Minister Nomvula Mokonyane to appoint the high level panel to review policies relating to matters of elephant, lion, leopard and rhinoceros handling, management, breeding, hunting and trade
03 December 2018
The Minister of Environmental Affairs, Mrs Nomvula Mokonyane, will soon be appointing a High-Level panel to review policies, legislation and practices on matters of lion, elephants, leopard and rhinoceros management, breeding, hunting, trade and handling.
The High level Panel will conduct public hearings, draft submissions, consider scientific evidence and other forms of information that will enable the evaluation and assessment of current practices, regulatory measures and policy positions.
The panel will identify gaps, seek to understand and make recommendations on the basis of the subject matter. The panel will also review the implementation of the recommendations of the Committee of Inquiry into the feasibility, or not, of a legal rhino horn trade, and any future decision affecting trade-related proposals to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
The Department of Environmental Affairs has for years dealt with a number of emotive and complex conservation and sustainability issues, particularly those involving iconic species. These include elephant management, the ivory stockpile, trade in rhino horn and the emerging issue of the lion bone trade.
The Constitutional Mandate of the Department is to ensure the right to the protection of the environment, for present and future generations, reasonable legislative and other measures that secure ecologically sustainable development and the use of natural resources while promoting justifiable economic and social development.
Further to this is the operationalisation of the objectives of the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act (NEMBA) on conservation, sustainable use and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of genetic resources. These deal with the protection of the environment through measures that promote environmental, social and economic imperatives for the present and future generations.
Taking into account the current compliance inspections of lion captive breeding facilities being conducted throughout the country, there is a need to harmonise sustainable use with strictly controlled legal international trade and monitoring. In accordance with Regulations 3 (2) (k), the Minister has amended the 2018 lion bone export quota to 800 skeletons from 1 500 skeletons announced in June 2018. The new quota is the same as the allocation for 2017. The maintenance of the 2017 quota will allow the Department to reflect on effectiveness of the implementation of the quota, enhance compliance and monitoring systems, and further allow the High-level panel being appointed to incorporate these issues into their work.
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The African lion (Panthera leo) is included in Appendix II to CITES; meaning it is not threatened with extinction. South Africa is one of only seven countries in the world that has substantial lion populations. According to the Non-Detrimental Finding (NDF) for Panthera Leo made by the Scientific Authority and gazetted in January this year, there are 3 500 African lions in the wild in South Africa. The same NDF found there are presently no major threats to our wild lion population.
In addition approximately 7 000 lions are kept in around 260 captive breeding facilities in South Africa. Lion are bred in captivity for various reasons; including hunting but also as a potential source for the establishment of new lion populations. Some are sold to start new conservation areas whilst others are donated to countries whose own lions have long become extinct.