GOVT GAZETTE, Gazette 25090, Notice 874 

NATIONAL PRINCIPLES, NORMS AND STANDARDS FOR THE SUSTAINABLE USE OF LARGE PREDATORS IN SA. APPENDIX 2 

For the first time, a national policy has been drafted that will set a minimum standard, with which all the provinces are supposed to comply. This national policy indicates the Government’s intention to ban canned hunting. However, extreme confusion has been created around this policy, not only in the public, but in members of Parliament with whom I have spoken, top envirolawyers, scientific experts, conservation authorities and even provincial policy makers themselves. The Head of Valli Moosa’s Ministry gives an entirely different story from other legal advisors in Valli Moosa’s office. Without recourse to the correct protocol, the malpractice of canned hunting may simply continue in many provinces. The points below, detail irregularities and show just how serious the confusion is.  (As this is a general circular, names have been omitted to protect individuals mentioned from harassment.) 

THE POLICY 

1.         On the one hand, this policy is presented in the Government Gazette posting (gazette 25090, Notice 874) as Appendix 2 of the draft Biodiversity Bill, on the other hand it is simply presented as a publication of a policy expressing Government intention 'for general information'. Which is it? 

2.         If it is an appendix to the draft Biodiversity Bill, then its implementation would be assured through the regulations drafted in this bill. The Biodiversity Bill is a management tool, ensuring that any person or any entity which has a detrimental effect on the environment can be held liable. The Administrative Justice Act which has been introduced in the draft bill, controls the administrative actions of state authorities. Servants of the state have to comply with this new national policy - or they can be brought to justice. This way, the banning of canned hunting would shortly be enforceable by law. 

3.      However, if it is simply a policy published for general information, it is not enforceable. In this case, the policy is not worth the paper it is written on. Canned hunting is NOT banned. 

Furthermore: 

4.     The policy entitled NATIONAL PRINCIPLES, NORMS AND STANDARDS FOR THE SUSTAINABLE USE OF LARGE PREDATORS IN SA, was posted in Government Gazette 25090, Notice 874. It claims to be Appendix 2. The question is: Appendix 2 of what Bill? 

5.     The policy on large predators is one of three appendices. The other two pertain to reptiles, and white rhino. As these 3 appendices follow on directly after the Biodiversity Bill in the Government Gazette, it is natural to assume that they are appendices to the Biodiversity Bill. 

6.         In the Govt website www.govt.za/documents/index.html, please note that until today’s date (13 August 2003) NO COVER NOTE FROM THE MINISTER ACCOMPANIES THESE APPENDICES. Again, this gives the clear impression that these are appendices to the aforegoing draft Biodiversity Bill. 

7.       However, in the separate website of SABINET, a cover-note from the Minister does, in fact, appear, which presents a different picture. This notice states:  

           The Minister of the Environmental Affairs and Tourism and Members of the Executive Council of the respective provinces that scrutinise environmental affairs - who are all members of the MINMEC: Environment - approved on 18 March 2003 that the strategies and policy as set out in the schedule be published for general information. 

8.      This posting of norms and standards implies that this proposed policy is simply for "general information", and does not invite public comment. This indicates that no public participation process will be taking place. 

9.         If it is not intended as an appendix to the Biodiversity Bill, then the posting of Valli Moosa's office on the Government website www.enviromment.gov.za/NewsMedia is totally misleading, which states that the Govt. "prohibits canned hunting of large predators". 

10.     The policy itself is written in a misleading fashion as the terminology implies a draft Bill (not simply a policy of Government intention for general information).  

 For example: 

           10.1 "Hunting of captive large predators (canned hunting as defined in this document) is prohibited." [clause 5]. 

           10.2 "Existing operations have one year’s grace before having to conform with this policy." 

 11.     The impression that this is a national prohibition is reinforced by the Dept. of the Environment’s (DEAT) posting of a notice on its website 6 August 2003  (www.environment.gov.za/newsmedia/), stating the following: 

           "DEPARTMENT PROHIBITS CANNED HUNTING OF LARGE PREDATORS." 

12.      Again, this posting by the Department gives the impression that national policy is appendix to the Biodiversity Bill. 

13.     Furthermore, it states that it will be going through the correct protocol by inviting public participation. It states: 

           "Members of the public will get an opportunity to comment on the document before the norms and standards are effected as regulations within the new Biodiversity Bill." 

VALLI MOOSA’S OFFICE 

1.     Representatives of Valli Moosa’s office admitted a public participation process had not taken place, and that "a step" was skipped.  

2.         A top representative said  this policy is NOT an appendix to the Biodiversity Bill, and is "something else altogether."  

3.     Representatives were vague about whether this policy would actually come before the portfolio committee of the Biodiversity Bill. 

4.     Asked if a public participation process would still take place - and if so when - they refused to comment.  

5.     They requested a formal letter detailing questions pertaining to public participation, but have not responded to this letter, sent 11 August 2003. 

6.         A PRO has been assigned to answer questions relating to this policy. However, she was unable answer any of the pertinent questions put to her. 

PROVINCIAL AUTHORITIES 

1.     The confusion around this national policy is shown in the province's reaction to it. There is no central directive to provinces, some of whom are going ahead with enforcing this national policy, others of whom still believe it is a ‘green paper’ open for public comment. 

2.     Department of Nature Conservation (Limpopo Province) says it is taking the national policy as FINALISED. This province states that the national policy is now the minimum standard of regulation for the management of large predators in SA. Their provincial policy is now being finalised, incorporating the standards within the national policy. They are presently enforcing it, and existing operations have a year to conform, until 13 June 2004. 

3.     Department of Nature Conservation (Western Cape) is taking the policy as not finalised but rather as ‘a green paper’, believing that it is still open for public comment. The Western Cape has invited comments from interested and affected parties, which they will be sending to DEAT (Dept of Environmental Affairs and Tourism). Their understanding is that once DEAT has received comments from all the provinces, the national policy will be finalised, and Western Cape Nature Conservation will then apply the national policy as a minimum standard in drawing up their provincial policy (for the management of large predators). They also believe that the national policy will then be enforceable, and that existing operations have a year to conform, until 13 June 2004. 

To ensure that the prohibition of canned hunting ACTUALLY TAKES PLACE: 

Firstly, the correct protocol has to be followed, and a public participation process undertaken. 

Secondly, the serious loopholes in the policy need to be addressed by scientific and conservation experts, in the course of this public participation process. 

Thirdly, the national policy MUST be effected as regulation within the new Biodiversity Bill. 

Finally, the national policy MUST be enforced at provincial level as the minimum standard of regulation and ethics for the management of large predators.

Please send off your letters to the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT) without delay, to ensure that the prohibition of canned hunting is actually implemented.