Historically, in South Africa, the management of wildlife species has involved the setting of hunting quotas that are supposedly designed to enable the population to reach or remain at a particular level. A trophy is the animal or head, skin, or any other bodypart that the hunter keeps as a souvenir. Trophy hunting was never an African tradition “it’s not rooted in our deep, instinctive past, as hunters will often claim, but in the relatively recent conquest of foreign lands and the invention of devices that hurl projectiles from a safe distance”.
Trophy Hunting was introduced in Africa by colonialists, who also tried unsuccessfully to erase the indigenous knowledge, andwas continued by the apartheid regime, a sport favoured by white men and woman. Internationally published articles suggest that trophy hunting continues to reinforce deep apartheid era social and racial inequalities in Africa. “The organized hunting of endangered wildlife including elephants, rhino and leopard mostly benefits wealthy white landowners, while black workers are exploited and earn pitiful wages.”
Trophy Hunting is the intentional killing of selected good-looking wild animals for enjoyment. Trophy hunters continuously express the pleasure of killing endangered species and rare animals in the public domain, they describe the experience as exhilarating.
This controversial practice carried out by a relatively small section of the population is condemned globally. Namibia, Zimbabwe and Botswana have recently suffered reputational damage whilst being the object of worldwide criticism for their consumptive use of iconic species, testing CITES boundaries and limitations for the sake of generating a short term income.
The revision of the policies for the management of our indigenous species presents an opportunity to bring South Africa’s approach to wildlife management in line with a constitutionally sound interpretation of section 24 of the Constitution, taking into account recent jurisprudence. Constitutional Court and High Court judgments have affirmed that that the welfare and protection of non-human animals is a matter of constitutional concern.
Significantly, in the case of National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals v Minister of Justice and ConstitutionalDevelopment and Another  ZACC 4, the Constitutional Court recognised that animal welfare and conservation together reflect intertwined values as part of the Section 24 constitutional right to have the “environment protected … through legislative and other means”. The judgment emphasised that “showing respect and concern for individual animals reinforces broader environmentalprotection efforts”.
This constitutional recognition of the intertwined nature of conservation and welfare of individual animals is a key principle to guide the development of new approaches to wildlife management in South Africa.
WAPFS Members recommend that no hunting and export quotas for the Leopard, Rhino and Elephant are issued for the 2021 calendar year.
We also recommend:
- Inclusion of Principles as Transparency, Accountability, Responsiveness in all policies
- Inclusion of Principles of One-Health, One-Welfare.
- As public entities, the Scientific Authority and SANBI must provide CITES with all the updated NDF for Leopard, Rhino and Elephant . The scientific data used to substantiate the NDF documents and the documents themselves should also be shared with all stakeholders and all interested parties.
- The inclusion of scientific data relative the impacts of climate change, land use, fragmentation, fires and all environmental changes of recent years should be regularly shared with all interested and relevant parties.
- The Precautionary Principles applies
- It is questionable, in our view, to issue hunting quotas for CITES Appendix I and II listed species, without completing and publishing an updated NDF on the aforementioned species. Such quotas would also, in our opinion, be inconsistent with the HLP concerns and recommendations. WAPFSA members are of the opinion that it is premature to issue hunting quotas, whilst the process of implementation and the national overreaching legal framework around the HLP recommendations is yet to be finalised and implemented. In addition, 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.
- In line with our legislation and the Constitutional Court, it is an obligation to include intrinsic and individual value of non-human animals, their sentience and their welfare in all conservation policies. Short term solutions should be considered, in order to protect the Leopard, Elephant and Rhino from illegal activities. A permitting or licensing system should be introduced to legitimise the leopard skins or other body parts already in circulation in the cultural, traditional and religious sector. The protection of leopards, rhino and elephant should be urgently addressed, and the use of fake leopard skins should be promoted.
- Every policy related to hunting and trade of wildlife, needs to be independently monitored, and enforced and offenders penalised in order for these to be effective.
- Ban hunting with dogs, a highly unethical cruel and controversial practice
- WAPFSA members believe that a stakeholder engagement to discuss and confirm the definition of a Damage Causing Animal and all implications of this subject matter must be made a matter of priority. The subject of Damage Causing Animals with regards to the Norms & Standards on the Management of such has yet to be finalised. It is our recommendation that until such time as this process is completed no animals should be trophy hunted using this title or description.
- Before the issuance of permits, the relevant authorities should request the hunting associations and land owners to provide the hard data and relevant information with regard to: (a) The exact number of consistent jobs that have been created in the trophy hunting industry in South Africa. (b)Proof of economic revival directly related to trophy hunting in the areas around the Kruger National Park and other areas. (c)Exact verifiable information regarding the flow of revenue from trophy hunting to projects relating to the conservation of wildlife. (d)Exact verifiable information regarding the flow of revenue from trophy hunting to the protection of wildlife.
- Philanthropic opportunities should be considered. Funding should not be directed as a charity to communities but rather to restore farming methods, to re-discover and re-establish the indigenous knowledge systems. Regenerative farming should be encouraged, Communities should be empowered by the inclusion in eco-tourism business ventures. Visitors to South Africa should be encouraged to learn about the traditional culture of all indigenous Africans, their wisdom and knowledge of wild animals and the environment.