Whether or not you’re a tree hugger, I think it’s pretty obvious to all that the conservation of our biodiversity benefits all who live in this country.
That’s especially true for the Big Five, given how many people fly from around the world to come and tick that off their bucket list.
Someone should let our Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa in on this, though, because conservationists are freaking out about her recent controversial proposals.
Many fear they will endanger the future of Big Five conservation, with this below from BD Live:
Over the past two months Molewa has published draft regulations which, if approved, would allow the export of 800 lion skeletons annually, reopen trade in rhino horn and reverse a moratorium on leopard hunting.
There is also widespread alarm over the government’s decision to shoot hundreds of buffalo in the Kruger National Park to provide meat for impoverished communities.
In January the government proposed an export quota of 800 captive-bred lion skeletons, despite the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) recommending that SA shut down its lion-breeding industry, which experts say is unethical and has no value to lion conservation.
In February, less than a month after confirming it was extending its ban on leopard hunting for another year to aid the recovery of populations, the Department of Environmental Affairs released draft regulations which critics say promotes leopard hunting.
In the same month, Molewa published draft regulations to legalise the sale of rhino horn under certain conditions.
Um, what the actual f*ck?
Critics say the department is bending to the will of private rhino owners, who argue that the controlled sale of rhino horn will cause the price to drop, thus making it both less attractive for poachers and easier to track illegal ivory.
Conservationists are also worried about the declining African elephant population, 30% of which has been wiped out in the past decade alone.
Back to our esteemed Environmental Affairs Minister:
Molewa claimed that SA’s elephant population of about 25,000 was stable and the decision was “a victory for scientific, evidence-based decision-making”.
Although nonbinding, a call for nations to shut down their domestic ivory markets was supported at the 2016 IUCN World Congress and endorsed by Cites weeks later.
But unlike the US and China, which are actively shutting down ivory retail, SA ignored the recommendation…
“Drastic measures need to be employed [to combat poaching]. SA cannot wait until the crisis hits and adopt knee-jerk reactive responses,” says the Africa executive director for the Humane Society International, Audrey Delsink.
I don’t claim to be an expert on the way forward when it comes to conservation, and there is evidence to suggest that practices like controlled hunting of captive-bred animals can raise funds that help protect the future of these species, but conservationists seem less than impressed with the decisions coming from Edna Molewa.
Given our politicians’ propensity for dropping the ball on just about every front, I’m inclined to be a little worried.
Oh, a quick look at a recent opinion piece she wrote on BD Live, just so you know who butters her bread:
Were a casual observer to hear what is being said in the media about our democratically elected government and democratically elected president, they could be forgiven for thinking we are in an Orwellian dystopia at best, and, at worst, a dictatorship.
The reality is that we are living in a modern, functional state with strong institutions, a transparent and accountable government, a free and vibrant civil society and media and an independent judiciary. Most importantly, we are living in a country in which the law reigns, with a Constitution that provides checks and balances and holds the executive to account…
It remains to be seen whether the vanguard of the new movements that are popping up, such as the so-called Black Monday, will be the people of SA of all races and social classes, or the skimpy numbers the DA strings together for its now regular #ZumaMustFall events.
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