Committee Report on Colloquium on Captive Lion Breeding for Hunting in SA 21 & 22 August 2018
ATC181108: Report of the Portfolio Committee on Environmental Affairs on the Colloquium on Captive Lion Breeding for Hunting in South Africa: harming or promoting the conservation image of the country, held on 21 and 22 august 2018, dated 8 November 2018
The Minister gave introductory remarks to the briefing by the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF) and responded to Members’ questions. For example, she responded to a question on how the Department and the provinces were supposedly “passing the buck” about animal welfare at lion breeding facilities. For many years, there has been range of concerns about this activity. On the one hand, those involved in the captive breeding of lions would argue they have an industry and are creating employment. On the other hand, civil society organisations would be concerned about the welfare of these animals. There are those who are of the opinion that lions are wild animals, and that they have rights, and that they should not be kept in captivity. Relations amongst these different stakeholders are acrimonious. Relations between the Department and some of these stakeholders are also suboptimal. The meeting is a progress report; it is not solving this problem that is on the table. The Fifth Parliament instructed the Department to do certain things and this is the progress report on that and not resolution of the problem.
DEFF presented a briefing on the implementation of the Resolutions on captive lion breeding in South Africa.
There were four key issues from discussions with the previous Committee and the colloquium held last year:
1. The need for policy and legislative review of this practice of captive breeding of lions, and associated activities of trophy hunting and the lion bone industry;
2. The need for the DEFF to work with provinces in auditing captive lion breeding facilities and compliance;
3. The relationship between DEFF and the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) on animal welfare and health;
4. The determination of quota and associated matters.
It was noted that lions are sensitive to humanity – if they leave the parks, they are more vulnerable, because they would attack livestock, and would then be considered as damage-causing animals. There is long-term research into lion diseases, since they are susceptible to disease. DEFF has developed a series of conservation tools in terms of the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act (NEMBA), which includes a Biodiversity Management Plan (BMP) in 2015. DEFF also has a Non-Detriment Finding, in 2018 it indicated that legal local and international trade pose a low to moderate but non-detrimental risk to South Africa’s wild lion population.
Regarding policy and legislative review, the Minister took the decision to establish a High-Level Panel (HLP). Its purpose included policy review and proposed amendments to NEMBA, which is currently underway A key issue is to provide a mandate to regulate the well-being of faunal biological resources. In the past, this area was found to have a gap which was highlighted in Committee Report which led to the Resolutions. Animal wellbeing needs to be looked at. The recent court case did highlight the relationship between welfare and conservation matters, and how such things should be dealt with. There are also proposed amendments in for the Threatened or Protected Species (TOPS) Regulations currently underway.
On the audit of captive lion breeding facilities: The provinces, not DEFF, are the issuing authority for permits and for compliance enforcement. Follow-up on the inspections of captive lion breeding facilities was done by the provinces concerned. To date, a total of 239 inspections have been conducted, involving a total of 6 587 lions. In the Free State, where permits were expired, the permits were renewed. In Limpopo and North West, non-compliant facilities were brought into compliance (five and 13 facilities, respectively). There were inspections in the Eastern Cape, which are in the process of being concluded. Inspections in Gauteng, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal are underway.
It was noted that DEFF needs to work “very closely” with DALRRD which has legislation dealing with the welfare of animals and related matters. DEFF and DALRRD collaborate in a number of work areas such as compliance and enforcement of animal welfare requirements. DALRRD is now a member of the Wildlife Forum, and a meeting has been scheduled by DEFF to discuss the incorporation of welfare considerations in its decision-making (DALRRD and the NSPCA [National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals] will participate in the discussions).
A notable update from DALRD was that progress was made in developing relevant legislation and policies. On captive lion breeding, there was consultation between DALRRD and DEFF in 2019 to develop the necessary policies; existing draft guidelines for captive lion breeding were consulted, and a socio-economic impact assessment study (SEIAS) process was going to be undertaken. DALRRD has also completed a first draft of the Animal Welfare Bill, which will replace the Animals Protection Act, 1962, and the Performing Animals Act, 1935. A phase 1 SEIAS application was submitted to the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation. DPME still needs to provide feedback to DALRRD so there is not a definite date when the SEIAS application would be approved.
The South African Predator Association (SAPA) and the Professional Hunter’s Association of South Africa (PHASA) presented views from the hunters’ perspectives. It addressed several points that had previously been put forth against captive lion breeding, such as: captive bred lions do not provide a buffer effect for wild lions against poaching for their bones; the captive lion breeding industry is damaging Brand South Africa; captive populations lacked genetic diversity and were inbred. Detailed evidence to rebut these points was provided. For example, quotes were provided from studies on genetic variation in several captive bred lion populations. The sample population of captive-bred lions in one study had unique alleles (different versions of a gene on the same place on a chromosome). PHASA also quoted the late Minister on lion breeding, and the President’s views on the industry and the green economy.
The Chairperson emphasised that the Portfolio Committee in the Sixth Parliament was wanting to become acquainted with all the views on this contentious subject. Many of the Committee Members themselves were unabashed in their comments that were unrestrained and hard hitting. The Chairperson at one point informed the presenters that they were “not the only ones being spoken to in the way that the Members spoke to them; everybody who comes to the Committee gets the same treatment. This is how we deal with business here”.
Chairperson’s opening remarks
The Chairperson said the Committee’s task was to do oversight, make laws, and encourage public participation. For people who are interested in what the Portfolio Committee does, it is open to anybody who wants to talk to the Committee. That openness does not mean that they will not make up their minds as to how government works. The Chairperson would not encourage a situation where if someone makes a presentation, another person wants to counter what the presenter says. Anybody who wants to talk to the Committee must ask for that opportunity. He noted that the South African Predator Association (SAPA) had requested an input. The Chair urged the Committee to hear what SAPA wanted to tell the Committee. The Committee’s task is mainly conducting oversight on the laws that govern what the Committee is doing and on the plans the Committee accepted. If there are challenges, then the Committee will ask the Department. The Committee needed to be briefed on the implementation of the Resolutions on captive lion breeding in South Africa. On the subject of captive lion breeding – the Committee was getting drawn into this, and being engaged by various stakeholders. The Committee invited the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF) to help the Committee understand the issue as they get engaged by various stakeholders.
Minister’s introductory remarks
The Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, Ms Barbara Creecy, said that she was much like the Chairperson, in that when she inherited the DEFF portfolio, she found that this very controversial issue [of captive lion breeding] was on the table. For many years, there have been a range of concerns around this activity. On the one hand, there are those who are involved in the captive breeding of lion, who would argue that they have an industry and that they are creating employment. On the other hand, one would have a range of civil society organisations who would be concerned about the welfare of these animals. There are also those who are of the opinion that lions are wild animals, and that they have rights, and that they should not be kept in captivity. Relations amongst these different stakeholders are acrimonious. Relations between the Department and some of these stakeholders are also suboptimal. The meeting is a progress report; it is not solving this problem that is on the table. It is saying that the previous Committee instructed the Department to do certain things; this is the progress report on what the Department was instructed to do. This progress report does not deal with the resolution of the problem.
The Minister thought that Members would agree that in the course of this term, the Department and Committee has to come with a sustainable solution to this problem. DEFF cannot continue the way that it has been going for a number of years where this problem becomes ever more difficult. DEFF is going to have to come with a solution. This solution requires policy review, the high-level scientific panel, and consideration of conservation concerns, welfare concerns, and scientific issues. The Minister hoped in the course of the meeting, the Committee would come to understand the complexity of the issue, and that the Committee will come to be partners, together with the Department, in finding sustainable solutions. The Minister’s plea was Members take time to appraise themselves of the complexity of this issue, and that going forward, the Committee and Department can be partners. Policy change, policy development, and policy review require coordination between the Department and the Committee as the institution that passes laws and ultimately makes policy in South Africa. The presentation looks at what the Department had done about the Resolutions and provides a status report on the lion in SA’s conservation environment.
Captive Lion Breeding in South Africa: implementation of National Assembly Resolutions
Deputy Director General (DDG): Biodiversity and Conservation, Mr Shonisani Munzhedzi, noted that the Department needed to provide an update on the House Resolutions. There were four key issues from discussions with the previous Committee and the colloquium held last year:
1. The need for policy and legislative review of this practice of captive breeding of lions, and associated activities of trophy hunting and the lion bone industry;
2. The need for the DEFF to work with provinces in auditing captive lion breeding facilities and compliance;
3. The relationship between DEFF and the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) on animal welfare and health;
4. The determination of quota and associated matters.
Mr Munzhedzi showed graphs on the status of African mammal populations, particularly large mammals. The general trend showed a decline in mammal populations. The eastern African sub region showed a considerable decrease in general, over the period 1970 to 2005. This region includes Ethiopia, the countries around Kenya, Sudan, and Somalia. Western Africa was worse – the region showed serious declines, and that is attributed to many factors such as human-wildlife conflict, general conflicts, predator-prey dynamics.
In southern Africa, the large mammal populations have been stable and/or increasing to varying degrees. Mammal population trends have serious policy implications for how the Department deals with numerous issues. He then moved to a map showing the home range of African lions (page 9). Some countries had lost all of their lions. In blocks c. and d., there are small patches of resident lions here and there, while block b., in eastern Africa, is the dominant area of resident lions, as well as in parts of southern Kenya. The graph on page nine talked to wild lions in unfenced populations in central, East and West Africa. The red line showed a decline of more than 60% over the period 1993 to 2013. The fenced lion populations, such as in the Kruger National Park (page 10) were stable, and growing in most cases. The table and map on page 10, slide 2 showed the status of South Africa’s lions, in terms of wild lions, managed wild lions (in private reserves) and captive lions. Many different numbers are punted for captive lions in SA. As of 2016, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) had lions categorized as “vulnerable”. South Africa, Swaziland and Lesotho’s lions were categorized as “least concern”. “Least concern” does not mean that they are not threatened. These lions may not be threatened with extinction in the near future, but they still need to be managed to ensure that they are not exposed to elements that will lead them to extinction. Other species of concern are categorized in order to assist countries when it comes to management. DEFF had to work on translating IUCN information into legislation.
Mr Munzhedzi then presented the conservation considerations for lions (pages 11 to 13). Notably, there is an estimated wild lion population of 3 490 in South Africa, where 83% occur in the Kruger National Park, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park and Hluhluwe iMfolozi Park. Lions are sensitive to humanity – if they leave the parks, they are more vulnerable, because they would often attack livestock, and they would then be considered as damage-causing animals. Lions are restricted to fragmented spaces in different areas; it is not an open system where lions can establish a range anywhere they want to. SA has prioritised translocation, and also where there is access, the normal means of uptake is to share with other states where lions have a range. SA might work with Mozambique or others that want to have wild lions introduced in their range.
