SANParks Cooperation Agreement including hunting protocols & Quarter 3 performance; CITES preparations

Environment, Forestry and Fisheries

06 March 2019
Chairperson: Mr P Mapulane (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The meeting constituted a follow- up meeting to the one that the portfolio Committee on Environmental Affairs (hereon, ‘the Committee’) had 2 weeks ago. On the agenda was a briefing from SANParks regarding outstanding issues that were identified in the previous meeting with the Committee as well as a briefing by SANParks on its quarterly performance reports. Additionally, there was a briefing by the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) on its preparations for CITES COPS 18.

In addressing its cooperative agreement, SANParks stated that Kruger National Park in context has 2 million people on the Western Boundary of Park and consists of two biosphere reserves and nine traditional authorities as a part of the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area. What triggered the cooperative agreement was a slow implementation of a Treaty which was signed in 2002 as a result of governance issues not being accelerated. The proposed cooperative agreement attempts to remedy problem areas such as issues of land use compatibility to avoid the human-wildlife conflict as well as issues of safety and security. The agreement provides for the establishment of a Joint Management Committee to ensure that the governing structures work accordingly. All parties to the agreement are to ensure that all communications and interventions are transparent. Parties are expected to responsibly manage for ecological, socio-economic, animal health, statutory and security outcomes. The parties must comply with current protocols, Management Plans and agreements already in place between the parties whilst developing further joint protocols, SOPs and guidelines as required and guided by the legislative framework, National Environmental Management: Protected Areas Act 57 of 2003 (‘NEMPAA’). Governance, conservative management, socio-economic beneficiation, safety and security as well as land inclusion are the key features of the cooperative agreement. Parties to the agreement stand to benefit by way of the potential economic opportunity from conservation as the predominant land use. The ecological benefit for SANParks stems from the taking down of the fences which allows for animals to roam around freely between the parks which further allows for greater opportunities for marketing the parks as premier conservation and tourism destinations both domestically and internationally.

SANParks presented a report on its quarterly performance, referring only to areas where it had been unable to meet its targets. In terms of the percentage of reduction of water consumption, SANParks has not completed the audits that have to be done involving Marakele National Parks. There has been a 27% reduction in Agulhas Nation Park and a 95% reduction in Bontebok National Park, with an increase in the West National Park of 3%. There has been a 2.59% increase in water consumption in Kruger National Park. With regard to the total hectares of Land Rehabilitated, SANParks is only at 77% of the target it set for the quarter.  The Parks are below target by 23%. In terms of the follow-up target which is 124,799 hectares, SANParks has only rehabilitated 2,905 m³ of wetlands which is below target. The next performance indicator discussed was the total Number of Park Management Plans Reviewed and Submitted as per annum which was also below target. The percentage implementation of the annual Elephant Plan, SANPark is on 67% (6/9) of the scheduled activities were completed. Outstanding activities include; in the Kruger National Park, Intervention Proposal to disturb elephants at a local scale must still be finalised. In Mapungubwe National Park, a report tracking elephant incursions into enclosures aimed at protecting riverine forest and culturally sensitive sites was not completed. In Addo Elephant National Park, the number of elephant bulls moved from Tembe to Addo Main Camp.

The total revenue generated from fundraising per annum was R17.8 million was raised. This is below the target of 12.6 million per quarter. Overall, SANParks has achieved 72% of its targets and are close to achieving another 12%.

DEA presented three proposals from South Africa that was advanced by the department ahead of the CITES COP 18 conference. The first one related to amending the listing of Aloe Ferox in Appendix II. The rationale for the proposal was that there is an abundance of Aloe ferox of in South Africa as well as the fact that the species is not subjected to concerning forms of trade that affect its survival in the wild, therefore; the stringent regulations under CITES need be relaxed; however, local trade regulations will still be applicable. The second proposal relates to the need to increase South Africa’s export quota for black rhinoceros hunting trophies from five adult male black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis) to a total number of adult male black rhinoceros not exceeding 0.5% of the total black rhinoceros population in South Africa in the year of export. The third proposal relates to the need to extend the decision on trade in Captive bred African grey Parrots to allow South to register captive breeding facilities as people trading in these are no longer permitted to source them from the wild. South Africa has currently registered 83 captive bred facilities of the African Grey Parrots. South Africa, as the largest exporter, exports approximately, 80 000 breeds.

