in order to ensure that these species are managed in an ecologically sustainable manner and are protected in compliance with Section 24 of the Constitution.

©WAPFSA 2023. All Rights Reserved.

PROHIBITION OF THE ESTABLISHMENT OR REGISTRATION OF NEW CAPTIVE BREEDING FACILITIES, COMMERCIAL EXHIBITION FACILITIES OR SANCTUARIES FOR LIVE SPECIMENS OF AFRICAN LION

WAPFSA COMMENTS ON GOVERNMENT NOTICE UNDER SECTION 9A READ WITH SECTIONS 99 AND 100 OF NEMBA 2004 (ACT NO. 10 OF 2004)

The Wildlife Animal Protection Forum of South Africa WAPFSA is a collaborative network consisting of 30 (thirty) organisations representing the interests of wild animals and the natural environment as a vehicle with which to engage with the South African government on subject matter which includes, amongst other, wild animal protection, ethical and compassionate conservation, welfare, biodiversity loss and climate change.

South Africa is home to the world’s largest commercial lion farming industry. Lions are bred, often in appalling conditions, they are exploited for profit at every stage of their short lives.

At some facilities in South Africa cubs are removed from their mothers within a few days of their birth and are placed in the care of unsuspecting foreign and local volunteers who pay handsomely for the opportunity to look after “orphaned lions and other big cats”. Captive lions and other big cat cubs are also utilised in cub petting and various tourist interaction industries such as “walking with lions”.

When the cubs have reached the desired age and are no longer considered safe to be utilised in the tourist industry some of the lions are hunted for trophies either for the local hunting industry or for trophies that are exported to countries that condone canned lion hunting. Canned lion hunting reserves in South Africa typically have reinforced fences to prevent the lions from escaping during a hunt. Some of the lions are kept in small enclosures so that hunters with minimal skill, energy, patience or time can still successfully kill them.

The Members of WAPFSA are pleased that the Minister and the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment are finally initiating concrete steps against this distasteful industry. We encourage the South African government to do more to prevent the disturbing practices taking place at these breeding facilities.

WAPFSA members remain concerned about the trade, including live lions, the hunt and consumption of lions and all big cats and they stress the need for a just transition and re-establishment of harmonious coexistence with Nature and the protection of the web of life.

WAPFSA members support the acknowledgement of sentience in this Document and recommend that sentience is included and recognised in all DFFE policies and legislation in relation to wildlife. The inclusion of sentience is in line with the implementation of NEM:BA and the principles of wildlife well-being.

In the Draft prohibition, we noted the mention of the prohibition, of the introduction of live specimens of African lion; this therefore covers the prohibition of breeding and introducing new cubs. WAPFSA members are of the strong opinion that sentience should be referenced in this Prohibition and all the policies in relation to wildlife, underscoring the current efforts to implement principles of animal well-being as stated in NEM:BA and they stress that sentience should for no reason been removed in the finalised version of the document.

WAPFSA members would like the Draft Prohibition to properly address the issue of stockpiling, and implement the abolishment of all big cat bone stockpiles.

The prohibition to breed ALL big cats in South Africa is urgently required as currently there is a lack of effective monitoring and regulation at captive breeding facilities to monitor births, deaths transportation of live cats and the disposal of carcasses. This means that captive breeding facilities can act as a conduit for illegal and illicit trade. Similarly, prohibitions should be urgently promulgated to end the handling of, petting of and interactions with lions by humans for commercial purposes.

©WAPFSA 2023. All Rights Reserved.