Lions are territorial, so the management is very important. There is long-term research into lion diseases, since they are susceptible to disease. DEFF has developed a series of conservation tools in terms of the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act (NEMBA), which includes a Biodiversity Management Plan (BMP) published in the Gazette in 2015. DEFF also has a Non-Detriment Finding: in 2018 it was indicated that legal local and international trade pose a low to moderate, but non-detrimental risk to South Africa’s wild lion population. Non-Detriment Findings can aid decision-making. Another NEMBA tool is guidelines on trophy hunting, even though these are not legally enforceable. The guidelines are incorporated into most of the permits which are facilitated by provincial authorities. National departments are not issuing authorities; the provinces are the issuing authorities for trophy hunting permits.
There are many other legislative tools. Notably, the Threatened or Protected Species (TOPS) Regulations of 2007 require the compulsory registration of facilities, including captive breeding facilities, and prohibit a number of hunting-associated activities such as put-and-take hunting where a captive-bred specimen is hunted within 24 months of its release from a captive environment. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Regulations deal with the import and export of animal products. Lion are listed in category 2, where they are not necessarily endangered, but trade may impact on their survival; therefore, there should be permits associated with such species.
On the National Assembly Resolutions (page 2), the Minister took the decision to establish a High-Level Panel (HLP) to advise on the policy and legislative review. Part of the review is a proposed amendment to NEMBA, which is currently underway. A key issue here is to provide a mandate to regulate the well-being of faunal biological resources. In the past, this area was found to have a gap in it, as highlighted in the Committee Report which led to the Resolutions. Animal wellbeing needs to be looked at. The recent court case did highlight the relationship between welfare and conservation matters, and how such things should be dealt with. There are also proposed amendments for TOPS currently underway.
DEFF is not the issuing authority for permits; it is the provinces who issue permits for breeding. For the audit of captive lion breeding facilities and compliance enforcement, the issuing authority is responsible, and performs these functions in line with the conditions that the issuing authority may have provided. Follow-up on the inspections of captive lion breeding facilities was done by the provinces concerned. To date, a total of 239 inspections have been conducted, involving a total of 6 587 lions. In the Free State, where permits were expired, the permits were renewed. In Limpopo and North West, non-compliant facilities were brought into compliance (five and 13 facilities, respectively). There were inspections in the Eastern Cape, which are in the process of being concluded. Inspections in Gauteng, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal are underway.
DEFF needs to work “very closely” with DALRRD which has legislation that deals with the welfare of animals and related matters. DEFF and DALRRD collaborate in a number of work areas (page six), such as compliance and enforcement of animal welfare requirements. DALRRD is now a member of the Wildlife Forum, and a meeting has been scheduled by DEFF to discuss the incorporation of welfare considerations in its decision-making (DALRRD and the NSPCA [National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals] will participate in the discussions).
Additionally, there should be reconsideration of the lion bone export quota. The House Resolutions said that there should be a reconsideration of the 2018 quota of 1 500 skeletons; it was reduced to the 2017 level of 800 skeletons. In 2019, the NSPCA brought litigation against DEFF about the setting of quotas. An outcome of the case was that welfare matters need to be considered in the determination of the quota. The system to set the quota needs to be determined.
Mr N Paulsen (EFF) noted that the presentation spoke about the situation in Africa. He wanted to know how to engage other countries on the situation there, because it looked like the number of lions was decreasing in other countries more than in SA. “It could be that one day, [South Africa] ends up as the only country that has lions. How would DEFF deal with other African countries, and at what level is this taken up; is it taken to SADC and the Pan-African Parliament? On audits of captive lion breeding facilities – the presentation said that inspections in Gauteng, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal are underway, but there are no figures for the Northern Cape, although inspections have been done there. Will the resolutions of the Colloquium be adopted, and will the Department ensure that they are enforced, so that it can bring an end to the “madness” of breeding lions in captivity. Lions are not things. He did not know what benefit lion bones have. He thought that a large lion roaming in the wild is more beneficial to humans than lion bones. He would like to prevent the extinction of lions, so how far would the Department push for the complete prohibition of captive breeding and the sale of lion bones.
Ms A Weber (DA) noted that the DDG “kept repeating that lions are fine”. But lions that are wild animals and are bred and treated like something else is “not fine”. They are in captivity, they are bred, their babies are taken away; there is no fair hunting there. She did not think that lions are fine. Parliament instructed to put an end to the commercial exploitation of lions; a High-Level Panel was put together. It was her opinion that the panel might be “biased” about this resolution by Parliament, rather than actually implementing what Parliament has requested.
The Fifth Parliament had some resolutions and legislation such as the National Environmental Management Laws Amendment Bill coming through to the Sixth Parliament. The Amendment Bill was revisited by the National Council of Provinces (NCOP); last week it was postponed. She asked if public hearings would again be taking place. She asked if that Bill and those amendments can be revived by the Portfolio Committee, so that it can revise that. The court case did not speak about wellbeing; it spoke about the welfare of animals. In the Amendment Bill, the term “faunal biological resources” was used for the first time. Ms Weber opposed that term. Everyone grew up with wild animals, respecting them, actually being afraid of them – now they have been “degraded to something called faunal biological resources”. The term sounds like “an amafuba plant that grows in water like algae”; the term is “definitely not doing honour to what lions and wildlife are”. To her, it seemed as if there was a scapegoat between the Department and Province. When one goes to Province, they say it is the Department; when one goes to the Department, they say it is Province, and in between both parties “just do as they want”. She believed that there must be one main body where the instructions come from the legislation, and everyone must act according to that. There must first be a main body that says this is the legislation. Secondly, there must be implementation based on that. Implementation was the responsibility of the provinces. They can have some leeway, but certainly there must be consequences. Parliament made a decision, and the provinces “do not comply”; there must be consequences to that. Province cannot say, “We don’t have to do it”, or Parliament “allows them to do it, because they are free to do it”. There must be compliance and not a scapegoat between DEFF and the Province.
Ms Weber said that the TOPS Regulations do not make any efforts to define “conservation benefits”. She asked why not. On page three, slide 1, the last point gave a definition of well-being: “a state where the living conditions of a faunal biological resource are conducive to its health”. She stated that any wild animal in captivity is not compliant with that definition. For her, the 2015/16 inspections of lion breeding facilities left many unanswered questions. On what grounds were facilities brought into compliance? On the slides, there were facilities that were closed, and some that were brought into compliance. On what grounds were permits reissued? What penalties were used for facilities that had violated compliance requirements? What did the Department put in place to ensure that such facilities will not do the same things again, as they “probably will fall back into their old habits”? She then asked what business the government had buying lion breeding facilities? How can it retain its governance role if it has a commercial interest in the very industry that it is required to exercise oversight of? Why has a full audit of the industry not taken place since the colloquium? The Minister says that there are 366 facilities and there are 898 lions. But how could this information be accurate or reliable if a full audit has not yet been conducted? DEFF claims that it has inspected 239 facilities – is this since 2015, or over what time period exactly? Much of the information presented looks exactly the same as that presented on 12 March 2019.
On welfare, the “long-awaited” amendments to NEMBA on animal welfare do not reference the global standards of the “five freedoms” principles, or give explicit recognition to the definition of animal welfare. Why not? How much progress has been made in ensuring welfare standards are complied with at captive predator breeding facilities, given that the Constitutional Court ruled that “welfare” – not “well-being” – and conservation are two integrated values? The resolution of that requires clear timelines, yet these are not evident. Judge Kollapen ruled in favour of the NSPCA about the welfare of lions in captivity and how that should affect the setting of an export quota for lion bone. How has his ruling been complied with? When will public participation meetings be held as required?
Ms H Winkler (DA) said the Minister had made mention of the scientific expertise of the High-Level Panel. She wanted to question the veracity of that statement, because there are five panel members that have been appointed where their scientific way in “may be, to some extent, questionable”. She could not find much information on these panel members, and what contribution they could make to the review of the legislation and policies. The Minister had made mention of the “sustainable use” of lions and other mammals – why is this the only consideration? The Court ruling stated that the welfare of animals and the conservation outcomes cannot be divorced from each other, so she did not think that the Department could “talk in purely sustainable terms” when large mammals, especially lions, are talked about. She stated that the ethical considerations of the industry must definitely be taken into consideration by DEFF; there is “huge international outcry over this”; it is tainting South Africa’s brand image from abroad.
Ms Winkler noted that the DDG spoke of the conservation value of lions. To her knowledge, there had been no successful rehabilitation of domestically farmed lions back into the wild, so she was not sure what the conservation value is of pursuing this industry. The DDG mentioned the decline in mammal populations across Africa – but this data was from 2010; it is almost ten years old. As a Department, they could not be working with outdated information when considering decisions of this magnitude. The latest statistics on mammal populations are needed.
On the reissuing of permits for farms that were noncompliant – why were these permits reissued? If farms were found to be noncompliant in various forms, why were farms encouraged to continue business as usual, when there has been grave non compliance? This was not in the best interest of those captive lions. The DDG said that there are “about 6 000 to 8 000 lions in captivity – if DEFF cannot keep track how many lions are in captivity, how can it be expected to manage this industry? How can DEFF be expected to look after the welfare of these animals when it does not even know how many there are, and how many facilities there are? DEFF does not have the capacity at provincial level to ensure that welfare considerations are being adhered to. The Department should err on the side of caution and not perpetuate the trade if it is something that the Department cannot manage. “Passing the buck” continually between national and provincial levels is not going to solve the issue. If national is unable to provide the correct oversight over the province, then the province should no longer have that mandate.
On SA’s lion population not being under threat: There has been an increase in poaching incidents in SA, as well as in neighbouring countries. DEFF must look at how the demand for lion parts and SA’s pursuit of this industry affects its neighbouring countries and the demand on neighbours’ lion populations for poaching. SA cannot act in isolation of its neighbours. How will the Court’s judgement on the lion bone quota affect SA’s new quota? What will the Department do about this? Why has the High-Level Panel not taken into account the Colloquium resolutions? Why are the resolutions not going to be incorporated into their discussion on management and legislative review? Surely that should be the main point of departure if the Department is going to convene a High-Level Panel? She was unclear why the appointment of a High-Level Panel was necessary given the outcome of that parliamentary colloquium, where it was unequivocally decided that in this Portfolio, that the Department should work towards an end to this practice. Why are the same arguments now being re-opened and rehashed? What is the Department hoping to achieve by this?
