Biodiversity Colloquium; with Minister

Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment

27 February 2018
Chairperson: Mr M Mapulane (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Chairperson said the rationale for this colloquium was to home in on the value of a segment of South Africa’s wildlife economy. The theme was structured to address both consumptive and non-consumptive uses of wildlife against the background of existing government policy and legislative frameworks.

The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) described the value of the wildlife sector to the economy, but cautioned that the area of policy could be an enabler as well as an inhibitor if it was not coordinated properly. They therefore clarified the pieces of legislations governing the sector, and said the aspiration of the DEA was to promote an inclusive, sustainable and responsive wildlife economy.

SANParks’ Wildlife Economy Programme was defined by two options: the wildlife donation and the wildlife loan. The wildlife donation offered the opportunity for local communities to own game and to participate in the wildlife economy centred on game farming activities relating to the stocking, breeding, trading and related eco-tourism activities. The wildlife loan served to assist emerging game farmers to develop the skills and capacity to enter into and play a meaningful role in the wildlife economy.

One of the key issues to emerge was the meaning and contestation around the concept of ‘sustainable use.’ Another concern that was raised was that one of the big problems when a colloquium like this was hosted, it needed to be well balanced. Apart from government, the rest of the panellists were pro-wildlife economy through hunting. A further query was whether there were areas of conflict in terms of the law when it came to the respective jurisdictions of the DEA and DAFF.

It was agreed that the Committee was highly cognisant of the raging debate around some of the issues regarding South Africa’s policy approach to the sustainable use of its natural resources, such as captive lion breeding. The Minister affirmed that the South African Constitution did deal with the right to the use of natural resources, while promoting justifiable economic and social development.

A panel discussion on the wildlife economy consisted of five presentations. Tshwane University of Technology put forward the rationale for a Wildlife Biological Resources and Training Centre, where the emphasis was on up-to-date support in genetic analysis and the breeding of high-value wildlife species.

The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) said that the wildlife ranching/game farming sector was a positive and growing agricultural industry which generated much needed foreign revenue and interest, created sustainable jobs, provided food, revitalised declining rural areas and contributed towards sustainable natural resource management.

Wildlife Ranching South Africa emphasised that creating a wave of growth and prosperity in the wildlife industry would require leveraging the country’s unique natural strengths for the benefit of all South Africans, as well as the will and desire of both industry and government.

The SA Hunters and Game Conservation Association said that in the absence of well-regulated hunting, income to communities was reduced, while food security, the viability of ranch lands and the incentive for conservation decreased. Photographic tourism was not always suitable, as its footprint much bigger than hunting, and this also had an impact upon the government’s to target of combining economic development and conservation.

The Exotic Leather Cluster said that their international initiatives included focusing and promoting the the South African crocodile industry through the development and promotion of good practices. South Africa was the world’s second largest exporter of Nile crocodile skins. There were 85 crocodile farms, employing and estimated 3 000 workers. South Africa was still the world leader in the ostrich Industry with a more than 75% market share.

The Black Business Council briefed the Committee on wildlife meat consumption, its role in food security and the implications for conservation. A lack of capital, farming skills and post settlement support had led to many community farming projects ending up collapsing. The red meat industry of South Africa was worth R79 billion per annum, and black people were not participating. Land expropriation without compensation was now government policy, and a million agricultural jobs had been targeted by President Ramaphosa.

The Matsila Community Development Trust said the wildlife industry was part of a multibillion biodiversity conservation sector in which the economy remained in the hands of the white minority. The DEA had renewed the interest of the black majority to be active role players in this industry. Transformation challenges, such as the lack of finance and qualified personnel, inadequate infrastructure such as game holding facilities, including fencing and tourism facilities, would now be addressed. SANParks had commenced with a ground-breaking programme to donate wild species of high commercial value, such as buffaloes, to deserving communities and black businesses.

A spokesperson for Outraged SA Citizens Against Poaching (OSCAP) questioned some of the statistics which had been put forward in the presentations.

A sustainable tourism consultant said she was concerned with the very one-sided views that had been presented. The only non-conservative wildlife presentation that they were supposed to have had, had been changed into a sales pitch and self-promotion, and several presentations had been purely agricultural and had not dealt with environmental affairs.

The Chairperson responded that he had been going out of his way to allow differing views to be expressed, and felt that the criticism was unjustified. The Colloquium had been very successful, as it had brought to light the issues that needed to be debated.

Meeting report

Opening Remarks by Chairperson

The Chairperson welcomed everyone -- the invited guests, Parliamentary and department officials, and visitors -- to the meeting. This colloquium was the seventh. South Africa had a varied array of life-forms. This remarkable richness of biodiversity was as result of a mix of tropical and temperate climates and habitats occurring in the country. Our country was considered one of the world’s few mega-diverse countries and, as such, carried a special global responsibility as a custodian of this rich biodiversity. It was the third most bio-diverse country in the world. This was a fact that all South African should be proud of. Of the 195 countries in the world, 17 fell under the label of mega-diverse. These countries cover only 10% of the world’s area, but they contain nearly 70%% of the planet’s wealth and wonder, measured by the sheer number of species. South Africa was in this group, not by the size of our country, but by the variety and complexity of our biodiversity and natural resources. South Africa was the only country that contains a complete biological kingdom called the Cape Floristic Kingdom. While occupying only 2% of the global land size, South Africa contains about 10% of the world’s plants, 7% of the world’s reptiles, birds and mammals, and 15% of low-coastal marine species. Although we do not know the total economic value of these resources, as the prevailing economic models do not capture their true worth, we could comfortably state that our country was richly endowed with biodiversity. However, for the purposes of this colloquium, the Committee had chosen to focus on the value of a segment of South Africa’s biodiversity asset, called the Wildlife Economy. The theme of Wildlife Economy was structured to address both consumptive and non-consumptive uses of wildlife against the background of existing policy and legislative frameworks.

South Africa remained blessed with abundant wildlife thanks to the foresight of conservationists, past and present. Despite the progress that had been made in the conservation space, largely due to the declaration of areas as protected areas, this success had not always benefited the majority of the South African people, especially those who live close to the parks. This was in view of a history of displacement and dispossession that accompanied the establishment and proclamation of the protected areas. What had been institutionalised for several decades could not be undone by two decades of hard work, commitment and dedication. The people of South Africa need to be taken on board so that where no progress was made, they could understand why things were the way they were. South Africa needed to invest in tis stakeholder relationship, more so in the South African people who were key partners. There was a great sense of urgency for South Africa to contextualise its conservation initiatives, created by and for the people. Those bordering the national parks had to have a sense of ownership of the resources contained in the national parks. This was also applicable to other forms of protected areas -- for example, private game reserves. A fundamental shift was needed not only in thinking, but also in practice, to bring about significant advantages for national parks and communities alike, as it broadened up the stakeholder and ownership base of protected areas. It was in this context that the transformation of the wildlife enterprise was an important question to be addressed in the colloquium. It was also applicable to South Africa’s broader task to radically transform its economic landscape for the benefit of the majority of South Africans.

The Chairperson acknowledged the presence of two chiefs. It was inspiring to see chiefs leading grassroots activism to transform the wildlife economy. This was very significant, as South Africa was witnessing a growing trend in the commercialisation of indigenous wild animals and a market-base model for conservation, which was turning wild animals into commodities to be raised, hunted, bought and sold as property. South Africa was the home of some of the most famous mammals, particularly the Big Five. The Big Five occupied a very special place among South Africa’s mammals, particularly for tourists who visit the protected areas. Based on a recent study, tourists visiting the Kruger National Park were prepared to pay more than R3 500 to see the Big Five: If the average lifespan of a leopard was 15 years and it was viewed by 5 000 tourists per year, the leopard’s value was in the region of R85 million. The non-consumptive value of the Big Five exceeded their consumptive value. In other words, these iconic animals were worth more alive than if they were dead.

Tourism was an engine of growth and development of countries. The establishment of private game reserves was encouraged by all provincial nature conservation agencies, all of whom had been invited to the colloquium. It was good to see that many nature conservation areas had developed a strong social ecology through programmes aimed at improving the standard of living of communities which neighbour the wildlife parks. Training and skills development also contributed to capacity building. The private sector makes an invaluable contribution to biodiversity conservation and must be affirmed. The Committee was highly cognisant of the raging debates around some of the issues regarding South Africa’s policy approach to the sustainable use of its natural resources -- for example, captive lion breeding. Discussion around this subject was welcomed.

The Chairperson encouraged all the stakeholders to engage in constructive discussion, all of which was aimed at moving South Africa forward.

Ms Edna Molewa, Minister of Environmental Affairs, would not be giving the keynote address as planned, due to unforeseen flight delays.      

Biodiversity Economy (Wildlife): Presentation

Mr Shonisani Munzhedzi, Deputy Director-General (DDG): Biodiversity and Conservation, Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), acknowledged the importance of today’s meeting, more so at this time when the issue of sustainable use was contested domestically and internationally. This had implications for trading and related aspects. South Africa had a lot to offer. As it was the third most diverse country in the world in terms of biodiversity, this placed a lot of responsibility on South Africa, especially because the Constitution underscores sustainable utilisation. The balance between economic, social and ecological matters becomes very important. Compared to other countries which allow only for non-consumptive uses of natural resources, South Africa had adopted the approach that its resources could be used sustainably without impacting on the species in the wild. This path came with its own responsibilities and critiques.

South Africa had to contribute to the conservation of wildlife, but also to socio-economic improvements. Within the context of its wildlife, the DEA had identified a number of challenges that were key if growth and transformation were to be ensured. These were land, infrastructure, new entrants into the wildlife space, governance, technical skills, access to finance, aspects associated with game meat and animal health, ecological aspects, interdepartmental coordination, standards and incentives, permitting, the legislative regime and general aspects of capacity.

Context and opportunity

Mr Munzhedzi said that South Africa’s total surface area was 121.3 million ha, of which 37.9 million ha (31%) was not suitable for agriculture/ranching. Wildlife ranching occupied 18.7 million ha (15.3%) of the total surface area. This had the potential to grow due to, among others, the changing climate.

The wildlife sector comprised three sub-sectors. These were:

  • Wildlife ranching: (primary activities: breeding and live sale; secondary activities: live captures, translocation services, veterinary services, fencing and maintenance;
  • Wildlife activities: (primary activities: wildlife viewing, trophy hunting and biltong hunting; secondary activities: accommodation, transport, equipment and supplies (arms, ammunition etc.) and taxidermy);
  • Wildlife products (primary activities: game meat processing, skin and hide production other products (e.g. curios and decorations); secondary activities: packaging and transportation). (See slide 5).

While the total revenue from hunting amounted to R10.1 billion, between 60-70% of the value of the hunting sector came from ancillary goods and services (See slide 6).  

There was a wide variety of wildlife products that could be produced and promoted, including products from bone, skin, horn, animal hides and game meat (See slide 8).

Wildlife Economy  

Mr Munzhedzi said the Wildlife Economy was the economy that drives rural development and prosperity through the sustainable use of wildlife assets, the socio-economic benefits of ecotourism, co-managed conservation areas and related ancillary services to protected areas, including the processing of such resources into secondary products that were consumed and traded domestically and internationally. Its outputs were linked to Outcome 7, which speaks of creating “vibrant, equitable and sustainable rural communities and food security for all”. It was further linked to Government’s nine-point plan, which address the revitalisation of agriculture and the agro-processing value chain, unlocking the potential of small, micro and medium enterprises (SMMEs), cooperatives and township enterprises, encouraging private sector investment and Operation Phakisa.   