WAPFSA COMMENTS ON THE DRAFT POLICY POSITION FOR THE SUSTAINABLE USE OF ELEPHANT, LION, LEOPARD AND RHINOCEROS 2023

WAPFSA members support many elements contained in this Draft Policy Position, which are also in line with the White paper, these include:

  1. “Thriving People and Nature”, which reconnects with Ubuntu, the Indigenous Knowledge and the principles of Harmonious Coexistence and is consistent with the United Nations Environment Program’s Living in Harmony with Nature by 2050;
  2. “South Africa’s priority is to secure the survival of species in the wild”;
  3. “Focus primarily on correcting unsustainable practices”;
  4. “The environment is protected” as a priority;
  5. “Duty of care” at the biodiversity, species and individual level
  6. The well-being of wildlife is recognised, including the “well-being of individual animals”
  7. “End the Captive keeping of Lion for commercial purposes” and
  8. “Potentially apply this to other species”;
  9. “Phasing out the domestication and intensification of management of Rhinoceros”.

WAPFSA members are, however, deeply concerned about the emphasis given to the set of human interactions that produce, trade, hunt and consume wildlife euphemistically known as the wildlife economy.

The White Paper on Conservation and Sustainable Use of South Africa`s Biodiversity (2022) although presenting the wildlife economy as an opportunity for growth, also indicates that the consumptive practices associated with it can have negative impacts if conducted too intensively, or inappropriately.

©WAPFSA 2023. All Rights Reserved.

CONCERN REGARDING THE ELEPHANT HUNTING INCIDENT IN BALULE NATURE RESERVE

The Wildlife Animal Protection Forum South Africa (WAPFSA), consists of a community of diverse South African-based organisations who share similar values, knowledge and objectives.  WAPFSA collectively offers a formidable body of expertise and advocacy drawn from different sectors, including but not limited to, scientific, environmental, legal, welfare, rights, social justice and indigenous knowledge. 

Member organisations of the Wildlife Animal Protection Forum of South Africa have written an open letter to Minister Barbara Creecy, amongst others, highlighting their concerns about an elephant hunt which took place in Balule Nature Reserve, in Limpopo Province of South Africa on the 3rd September 2023.

The Balule Nature Reserve forms part of the Associated Private Nature Reserves, (APNR), an association of privately owned nature reserves bordering the Kruger National Park (KNP). 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. South African National Parks (SANParks) has never addressed this problem.

The elephant bulls that are commercially trophy hunted in the Balule Nature Reserve form part of South Africa’s national heritage but they are being killed for the benefit of a small number of wealthy white landowners as the amount of money actually accruing to local communities remains unknown. 

On Sunday the 3rd of September 2023, a bull elephant was shot and wounded by a trophy hunter in the Maseke area of the Balule Nature Reserve. Obviously, the traumatised and injured elephant attempted to get away. He left the Maseke area and went into the neighbouring Grietjie Private Nature Reserve. The deputy head warden of Maseke initiated a search for the elephant with a helicopter.  The elephant was located and driven back to Maseke using the helicopter where he was killed. 

According to Mr Ian Novak the General Manager of Balule Nature Reserve, the elephant hunt was legal and no Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area Reserve Protocol violations were committed.

Maseke is a region located within the Balule Nature Reserve.  Maseke Game Reserve, Balule Nature Reserve and Grietjie Nature Reserve all form part of the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area Reserve. 

The Greater Kruger Hunting Protocol was developed and endorsed by signatories which included representatives from South African National Parks, Limpopo Economic Development, Environment and Tourism and Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agencies.   The number of elephants that are allowed to be hunted annually is determined by the Associated Private Nature Reserves ecological panel and reviewed and then endorsed by SANParks and the Limpopo Economic Development, Environment and Tourism Biodiversity. 

Many international visitors to South Africa, and to the Kruger National Park, are unaware that the hunting of elephants is permissible.  The Kruger National Park was named as one of the World Wonders on the new list which was published on the 14th of September 2023.  “A listing that reveals global landmarks and natural marvels that the world is most curious about.”  The Kruger National Park forms part of the UNESCO Kruger to Canyon Biosphere Reserve. 

