The Portfolio Committee on Environmental Affairs hosted a Colloquium on captive lion breeding entitled Captive Lion Breeding for Hunting in South Africa: Harming or Promoting the Conservation Image of the Country.
Day Two of the Colloquium was divided into three parts. In part one, questions were asked and comments were made based on the previous day’s presentations. The Scientific Authority of the South African National Biodiversity Institute indicated that it was not answerable to the public, but was only answerable to the Minister of the Department of Environmental Affairs, even though it operated 100% off public funds. The Parliamentarians were asked to clarify whether that was an acceptable position. The Threatened or Protected Species regulation had been implemented by some provinces eleven years later. How could it take 11 years to take action on that very important matter?
Were there measures in place to serve as a deterrent to canned lion hunting? What were the punitive measures, and were those measures enough or should they be strengthened? If it was the view of the Department that there was nothing wrong with the captive-breeding of lions and that there were only a few rogue elements, what was being done about those rogue elements? What was the extent to which the industry had been transformed, not just in terms of beneficiation, but with regards to participating in the mainstream activities of the industry? How could Western NGOs who had no idea of Africa, its people and its wildlife come to Africa thinking they knew best?
The Born Free Foundation argued that it was not at the colloquium to instruct Africans how to manage African wildlife, but was supporting the larger and increasing number of South Africans, organizations and individuals, also from other African countries who believed the lion-breeding industry was damaging South Africa’s international reputation and putting wild lions and other predators across Africa and beyond at risk. That was an international concern because the actions of the lion-breeding industry might have ramifications that extended literally across continents. Even in the United Kingdom, there was a large and increasing movement calling for an end to the industry that bred and killed birds in huge numbers, with all the associated welfare concerns, but also denuded landscapes by stripping it of predators and managing the land purely to maximise the profitability of the industry.
The Portfolio Committee stated that any notion that Parliament could not get answers from the Scientific Authority was the wrong notion. Parliament could have access to any public record. The Scientific Authority was a body established by legislation utilising public funds and advising the Minister on the attitude to be taken in terms of public policy. The Scientific Authority agreed that there will be a follow-up.
In the second part of the Colloquium, there were presentations by Dr Pinnock of the University of Cape Town, South African National Parks, the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency, the University of Oxford, the Endangered Wildlife Trust, National Confederation of Hunters Associations of South Africa, and Brand South Africa.
Dr Don Pinnock’s submission brought to light three issues relating to hunting in the Greater Kruger National Park to the attention of the Portfolio Committee on Environmental Affairs: legislation which was contradictory or not applied; non-compliance, non-transparency and questionable trophy hunting practices and the Kruger National Park’s dereliction of duty in that regard; and reputational damage caused by trophy hunting in private reserves. Dr Pinnock presented his recommendations.
South African National Parks responded to claims of trophy hunting in the Greater Kruger National Park and delved into the breeding approaches, trends, challenges and opportunities for the South African lion conservation in the wild. The Parks recognised the importance of maintaining and protecting the broader conservation estate, whilst having an obligation to positively impact on the broader socio-economic environment with cooperative partners.
The Senior Conservation Officer at the Department of Environmental Affairs clarified the steps followed to inform quotas. The Endangered Wildlife Trust explained why there was no conservation benefit for captive lions. It noted that captive lions were bred for size or colour and were genetically compromised. True conservation breeding was carried out with a view towards release as goal, which captive lion-breeding did not do. Captive lion-breeding was not recommended in any conservation action plan. The Endangered Wildlife Trust was concerned about the increasingly dismissive response towards public sentiment which was largely against canned hunting. The Trust also wanted about being selective about the use of science.
The Chairperson of the National Confederation of Hunters Associations of South Africa highlighted how, in 2015, the Minister had proposed a solution: clean up the fringe elements, work to the higher bar, support the South African Predator Association to enforce their norms and standards. Let the permit system function by empowering the national Department and the provinces effectively. Was it the practice of captive-bred lions that was damaging the conservation image of the country or was it a select few people who kept it in the public space all the time?
The General Manager: Brand South Africa, stressed that the concern of Brand South Africa was how to position the country much more coherently when it came to biodiversity and how to build the deeper picture of South Africa’s conservation industry into the positioning of the country. Apart from the captive-lion breeding matter, the broader message to be entrenched, in the local as well as the international, markets was the unique position of South Africa in the global conservation space. South Africa was home to 70-80% of the world rhinoceros population. That is a majorly important factor for the country. Brand South Africa stood ready to support the work of not only the Committee but even the private sector and people active in that space.
In part three, the floor was once again opened for questions and discussion. Some important questions emerged. Had South Africa’s wild population been doing well incidentally to the existence of the captive-breeding industry? Did the Scientific Authority report support that Department’s increase of the lion-bone quota from 800 to 1500 skeletons? Did the Department understand the product that it had agreed to sell to outside markets? Had consultations been held with the neighbouring countries as per the CITES Conference? How was it possible that the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency completely ignored SANParks’ recommendations in terms of issuing a hunting permit? Did that not show weaknesses in the processes and systems of managing an open system?
Asked whether the interim report supports an increased quota, The Scientific Authority explained that the interim report did not make any recommendations, although the information could have been in support of an increased quota. The previous year’s quota had been a constriction and it had failed to recognise that stockpiles were building up. However, it was the Department of Environmental Affairs that determined quotas.
The Portfolio Committee indicated that it would deliberate over the Scientific Authority report and make it public. The report will be made available in Parliament with a brief statement of what the Committee recommended. The Committee would ensure that the recommendations that arose out of the process were implemented to the letter.
The Chairperson welcomed everyone to the last day of the colloquium. There were two apologies, namely, from the Minister and the Director-General. The previous day it had been agreed that the colloquium would interrogate the last presentations, ask questions and make comments that morning.
The Chairperson gave a breakdown of the day’s proceedings. The DEA was supposed to brief the Committee on the hunting quotas. However, it had been agreed that the Mpumalanga Department would also speak to that concern because the DEA was not responsible for the determination of hunting quotas in the Kruger National Park. Responsibility lay with Government, and Mpumalanga and Limpopo, the provinces adjoining the Kruger National Park.
The Chairperson indicated that a gentleman had approached him that morning and accused him of being biased. He would have an opportunity to give his submissions and explain his displeasure about the Chairperson’s facilitation of the meeting.
Mr Will Smuts, from the Landmark Foundation, explained that he had been troubled the previous day when the Scientific Authority indicted that it was not answerable to the public, but only answerable to the Minister of the DEA, and yet they operated 100% off public funds. Could the Parliamentarians clarify whether that was an acceptable position to take?
On the follow-up answer to the Threatened or Protected Species (TOPS) Regulations, it had been 11 years that that legislation has not been implemented by some provinces. If the DEA was fixing the problem when records existed that legislation had been tabled, even if not voted on, at the provincial COP, how could it take 11 years to take action on the very important matter of the TOPS regulations being implemented?
After giving some context to the organization to which he belongs, Mr Andrew Venter, Chief Executive Officer at Wildlands Conservation Trust, said that his colleague from the South African Predator Association (SAPA) had made a number of comments that needed to be challenged. Mr Venter was the Executive Director of the Blood Lions movie which was identified as a ‘low-budget propaganda film.’ Mr Venter suggested that the gentleman from SAPA and the presenter from The Professional Hunters’ Association of South Africa (PHASA) watch the film to understand the point of the film. Not only did it point out key concerns around the ethics and morality of the captive-lion bred industry, but, more importantly, it talked to the systematic fraud and the corrupt practices that underwrote that industry.
One example of those practices was the thousands upon thousands of paying volunteers who had been fleeced of their funds under the belief that they had been rescuing thousands of lion cubs that had been abandoned next to the road and needed to be hand-reared and bottle-fed for their survival, and yet not one of those cubs makes it into the wild. Another example was that of the thousands of hunters that had come into the country in the last decade believing they were going to live their dream and hunt a lion, that there was a fair chase and there was a chance that the lion would kill them. Nobody had told them that the lion was bottle-raised or that it had only been in the wild for a couple of days, just long enough for the drugs to wear off, and had no ability to defend itself. That counted as fraud in both instances. Both entities needed to answer whether they were going to repay tourists or hunters the millions that had been invested. The lion bone industry was the next level of fraud. There were two further instances of fraud. Firstly, the substitution of tiger bones with lion bones and branded as tiger bones; and, secondly, underwriting a treatment or behaviour that has no medicinal benefit and was bad for tiger conservation.