Ms Winkler asked over what period the audit of lions in the breeding facilities occurred. Why is government buying lion farms when this issue is so controversial? Why is government getting involved in a practice where it is meant to be pursuing the end of the activity, as per the parliamentary resolutions? Who signed off on this purchase? What is the interest that the Department has in the industry? How many abattoirs for lion slaughter exist in SA, and where are they located? What are the normative standards for the transfer, travel and slaughter of lions and other wildlife at the abattoirs? How many abattoirs are compliant with normative standards? What is the legislation that governs the export of such products for consumption of lion body parts, and what are the relevant restrictions? In an additional point, she asked for details on the outcome of the SANparks investigation into the death of approximately 14 endangered roan antelope in the antelope protection enclosure in Kruger National Park earlier this year.
Ms S Mbatha (ANC) thanked the Department for a good report, since they were now informed about what had happened; at first the Committee thought that nothing had happened on the Department’s side. When Ms Mbatha and several colleagues watched the documentary film Blood Lions, they could see that the previous Deputy Minister was against captive lion breeding. He tried (to stop the industry), but he was taken to court. When talking about environmental management inspectors (EMIs), there are procedures that they need to follow, and where there is need for immediate prohibition, they have done that. Where one needed to re-apply, that was done; she was happy with that. She was talking about the procedure for inspection on how it must be done: Firstly, there’s a notice where there is a prohibition. Prohibition says that after a certain period, when one has complied, one can still go back to Department, they do the inspection, and they say that it is fine. There are aspects that are done strictly by the national office, and those that are done strictly by the provinces, where the Minister cannot deal with that directly, but it is the MEC who deals with that.
She proposed the Committee needed to meet the provinces especially those dealing with captive lions, so they tell the Committee what they have done, and what the corrective measures are. The Committee had to sit down with the provinces to get an understanding, and also visit these areas. According to the documentary, it was very difficult to access those facilities, and she did not know how the documentary crew managed to access those facilities. The owners of those facilities “think that they own the land; the whole of South Africa”. The owners (in the documentary) are “very rude and very dangerous”. She felt that, as government, that matter needed to be dealt with; it needs to be dealt with that as a team, so that government can stop them from being so “arrogant”, and so forth. She was happy with the Acts dealing with these animals. The Committee has seen (in the documentary) that lions were taken from their parents as young as five days old. “As a mother, after you have given birth, you need to breastfeed; it helps you to heal as a mother, and also there are nutrients that are transferred to the baby. Taking babies from their mothers was not right; it is animal cruelty, and needs to be dealt with. The Committee needed to visit these areas, whether the owners did not want them to enter or not; they are the government and “must show them that they are not above the law”.
She asked if DEFF was looking at how the lions are being bred – can that process come back to DEFF? The people involved in captive breeding are “making a lot of money”. They are making themselves rich, but they do not care about these animals. Has DEFF looked at that exploitation? She asked if there could be collaboration between DEFF and the Portfolio Committees on Agriculture, Tourism and Trade and Industry. DTI deals with exportations, DALRDD deals with animal health. The issue of captive lion breeding is not directly for DEFF only; it needs all of these departments, so that it can be resolved. The Department of Employment and Labour (DEL) also needs to be included, since it deals with occupational health and safety (OHS) inspections. DEFF is involved with EMIs but the DEL also needs to be involved in the OHS issues, and the powers given to them, because EMIs can close facilities if they are not compliant. She meant working with two kinds of compliance – that of DEFF and of DEL.
Ms Mbatha requested that DEFF bans trophy hunting, and ban captive lion breeding. Overall, she was happy with the progress of DEFF. She requested that where there is noncompliance, or prohibition, or permits that have expired, then “nothing must be renewed” until the issue is resolved. “There is no use in provinces renewing those licences”, because the way that things are being done (at some facilities) is “really wrong”. She stated that as parents, it is cruel that someone can take a child away five days after birth. That natural process is “being cut, in a very cruel manner”.
Mr P Modise (ANC) said that he agreed with Ms Mbatha’s comments about lions being taken away from their parents soon after birth. He asked if the High-Level Panel, appointed by the Minister, has already reviewed policies, particularly on the handling, the management, and the keeping of lions. If so, he thought that it would be in the interests of the Committee to get an understanding of what policies have been reviewed. He agreed with collaboration, and that there is a need to have a meeting between DEFF and DALRDD. It is also important for DEFF to meet with DALRDD and the NSPCA to discuss the incorporation of welfare considerations. It is important that the Committee gets information after the meeting has taken place. The presentation also said that Mpumalanga and the Western Cape did not issue permits – it is the competency of MECs. Mpumalanga and the Western Cape do not issue permits in terms of NEMBA, and TOPS. What then happens to the lions in those provinces? Or is DEFF saying there are no lions in those provinces, because no permits being issued from there. He thought that it is a matter of national interest on the part of the Committee to know about three farms sold to government (as mentioned in the presentation) – how many farms have been sold to government? What is the total number of farms that are owned by government nationally? Those three farms were in reference to the North West.
On the facilities that DEFF has brought to compliance, Mr Modise asked where they erred. What is it that they did for DEFF to need to bring them into compliance, to the extent that some were closed? He asked which facilities were closed and why, and which ones were brought back to compliance and why.
Ms T Tongwane (ANC) referred to the slide showing the captive lion breeding facilities audits; was the facility that was closed in the Free State closed by EMIs? Of the 62 Free State facilities that were noncompliant, three of them no longer conduct breeding – was this as a result of the inspection, or did they just decide to stop breeding? What happened to the rest of those 62 noncompliant facilities, besides the four mentioned? Limpopo was mentioned in the table (page 4), but on page 5, Limpopo does not appear?
The Chairperson said that before allowing the Minister and the officials to respond to the questions, the Committee must have a common understanding of what is being talked about. The Committee wanted an update on the implementation of the National Assembly Resolutions. An update had been given in the presentation. He said that the Committee must start with the NA Resolutions, and how they get implemented – he thought that the Committee was getting that explanation of how government works. That is an area in which the Committee must be conversant as they discuss the topic in the meeting. The Committee’s task is to make laws, conduct oversight, and scrutinise the implementation of laws. The Committee was getting an update on the implementation of the NA Resolutions. He was emphasising the topic of NA Resolutions so that the Committee has a common understanding of what that means. The Minister must account to the Committee about implementation. That was the progress that the Committee was getting updated on. But he was not trying to say to the Minister to not clarify the issues which the Members had raised.
Minister Creecy replied that what is required in this area of captive lion breeding is a policy review, and as a consequence of the policy review, DEFF requires amended policy. All the views that have been expressed about what should happen to this industry in the future, what the amendments to the legislation should be; those are important views of the individual Members, and the views will form part of any submissions that the Committee wants to make to the HLP so that they can be considered for review. “The lucky thing about this particular portfolio committee is that you always have two bites at the cherry, so you can submit before the Department does the policy review and you will also submit once the policy comes to you for approval. She thought that DEFF was not going to enter into the domain of what the policy review is and what should be the future policy. If such a discussion were to take place, then DEFF would not have appointed the HLP. The HLP was appointed to advise on what should happen.
In response to Ms Winkler, Minister Creecy clarified that when she said that DEFF needed a sustainable solution to this problem, she did not say that it needed “sustainable use”. What sustainable means is a solution that will be able to last into the future? The problem that DEFF has had in this particular area is that it has been visited “again and again” by all sections of government and civil society. What is needed is a solution which will last into the future and will not result in court cases. What is required is policy certainty. The Minister was sure that the Members agreed with her that policy certainty is important. She had explained in her introduction that the issues that need to be taken into consideration are the fact that there is an existing industry with existing employment; there is an existing demand for these products; there are welfare concerns; and there are sections of society who have rights concerns. All of these issues have to be taken into consideration. When DEFF appointed the HLP, the criteria used for appointing this panel was to involve various stakeholders; the panel was not just dealing with lions, but was also elephant, rhino, and leopard. There are similar concerns with various species. DEFF looked at people with conservation experience and skills; scientific skills; economic knowledge and skills; legal knowledge; community knowledge; and welfare knowledge. All of those concerns were taken into account. Whether Members liked or disliked particular appointees, these are different categories in civil society of role players who have an interest in this. “When you live in a democracy, you have to involve everyone who has a concern or an interest; otherwise you do not get a sustainable solution.
Minister Creecy urged the Members to read the Constitution. Environmental law is a concomitant function with the provinces. It sounded “extremely bad” when Members referred to the application of environmental law as “scapegoating”. Environmental law applies in waste, air quality, in conservation. Different levels of government have powers and functions in terms of the Constitution. If Members do not feel that these levels of government are adequately performing their functions, there are a number of oversight bodies to deal with that. What Members cannot do as a Committee is deprive levels of government of their constitutional powers and functions? Members would be “well-advised not to try to do that”. The Minister also cautioned Members not to take precipitous decisions while DEFF was involved in the policy review. If Members took decisions without considering the unintended consequences of those decisions, Members could find themselves dealing with “some very difficult areas”.
The Minister added that the DDG would explain the criteria that DEFF used for the audit. When an authority issues a licence, it says that ABCD are the criteria for the issuing of the licence. When DEFF conducts the audit, it would have to ask, “Are you compliant with ABCD?” The captive lion breeding industry is present. DEFF was not going to explain or defend the industry; the industry was present to do that for themselves. Members had “all kinds of questions about what motivates the industry to do what they do”; they are here, and Members can ask them. DEFF was not going to answer those questions, because it was not its role and its function to do so. The Minister asked the DDG to explain what the criteria for auditing were, how DEFF conducted the audit, how many facilities are left, when DEFF would be finished with this process, and so on. On how far the HLP has gotten, they have just been appointed; they have just started their work, and they are not far.
Mr Munzhedzi replied that DEFF did not go into detail on the TOPS regulations. On some of the slides, DEFF indicated what is and what is not prohibited. The registration of facilities follows a particular prescription, and there is a list that is provided in the provincial ordinances, which is consistent with the TOPS regulations. The TOPS regulations act as a framework to inform the provinces. There are other regulations that are stricter. DEFF has a system that allows for it to cooperate; part of it is an intergovernmental process that the Minister leads on a regular basis. At a technical level, DEFF set up permit teams, or permit conditions teams, or permit management teams. One of the conditions is that a facility must have a particular fence size for safety purposes, the size of the facility itself, and general wellbeing (he was using the latter term selectively) and related activities; and the need for avoiding hybridization, which is also very important. There are registration certificates that provide a list of issues beyond the physical elements. The intention of what that facility is going to do is also spelt out.