The fences separating all the Associated Private Nature Reserves and the Kruger National Park were dropped to reduce fragmentation, facilitate migration and increase space for wildlife and access to resources, in other words, to increase the well-being of animals. The perennial Olifants River flows for approximately 20 km through the centre of the Balule reserve and, for example, elephants cross Maseke into Grietjie to access the river. 

The killing of this particular elephant was described as being upsetting to some and not an ideal situation. Of major concern is that this is not the first time that there has been a controversial elephant hunt on Maseke.  On the 23rd November 2018, Sharon Haussmann, the then chairperson of Balule, initiated a full investigation after an elephant was shot thirteen times in front of guests. Sharon Haussman described that incident as completely unethical, inconsiderate and a huge embarrassment for Balule.   

In the APNR, current and historical mismanagement, breaches of the Greater Kruger Hunting Protocols, and sometimes even negligence during trophy hunts, reflect not only badly on the hunting fraternity, but also on the photographic safari or eco-tourism sector in the Greater Kruger National Park and South Africa as a whole. Some examples include:

  1. Early 2005, an elephant hunted in the Klaserie was shot 21 times before it succumbed.
  2. In June 2005, an American hunter wounded an elephant in Balule, but only killed it 24 hours later.
  3. In March 2006, a lion, one of a well-known pair known as the “Sohebele brothers” was shot and wounded in the Umbabat, but the hunter was unable to kill the animal, as its brother refused to leave the scene. The hunter later repeatedly drove a tractor at the lions in an attempt to separate them but failed. The lion was killed by rangers only the following morning.
  4. Later that month, a large, one-tusked male elephant was shot and wounded by a Spanish hunter in the Umbabat, believed to have fled into the KNP and was not found since.
  5. March 2013, an elephant was shot in the very close proximity to Ingwelala’s eastern boundary. The wounded elephantl ran directly south towards Motswari Lodge and was followed by the hunting party, who continued to fire 20+ shots before it was finally killed in the close proximity to the lodge with many guests. Motswari Lodge was never informed that this hunt was to take place and was caught completely off-guard. The effect on their guests and staff was devastating.
  6. In August 2018, a scheduled elephant hunt conducted in Balule led to the illegal killing of a collared male elephant. Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Authority (MTPA) laid criminal charges and the warden was subsequently convicted.
  7. In December 2018, a young elephant was shot multiple times in Balule in front of photographic safari tourists staying at a neighbouring property.

After the latest unfortunate hunting incident, the General Manager of Balule stated that : “Hunting is never an exact science and no matter how many targets a client shoots at before the hunt, there is never any guarantee that he will make the perfect shot when faced with the real thing. The nature of a hunt is unpredictable and this is not a reflection on the capabilities of the Maseke Reserve Representative.

WAPFSA is ethically opposed to the hunting and killing of any animal for sport or pleasure.  WAPFSA has openly challenged claims made by proponents of trophy hunting that it delivers significant conservation and community benefits or that it positively contributes to the sustainable use of wildlife in South Africa.

WAPFSA has previously highlighted how trophy hunting is rooted in colonial modes of extraction which continues to perpetuate notions of abuse, subjugation, control and inequality. Dr Muchazondida Mkono’s research[1] has found that trophy hunting is an objectionable consequence of a complex historical and postcolonial association.  Africans have a deep resentment towards what is viewed as the neo-colonial character of trophy hunting, in the way it privileges Western elites in accessing Africa’s wildlife. 

WAPFSA also opposes trophy hunting based on scientific evidence. In relation to elephants, research challenges the assumptions by trophy hunters that selectively killing older male elephants has no negative consequences because they are “redundant” in the population. Elephants are sentient beings who live socially complex lives through relationships which radiate out from a mother-offspring bond through families, clans, and sub populations. Independent males form long-term friendships. Elephants communicate through more than 300 gestures, complex speech and glandular secretions. They contemplate, negotiate, collaborate, plan and are aware of death. They care about their lives. The  killing of older males has a detrimental effect on the wider elephant society through loss of leaders crucial to younger male navigation. In addition, when trophy hunters eliminate these 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. 