In conclusion, the gentleman from PHASA had gone as far as to refer to the coalition in the room. It bore pointing out that that was unprecedented, namely, in that room there were hunters, conservation agencies, NGOs, conservation sustainable-use NGOs, NGOs from the animal welfare perspective, all united against that industry: the that group SAPA had referred to the previous day as being Nazis and terrorists. The last time he had been labelled a terrorist was roughly 30 years ago and the previous occupants of that building had labelled him a terrorist for standing up against what was wrong in the country. It was necessary to take cognizance of the fact that there was a movement that believed that was wrong.
Karen Trendler, from the National Council of SPCA’s Wild life Trade and Trafficking Unit, commented on the welfare concerns, stating that the Council had three specialised units with staff that had been formally conservation-trained and qualified and who monitored and inspected the wildlife facilities. It was done on a systematic basis. It did not respond to cases of sad and unhappy lions but responded to genuine welfare concerns. In February, 41 wild lion facilities had been inspected. A number of notices and cruelty warnings under the Animals Protection Act were issued.
The legislation to prevent cruelty and ensure welfare to animals was not just a moral imperative but also a legal imperative supported by the Animals Protection Act. There were not only significant welfare problems in the lion industry with the breeding, but with the reduction in trophy hunting, the focus on killing and slaughtering of the lion for lion bone without any regulations is also leading to a number of welfare and cruelty concerns. The Council had opened cases against the cruelty. There was research which showed what the most humane way was for a cow, sheep, etc. to be slaughtered and there was legislation and committees to support how those animals were handled. There was nothing for the slaughter of lions. There were reports from within the lion industry that, with the production of the meat and the bone, lions were being shot in inhumane ways and were sometimes not killed. There were welfare problems. It was not adequately regulated. From the SPCA’s point of view, it was a very serious concern. DEA and DAFF were mandated to address welfare.
Mr Hermann Meyeriericks, a member of the Custodians of Professional Hunting and Conservation – South Africa, in response to comments by PHASA on the so-called conservation value of the captive-breeding of lions, referred to a quotation saying that the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) condoned captive-breeding as a conservation tool. What PHASA had neglected to tell the gathering was how the captive-breeding should take place. He proceeded to read from the policy. What the IUCN had in mind was not what one saw in the captive-bred lion industry in South Africa.
Mr Z Makhubele (ANC) commented, for the benefit of the gathering, that when Richard York, Professional Hunter’s Association of South Africa, had made his presentation, he had indicated all the good things about captive-breeding for the purposes of hunting. If a lion had been kept in captivity, nobody had clarified how long, after the release of the lion, it could reasonably be hunted. The DEA was challenged in court primarily on that very concern. Moreover, the Scientific Authority referred to the trade-offs of a ban versus a quota system. Could that be expanded upon? Moreover, were there measures in place to serve as a deterrent to canned lion hunting? what were those punitive measures, and were those measures enough or should they be strengthened? Additionally, to what extent had the industry been transformed, not just in terms of beneficiation, but with regards to participating in the mainstream activities of the industry?
Ms Linda Tucker, CEO of the Global Wildlife Protection Trust, explained that as an organization, the Trust had been participating in the public participation processes and the stakeholder meetings around the matter since 2002 and it had submitted expert scientific opinion on the issue. How had the Scientific Authority been selected? In 2009, a panel of experts was convened by the government to discuss that question. There were many authorities in the room who could add value to the panel of experts and that panel was well-represented at the time. In 2009, the Bloemfontein High Courts ruled against the industry in favour of the government’s intention to prohibit it with the help of the panel of experts. Why had that panel of experts been disbanded following the court case? When the case returned to the Supreme Court on 29 November there had not been a panel of experts to answer the questions in the Supreme Court. The government had lost the case against the captive industry.
Dr John Wilson, Chairperson of the Animal Ethics and Welfare Committee of the South African Veterinary Association, commented that in the address by the Honourable Minister, what had been stressed most strongly was that the discussion had to be scientific. Everything that she referred to had been underpinned by scientific facts. What the Minister and, possibly many people, were missing in the discussion was that science is not value-free. Science was saturated with all sorts of cognitive and moral considerations. Morality had to be the motivating factor for the international reaction to that particular industry. One of the questions that needed to be asked and answered for the benefit for the Portfolio Committee was: Why were lions the subject of moral concern? It was very simple. It was because they were sentient. They were able to feel sensations and emotions just as human beings did. Therefore, it was important that that be respected. That fact was blatantly disrespected by the industry. Ethics was concerned with what was the good or the right thing to do when duties or desires were in conflict. Yet, there had been no ethical analyses presented at the colloquium. That was one of its weaknesses. An ethical analysis would create an understanding of what underpinned the opposition to the industry.
There was also the question of political persuasion. An important theory of political persuasion dealt with public sentiment, which was completely different from public opinion. There had been derogatory statements about public opinion because it was uninformed and emotional. Public sentiment, however, was about how people felt about something, intuitively. There was something grossly unfair about taking a wild animal, in this case a magnificent animal at the top of the animal kingdom, from its natural environment and turning it into a commodity, a plastic bag full of bones. It generated enormous censure. There was a very good English word for it, namely, ‘opprobrium’, which means ‘disgust’. There was no way of getting around something that generated opprobrium. A very wise person once said, ‘public sentiment is everything. With public sentiment on its side, nothing can fail. Without public sentiment, nothing can succeed.’ Public sentiment made statutes, regulations, and decisions possible, or impossible, to execute. That had to be borne in mind especially by the DEA. If public sentiment was against the DEA, there was no way but to address it. It was fair to say that everything was in place for the generation of a perfect storm of opposition. If that gathering storm descended on South Africa, it was going to land in the backyard of the DEA. If matters in the political sphere were not handled properly, people frequently found themselves without a job.
Mr Ron Thomson, a wildlife management and national park administration specialists as well as a wildlife, conservation and African big game hunting writer, commented that people should be looking a lot further for solutions to problems and gave a breakdown of the human population figures for Africa South of the Saharan Desert. People were going to have trouble finding land for people to live on, let alone for lions. If one was going to find solutions to the problem and other wildlife problems, one was going to have to look ahead and ask whether what was being put in place now and whether it was going to work in the year 2100. If it was doubtful because of the numbers of people, then it was a waste of time. It was easy to juggle figures. The Born Free Foundation had done so quite freely the previous day.
The real reason for the decline in lion in the 20th Century was principally because of human population expansion and encroachment. Without space, either lions nor nothing else could survive. The losses in the current century, for the same reason, were going to be even more worrisome. The problem would not be solved by allotting false reasons to it. The truth of the matter was that, by the turn of the current century, if there were any wild lions left, they would be found only in the bigger national parks, and then only if there were any national parks left. One would be lucky if anything survived the current century other than cattle, sheep or goats and that was because the rural people of Africa depended on them for their survival. They could not afford for those animals to become extinct. That taught one that, if one wanted to keep one’s wildlife alive by the end of the century, one had to replace cattle, sheep and goats with elephants, lions and buffalos, etc. It had to be possible for the rural people of Africa to earn a living through the sustainable utilization of their wildlife.
Mr Thomson said that the plan to make it possible for the rural people of Africa to earn a living through the sustainable utilization of wildlife, was by integrating the needs of the people with the needs of the wildlife. But wildlife needed to have a value for that strategy to succeed. With the way the NGOs were getting around that currently, soon everything would be worthless. In 1975, there was no trade in rhino horn; in 1989, there was no trade in ivory; in 2018, there was no trade in lion skeletons. What would be next? The Western NGOs had a monumental cheek to come to Africa and tell Africans just what one could and could not do with one’s own wildlife.