On the outstanding matters, the Committee wanted clarity on a range of issues:

-Were the various municipalities and forums involved, attend the park management consultations mentioned in the Stakeholder workshops? This is a massive challenged as there are 2 million people living there.

-Does the protocol and proposed agreement supersede all the previous agreements?

-With respect to the JMC, who will sit on that Committee? It is unlikely that cannot be that all signatories will sit on the Committee. Will it be elected? Will it involve the provincial government?

-Presumably, prior to taking down of the fences in 1996, something had to be signed and an audit of animals had to take place, that’s how the buyer mass was calculated. Clarity in this regard is needed as to, on what basis for hunting or no hunting has been calculated. Was there an audit of animals?

-What are the protocol effective dates and how long will it last? If a member of one of the signatories is not allowed to hunt, there’s a possibility that they put their own fences up. This would mean more expenses for Kruger National Park and would be detrimental for conservation.

In terms of Cites COP 18, Members more clarity on the Eswatini and Namibia proposals and more clarity on South Africa’s proposed export quota for black rhino horn to not exceeding 0.5%; and who will decide these figures.

Meeting report

Opening remarks by the chairperson

One of the points of the agenda for today’s meeting is the Minister of Environmental Affairs’ briefing to the Committee regarding what happened to the decision of Committee that was not followed by SANParks.

The Committee received a letter from the Minister on that day and as part of the response the Committee indicated that there had been no miscommunication. The matter was straightforward and there were several meetings of the Committee where decisions were taken around the issue of the agreement between SANParks and the owners of the private reserves on the Western boundaries. There is a particular way in which the Committee has determined that the matter must be handled. The Committee’s view was that there was no communication; hence, they requested that the Minister come and brief the Committee. The Minister; however, was unable to attend as she had sent through an apology which extended to the day of the meeting. The Committee and the Minister agreed to reschedule her appearance before the Committee as soon as she is available. For the purposes of efficiency, the Committee resolved to continue the meeting and allow SANParks to address the Committee regarding outstanding issues from the previous meeting about the proposed agreement.

Briefing by SANParks on the outstanding issues

With the permission of the Chairperson, the chairman of the Board of SANParks, Ms Joanne Yawitch, introduces the general structure of their presentation, highlighting key points such as the framework of the agreement itself, the processes followed; who the signatories are as well the issue of the approach to community beneficiation, rural development, hunting protocols and general issues around compliance. Ms J Yawitch hands over to the CEO of SANParks, Mr Fundisile Mketeni who proceeds to introduce the entire SANParks delegation; namely; the head of Kruger National Parks, Mr Glenn Phillips as well as the team tasked with presenting SANPark’s third quarterly report, the COO - Ms Lize McCourt, the CFO – Mr Dumisani Dlamini and the head of strategic management, Ms Jill Bunding-Venter.

SANParks’ mission concerns a range of issues in managing a system of national parks. Most of the conservation approaches in South Africa follow the approach established in the Convention on Biological Diversity. This is aligned with the goals of SANParks, which consist of conservation, tourism and socio-economic development. To attain these goals, SANParks is committed to looking at and ensuring financial stability, accountable cooperative governance and an optimised business process and system.

Mr Mketeni proceeded to share with the Committee a brief history of the evolution of conservation on a global scale. In the early 90s, conservation was about the 3Ps (protecting, preserving, propagating) and has since evolved to become known as the 3Is (integrating, innovating and internationalising). The new era of conservation has led to numerous UN structures looking at broader issues of conservation matters, being formed as well as a refined focus on people benefiting from natural resources.