There are also administrative items. In some cases, he asked the inspection team to qualify where there was the highest number of non compliances. DEFF recorded that there were situations where the requirements state that a facility’s permit conditions must be put it on the wall, so when inspectors come, they will see what a facility is approved for, and whether it is complying. Some facilities did not have their permit conditions on the wall, and that was recorded. Such a record would say that a facility is not complying. Some non compliance was administrative. There is no known trading because there was a question that related to the compliance on the matter of what happened in those two or three facilities; the facilities were bought by some people to use for rehabilitation purposes. Provinces have an obligation regarding all enforcement organisations. When something is confiscated, it is not just taken and destroyed; it has to go somewhere. If it is a live specimen, then even in confiscations that happen at airports, it has to be taken somewhere. If it is government running a compliance authority, or enforcement authority, it needs to have areas where such animals can be kept. Such animals need to be looked after until one decides what will be done with the animal. It could be related to a court case or one may take the animals for rehabilitation or reintroduction purposes. There are conservation interests in government to ensure that whatever happens should be in the interest of conservation. You would find that the interest of provinces would be that if they get that facility, they can use it for the purpose of a transitional space that complements what enforcement is doing. Provinces apply the provincial ordinances and some of the guidelines that inform the permit conditions differently. It also depends on the area – Free State is mostly grassland, for example. To what extent the provinces deal with matters of welfare, it is subject to what the Minister was saying – in the review, DEFF is looking at all aspects.
On the numbers of African mammals, Mr Munzhedzi referred to the numbers from 1970 to 2005. The trends shown are similar to the current trends. There is recent data – in 2019, there was a report; in 2016, DEFF referred to a report. What DEFF finds difficult is that at a given time, someone asks, “How many lions are in captive breeding facilities today?” Breeding is happening, and off-take is happening. DEFF has intervals for collecting its data. Provinces keep live data at a particular point. People might expect data from today, when the data may be coming next week. DEFF works with a very good scientific team, and the Scientific Authority comprises scientists from all of the provinces, to ensure that DEFF works with current data. Decisions are made on the basis of the data available. Trade data is also recorded. The database on where DEFF takes DNA is recorded; (the information received) is live. The issues of science and data management are very important to DEFF, because then it can ensure that decisions are informed accordingly.
Minister Creecy replied to Mr Paulsen’s question on DEFF’s working relationship with conservation on the African continent. There is a forum called African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN). AMCEN has a number of working groups addressing a range of issues of common concern. Conservation is one of those. South Africa also has a range of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that span across the continent. There are the Peace Parks, the African Parks Initiative; South Africa has transfrontier parks which cover all of the countries in the SADC region. The idea of those relationships is so that South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, and Zimbabwe, who have the most effective conservation policies and programmes, can share those programmes with the rest of the continent. All of those in the SADC region are involved in trying to enhance the regulatory environment in the rest of the continent. There is also involvement in trying to repopulate species where appropriate in the rest of the continent. Some of the areas where lions are most under threat are in areas that have experienced civil war and domestic disputes. The consequence for wildlife in those situations is devastating because normal laws and regulations break down completely. That is why there are very severe situations in places like the Sudan, and other areas in East Africa where there have been prolonged conflicts. Even in Sudan now, the African Parks Initiative and the African Peace Parks are working to rehabilitate the parks there, and gradually to reintroduce species. South Africa wants to work with southern Angola. There are large areas in Angola where, because of the war that took place, a lot of that area has been mined; it is not a good environment for conservation. DEFF is “very keen” to support the Angolans who want to repopulate certain areas. It would also help southern Africa with the management of elephant if fences could be taken down between Botswana, Namibia, southern Angola and Zimbabwe. But those initiatives can only be taken if coupled with effective management and effective de-mining of those areas, so that one is not inducing animals to move into unsafe areas.
The Chairperson thanked the DDG and the Minister for their responses. Before taking more questions, he wanted to make it clear what the Committee was doing.
Minister Creecy interjected that she wanted to give out the TOPS regulations. In the interests of good governance, she thought that if the Committee had these regulations, it would be much better informed.
The Chairperson then stated that this meeting was a progress report on the implementation of the NA Resolutions. Normally, the Committee would say that it is noted, and then meet as a Committee and see what the Members think has to be followed up. Beside the information received from DEFF, another presentation had been made to the Committee. The Committee is in the process of gathering information, so that it has a broader understanding. When the Committee wants to have whatever views, nobody will accuse the Committee that there is something it does not know. There were some questions raised which the next presenter needs to respond to. The Committee is fortunate because anybody can come to a meeting, and the Committee can ask that person questions. Before being asked questions, presenters should be allowed space to present. There are currently some questions that could not be answered. There is a presentation that is following, which came from a presentation that was made. That is what the Chairperson was talking about when he was saying that anybody is free to come to the Committee and make a presentation, and then the Committee asks questions about it. Others can be invited, depending on what the Committee thinks. The Chairperson said that the HLP was underway, and the HLP would be informed about Committee process, and the HLP would produce a report, and the Committee will engage with that report. He reiterated that the Committee is not representing itself, but is representing the public. He urged the Committee to listen to everybody, and then ask the questions that the Committee wanted to ask.
Ms Winkler said to the Minister that she did ask a question about why DEFF has pursued the purchase of lion farms; what is the interest that DEFF has in doing so, especially given the controversial nature of the industry, and the fact that the industry “is under review at present”. She clarified that her question on sustainability was in light of a tweet made by the Minister (paraphrased by Ms Winkler) that said, “Animals have been taking care of themselves for hundreds of years, and we need to take care of the humans”. She wanted some clarity on what the Minister meant by “sustainability”. She asked if the HLP would be using the parliamentary resolutions with a view to an end on the industry as its departure point once it has convened, which it has.
The Minister replied that DEFF is not involved in lion farming, and that DEFF would find out what those farms are being used for. The terms of reference of the panel were gazetted. Members can see what the terms of reference were. If the Committee wants to submit information to the panel, that is its democratic right.
The Chairperson said that that was why he was saying that the process is open, including any other person who wanted to ask questions. He said that the Committee could now “release” the Minister.
At that point, the Minister departed the meeting.
Animal Welfare in Relation to Captive Lions Breeding: DALRRD input
Mr Mphane Molefe, Director: Veterinary Public Health, DALRRD, noted that DALRDD’s role was in a supporting role to this Committee. What he was presenting was meant to complement what DEFF had talked about. The contents of the presentation consisted of the animal welfare definition; animal welfare principles, existing animal welfare legislation in South Africa; progress made in developing relevant legislation and policies; and the impact of the High Court Judgment of 6 August 2019 by Judge Kollapen, in the matter of the NSPCA v Minister of Environmental Affairs.
On the animal welfare definition, in DALRDD there has been a move away from the term “animal rights” to “animal welfare”. In DALRDD’s understanding, “animal rights is an extreme form of dealing with animals, as opposed to welfare, which is a relatively manageable way of handling animals”. Internationally, one would hear more about animal welfare than about animal rights, especially within the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), the emphasis is on animal welfare instead of animal rights. The animal welfare definition and the requirements for animal welfare were given on page three of the presentation. Such requirements included that if an animal were to be slaughtered, or killed, it must be done humanely. Animal welfare ultimately refers to the state of the animal.
He said that one of the Members had raised the topic of the five freedoms, which were listed under the heading Animal Welfare Principles (page four). For Mr Molefe, the last principle, “freedom to express normal patterns of behaviour” is an encompassing freedom, since if it is ensured that the four other freedoms are achieved, then ultimately that animal would be able to express its normal pattern of behaviour, and that is what DALRDD is aiming for in ensuring animal welfare.
In the colloquium last year, there was a presentation on the DALRRD mandate. Mr Molefe gave a recap of the legislative mandate. Animal welfare is under the custodianship of DALRRD. The first piece of legislation was the Performing Animals Protection Act (PAPA) (No 24 of 1935) as amended. PAPA was extensively reviewed and amended by Parliament in 2016. Notably, PAPA does not apply to the following:
Confinement or training of animals for military, police or sporting purposes or the purposes of an agricultural show, horse show, dog show, caged bird show or any public zoological gardens;
To the exhibition of animals at a military or police tournament or at a gymkhana, or at any such show or in any such gardens;
To the use of an animal for safeguarding by the South African Defence Force, the South African Police or the Prisons Service.
The mandate mainly talks to what were regarded as areas of concern. It was noted that the areas that were exempted were manageable to some degree. There is a different Act that applies if there are violations. The three exemptions above do not mean an exemption from animal welfare; those three categories are covered by other provisions. The Animals Protection Act (APA) (No 71 of 1972) applies to all animals regardless of their purpose or conservation status; APA covers the welfare of animals in general. He noted Section 2(1)(b) in light of captive lion breeding, to show how APA would have a regulatory authority over captive lion breeding. DALRRD does not have to be specific in the Act, because there are “millions of violations that can happen”. This section alone allows the Department to follow up with policies and regulations to ensure that animals are treated humanely. The third Act is the Animal Matters Amendment Act, (AMAA) 1993 (Act 42 of 1993) which was attached to APA. In addition to amending APA, it also talks to fighting of animals such as dog-fighting. AMAA also talks to the liabilities around animals involved in fights.
Mr Molefe noted that DALRRD had been asked to appear before the Committee to speak about what progress had been made. The first area that DALRRD wanted to report on was captive lion breeding. At a directorate level, there was meeting on 5 September 2019 between DEFF and DALRRD that paved the way forward for working together. There have since been other interactions via telephone etc. The draft guidelines on captive lion breeding have been on the table for “a few years”. The two Departments are now engaging on that document through the usual processes of engagement, which also involved a socio-economic impact assessment study (SEIAS). For government to make policy, it has to be preceded by a SEIAS, which will then be a guide on if there is a need for that policy, and if the necessary processes were followed. Two processes are involved in a SEIAS approval. DALRRD is at the initial stage of the SEIAS. This document was previously discussed through some limited forums, so DALRRD does not regard that as enough public consultation. DALRRD plans to publish the SEIAS so that it can get broader stakeholder engagement, and get an outcome that will be acceptable to everybody. Both DALRRD and DEFF are working on the SEIAS. As the DDG mentioned, there is a plan for the two Departments to have a meeting with the NSPCA to take stock of who is doing what, but at the same time collaborating on inspections and enforcement. NSPCA has a legal mandate under the NSPCA Act and under APA to enforce animal welfare prescripts. It is therefore worth engaging with the NSPCA on the extent of the problem, and to mitigate challenges.