Status of wildlife production units in different provinces

Mr Munzhedzi referred the gathering to a table indicating the status of wildlife production units in different provinces (See slide 10). Commercial/private wildlife ranches cover 16.8% of the country's landmass, amounting to approximately 20.5 million hectares. There were more than 9 000 commercial/private wildlife ranches, with Limpopo Province having 50%, the Northern Cape 20%, the Eastern Cape 12%, and the other provinces the remaining 18 % of the ranches.

Value of the wildlife sector

Mr Munzhedzi unpacked the value of the wildlife sector in the Economy. From the perspective of wildlife ranching, live sale auctions had contributed R1.7 billion to the economy in the year 2016. With respect to wildlife activities, in 2013, 9 000 international hunters had visited the country. On overage they made one visit to SA per year, spending between 10 and 21 days, mainly for trophies. They came mainly from the United States, Spain, Denmark, Sweden and Germany. Trophy hunting had contributed R1.7 billion to the economy in the year 2015. In the same year, 200 000 biltong hunters had been recorded, hunting three times a year on average for about four days. Consumptive hunting contributed R8.6 billion into the economy in 2015, representing a 35% growth from 2013. The wildlife products sub-sector contributed R4.5 billion to the gross domestic product (GDP) in the year 2014. Significantly, the sector also had aspects of tourism, thus its GDP contribution was currently measured under the agriculture and tourism sector.

Mr Munzhedzi also referred to the average auction price of game ranching/farming in 2015 (See slide 12), the top 10 trophy hunting species (See slide 13), and the top 10 biltong hunting species (See slide 14).

He cautioned that the area of policy could be an enabler as well as an inhibitor if it was not coordinated properly. He clarified the pieces of legislation governing the sector (See slide 15).

Indicating the potential of the wildlife industry, he said that while Western Europe consumes more than 100 000 tons of game-meat venison per year, South Africa exported only 600 to 2 000 tons per year, valued at R60 to R200 million, while New Zealand exported 40 000 tons per year, valued at approximately R4 billion. The world supply of venison was still short of 60 000 tons.

South Africa’s challenges

Poverty, unemployment, inequality and economic growth were key challenges confronting South Africa. Job creation was very important. The DEA had conducted what was called a biodiversity lab, the findings and plans of which had been published.

Mr Munzhedzi gave a breakdown of the skills required to support the sector. For wild life ranching, technical skills in wildlife management, record keeping, financial management, human resource management, marketing, and environmental management were among the required management skills. For wildlife activities, the training of professional hunters and outfitters, trackers and skinners were required for hunting skills, while for hospitality -- focusing on visitor management, the administration, maintenance and catering needs of lodges and other tourism facilities -- were the necessary skills required. Skin and hide production in the capacity as taxidermists were also important skills. For wildlife products, key aspects were meat processing, focusing on the skills and qualifications necessary to manage and operate an abattoir and butchery, including meat handling, inspection and butchery skills. The processing of skins and hides for clothing, textiles, leather and footwear, and the production of curios and decorations, were other important skills.  

Involving rural communities

Mr Xola Mkefe, Deputy Director-General: DEA, said the aspiration of the Department was to promote an inclusive, sustainable and responsive wildlife economy that grows at 10% a year until at least 2030, while providing a foundation for social well-being and maintaining an ecological resource base. The objectives, in terms of economic growth, were to achieve an average yearly sector GDP increase of around 10% and to create 100 000 new jobs. From the perspective of transformation, it was the aim of the sector for 30% of wildlife businesses to be owned by previously disadvantaged individuals (PDIs); for there to be PDI ownership of more than 5 million ha, and access to another 5 million ha; and for 4 000 PDI-owned SMMEs to be supported to engage in the wildlife economy. With regard to sustainability, the goal was for 5 million ha of non-protected areas to contribute towards the Aichi conservation target, and to achieve a 3.5% animal population net growth per annum.

Wildlife Economy Lab’s initiatives and recommendations

Mr Mkefe briefly unpacked the DEA’s 15 initiatives and 6 recommendations, based on the findings of the Wildlife Economy Lab (See slide 21). These initiatives could transform the industry. Firstly, there had been an audit which looked at alternative land uses, and prioritised land for the Wildlife Economy where there were no conflicts. The DEA had gone further to look at the biodiversity economy nodes. It was difficult as a game farmer to work in isolation (See slides 22 and 23). Secondly, by 2021, 110 processing facilities would create 2 500 jobs and generate about R1.6 billion in revenue. The aim was to produce 18 500 tons of meat. Interventions were in place to ensure that South Africa moved from the current 600 to 2 000 tons per year.

The new Wildlife Economy Support Programme (WESP) would harness and coordinate existing support mechanisms to empower new entrants into the industry (See slide 25), which would include various national departments -- Rural Development and Land Reform, Environmental Affairs, Trade and Industry, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries -- and public entities such as SANParks, provincial authorities and the private sector.

The first initiative, to identify and prioritize 10m ha for transformation of the wildlife economy, had led to 408 420.8 ha of game farms, and 670 299.04 ha of nature reserve to be identified out of a total of 1 078 720.2 ha so far. The second initiative, to establish, develop and support new wildlife ranching entrants through infrastructure support and game donation programmes, had enabled R66.6 million of government investment, R136 million of private investment, and R48.8 million of private funding pending from the Jobs Fund, with a total of 782 jobs created and 768 game donated. The third initiative, to increase capacity and support for at least 300 community property associations (CPAs), trusts and traditional authorities, had led training workshops held by 30 CPAs. The fourth initiative, to create supply-chain linkages and capacitate 4 000 new and existing SMMEs to locally capture the value of ancillary goods and services to the wildlife economy, had facilitated market access for SMMEs. The fifth initiative had been to operationalise 11 biodiversity economy nodes (BENs), and 17 BENs had been confirmed thus far (See slide 31). Under the sixth initiative, to empower 4 000 emerging entrepreneurs and farmers through focused capacity-building programmes, training had already been implemented under the youth conservation programme (See slide 32). In the seventh initiative, to formalise the SA game meat market and create a network of game meat processing facilities, the DEA was working closely with the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) to achieve this objective.

Wildlife Economy Pilot Projects

Mr Mfeke said the Mayibuye Game Reserve in Limpopo Province had 2 500 beneficiaries, a R10 million government investment, R100 million in private sector funding, and 76 people trained. The Double Drift Nature Reserve in the Eastern Cape had 1 500 beneficiaries, a R6.6 million government investment, and 86 people trained. Sepelong Game Reserve in the Free State had one beneficiary, a R6.6 million government investment, and 86 people trained. Leshiba Game Reserve in Limpopo Province had 300 beneficiaries, a R10 million government investment, and 81 people trained. Balepye Game Reserve in Limpopo Province had 3 000 beneficiaries, a R10 million government investment, and 115 people trained.  

He also gave a breakdown of the progress made by the Mabaleng Conservancy (See slide 41) and the Bedvula and Gidjana communal land/KNP Project (See slide 42), both of which were in Limpopo Province.  

Possible areas for input/discussion

Mr Munzhedzi concluded by raising possible areas for input and discussion, such as:

  • Transformation (context modalities, extent, scope and orientation);
  • New entrants (support mechanisms, barriers to entry, sustainability, capacity, training and incubation and strategic partnerships):
  • Land (ownership, availability, restitution and distribution and land use models);
  • Beneficiation and shareholding (value chain activities, concessions);
  • Community versus commercial dynamics (common property resource, entrepreneurship and individuals businesses within communities);
  • Trade: local, regional and international (barriers and opportunities);
  • People and parks (co-management and beneficiation; dignity),
  • Sustainability (evidence based/science, ecological management; economic, social and ecological sustainability; and
  • Benefit sharing models (equity, redress etc.)

DEA’s conservation role

Ms Nosipho Ngcaba, Director-General: DEA, explained how the Department perceived the work of conservation within the context of advancing the Wildlife Economy.

Firstly, why was the DEA interested in game farming activities? There was a great demand for use of land in protected areas. Part of those pressures had to be anticipated and used as opportunities to enable the fulfilment of livelihoods and land access, due to South Africa’s history of exclusion and land removals. When it came to land management, the question remained as to what the opportunities were for the DEA to still continue its conservation activities within both national and provincial protected areas. The wildlife industry presented an opportunity to make such a contribution, in particular with regard to the need to reduce the uptake of animals directly from protected areas. It may also contribute positively to reducing wildlife crime.

While there were debates which would remain unresolved, it was therefore important to determine the value-chains which could be supported by the DEA in that respect. Most of the game farming activities were regulated, but particularly by the DAFF. The DEA had lost a court case in terms of overreach of its regulatory powers in respect of animal welfare activities. Therefore, it relied on the DAFF, including on matters of animal improvement, animal disease control and some of the various provincial ordinances. The main interest of the DEA was responsible management of the wildlife industry and to ensure that its plans were geared towards avoidance in areas where there were game farming activities that included genetic wildlife manipulation.

The productive use of land was the critical matter. In the context of drought and change in climate, some of the land areas that were degraded -- which had even been agricultural land for producing crops – could no longer be used for crop production. The opportunity existed to look at these land parcels and deal with South Africa’s challenges of land redistribution, especially for communities along protected areas, to make sure that they were empowered and benefited from the programme. The DEA was determined to turn around the sector by being active in facilitating partnerships with communities along protected areas, especially in terms of those communities being able to access land; working with traditional authorities and leaders in rural areas; and also making interventions through clearing invasive species, which would improve the productive potential of the land as well enhance the wildlife economy. The DEA had a role to play both in facilitating as well as promoting responsible wildlife management.

Minister Molewa was welcomed to the meeting. The Chairperson said provision had been made for an input from the Minister, but the colloquium had had to proceed. He suggested that that input would be received before there were questions from the gathering.

The Minister said the Director General had given an adequate introduction, and she would give an input when there were elements that had to be included. The DEA saw this as a growing initiative that had to continually be improved. Internationally, there was a missing pillar -- the sustainable livelihoods of people living in and around protected areas. The DEA thought that it should begin to move forward with the world in providing some of the answers to these very serious challenges of attending to the needs of the very poor people who lived in and around the protected areas. This was the context of the role of the DEA. There was a need to begin implementing, so that those communities would begin to have at least some decent lives. If South Africa managed this, it would be one of trailblazers worldwide.

The Chairperson affirmed that the Committee was happy that the Minster could make it.    

Implementation of Wildlife Economy by SANParks

Mr Fundisile Mketeni, Chief Executive Officer: SANParks, said SANParks had been invited to brief the Committee on what it was doing practically in this exciting programme. It was a state entity with a mandate of managing the system of national parks. This programme fitted very well in terms of managing that system.

SANParks recognised the history of national parks as islands of privilege for the elite, despite high poverty levels in communities that surrounded them. Despite this, national parks had been, by virtue of their existence, catalysts for rural and local economic development through the creation of jobs and by anchoring tourism. Recently, SANParks had redefined its five-year strategy to focus on socio-economic development as one of its strategic pillars, along with conservation and tourism. The Wildlife Economy Programme was one of the mechanisms SANParks used to contribute to socio-economic development.