According to the General Manager of the Balule Nature Reserve, Maseke is permitted to kill twelve elephants per year, a practise which he states will continue, and one which is, in their opinion, in line with the constitution of South Africa. 

However, in terms of NEM:BA, the South African government is entitled to make policy decisions in relation to contentious and damaging practices, decisions that are in the public interest, prioritising public opinion and the economic benefits of the public.  

NEM:BA includes the notion of “well-being”, which is defined as the “holistic circumstances and conditions of an animal, which are conducive to its physical, physiological and mental health and quality of life, including the ability to cope with its environment.” The consideration of the well-being of animals must be included in the management, conservation and sustainable use thereof”. 

The entirely new section, 9A in NEM:BA, empowers the DFFE Minister to prohibit certain activities “that may negatively impact on the well-being of an animal […]” and create new offences “relating to non-compliance with s9A”; S101, then, refers to accountability of “person who contravenes or fails to comply […]” 

It is our considered view that well-being falls within DFFE and the Minister’s legal mandate. The amendment to section 2 makes it necessary for well-being to be specifically considered, including when permits are granted, including those for hunting and all decisions that constitute “management, conservation and sustainable use” of animals.

S9A is widely drafted and applies to any activity, including hunting, as well as any other activities not so defined, provided there was reasonable evidence of a potential negative impact on wellbeing. S9A also uses the wording “that may have a negative impact” which means that the Minister is not required to provide absolute proof of a negative impact before making a prohibition. 

Given the above amendments to NEM:BA, it is competent for the Honourable Minister to: 

  1. Prohibit specific activities involving animals under s9A on the basis that there is already evidence that the activities impact negatively on wellbeing; and/or 
  2. Publish a notice under section 9A prohibiting specific activities if there is reasonable evidence to support the view that this may have a negative effect on well-being;
  3. Make regulations relating to the well-being of animals under s97; and/or
  4. Challenge decisions of conservation officials which constitute administrative action (such as permitting decisions or the setting of quotas) on the basis that well-being is a relevant factor and has not been considered or on the basis that the decision would have a negative impact on the well-being of an animal or animals.

The aforementioned letter from the General Manager of Balule concluded that the hunt was conducted in accordance with the requirements and approved protocols. Have the representatives from South African National Parks, Limpopo Economic Development, Environment and Tourism and Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agencies taken the amendments to NEM:BA into consideration, are their approved protocols compliant with the national legislation and particularly with the duty of taking into account the well-being of animals in any hunt?

WAPFSA is aware that there is an ongoing court case, which seeks to challenge hunting and export quotas permitted by the government, in the Western Cape High Court. In light of this legal challenge, the undesigning members of WAPFSA are requesting Minister Creecy to: 

  1. Investigate if permits to hunt twelve elephants were issued, as specified in the letter from the Balule administration, despite the interim interdict. 
  2. Revoke permits and halt any further hunt of elephants as well as rhinos, leopards and lions as per interdict, 
  3. AS this is not the first incident, withhold hunting permits to the Maseke-based hunting entity involved; and 
  4. Finally address the complex issue of trophy hunting as it is allowed in certain unfenced reserves of the APNR and elsewhere, and is incompatible with individual animal and species’ well-being considerations. 

[1] Mucha Mkono (2019) Neo-colonialism and greed: Africans’ views on trophy hunting in social media, Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 27:5, 689-704, DOI: 10.1080/09669582.2019.1604719

Image Credit: EMS Foundation, an elephant in the Kruger National Park February 2023

©WAPFSA 2023. All Rights Reserved.