The previous day, Dr Ali Kaka had said that it was fine to breed wild animals, but it is not alright to hunt them. He had news for Dr Kaka and the presenter from the Born Free Foundation: 50 million captive-bred pheasants and 10 million partridges were released into the wilds of Great Britain to be hunted by 500 000 hunters every year. It brought £2 billion to the country’s economy. Those presenters had to sort out their own backyard before they started interfering with Africa’s wildlife affairs. Mr Thomson’s experience of the captive-bred lion industry had left him with the hope that the government would nurture the infant industry and not close it down.
Africa had solutions to the problems that were discussed. They included fenced enclosures and captive-breeding of all game species, of utilising elephants and rhinos for the benefit of South Africa’s people and for the captive-breeding of lions. For the NGOs who felt that that was sacrilegious, he could say that there were far too many lions in Southern Africa. There were more elephants than the space could support. Yet, Western NGOs came here to tell South Africans that they were not allowed to shoot even one elephant. Every elephant had to be protected. South Africa had to look at the wildlife concerns in a far more pragmatic manner than it had done under the influence of the pressure from the Western NGOs. The country had to find solutions that would work by the end of the century. Africa should encourage the West to help Africa to solve its problems with constructive contributions to Africa’s solutions. If Western NGOs were set on coming to Africa to tell poor ignorant Africans what could and could not be do, they should keep away, because those contributions were destructive and injurious to Africa’s own wildlife management solutions.
How could Western NGOs who had no idea of Africa, its people and its wildlife come to Africa thinking they knew best? If they could not come to help properly, they should not come at all because they were not welcome. Mr Thomson had been in the business of wildlife all his life and he was affronted by the fact that Western NGOs could come from city-slicker situations and tell people like him how he should behave with his wildlife. They did not have the knowledge to do that. Solutions could be found amongst experienced Africans in Africa and not in the NGOs of the Western world.
Ms Adri Kitshoff-Botha from Wildlife Ranching South Africa, speaking on behalf of the land owner, responded to Dr Kaka’s comments. He had given a lot of accolades to the South African model which was acknowledged worldwide and respected. Everyone agreed on the success that South Africa had achieved with its conservation model. He also referred to a Charter that was being developed, namely, the Charter on Hunting, Wildlife Conservation and Habitat Protection. The Charter, as it currently read, however, did not recognise the South African model which had proven so successful. If South Africa wanted to proceed with the success story, it would be extremely important that that Charter was amended to acknowledge South Africa’s success story and model.
The Chairperson, by way of correction, stated that Dr Ali Kaka was at the colloquium representing an international hunting association, the International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation (CIC). He had not spoken against the practice of hunting because his organization promoted hunting. He referred to the Charter which Ms Botha was talking about, the African Charter and how the Charter was supposed to propose well-managed and well-governed hunting in Africa.
Mr Thomson responded that while Dr Kaka had not said anything about being anti-hunting, what he had said was that animals should continue to be bred, but not in order to hunt them. Captive-bred animals should not be hunted. In his own backyard, namely, in England, they were killing 60 million birds a year that were captive-bred by hunters in England. Nobody was doing anything about that.. Yet he thought he could come to Africa and tell Africans what to do with their wildlife, when his own backyard was not clean.
The Chairperson informed Mt Thomson that Dr Kaka was from Kenya. The Committee had a responsibility to make sure he was not misunderstood. His organization was against captive-lion breeding. That was the reason that it had taken the decision it had in Madrid 2017.
Ms Pippa Hankinson from Blood Lions stated that earlier that year the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), together with a number of partners, including Blood Lions, had sent a letter to the Minister containing shocking statistics of captive-carnivore fatalities over the last decade caused by tourist interactions with captive-bred predators. She asked DEA what was being done in terms of ‘I call on the South African government to institute […] regulations for the management of all carnivores held in captivity, to ensure that only qualified experienced people have access to these animals, that no risks are posed to either human or animal life by unrestricted, unregulated access by all people and also finally the potential damage to Brand South Africa’?
Mr Kirsten Nematandani, SAPA CEO, referring to the corrupt practices in the industry as depicted in the Blood Lions film, explained that SAPA was being misunderstood. SAPA was an organization that had members that followed its norms and standards. Those members would not fall under those who were characterised in the Blood Lions movie. SAPA had very clear norms and standards and was not involved in, amongst others, hand-rearing of cubs. SAPA was also not involved in the tourism matters that people had concerns about. SAPA’s members were not involved in a situation depicted by a previous speaker as the tourism of captive-lion breeding. The gentleman who thought he had been labelling him a terrorist had misunderstood him. He had said that they were called terrorists by the Apartheid system. It was mentioned that the captive-bred lion was actually used to substitute tiger bones. SAPA follows the quota determined by the DEA to the letter. Captive-bred lion bones were tested against the DNA findings that were recorded. If proven otherwise, those bones would be discarded. That, he agreed, was fraud, but, fortunately, it was unlikely it would get past the Green Scorpions’ watchful eyes that ensured that everything was above board.
There was a second speaker who had mentioned the specialised unit that had to do with welfare. In fact, SAPA embraced that welfare because that would uphold the standards of SAPA. Without that welfare, he agreed that the industry would not go anywhere. Unfortunately, there are members who were engaged in captive-bred lions who were not part of SAPA. As a result, the organisation could not be responsible for such members. His plea, as part of what SAPA had recommended, was to ensure that anyone who was given a permit was a member of an organization that had clear norms and standards that were acceptable.
Mr Nematandani said that SAPA’s norms and standards had been made available to everybody including the welfare groups. The organisation had called a meeting to ask for inputs. Inputs were still coming in because it was a living document. The colloquium had to acknowledge that there were welfare problems, particularly from those who were outside SAPA, and maybe, amongst even those who were part of SAPA. That was why the policing needed to continue and SAPA was willing to work with the DEA for that purpose. The question of transformation was a very pertinent question. 80% of the people in the country were not involved in the wildlife industry. That was a serious concern. It should be top of the agenda to ensure that the playing fields were levelled. The industry had that challenge. People were asking how they could reach out. Those were the issues that needed to be addressed. With regards to public sentiments, those were very important questions.
A representative from PHASA indicated that PHASA had watched the Blood Lions video. It was unfortunate that only a rogue element had been portrayed in the entire film. Everyone knew what was wrong in the industry. Why was there no party there with solutions? Everybody was identifying the problem that everyone knew about. It was unacceptable that South Africa was dictated to by the West. The country’s largest trading partner was China. Why was China not present? When was South Africa going to stop being dictated to by the colonial West? South Africa was unique in what it had and there is no way South Africa could be compared to another country. The South African wildlife model spoke for itself. South Africans were extremely successful in what had been done and yet were criticised. Lion had been singled out, but what about the other species? South Africa had a captive-bred model throughout and should be proud of what the country had. Was it a sin to make money? It was mentioned that there was a financial interest in motion number nine. Motion number nine was flawed and contradicted itself. Wildlife might be utilised to generate an income. PHASA was working for its people. It was trying to support government in making informed decisions and finding solutions to the problems, and not to avoid them.
Mr Richard York asked, regarding to the proposal that only six wild lions be hunted, where the members of the Custodians were going to hunt in South Africa? Were they proposing that South Africans had to go out of the country and pay R1.5 million to hunt? How many parks in South Africa were financially feasible? There was an economic burden on South Africa. One lion consumed food to the value of R120 000 per year. That equated to R250 million in economic value that they ate. Was the captive-bred lion industry was to be banned by banning all the sanctuaries throughout South Africa and banning all forms of tourism unless the establishments could prove their conservation value to the IUCN. They had to bear in mind that the lion populations in small reserves were non-viable populations. If that was the route to be taken, then the small reserves in South Africa were having a detrimental effect because the genetic integrity of the small reserves was definitely under question.
The Chairperson asked if Mr York was suggesting that all forms of tourism be banned.
Mr York said that it was immoral to ban one sector based on emotion and yet allow other sectors to profit. The Born Free Foundation made more money in 2016 from donations than the entire lion industry in South Africa from hunting.
The Chairperson stressed that if tourism was banned, it would have dire repercussions.