SANParks contributed to the implementation of the DEA’s wildlife economy expansion empowerment and development programme. One of the specific objectives of the programme was growth, fair access and the equitable sharing of benefits arising from the wildlife economy. SANParks’ Wildlife Economy Programme was informed by this government-driven process towards the transformation of the wildlife economy in South Africa.

The socio-economic development pillar had a number of programmes to maximise benefits to surrounding communities. However, SANParks alone could not solve all the challenges in the communities that surrounded national parks. A cooperative approach was needed that involved multiple departments, the three tiers of government and public-private partnerships.

Green (Wildlife Economy) Programme

Mr Mketeni indicated that SANParks had made a pledge in October 2015 at the Biodiversity Economy Indaba to make over 500 head of game, worth approximately R10m, available over three years to communities adjacent to national parks. Its Wildlife Economy Programme was defined by two options: the wildlife donation and the wildlife loan. The wildlife donation offered the opportunity for local communities to own game and to participate in the wildlife economy centred on game farming activities relating to the stocking, breeding, trading and related eco-tourism activities. The wildlife loan served to assist emerging game farmers to develop the skills and capacity to enter into and play a meaningful role in the wildlife economy. Recipients entered into an agreement with SANParks either to return loaned animals after an agreed period of time, or donate an agreed number of animals, at SANParks’ discretion, to future applicants.

A governance process guided the implementation of the wildlife loan and donation. Firstly, an opportunity was identified once a request was received from a recipient. Secondly, there was a check for mandatory requirements. Thirdly, there was a technical review by a steering committee and referral for a feasibility assessment. Fourthly, a feasibility test was conducted through a site visit inspection by a specialist team. Fifthly, an integrated recommendation was generated. Sixthly, there was an official approval and signing of agreement. Finally, the agreement was implemented by way of planning, translocation and monitoring.

Mr Mketeni explained the table on the donations which had been awarded to the Khomani San, Mashishimale Village, and Matsila Village (See slide 8). Having inspected the facilities, SANParks had decided to contribute to their efforts. It had set aside batches of animals to serve emerging game farmers. Furthermore, feasibility studies had been conducted in respect of a number of community properties, including Bevhula/Gidjana adjacent to the Kruger National Park (KNP), Riemvasmaak adjacent to Augrabies Falls National Park (NP), Enon/Besheba adjacent to Addo, and Baphalane and Matlabatsi adjacent to Marakele.

The Kruger National Park served as a key source for several wildlife initiatives in support of communities during hardship times, such as drought, with the removal of animals for meat distribution to disadvantaged, low income communities on the border of the KNP; to the National School Feeding Scheme for primary schools, by supplementing protein in the form of game meat products like biltong; to developing community entrepreneurial businesses/value added chains; and to KNP staff at a reduced cost.

SANParks Wildlife Economy support given in respect of a number of aspects to communities included game breeding, hunting and wildlife-based ecotourism. While hunting did not take place in national parks, permits were issued by provincial authorities for hunting in areas adjacent to national parks where there was an open border with the national park. Hunting as a viable form of income generation was supported in the Makuleke and Makuya areas adjacent to and open to the KNP. Ecotourism support had been implemented through a number of initiatives, including the development of the Aoub Lodge in Kgalagadi and the Lendlovu Lodge in Addo.

Wildlife Loan Initiative

Mr Mketeni said that the SANParks Wildlife Loan Initiative had been publicised in national newspapers, as well as on the SANParks website. The process which was followed had the aim of supplying founder herds to applicants and raising awareness for conservation, protected area management and sustainable utilisation principles in the wildlife industry. Recipients were either to return the loaned animals after an agreed period of time or SANParks donated an agreed number of off-spring. So far, 68 applications had been received, but only 42 were eligible and considered for evaluation. Twelve applicants had been recommended for a site visit inspection.

Applications were assessed for functionality in accordance with eight categories. These included property, wildlife distribution, habitant suitability, wildlife management history, legal history, security management, governance and business forecasting. Background checks were also done on the applicant’s credentials, business credentials, criminal record, commercial record, personal information, past employment and credit history. As a result of the inspections, nine applicants had been recommended for a wildlife loan from SANParks. Of the 5 213 head of game (25 species) requested by applicants, SANParks had allocated 941 animals (eight species). It had allocated 941 head of game for Window 1, with an estimated total value of R4.2 million. (See slide 17).

Mr Mketeni pointed out that instead of the 500 head of game for the Green (Wildlife Economy) Programme over three years, as pledged in 2015, SANParks had delivered on the allocation of 1 433 head of game with an estimated total value of R8.1 million. In the next medium term expenditure framework (MTEF) period, it had committed to donating 3 000 animals, and would double this if some of the proposals in support of the wildlife economy were considered favourably.

Looking at possible new ways of doing business, Mr Mketeni proposed that SANParks should manage farms for the breeding of disease-free animals, such as buffalos. It could raise sustainable stock of disease-free game to establish founder populations for emerging farmers in the wildlife economy. Secondly, there could be a national programme modelled after the DEA natural resource management programmes to create jobs for youths in nature conservation in partnership with the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR). The training and employment of youth as inspectors was a viable way forward. They could be trained in nature conservation, tourism and game farm management. Thirdly, the wildlife disease ‘red line’ could be moved by 50km west of the KNP so that animals from the park could be made available to the Wildlife Economy Programme. Fourthly, these programmes could contribute to the objectives stated by the President in his SONA, which listed tourism as one of the four pillars for economic growth, and prioritised addressing youth unemployment.

Mr Mketeni clarified the potential private sector contribution in terms of neighbour to neighbour mentoring, sharing of infrastructure and marketing support, and veterinary wildlife support (See slide 21).


The following challenges confronted the Wildlife Economy Programme:

  • The institutional governance structure of local communities;
  • Regulatory health restrictions relating to meat distribution;
  • ‘Fronting’ of loan requests for wildlife by individuals;
  • Unrealistic expectations/sense of entitlement by individuals or associations of individuals (e.g. SANParks supply animals perpetually);
  • A lack of technical and management skills for operating wildlife management entities/farms;
  • A lack of requisite infrastructure for keeping and managing wildlife (fences, water points, animal handling equipment);
  • A lack of adequate grazing land (farm size, veld type, grazing conditions) for the wildlife they often request;
  • Communities were biased towards charismatic species (e.g. buffalo); and
  • Wildlife disease challenges (TB in buffalo and rhino, distemper in wild dogs).


Wildlife Translocation Association

A participant from the Wildlife Translocation Association commented that the biggest problem it faced was not just transportation, but also the policy in which issues were dealt with at both a provincial and a national level. From a translocation point of view, this policy challenged the transformation agenda. Registrations had to happen with the Department, and the provincial department, which would like to see a transverse before admitting the applicant as a translocater. The problem involved why anyone should invest R2 million to R3 million in trucks, but would never get any work. Unless this system changed, the industry would not draw black people. There were only two black people who were translocators in the country.

In the past, SANParks had suggested that for transformation, people should be taken into the industry and be taught on the job. The speaker challenged SANParks to make a pledge in this regard and the Wildlife Translocation Association would work with SANParks to get black people into the translocation industry.

Sustainable Tourism

A participant from Sustainable Tourism asked SANParks why, if its mandate was conservation and species protection, wildlife were being donated or loaned – with a view to socio-economic development – to local communities for game-farming, and not the further development of eco-tourism initiatives? There were many community initiatives that were already there that could be expanded upon and new initiatives that could be created. This would fit much closer to SANParks’ mandate as a conservation authority.

Elizabeth Margaret Steyn (EMS) Foundation

The Director of the Elizabeth Margaret Steyn (EMS) Foundation highlighted that one of the big problems when a colloquium like this was hosted, was that it needed to be well balanced. Apart from government, the rest of the panellists were pro-wildlife economy through hunting. Another colloquium was needed where the alternative perspective came through more clearly and where there was more context in terms of ethical conservation, sustainable livelihoods through ethical tourism and conservation. This voice was being completely silenced in the context of the colloquium. The EMS Foundation had heard about the colloquium only on Saturday. There were many other people the Committee should be hearing from, and there was a risk that the Committee members were receiving a very one-sided, pro-hunting view of the wild-life economy. There were many other ways in which sustainable livelihood could be achieved without hunting.

There were concerns around how ‘sustainable’ use was being interpreted. It seemed from the discussions that government had put forward now, that their interpretation of ‘sustainable use’ was the only one. The meaning of this term was highly debated and contested. The Members would actually value another view. From the perspective of the EMS Foundation, the discussion had mostly been about money, and not about conservation. There was also no discussion about subjects, as if this was a Department of Agriculture meeting rather than one of environmental affairs. Who were these subjects which were being talked about? They were living beings. It was like slave-traders having a conversation about slavery. It was important that these ethical issues were raised, and not just talk about money. Building economies and creating sustainable livelihoods had to be done in an ethical way.

SANParks was asked whether the animals that were being donated, or loaned, were then hunted. A very good investigative piece had disclosed that rhinos that had been sold by SANParks, in the relocation process, were largely hunted. This industry needed to be unpacked. It was unacceptable and was killing the tourism industry. What South Africa was doing was stopping people from getting jobs if they supporting this industry.

Committee input

Mr R Purdon (DA), requested a breakdown of who was participating in the Wildlife Economy indaba. Regarding Sepelong game farm, which was 100% owned by a white owner, why had the government invested R6.6 million in one owner, and who was the beneficiary? He recommended that while there was discussion about pledges for game donations, a breakdown of the provinces and communities involved would need to be included in future presentations. As for the meat that was being donated to communities on the border of the KNP, how did one even begin to determine which communities got meat? There were many people who lived there, as it was a vast area, and what one did for one, one was obliged to do for another.

Mr Makhubele asked whether there were areas of conflict in terms of the law when it came to the respective jurisdictions of the DEA and DAFF. If so, had the respective departments managed to reconcile these differences? Was there a need for amendments in this regard that the Committee would need to be informed about? He recommended, there was a need, for the sake of transformation, for the departments to state whether or not there were targets and, if so, whether or not they were being met. He asked whether fences were being dropped for local communities and previously disadvantaged persons.

Mr Mabika said there were understandably processes which SANParks followed before a donation could be made to satisfy the necessary requirements. However, when a donation was given to someone who had met the requirements, why did the Department not return to those had failed to meet the requirements to uncover why, so as to assist them to meet the requirements in the future? Regarding the loaned animals, were there security measures to ensure that those who had been given the loan would be able to repay it? Moreover, what if those which had been loaned out had been eaten or killed by drought?

The Chairperson referred to the structure of the colloquium, and said the aim had always been to invite as many stakeholders as possible. The Committee aimed to have as exhaustive a list as possible of all the stakeholders, and had issued invitations to all of them. Stakeholders sometimes responded, at other times they did not. The Chairperson apologised that an invitation had not reached the EMS Foundation. The Committee did not have many resources, otherwise it would have advertised the colloquium in the newspapers. It would like to create a platform to debate these issues. It did not have an interest to side with any of the various perspectives that surrounded the issues. It was always its intentionto include in the programme those who were for and against, so that as many views as possible could be aired. The Committee was aware of the raging debates around the concept, and South Africa’s approach to the issue of ‘sustainable use.’ As yet, the Committee did not have a view as it had not sufficiently engaged with the matter. It accepted and respected the view that the government was pursuing. This type of forum would help the Committee to engage with the concept.