WAPFSA REQUESTS IMMEDIATE REMOVAL OF IT’S NAME FROM THE WILDLIFE RANCHING SOUTH AFRICA WEBSITE

“It has come to the attention of WAPFSA that Wildlife Ranching South Africa (WRSA) has included WAPFSA on the Forum and Membership menu of their website, and in addition, mistakenly used the South African Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment logo.

WAPFSA has requested that WRSA urgently removes WAPFSA from the WRSA website.”

©WAPFSA 2023. All Rights Reserved.

OBJECTION TO THE PROPOSED CONSTRUCTION OF POWERLINE AND ASSOCIATED SUBSTATION WORKS, IN THE MOPANI AND SEKHUKHUNE DISTRICT MUNICIPALITIES

On the 3rd September 2023 WAPFSA formally objected to the construction of a Eskom Foskor-Merensky 400kV power line and the associated sustain works in the Mopane and Sekhukhune district municipalities on the grounds that this project will have disastrous negative consequences for wildlife conservation in an important wildlife corridor and sensitive biodiversity area.

The proposed power line project stands in stark contrast to the principles and goals enshrined in the recently approved White Paper on Conservation and Sustainable Use of South Africa’s Biodiversity (the ‘White Paper’).

In light of the objections listed WAPFSA is of the view that the DSR requires significant revision, including consultation with environmental experts before the process can be allowed to continue.

Image Credit: Gurcharan Roopra

©WAPFSA 2023. All Rights Reserved.

UNITED KINGDOM HUNTING TROPHIES IMPORTANT PROHIBITION BILL LETTER TO PRIME MINISTER RISHI SUNAK

The Wildlife Animal Protection Forum of South Africa (WAPFSA) wishes to express our deep concern that time is running out for the Hunting Trophies (Import Prohibition) Bill, which carries overwhelming public support and would fulfil a government manifesto commitment, to become law. 

The Bill’s Committee Stage in the House of Lords has yet to be scheduled, and with the current parliamentary session due to end in November, there is a real danger that the Bill will run out of time. Lords Hamilton and Mancroft have also tabled amendments which would fatally weaken the Bill. 

WAPFSA is a community of diverse South African-based organisations that share certain values, knowledge and objectives and that collectively comprise a body of expertise from different sectors including but not limited to scientific, environmental, legal, welfare, rights, social justice, indigenous and public advocacy backgrounds.

The undersigned organisations and community representatives are widely supported by wildlife conservationists across the African continent and beyond and would like to take this opportunity to share our African perspective on the negative impacts of the commercialisation, advertisement and sale of trophy hunts of African endangered and protected species with you. 

Countries across Europe have acknowledged the fact that trophy hunting has little connection with conservation, on the 13th of December 2022 the Finnish Parliament approved a new nature conservation law that includes the banning of imports of hunting trophies from endangered species. 

The Finnish Nature Conservation Act will enter into force on the 1st of June 2023. In 2015 France specifically banned the import of lion trophies. In 2016 the Netherlands banned the import of hunting trophies of over 200 hundred species. In March 2022 the Belgium Parliament adopted a resolution urging the government to immediately end the authorisation of trophy import permits for certain threatened and endangered species. 

Scientists tell us that removing male mammals from their populations can increase the risks of species extinction. By selecting the most impressive, largest, most rare, usually male, that is usually the strongest and fittest in order to become the best trophy (largest tusks and thickest manes), trophy hunters affect reproductivity thereby weakening populations’ genetic health and variation, dislocating the surviving members of the group’s social structure, disrupting bonds and behaviours.  

“Hunting Africa, Trophy Hunting, Neo-colonialism and Land” is an investigative report written by Professor Sian Sullivan, in which she confirms Safari Club International World Hunting Award Field Journal dedicates more pages to Africa than any other continent.  “These figures clearly show the dependence of the trophy hunting industry on securing access to Africa’s hunting grounds. Given that the hunting industry claims to African lands requires removal of African peoples and constraints on local production practices, it arguably promotes and extends colonial patterns of enclosure.

