Early in 2022, the high court in the Western Cape put a hold on a decision made by Forestry, Fisheries, and Environment Minister Barbara Creecy to grant quotas to hunt and export 10 black rhinos, 10 leopards, and 150 elephants.
The organisation Humane Society International/Africa (HSI/Africa), which is dedicated to protecting animals, filed a petition for an interim interdict against the quotas.
South Africa is one of many countries throughout the world that engages in the practice of sustainable hunting of elephants, black rhinos, and leopards.
According to the findings of several studies, trophy hunting might generate economic incentives that encourage the conservation of natural resources. One of the key functions of trophy hunting is the culling of a population’s surplus of males, and trophy hunting also results in the generation of revenue that may be put toward funding the costs of conservation efforts.
The said verdict suggested that it could be possible to argue that the trophy hunting quotas for 2022 that had been imposed were both unlawful and illegal.
The court concluded that there were two reasons why they should provide temporary relief:
Rolling over the trophy hunting limitations that had been established for the year 2021 into the following year, 2022, was not something that the DFFE was allowed to do. Additionally, the delay breached the common law norm of justifiable expectation, and as a consequence, it was subject to review under the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act (PAJA). The deferment was neither authorised nor considered by the corresponding legislation that govern the international commerce of these species.
The Department of Environmental Affairs and Forestry (DFFE) did not comply with the consultative procedure that was required by the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act 10 of 2004 (NEMBA) when it made the decision regarding the quota.
It was not permitted for the Minister to issue a quota for trophy hunting and the export of elephant, black rhino, or leopard without valid non-detriment findings because the necessary conditions for public participation were not met, the quota announcement was not published in the Government Gazette.
The department argued that regulated and sustainable hunting is an important conservation tool in South Africa as it incentivizes the private sector and communities to conserve valuable wildlife species and to participate in wildlife-based land uses, ultimately contributing to the conservation of the country’s biodiversity.
The cash generated from trophy hunting is essential, particularly for rural populations who are economically marginalised and on the margins of society.
HSI/ Africa’s “Trophy Hunting by the Numbers” however asserted that 83 percent of trophies exported from South Africa come from captive-bred animals, non-native species, or species like caracals, baboons, and honey badgers that are not subject to scientific management plans.
An organisation that represents the hunting industry called the verdict “terrible” though. It said that there was no valid reason to interfere with the harvesting of those animals, particularly if the harvesting was carried out in a sustainable manner.
It felt that there was an overwhelming amount of data to suggest that the sustainable use of wildlife, which includes hunting, is necessary for the conservation of species that are on the verge of extinction in sub-Saharan Africa.
Examples offered were the story of the White Rhino – the massive growth in South Africa’s national herd, all examples that show why a sustainable use approach is much more effective than the approach that is supported by influential non-governmental organisations such as the humane society.
It felt that it is imperative that the leopard population in South Africa be preserved, although doing so will be challenging due to the fact that leopards are free-ranging animals that are not limited by fences and have a penchant to prey on cattle.
It has been demonstrated that giving the animal value, as occurs when trophy hunting is permitted, is an effective means of persuading populations to tolerate the existence of leopards in their midst. The dangers can be easily reduced by putting in place and strictly enforcing stringent controls.
The revenue generated from a legally sanctioned leopard hunt is more than adequate to cover the expenses associated with these risk reduction strategies, and it still leaves a good profit for the landowner or occupier of the property where the hunt takes place.
The temporary ban was also supported by the South African National Biodiversity Institute, who stated that leopard population numbers could not be determined with certainty. It stated that “there is doubt about the numbers” and that “this is not a permanent restriction,” but that “more evidence was needed to determine quotas.”
But, said the Professional Hunters Association of South Africa (PHASA), there are lots of leopards on private land, according to data provided to the government by the association from private regions.
It stated that it may cost up to $20,000 to shoot a leopard, and several of the members of PHASA had to refund clients who had put down deposits for leopard hunts.
Although they don’t necessarily agree with this ban, the owners of African Hunts & Safaris reiterate that they always support ethical hunting and believe that it is beneficial to our economy, contributes to the promotion of a better lifestyle, has charitable aspects, and immediately connects us with the life that exists on our earth.
It definitely helps give financing for conservation and wildlife management.
You might also be interested in reading the debate: to hunt or not to hunt.
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