The second area of progress was the Animal Welfare Bill. Following the amendment of PAPA in 2016, Parliament made a resolution to DALRRD to say that there needs to be a review of all legislation as it would be better to have one general piece of legislation that would attend to animal welfare matters. DALRRD has developed an Animal Welfare Bill with the aim of replacing APA and PAPA. A first draft of the Bill has been completed. DALRRD will send the draft Bill out for public consultation. The challenge that DALRRD was having with the current Acts was that they were previously under the custodianship of the Department of Justice and Correctional Services (DCS). The Acts were transferred to DALRRD, and there are challenging areas such as the Acts talk about a magistrate, but DALRRD does not have the equivalent of a magistrate. There are challenges about who enforces what under APA and PAPA. The Animal Welfare Bill clarifies that, and also gives a platform to make regulations on specific things. A phase 1 SEIS application was submitted to the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME), and DALRRD is awaiting a response. Once the application is granted on the need to develop this Bill, DALRRD will send it out for public consultation.
The implications to DALRRD of the High Court judgment by Judge Kollapen were not an issue, because it is the custodian of both APA and PAPA. Whatever work is being done in DALRRD is a cornerstone of its decision-making; it has to look at how the animals will be handled. There are numerous areas that go “way beyond” environmental issues. Recently, there was a discussion of the export of sheep to Kuwait, which is currently an important issue on DALRRD’s table. Those are areas where, when DALRRD takes decisions, it has to look at animal welfare inasmuch as the other mandate is also economic development. DALRRD’s decisions have to be advised by science. Science is broad; one has natural science, social science, political science, etc. If one applies all of those sciences, one may end up with different outcomes. Last year, DALRRD made a presentation to the National House of Traditional Leaders on the amendment to the Animal Protection Amendment Bill which is before Parliament at the moment. In talking to traditional leaders and talking to scientists at a university, one gets completely different outcomes. One can say that both of them are sciences. But how animals are treated under traditional systems or religious systems may be a little bit different from how animals are treated scientifically. International norms are that DALRRD “has to be biased towards natural science”; it is DALRRD’s bias on how it makes decisions on animal welfare.
The Chairperson said that that the presentation complemented the earlier one, and clarified the idea of protection of animals.
Ms Winkler asked about the captive lion industry, saying there is “lots of research that points to inbreeding in the industry, which impedes those five freedoms”. How is that going to be factored into consideration, since that is one of the most important issues affecting the industry? NSPCA has a legal mandate to enforce animal welfare prescripts. But they do not receive funding to do this, though that should be a governmental mandate. It is now being outsourced to the NSPCA, and they have to ensure enforcement but they receive no government funding, so how are they successfully supposed to fulfill this role?” Why do the NEMBA amendments make no reference to the five freedoms? This allows DALRRD in a way to “avoid welfare obligations”. Should DALRRD not pressure DEFF in this respect?
Mr Paulsen referred to the SEIAS when it comes to captive-bred lions. For him it seemed like the people who wanted to breed lions for Americans with big guns to come and hunt were predominantly white people. It is “not something African people would do to breed lions for hunting”. For him, it is a “very small-minded man” who hunts a lion or any of those beautiful animals. In terms of these people who are breeding lions in captivity for whatever purpose – if SA stops this practice, would it be African people who would no longer have these establishments, or are they the workers who go and feed and clean up the poo? In terms of DALRRD’s mandate and checking the conditions in which these animals are held, would Mr Molefe say that these animals are treated in a humane manner? For Mr Paulsen, it is “almost barbaric” – both the practice of captive breeding and of hunting of such a “majestic creature, or any of these majestic creatures”.
Ms Weber asked about the developing policies on lion breeding and sharing these with the stakeholders first and then the broader communities. Can DALRRD set due dates, and what exactly is the process of how things will happen in all the areas with this policy development?
She offered a personal opinion on the animal welfare principles: The first one was freedom from hunger, thirst and malnutrition; she did not think that any animal that is taken out of the wild and put into captivity is free. It does not matter how well you will want to make them comfortable; our perception of comfortable for animals and their perception of comfortable for them is very different. It is the same with hunger and thirst; they hunt for their animals; they know their natural nutrition and what it is that they need. On “freedom from fear and distress”: they are in small environments and there are too many for the environment; that creates fear and distress in itself that is not natural for where they are. The animals are physically uncomfortable. Some people think that lions are “just animals”. On “freedom to express patterns of normal behaviour”, how do you expect a captive lion to express his normal pattern of behaviour if he does not know what that is? Lions in breeding are not lions anymore. They do not know how to hunt.
Mr Modise noted the emphasis on the need for a meeting between DEFF and DALRRD. If it were up to him, he would take a decision now that these captive lions, lion breeding, and everything else be part of the DALRRD mandate, and it should not have anything to do with DEFF. He was “keenly interested” in the enforcement of APA. He was particularly interested in the idea of animals expressing normal patterns of behaviour. It is commonly known that the only way that one can capture a lion is to use some “dirty arrangement”. Clearly, people are using some way of tranquilising them to hunt them. Does government enforce the law on how these lions are caught? How is the process of catching lions undertaken?
Ms Mbatha stated that collaboration is key. The presentation was a good progress report. She now understood the pieces of legislation that deal with animal welfare. When she looked at Section 2(1)(b) it was clear to her that captive lion breeding is wrong. She was happy with what DALRRD was doing. She asked DALRRD to notify the Committee when there is public participation. It was very important that the Committee participate. She asked why tranquilisers were being used on wild animals. In natural hunting, a person looks for the animal, with a permit. Let lions have a wild life, but be protected. People are making money out of this, and there is animal cruelty. “It should be noted that it is wrong; wrong is wrong”. As government, the priority needs to be the protection of those wild animals. If SA can protect rhinos and the other animals, why can it not protect others? Lions are part of the Big Five. When the provinces issue permits, the provinces must ensure that the requirements for permits move away from captive lion breeding. She requested the legislation mentioned, so she could familiarise herself with those Acts.
Ms T Mchunu (ANC) noted on page three it referred to the humane slaughter of animals. When it comes to lion bone export, does DALRRD monitor that the slaughter of these lions is humane? Is that the responsibility of DALRRD, or DEFF? Is it the responsibility of DEFF to monitor the abattoirs in the killing of animals? How far does DALRRD go, and what legislation protects the lions on how they are killed? Are there abattoirs in each province, and does government inspect the abattoirs?
Mr Molefe replied about the Animal Welfare Bill that DALRRD is currently developing. DALRRD is trying to make legislation that comes from a positive angle, instead of a negative angle. When one looks at the current legislation, it says that “if you do this, we will punish you”. DALRRD is trying to craft legislation that will say, “Do this, it is the right thing”. The current legislation is not guiding people on what is the right thing to do is. Hopefully, that will guide communities on how to handle animals, and not to only be told that “if you do not handle it right, we will punish you”.
On inbreeding, when one keeps animals in a confined environment, and there is no new genetic pool coming in, then one will end up with genetic mutations. As a result, there may be negative consequences for the genetic make-up of these animals. That is something that science will advise on. If it is cattle, then one has to bring in a new bull to mate with the cows, otherwise the genetic make-up on the variety goes down with passing generations. That is something that needs to be considered with captive lion breeding. It is difficult, because one cannot take them to one’s neighbor, and bring a male to mate with the females. It is a challenge in policy development if the decision then remains that this continues. It is something that will have to be put on the table. Mr Molefe got a sense that Members were advancing a position that there needs to be a move towards outlawing the practice, but it will be up to the Members to develop, and to make that ruling, and then the departments will then have to “run with it”, and make policies that are relevant to that.
The NSPCA mandate under APA is a controversial area. The Act talks about the NSPCA being able to be authorized. Questions have been raised on why the NSPCA is able to be authorized, but not other animal welfare organisations; why the exclusivity? That is something that is currently on DALRRD’s table, and hopefully the revised Act will say how one can level the playing field for animal welfare organisations. He added that a magistrate may authorize an NSPCA or SPCA official. The current legislation does not necessarily say to the NSPCA that that is their right, but it allows them to enforce the Act. It is still the mandate of the Minister. DALRRD recently received legal opinion on that aspect, and on other aspects where it is trying to understand the mandate of this Act. Legal opinion says that the Minister has the right to enforce the Act, and to determine rules and policies. Therefore, APA is not necessarily an “NSPCA Act”, and that is why one cannot necessarily say that the NSPCA needs to be funded to implement the Act. Where the NSPCA has a role to play, they may be authorized to do it, but it is still the mandate of DALRRD.
On whether the SEIAS process will stop captive lion breeding and how does it affect African people economically? Mr Molefe was not sure; DEFF may best be able to respond to that question; DALRRD did not have the statistics on who owns what. DALRRD’s role is that for whoever owns something, there must be animal welfare. He was unsure how it would affect communities in general if DALRDD stopped the captive lion breeding industry.
On whether animals bred in captivity are treated humanely, in general, DALRRD acknowledges that there are challenges related to captivity. When one talks about the five freedoms – a Member mentioned the freedom to express natural behaviour – when one puts an animal in captivity, one challenges that freedom. Is that a humane way of treating the animal? Some people would advance a scientifically justified argument that yes, to some extent, if one observes one, two, three, four, one can do it. Some people would say that regardless of what you are trying to put in place, it is not the right way to do things. DALRDD is “caught in the middle”, and will have to have everybody presenting their sides. Policy makers ultimately have to make policy on that. But there are arguments on both sides on whether it is humane treatment, or whether one can do it with limitations, or if outlawing it is the best way to do things.
On the deadlines on policy development: At this point, the two departments have started engaging, and the two are in the process of dealing with DPME on the SEIAS. On the Bill itself, the two departments have sent it to DPME, so DEFF and DALRDD are awaiting feedback. The two cannot say when DPME will give a response on that. The deadline will depend on the feedback from DPME.
On working on captive lion breeding, the two departments have decided as a working group of the two departments that that is something that has to be done immediately. The two have not necessarily planned out a specific date, but the seriousness and the importance of this issue is acknowledged. The two will put the Bill out to the public as soon as possible after having the go-ahead in terms of the SEIAS.
Mr Molefe replied about whether the mandate on captive lion breeding needs to go to DALRRD or DEFF, saying it is something that has to be discussed going forward. His take was that each department has a role to play. One cannot divorce conservation aspects (a mandate of DEFF) from the issue, even if DALRRD was concerned with the whole of it. Taking the issue from one department to the other would involve taking the whole mandate in terms of laws applicable. These laws are for all animals, not only for captive lions. If the two departments can enforce collaboration, then they may ultimately find a system that works. Parliament can call DALRRD and DEFF in to hold them to account about where the two are in developing policies that will be enforced jointly. He thought that that would be the first way of doing it, and if that fails, then the option of shifting the mandate from one to the other can be looked at.
On APA enforcement and how does DALRRD deal with these animals? There are people who would tranquilise an animal before shooting it; DALRRD’s take is that such a thing goes against the natural behaviour of an animal. Hunting an animal should ideally be in an environment where it is free to escape. One would think that for those hunting, it would be a part of the “joy” of hunting. DALRRD does not understand why some people want to shoot an animal in a corner; the whole point of a hunting exercise is to chase the animal, and if it gets away, then so be it. DALRRD frowns upon getting an animal in a corner, tranquilising it, and shooting it for a trophy. That can be done for disease control, but not for hunting. Animals can be tranquilised for relocating them or if an animal is injured.