Mr Paul Stones, Safari Africa Game Hunting, responded that it was not a God-given right to hunt a lion. The fact that lion-hunting was allowed across many parts of Africa was a massive injection into the conservation areas. The people who opted to, and could afford to, do that were only satisfying their own desire to go into the wilds in Africa to hunt. They also contributed huge sums of money. To say that one had to open the Fizz-Pop shop to let anyone buy what one wanted just because one should be allowed to was completely out of line.
To say that South Africa had a captive-bred ‘industry’ was very misleading. To compare the lion-bred industry to anything else, e.g. buffalo, sable antelope etc. that was intensively bred was misleading. 15 years ago one could not hunt sable antelope or buffalo because there were very small numbers in South Africa. Today, testimony to South Africa’s conservation model, there were hundreds and thousands of these species running around natural and bio-diversified game ranches and areas. Through the intensive breeding of these species, they had been returned generally to the wild. Today, Africa was not what it was 200 years ago. To say that the captive-lion bred industry was parallel to sable antelope, buffalo and roan antelope was completely false. Where could one find lions that had been created by the industry and were roaming free? The Captive-bred lion industry could not show one single lion roaming free today.
Prof John Donaldson, Chairperson: Scientific Authority, South African National Biodiversity Institute, concerning who the Scientific Authority reported to, reminded the gathering that it was important to remember that the Scientific Authority was part of a decision-making process and has different modalities depending on what it was doing. Amongst others, it undertook non-detriment findings, undertook risk assessments, advised on exports to appropriate destinations, and did assessments on captive-breeding facilities. The process involved did not always allow the Scientific Authority to engage in a public debate about it. The non-detriment findings went through a public consultation process. There was consultation with experts. The draft of the non-detriment findings were published in the government gazette to obtain additional information. That information was then reassessed and the non-detriment finding was revised before it was published for implementation. There were public consultation processes. In terms of reporting back on those processes, generally the report went to the Minister. There were investigations, however, as to how public consultation could be furthered. That was an area that could be worked on.
Furthermore, in terms of who was on the Scientific Authority, it was established in terms of the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act (NEMBA) and TOPS regulations which stipulated that there was one member from each of the nine provinces, one from the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), South African National Parks (SANParks), National Zoological Gardens, Museums and two from the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA). It depends on who was nominated and there was a process for appointment. Moreover, it was important to know that there was a difference between the Scientific Authority and Panels of Experts or the Committee of Inquiry, that had been established to deal with particular concerns. The Scientific Authority dealt with routine matters. When there have been specific questions, like the matter of captive-lion hunting or the potential of the trade in rhinoceros horn, that required a separate panel of experts for a wider range, intensive debate, ethics, and societal involvement.
Dr Mark Jones affirmed that the Born Free Foundation worked out of its United Kingdom base. It was important to remember that Born Free had long-established bases in Kenya, Ethiopia and in South Africa which were led and managed by local staff. He had not come to tell Africans how to manage African wildlife, but had come to support the large and increasing number of South Africans, organizations and individuals, also from other African countries who believed the lion-breeding industry was damaging South Africa’s international reputation and putting wild lions and other predators across Africa and beyond at risk. It was an international issue because the actions of the lion-breeding industry might have ramifications that extended literally across continents. It was not a large number of Western NGOs that had rolled up to tell folk in South Africa what to do. The voices that he heard were well-informed South African voices across many sectors of South African industry and society. There was also a large and increasing movement calling for an end to the industry that bred and killed birds in huge numbers, with all the associated welfare concerns, but which also denuded landscapes by stripping predators and managing the land purely to maximise the profitability of the industry. That industry would come to an end and the Foundation’s message was consistent across those industries.
Mr Shonisani Munzhedzi, Deputy Director-General: Biodiversity and Conservation, DEA, explaining the scientific-basis of South Africa’s conservation approach, said that apart from the role of the private sector in that success, there was also this question of evidence-based science which was very important. The law made provision for a Scientific Authority to assist in providing views that needed to be considered in decision-making. In the 2016 Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and (CITES), South Africa had raised a number of questions. In South Africa’s decision-making, the founding principles of CITES and the IUCN were very explicit and clear. One critical aspect was the role of science in informing decision-making. If that was not taken into account, South Africa would have serious problems. If South Africa’s decisions were not informed by science, they would come back again. While it was not value-free, the role of science should not be undermined.
The Scientific Authority was not a decision maker. The DEA made the decision. The test of rationality was used to assess a number of things. DEA needed to ensure the survival of species in the wild. Whatever decision was taken, it should ensure that the survival of species was not compromised. That was the fundamental principle that was considered when investments were made. Concerning the TOPS regulations and how the DEA worked with provinces, he said that the DEA had invested in a cooperative governance process that involved all provinces, including the national department. In that concurrent function, permits were issued by provinces. People had to comply with permit conditions. In the processing of the new TOPS regulations, the process would ensure that everything else went through the NCOP to avoid a situation where there might be a disjunction. In the current situation, they needed to work together.
The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NSPCA) related some of the non-compliance actions that they have been taking on some of the areas that they had visited. DEA had gone to more than 200 facilities, one by one. The various matters that were being, or needed, to be acted upon were highlighted. Together with the provinces, those were the things that had to be dealt with on the basis of that report. The finalization of the report with the MEC and the Minister might have a fundamental concern that might impact on how DEA dealt with such matters, even moving forward in terms of the industry itself. DEA did have cases that it won, but others that it lost.
A representative of DEA explained that the then Minster of Environment and Tourism, Minister van Schalkwyk, had appointed a panel of experts in April 2005. The purpose of the panel of experts was to advise the Minister on trophy hunting in buffer zones adjacent to national parks and also on canned hunting, which was as a result of the Cook report of 1997, and to review the hunting industry in South Africa. Once their work had been completed, the panel of experts released their report and their work was concluded. This was why they were disbanded.
The Chairperson asked when the report had been released.
The representative of DEA responded that the report had been released at the end of 2005 and the beginning of 2006. DEA had the report. The Senior Counsel (SC) who represented the DEA at the time in the case against the South African Predators/Breeders Association had had access to all the documents that were used and produced by the panel of experts. The SC consulted with individual members who were part of the panel. All the information from there had been taken into account for the court case. As a result of the panel’s report, the Protected Species Regulations were then developed. It was on those that the DEA was taken to court.
Ms Boshoff, a DEA official, added that the DEA had stated its position in the High Court. The then Predator Breeders Association had appealed to the Supreme Court of Appeal. DEA had defended the position it had taken in the High Court process and confirmed its position and argument in the High Court case. It was not necessary to bring in all those extras to the Supreme Court case because the Counsel had all the information and the reports. The legal experts within the DEA had assisted. It was about defending its case from a legal point of view and convincing the Supreme Court of Appeal why it should not come to a different conclusion from that of the High Court. That was why the members from the panel were not involved in the Supreme Court case.
Mr Meyeriericks explained that the DEA had often used the court case as a reason for not acting on captive-bred lion hunting. The DEA said that the Court rightly found that the DEA has no mandate to legislate hunting ethics. That was correct. The irony was that there were a lot of ethical issues legislated by the DEA in the hunting legislation. He submitted that it was no longer an ethical or moral question only. It had become a conservation subject too. DEA and the Scientific Authority should take cognisance of the fact that captive-bred lion hunting was no longer conservation-neutral. It was posing a threat to wildlife populations across the continent.
The reason was plain and simple. Areas of wildlife outside of national parks across the continent largely depended on a hunting income for the conservation efforts in those areas. Without that income, the anti-poaching, social upliftment and the protection of the species and the populations could not continue. That income was needed. Captive-bred lion hunting was placing all hunting at risk. If South Africa lost the ability to export wildlife to the United States and the European Union, those lions had no value and the hunting areas had no income to finance and sustain the conservation efforts. It was already happening. Bans on exportations were already in place purely due to the public disgust with the captive-bred lion industry. It was tarnishing hunting and placing at risk the conservation efforts in wild lion range areas. The conservation question needed to be addressed. Mr Meyeriericks suggested that one should forget about morals and ethics and look at the risks that the conservation industry was running because of one small industry in South Africa. Should the precautionary principle then not apply?
