The Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Marthinus van Schalkwyk, published a draft list of threatened and protected species in the Government Gazette on February 18. The Biodiversity Act makes provision for the listing of species in need of protection to ensure their survival in the wild.
At the same time it regulates ‘restricted activities', as defined in the Act, that may involve such a threatened or protected species, as well as activities that could potentially impact on their long-term survival. These provisions will only become enforceable when appropriate species lists have been published in regulations under the Act, a process intended to be completed by 1 April 2005, by which date the relevant sections of the Act are set to enter into force.
Activities such as the keeping, moving, having in possession, importing and exporting and selling of listed species will be regulated by means of permits, i.e. the activities will be regulated, rather than the species themselves. This means that when a person wants to sell a listed species a permit will be required. Carrying out any ‘restricted activity' with a listed threatened or protected species, whether nationally or internationally is also regulated by means of a permit.
As activities involving species listed as either threatened or protected in terms of section 56(1) may constitute a criminal offence carrying a heavy penalty, the implications to user and interest groups are considerable. Stakeholders are invited to comment on the draft list of threatened and protected species, as was published in the Government Gazette. The closing date for public comment is 22 March 2005.