DALRRD does not have abattoirs for lions in SA. Under the Meat Safety Act (MSA), an abattoir is a place of slaughter approved by the province where meat for human and animal consumption is harvested. As far as DALRRD knows, lion meat is not eaten in SA; therefore there is no need to make an abattoir for lions. DALRRD knows that there are people who kill lions for their skeletons, and their bones. DALRRD’s understanding is that such products are exported to countries where people make broth, alcohol, etc. The question is “what are we doing in SA?” DLRRD did not take care of how it was slaughtered in SA. To export an animal or any animal product, DALRRD relies on the importing country setting rules for it to say, “for you to bring lions to us, do one two three four, and if that country is not going to say, “slaughter lions in an abattoir”, it is “not for us as South Africa to say that we are going to create abattoirs for lions, so that we can then export them to the other side”. Trade depends on import requirements of the importing country. DALRRD has not had any requirements that say, these bones are meant for human consumption on the other side. If that would be the case, then DALRRD would say it needs to ensure that the bones are safe, and that the lions are slaughtered humanely and hygienically.
The Chairperson suggested that when it comes to policy review, DALRRD must ideally state a timeframe. Talking about this matter forever does not help anyone. The Committee is “getting lobbied from all directions”. On captive breeding of lions, when the Departments meet in their technical meetings, they must begin to say, “These are the timeframes, these are the activities we have engaged in”. That was the only area which had not been fully addressed. The Committee was gathering information. Some of the questions raised, the industry presenters were the ones who should fill the gaps. The Committee had learnt that there are no abattoirs in SA to slaughter lions; people do not eat them in SA; and countries who import lion products can prescribe the conditions for such products. The next speakers would be the industry itself. He thought that in SA, people become intimidated immediately when the term “ban” is used. A person thinks they cannot say they are objecting to the view of banning the industry. The Committee can continue to have that view of banning the industry as it continues to collect information and moves forward. If it gets changed along the way, it might be because there is new information.
Ms Winkler asked the difference in implication if an animal is classified as a wildlife species as opposed to a domestic species, in terms of stringent welfare considerations? If captive bred lions are now placed under DALRDD instead of DEFF, will this have implications on their welfare? If one is placing lions within the Animal Improvement Act (AIA), do they become agricultural commodities instead of wild animals? If there are no abattoirs, how is South Africa slaughtering lions for bones? This did not make sense to her. She believed that there are “definitely abattoirs being operated illegally” if SA is not allowed to have lion abattoirs.
How is this issue of lion products being dealt with? From her understanding of case studies done in this industry – this has been corroborated by much research in the field – it happened often that when the lions were tranquilised and their bones are exported, meat is then given to the surrounding communities that might still have tranquiliser in the flesh. There is nothing governing the slaughter of these lions. It needs to be taken into consideration.
Ms Winkler asked about the capacity of the EMIs in each province. How many EMIs does SA have? Can DALRRD genuinely say that they have the ability to effectively monitor all of these facilities for welfare considerations? The Committee saw how long the audit took already, just to see how many facilities and lions there were. The Committee still does not know how many facilities and lions there are. How can we say that the EMIs exist provincially to oversee animal welfare when, in fact, they may not capacitated enough to do so? It is a “dangerous space to be in”. Will Animal Welfare Bill apply to companion animals such as dogs and cats as well?
The Chairperson noted that he could see many hands raised. People from the industry were going to present, who must address and respond to the questions about abattoirs, meat and tranquilisers.
Ms Magdel Boshoff, Deputy Director: TOPS Policy Development, assisted DALRRD in responding to areas that affected DEFF as well. There are legislative gaps that DEFF has identified that need to be addressed. DEFF could assist in addressing some of the legislation-related questions before the next presentation. On how the slaughter of lions is regulated, and if there are abattoirs for that: She said that when the slaughter of lions for their bones actually started, it was not with the aim of meat consumption, so there is not really provision in the legislative context at the moment for slaughtering facilities or abattoirs. However, the slaughter of lions is equal to killing, or the activity of killing. It is a different terminology because it is used in a different context, but slaughter is equal to killing that is regulated by NEMBA. The activity of slaughtering the lions or killing the lions is regulated through a NEMBA permit. The current gap (in the legislation) is how that slaughtering should be done. At the moment, the DEFF Minister does not have a legislative mandate to develop enforceable regulatory requirements for welfare. DEFF has not been able to develop, for example, standards, or the parameters in which that slaughtering should be done. That is also why we have included the mandate in the biodiversity bill that a Member referred to as part of the NEMLA Bill that is currently under the parliamentary approval processes. She wanted to clarify why a different term was being used compared to, e.g., the welfare legislation. It was because the intention was not to take over a welfare mandate, and start developing welfare legislation broadly. But DEFF needed to address the legislative gaps where it needed to address the welfare aspect in the space that it is dealing with welfare in a very specific way under NEMBA. Whether or not the terminology is accurate is something that can be addressed in future processes. But what it will allow DEFF to do, for example, when that mandate is approved, DEFF can then start developing standards for other animals, not necessarily lion, that are bred in captivity, or are slaughtered for whatever purpose, e.g. meat consumption. She thought that that provision that DEFF included in NEMBA would enable DEFF to address the legislative gaps.
On tranquilising lions for the purpose of trophy hunting, the DEFF DDG mentioned that there are certain hunting-related activities that are explicitly prohibited in the TOPS Regulations. Hunting an animal that is listed as threatened or protected while it is under the influence of a tranquiliser is prohibited by TOPS. If that happens, it is unlawful. If there are incidents of that, it needs to be reported to DEFF so that it can deal with such an incident. But it is not acceptable, it is not a general practice that takes place, and if it does, it is unlawful. DEFF has prohibited that particular activity.
Ms Weber asked how many of the 300 facilities are SAPA (South African Predator Association) members?
Mr Modise spoke [2:47:58 inaudible].
On EMI capacity to monitor animal welfare compliance, Ms Boshoff from DEFF replied that the EMIs are appointed by the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA). Their purpose is to monitor compliance and enforce the provisions of the environmental legislation, which at the moment does not include welfare issues. When the EMIs went to do those inspections, they involved the NSPCA in some of those inspections, and took the NSPCA with them for the latter to deal with welfare issues. Where it was not possible (to involve the NSPCA), and the EMIs did pick up areas that they felt could be of a welfare concern, they referred those cases to the NSPCA for follow-up inspections. At the moment, EMIs do not have a mandate to monitor or enforce legislation relating to welfare. Their mandate relates to environmental or biodiversity legislation. The EMIs are collaborating with the NSPCA on matters of welfare in these breeding facilities.
The Chairperson thanked the speakers for the information. You will have to find a way to close the gaps. The beneficiaries are communities out there, or interest groups. He said that several presenters were called to this meeting so unfortunately there were time constraints. SAPA had raised a concern about how the Committee conducts its business; the Committee explained that it is gathering information about this issue. It did know that there were NA Resolutions and it wanted to check how far DEFF was in implementing those resolutions. While the Committee had heard from DEFF on this, it wanted to give DEFF a hearing as well.
Hunting Industry presentation
Mr André Mentz, President: South African Predator Association (SAPA) introduced the presentation. He was at the meeting as “a humble man”, firstly because God placed him in a position of responsibility to be a custodian of nature. Secondly because he was in the presence of Members of Parliament, “people we are proud of, and trust with our future”. SAPA has 60 members, and it represents most lions in captivity. With him were Mr Deon Swart, CEO of SAPA, and Mr Richard York, a member of the Professional Hunting Association of South Africa (PHASA), and Ms Tina Hiller, an independent researcher. The group came to the Committee as part of the solution in South Africa.
While Mr York set up his presentation, Mr Deon Swart, CEO of SAPA, said that he “went ice-cold” when he heard the questions at the meeting. He felt for the Members, because they needed “so much information” to make really important decisions. The delegation could feed with a lot of true information, and the delegation was most willing to interact with the Committee. “We have come a long way with lions, the whole history of lions, with all these things that have been pitched in the international media, and the perception that was created among the public”. The Committee is currently dealing mostly with the public perception, and not with “the real animals out there”. That was his impression based on the kind of questions he had heard from the Committee. He strongly advised Members “to please relax and listen to us today; we are really here to tell the truth”. Some of the things that the Committee questioned are also problems for the delegation, “so let’s be a team”.
Ms Mbatha noted that the Committee had not received the presentation prior to the meeting. She asked how the Committee could engage on it when they were seeing it for the first time in the meeting itself.
Mr York apologised profusely; saying he was only made aware of this colloquium yesterday morning. The delegation had travelled and had tried to email the document but it was 23 megabytes and would not go through. He said this was unacceptable conduct, but it was out of their control; “please can you forgive us”.
Mr Modise said that because the team was there, the Committee should proceed, and then the team could email the presentation to the Committee. If the Committee needed clarity on the presentation, they could interact with the team via emails, or a follow-up arrangement could be made at a later stage.
Ms Mbatha said that the Committee would listen, but it could not engage as it did not have the document.
The Chairperson said that what the Committee Whip was right in saying that the team should be allowed to present and after that the Committee will get the document. If there were questions in the meeting…
Ms Weber apologised for interrupting, and said that she agreed, except for the Committee engaging via email. The Committee as a body and as a team needed to do that together; if Members went into separate emails and separate questions, all Members would not have the all-round picture of it. The Committee needed to always see the documents so that it could prepare. We are unprepared, so that will mean that they will have to come again to answer our questions.
Mr York noted that there had been a comment made earlier that the Committee had been unable to visit certain areas due to restraints. Could SAPA facilitate the Committee visiting the breeding farms as a collective? The presentation could be discussed as a collective, and everyone could work through “live situations” and the document at the same time. Would that be acceptable?
The Chairperson said that what was acceptable was for Mr York to present.
Mr Richard York, PHASA member, said he was presenting views from the hunters’ perspectives. His aim was to address several points that had previously been put forth against captive lion breeding, such as: captive bred lions do not provide a buffer effect against poaching wild lions for their bones; the captive lion breeding industry is damaging Brand South Africa; captive populations lacked genetic diversity and were inbred. Detailed evidence to rebut such points was provided. He read out quotes from studies that had been done on the genetic variation in several captive bred lion populations. One particular study by Miller et al. (2014) on wild populations, managed wild populations and a captive-bred population did show some promising results: The sample population of captive-bred lions under study had unique alleles (different versions of a gene on the same place on a chromosome). These scientists noted that their discoveries warranted further research. Mr York also quoted the late Minister Edna Molewa on lion breeding, as well as President Cyril Ramaphosa’s views on the industry and on the green economy.
