ANIMAL PROTECTION ACT: LEGAL STATUS OF GAME SPECIES IN KZN

Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife (Ezemvelo) would like to clarify the legal status of wild animals in KwaZulu-Natal following the listing of a number of indigenous wild animals and some alien mammal species under the Animal Improvement Act, 1998 (Act No. 62 of 1998) (AIA).

All animals which are not traditionally classified as domesticated animals are regarded as being wild animals. This applies even to animals kept as pets or in domesticated or semi-domesticated circumstances. The AIA is agricultural legislation that provides for the breeding, identification and utilization of ‘genetically superior’ animals in order to improve the production and performance of animals in the interest of the Republic, and to provide for matters connected therewith, and was originally used to protect and manage agricultural breeds such as Nguni and Drakensberger cattle, SA Boer goat, Dorper sheep, and Boerboel dogs.

Chairperson, growing the economy and creating jobs is the fundamental task that faces this sixth ANC-led administration. Both His Excellency President Cyril Ramaphosa and our Honourable Premier, Khuzeni, in their SONA and SOPA, respectively, set clear parameters for radical economic transformation, creating jobs and growing the economy. They have sent a clear message that for the next five years we cannot adopt a business as usual posture. The electoral mandate of this sixth ANC-led administration is unambiguous about the urgent need to transform the economy and to ensure mass participation in it.

The need for clarity arises from the inclusion of almost all indigenous large mammal species in the list of declared landrace breeds in an amendment of Table 7 of the regulations promulgated under the AIA on 17 May 2019. The amendment was published by the former Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in Gazette No. 42464. (Attached)

In the latest amended list 24 species of indigenous mammals have been added, including black rhino and predators like lion and cheetah, to the original 12 listed in 2016. All large terrestrial mammals that naturally occur in KZN with the exception of elephant, hippo, common reedbuck, bush pig and warthog, are now listed.

A number of the game species included in Table 7 of the AIA are also listed as Threatened or Protected (ToPS) in terms of National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act, 2004 (Act No. 10 of 2004) (NEMBA) or are listed as invasive in terms of the NEMBA Alien and Invasive Species Regulations, and/or are listed as Specially Protected or Protected or are otherwise regulated in terms of the KZN Nature Conservation Ordinance.

The recent media articles including the two published in the Landbou Weekblad of 5 July 2019 and in the Daily Maverick of 16 October 2019 imply that all game species listed under the AIA no longer fall under the ambit of conservation legislation. There have also been similar statements made by wildlife industry representatives making similar allegations.

Ezemvelo wishes to clarify that the AIA does not replace or supersede the provisions of any national or provincial conservation legislation. Irrespective of whether selective breeding of the animals occurs, the keeping of wild animals still require permitting from the conservation authorities. The AIA does not repeal or replace the applicable conservation laws.

All indigenous and alien wild animals in KwaZulu Natal are still subject to all applicable national and provincial conservation legislative requirements namely the NEMBA and associated regulations, and/or KZN Nature Conservation Ordinance (15 of 1974).

Any person who carries out a restricted activity, such as the keeping, breeding, selling or transporting of an animal of a listed ToPS species, must still comply with the provisions of NEMBA and its ToPS Regulations. Similarly, the possession, breeding and spreading of listed alien and invasive animals must comply with the requirements of the Alien and Invasive Species Regulations. The import, introduction, possession, transportation, keeping in captivity, exporting and hunting of indigenous and alien species must comply with the requirements of the KZN Nature Conservation Ordinance.

Failure to comply with applicable conservation legislation in terms of these species may constitute a criminal offence as has always been the case. Compliance with the provisions of the AIA but without permission in terms of the applicable conservation legislation does not amount to legal compliance and will not prevent enforcement.

Ezemvelo encourages landowners and people in the wildlife industry to familiarize themselves with the requirements of the conservation legislation and to contact Ezemvelo if they require any further clarity.

Ezemvelo further notes that some of the objectives of the AIA in terms of selective breeding of certain human desired characteristics (e.g. larger horns for hunting, unusual colour morphs), and activities associated with this practice, may constitute a threat to indigenous biodiversity. As such provincial and national conservation authorities remain key stakeholders when it comes to any activities and legislation affecting indigenous species.

Ezemvelo will engage relevant Departments regarding the amendment of table 7 of the regulations.

Musa Mntambo
Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife: Communications Manager
Tel: +27 (0) 33 845 1743
Cell: +27 (0) 83 284 9586
Email: musa.mntambo@kznwildlife.com