National dialogue on the intensive and selective breeding of colour variants in South Africa

Event date: 
2015-12-02 12:43

  Associated risk   objectives          
Introduction and background
Associated risk
Workshop objectives
Schedule / programme (presentations docs attchd)





The promotion of biodiversity conservation is one of the main strategies of the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), which is guided by the three main objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity. These objectives are i) conservation of biological diversity, ii) sustainable use of its components and, iii) fair and equitable sharing of benefits. These objectives are given effect to through the White Paper on biological diversity and the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act, 2004 (Act No. 10 of 2004) (NEMBA). The latter is augmented by the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP). Changing trends in the use of biological resources are being considered during the policy development processes.

The NEMBA does not yet provide regulatory guidance on matters specifically dealing with intensive and selective breeding of colour variants. From a scientific perspective, the intensive and selective breeding of colour variants raise concerns regarding the risks to genetic diversity. Game farmers who are involved in these breeding practices have argued that this was acceptable considering its natural occurrence in nature and its economic value to the game farming and trophy hunting industries.


Risks associated with intensive and selective breeding practices 

Generally the risks associated with intensive and selective breeding practices have been categorised as:

  • Inbreeding / outbreeding depression
  • Hybridisation
  • Animal welfare
  • Domestication/loss of genetic fitness of introduced populations
  • Predator control and secondary ecosystem-level impacts thereof
  • Development of resistant strains of parasites
  • Habitat loss and fragmentation associated with a change from extensive to intensive wildlife systems
  • Reputational damage to the hunting and tourism industry of South Africa
  • Socio-economic risk if investors/communities lose money invested in what may be shown to be a pyramid scheme

Considering past extensive discussions on the intensive and selective breeding of colour variants, the matter has proven to be a complex issue, which, combined with the lack of sufficient scientific information, makes clear policy statements on risks associated therewith, extremely difficult.


Workshop purpose and objectives

In order to further unpack the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats associated with intensive and selective breeding practices, the Minister of Environmental Affairs requested the Department to coordinate a process of national dialogue, involving all relevant role players. The first national workshop was held in Durban during the Second Biodiversity Economy Indaba on 06 November 2015. The purpose of the workshops was to provide a platform to discuss issues relating to the intensive and selective breeding of colour variants. Key issues discussed during these workshops included considerations relating to genetics, conservation, sustainable use, economics, poverty relief, socio-economic development, regulation, and reputational risks.


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Programme / order of proceedings and presentations


Time: 08H30 TO 16H30
Venue:  Ditsong National Museum of Cultural History
Facilitator: Ms Khungeka Njobe


Time Item Introduced by
08:00-08:30 Tea on arrival All
08:30-08:35 Opening , welcome, housekeeping Chairperson
  Recap of the national dialogue terms of reference and summary of national dialogue workshop 1 [PDF - 805.38 kb] Facilitator
  Some background and update on activites of Scientific Authority on  the issue of color variants [438.91 kb] Ms Jeanetta Selier
  Biodiversity and other concerns relating to the practice of intensive and selective breeding of wildlife [PDF - 720.41 kb] Ian Rushworth (EKZNW)
  Conservation  position statement on intentional color variation manipulation [PDF - 303.41 kb] Mr Petri Viljoen (IUCN Antelope Specialist Group)
  An estimate of the scale of selective breeding of high value species and colour variants on private wildlife ranches in South Africa, including estimate of the levels of intensification and supplemental feeding. [PDF - 457.76 kb] Mr Andrew Taylor and Dr Harriet Davies-Mostert (EWT)
  "National Association of Conservancies\Stewardship South Africa (NACSSA)'s Policy on the Breeding of Colour Variants of Wildlife" [PDF - 1.21 mb] Prof A J Buys (The National Association of Conservancies and Stewardship of South Africa (NACSSA))
10:15-10:30                                                 Tea break
Key issues, concerns and potential risks linked to the issue of selective and intensive breeding of colour variants
Are there potential landscape and ecosystem impacts and when do they arise? “The landscape ecological impacts of intensive game breeding, specifically the role that fences play in fragmenting natural landscapes” [PDF - 1.04 mb] Mr Philip Desmet (Ecologist)
Economic perspective: what are the trends on market demand for colour variants? Mr Barry York
Are there current and potential reputational risks for the country and the wildlife industry associated with the issue of colour variants? Jacques Senekal (PHASA)
  Mr John Boretsky (SCI)

Should we regulate and how? What is the current status of regulation?


“Intensive and selective breeding of colour variants: should we regulate?” [PDF - 1.63 mb]

Ms Lizanne Nel (SAHGCA)
13:00-13:30 Lunch break All
  “The Wildlife Ranching Contribution to Transformation, current and future.” Mr Mike Gcabo (WRSA)
“The effects of the intensive breeding of unnatural colour variations and animals with exaggerated horn lengths, combined with canned killings, on the hunting industry” Mr Peter Flack (Spiral Horn Antelope Club)
“Colour “variants” in perspective” [PDF - 3.94 mb] Dr Peter Oberem (WRSA)
“Impacts of parasite mismanagement and poison misuse in intensive breeding of particular genetic traits in South African wildlife”. Dr Gerhard H Verdoorn (Griffon Poison Information Centre)
“Public response by WRSA to public criticisms” Mr Richard York (WRSA)
“Game meat, the potential of this uniquely South African industry and a place for colour-variants” Prof. Louw Hofmann (Stellenbosch University)
“The contribution of wildlife ranching to South Africa in terms of: the economy, decent jobs, food security, wildlife tourism,  as well as biodiversity and conservation (or don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater)” [PDF - 1.23 mb] Dr Gert Dry (WRSA)
Small groups breakaway
  Explanation of process and brief for small group discussions Small groups breakaway Facilitator ALL
Panel discussion : panellists to respond to identified key issues, concerns, potential risks and proposed solutions

Jacques Senekal
Ms Lizanne Nel
Prof Paul Grobler
Mr Andrew Taylor and Dr Harriet Davies-Mostert
Ms Jeanetta Selier
Mr Ian Rushworth
Mr Petri Viljoen
Dr Desire Dalton
Dr Peter Oberem / Barry York

Facilitator Panellists
16:00-6:20 Summary and wrap up Chairperson
16:20-16:30 Wayforward and closure Chairperson


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