Mr York noted that there was no law or mandate that forces anyone to become PHASA or SAPA members, since they are voluntary organisations. The two try to lead the way and oppose animal welfare practices that mistreat animals. “We are opposed to any form of canned lion hunting. We are opposed to animals that are treated inhumanely, just like you, and we take it very seriously”.
Mr York defined conservation as “the protection and wise use of natural resources”. A million-dollar question was: “What do we do with the 8 000 captive bred lions?” Legislation prescribes that these lions cannot just be released. There is no habitat for them. “That’s our biggest furore that we sit with at the moment, and it is something that we have to address. That’s why we have come to you as PHASA and SAPA, and we are trying to give a progress report of our commitment to assisting government in finding meaningful solutions”. Euthanizing captive lions is not conservation, but is “a waste of a natural resource”. Captive bred lions made up anywhere from 20 to 30% of Africa’s lions. South African represents 30 to 40% of wild lions on the African continent. In reference to photos of elephant tusks being burned, he stated that burning a natural resource is not conservation, that is the waste of a natural resource. When did the poaching start? It is directly linked to trade bans. He quoted the late Minister Edna Molewa as saying that, “Our experience with the legal trade in rhino horn has shown that poaching operations and illegal trade networks proliferate when there is no legally acquirable supply”. There are consequences for bans.
Mr York showed 2018 statistics on captive-bred lion poaching, where all those lions poached were in captivity. Major threats facing lions are human-lion conflict, human encroachment, habitat loss, bush meat poaching, prey-based depletion, and lion poaching. For him, the biggest threat to wildlife was when they become valueless to rural communities. “If we are going to ban trade, and if we are going to say that rural people are no longer allowed to own wildlife, we are going to make the wildlife valueless”. Rural people will change their land use practices to other practices. South Africa has a unique model where it has increased wildlife habitat, and not decreased it. Rural poverty and the prevention of people benefitting from wildlife is the greatest single biggest threat to wildlife conservation. At the Biodiversity Economy and Conservation Conference in 2018, President Ramaphosa emphasized that there is an urgent need for sharing the land and creating an enabling environment that would facilitate economic growth of the wildlife sector.
Another question that needs to be asked is “Who is damaging Brand South Africa?” When one asks overseas clients, is it captive-bred lions? Many of these clients had never heard of captive-bred lions. There is something happening that Mr York called “Lionopoly” which is the game where you get lied to and they exploit your emotions into millions of dollars of donations. According to the NSPCA Annual Reports from 2015/16 to 2016/17, inspectors visited over 113 facilities across South Africa, housing over 3 000 lions. If one looks at what DEFF achieved in the same amount of time, they can be commended, because they have visited double the number of facilities. After a careful review of both annual reports, no references could be found of a single case where the SPCA laid formal charges against a facility due to animal welfare concerns and/or contravening the Animal Protection Act. This needs further investigation.
Mr York claimed that the Born Free Foundation made more money in 2016 than the entire legal lion hunting industry in South Africa. There is big money in tarnishing Brand SA for their own profit. Look at how many international NGOs can exploit animals from Africa for their own donations, many times to the detriment of our rural people.
Mr York noted that canned hunting is outlawed by the TOPS Regulations. The African lion, an indigenous species to South Africa, is not facing extinction or unprecedented crisis from either hunting, captive breeding or the trade in lion bones. Hunting in South Africa forms an integral part of government’s sustainable utilisation policies as enshrined in our Constitution. PHASA represents over 800 rural businesses. Many members are from overseas, and from prestigious associations such as Safari Club International (SCI). PHASA members are the backbone of the wildlife ranching sector. According to the Green Economy Report, this sector provides over 65 000 jobs, and trophy hunting generated an estimated R1.96 billion since 2014 to the green economy. PHASA is tasked in the Biodiversity Management Plan under Section 184.108.40.206 to improve the conservation status of lions within the broader conservation context, and assess the management of the captive lion population”. That is what PHASA had done. PHASA brought out what it calls the “Lion Biodiversity Conservation Strategy” and he noted the vision and objectives of the document.
He examined South Africa’s success story with game farms, which he attributed to private ownership. Much marginal land (semi-arid agricultural land) has been converted to sustainable land use, which benefits the wildlife economy. Since South Africa does not have an abundance of rain, it needs to find other land use options to produce a viable economy for the country. The SA conservation story was a three-legged stool, which revolves around the public sector (government), private sector individuals, and the free market economy. Our success story is the private ownership of our wildlife, and the fences that secure ownership. Fences are South Africa’s conservation success story. Trophy hunting of captive-bred lions, according to the non-detrimental findings by the Scientific Authority, “poses no threat to wild lion populations in South Africa”, and it is thought that “captive lions may serve as a buffer to potential threats [to] wild lions by being a primary source of trophy hunting derivatives and bones”. South Africa is the only country with growth in every single lion population, all of which were fenced.
Mr York noted that conservationists believe that captive-bred lions do not contribute to conservation of the species, especially for population restoration. And since inbreeding is known to occur, genetic inheritance and providence is compromised. He mentioned a study entitled Evaluation of Microsatellite Markers for Populations Studies and Forensic Identification of African Lions (Panthera leo) by Miller et al. (2014). The study included 23 wild and wild managed lion populations, and one captive-bred lion population. A number of “unique alleles” were found in this population. This suggests that there may be genetic diversity in the captive population that has been lost from the wild population. “This warrants further research into captive populations in South Africa to determine if the unique diversity has been preserved in this captive population, and could be restored in wild populations at a later date”. Other notable studies included one done at the Unistel Laboratory at Stellenbosch University. In the 24 populations, the heterozygosity (when an individual has two different alleles of a particular gene or genes) was above 65%. This served to dispel the myth that lions bred in captivity are highly inbred. He noted a study on lion re-introduction programmes where territorial and hunting behaviour of two captive-origin lion prides was observed, while the same behaviours were monitored in wild prides for comparison. There was no evidence that pride origin affected territorial or hunting behaviour. He went on to look at disease statistics for wild and wild managed lions, including those who had died in disease outbreaks in the Kruger National Park and the Serengeti National Park.
He made the point that it is important to realise that captive-bred lions can play a crucial conservation role as a buffer to wild lions in terms of hunting, bone trade, possibly genetic diversity, and the possible re-establishment of valuable populations in the wild. According to the studies he quoted, captive-bred lions were less inbred than those on most of the small reserves (such as Madikwe, Pilanesberg). Another point was that PHASA was working with the South African Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) on genetic research, where SANBI was an independent researcher. Additionally, PHASA and SAPA have worked together to create LiODIS – the lion DNA Index System – which can identify the origin of a lion through genetic tracing, such as if it was poached, for example.
Mr York detailed the socioeconomic development projects undertaken by PHASA, such as the PHASA Empowerment and Conservation Fund. An example of trophy hunting benefiting surrounding communities was that meat from trophy hunting (later clarified to be venison) was distributed to these communities. He noted the relative costs of sustaining managed wild lions, with studies done on the different types of lion management arrangements.
Mr York made the point that PHASA opposed the lion bottle feeding and petting industry, and hunting lions that have been walked. Those are deemed “tamed lions”. For PHASA and SAPA, hunting must take place with ranched lions that can fend for themselves in an extensive or semi-extensive system which are managed for the sustainable utilisation purpose. These lions are part of the Lion Biodiversity Conservation Strategy for lions in South Africa.
Mr Paulsen said that he liked the idea of self-regulation, but since Mr York had mentioned other groups campaigning against this particular practice, he thought that for fairness, the Committee had to listen to people with other views as well. We need evidence of the work that groups such as PHASA and SAPA do before the Committee makes a judgment. In all fairness, let the Committee see where things go, and what the arguments are from the opposing parties, so that the Committee can make an informed decision on what should happen going forward. He agreed with the President that there is no participation of black farmers, so that transformation has to take place. How that happens will have to be part of that charter going forward. He added that there “are one or two positives, many other negatives”. But the Committee got a new perspective on it now.
Ms Weber agreed with the introductory speaker from SAPA that “God created the world as it is”, and she also believed that humans do not have the right to destroy it. The Bible talked about farm animals, and never about wildlife. She presumed that the rules and regulations were based on what the SAPA speaker believed stood in the Bible. She failed to see how anyone can see a lion and other wildlife as a “natural resource”. To her mind a natural resource is something like water – it is something you need to survive. Lion is not a natural resource, neither is an elephant. Mr York had asked what to do with the 8 000 lions – did he agree that there needed to be a stop to breeding, because you do not know what to do with them, as some people say euthanasia, some people say other things. Is there a plan to stop breeding by asking that question? There are many options to that question but the way he put that question, it sounds like he was in line with stopping this.
She stated that when you own wildlife, it is not wildlife anymore. There are 4 011 PHASA members, 800 of which are licensed. Are membership and the adherence to its standards voluntary or enforceable? If lions are not threatened, then why do people want to breed them? Sustainability should be the goal, not money, especially regarding our planet, and the way we deal with Earth and all its resources. If the lions are not inbred in the camps, who do they mate with, because there are no fresh lions coming in except their brothers and their sisters? Why was PHASA expelled from Safari Club International and Dallas Safari Club? Mr York said no lion comes from the wild and therefore they are not in captive breeding, they come from zoos and circuses, so where did the zoo and circus lions come from? She asked that Mr York please not say that the lions were lost and lost their mother in the wild. She said that there was a lot of information that the Committee needed to go through before it could respond properly. She did have one request. There was an offer to take the Committee to certain places; could the Committee choose the places to visit?
Ms Winkler asked why so few ranches are accredited by PHASA. If hunting captive lions is okay, why are so few ranches accredited as adhering to ‘fair chase’ principles? Mr York spoke about minimal imprinting as a solution; why are so few ranches accredited in this capacity? Only 60 of 366 facilities are SAPA members; what about the rest? PHASA’s own lion management plan recognises inbreeding as a problem, yet Mr York presented evidence to the contrary. That evidence has been brought into contestation by another study by Hunter et al. How will the genetic pool be broadened to prevent inbreeding, if wild lions are not being “smuggled into those farms”? One of the SAPA members, Steinman, was accused in the media of extensive lion abuse on his farm; apparently, he was a member at the time. Would Mr York comment on that? What is the difference between canned lion hunting and captive bred lions?