Kruger National Park in context has 2 million people on the Western Boundary of Park which has a fence-line of approximately 250 kilometres. It straddles through two provinces and three different municipalities, two biosphere reserves and nine traditional authorities. It is a part of the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area. Zimbabwe and Mozambique are on board terms of the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Park. What triggered the cooperative agreement was a slow implementation of the treaty which was signed in 2002 as a result of governance issues not being accelerated. There was a fragmented and poorly regulated open-land system. Additionally, there was a fragmented approach on issues of socio-economic development and benefit sharing and poor land usage planning, particularly on the buffer zone. Hence; the attempt in the proposed agreement is to look at issues of land use compatibility to avoid the human-wildlife conflict. Moreover, there was an issue of increasing security threats that led to issues of pouching.

The revised agreement supersedes all previous agreements. The timeline for conceptualisation and drawing up of the said agreement dates back to 2015. The key chain of events include, the land claim beneficiation process in January of 2015, the regularisation of the western boundary in February 2015, review of the Kruger National Park Management Plan desired state meetings in 2017 (consisting of 54 stakeholders, 5 762 participants and 483 written comments) of which the plan was approved by the Minister in 2018, the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area agreement signing in December 2018 and the drafting of the Greater Kruger Strategic Development Framework in 2019.  The various phases of the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area Treaty of 2002 were; the regularisation phase, the expansion and consolidation phase and the integrated sector phase. The signatories to the agreement are:

  • Makuleke Contractual Park
  • LEDET & Makuleke Nature Reserve
  • LEDET & Letaba Ranch
  • Gidjana Conservation Area
  • Balule Nature Reserve & Maseke
  • Umbabat Nature Reserve
  • Klaserie Nature Reserve
  • Thornybush Nature Reserves
  • Kempiana (WWF and NPT)
  • Timbavati Nature Reserve
  • MTPA and Manyeleti
  • Mala Mala
  • Sabi Sand Wildtuin
  • Mjejane Game Reserve
  • Kruger National Park

The roles for each party, per the agreement, were highlighted. These included that there must be a Joint Management Committee to ensure that the governing structures work. All communications and interventions are to be transparent, parties to responsibly manage for ecological, socio-economic, animal health, statutory and security outcomes. Lastly, the parties must comply with the current protocols, Management Plans and agreements already in place between the parties whilst developing further joint protocols, SOPs and guidelines as required and guided by the legislative framework. Key elements of the proposed agreement are governance, conservative management, socio-economic beneficiation, safety and security as well as land inclusion.

At this point in the presentation, the Chairperson interjected to request that the CEO expand on the key elements, particularly as to the meaning of land inclusion as well as safety and security.

In response, Mr Mketeni referred the Chairperson to a copy of the actual plan and continues to expand on this matter by expanding on each feature. Under governance, issues of non-compliance with legislation and management plans were highlighted and thus; must be made a focal point by the agreement so as to enforce compliance. There were issues of declaring of additional land to add to the protected area estate. This must be looked at because some entities wanted to be added only to find that they are not declared nature reserves in accordance with legislative requirements and therefore cannot be added. Under conservation management, there are many issues happening even outside of the boundary such as water use, animal management and fire management. Under socio-economic beneficiation, there is no cognisance of regional economic development which is part of the treaty and various programmes which have just been ignored. There are additional issues of responsible tourism that cannot development as we wish because there are various water issues that also impact on the environment. Enterprise development was ignored as well as the issue of community access and social investment. Under safety and security, on both sides of the boundary, need to buffer some elements of criminality. One needs more strict reserve owners to have plans to secure the boundary because criminals move from the villages and go through these deserted areas. Therefore, there must be radio communication and other ways of reporting. Under land inclusion, it is about the issue of integrating as there are many important ecological pieces of land that are sitting outside of the Park that must be integrated.