Trophy hunting is rooted in colonial modes of extraction that perpetuate notions of abuse, subjugation, control and inequality, including gender inequality Dr Muchazondida Mkono’s research[1] has found that trophy hunting is an objectionable consequence of a complex historical and postcolonial association.  Africans have a deep resentment towards what is viewed as the neo-colonial character of trophy hunting, in the way it privileges Western elites in accessing Africa’s wildlife. 

Proponents of trophy hunting argue that trophy hunting provides vast economic opportunities for local communities whereas, in truth, the economic benefits of big game hunting are wildly exaggerated and pale in comparison to the economic possibilities of eco-tourism. Yet, according to a 2013 study by Economists at Large, only 3% of the revenue generated by trophy hunting remains with local communities in Africa. In addition, hunting quotas are often set according to economic interests and market demand rather than population abundance and are not based on scientific data or standards. 

In reality, trophy hunting is an elitist hobby for millionaires and billionaires who pay huge fees to kill large exotic and rare animals. Cash-strapped and corrupt governments in developing countries allow the colonialist sport to continue. According to a Report by Good Governance Africa, compared with tourism, trophy hunting provides very little benefit.  The Report also questions whether the legally sanctioned killing of wild animals can be reasonably tolerated. 

When there is a conflict between humans and large wildlife in Africa, this conflict is managed in fruitless ways that only have the purpose to generate revenue within the strict elite circle of the trophy hunting industry, without solving the conflict issue. Alternative, science-based, non-invasive, cost-effective methods are scraped out because of the constructed idea that trophy hunting has to be part of any conservation protocol. 

Projects that offer optimal alternatives to trophy hunting, in terms of improving the livelihoods of local communities, based on regenerative, climate-resilient practices and alternative conservation activities that reject and avoid violence, subjugation and extraction in favour of more ecologically sustainable and dignifying activities exist in countries in Africa, including Tanzania, South Africa, Namibia, MalawiZimbabweZambia, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Lesotho, Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, and Madagascar. 

These practices promote fair share and equity, women and youth empowerment and self-sufficiency. These projects focus on improving farming productivity and food security via climate-smart agricultural practices they encourage economic development and wildlife coexistence and resilience. We are aware that these often activities struggle to flourish because of the competition with extractive, immediate-reward models and sectors which are plagued with corruption and nepotism as the hunting sector. 

In Namibia, for example, more than 95% of trophy hunts are conducted on private land and only about 2 per cent in communal conservancies.[1] Hardly any financial revenue is derived from trophy hunting in these communities. Governments are not interested 

In monitoring if revenues are allocated fairly. Furthermore, many locals feel excluded from the benefits their wildlife offers, since trophy hunting is a privilege of wealthy foreign tourists, while they themselves are mostly prohibited to hunt for subsidence. So instead of promoting economic independency and ensuring the livelihoods of local communities, trophy hunting deepens inequality and consolidates social injustice. 

In July 2022, in a joint position statement on Trophy Hunting, 171 animal protection organisations, including 51 NGOs from Africa, asked for trophy hunting to be banned. 

A recently published survey indicated that in South Africa the opposition to trophy hunting has increased from 64% in 2020 to 68% in 2022.  The survey included data sourced from a diverse South African demographic across all provinces. The key findings from the IPSOS survey include:

  • 68% of South Africans fully oppose or oppose to some extent the practice of trophy hunting – an increase from 56% in a similar 2018 survey.
  • 65% of South Africans fully oppose or oppose to some extent the practice of canned lion hunting – an increase from 60% in a similar 2018 survey. 
  • 64% of South Africans disagree with the trophy hunting of elephants, rhinos, and leopards.
  • 63% of South Africans disagree with the trophy hunting of lions.
  • 66% of South Africans disagree with the trophy hunting of hippos.
  • 60% of South Africans disagree with the trophy hunting of giraffes.
  • Regarding the 2022 hunting and export quotas announced by the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE) in February 2022, 63% oppose the quota for 150 elephants, 62% oppose the quota for 10 black rhinos, and 61% oppose the quota for 10 leopards.

