Thobeka Ngema, IOL | March 8, 2022
The National Council of SPCAs (NSPCA) has expressed its disappointment following the announcement by the department of forestry, fisheries and the environment (DFFE) that it had approved the trophy hunting of 10 vulnerable leopards, 150 endangered elephants and 10 critically endangered black rhinos in South Africa for 2022.
Last month DFFE minister Barbara Creecy confirmed the quotas for the trophy hunting of the animals in South Africa for 2022.
The NSPCA in a statement said that the release of the confirmed quotas came after DFFE expected public comment based on a two-page notice which only outlined the proposed hunting quotas, without any scientific evidence or rationale for their basis.
“The NSPCA is concerned with the decision made by DFFE as it presents itself as “business as usual”, including the setting of hunting quotas prior to the finalisation of the high-level panel process in terms of the conservation and ecologically sustainable use of elephant, lion, leopard and rhinoceros and ignores the recommendations currently under review which includes the inclusion for wildlife welfare with the aim to build a reputation for responsible and humane conservation and ecological use of biodiversity,” the council said.
“The NSPCA is opposed to the hunting of any animal for entertainment or sport. Trophy hunting involves hunting carefully selected animals to keep its head, skin or any other body part as a souvenir. The outdated concept of “if it pays it stays” needs to be challenged with more compassionate solutions to conservation challenges to best serve South Africa’s wildlife and her people.”
The NSPCA noted that March 3 was World Wildlife Day, a day dedicated to wildlife that aims to celebrate the world’s wild animals and plants, and their significant contribution to ecological systems, including raising awareness of the plight of the threatened and endangered species.
Hunting trophy animals for pleasure, it said, should therefore be challenged as a legitimate conservation tool for threatened and endangered species.
The DFFE said the quota for leopards was informed by robust data generated through a sophisticated national leopard monitoring programme. Leopard hunts will only be allowed in areas where populations are stable or increasing, and only male leopards seven years of age or older may be hunted.
Only adult male black rhinos will be hunted, and only on conservation management grounds in accordance with a set of strict criteria to ensure that demographic and/or genetic conservation is enhanced. The quota for black rhinos was based on the national population estimates for black rhinos per subspecies, all three of which show an increasing trend at present.
Only a very small portion of the overall elephant population is hunted in a year (less than 80 elephant bulls, which is less than 0.3% of the total population). The national elephant herd shows an increasing trend and the quota of 150 is well within sustainable limits.
DFFE said the hunting sector conservatively contributed R1.4 billion to the economy in 2019, excluding the economic contribution to tourism and all hunting and safari-related industries. The income generated by the species fees totalled approximately R1.1 billion, of which approximately R208 million were derived from the trophy hunting of threatened or endangered species.