South Africa: Govt Ignored Its Own Science Task Team By Redefining 32 Wild Species As Farm Animals


In listing 32 wild animal species as farm animals under the Animal Improvement Act in 2019, the Department of Agriculture went against the recommendations of the government's own scientific authority.

The scientific report on wildlife breeding was called for by the former Minister of Environmental Affairs (DEFF) and authored by 14 of the country's top wildlife scientists. It warned that the listing of indigenous game animals under the Animal Improvement Act (AIA) would "entrench and exacerbate many of the risks highlighted in this report... It is strongly recommended that no further indigenous species are listed".

This is precisely what happened. The Department of Agriculture - which virtually sneaked the new listing on to the statute books as a two-page amendment to an addendum - either failed to read or simply ignored the extensive 170-page peer-reviewed DEFF report. Or was it all simply bad timing? There was no public consultation. The Department of Agriculture admitted in Parliament that no scientific study had been done in redefining the animals incorporated under the AIA.

The DEFF report is likely to be the centrepiece of a court challenge by two civil society organisations. Review processes have been independently filed by the Endangered Wildlife Trust...

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