South Africa Withdraws Species Protection, Elephant Management Laws

Government has withdrawn legislation intended to widen the number of species protected by more stringent laws and has also scrapped incoming laws pertaining to the management of elephants and hunting of leopards.

The decision came after a legal challenge from Wildlife Ranching South Africa and the Professional Hunters Association of South Africa, the terms of which have not been disclosed, the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment said in a statement Wednesday.

“We simply had no idea what information the minister relied upon when she made the new regulations,” said Dries van Coller, chief executive officer of PHASA, in a statement.

It’s unclear “what data and research motivated her to include some of the country’s most abundant game species, such as the blesbok” on a list of protected species.

South Africa decades ago prompted a boom in the game farming industry by allowing farmers to own the wild animals on their land. It is now looking to tighten laws to protect the country’s tourist industry from reputational harm related to activities ranging from lion farming and trade in their bones to rhino poaching.

In addition to withdrawing the new list of protected species, which was supposed to come into effect this month, the department also halted the implementation of new and revised regulations related to elephant ownership, leopard hunting and trade in rhino horn.

“The department is still committed in reforming the legislative framework in relation to the threatened or protected terrestrial and freshwater species,” it said.

South Africa is home to most of the world’s remaining rhinos and has key populations of elephants, lions and leopards.

Hunting of all these animals is permitted under strict controls and generates about R5 billion annually for the country as it attracts sport hunters mainly from the US, according to a paper released by researchers at South Africa’s North-West University in 2018.



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