Government to scrutinise the hunting industry



By Melissa Wray Countrywide


A panel of experts convened by Marthinus van Schalkwyk, minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, has until October to present the minister with a set of national draft norms and standards for South Africa's hunting industry. The panel first convened at the beginning of May, and has just six months to produce a document that will begin the national regulation of the multi-million Rand hunting industry. A public participation process has begun, with written comments being invited by the department.

All types of hunting will fall under the microscope, both professional and recreational, including bow hunting and green hunting. Initially, the panel was convened to look into the canned hunting of large predators and hunting in buffer zones adjoining national parks. After the first meeting, the terms of reference were broadened. "It became clear that these two issues are part of a broader problem relating to the absence of a uniform regulatory system across the country as a whole, and the lack of overall national norms and standards for hunting in South Africa."

The department has said, "A partial or full moratorium on any hunting of large predators may be required, and a complete ban on captive breeding of large predators is not excluded from the range of possible policy options." The hunting industry is currently regulated by provincial ordinances, many of which are outdated. The department has said that "There is a lack of consistent scientific information regarding the scale and nature of the industry, and poor monitoring practises within the industry."

The minister has said he is not, in principle, opposed to regulated, responsible and sustainable hunting. The panel will be required to look at hunting in areas adjacent to national parks, provincial protected areas, private game reserves, communal lands and state land. The captive breeding of other animals besides large predators for hunting purposes will be investigated. Hunting of alien species imported and bred for the purpose will also be addressed.

Key issues on the panel's agenda will be an analysis of the hunting industry, including ownership and socio-economic benefits, purposes and types of hunting promoted and the extent of hunting in protected areas. Current legislation applicable to the hunting industry will be examined, as well as specific aspects of the industry that require regulation. The contribution that hunting makes to conservation, especially in the revival and conservation of specific species will be looked at. This also includes the role of captive breeding for both hunting and conservation.

International best practice standards will be considered, and key enforcement mechanisms will be put forward. The main members of the panel of experts include Dr. Crispian Olver (chairman), Khungeka Njobe (CSIR), Tony Frost (WWF), Nick King (Endangered Wildlife Trust), Stewart Dorrington (SA Professional Hunters), Marcelle Meredith (NSPCA), Dr Shibu Rampedi (Limpopo), Prof. Koos Bothma (Centre for Wildlife Management at the University of Pretoria), Dr Holly Dublin (Chairperson of the Species Survival Commission of the IUCN - representing international  conservation), Lambson Maluleke (Community Representative), Mlamleli Pukwana (FAWU), and a legal advisor.

Written comments on professional and recreational hunting may be submitted to Ms S Meintjes, DEAT, Private Bag X447, Pretoria, 0001, Fax (012) 320 7026 or email smeintjes@deat.gov.za. There is also more information available at www.deat.gov.za.



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