Tamlyn Jolly, The Zululand Observer | May 16, 2020
A recent article claiming that it would soon be legal to eat a variety of wildlife, including rhinoceros, set the internet alight with debate and made its way to the Africa Check fact checking site, which investigated the claim.
The article stated that an amendment to the Meat Safety Act ‘expands the list of animals that may be legally consumed by humans’.
It went on to say that the list included many threatened species, including rhino, elephant and giraffe.
The Meat Safety Act of 2000 referred to in the article regulates how animals should be slaughtered, if it is legal to do so, it does not make any decisions on which animals are to be slaughtered.
The Act regulates abattoirs, and promotes the safety of meat and meat products.
Schedule 1 lists animals to which the Act applies, which are currently domesticated animals including cattle, poultry and horses, and 15 wild game species, including the African elephant.
In late February, the Department of Agriculture published a proposed amendment to the Act for public comment.
The proposed amendments expanded schedule 1 to include all species of animals under a list of 75 orders, families, subfamilies or genera.
Included on the expanded list are all rhino species in the world, the Indian and Asian elephant, and the American bison, among others.
According to Africa Check, by the time the article in question had been published, the department had already dismissed claims that the proposed amendment to the Act would effectively legalise the consumption of protected species.
‘Contrary to some misconceptions regarding the purpose of the amendment of the schedule, the addition of more animals to the list will allow the regulators to have more control on how animals are slaughtered for human and animal consumption,’ said the department.
It further said that listing an animal on the schedule does not encourage the slaughter of those listed animals, and that the decision on which animals can be slaughtered lies outside of the mandate of the Meat Safety Act.
The Department of Agriculture has extended the deadline for public comment to the proposed amendment to 30 June.