Mr Phillips took over the remaining half of the presentation. He directed the Committee to a separate document titled ‘Submission to the Portfolio Committee on Environmental Affairs’, particularly paragraph 3.2 of the said document which provides more detail pertaining to the key features of the agreement. With reference to environmental management, SANParks is working towards the planning of a landscape level of an elephant management plan that extends to the Mozambican side. Additionally, there are no measures or coordination in place for SANParks to use in order to track its development in terms of the minimum standards of responsible tourism. With respect to safety and security, there are plans to involve various parties to ensure increase safety, such as the SAPS as well as private security companies and anti-poaching units. There has been a forum set up called Greater Kruger Environment Protection Forum (GKEPF) where all the various protection units sit to coordinate and enforce safety and security. Moreover, on the issue of land inclusion, all land that in the boundary that lends itself to an integrated opportunity such as vegetables and agricultural development is considered.

The Committee is thereafter referred to the copy of the agreement, particularly, to page 9 which discusses the pillars of the agreement for further expansion of the key elements.

The Chairperson said Mr Mketeni need not delve further into this point and that he instead continues to conclude the presentation.  The Chairperson reiterated that previously, questions about what the key features of the agreement are and what the respective roles of the stakeholders to the agreement are, had been asked. Particularly, what the key stakeholders are bringing into the agreement and what are they getting out. The point of raising these questions again is to gain clarity as the chairperson is still unsatisfied about the information provided in this regard.

In response, Ms McCourt stated that the one thing that binds everyone in that area is the potential economic opportunity from conservation as the predominant land use. The second thing is the ecological benefit for SANParks and landowners in that the fences have been put down and this allows the animals more movement. The third is that the greater the area for conservation the greater the opportunities are for marketing it as a premier conservation and tourism and destination both domestically and internationally. This gives great competitive ability to compete with other conservation and tourism destination in places outside of South Africa such as Botswana and Tanzania. SANParks’ concern has been the huge population of 2 million people on the western boundary that have been effectively shut out and unable to benefit from conservation and the proposed agreement aims to remedy this problem.

The Chairperson then rephrased the initial question so as to get a clearer understanding on what the respective parties are going to do under the agreement.

The response to this was that the agreement provides a framework under which stakeholders can negotiate all the standards and compliance for everyone, going forward in a joint manner. Everyone needs to start complying with the requirements of the relevant legislation (NEMPA) and annually, they will be audited to see if they meet these requirements. Mr Mketeni clarifies that there are also clear objectives and principles in the agreement which are found on page 7. Parties to the agreement agree that there are issues of community initiatives and support, responsible tourism opportunities. By agreeing to this, there must be transactions between the parties deliver on these. It is a start to ensuring that procurement, community participation and benefit scheme are implemented and that further transactions will happen to ensure implementation.

The Chairperson states that there seems to be a misunderstanding on part of SANParks officials in whether they understand what the question posed requires from them. he then proposes that they proceed to finish the presentation.

Mr Glenn Phillips proceeded to discuss the purpose of the agreement in terms of beneficiation. The first purpose was to address participation of local community and traditional authorities in the whole greater Kruger.  Previously, it was predominantly private land owners operating in the area and very few community operators and yet there is land with this potential. Secondly, it has to address the risks associated with cooperation with different legal statuses, business models and approaches to try and align them. Additionally, to facilitate cooperation and collaboration in issues of common interest, one of which is socio-economic development and capitalization on collective opportunities such as joint destination marketing. One of the biggest challenges in the region is unemployment which ranges from 38% in Mbombela and as one heads north of the Park; it worsens to over 50%. There are various ways which people can benefit from having a conservation area close to where they live, there’s the well-being aspect, employment, material and spiritual security, capacity building, infrastructure support, direct benefits from ecosystem, managing relationships and restoring rights. There exist a number of programmes that attempt to deal with these issues so as to address some of the requirements that came out of the land management plan. There need be a collective approach to realise these benefits. In terms of the proposed agreement, the stakeholders have resolved for there to be a cluster approach to the realisation of the benefits because of the large scale. At a macro scale, there has been an analysis of what each area lends itself to in terms of opportunity. The development plans of each region and each municipality are a part of the process.

