S. Africa: Mixed reaction to delay of ‘canned hunting’ laws

The postponement of regulations on threatened and endangered species – which include a ban on “canned” predator hunts – has evoked mixed reaction.

North West Agriculture, Conservation and Environment MEC Mandlenkosi Mayisela – whose province has 49 predator camps – welcomed the postponement as an opportunity for further discussion.

“The new implementation date for the regulations gives us breathing room as we weigh options and continue dialogue with the national minister,” said Mayisela. “Hopefully we can still achieve a more favourable compromise for our province.”

Mayisela said about 350 lions were hunted annually in North West – possibly the country’s biggest number – and that the issue needed careful management.

Last week, Environment Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk postponed the implementation date of the regulations to February next year.

The new laws will, among other things, outlaw the hunting of captive-bred large predators within two years of their release on a property for hunting purposes.

Mayisela said North West had differed on definitions of threatened species and said the national permitting system would be best left to provinces.

The hunting industry had also raised a “valid point” about the 24-month period in which predators had to be fed and enclosed but did not generate income.

“We are saying that as we tighten up – which is a good thing that we should do – it should not then push a whole lot of people out of the industry.

“We need the regulations to allow businesses to survive while making sure people who remain in business conduct their business in an acceptable framework.”

The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has reacted with “disappointment and distress”.

“Unless the minister declares a moratorium on hunting – lion hunting in particular – we are concerned that South Africa will become a killing field,” said Rick Allan, of the NSPCA’s wildlife unit.

The postponement effectively gave “unscrupulous” lion farmers leeway to deplete stock in the interim at a profit.

“Until the new regulations are brought in, canned hunting as we know and condemn it will continue,” Allan added.

Professor Gerhard Verdoorn, of the SA Hunters’ and Game Conservation Association, said the postponement “makes a lot of sense”.

When it came to predator hunts, Verdoorn said his organisation was against canned hunts. But he did not see a problem with the hunting of bred predators that were released and “wilded” for a few months in a large area of 1 000 hectares or more. – Sapa

Published on the web by Star on May 8, 2007.

http://www.thestar.co.za/index.php?fArticleId=3818330

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