Trophy hunting of rhino, leopards and elephants halted by court interdict (South Africa)


Dave Chambers, Times Live

Date Published
Humane Society International/Africa (HSI/Africa), which went to court after forestry, fisheries and environment minister Barbara Creecy earmarked 10 leopards, 10 black rhino and 150 elephants for trophy hunters in 2022, said final judgment was expected in two weeks.

Under the interim interdict, Creecy must make public all the information she used in coming to her decision.

Tony Gerrans, executive director of HSI/Africa, said the animal protection organisation would review the documentation before making its final arguments.

In its application for an interim interdict, the organisation said Creecy did not comply with the consultative process prescribed by the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act before making her decision, which meant it was invalid and unlawful.

In a statement on February 25 announcing the 2022 quotas, the forestry, fisheries and environment department said: “Regulated and sustainable hunting is an important conservation tool in SA as it incentivises 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.

“Income generated by trophy hunting is especially critical for marginalised and impoverished rural communities.”

HSI/Africa said its latest “Trophy Hunting by the Numbers” report contradicts this, finding 83% of trophies exported from SA are from captive-bred animals, non-native species or species such as caracal, baboons and honey badgers that are not subject to scientific management plans.

“Hunting animals in these circumstances cannot be understood to advance the conservation of biodiversity,” it said.

Gerrans said the economic and conservation benefits of trophy hunting are “materially overstated”, adding: “It is not true to assert that without trophy hunting revenues, conservation in SA would be unfunded.

“More beneficial, transformational long-term alternatives to the killing of threatened, vulnerable and endangered animals for fun already exist.

“Everyone has the right to have the environment protected for the benefit of present and future generations, through reasonable legislative and other measures that promote conservation.”

Wildlife Ranching SA, which represents the hunting industry, described the court’s interim interdict as “shocking”.

“Where people have heavily invested and taken the trouble to protect and breed any species, there is no valid reason to interfere with the harvesting of them, especially if that’s done sustainably,” it said.

“SA is one of many countries that implement a sustainable offtake of elephants, black rhino and leopard. This is aligned with the best available scientific information on their conservation status and ensures hunting of these animals does not have a negative impact on the wild populations of these species.

“Research has found trophy hunting creates economic incentives that promote conservation. Trophy hunting also provides a useful wildlife management tool and is used to remove (mostly) excess males from a population, while revenue is generated at the same time to cover the costs of conservation efforts.”