The Chairperson said he was disappointed that the gentleman who had accused him in private of being biased was not able to make the same accusation when given a public platform. If he was not able to substantiate his argument, he had to keep quiet. Yesterday, the request was made for solutions. The gathering still waited to be briefed in that regard by those who were in favour of the practice. They could not behave like ostriches before the mountain of criticism. He suggested that the colloquium looked for alternatives and solutions.
What was quite worrying was how the debate became racially polarised, talking about the West telling Africans what was right or wrong. This debate was not racial. It was about conservation and protecting the conservation record of South Africa. It was wrong to take this line of argument. The country had come from a very difficult past and the government was trying to reconcile the country. People should not take the easy way out and argue about black and white, the West and African. It was even worse when one was not an African in the proper definition of being an ‘African.’ That argument should be avoided. It was not helpful. It only stoked racial connotations into the argument and it was not about that. In the arguments against the practice, there were the animal welfare organizations, NGOs, and those who subscribed to sustainable use, and the hunting associations.
The Committee had asked for the report from the Scientific Authority because everybody was supposed to account to Parliament. It had yet to be determined whether it would be presented then or in a different session. There was a lot more engagement that had to happen with the Scientific Authority. Any notion that Parliament could not get answers from the Scientific Authority was the wrong notion. Parliament could have access to any public record. The Scientific Authority was a body established by legislation utilising public funds and advising the Minister on the attitude that had to be taken in terms of public policy. No one was beyond parliamentary scrutiny or oversight. The Scientific Authority had agreed that there would be a follow-up.
He reiterated Mr Makhubele’s question about any palliative measures taken by the DEA against canned hunting as a way of deterrent. The Committee had been told that an audit had been carried out on the farms which had picked up a number of things. What had been done by the DEA to punish those? If it was the view of the DEA that there was nothing wrong with the captive-breeding of lions and that there were only a few rogue elements, the question was what was being done about those rogue elements. There was a notion that the DEA had not done anything, even against those who were tarnishing what was the right practice. That was very worrying. It looked like the Department was not doing anything.
Presentation by the University of Cape Town
Dr Don Pinnock explained that he would like to bring three issues relating to hunting in Greater Kruger to the attention of the Committee on Environmental Affairs:
1. Legislation which was contradictory or not applied, both of which needed to be remedied.
2. Non-compliance, non-transparency and questionable trophy hunting practices, particularly in the Associated Private Nature Reserves (APNR), plus the Kruger National Park’s dereliction of duty in this regard.
3. Reputational damage caused by trophy hunting in those private reserves, particularly the hunting of lions.
A positive external image, Dr Pinnock stressed, was essential for attracting overseas tourists. For many years foreign visitors had associated South Africa with iconic wildlife in natural habitats. But over the last few years, revelations about the truth and scale of the lion hunting and captive lion breeding industry in South Africa, and its direct links with the lion bone industry, had seriously tarnished that image.
Dr Pinnock concluded with two suggestions. Firstly, South Africa should designate core areas where no hunting could occur, and the Greater Kruger National Park was the most important area. If hunting was to occur, designated geographically peripheral areas had to be identified where that could take place.
Secondly, South Africa should ban the hunting of all iconic and protected animals, all of which were under terrible threat from poaching across the continent. Lion, elephant and rhino numbers were crashing across Africa and tourists knew that. It did not cut ice with them to say that South Africa had more so they could be killed.
Briefing by South African National Parks
Mr Fundisile Mketeni, CEO: SANParks, informed the audience that SANParks had just been through a vigorous process of reviewing the management plan of Kruger National Park. SANParks was in the process of regularising what was happening in the western part of the Kruger National Park, an area of two million hectares. Mr Mketeni proceeded to outline the mandate, vision, mission and SANParks’ core pillars and the evolution of conservation in South Africa.
SANParks’ response to claims of trophy hunting in the Greater Kruger National Park
Mr Glenn Philips, Managing Executive: Kruger National Park (KNP), provided SANParks’ response to claims of trophy hunting in the Greater Kruger National Park. Among other activities, KNP had hosted a Management Plan consultation, which more than 54 public and interest group meetings had attended in 2017-2018; with 501 inputs received on the draft Plan; and an approximate cost to develop the plan of R3.6 million. Mr Philips clarified the outcomes of the management plan consultation.
Mr Philips referred to the GLTP Treaty (2002) and the three implementation phases thereof. He gave some background to the media statements on trophy hunting in the Greater Kruger National Park. SANParks’ position on hunting in the Greater Kruger footprint was that hunting was a legitimate practice in protected areas. SANParks would not allow hunting in a National Park. SANParks’ Policy framework supported ethical and sustainable hunting in cooperative conservation areas open to KNP. What could be improved, Mr Philips stressed, were procedural matters, open transparent communication between all parties, and the Greater Kruger/GLTFCA (Great Limpopo Trans-frontier Conservation Area) should demonstrate contribution to various outcomes.
By way of conclusion, Mr Philips said that the SANParks Vision recognised the importance of maintaining and protecting the broader conservation estate, whilst having an obligation to positively impact on the broader socio-economic environment with cooperative partners, a key focus was to promote responsible access and benefits to communities. The GLTFCA Cooperative Agreement was an innovative transboundary institutional process, providing for a range of consistent & well-governed protected area management models and practices in the open system, in pursuit of local and landscape ecosystem, social and economic outcomes. Misleading media statements did not further the cause of conservation or represent the interest of the Greater Kruger Park. Such parties should state their interests and funding streams. Legitimate and responsible hunting in the open system was not the same as ‘captive bred hunting’.
The Chairperson said that the tirade against the media made him feel very uncomfortable. Parliament relied on the media. They were not the enemy. The media was what one gave them. If one were hostile, the media would be hostile. The duty of the media was to inform. It was the responsibility of those in public office to give the media the right information so that journalists could do their work. Public officials were meant to hold the media to a higher standing of ethical reporting and to distinguish between what was opinion and what was the news.
A SANParks representative delved into breeding approach, trends, challenges and opportunities. The key thing to consider was the roles that lions played and how to ensure that role persisted.
The Chairperson highlighted that, in light of Dr Pinnock’s submission, it was not about sustainable use or hunting per se as a means of sustainable use. The matter was a specific incident where a lion which had left the Kruger National Park had been hunted and some of the issues surrounding that. There had been very little by way of responses. Written responses were necessary. There were specific allegations that had emerged which the speakers had failed to respond to.
Mr Mketeni said that once SANParks had received the presentation, it would respond formally in writing.
Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency (MPTA)
After a few opening remarks, Mr Bheki Malaza of MPTA clarified the mandates of MTPA and Limpopo Department of Economic Development, Environment and Tourism (LEDET), which were the regulatory authorities for protected areas open and adjacent to KNP. Among others, the MTPA and LEDET were overseeing the current regularisation process of the areas on the western boundary of KNP, in strong cooperation with SANParks, who was facilitating the GLTFCA/Greater Kruger Agreement to support consistent practices in the open landscape. SANParks did not hunt in National Parks, and no hunting took place in the KNP.
Mr Riaan De Lange clarified the steps being followed to inform quotas.
Step 1: Management plans to provide for hunting, including cooperative aspects around it within an open landscape – consultation, ecological management, governance.
Step 2: Ecological surveys, censuses, specialist studies, observation to inform offtakes around August- October.
Step 3: Submit detailed post-offtake records, in consideration of the above around October.
Step 4. Offtake committees make recommendations, and submit to respective EXCO structures for approval, including the APNR Joint Management Committee, in November.
Step 5: EXCO obtains support from KNP, MTPA and LEDET, based on the following supporting documentation: pre- and post-offtake information, management plans, signed protocols and members being part of the Constitution, motivation of financial sustainability, service level agreements, e.g. with respect to LEDET.
Step 6: MTPA or LEDET issues the permits, as per recommendations.
It was agreed that the MTPA would provide a formal response to Dr Pinnock’s submission.
