Post Date: 25 Oct 2019
WRSA has read, with disappointment, an article published in the Daily Maverick on 16 October 2019 about the listing of 33 wildlife species in terms of the Animal Improvement Act (AIA). With at least six references made to the “industry” in the article, it is unfortunate that the author, Mr Don Pinnock, did not consult with Wildlife Ranching South Africa (WRSA) before publishing the article. WRSA is acknowledged by the South African government and stakeholders locally and internationally, as an organisation representing wildlife ranchers in South Africa.
The one-sided approach to the article and the author and/or other contributors’ usage of terminology such as manipulation, genetic manipulation, cross-breeding of wildlife, domestication, etc., unfortunately creates an overall negative and irresponsible image of the South African wildlife ranching industry, which needs to be corrected.
The ethos of the South African wildlife rancher is the scientific management of game species in a natural habitat without an objective to domesticate them. Domestication should not be confused with the odd hand-rearing of individual animals. Breeding for domestication implies the intent to create offspring that would need and accept the care of humans.
Whilst factoring in the ecology, economy and socio-cultural aspects, South African wildlife ranchers provide and maintain fit-for-purpose wildlife ranching facilities related to sustainable wildlife production, management and utilisation. As a rule, wildlife ranchers assertively take precautionary measures mitigating against practices such as crossbreeding of species and reckless game management and husbandry. As an example, WRSA’s code of best practices stipulates that practices such as intensive genetic manipulation, utilisation of artificial reproductive technologies, including artificial insemination, embryo transfer, cloning techniques and clean uterus practices, should be reserved only for the preservation of threatened species and only with the explicit approval of and a permit from the relevant authorities.
Wildlife ranchers fully understand the importance of responsible wildlife ranching, including breeding. Therefore, experienced wildlife ranchers play an extremely important role in providing inputs to species biodiversity management plans and protocols, including a roan protocol, to ensure the future existence of those species.
The article implies that permit restrictions and constraints as imposed by the National Environmental Management Biodiversity Act (NEMBA) on particularly the movement of species, could be a possible reason for the listing of the species. WRSA agrees on the importance of having less restrictions on trade and movement of wildlife in order to grow the South African wildlife economy to its full potential. It is a fact that the wildlife ranching industry is subjected to very complex and in some cases, restricting legislation which does not provide the industry with the same competitive edge as other agricultural resources.
Therefore, should wildlife ranchers through the AIA be able to either completely or partially move over to the Department of Agriculture, it would indeed be an option for wildlife ranchers to consider. Although the Department of Environmental Affairs indicated that the wildlife industry will still be subjected to the requirements of NEMBA, clarity is still needed from the Department of Agriculture.
In closing, it is important to once again be reminded of the South African private wildlife ranching industry’s success story. Our country today, has more wildlife than at any given time during the past century, of which two-thirds are in private ownership with one-third in national and provincial reserves. This success was made possible through the three pillars of responsible and sustainable wildlife ranching, namely:
a) The principle of free market economics, directed towards protecting South Africa’s natural resources and leaving a lasting legacy for future generations;
b) A legislation environment, including the Game Theft Act which allowed for the private ownership of wild animals, as well as the principle of sustainable utilisation enshrined in our country’s constitution; and
c) Significant investment by the private sector into wildlife ranches and wildlife.
Private wildlife ranchers will not risk putting this 21st century conservation initiative at risk, by acting irresponsibly.
24 October 2019
President, WRSA: Mr Tebogo Mogashoa, firstname.lastname@example.org
CEO, WRSA: Adri Kitshoff-Botha, email@example.com