DEA’s comments

Mr Munzhedzi responded that the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA) that guided the work of DEA, was aligned with international agreements which South Africa had also signed, and addressed three key areas: conservation; sustainable use; and free and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the use of these resources. There was a need to understand the South African context. It was different from other countries such as Kenya, for example, which had a different system consisting of a migratory route that encompassed Tanzania. South Africa was not operating in such a system.

The history of conservation in South Africa had seen the establishment of SANParks off the backs of the blood and the sweat of the people who were staying there. The reality of the matter was that there were people who owned land that was also part of SANParks. More than a year ago, the President and the Ministers of Environmental Affairs and Rural Development had been there to deal with issues of land restitution. According to a Cabinet decision, the land remained under the custodianship and management of SANParks, yet the people who originally owned the land had to benefit. If the socio-economic problems in this context were not dealt with, a disaster was in store, which was against conservation at the end of the day.

In 2010, Zambia had had a shortage of elephants, and had requested from South Africa that its elephants be up-listed to Appendix One. The number of elephants had increased to 350 000. Zambia had returned to South Africa to say that it did not have the money to manage these assets. There was conflict within the wildlife system. Over the years, Zambia had experienced serious problems which had led to the loss of those species. The DEA was guided by the principle which said that whatever was done, it should not compromise the survival of the species in the wild. It followed scientific guidance and advice in this regard.

The Minister had been taken to court on a matter of animal welfare, which was imposing certain restrictions around lions. It was said that that the Biodiversity Act did not give the Minister jurisdiction on welfare issues. Hence, the issue of ‘well-being’ was part and parcel of the current amendments as well, in order to deal with some aspects associated with the ethical issues that had been raised.

The DEA takes the concern over the issue of genetics very seriously. With whatever activity happens, it aimed to address threats to the survival of species.

Regarding the respective jurisdictions of the DEA and DAFF, there were veterinary matters that had to be dealt with by the DAFF. There were also permitting issues that had to be coordinated between the two departments. There were issues around registration, some of which were within the exclusive ambit of the DAFF, and some where there had to be interaction between the two departments because they were part of the system of permitting.

There were many interpretations of the concept of ‘sustainable use,’ even at an international level. The DEA was very clear about what had to work for the context of South Africa. There were certain things that, if not done, could compromise conservation itself.

While the presentation had not gone into detail, there were targets associated with hectares of land, the ownership of game by PDIs, and the SMME support that was required. These targets were included in the annual performance plan (APP) as well. This was so that the DEA could measure how many hectares the DEA had committed to that would be associated with the wildlife economy, how many were PDI-owned, and the capacity, support and skills required.

There were different categories of plans, applicants and people who wanted to play a role in this sector, with each form presenting its own dynamics. Some came as individuals, and it was much easier to work with entrepreneurs who were involved in the business -- like conservation or wildlife ranching -- and the value chain associated with it, such as accommodation. There were people who were employed full-time, and their operations were working. There were people who came in as CPAs, for whom it was a very difficult space to operate, with its own dynamics. There were others who came in as partners and/or shareholders.

Mr Mkefe, concerning the query regarding the Sepelong Game Reserve, responded that the owner of was a Mr Victor Marumo. He was a beneficiary of the government’s land redistribution programme. The farm that he owned was leased by the government to ensure that the business was a success. The Department was therefore supporting him with fencing. He had invested a lot of his own money in the purchasing of game, drawing electricity to the farm and marketing. This had encouraged the DEA to assist him, and it would like to see him succeeding in this sector. There were 86 people currently working at the farm.

Mr Mketeni, in response to Mr Mabika, said SANParks could explore the possibility of expanding more broadly upon its mentoring initiative. Regarding donations, SANParks was not about wildlife only, but also about managing a system of national parks of which animals were only a part. Animals grew in national parks. Should these animals be allowed to die while tourists came and complained about the heaps and heaps of carcasses? As far as other initiatives apart from wildlife were concerned, last year in March Minister Molewa had addressed a Tourism Investment Summit of SANParks. Besides wildlife, there were separate workshops on tourism and enterprise opportunities in the business of SANParks. SANParks even demonstrated 54 in-tourism investments in national parks. These included science labs and community lodges. Therefore, the work of SANParks was not limited to wildlife donations. Its mandate was very expansive.

Regarding the hunting of animals that had been sold, SANParks had memorandums of understanding (MOUs) in place once animals had been sold.

While the Kruger National Park was linear shaped, animals were concentrated in different parts of it because they were crowded around water sources and harmed that particular environment. The interventions were normally in the area in question and, having intervened, SANParks started interacting with various forums outside the parks. However, since there were not many animals in the north of the Kruger National Park, the communities around there should benefit from something else. The forums were addressing these questions, for example, through the use of abattoirs, so that the meat could be transported. However, it had to be treated as a small enterprise at the end of the day. The comment was therefore noted.

Referring to the dropping of fences, he said SANParks wished that communities that were adjacent to the parks could start to enter into that type of business. For the time being, however, these very communities said that they could not drop their fences because of their cattle and vegetable crops. Over time, these communities would start appreciating dropping their fences and issues of land use compatibility.

SANParks did have security measures to ensure that those who were loaned animals paid back their loans. Those who loaned animals were people who were in business already. Therefore, there was an expectation that, once it had assessed the applicant for the loan, SANParks would check the criteria and feasibility of the applicant. This led to an agreement with each and every recipient of animals, with measures in place to sustain the investment.

The Chairperson asked Mr Mketeni to elaborate on Mr Makhubele’s concern about when a fence was dropped and the animals roamed from a protected area of the park, to where there was an area where hunting was permissible.

Mr Mketeni responded that historically, at the time of dropping the fences, there were animals on both sides. What SANParks did each and every year was a joint-area census. Therefore, hunting was informed by the available animals on the side where the hunting took place. At the moment, SANParks had started with the western boundary of the KNP, where quotas and types of animals were agreed upon with the land-owners. These landowners received permits issued by the province.

Ms Ngcaba, in response to Mr Purdon, answered that while a list of the participants at the Wildlife Economy Indaba would be forwarded to the Committee, she could advise that those taking part were government departments at the national, provincial and local levels, Environmental Affairs, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Rural Development, Tourism, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Economic Development and Small Business Development. From the academic sector, there were the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), the Agricultural Research Council (ARC), as an entity of the Department of Agriculture, the Southern African Wildlife College, the SA National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), the MRC, business, banks and other entrepreneurs.

The DEA took the point on how it could improve the presentation by including, in so far as pledges for game donations were concerned, a breakdown of which provinces and which communities were involved.

In response to the question as to why the DEA continued to support properties where animals were doing well, the presentation had provided a progress report as to where donations were being provided, based on the monitoring of DEA. It was not as if there was already progress. In these cases, animals were given, which were monitored. There was also an agreement with the landowners or communities on how the animals should be handled over time. There were cases where people had not done well. There would be mitigating factors for going back. 

Minister’s response

Minister Molewa said that the targets were determined upfront. If a target, for argument’s sake, was 1 000 animals and 400 had already been donated, what follows was an addition to the target in order to reach it. Those who were not doing well would receive additional attention to find out what the challenges were, and the DEA would even help those who were challenged so that people were treated equitably.

The lowering of fences was a matter where the DEA had flagged a policy gap. There was a case recently where buffalos had crossed on to privately owned land. According to the law, when animals had crossed on to privately owned land, they fell under the ownership of the owner of the land in question. There was a policy issue here. Lowering of fences could be agitated for, but how far should the DEA go? It could be that half of the park went into the privately-owned areas. Should conditions be stipulated? If so, how far should those conditions go? The National Environmental Management Laws Amendment (NEMLA) Bill process was dealing with this issue. A policy that clarified that part of the law was needed.

Touching on the question raised regarding transformation, the ‘9 plus 1’ policy was in recognition of the South African Constitution, which promoted a concurrent system of government. It was a very difficult thing to deal with, although it could be managed in a context where the provinces were the licensing authorities. The licensing process could be conducted in a synchronised manner when an authorisation was given.

Regarding the issue of ‘sustainable use,’ the matter that had been raised could not be resolved or debated successfully in the context of a colloquium. This colloquium had been called for something else. South Africa was yearning for a moment when the policy issue would be discussed. Policy flowed from the Constitution.

The Minister read the section of the Constitution which dealt with the rights to the environment, and continued that the Constitution did deal with the right to the use of natural resources, while promoting justifiable economic and social development. This was the basis for what the South African government was doing currently. For now, until it was changed, the Constitution was being implemented. What was important was to unpack what it meant to have ‘use’ of natural resources.

There were two kinds of uses in South Africa. There was a consumptive use and a non-consumptive use. It should not be argued that only one form of use should be allowed. ‘Sustainable use,’ therefore, had both a consumptive and non-consumptive component, which largely applied to tourism. The Kruger National Park, which covered about 2.2 million hectares alone, and 18 to 19 national parks, apart from the provincial parks, were all promoting non-consumptive use. This was because these parks did not allow hunting at all. Therefore, they were being used specifically for tourism. However, when there was consumptive use, it could not be said that it should not be done, because the South African Constitution allowed consumptive use within a justifiable regulatory framework.

The colloquium was appropriate in addressing the theme under discussion, but the matter at hand was a constitutional matter involving a debate about what South Africa must, or must not, do. The policy of South Africa allowed for both consumptive and non-consumptive uses of natural resources.

Ethical behaviour was extremely important for the DEA. None of the operators in the consumptive and non-consumptive uses must ever be allowed to practise unethical behaviour. Ethical behaviour related to how animals were hunted. The key question became: how does one classify unethical behaviour in terms of hunting? Consumptive use could not therefore be classified in its entirety as unethical use. Like in any other industry, there were terribly unscrupulous people. Lions that had been released into an open space could be hunted only after 24 months.

The courts, however, had taken the DEA to task because there was no policy provision which allowed it to enforce the welfare of these animals. There was a need to deal with these legislative issues. For the time being, the DAFF was handling this matter for the DEA, so that it could prevent some of these malpractices. Through the NEMLA and the Threatened and Protected Species (TOPS) regulations, there were amendments under way to fill this gap. Provision would be made for welfare in the laws, so that these types of episodes could be dealt with in the wild. For example, Section 19 of the TOPS regulations prohibited canned lion hunting. In South Africa, these sets of regulations were not being recognised by those who worked with the DEA. The “Eleventh Commandment” -- thou shall not get caught -- often applied. However, the DEA was determined to catch those who did break the law. There was a need for policy change in South Africa, which required its own debate.

The Chairperson thanked everyone for a comprehensive response to the issues. This had helped to deepen the debate around all of the issues, particularly around ‘sustainable use.’ There was a need to create another platform where there could be a debate to clarify South Africa’s position around this issue, which was anchored upon what the Constitution prescribed. There were ethical issues which the participants had raised, where there had been exaggeration. Matters had to be raised in their proper context, because there were the TOPS regulations which the DEA was implementing, which did not allow practices like canned lion hunting to happen.

