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.

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.

CONCERNS RAISED REGARDING THE CAPACITY TO HOST WILDLIFE WELL-BEING FORUM MEETINGS

The Members of the Wildlife Animal Protection Forum of South Africa have expressed their concern in a letter regarding the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment’s capacity to host the monthly meetings of the Wildlife Well-Being Forum as recommended by Minister Barbara Creecy.

Read the full letter:

The Honourable Minister launched the WWBF on a live-streamed meeting on the 5th of May 2023, with the promise that there would be meaningful, ongoing consultation between the members of the Wildlife Well-Being Forum and the Department with the recommendation of organised monthly meetings.

A draft work plan was shared within the WWBF for comments in mid-May and a preliminary meeting was held on the 30th of May 2023. The agenda included the election of a Chair and the planning of monthly meetings to be discussed and diarised.

At the time, the DFFE expressed concerns about not having the capacity to fulfil this role, especially on a monthly basis. Some attendees took the view that DFFE should chair WWBF meetings while others suggested various solutions such as electing an alternative Chair. In closing, the Department made a commitment to organise and chair all future engagements stating that the next meeting would take place at the end of June 2023.

Despite this commitment by DFFE, no meetings were scheduled in June, July or August. Representatives of the various organisations have now been informed, after several follow-ups by some WAPFSA members, that the next WWBF engagement will only be scheduled for the 5th of September 2023.

Members of WAPFSA find this unacceptable, particularly given the pressing issues that need to be discussed.

The undersigning members of WAPFSA are concerned that the Department may not have the capacity for important engagement and consultation with our sector, which was a recommendation of the High-Level Panel in 2021 fully supported by the Minister.

If the Department does not have the capacity to chair these meetings with the frequency that is required, and as recommended by the Minister, the Department should allow alternative Chairs.

The Wildlife Animal Forum of South Africa was constituted with the objective of engaging with the Government on specific issues relevant to wildlife protection and well-being. WAPFSA is able to nominate a Chair from within its member ranks, who will have the necessary capacity to fulfil this role.

In addition, and related to the above, on the 19th May 2023, The Wildlife Animal Protection Forum South Africa (WAPFSA) sent the Honourable Minister a letter regarding the consultation processes. An urgent response to this letter is requested.

Image Credit: Rhinos in Africa

©WAPFSA 2023. All Rights Reserved.

NOMINATIONS FOR MINISTERIAL LION TASK TEAM

PUBLIC STATEMENT FRIDAY 26TH AUGUST 2022

THE APPOINTMENT OF SOUTH AFRICA MINISTERIAL TASK TEAM TO IDENTIFY AND RECOMMEND VOLUNTARY EXIT OPTIONS AND PATHWAYS FROM THE CAPTIVE LION INDUSTRY 

On the 21st and 22nd of August 2018, the Portfolio Committee on Environmental Affairs conducted a successful colloquium on the Captive Breeding of Lions for Hunting and the Lion Bone Trade.  There was an overwhelming consensus from the local and international stakeholders, participating in the colloquium, that the South Africa must bring an end to this controversial practice that is threatening to harm the proud conservation image of our country.  The subsequent Report by the Portfolio Committee was adopted by Parliament, they requested that the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment initiate a policy and legislative review with a view to putting an end to the captive breeding of lions for hunting and the lion bone trade. 

On the 10th of October 2019, the Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment appointed a High Level Panel of Experts in response to a number of emotive and complex conservation and sustainable use issues including the lion bone trade, the hunting of captive bred lions, the elephant culling debate, the ivory stockpile and the trade in rhinoceros horn.

On the 2nd of May 2021, the High Level Panel Report, which had been approved by the Cabinet, was released.   The majority of the High Level Panel recommended that South Africa does not captive breed lions, keep lions in captivity, or use captive lions or their derivatives commercially.  Honourable Minister Barbara Creecy requested that the Department action this accordingly and ensure that the necessary consultation for implementation is conducted.

On the 12th of August 2022 the Minister gave notice of her intention to appoint a Ministerial Task Team that will function as an advisory committee, to identify voluntary exit options and pathways from the captive lion industry, and to oversee the implementation and monitoring of the same. 

The prerequisite Members of the appointed Task Team, were such that when viewed collectively, must be persons who are selected by virtue of qualifications, expertise, and experience. 

After careful consideration the Members of the Wildlife Animal Protection Forum (WAPFSA) nominated and endorsed seven eligible candidates, the details of whom have been presented to Dr Tsepang Makholela. 

The Members of WAPFSA acknowledge their candidates for their preparedness, their disposition and their inclination to assert themselves for this task. 

END OF STATEMENT

Image Credit: Gurcharan Roopra Photography

©WAPFSA 2022. All Rights Reserved.

WAPFSA COMMENTS ON THE PROPOSED HUNTING QUOTA FOR ELEPHANTS, BLACK RHINO AND LEOPARD IN 2021

Herewith the WAPFSA submission in its entirety:

WAPFSA remains concerned by the general, seeming lack of appreciation of the enormous challenges involved with the creation of a truly sustainable future. Since the hosting of the Paris Climate Accord in 2015 and CoP 26, the Glasgow Climate Change Summit, we are all now aware of the reality of climate change.

