Trophy hunting quotas suspended after court ban
A High Court ban granted against the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE) means that last month’s controversial trophy hunting quota has been temporarily suspended.
The urgent ban, granted on Friday, was brought by animal welfare organization Humane Society International Africa (HSI-Africa).
HSI-Africa argued that the DFFE failed to consult the public before the decision to implement the quota was made, violating the National Environmental Management and Biodiversity (Nemba) Act 10 of 2004 .
This, they said, rendered the department’s trophy hunting decision “invalid and illegal”.
In addition, HSI-Africa said DFFE Minister Barbara Creecy is also not allowed to issue trophy hunting quotas without “valid non-detriment opinions”.
HSI-Africa said the ban gives the organization time to review Creecy’s decision case, on which the quota allocations were based.
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Trophy hunting quotas
Under last month’s quotas, which were a “carry-over” from last year’s species allocations, 10 leopards, 10 black rhinos and 150 elephants could be hunted for trophy purposes this year.
The DFFE said the leopard can only be hunted where populations are stable or increasing, and only males seven years old or older can be hunted, to reduce the risk of “overexploitation”.
Leopards have been listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and populations are believed to have declined.
The black rhino, meanwhile, is critically endangered.
According to the quota, only adult males can be hunted, and only for conservation management reasons.
Black rhino hunting comes with a “strict set of criteria to ensure that demographic and/or genetic conservation is enhanced”.
This is stipulated in the Black Rhinoceros Biodiversity Management Plan.
Populations of all three black rhino subspecies are currently believed to be increasing, the DFFE said.
The 150 elephants hunted for trophies are “only a very small part of the total population”, accounting for less than 0.3% of the total African elephant population in the country, the DFFE said.
Elephants are endangered in South Africa according to the IUCN Red List, with declining population trends.
The department’s data, however, shows “an upward trend” in the number of national elephant herds, with the quota “well within sustainable limits”.
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Why DFFE cares about quotas
The department said Sotuh Africa’s “sustainable” leopard, elephant and black rhino populations allow the country to hunt these animals without negatively impacting wild populations.
The DFFE said “regulated and sustainable hunting” is good for conservation in South Africa, with incentives for the private sector and communities to conserve valuable wildlife and participate in “based land use”. on wildlife.
In addition, the department said income generated from trophy hunting was “essential” to poor rural communities.
The above points have all been disputed by HSI-Africa, to the extent that a report was released last month contradicting the department’s arguments.
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Report ‘Trophy hunting by the numbers’
HSI-Africa has found that 83% of trophies exported from South Africa come from captive bred animals, non-native species or animals such as caracals, baboons and badgers, none of which are subject to science-based management plans.
According to the report, only 25% of native species exported as trophies are managed under a national conservation plan.
“HSI has long sought to engage with the Department regarding the damage caused by trophy hunting – damage to individual animals and to the conservation of threatened and endangered wildlife, as well as the reputation of Africa of the South as an ethical destination for wildlife,” said the Director of HSI-Africa. director Tony Gerrans.
Another report, published by Good Governance Africa earlier this month, found that the economic benefits generated by trophy hunting were not enough to justify the overall damage done to conservation efforts.
Gerrans argued that more beneficial, long-term alternatives to slaughtering threatened, vulnerable, and endangered animals for pleasure must be adopted, for present and future generations to benefit from sustainability.
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Where are the trophies going?
According to the HSI-Africa report, between 2014 and 2018, South Africa was the second largest exporter of hunting trophies of species listed in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. (Cites), representing 16% of world exports.
South Africa is also Africa’s largest exporter of trophies, accounting for 90% of the continent’s exports.
During this period, an average of 3,165 trophies were exported each year.
The most common species exported from South Africa was the African lion, with over 4,000 lion trophies landed on international shores.
Other popular species were the Chacma baboon, vervet monkey, African elephant, hippopotamus, Hartmann’s mountain zebra, and southern white rhino.
54% of those trophies went from South Africa to the United States.
The final judgment of part A of the ban is expected in two weeks.
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