Ms Winkler noted that Mr York said that he is against canned lion hunting, but is for captive bred lions. The Supreme Court of Appeal ruled in 2010 that there is no difference between canned hunting and captive breeding – what did Mr York think of that? On the 8 000 lions and their possible role in conservation, Ms Winkler did not understand what their conservational value is – they were “basically being bred to be killed”. Where is the conservation in that process? The lions are being commodified for hunting. The conservation argument seemed to her very unsound. Where is the evidence that captive lions prevent wild lion poaching? She had seen evidence to the contrary; the industry was creating demand for lions, and it is much cheaper to go out and poach a lion, than to approach a hunting entity and pay “big money” to hunt. If someone wants a lion for whatever illicit reasons, for the Southeast Asian market, they are probably going to get one that they can shoot in the dead of night; they are not going to come through these legal avenues.
On the tarnishing of Brand South Africa, Ms Winkler stated that it is in fact the hunting industry that has tarnished Brand South Africa. She pointed to global consensus by major organisations and trends such as countries now putting a ban on imports of trophy-hunted species. She asked how rural communities benefited from captive lion breeding. How is this trickle-down effect happening? DEFF said lion abattoirs are illegal, yet the presentation said that “lion meat is given to poor rural communities”. That is an illegal practice; there are health concerns to that. If that is the benefit that communities are getting from this industry, then that is cause for grave concern. Mr York talked about the financials of NGOs, but she asked to see the PHASA and SAPA financials. She wanted to see how much money those two were making from this industry; she also wanted to see the financials of the people who subscribe to the industry. It is her understanding that some environmental organisations do not ask for public funding. She knew for a fact that hunters were asked for big money to come and hunt these lions. She stated that captive bred lions cannot be reintegrated into the wild for conservation purposes; there has been no successful study to date on that reintegration.
Ms Mchunu said that the presentation kept referring to the former Minister and the President, but she thought that in this case, it is good to refer to what they say. If Mr York referred to it so that the Committee was “brainwashed” to believe whatever is presented, because of what the President or former Minister said, then it is not correct. As Members of the Committee, they know what the President is expecting of them. It says the trophy hunting industry is a good thing because PHASA assists soup kitchens and rural communities. She wanted a deeper explanation of how PHASA assists such communities. What is PHASA feeding to people? Is it something that is actually good for consumption for those communities? At one point, the presentation showed a picture of a mother and child, and it portrayed them as the kind of poor people that PHASA is assisting. She did not think that PHASA should be taking the situation that SA’s people are in and display it like that – it is “sort of an insult to our people”. She felt offended by the image. She did not think that the Committee could say that the trophy hunting industry is good. The presentation showed employment rates; it mentioned 800 members, and an employment rate of approximately 6 500 jobs. The ratio does not tally. The presentation only showed the black people who were employed – what about management / other people who are benefiting? Where does that money go? How much are workers paid? Are they exploited? When the Committee does site visits, it must go with the Department of Labour to check if there are any labour or safety concerns. How are these animals killed for lion bone for international trading? How is the remainder of what is not used disposed of? On the 8 000 lions, she asked if Mr York agreed that the industry has a lot of lions which it cannot handle. If there is animal disease, then DALRRD must intervene. Her reading was that there was an excess of these animals.
Ms Mbatha stated that she was disappointed as the presenter came to lash other people fighting for these lions. He misquoted the late Minister, and the President. If Mr York wanted the Committee to buy into what he told them then he must not “lash other people”. She said earlier for PHASA and SAPA to tell the Committee how they are working and what they are doing, instead of telling the Committee about all these other issues. Why will the US not allow the import of captive-bred lion trophies? They had stopped that, in support of SA; they had seen the problem in the US. She had never heard of ranched lions as a category. Her background was as an environmental health practitioner. When one talks about meat, the killing of animals for human consumption, it must be done in an abattoir. That abattoir must be registered, and there must be meat inspectors, who inspect that meat and stamp it to say that it is good for human consumption. “You have violated the Meat Act”. To her, that showed that PHASA did not care about black people. That meat was going to the black community and whether they died or not, PHASA “did not care”. The meat was being dumped on poor, rural people. Lions with TB were mentioned – “there are so many diseases in the red meat”. PHASA did not care to have the meat checked so that it did not negatively affect rural people. People take the meat because they are poor and hungry; “they do not know that they are killing themselves”. That meat is not inspected; there is no meat inspector who can say that they inspected the meat. Which abattoir is being used? Your lions are being shot cruelly so. Going back to compliance, meat would have to comply with the Meat Safety Act, Act 40 of 2000. “You are so proud to come and tell us that you are violating our own Acts developed by Parliament”.
How does captive lion breeding grow the economy, and for whom? Individuals are benefitting from the industry. Of the 6 500 jobs – are these people from SA? Or are they people from outside SA, those who are paid less and staying in an environment that is not good. They are being abused because they are blacks. SA is not being empowered; it is for those individuals. The industry says hunting poses no threat. Ms Mbatha said that hunting does pose a threat. How are black people participating? “Those farmers are all white”. Those farmers were not mentioned in the presentation. Those farmers are arrogant; they think they do not need to comply with SA laws.
She said that the tranquilisers used in the captive breeding industry are high schedule medicine. How can South African pharmacists and SA government allow those people to get those high schedule drugs? The drugs must be given to the pharmacist, not given to individual farmers who do as they wish. She asked for the presentation document after the meeting, as there was a lot to discuss. The Department of Health, environmental health practitioners, and the Minister of Health must be involved, because the meat must be inspected and how the meat is disposed of. Everyone must present, so that the Committee can make a genuine and collective decision on the issue.
The Chairperson said that Members of Parliament had to be in the National Assembly at 2pm. He requested that Mr York summarize his responses. In passing, could Mr York deal with the relationship with SANBI? SANBI is a government entity and they could then come and explain the relationship. PHASA and SAPA were not the only ones being spoken to in the way that the Members spoke to them; everybody who comes to the Committee gets the same treatment. This is how we deal with business here. He hoped that following from these questions, the offer to be taken to the facilities would still stand. There are 4 011 members, and 800 licensed – do they shoot unlicensed?
The Chairperson was informed that those who are unlicensed do not handle guns.
Mr York replied that the relationship with SANBI was mainly in terms of research. PHASA is communicating with SANBI on ways to do research. PHASA is not dogmatic about what SANBI must be or what they must do; PHASA is communicating potential ways of doing research and potential research objectives that could be achieved. SANBI remains totally independent, and PHASA has no influence over any outcomes from SANBI. PHASA has an overseas membership, which is in excess of 2 800 members; locally there are 1 200 members. 800 of those members are licensed professional hunters and outfitters. To become a professional hunter and outfitter, you have to go on a course, and get dedicated status. PHASA is the only registered body in terms of statutory requirements that is recognised. There is also a category for field members; that is where the extra 400 members come from; this is a person who many not be qualified as a professional hunter, but would like to become a professional hunter and would like to receive PHASA information.
On the category of ranch lions – it is a category that PHASA developed in trying to find solutions. On the question “what do we do with those 8000 lions”, whatever decision is made, there will be consequences for those lions. To release those lions would be fantastic, but where? PHASA showed the statistics on how much lions consume; there is no habitat for those lions, and that is the biggest threat. That is where one talks about the consequences going forward.
On the USA ban, that was because the 2013 non-detrimental findings only focused on wild and wild managed lions. There was no inclusion of captive-bred lions. When the Animal Protection Act came out in 2015, there was no scientific evidence that captive-bred lions are not detrimental to wild lions in conservation. That changed with the 2018 Scientific Authority non-detrimental findings that captive-bred lions pose no threat.
On meat and rural abattoirs, PHASA is in the process of developing rural abattoirs. Mr York stated: “I myself live off that meat; I can guarantee you that we are not endangering anyone; I promise you that”. He said that PHASA is not feeding lion meat to people, and apologized if it came across that way – he was referring to other trophy-hunted animals such as antelope. “All meat is handled humanely, and I promise that it is handled in the correct manner”.
To hunt a tranquilised animal is against the law. That forms part of what a canned hunt is; to hunt an animal that is dosed; PHASA does not do that. All tranquiliser medicine is handled by the Veterinary Council which issues the permit for who is allowed to use tranquilisers. When an animal is darted, it is done by a legal veterinary practitioner; it is not done clandestinely by the rancher himself.
Due to PHASA’s stance to try and find solutions for these animals, a decision was taken that Safari Club International (SCI) and Dallas Safari Club would distance themselves from PHASA until such time (as a solution could be found). SCI is now working with PHASA, and they are finding meaningful solutions going forward. Mr York handed over to SAPA to answer questions about lion bones.
South African Predator Association (SAPA) input
Mr Deon Swart, CEO: SAPA, noted that the Committee had a lot of unanswered questions, because there was a lot of information not yet available to the Committee. The whole industry, as portrayed in the media, and driven by campaigns, is the only knowledge you have. Things look very different on the farms to how they are shown in newspapers, on video clips, and in propaganda movies. SAPA made a choice not to go into a propaganda war with the media. Mr Swart said that the team from the hunting industry was there to ensure that some conclusion is reached to fix the issues.
Lion bones are a derivative of hunting. It was never the objective of any lion farmer to slaughter animals. At the moment, there is no legal permit issued; there are no lion bones generated by slaughtering animals. The word ‘slaughter’ came in as used by the media. However, it was euthanasia permits issued to people in two incidents in one province, and “that’s where the powwow started”. Currently, the only lion bones generated will be through euthanasia permits issued due to veterinary reasons. It was not the primary purpose to generate bones. SAPA, as an organisation, does not support slaughtering lions for lion bones, because lion bones were initially a derivative of legally hunted animals. There has been a “surge in the world” for all bones, not just for lion bones. That can be attributed to a whole new discussion; that is an economic debate, which SAPA also investigates. There is a need to research the possibility that bone demand creates poaching. To say outright that captive breeding generates more poaching, that is not true; “we do not know”. It is the same with rhino horn; there has been a debate on rhino horn.
On the benefits, we are talking about an integrated industry. It is a tourism industry. The resource side is well-managed. The debate is on an economic level and social level, because it is tourism activity. Most of the consumptive side of breeding these animals is tourism; it is an adventure tourism activity. There are several product lines generated by captive lion breeding, servicing the hunting industry. We are not only talking about lions; but also antelope, buffaloes, impala are bred. Many animals are bred on farms, and then are sold to the wildlife industry, for the consumptive side. If there are no consumptive clients, the industry will die. Non-consumptive clients will not feed the industry adequately. Who benefits? It is an integrated industry. There are roughly eight or nine jobs per hunter. (Mr Swart was interrupted by the bells calling all MPs to the start of a plenary session in the National Assembly).
As the meeting had to close, the Chairperson reminded PHASA and SAPA that the discussions were on record, and that the Committee will dedicate a day for further discussion. The meeting was adjourned.