Wildlife Biological Resources and Training Centre (WBRTC): Proposal

Dr Tshifhiwa Nangammbi, Department of Nature Conservation, Tshwane University of Technology, described the background to the Wildlife Biological Resources and Training Centre (WBRTC). Among other things, the surface area under conservation included the official protected area, which comprised 6.1%, while private game ranches encompassed 16% (20.5 million ha). The total number of game ranches had increased from 9 000 to 12 000, with 6 330 exempted game ranches in South Africa, according to the National Agricultural Marketing Council, 2006. 89 of the exempted game ranches were in Gauteng, according to Reilly et al, 2003.

Dr Nangammbi pointed out some of the key facts about the game ranching industry in SA. In respect of private game farm conservation, there were more game animals in SA today than at any time since 1950. This had made a massive contribution to protecting threatened species, such as rhino (40% on private land), sable antelope (90%), disease-free buffalo (90%, totalling 60 000), and roan antelope (more than 90%, and totalling 2 500). This had led to the conversion of more than 28 million ha from marginal agricultural land to a sustainable green economy

Why was the Wildlife Biological Resource and Training Centre important? When she looked at the entire wildlife programme, she had noticed that there was an increase in demand from the game ranching industry for up-to-date support in genetic analysis. There was also a massive increase in illegal wildlife trade and an increased demand for forensic investigations – for example, a rhino DNA indexing system. There was also an increase in demand for the securing of samples derived from high-value animals, and a great demand for the breeding of high-value wildlife species. From an academic perspective, there was increasing demand for trained personnel in the fields of bio-banking, DNA profiling and reproductive biotechnology, aimed at students and field rangers. This would help in terms of employment opportunities.

Dr Nangammbi said the aims of the proposed project were to save, bank and use reproductive tissue and DNA from high-value wildlife species as a service to the fast expanding wildlife industry in South Africa, by:

  • Saving sperm, embryos and DNA from live or recently dead high-value animals. High-value game animals included sable antelope, buffalo, rhinoceros, roan antelope, white-flanked impala, black impala, and golden wildebeest;
  • Maintaining tissue in a ‘live’ state in the bio-bank, with liquid nitrogen refrigerators, for use now and into the future;
  • The use of ‘thawed’ frozen tissue to produce high-value offspring;
  • Genetically characterising high-value animals through DNA profiles -- similar to DNA fingerprinting in humans); and
  • Banking DNA and other tissue useful for contributing to biotechnology development and biodiversity conservation, such as sperm, blood, egg shells, feathers, serum, embryos, hair, horn, fat and muscles).

Dr Nangammbi argued that as a country, South Africa was in need of a central biobank to service the public sector, made up of local, provincial and national conservation agencies, SANParks, SANBI, and conservation non-governmental organisations (NGO’s), and the private sector comprising commercial wildlife breeders and farmers. Individual high-value animals, such as buffalo with a value of R40 million, may die unexpectedly and through reproductive biotechnology may retain their potential to continue breeding through assisted reproductive technology -- artificial insemination and embryo transfers. The WBRTC would provide the breeder with a reproductive tissue banking enterprise.

The wildlife industry also required breeders to characterise each high-value animal through DNA profiling for auction purposes. Core to the industry was selective breeding, where physical traits were selected. Breeding programmes used DNA profiling to avoid inbreeding or to maximize diversity. Decades of trophy hunting had severely impacted the quality of animals with superior trophy traits, such as horn size and body weight.

The laboratory came with capacity building and training. The WBRTC would provide in-service training/work-integrated learning (WIL) opportunities to students who were doing diplomas and degrees in disciplines such as Game Ranch Management, Wildlife Management, Nature Conservation, Molecular Genetics, Veterinary Science and Ecotourism. Students would obtain knowledge, skills and experience in bio-banking, which included sample collection, processing and storage of wildlife animals. They would gain knowledge, skills and experience in DNA profiling, bar-coding protocols -- such as DNA extraction -- gel electrophoresis, polymerase chain reaction (PCR), DNA sequencing, and data analysis.

The WBRTC would produce graduates with diplomas or degrees in wildlife, game ranching, nature conservation, molecular genetics, veterinary science and ecotourism, and would employ people as research technicians, field data capturers, administrators and facility managers.

Regarding transformation, the wildlife ranching industry was presently dominated mainly by old, white and male game farmers. Well-known wildlife game farmers and breeders included President Cyril Ramaphosa, Johan Rupert (SA billionaire), Norman Adami (ex-CEO SA breweries), and Jacques Malan (Stud Breeders Assn). There was a lack of participation from young, black and female game farmers or breeders. The WBRTC would be headed by young blacks and females, and academics with over 15 years of teaching and research experience in the relevant fields. The presenter, who was also an accredited curriculum developer, said she would transfer wildlife farming and breeding technology knowledge and skills, and encourage young, female, black people to participate in game farming.

Game farming/ranching trends

Dr Julian Jaftha, Director: Genetic Resources, Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), said If one considered some of the comments and references made during previous presentations, it was clear that the DAFF’s colleagues from Animal Health and those involved in animal welfare would have been relevant in the discussion today. However, Animal Health were currently dealing the outbreak of the highly pathogenic Avian Influenza Virus.

While DEA and DAFF may have slightly different perspectives on what constituted ‘sustainable use,’ it emphasised the need for the two departments to have legislation that was harmonised and not mutually exclusive or restrictive. Wildlife and conventional livestock production from time to time overlapped. From a livestock perspective, issues around animal diseases were very important. In wildlife, the occurrence of diseases may be considered uncontrolled, including TB. With respect to normal livestock, however, there was some level of control. Because these two systems could overlap. South Africa should have a concern around the health status.

South Africa was a party to a number of international agreements which specifically focused on trade and required South Africa to show trading partners that it could effectively manage diseases or maintain a disease-free status before trading between two parties could happen. Therefore, it was important that, as and when wildlife ranching and game farming was promoted, one was mindful of the disease status and how, ultimately, it could impact on trade. 

Mr M Mamabolo, Director: Animal Production, DAFF said wildlife ranching/game farming was defined as the management of game in a sizable game-fenced system, with human intervention in the form of:

  • the provision of water;
  • the supplementation of food in periods of drought;
  • the control of parasites; and
  • the provision of health care.

By way of context, he commented that approximately 23,3% of all agricultural land in South Africa had a high production potential. Much of the agricultural land was semi-arid and marginal -- not suitable for other agricultural activities -- with 20 million ha under private game farming. Wildlife was more adapted to SA’s harsh climatic conditions than livestock.

He presented a table which contained the number of game farms per province (See slide 4). There were over 5 000 game-fenced farms in SA, and about 24 million head of game, based on 2015 figures.

Game ranches contributed, through both consumptive and non-consumptive uses:

  • More than R20 billion to South Africa’s revenues/fiscus.
  • More than 617 287 decent jobs in tourism, and 31 436 jobs in hunting (Limpopo, Free State and Northern Cape).
  • Consumptive game use -- meat exports of R400 million annually, biltong R6.3 billion, and trophy hunting R1.2 billion.
  • Live sales and trade -- R3.1 billion.
  • Non-consumptive game use, include ecotourism and recreation, the economic contribution of which was R100 billion per annum.

Game farming had been recognised as an agricultural activity by the former Department of Agricultural Development in 1987. Game meat was recognised as ab agricultural product in terms of the Marketing of Agricultural Products Act, 1996. There were a number of government departments which administered legislation that had a direct and indirect impact on the sector. However, this legislation should be mutually supportive.

In 2016, the DAFF had added 12 wildlife species to the list of game animals regulated under the Animal Improvement Act (AIA). The Wildlife Producers Association (WPA) was also registered in terms of the AIA to represent game breeders societies in order to ensure genetic purity and sustainable utilization, to do research on feeding and nutrition, to define and measure traits of economic importance; and to study regulatory gaps on game as for food production.

Consultations on game meat regulations had been concluded and would be finalised soon. These regulations focused on food safety management and evaluation systems, requirements for abattoirs and slaughter facilities, and game meat inspections. In the interests of animal health, production/ranching in areas with animal diseases like foot-and-mouth and tuberculosis (FMD & TB) were subject to movement controls to manage disease progression. Animal welfare legislation intended to ensure the safety of animals.

Operation Phakisa: Agriculture, Rural Development and Land Reform

In the Agriculture, Rural Development and Land Reform sector, Operation Phakisa had conducted a national livestock census and an animal identification and traceability programme. This programme aimed to conduct a complete formal livestock census every five years; develop an interactive animal identification system using the available legal instruments; to implement an integrated national livestock data base for performance recording and traceability in order to improve animal husbandry, enabling proper planning and decision-making and allowing for competitive market access.

Operation Phakisa had enhanced animal health through revolutionary veterinary services. The goal was to revolutionise countrywide veterinary services to be capable of meeting the modern challenges of disease management and quality assurance through increasing the training of veterinary professionals, improving local production of animal health products, and meaningful partnerships between all role players in the industry. It also aimed to source and apply modern technology to empower service deliverers and to create a pro-active care approach.

Finally, Operation Phaksa aimed to implement fortified veld management for sustainable livestock production. The goal was to improve the productivity of natural veld through rehabilitation, proper management systems and the introduction of water-efficient, new or alternative fodder species; and to develop and apply continuous monitoring, evaluation and assessment systems of veld conditions to ensure sustainability of good veld management practices, making use of modern technology.

Mr Mamabolo concluded that the wildlife ranching/game farming sector was one of the positive and growing agricultural industries which generated much needed foreign revenue and interest, created sustainable jobs, provided food, revitalised the declining vigour in rural areas and contributed towards sustainable natural resource management. Sustainable development of the sector would depend largely on the ability of the responsible departments to work together as a team to provide the necessary legal and logistical support towards the growth of sector. Game farming was a niche for South Africa that had potential to grow substantially.

WRSA on consumptive uses of wildlife: Breeding

Ms Adri Kitshoff-Botha, CEO: Wildlife Ranching South Africa (WRSA), presented a brief history of the South African wildlife industry, and said that today, South Africa had more that 9 000 private game ranches; 20.5m hectares of marginal land converted to productive land (16.8% of country’s land mass); more wildlife than at any time over the past 100 years; and wildlife ranching had had a significant impact on rural development and job creation in the full value chain.

There were three pillars of responsible and sustainable wildlife ranching:

  • The principle of free market economics, directed toward protecting South Africa’s natural resources and leaving a lasting legacy for future generations;
  • An enabling legislative environment, key among which was the policy of sustainable utilisation enshrined in South Africa’s constitution and the 1991 Game Theft Act, which allowed for the private ownership of wild animals; and
  • Significant investment from the private sector in wildlife ranches and game.

By way of correction, Ms Kitshoff-Botha highlighted that in the presentation’s reference to non-consumptive game use, the economic contribution of R100 billion per annum applied to tourism in general. The wildlife industry of today was based on four pillars -- breeding, hunting, wildlife tourism and game products. Private ownership was the foundation to unlock economic and socio-economic value to the benefit of all South Africans.

From 1990 to 2005, wildlife breeding and trade was driven by restocking of converted land; from 2005-2012, profitability attracted corporate investors; from 2013 – 2014, farmers and ranchers converting on the back of increased profitability; and by 2015, there were well-established wildlife ranchers and partners, with some prices doubling overnight. Then came increased supply, uncertain market sentiment, economic uncertainty, political instability, and drought. This trend was not unique to the breeding and live sales pillar. Prices had stabilised and the gap between live and consumptive prices was much closer, which was a real sign of sustainability.