The possible effects of lion bone trade on lion conservation in the wild: Stimulating or buffering the demand? Key threats to wild African Lions – University of Oxford
Dr Michael Sas-Rolfes presented on behalf of the Oxford Martin Programme. He identified the following factors as key threats to wild African lions:
1. expanding human populations and increasing resource demands;
2. land conversion – habitat loss and fragmentation;
3. loss of prey;
4. human-wildlife conflict; and
5. unsustainable harvesting.
The Asian Connection
Among others, Dr Sas-Rolfes had elucidated how, in 2007, the purchase of lion bone from ex-captive-bred, hunted lions in South Africa had begun to supply the demand for Traditional Chinese Medicine in Asia.
Evidence to 2015
In the light of legal skeleton exports since 2008, Dr Sas-Rolfes spelt out the evidence since 2015 that captive-bred lions might play an important buffer role for wild lions (Lindsey et al, 2012). South Africa was the only country with commercial captive lion breeding and also the only country in Africa in which all wild lion populations were increasing (Bauer et al, 2015). There was no evidence that lion bone exports were negatively affecting wild lion populations in South Africa (Williams et al, 2015).
Dr Sas-Rolfes gave a breakdown of significant developments since 2015, which included the Cecil, the lion, incident, the Blood Lions campaign, increased public focus on trophy hunting, trophy hunting import bans in Australia and France in 2015, the US Endangered Species Act petition and listing, US trophy import ban from captive bred lions in 2016, a new focus on trade and CITES CoP17 outcome with SA’s skeleton export quota. What were the effects of those changes?
Research collaboration in 2016
Dr Sas-Rolfes discussed SANBI’s decision to initiate research collaboration in 2016, the goal of which had been to deepen understanding of South Africa’s captive lion breeding industry and its links to wild lion conservation. He elaborated on the grey areas of wildlife trade policy, the complex supply chains, the sustainable use and adaptive management, animal welfare matters, findings regarding the wildlife trade prohibition hypothesis and the legal supply hypothesis. He explained policy and research challenges, the policy and research approach, the collaborative research partners, the trade policy decisions and inputs and the new information in 2017.
2017 National Captive Lion Survey results
Dr Sas-Rolfes elaborated on the draft of the National Captive Lion Survey results. Dr Sas-Rolfes referred the gathering to the quota uptake in 2017 over the period of 5 weeks. Did South Africa’s exports, Dr Sas-Rolfes asked, affect other wild cats elsewhere? There was evidence of targeted lion poaching in Mozambique, but there was no evidence of causal link. The global demand for big cat products, such as teeth and claws appeared to be increasing, e.g. reports of jaguar poaching in Latin America. But that could not be causally attributed to lion skeleton exports. Dr Sas-Rolfes expanded upon the public concerns related to lion breeding, and the risks of an immediate zero quota, i.e. ban.
What is a ‘precautionary’ approach?
According to the precautionary approach, Dr Sas-Rolfes stressed, it should be incumbent upon proponents of a zero quota to provide assurances, backed up by scientific evidence, that it would not lead to expansion of illegal trade and poaching of wild lions or other wild cat species.
Conservation status of lions in South Africa – Endangered Wildlife Trust
Dr Kelly Marnewick, Senior Wildlife Trade Officer: Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), started by speaking to the conservation status of lions in South Africa, of which there is a total of approximately 3,500 wild lions and 8,000 captive-bred lions.
Purpose of captive lions
Dr Marnewick explained the purpose of captive lion breeding, which was tourism, interactions with captive lions, volunteerism, lion bone trade, and ‘hunting’.
Captive Hunting – what and where?
Dr Marnewick detailed the location of hunts that had taken place in 2010: 82% in the North West, 7% in the Eastern Cape, and 6% in the Free State. He spoke of the numbers of trophies resulting from captive ‘hunting’ over the period 1977 to 2011 versus the hunting of wild lions over the same period.
Dr Marnewick stated that the trophies went to, inter alia, Australasia, Asia, Europe, and the Americas. There were different hunters for captive and wild lion and the bulk of the market was not transferable to wild hunts. 50% of hunters would consider hunting wild lions.
The Value of hunting in SA
According to Dr Marnewick, the SA Professional Hunting Statistics of 2016 reflected a sum-total of R1.38 billion for animals only, with R110 million for lions, which was likely to have been fewer in 2017/8. Less than 8% of the value of hunting in South Africa was due to lion hunts. He expounded on the differences between captive and wild hunts in terms of the area, cost, time, success rate, and trophy quality.
No conservation benefit for captive lions
Dr Marnewick explained why there was no conservation benefit for captive lions. Captive lions were bred for size or colour and were genetically compromised. A true conservation breeding was with a view towards release; captive lion-breeding was not recommended in any conservation action plan, including the Biodiversity Management Plan. There was also habitat destruction in breeding camps.
Dr Marnewick also unpacked the consequences of concerns and international pressure on SA’s conservation reputation, SA’s tourism reputation and SA’s general hunting reputation. He gave a breakdown of the captive lion poaching statistics per province. After detailing the impact if captive lion ‘hunting’ was stopped, Dr Marnewick spoke to how wild lion hunts could benefit conservation by creating financial incentives to conserve lions and wildlife-based land use; increasing local tolerance of lions; and reducing retaliatory killing. True sustainable use, according to the IUCN, embraced biological sustainability, non-conservation benefit, socio-economic-cultural benefit, adaptive management, and accountable and effective governance.
In conclusion, Yolan Friedman, CEO:EWT, stated that the EWT was concerned about the increasingly dismissive response towards public sentiment which was largely against the trade, when all South Africans had the right to feel emotions for their wildlife heritage. EWT could not be selective about the use of science from a variety of different sources, especially when some scientists had different relationships with government. It needed to be a far more transparent process. EWT was increasingly worried about a trend towards closed door decision-making, and open consultative processes, after the fact. That had definitely happened in the current case. The decision to trade in lion bones had taken place in a closed-door environment. The decision around the quota had had some degree of public participation, albeit limited, but that was after the decision had been taken. EWT stood by colleagues in government who held conservation as their driving principle. EWT could not stand by decisions which threatened the very fabric of South Africa’s proud conservation heritage, as everyone had a very critical role to play going forward.
National Confederation of Hunters Associations of South Africa (CHASA)
Mr Stephen Palos, Chairperson: CHASA, presented the background to CHASA. CHASA and PHASA were the two associations that were frequently mentioned as the supportive associations of captive-lion hunting in South Africa. Referring to the profile of a hunter in South Africa, Mr Palos stated that the fact of the matter was that there were all kinds of lion hunters in the world. There was no typical hunter.
There were people in the colloquium who were rabidly anti-hunting. They were picking the low fruit of canned lion hunting. If that fell, they would move to the next low fruit, which could be something like trophy hunting. It was with that in mind that CHASA had taken the decision that that particular domino had to be supported. There were different ethics for different folks. There were members in his organization who were happy to hunt lions who they knew had been raised in captivity but at a certain bar. SAPA had set norms and standards and had raised that bar. Those hunters were happy knowing that those lions came from captive stock. It was not a God-given right, but they had paid for it.
Were they talking about an ethics war or a trade war? Maybe it was just simply a trade war. The single biggest benefactor in the International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation (CIC) was a German national resident in Cape Town who mined in Zimbabwe and owned a major ranch there. A lion earned him $35 000 more than an elephant earned. Why was he antagonistic to the practice? It was based on ethics, or was it just bad business to have competition like that in South Africa?
A consequence of trying to appease certain people was that government would start legislating on emotion. The problem with that kind of legislation was that it would fall flat in court. One could not legislate ethics. The worst thing the country needed was a set of laws that would be overturned in the courts of law down the line. Why was one particular species treated differently to all the other species hunted in the country. That would not stand up in the Constitutional Court.
The approximately one thousand people who worked in the lion sector had a right to earn a living. How did one make legislation just because of the emotional attachment to that specific animal? Was the country going to make a specific law for that animal? South Africa was going to have to write a law that made that practice universal across all species, which would mean total devastation for all private wildlife ownership in the country, or the Department would have a piece of legislation that would be easy to knock out of court.