World Animal Protection recently commissioned research into public attitudes towards trophy hunting, surveying 10,900 people from around the world, including international tourists from countries who most frequently visit  Africa. The research confirmed that international tourists want to see wildlife-friendly experiences and an end to trophy hunting. Tourists want to see wildlife alive and thriving and protected in a humane and ethical manner.  

study by the World Travel & Tourism Council confirmed that wildlife is worth more alive than deadAnother study of eight African countries by economists concluded that overall, tourism which relies heavily on wildlife contributed between 2.8% and 5.1% of GDP, and foreign trophy hunters made up less than 0.03% of the same GDP on average. Similarly, photo safaris, in comparison, allowed for sustainable, lucrative tourism activities without killing wildlife.The International Union for the Conservation of Nature Ethics Specialist Group wrote to the German government to ask for an end to the practice of trophy hunting imports for ethical, ecological and legal reasons. Professor Klaus Bosselmann, chair of the aforementioned group, said: “Trophy hunting unnecessarily threatens the survival and genetic integrity of protected species in the midst of the current crisis of the sixth mass species extinction. It is overdue that Germany, as the largest importer of hunting trophies in the EU, takes action.” Members of WAPFSA congratulate the German Ministry of the Environment, Steffi Lemke’s, announcement of their intention to restrict the import of hunting trophies from protected species in Germany.

WAPFSA also welcomed the announcement by IEG Italian Exhibition Group SpA in 2022 to discontinue Italy’s largest hunting fair in Vincenza in light of the fact that the event was incompatible with environmental values.  

As one of the countries directly associated with the outdated colonial practice of trophy hunting, the United Kingdom has an obligation as well as an opportunity to take leadership position on this matter.

While some members of the scientific fraternity do support the old-styled trophy hunting model, it is true that this scientific fraternity is largely funded by trophy hunting outfitters, including Safari Club International. While we understand the arguments based on commercial justification for prolonging these colonialist practices, WAPFSA recognises that these arguments do not represent Nature’s best interests, which are calling for more respectful alternatives in support of responsible biodiversity management. These models do already exist, some of which are detailed in this submission.

The United Kingdom has a real opportunity to take a firm stand against the trophy hunting industry. WAPFSA, therefore, urges you to fulfil your government’s commitment by ensuring that the Bill is given sufficient parliamentary time to pass into law during the current parliamentary session and that any amendments aimed at weakening the Bill are robustly opposed. 

1 Mucha Mkono (2019) Neo-colonialism and greed: Africans’ views on trophy hunting in social media, Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 27:5, 689-704, DOI: 10.1080/09669582.2019.1604719

2 C. MacLaren, J. Perche & A. Middleto, The value of hunting for conservation in the context of the biodiversity economy. REPORT – available at the link 2019-06-Hunting_report.pdf (resmob.org)

©WAPFSA 2023. All Rights Reserved.

SEVERE NEGATIVE IMPACT OF NAMIBIA’S DECISION TO KILL 86 000 CAPE FUR SEALS FOR COMMERCIAL PURPOSES ON THE WELL-BEING OF THE OCEAN AND AQUATIC BIODIVERSITY IN SOUTH AFRICA

WAPFSA wrote a letter to the Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment with regard to Namibia’s decision to kill 86000 Cape Fur Seals for commercial purposes.

The decision has been taken by the Namibian government to slaughter 86000 Cape fur seals despite a decrease in demand for seal pups and the mounting opposition from conservationists.  The brutal financially motivated killing of Cape fur seals in Namibia should be of concern to us all, because of the potential negative cascading effects on South African marine ecosystems.   

