BY DON PINNOCK - 16TH NOVEMBER 2021 - DAILY MAVERICK
Last month, with little publicity, the Department of Environmental Affairs gave the public 30 days to object to or comment on its proposed hunting and export quotas for elephant, black rhino and leopard hunting trophies. It turns out to be the mere tip of a hunting iceberg.
Proposals to licence the hunting of 150 elephants, 10 black rhinos and 10 leopards have raised objections from environmental NGOs who slammed the environment department (DFFE) for expecting public comment on the basis of a two-page notice with no supporting information.
Elephants are listed by the IUCN Red Data Book as endangered, black rhinos as critically endangered and leopards as vulnerable.
“The Draft Quota,” says the EMS Foundation, “contains no information in relation to how the quotas have been determined, other than stating the quotas for leopard and black rhino are proposed ‘as per the recommendations of the Scientific Authority’. [It] cannot be finalised and any final decision made in the absence of providing the public with the information on which the proposed quotas are based is flawed.”
The call for public discussion on the hunting quotas of three iconic species ignores the recommendations of a High-Level Panel policy paper which is currently under review on the welfare and use of those three species, as well as lions. Setting quotas before the High-Level Panel process is finalised not only preempts, but actually undermines the ultimate recommendations of the DFFE’s own Draft Policy position.
“The quotas are arbitrary and not rationally connected to the information before the department,” said Michele Pickover of EMS.
Humane Society International-Africa and EMS have called on the DFFE to withdraw the draft quota until it can put in place a procedurally fair process which includes publication of all the scientific and policy information on which the quotas were determined.
The quota, says EMS, appears to have been determined without taking relevant information into account and is “irrational and arbitrary”.
The setting of trophy hunting quotas for leopard, black rhino or elephant are therefore unsupportable, it argues. The NGOs also noted a number of fundamental procedural and legal flaws in the process for proposing the quotas.
Here’s the puzzle. The proposed quotas are specifically for the calendar year 2021, which is nearly over. And public inputs still have to be assessed. But throughout this year, elephants have already been extensively hunted. So we’re effectively talking about a quota set in, at best, December, for December. Will the decision be retrospective in order to regularize hunts that have already taken place, or are quotas going to be rolled forward into 2022?