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Welfare of SA wildlife inadequate

The Mercury
29 June 2018
African News Agency (ANA) and Nicola Daniels

SIGNIFICANT shortcomings in the regulation of the welfare of animals have been found, leaving their well-being without adequate protection.
A joint report by the Centre for Environmental Rights and the Endangered Wildlife Trust, released earlier this week, found there were major gaps in legislation and the implementation of those laws.
The Department of Environmental affairs said it had proposed amendments to the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act (Nemba), as part of the National Environmental Management Laws Amendment Bill, 2017 (Nemla) and this was subjected to Parliamentary approval processes.
The centre’s wildlife attorney Aadila Agjee said: “The combination of government agencies regulating wildlife and welfare, outdated and at times inadequate laws, inconsistent application and enforcement of those laws – and strong focus on commercial exploitation of wildlife – make clear that the welfare of wild animals is not currently a priority in South Africa”.

Mandate
“A set mandate, adequate budget for staffing, training and resources, updating of laws and practices, and consistency in the treatment of the wild animals to prioritise their well-being are critical. “Our regulatory system has distinguished between animal welfare on one hand, and biodiversity conservation on the other – and regulate those separately in different laws.
“This means conservation laws applicable to wild animals under the physical control of humans, whether held temporarily or permanently – are often unsuited to addressing the issue of welfare of those wild animals,” Agjee said.
“Welfare laws, on the other hand, do not necessarily consider conservation objectives. To make matters worse, both sectors suffer from limited resources for compliance and enforcement. In practice, the current legal regime ultimately provides little protection for wild animals,” said Agjee.
Department spokesperson Albi Modise said: “In respect of listed threatened or protected species (Tops), Nemba regulates the use of specimens of these species by requiring permits for activities that have a direct impact on such specimens; these are defined as ‘restricted activities’ and include, among others, hunting, catching, keeping, breeding and transporting”.
“It may not be entirely correct to state that well-being considerations in conservation laws and practices are absent, or that existing well-being laws do not adequately cater for wild animals.
“Although there is no clear mandate in Nemba to regulate the well-being of wild animals, there are a number of provisions in the Tops Regulations that can indirectly be linked to well-being, although these provisions were not included with well-being as the primary consideration,” he said.
The organisations have recommended the clarification of the legal mandate for wildlife welfare, and the updating of legislation.