NATIONAL NEWS - The National Environmental Management Laws Amendment Bill, brought to life by then environmental minister Edna Molewa in May 2017, is currently in its fourth iteration.
According to the parliamentary monitoring group tracker, it was passed by National Assembly and then sent to the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) for “concurrence” on November 27 last year.
An amendment, applying to wild animal welfare, calls for “clarity on the definition of ‘control’ ” and to insert definitions of “eradicate” and “wellbeing” as well as to “empower the minister to prohibit certain activities that may negatively impact on the wellbeing of faunal biological resources”.
The news that the NCOP’s land reform, environment, mineral resources and energy committee recently decided to revive the Bill will come as a relief to the Centre for Environmental Rights (CER) and the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), which have long called for wild animal welfare.
A 2018 report by CER and EWT, “Fair Game? Improving the wellbeing of South African wildlife”, noted: “Welfare requirements are inherent in any activity that causes a wild animal’s usual, natural functioning to be influenced by a human, for whatever reason, and especially when a wild animal is under the control of a human, temporarily or permanently”.
Conditions included hunting, gathering, collecting, importing or exporting, among others.
Former CER wildlife attorney Aadila Agjee said in a statement: “Law reform in respect of wild animal welfare is long overdue.
“South African laws and policies regarding the protection of the welfare of wildlife, both captive and free, lack legal certainty, leaving thousands of animals without satisfactory protection.”
The policy brief recommendations included “the standardisation of laws and their implementation across the country, continuous education and training of conservation officers, as well as sufficient budget allocation geared towards capacitating conservation departments to carry out their important mandate”.
EWT chief executive Yolan Friedmann added the EWT had been “gravely concerned for several years” at the increasing neglect of the wellbeing of wild animals with the expansion of the wildlife economy.
“Our research indicates a dire need for standard permit provisions and clarity around the mandate for ensuring that welfare considerations are included in decisions and activities that involve the use of wildlife for economic gain,” Friedmann said.
“Recent case law has confirmed the need for wildlife welfare standards to be developed and we hope that this policy brief helps to plot the way towards ensuring our wildlife economy is both ethical and ecologically sustainable.”
Wild animal welfare Bill comes to life with demands for:
- Freedom from hunger and thirst;
- Freedom from discomfort;
- Freedom from pain, injury or disease;
- Freedom from fear and distress;
- Freedom to express natural behaviour – World Organisation for Animal Health.