With game breeding, the direct economic contribution varied between R3 bn and R5 bn a year, depending on the source. Socio-economic contributions included employment, ranging from unskilled to skilled, opportunities for sustainable livelihoods, including support to families, training and transfer of skills, while land reform with private partnerships seemed to have been the biggest successes so far.

Ms Kisthoff-Botha stressed that from the perspective of hunting, responsible, ethical and sustainable utilisation of wildlife remained the backbone of the wildlife industry. It provided, as a management tool,
a viable financial alternative in rural areas, considering the trends in some African countries. There were an estimated 200 000 to 450 000 local South African hunters, 30 hunting associations, with 80 000 to 90 000 members, with an average spending per annum of R7 billion, according to a North-West University (NWU) study. The socio-economic contributions included addressing unemployment, achieving sustainable livelihoods, training and skills transfer, and land reform. It addressed the phenomenon of absent fatherhood, with a community of hunters playing a huge role with assistance to single parents. There were also intangible natural heritage activities for youth, females and people not previously exposed to hunting or nature, to experience both.  

International hunting had reached an economic value of R1.785 bn, which included species fees and daily rates only, based on 6 539 international hunting clients. This did not include extended tourism activities, transport, retail, and pre- and post-hunting expenses. The socio-economic contributions, apart from the above, led to rural upliftment through the designation as hunting outfitters/professional hunters, and self-employment.

The economic value of game products, according to the DDG, was R4.5 bn. From taxidermy and tannery, the 2010 estimates were that there was R60 million in revenue from the export of hunting trophies. NWU was in process of conducting a study to determine the full economic impact. Currently, 120 000 to 150 000 tons of game meat was produced within the hunting industry. There was massive potential, pending the outcome of regulations. The socio-economic contributions, apart from those mentioned above, enabled food security, including access to safe, nutritious animal protein as well as the means to afford the protein; education and an ideal opportunity for the transfer of very specific skills and the upliftment of rural communities; and addressing inequality through entrepreneurial opportunities.

Ms Kitshoff-Botha said the key question was how to unlock the socio-economic potential. There was a need for dedication to finding solutions to the challenges faced regarding transformation and land reform; an enabling environment, allowing for workable models, the formation of public/private partnerships, and coaching, mentorship and training; open communication and dialogue between government, various sectors and associations regarding differences of opinions; aligning objectives, action plans, policies and strategies while striving towards a common goal for the good of South Africa, its biodiversity and people; and applied research and codes of good practices to address perceived or possible risks.

How would one create a wave of growth and prosperity in the wildlife industry? Ms Kitshoff-Botha emphasised that this would happen only by leveraging the country’s unique natural strengths for the benefit of all South Africans. There had to be a will and desire from both industry and government. There was a need for collaboration and depoliticised discussions, with a focus on commercialisation – “the business of wildlife ranching”. Progress must be made, based on realistic expectations. Most of all, there was a need for passion and the taking of ownership.

Hunting’s economic contribution and potential for risks

Ms Lizanne Nel, Manager: Conservation, SA Hunters and Game Conservation South Africa, said that one of the biggest challenges faced in South Africa was the issue of the trade-offs that had to be made as a developing country. There were conservation-related and economic development-related issues. It was often the same areas which had biodiversity that also had economic development potential. For all of these areas, if wildlife was to continue to sustain them, how should South Africa address the challenges? Hunting could play a role in this regard. Hunting was part of creating an income that made wildlife-based land use economically viable. Without it, many of the wildlife-based economic activities were not viable. Land use changed to other types of activity. One should not look at hunting from only an animal perspective, but as part of an income to make wildlife-based activities sustainable in the long-term.

Ms Nel referred to the the Environmental Potential Atlas for South Africa. By looking at the level of rainfall, there were parts of South Africa that were not suitable for other agricultural uses. Parts of South Africa were mostly suitable for wildlife-based activities. She argued that in areas with below 600 mm of rain, wildlife-based activities were more profitable than typical agricultural-type activities.

She quoted former President Nelson Mandela: "It was important for conservation and rural development to be combined”. This was where hunting played a major role. In rural areas, where other types of land uses may not be viable, this was where hunting could play a major role. Wildlife-based tourism, including hunting, was the most feasible strategy for rural economic development and would help achieve conservation, and economic and social targets. Wildlife-based tourism contributed to 20% of the world tourism market, 9% in global GDP and was growing three times faster than general tourism (10%). In South Africa, it contributed to ecosystem services worth R73 billion, or 3% of GDP.

It was often argued that only photographic safaris were needed, compared with hunting, because it was a consumptive resource. While one was not better than the other, there was space for both these activities. In one area next to the Kruger Private Game Reserve, there were about 24 000 photographic tourists each year. This generated 17% of their income. On the other hand, they had 54 hunters which generated 61% of the total income. If one looked at the percentage of money generated, hunting generated a lot more money than photographic tourism on that property. Yet the environmental footprint of those hunters was much smaller than the environmental footprint of the photographic safaris. One should not only look at how the animal that was hunted was impacted, but at the impact on the entire resource base. One often forgets to make these calculations. Not all areas were suited for photographic safaris. Photographic safaris often preferred areas that were of a pristine habitat. However, most rural areas -- where one wanted to transform the wildlife economy -- were areas that were not necessarily pristine. These were the areas that were suitable for hunting, but they might not necessarily be suitable for photographic tourism. For photographic tourism, high capital investment was needed and a lot of expensive game, such as the Big Five.

When it cames to addressing poverty and the economic challenges of South Africa, hunting could play a very important role. Even though 51% of South Africa’s hunters came from Gauteng, they were growing the economy of provinces that needed an economic stimulus, such as Limpopo, the Eastern Cape and the Northern Cape. These were the provinces where other viable land use options were limited.

Ms Nel presented some of the key statistics of the hunting sector, which was a major role player in the sector. There were about 300 000 hunters, 30 accredited associations, and 75 000 hunters who were members of associations. The economic value of hunting in terms of consumptive hunting was R8.6 bn, while the economic value of trophy hunting was R1.8 bn. Between 46% and 68% of hunters paid for the game hunted. This was the most important income stream for 30% of ranch lands.

One of the biggest risks to the sector was the shift from extensive to intensive production systems. The moment the business of biodiversity was spoken about, the factors that impacted the sustainability of businesses had to be looked at, which not only included ecological sustainability, but also reputational risk. For the hunting sector, reputational risk was a major challenge. It was not just about how the activity of hunting takes place. It was also about how the source population were managed. It was all part of the value-chain. One could not separate the activity of hunting from how I

International best practice when it came to responsible and sustainable hunting promoted, among others, hunting that was biologically sustainable; maintained wild populations with adaptive gene pools; ensured a net conservation benefit for wildlife habitat, where the cost of management and conservation of biological resources were internalised within the area of management; and where there were business practices that promoted long-term economic sustainability.

Ms Nel said that in an extensive system, there could be multiple levels of use: meat, hunting and tourism. In an intensive system, where there was hunting and tourism, it was then that people questioned the activities, and this was when reputational risk was an issue. While perception was not always based on fact, perception still influenced how people made decisions and what they decided in the end. Much of the international hunting community had distanced itself from the practice of hunting intensively and captively-bred animals. There had been international trade bans. The USA, which represented 60% of the international hunting market of South Africa, had adopted a trade ban. In the first nine months after the adoption of the trade ban, there had been a loss of 320 hunts, R78 million and 660 jobs. There had also been many welfare incidents. There had been a 28% decrease in visiting hunting tourists (2011-2016) and a 43% decrease in the number of lions hunted (2014-2016). This was due to reputational risk. Consumptive hunting, on the other hand, had grown by 35% (2013-2015). Many of the risks associated with hunting were more related to trophy hunting than they were to consumptive hunting. Yet, trophy hunting had an important role to play.

Hunting was not the same as poaching, and was not a threat declining populations. Apart from these risks, there was a challenging legislative environment (9+1) and a lack of reliable, up to date market information. The absence of well-regulated responsible and sustainable hunting would lead to an increase in poaching, illegal bushmeat trade, a reduction in the contribution to the trade deficit, and a decrease in the ability to manage wildlife populations.

Ms Nel said that the moment the Kruger National Park had started including the concessionaires in Mozambique as part of its strategy against poaching, it started making a difference in terms of incursions from Mozambique. A big part of those concession-holders were hunting. Hunting concessions played a major role the reduction of poaching of rhinos in the KNP. In places where there was no hunting, there were also difficulties in dealing with some of the management challenges. In some areas where the elephant population was increasing, there were problems with other species such as raptors and vultures, because of the trees that were being pushed over. Hunting could not regulate the number of elephants, but could play a major impact in terms of management. This also applied to lion conservation in Botswana.

In the absence of well-regulated hunting, income to communities was reduced, while food security, the viability of ranch lands and the incentive for conservation, decreased. Photographic tourism was not always suitable, as its footprint much bigger. This also had an impact upon the governments to achieve targets of combining economic development and conservation.

Ms Nel concluded that the interventions required for sustainable hunting were resource conservation; an enabling legal national framework for hunting; a self-administration licence system; and a code of practice linked to certification.


A colloquium participant commented that it was very important to make a few clarifications. A lot had been said about ‘consumptive’ and ‘non-consumptive.’ Trophy hunters consumed the animals that were surplus to the survival of the herd or population. In consuming individual animals, hunters were conserving the population of animals and the environment that was needed for those animals. Trophy hunters were the most important tourists to the country. They paid between 11 and 20 times more than the average tourist that visited South Africa. The trophy hunter took back the horn and possibly the cape and skin. The meat – protein -- got left behind. Many hunters had started a Hunters’ Care Programme and Hunters for Hunger programmes, where that valuable meet was donated. Finally, South Africa’s industry had taken place on land that had been converted from agricultural land. It had not taken land away from conservation to turn it into wildlife or game ranching or hunting areas. One could be proud to be part of the community of hunters that takes out only a part of what they have already put back.

Minister Molewa referred to the cross-cutting of legislation that needed to be attended to. There was also a matter around legislation and regulation that had not been completed yet, and for which the wildlife industry had been waiting. She assured the meeting that the TOPS regulations were being finalised in the DEA. At the Portfolio Committee level, the NEMLA amendments were being finalised.

Concerning integration, cooperation and coordination, the DEA worked very well with the DAFF. At the technical and ministerial level, there was consultation. There was one outstanding consultation -- according to the DEA’s understanding, there was an attempt to ensure that there was meat safety and quality, since game was now sold, and this was dealt with by the DAFF. This was why the DEA sees mandate-encroachment. Industry was concerned that they would be required to adjust and adapt their facilities that were determined at the DAFF level, which was quite problematic for now. This matter had to be resolved.

Regarding matters relating to reputational risks, all the Departments operated from the basis of the South African Constitution. As long as these matters were dealt with, the implementation of the Constitution and its laws was the key concern. That which was illegal, which brought about reputational risks, would have to be addressed with vigour. Those who operated illegally, and the industry, should not be conflated. It was difficult for South Africa to say to its citizens that they could not consumptively use its resources in a sustainable manner. The private operators were there, but what the DEA was emphasising was that there must not be unscrupulous operations. Killing an industry due to misperceptions was problematic for South Africa.

The meeting was adjourned for lunch.