Future environmental conditions will be far more unpredictable and dangerous. The negative effects of climate change will adversely affect human health, wealth, and well-being, this could perversely diminish the political capacity to mitigate the erosion of the ecosystem upon which society depends. The scale of the threat to life is difficult to comprehend even for the well-informed experts. The science upon which these assumptions is based seems indisputable however awareness and the willingness to alter our behaviour is weak.

Without fully appreciating and broadcasting the scale of the problem and the enormity of the solution required, society will fail to achieve even modest sustainability goals. Halting biodiversity loss is nowhere close to the top of any country’s priorities.

Excerpts from the WAPFSA Submission:

WAPFSA commends the efforts of Minister Barbara Creecy, a revision of the current legal framework and the proposal of a New Deal For Wildlife based upon the 2020 recommendations of the High Level Panel of experts for the management of Rhino, Lion, Leopard and Elephant in South Africa. We look forward to witnessing the implementation of these Recommendations, which are linked to the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Bill, which is tabled for implementation on 2023. The aforementioned Bill was ready to be introduced to Cabinet for approval for publication for comment, but was withheld pending the finalisation of the High-Level Panel of Experts Report. The HLP reviewed policies, legislation and practices on matters relating to the management, breeding, hunting trade and handling of elephant, lion, leopard and rhinoceros and the finalisation of the White Paper on Conservation and Sustainable Use of Biodiversity.

The Minister and her Department are facing complex challenges with the finalisation of a national overreaching policy and the White Paper to include a new legal and administrative framework which is more transparent, enforceable, accountable, includingan overhaul of the current permitting system.

WAPFSA members want to affirm their support of the principles of the re-wildling of the environment of the reintegration of captive wildlife back into the wild, of enhancing wildlife’s chances of survival in the wild, of reversing the domestication and exploitation ofwildlife in captivity and under intensive management.

During several stakeholder meetings, the concept of breeding leopards in captivity was suggested, for the “Sustainable Use” of leopard skin for traditional and cultural usage. This notion is completely against the vision and recommendations of the HLP.

Further Principles contained in the conclusive HLP Recommendations include:

  1. The inclusion of interspecies welfare and wellbeing, in particular, the principles of “One Welfare” and “One Health for the benefit of human and non-human animals.
  2. The halting of commodification of wildlife and wilderness
  3. Efforts to reverse biodiversity losses through the promotion of regenerative practices, including practices to revive the African identity and heritage and the indigenous knowledge consistent with the protection of Nature.
  4. Enhancing the reputation of South Africa as a conservation destination – this will also incentivise consistent externalfunding -through the inclusion of principles of ethics, intrinsic value, sentience.
  5. The inclusion of indigenous knowledge, including its notions of mutuality and respect for Nature and serving Nature.

WAPFSA members firmly believe that whilst the aforementioned legal framework is under revision, trophy hunting quotas should not be issued. The HLP recommended that “Legislative provision must be updated or expanded to ensure responsible regulation and governance” and stressed that National Norms and Standards for Hunting Methods have not been finalised up to date.

For hunting to be sustainable into the future and to continue contributing to conservation, the wildlife economy and the well-being of people, a social licence to operate is required from the general public, not only enabling legislation. Defining a social licence requires understanding the different perceptions of hunting, which are inextricably connected to: practices associated with hunting; the land use classes and associated management practices of hunted populations; its contribution to conservation of the species hunted; and the fair and equitable sharing of associated benefits.

To date there does not seem to be any confirmation of a fair and equitable sharing processes and associated benefits. WAPFSA members strongly suggest that no hunting and export quotas should be issued until this process is completed.

THE UNWILLINGNESS OF THE DEPARTMENT OF THE ENVIRONMENT TO CHANGE TERMS OF REFERENCE OF THE EXCLUSIONARY WILDLIFE FORUM

Minister Edna Molewa
https://www.dffe.gov.za/speech/molewa_firsthuntingindaba_opening

In 2005 the Minister and Department of Environment established a ‘wildlife forum’ to meet exclusively with pro-hunting and pro-trade organisations and deliberately excluded labour, welfare and civil society, stakeholders. NGOs and conservation groups were denied membership. The ‘wildlife forum’ provided a platform for hunters and those with vested wildlife consumptive interests to shape government wildlife policy.  

No such forum existed for other key interested and affected stakeholders in the wildlife conservation and protection sector despite requests from the wildlife protection sector to be included in such a forum. By refusing to allow access to parties who do not reap a direct benefit from the exploitative industry itself, meant that the forum, by definition was discriminatory.

Given the unwillingness of the Department of Environment to change the Terms of Reference of the existing exclusionary ‘wildlife forum’ to include membership of South African wildlife animal protection and welfare organisations, in February 2018 twenty-three wildlife protection organisations officially requested the Minister for the Environment, Edna Molewa, to establish a wildlife forum with representatives of South African animal protection organisations. The representatives of these organisations organised themselves as the Wildlife Animal Protection Forum South Africa (WAPFSA).   

The purpose of the establishment of WAPFSA was to create a platform for dialogue and to provide the South African government with access to alternative viewpoints and additional information in order to provide the necessary tools to resolve issues of concern and to develop and strengthen policy for the advancement of the protection of wildlife, indigenous minorities and the environment. 

Please find a copy of the letter:

©WAPFSA 2018. All Rights Reserved