Ethics, fair chase and conservation were not in the same conversation. One could not legislate ethics. What was the solution? In 2015, the Minister had proposed a solution: clean up the fringe elements, work to the higher bar, support SAPA all the way to enforce their norms and standards. Let government adopt that as its norms and standards. Set the bar at a level that would not make everybody happy but would be a bar that would at least set a position for the country. Government had to find the budget to empower the Department. The officials were motivated and able but they needed to be able to build the resources they needed to police all aspects of wildlife in the country. Let the permitting system function by empowering the national Department and the provinces effectively.
Mr Palos believed that there was a solution to the problem. Enable the Minister and her Department, and enable the provinces that dealt with the problem. Lastly, almost everyone who was damaging Brand South Africa on that subject was represented in the room. Was it the practice of captive-bred lions that was damaging the conservation image of this country or was it a select few people who kept it in the public space all the time? If one looked at a lie often enough, it became the truth. If South Africa was going to stop anything, it should stop the people telling the world about South Africa’s ills in negative ways. South Africa should show the good news and kill the bad news. That was what Brand South Africa was all about.
Dr Petrus de Kock, General Manager: Brand South Africa, gave a breakdown of global reputation indicators and South Africa’s Performance on the Nation Brand Index, expanding on how South Africa ranked overall on the six pillars the National Business Initiative (NBI) in 2015, 2016, and 2017.
The damage to the national brand posed a huge risk for tourism growth in South Africa, as the world headed towards more and more responsible tourism and commercial practices. The current practice and South African legislation was unanimously criticised at an international level, and members of the colloquium had to ask themselves if that was an image they wanted for the BrandSA. It was important to discuss the possibility of changing legislation and ensuring sustainability. Was the financial revenue from the activity worth compromising the country’s reputation and position as a unique wildlife destination?
Issuing of hunting licences at provincial level needed to be done in a context of a national policy on sustainable management of South Africa’s wildlife. The most positive outcome from a reputation management point of view would be for South Africa to ban captive lion breeding, as well as that of other animals.
Dr de Kock stressed that South Africans needed to be aware that BrandSA was not only about the debate on captive lion breeding and canned hunting, but rather how the Brand should position the country much more coherently when it came to biodiversity and the legacy of biodiversity. BrandSA would be very interested in the thinking of the Committee on the matter and would like to get into a room with all the important stakeholders to wrap heads around how to build the deeper picture of South Africa’s conservation industry.
When South Africa had hosted the BRICS summit that year, BrandSA had worked in an intergovernmental space with teams from the Government Communications and Information Service (GCIS) to the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO), etc. Apart from the captive-lion breeding question, the lesson for BrandSA had been the broader message they needed to be entrenching in the local and the international markets on the unique position of South Africa in the global conservation space.
In the final analysis, Dr de Kock suggested that BrandSA needed an answer from the leadership of the National Assembly. If one looked at some global reporting, South Africa was home to 70-80% of the world rhino population. That was a majorly important factor for the country. Somebody had referred to the growth number of species in managed environments where, for example, hunting was practiced. The ultimately reality to be faced was how to conserve what the country had and to build that resource to the benefit of society. From the perspective of managing South Africa’s reputation as a country that was a critical concern. Brand South Africa stood ready to support the work of not only the Committee, but also the private sector and people active in that space.
Mr Ross Harvey, from the South African Institute of International Affairs, thanked the presenters, especially Dr Sas-Rolfes. Firstly, had tiger farms helped, bearing in mind the conditions under which predator breeding did and did not work? It was not clear whether those conditions had or could be met by South Africa’s Predator Breeding Association. Secondly, the Lindsay Paper (2012) which had looked at the relationship between captive-lions and wild lions elsewhere in Africa, had qualified its statement quite heavily that captive lions could serve as a buffer. That qualification needed to be stated quite clearly. Thirdly, had South Africa’s wild population been doing well, separate from the existence of the captive-breeding industry? The parallel market had existed long before there had been a quota. It was not clear that the existence of the quota would do away with the existence of a parallel market, or the links to organized crime, which were particularly well-documented already.
One of the major questions, methodologically, was how one ensured accurate and reliable supply-side information. In that context, the Williams and Sas-Rolfes interim report was much more methodological than the paper by Richard York the previous day. Lastly, one of the arguments that the captive predator breeding industry cited was job creation. It was not clear that 600 jobs was at all worth defending. Even if one took half of the available space and transformed that into wildlife ranching, at least the same number of jobs could be created through alternative land use. That was a potential solution. In terms of income and jobs, it was not clear that that was an industry worth defending, given the opportunity costs. The accusation that prohibitionists did not consider the potential negative consequences was not necessarily true. There were opportunity costs and negative externalities that were considered and were the reason behind the suggestion that the quota should be reduced to zero.
Mr Deon Swart, from SAPA, explained that if one searched Google one would find, among others, Sable Antelope being advertised according to size because a client determined the type of animal he wanted to hunt. The animal was then offloaded on the farm and hunted. That was the industry, every day. Sometimes those animals were offloaded and shot the next day. But if it was not a lion, it was fine. Furthermore, people had bought farms and hunted lions on them, and those farms had expanded. If you look at the State of the Environment Report, all game farms were rated as conservation areas, which meant that the biodiversity index was an indicator of how well it was managed. That was indirectly linked to conservation. When high value species were farmed, there was more money to buy more land. The index at the end of the day went up because the goats were sold and wildlife was farmed. There was a direct conservation impact from the money that was made from lions.
Dr Pinnock asked Dr Sas-Rolfes whether the Scientific Authority report supported DEA’s increase in lion-bone quota from 800 to 1500 carcasses per annum? He asked Riaan De Lange of the MTPA, when doubt had been raised about the identity of the lion that was hunted in Umbabat Private Nature Reserve. Why had an independent viewing of the carcass and skeleton refused? That refusal had spiralled into huge international reputational damage.
A representative from the South African Veterinary Council voiced his appreciation of the day’s occasion. The energy or ‘creative abrasion’ could be used positively. He asked DEA if there was a guiding document that was being looked at or worked on regarding animal welfare. Was DAFF involved? DAFF had an animal welfare policy document. Was DEA involved in that? How old was the average a hunter currently? He asked in light of the recent study which had found that future generations would outnumber the millennials? By 2019, the average age of the population of the world would be less than 40 years. Lastly, SANParks had made reference to nutrition with regards to the five freedoms. There was a conflation of the nutrition of wild animals in captivity, which had to be provided for, and those in the wild, where animals have to fend for themselves that led to confusion. The South African Veterinary Council was forming a National Animal Welfare Forum. All those involved in the animal welfare arena should contact the Council for the way forward.
Mr Kirsten responded that it was untrue that captive-bred lions had zero contribution to make to conservation. SAPA was conducting a study, which was in its second year, and which established the conservation value of captive-bred lions. SAPA would, with the DEA, deal with the rogue elements that were not within the control of SAPA and see how it could take things forward. South Africans were resilient people, and there was no challenge that the country could not overcome. South Africa had managed to find a settlement without bloodshed and to host a very successful World Cup, contrary to speculation.
A journalist from International Publications thanked the Chair for his statements about the media. The media in South Africa worked under very difficult conditions and was very badly paid in general, and worked under terrible time constraints. Over and over again, the media was lambasted for getting things wrong. More often than not, when approaching a government department like DEA, DAFF and SANParks for comment or response, there was absolutely no response, or there was obfuscation. If the people in the room wanted the correct information out there in the public, he asked that they communicated a lot better with journalists who approached them for comment. More often than not, journalists hit an absolute blank wall.
An audience member from the NGO sector stressed that all the NGOs’ books had been transparent. If anyone wants to view them, they could be contacted. The agreement signed between the APNR and the KNP in 1996 needed to be reviewed. Would discussion on the revision of that cooperative agreement be open to all stakeholders? Mr Sas-Rolfes’ survey had been conducted online. How had he ensured the integrity of the data? It was said that there was evidence that captive lion-breeding did not harm wild populations. Could the gathering have sight of that evidence? If there was no negative impact, was there a positive impact to the wildlife population from a conservation perspective?
Mr Don Scott, from the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve, stated that, given the title of the colloquium, it was confusing that the subject of trophy hunting was on the agenda of the Committee meeting as it seemed to mix the concerns of captive-predator breeding with the hunting of wild predators.