Magnitude of export trade in wildlife products

Mr Stefan van As, Director: Le Croc (Pty) Ltd and Chairperson of the Exotic Leather Cluster of South Africa, gave a presentation on the exotic leather industry in South Africa.

Crocodile industry

The industry-driven initiatives were to focus and promote Niloticus (Nile Crocodile) specie and the South African crocodile industry through development and promotion of good operating practices, to improve market access through rapid response design and prototype manufacturing centres, and to conduct scientific research on animal welfare and production systems.

Domestic work programmes included constituting representative industry forums to represent value chain stakeholders in Government interactive forums through the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA); developing an industry charter and global standards with independent third-party verification and accreditation; collection of industry-driven statistics and research data for purposes of benchmarking; and carry out research for industry specific skills development.

The average world crocodilian skin production was approximately 1.7 million skins annually, of which 275 000 (16%) was comprised of Niloticus skins. South African Crocodylus Niloticus annually exports an average of approximately 85 000 skins, which was 13.6% of the world crocodilian skins trade and 30% of the Niloticus skins traded internationally, earning an estimated R300 million in export revenue. South Africa was the second largest exporter of Nile crocodile skins. 558 560 skins were exported from 2006 to 2015, mainly to Europe and Asia, and 19 000 crocodile skins were exported to the United States of America, Mexico and Germany. Of 95% of skins exported, approximately 60% were exported as raw skins. There were 85 crocodile farms, employing an estimated 3 000 workers. There were three European Union (EU) approved abattoirs and four tanneries capable of tanning crocodile leather. The market was extremely volatile, and there had been an average decrease in crocodile meat and skin exports from 2013 – 2015.

Ostrich Industry

South Africa was still the world leader in the ostrich industry with more than 75% of the market share. More than 80% of the meat, leather and feathers were exported, with the skins tanned to a crust or finished leather. Meat, both heat treated and fresh, was mainly exported to the EU, as that was where the best prices were.

Leather was exported to Europe for the fashion industry, to the USA and Mexico for the boot industry, and to Asia for handbags and leather goods. About 15% to 20% of the leather was used in local manufacturing.

There were 396 registered ostrich farms and seven EU-approved abattoirs, four tanneries and employment was approximately 15 000. This included the farms, abattoirs, tanneries, feather processing plants and the tourism industry.

There had been an overall decline in the demand for ostrich leather between 2002 and 2017, a contributing factor being the avian influenza.

SWOT analysis on exotic leather

A Swot analysis had brought to light the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to exotic leather.

The strengths included the scientific research done by the University of Pretoria (UP) on animal production, welfare and product quality improvements, as well as the adoption of sustainable production models and the development of good operating practices and industry standards.

Weaknesses included e-permitting linked to farm traceability, export promotion involving the time to market, and the Meat Safety Act and regulations (DAFF). There was also the distance to markets and lack of a generic marketing platform, the value chain’s vertical integration and the lack of tailored finance to support emerging Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) investors. A big weakness involving ostriches was the research on avian influenza.

What needed to be done to improve industry economic feasibility included:

  • Stakeholder audits/ benchmarking to ensure production volumes/capacity meet demand and export certification;.
  • Implementing a uniform industry charter containing global standards across all provinces, and aligning permitting systems (TOPS and CITES) to align with the industry charter and GOP xtandards.
  • Stakeholder engagement and verification to identify candidates for support and funding.
  • Development of skills and processing capacity to facilitate local beneficiation through scaled co-operative entities; as well as further developing and promoting a unique South African label.
  • Ensuring compliance with importer country regulations through meat residue monitoring programmes and protocols.

Black Business Council: Wildlife meat consumption

Mr Reuben Malema, Black Business Council (BBC), said that since 1994, government had transferred over seven million hectares of mostly farming land to black communities and individuals. Lack of capital, farming skills and post settlement support had led to many black farming projects falling into tough times and ending up collapsing. There was a solid opportunity for the mass participation of blacks and communities to be anchors and participants in the game meat production value-chain as land owning producers.

The red meat industry of South Africa was worth R79 billion per annum and growing, and black people were not participating. There were about 15 million sheep and goats combined in South Africa. Black participation across the value-chain in this sector was quite negligible. Due to “prescribed” winner and grown animal quality requirements by the industry; livestock from traditional black areas was sold to commercial farmers at rock bottom prices. However, beef prices were R62/Kilo at retail. Top-side down did not translate into grassroots value.

Land expropriation without compensation was now government policy. The government would make agricultural land available for black participation, with 2 million ha targeted for the biodiversity economy. A million agricultural jobs had been targeted by President Ramaphosa. The export potential of this industry was huge.

Communities, by virtue of the size of land, should be treated as extensions of the wildlife conservation areas, with strong emphasis on sustainable use. This was a right which was constitutionally enshrined.

Mr Malema referred to global game meat trends, and said that New Zealand, the top global venison meat exporter, has a national herd of 900 000 deer, with an annual off-take of about 418 000 animals. The revenue from this had totalled $266 million in 2016. South Africa, with its huge game animal numbers, should be the number one exporter of free-range, genetically modified organism (GMO)-free venison globally.

A black-owned and managed game meat products company, named Black Evolution Products, was currently supplying quality biltong and dry wors to Tourvest; which operates most stores in the Kruger National Park, and was also in expansion talks to place stock in all the filling station forecourts in the country, and in all 120 Food Lovers Market retail outlets.

Community land owners could play a meaningful meat production role in partnerships between established and powerful black businesses and traditional commercial game farmers. The BBC stood ready to engage and support these types of pro-sector transformation, and especially food security initiatives involving game meat supply.

The BBC was intent on working with pro-transformation associations like AGRA in order to have a coordinated and strong black voice anchored upon industry insights and strong business interests to grow and sustain wildlife ranching in the country.

It had entered into an MOU with the South African Chefs Association, and was working on a programme to develop game meat recipes for the mass and specialist markets. Distribution channels into the Soweto informal market -- local butcheries, spaza shops, party and funeral caterers -- were currently being developed. Talks with big protein consuming hotel groups and retail chain stores locally were at an advanced stage, and the BBC would be making some exciting empowerment announcements in the coming weeks. It was also in talks with the DEA and SANParks regarding an MOU to be signed at the upcoming Biodiversity Indaba next month.

Matsila Community Development Trust: Transformation of the wildlife

Chief Livhuwani Matsila said that since the advent of democracy in South Africa, the transformation agenda had brought significant changes in many sectors, except for the wildlife industry. The wildlife industry was part of a multibillion biodiversity conservation sector, where the economy remained in the hands of the white minority. The ANC government and its public entities had since 1994 tried to transform the biodiversity sector, but with limited success. Success had been limited to achieving employment equity targets through the recruitment of black senior managers and scientists within the public sector. Calls for employment equity and meaningful transformation within the private sector of the wildlife industry had triggered formidable resistance by white authorities who monopolised this economy.

The Department of Environmental Affairs had renewed the interest of the black majority to be active role players in this industry. Black people would be owners and managers of game farms, game hunting outfits, tourism facilities, game meat processing and bioprospecting factories, with immense socio-economic benefits to the nation. Transformation challenges, such as the lack of finance and qualified personnel, inadequate infrastructure such as game holding facilities, including fencing and tourism facilities, would now be addressed. SANParks has commenced with a ground-breaking programme to donate wild species of high commercial value such as buffalos to deserving communities and black businesses.

During his state of the nation address, President Ramaphosa had struck the right chord and emphasised the need to grow and nurture the tourism industry in rural areas. It would be important that biodiversity stewardship programmes were introduced as a catalyst for tourism and economic development in rural areas. The transformation initiatives should encourage communities to farm more with wild animals, instead of cattle and goats. This strategy could also reduce human and wildlife conflict in communal areas which were adjacent to protected areas. Traditional leaders had set aside enough land to be used for biodiversity conservation through the creation of community game reserves, environmental centres and tourism facilities.

Communities in the rural areas would not be able to access government support and play an active role in the wildlife economy if there were no relevant institutional mechanisms for good governance at local levels. It would be important that community entities such as trusts, non-profit organisations, co-operatives and small businesses were established for good governance and compliance with the laws of South Africa. Governance issues could make or break community initiatives, and the Community Property Associations were a classic example of a great concept gone wrong, as many remained dysfunctional and paralysed by a lack of capacity as well as corruption.

The Matsila Community Development Trust had been established in 2007 by the Matsila Royal Family, in consultation with the community. It had been established in terms of Section 6(1) of the Trust Property Control Act of 1998. Its aim was to facilitate socio-economic development initiatives to fight poverty, create jobs and contribute to economic development. Areas of focus included rural development, environmental management, arts and culture, tourism, agriculture and social development.

Describing the state of natural resources in communal land, Chief Matsila said there was over-grazing, bush encroachment, invasive alien species and soil erosion, including illegal mining of soil and sand. Indigenous vegetation was often regarded as bush that should be cleared for agricultural or massive infrastructure development.

There was weak enforcement of environmental laws and bylaws, as well as high levels of pollution and littering. The price of land was very cheap, meaning there was little or no value in biodiversity and natural resources; and there was insufficient appreciation for ecosystem services and benefits.

He provided some of the reasons behind the poor state of natural resource management (NRM) in rural areas:

  • Very few or no campaigns to promote best practice in NRM/environmental management (EM) in rural areas;.
  • There was a general trend of environmental illiteracy, and a lack of environmental awareness and education amongst traditional leaders and key decision-makers on communal land;.
  • Lack of capacity to conceptualise, develop and implement NMR programs and projects. No accountability regarding decisions and actions, with a negative impact on the environment and natural resources;
  • There was very little or no job creation, skills development or economic development opportunities for local people through NRM projects, programmes and initiatives. There were power struggles and conflicts for resources amongst traditional leaders, civic leaders, NGOs, community-based organisations (CBOs), councillors, traditional healers and religious leaders.
  • No commitment and no incentives to implement NRM.

Matsila Land User Incentive and Adopt a River Project

A volunteer programme had been started to mobilise communities to clean the Tshikali River. This had been developed into a fully-fledged Land User Incentive programme funded by the DEA for three years, employing 220 local people from eight different villages belonging to the Venda and Tsonga tribes. This had involved the eradication of invasive and alien plants, with 4 000 ha mapped out for clearing; erosion control and prevention, along with rehabilitation and restoration of degraded and over-grazed land; and the germination and propagation of indigenous trees and grass through nurseries in tunnels. Value added benefits included the collection of wood, the proceeds from the sales of which would be channelled back into the project to employ more people.

Matsila Community Wildlife Economy Project

Disease-free buffalo, eland and impala had been donated by SANParks and Phala-Phala Wildlife. There was conservation of fauna and flora within the local community and promotion of biodiversity stewardship within the local community. The project provided environmental education and awareness, as well as investment in ecosystem services and the promotion of sustainable employment, skills development and economic opportunities, through responsible and sustainable tourism within the community.

Matsila Tourism Development Project

The project involved the Joe Matsila Guest House and Abraham Matsila Cultural Centre, and was implemented using local labour, employing mainly women and the youth. The sourcing of materials and services came from within the local community. Contracting of local artisans and electricians had been done to further local employment. Skills were learnt through training local people on brick-making and construction.

The usage of thatch was for environmental reasons, to reduce the use of heaters and air conditioners. The harvesting of grass was promoted as part of maintaining the ecosystem. Also promoted was the use of indigenous knowledge in construction, and the use of indigenous trees and non-invasive species for gardening, thereby greening the environment and promoting environmental awareness. Indigenous trees were secured and preserved during and after construction.

