The Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries has noted allegations made in a recently-published book entitled Unfair Game by Lord Ashcroft about South Africa's lion breeding and hunting industries.
Environmental management is a concurrent function between provincial and national government. National government is the management authority, while provincial government is responsible for issuing permits which include the registering of lion breeding facilities and issuing hunting permits. The Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries is therefore, together with the other provincial environmental departments, the custodian of South Africa's natural resources, ecosystems and species.
South Africa remains committed to the highest level of compliance with its international obligations. The country continues to act in accordance with, and in fulfilment of, the legal and scientific requirements of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
Importantly, an amendment to the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act, 2004 (Act No. 10 of 2004) (NEMBA) has been proposed, as part of the National Environmental Management Laws Amendments Bill, 2017, by the inclusion of an enabling provision for the regulation of the 'well-being' of faunal biological resources.
The Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, Ms Barbara Creecy, on 10 October 2019, also appointed an Advisory Committee that will act as a High-Level Panel to review existing policies, legislation and practices relating to aspects such as the handling, management, breeding, hunting and trade of, among other animals, lion.
The Panel will probe, among other things, the breeding of lions in captivity, the hunting of lion, and the trade in lion bones and skins.
The Panel began its work on 19 November 2019. The appointment of the panel followed concerns raised in the public domain about issues pertaining to captive breeding, handling, hunting and trade in lions, elephants, leopard and rhinoceros specimens with implications for the country's conservation reputation. Equally significant is the need to enhance the contribution of conservation and sustainable use of biological resources to the socio-economic development of the country.
The Minister has written to Lord Ashcroft to invite him to submit his book and any other evidence to the panel for consideration. It will then be possible to review whether remedial action is necessary to strengthen the administrative and regulatory system.
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