Environmental Affairs minister Nomvula Mokonyane will soon appoint a high-level panel to review policies, legislation and practices on matters of lion, elephants, leopard and rhinoceros management, breeding, hunting, trade and handling.
“The high-level panel will conduct public hearings, draft submissions, consider scientific evidence and other forms of information that will enable the evaluation and assessment of current practices, regulatory measures and policy positions,” the Department of Environmental Affairs said.
The panel will identify gaps, seek to understand and make recommendations on the basis of the subject matter.
The panel will also review the implementation of the recommendations of the Committee of Inquiry into the feasibility, or not, of a legal rhino horn trade, and any future decision affecting trade-related proposals to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
Emotive and complex issues
The department has for years dealt with a number of emotive and complex conservation and sustainability issues, particularly those involving iconic species.
These include elephant management, the ivory stockpile, trade in rhino horn and the emerging issue of the lion bone trade.
The Constitutional Mandate of the department is to ensure the right to the protection of the environment, for present and future generations, reasonable legislative and other measures that secure ecologically sustainable development and the use of natural resources while promoting justifiable economic and social development.
“Further to this is the operationalisation of the objectives of the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act (NEMBA) on conservation, sustainable use and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of genetic resources,” the department said.
These deal with the protection of the environment through measures that promote environmental, social and economic imperatives for the present and future generations.
“Taking into account the current compliance inspections of lion captive breeding facilities being conducted throughout the country, there is a need to harmonise sustainable use with strictly controlled legal international trade and monitoring,” the department said.