This initiative had led to job creation and poverty eradication. There had been harvesting of sand for construction, with minimal impact on rivers and ecosystems. Rehabilitation of the land was done where sand for construction had been collected.

Chief Matsila outlined proposed future interventions:

  • Creating an eco-village through greening and eco-parks with environmentally friendly recreational facilities.
  • Introducing a few species of game, especially antelopes such as impala, to promote local conservation and environmental awareness. Game fencing would be required.
  • Suppression of the growth of the D Cinerea weed through farming browsers.
  • Use of solar energy and biogas to minimise electricity costs.
  • Planting of indigenous grass and trees to rehabilitate the land, using the current hectare-based approach.
  • Reviving indigenous knowledge to support organic farming.
  • A medicinal plant project for traditional healers and herbalists. This should be preceded by ecological and botanical research, followed by building capacity for sustainable use of medicinal plants.
  • Research on indigenous knowledge and environmental management, including the sustainable use medicinal plants and environmental services.
  • Community-based natural resource management (CBNRM) should be actively supported in rural areas.
  • Active and vibrant environmental awareness programmes should be implemented on a continuous basis. A budget for the celebration of environmental days should be set aside.
  • There should be multinational land user incentive programmes for investment watershed services, but these should be integrated within broader environmental management programmes.
  • Capacity building programs for decision-makers, especially traditional leaders and civil society leaders, who were often not afforded an opportunity to participate and lead on water issues and related environmental challenges.
  • Addressing political issues in the sector.
  • Racism.
  • Tribalism and ethnicity.
  • Gender and youth equality and equity.
  • Marginalised and impoverished communities.
  • Class-based approach in the sector, and corruption.
  • People with disabilities.
  • Xenophobia.
  • Fragmentation of interrelated and interdependent programmes.
  • Everybody must pay -- the government, the private sector, communities and those using the resources.


The Chairperson said that the presentation given by Chief Matsila had been one of extreme inspiration, and commended his leadership. Often in villages there were internal conflicts about the leadership of the village and other issues, and there was no focus on programmes and initiatives that sought to take the community forward in development. It seemed that Chief Matsila had experience in biodiversity issues and used this to his advantage. The Matsila community initiative programmes brought value to the whole community.

Minister Molewa brought to the Committee’s attention that Chief Matsila was a specialist in natural resource management. The skills and capacity spoken about earlier were very important, over and above the mere leadership.

Ms Kim da Ribeira, spokesperson for Outraged SA Citizens Against Poaching (OSCAP), said she was concerned with some of the information which had been put forward, and did not agree with some of the statistics. As far as the Hunters and Game Conservation South Africa presentation was concerned, where the difference in income in communities from hunting was concerned, it was clearly only cited from one game farm, and therefore needed to be taken in context. What she found interesting was that Ms Nel had said there was insufficient scientific information to support decisions taken, Ms Ribeira found this to be terribly important, as decisions had been taken when they did not need to be taken. She pointed out that in answer to a question, the DDG of Environmental Affairs had stated that there were 350 000 elephants in Zambia. This could not be correct, as in the latest Great Elephant Survey Census released in 2016, there were 352 271 Savannah Elephants in the 18 countries that had been surveyed, and 21 758 of those were found in Zambia.

 Dr Louise de Waal, sustainable tourism consultant, said she was very concerned with the very one-sided view they had been given today. The only non-conservative wildlife presentation that they were supposed to have had, had been changed into a sales pitch and self-promotion, and several presentations had been purely agricultural and were not environmental affairs presentations. She wanted to know how those presentations fitted into the event. The facts and figures mentioned needed a lot of fact-checking, as they were completely inadequate and wrong. The words “sustainable” and “ethical” were being heard frequently, but she believed that they were being used in the wrong context. Those words needed definitions and to be used in the correct manner. She commended Chief Matsila on his presentation.

The Chairperson said he wished to repeat that the reason he was going out of his way to allow the views being expressed, was so that there was an alternative view to the views being presented. Despite his efforts to allow views to be expressed, there was still criticism that the day’s happenings were one-sided. The fact he was allowing alternative views was something which needed to be appreciated, and people should not continue with the idea that things were one-sided. The criticism was unjustified because even the structure of the colloquium and the presentations’ relevance were being put into question, and he found it unfair to suggest that. He agreed that one of the participants had changed the subject from the non-consumptive use of wildlife to something which the Chairperson himself did not understand and was not happy about, as it haddeviated from the topics at hand. Everyone else, however, had been given their topics and spoken to the mandate of the wildlife economy, and appreciation needed to be shown there again. He said there was an issue raised by SA Hunters, which he wanted them to respond to, regarding their presentation on the limitations and about animals being tamed to avoid the time of them being hunted.

Mr T Hadebe (DA) commended the job that had been done by Chief Matsila and the community in the area where he came from. He wanted to get clarity on Ms Nel’s presentation and whether he got the information correctly. According to her, there had been a 43% decrease in lions, and he wanted clarity on that issue -- whether it reduced the number of lions kept in captivity, or reduced the number of lions kept in the country.

Mr Andrew Apane, Director: African Game Rangers Association (AGRA) of South Africa, said he wanted to commend Chief Matsila on his good work. He wished to inform the House about Omega in the North West and Balepe in Limpopo that were also doing good community projects, and he appreciated them. He was proud of the fact that they were all members of AGRA. An issue of concern was the missing link -- there was nothing that could be done to achieve transformation without land -- land was needed in order for transformation to take place. For SANParks, it was a concern that there were only nine beneficiaries, which meant basically one per province, and at that rate it would take forever to meet their goals. He showed his gratitude to the Department and fellow helpers and supporters. AGRA was not an isolated island of farmers but a gateway to helping them.

Mr Duprey Vilakazi, Chairman: Land Reform and Food Security, Black Business Council, said the BBC found these forums very encouraging and informative. They were looking at joint ventures for training and skills development for the youth and marginalised people to bring them up to achieve success in the process of economic empowerment. In the Eastern Cape, with the help of chiefs in those areas and joint participation from the Land Bank, VBS Banking and Tongaat, they were doing excellent work on maize and vegetables, encouraging people to not even go into the genetically modified organism (GMO) food sections and keep to natural products. These initiatives could make the country go a long way. Unfortunately, all these things could not happen without land, which was needed in order to sustain them. He said that charters were a waste of time -- it needed to come from the people. He suggested that the Departments of Water, Agriculture and Environmental Affairs should fomrm one cluster and tackle the issues together.

Mr Stephen Palos, CEO: Confederation of Hunting Associations of South Africa (CHASA) admitted that Government had a difficult job, and the Portfolio Committees sat as the referees between the House and the different philosophies of the delegation. The biggest constraint the entire sector had found was the struggle of philosophy between the consumptive or non-consumptive use of the wildlife resources. Pople kept speaking about ‘sustainable,’ but what needed to be mentioned and reminded to people, was the fact of the resource being renewable. South Africa was leading the way in its use of renewability in its wildlife resources and were world leaders in game ranching and game farming techniques. Arguments occurred mostly due to people forgetting that this resource was renewable. Institutions from outside were constantly trying to exploit South Africa’s renewable and sustainable resources, which had a huge constraint on unlocking the true potential and value South Africa had.

The Chairperson said he wanted clarity from Ms Nel on the presentation issue which he had mentioned earlier.

Ms Nel replied that the Chairperson’s interpretations was totally opposite to what she had meant to say. From a hunting sector perspective, it was very important to make sure it was a fair chase hunt, and for that they needed the animals to be wild. Therefore it was not a situation of the association wanting the animals to be tamed.

The Chairperson said that he had got it the other way around. There were regulations that the Department hadpublished, called the Protected Species Regulations, which spoke to those kinds of issues. The National Environmental Management Laws Amendment Bill was currently before Parliament, and one of the things it sought to do was to cover those issues.

Ms Ngcaba, DG of the DEA, said that the Amendment Bill would assist in dealing with some of the gaps which had already been picked up. The colloquium had been an important interaction, as it had given all role players an opportunity to present their cases and their varied approaches to wildlife management as they related to the economic issues. It was not an intervention that undervalued or did not promote conservation. In the SANParks property alone, there were a high number of land claims and for the past 23 years, there had been battles for land. The DG herself had almost been banned from the Kruger Park area by people who had stated that the land they were on was their land and no one else’s, and if government chose to undermine the land distribution programme, it was a matter they were not ready to deal with. They needed to find opportunities and solutions that would enable both responsible wildlife management outside the national parks’ property and enable conservation efforts to be continued.

When SANParks donated or loan, there were accountability measures. Vegetation and climate had an impact on the biodiversity of the country and what would be there today may not be there tomorrow. Therefore alternatives to biodiversity measures needed to be looked at in order to preserve and conserve for the future. The statistics presented by Mr Munzhedzi were accurate and there was research to back up his statistics.

Dr Mketeni, CEO: SANParks said that if the presentation invitation had been to present their “wildlife utilisation” or “wildlife management”, he would have come with a completely different presentation, because conservation was a broad concept. The topic had been chosen, and therefore the focus had been put onto that specific topic. The mandate of SANParks was conservation, and therefore they did more than just what had been presented. Every year, they presented their wildlife management plan which showed what they wished to do with the species, from an elephant to the smallest herbivore. The board was told how many animals to auction, to translocate, to shoot, to contribute to government programmes. Annual surveys were done, data was collected over time and then the information was subjected to wildlife management committees. Specialists were consulted regularly and a programme was put together, and from that programme an amount of 3 000 animals was put forward for donation and loan. Credibility got questioned if the surveys were not done correctly and therefore their scientists produced over 50 journals a year. Visiting scientists also gave help as to which direction to steer after they had done their research. SANParks was not the only role-player in wildlife donation and loans, and therefore they were not ashamed of having only nine beneficiaries. If too many numbers were demanded, it would result in unethical procedures and things being done, and SANParks’ aim was to do things in the correct manner.

Mr Munzhedzi said the statistics that had been provided in the slides could be further provided with the sources, which were very accurate. Some of the decisions that were taken, even at an international level, sometimes put the animals at risk, and that was due to the fine line between emotion and science. South Africa, however, was safe from this as they value the scientific authority’s research. He went on to explain the issue raised by Dr De Waal. Zambia had had a high number of elephants and then the amount had dropped rapidly. However, over time the number had increased because they had found the cause of the decline. This rapid fluctuation was what had led to the statistics maybe being not fully understandable to many.


The Chairperson said that the colloquium had been very successful, as it had brought to light the issues that had needed to be debated. Today’s colloquium was on the ‘wildlife economy’ and the entire programme for the day had been based on that topic. The first colloquium which had been held was on rhino poaching, as it was a national crisis then and remained so to this day. There had also been a climate change colloquium, and that had been a very broad topic. Focus had then shifted to climate financing and helping to mitigate and adapting to climate change. Today was the wildlife economy and in the next parliamentary term, a topic had been identified for that. The focus would be on job creation, but there was a need to identify the stakeholders to come to Parliament and engage and find issues which needed following up.

The Chairperson thanked the Minister for her attendance, and the Committee and the delegation, and told Chief Matsila that perhaps in future the Committee would visit their Lodge.

The meeting was adjourned.


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