Furthermore, in Dr Pinnock’s address, he had made three allegations in his address that had previously been published in the media. All three allegations had been answered in the media in a statement by Timbavati Private Nature Reserve. Why had those allegations once again been rehashed as fact in the Committee Meeting when they had been responded to? Timbavati Private Nature Reserve had specifically responded to those allegations so that it would not have to face talking about those issues in a Committee meeting that day. At no stage, despite the statements in the media against Timbavati, had any journalists actually contacted any member of Timbavati. Mr Scott invited Dr Pinnock to visit Timbavati so that he could show him what the Private Nature Reserve was doing so that his perceptions on its governance matters could be corrected.
The Chairperson, in response to Mr Don Scott’s confusion around the title of the colloquium, stated that the Committee had thought that trophy hunting needed to be included and dealt with by SANParks because it also included an escaped lion from Kruger Park that had been hunted. The Committee could itemise anything which, in its view, was relevant because it was the Committee’s agenda and programme. The Committee did want to interrogate that question. The colloquium should not end on a level of defensiveness as to why the item had been put on the agenda. The Kruger National Park had been asked to respond in detail to the issues that had been raised by Dr Pinnock. The duty of the Committee was to ask very robust questions to get responses.
A representative from Four Paws asked the DEA whether or not it understood the product that it had agreed to sell to outside markets. Why was the country selling it and who were the consumers behind it? In looking after lions that come from terrible conditions, including from lion-breeding, one of the interesting factors was that the health of most of these animals was compromised; their ability to behave as animals in a rational way was compromised, and many bones deficiencies were present. How was South Africa supplying a bone product to a market when those bones were compromised by arthritis and other deficiencies? How did an arthritic bone cure somebody from arthritis?
Endangered Wildlife Trust: CEO, Ms Yolan Friedman asked what consultation was held with the neighbouring countries concerning the decision by South Africa in view of the CITES Conference? Everyone spoke of an ‘African’ Lion, which also belonged to many other African countries. In any engagement on a multilateral environmental agreement, it was a good political practise to engage with your neighbouring countries as a bloc and consider their approaches to the trade in lion bones and canned trophies. She been told that none had been held.
Ms Louise De Waal, #HandsOffOurWildlife campaign, referred to a letter of 6 February 2018, that SANParks had addressed to Timbavati and Umbabat for offtake requests. Given the number of irregularities and requests for clarifications expressed in both letters, SANParks had not recommended the offtake based on the fact that both NPRs were not able to show towards which conservation management and socio-economic benefits the hunting revenue generated was being directed. As was mentioned by SANParks, the socio-economic benefits are a major focus. How was it possible that the MPTA completely ignored SANParks’ recommendations in terms of issuing a hunting permit? Did that not show weaknesses in the processes and systems of managing an open system?
A woman speaking on behalf of 29 organizations and 140 000 citizens who signed a petition to be given to the Committee, SANParks and the representative from Umbabat said that the petition asked the authorities to give answers after a transparent investigation. An email has been sent several times. SANParks had replied, saying that it was not their competence. The private reserves needed to tell them if group 13 was in Limpopo or Mpumalanga.
Dr Michael Sas-Rolfes responded to the question of whether tiger farms had helped. It was not a fair question. Legal trade in tiger bone or medicine had been banned since 1993. Even though there were tiger bone plants in China, they could not legally trade. Therefore, it was not possible to say whether tiger farms had helped. Ten years previously when China made the decision to reopen the market, there had been a proliferation of farms in neighbouring countries under quasi-legal conditions. Since that had happened, India’s tiger populations were recovering. There were routine seizures of tiger bones in East Asia and a lot of them are farmed animals. They did not seem to have hurt but there was no legal trade so it could not be assessed in that way. The Lindsay report of 2012 had caveats. It was a very good paper but it did call for more research and that was what his organization was trying to do. He asked Mr Harvey to restate the question regarding the parallel market.
Mr Harvey asked whether the conservation success of South Africa’s wild lions could be incidental to the existence of the predator-breeding industry?
Dr Sas-Rolfes responded that it could be incidental but the point was that conservation was not being harmed. There was no evidence of large scale commercial poaching. There might be a buffer effect that would only be discovered once the legal supply was removed. As for illegal parallel markets, there was very little evidence that they existed. The paws and skull poaching that was taking place was an interesting phenomenon. It was not certain whether they were going to the local muti market. Furthermore, the interim report did not make any recommendations regarding quotas. It had not been asked to do so, but to provide information. The information could have been in support of an increased quota. It indicated that the previous year’s quota had been a constriction and it had failed to recognise what had happened in 2016 and that stockpiles were building up. How the DEA interpreted that information was for the DEA to say. Concerning the integrity of the data, Vivien Williams would be better placed to answer that question because she had taken the lead in the survey. The data, however, had been through research ethics clearance. It was pre-tested. In some instances go-betweens were necessary for face-to-face studies. Having looked at the information, there was no reason to believe that the information was compromised in any way.
The Chairperson thanked Dr Sas-Rolfes for the clarification on the interim report because the impression that had been created was that the report had been used as the basis for increasing the quota.
Dr Sas-Rolfes added that the report was not the only source of information available to the DEA. There were two other peer-reviewed papers and other information. It was one of multiple inputs. It had been stressed that the sample had not been large enough and that it was not to enter the public domain before completion.
Mr Mketeni supported an investigation into the matter. He had difficulties answering some of the questions, such as whether the lion had been traversing between Umbabat and the KNP, and how old the lion had been. It is not possible to answer these questions. In a nutshell, it is better to support an investigation. Furthermore, was it possible to work out a response to Dr Pinnoch’s paper, especially by way of an investigation?
The Chairperson reminded the Committee that it had been agreed that SANParks would give a formal response to Dr Pinnoch’s paper. Some of the issues for which SANParks had answers would be addressed. The Committee would decide how to proceed once it had received a detailed response.
Mr Shonisani Munzhedzi explained that DEA had received a variety of requests, most of them that morning. The team did its best under the circumstances. The issue of cultural and religious beliefs and how people decided what to take or not to take in the demand and supply aspects, that space had its many concerns and, hence, the many studies DEA had commissioned. It was not fair to question cultural or religious practises. Generally, CITES was different from other conventions. CITES also worked by voting. In terms of implementation, some decisions could be negative to conservation. That was why South Africa stressed that all decisions should be science-based. When South Africa was at CITES, the biggest issue was not about votes. The biggest concern was up-listing lion to Appendix 1. When South Africa hosted a summit, DEA chaired the meeting. There were certain dynamics for different countries that would come out. In as much as there was a collective approach to certain things with other African countries, there was allowance for a common but differentiated approach. Lastly, on the welfare aspect, DEA was more than happy to check.
Dr Pinnock stated that the MPTA should really answer the question as to why they had not allowed the skin of the hunted lion to be viewed independently.
Mr Riaan explained that, under the Game Theft Act, once an individual shoots an animal legally or illegally, he/she takes ownership of the animal. What happened was that the skin was transported to the taxidermist. There were a number of requests to have the skin viewed but the client had indicated that he did not want the skin viewed.
The Chairperson said that the response was not satisfactory. The response to that question could be part of SANParks’ written response.
Mr Riaan De Lange added that the EMS Foundation’s request has been received and a response was being compiled. The due date for the request was the 24 September 2018.
The Chairperson stressed, however, that the Committee would like a formal response.
Mr Mketeni asked if the MPTA could process their response separately from SANParks.
The Chairperson said that they could both do so via the DEA.
The Chairperson thanked all the stakeholders for the very fruitful engagement. The Committee would receive a report from the Committee Content Advisor and the Secretariat. The Portfolio Committee would deliberate over the report and make it public. The report would be made available on the Announcements, Tablings and Committee report of Parliament with a brief statement of what the PC recommends. What is quite clear is that this matter is firmly on the agenda. The Committee would ensure that the recommendations that arose out of the process were implemented to the letter.
The meeting was adjourned.
Read original report: https://pmg.org.za/committee-meeting/26901/