On the 2nd of May 2021 Minister Creecy released and published the High-Level Panel report which reviewed the policies and regulations on hunting, trade, captive management and handling of elephant, lion, leopard, and rhinos. 

The appointment of this panel was a direct result of the Colloquium on Captive Lion Breeding which was held in August 2018.  A number of organisations gave evidence to the Portfolio Committee on Environmental Affairs who requested that the Department of Environmental Affairs initiate a policy and legislative review.  The DEA decided to include a number of other burning issues related to other iconic species.   Minister Creecy established the High-Level Panel on the 10th of October 2019. 

Minister Creecy stated: There are key recommendations to reposition and organise protected areas, simplify and make more effective legislative and administrative processes as well as to improve cooperative governance.  The Department will initiate processes to resolve these. 

Transformation of the sector will be prioritised, in terms of improved inclusion of marginalised groups, especially communities living with or adjacent to these species, and the in the role and influence of traditional leaders and healers in the wildlife sector. 

As indicated in the report, there have been a range of processes over the years that have not been properly implemented, and have resulted in the compromised position that the sector is in.  This time I intend that we will act differently.  I have instructed the Department to develop an implementation plan for the recommendations. 

Work has already begun on a draft Policy Position that covers key policy implications of the recommendations, which will shortly be published for public participation. The Department is also initiating a process to develop a draft White Paper on Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable use for consultation.  The more administrative process required by the recommendations are all being taken up the Department, and I have emphasised to all the Department that the need for full consultation with both the public and as well as with colleagues in government. 

Apart from releasing the report of the Panel today, we are also putting in place a programme of stakeholder feedback session to give feedback on the findings and recommendations to those stakeholders who made submissions and also those with an interest in the Panel’s work. 

A number of Members of WAPFSA played an important role and gave evidence in Parliament at the aforementioned Colloquium held in 2018.  A number of Members of WAPFSA made written submissions to the High-Level Panel, a number of Members of WAPFSA made oral submissions to the High-Level Panel and some Members were quoted in the Report.

Despite the Minister’s assurances for a transparent and inclusive participation process for the development of such policies, the Department has included only two members from WAPFSA who have been invited to attend a called: Workshop on Reimagining Protected Areas and Transformation on the Biodiversity Sector. 

Not a single Member of WAPFSA was asked to make a presentation at this workshop, even though some were identified by the Department as being critical stakeholders in this important area of work.

Members of WAPFSA have written to the office of the Director General of the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment to ask for clarity on this subject matter but have to date have received no response. 

As a result Members of WAPFSA have written to Minister Creecy today asking for an urgent explanation.  


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