One such negative effect relates to sharks. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has warned that 37.5% of the 1 200 known species of sharks are threatened with extinction. South Africa is a Party to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals, also known as the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) with the objective to conserve migratory species throughout their ranges, including sharks that are listed in CMS Appendix I and II; according to CMS’s Article 2 and 2(2) and 2(3), (Parties) must take action, 

whenever possible and appropriate […] paying special attention to migratory species the conservation status of which is unfavourable and taking individually or in cooperation appropriate and necessary steps to conserve such species and their habitat [..] to avoid any migratory species becoming endangered;  […] shall endeavour to provide immediate protection for migratory species included in Appendix I and […] shall endeavour to conclude agreements covering the conservation and management of migratory species included in Appendix II.

Namibia is one of a few countries that are “participating non-parties” to the CMS which implies that they are party to one or more of the agreements, and/or have signed one or more of the MOUs, for example, they have signed an MOU for the protection of the Atlantic Turtle. 

The members of the Wildlife Animal Protection Forum South Africa (WAPFSA) recently prepared comments which were delivered to the South African Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE) on the Shark Biodiversity Management Plan, drafted in order to protect sharks. In direct contrast, Namibia’s Ministry of Fisheries approved a quota for the harvesting or culling of 80 000 seal pups and 6000 seal bulls to commence from the 1st of July 2023 and to continue till November. The Cape fur seal is one of the primary sources of food for many large sharks including the great white shark. 

On the 11th of July 2023, WAPFSA issued a public statement on the planned killing of seals in Namibia (see also Annexure I). The statement questioned the non-transparent and unscientific decision-making process with regard to this cruel and unacceptable slaughter. 

Two colonies of seals will be targeted during the planned slaughter period, the Cape Cross colony and the Walvis Bay colony, both near Swakopmund.  Of further concern is that both of these areas have a history of Cape fur seal mass mortality.  In   2020 and 2022, the phenomena of die-offs of the most common apex predator concerned local and international experts.  

AN UNJUSTIFIABLE MASSACRE

According to scientific articles, the exploitation of seal body parts for trade in Southern Africa is a colonial relic dating back to the 17th century.  Seals were slaughtered indiscriminately by sailors, for skins, meat and oil and for three centuries until 1899.

The slaughter in the modern day continues even though it is socially unacceptable and highly contested.  The actual slaughter, paradoxically, takes place inside nature reserves; before sunrise, away from eyewitnesses, while the beaches are closed.  

The Cape fur seals, who are not nocturnal mammals, are surprised in the dark or predawn. Terrified pups are rounded up, forcibly separated from their mothers, and violently beaten to death while the mothers watch from a short distance, and helplessly exchange mother–pup vocal highly distressed calls. 

Scientific research has indicated that these marine mammals are sentient, alert and able to discriminate calls with high acoustic similarity and identify their offspring even in extremely large and numerous colonies. The call is the primary identification signal between mother and pup.  Labourers are employed to club the pup to death or kill them with pick handles or shoot them. Pups get so terrified that they vomit their mothers’ milk in fear. Once the slaughter for the day is completed, the seal carcasses are piled up, taken away from the area by trucks and the blood is cleaned and removed before the oblivious tourists arrive.

CONCLUSION 

The Cape Fur Seal, and associated predators, range across the oceans of Southern Africa.   The Cape fur seal massacre in Namibia is promoted by short-sighted economic agendas, and it represents a threat to fragile local and extended ecosystems as well as to endangered species which are endemic to South Africa. 

The unjustified massacre of the Cape fur seal raises huge ethical, animal and human welfare, well-being and environmental concerns. 

The undersigning members of WAPFSA urge the DFFE Ministry to examine its objectives in terms of NEM:BA, to call for the protection of the Cape fur seal and to take all possible actions to halt stop this barbaric, unscientific and irresponsible massacre now, and to encourage long-term agreements to prevent this from happening in the future. 

©WAPFSA 2023. All Rights Reserved.