The long-term objective is the growth of the total GDP and socio-economic impact on the region; the economy of Kruger which is 2 million ha with a multiplier effect of approximately R1.7 billion to the national GDP. The smaller reserves which bring in approximately 360 000 hectares, the multiplier effects are 2,318 million to the GDP. Even though they are smaller reserves, they bring in much more in terms of socio-economic development and the issue is how the big and small reserves, as a collective can magnify this impact. Part of the process is to form a team and annually, the parties are to report back on the progress that they have made in developing the GDP, moving forward.

Currently, there are 16 land claims in the communities and part of the restitution process is that SANParks plays a part in the beneficiation scheme. There are various elements to the scheme such as equity, participation in different projects and educational projects. The scheme has not been finalised yet but this is a parallel process to ensure that SANParks delivers on the cabinet decision of 2008.  

Some of the challenges include that fact that certain groupings are unhappy about the Cabinet decision of 2008. The decision was that there won’t be restitution of the land and that there will be a beneficiary scheme in perpetuity. There were two Cabinet decisions taken that affect SANParks and the stakeholders to the agreement. The first one was in 2008. That decision was that as a claimant you can get your title but the land use will not change, it will remain a conservation area. The decision in respect to Kruger National Park, because of its role, it was decided that under those options of settlement, it will have to financially compensate claimants. Additionally, it instructed that SANParks develops a beneficiary scheme to be signed by the claimant communities and SANParks. The agreement is still being negotiated with the land claimants and includes a percentage dedicated to education, equity, jobs and game.

When a land claim is settled, the land claims commission has to make a determination about whether restoration of the land is feasible or whether other avenues of settlement must be explored. This land was found to be not feasible for physical restoration but it was determined that the communities need to benefit. SANParks investment in the communities is on top of a financial settlement reached between the land claims commission and the communities. This was a settlement for 300 million rand paid to the communities as compensation. The beneficiary scheme is intended to give the communities, in perpetuity, an income stream as well as a stream if jobs and skills.

In another attempt to answer the Chairperson’s initial question as to the roles of each stakeholder, Mr Phillips said compliance oversight is done through the Executive Joint Management Committee on the Cooperative elements, and operationally at the Joint Operational Committee Clusters. All signatories must comply with the Protected Areas Act and all environmental legal frameworks. All entities need to have NEMPAA approved managements plans. Management authorities can be assigned by the Minister or Provincial MEC, need to manage the area as per approved Management Plan, and need to enforce compliance, and annual reports need to be submitted. Entities that are not compliant with the NEMPAA and Protected Area Norms may lose land use status, or a different management authority may be assigned and alternatively, entities may be fenced out. The agreement provides for the development of a range of protocols and guidelines, such as the responsible tourism guidelines, governance guidelines, and resource use Protocols and hunting protocols which will further provide the mechanism for assessments and to address non-compliance. There are METT assessments submitted and audited independently as well as annual reports submitted on all core elements of the Cooperative Agreement.

Mr Karl Naude, Deputy Director: Protected area Planning and Development, DEA, then proceeded to deal with the relevant provisions form NEMPAA that apply. Of these provisions, Mr Naude highlighted section 40, 41, 43 and 44 of NEMPAA.

Section 40: (1) The management authority must manage the area-

Exclusively for the purpose for which it is declared; and In accordance with –

            (i) the management plan for the area;

            (ii) this Act, the Biodiversity Act, the National Environmental Management Act and any other           applicable national legislation;

            (iii) any applicable provincial legislation, in the case of a provincial protected area; and

            (iv) any applicable municipal by-laws, in the case of a local protected area.

Section 41. Management Plans: (2): A management plan must contain at least:

(c) Such planning measures, controls and performance criteria as may  be prescribed:

(d) A programme for the implementation of the plan and its costing;

(g) A zoning of the area indicating what activities may take place in different sections of the area, and the conservation objectives of those sections…

Section 43. (1) (2) The Minister / MEC may establish indicators for monitoring performance with regard to the management of national protected areas /provincial and local protected areas and the conservation of the biodiversity in those areas.

(3) The management authority of a protected area must –

Monitor the area against the indicators set in terms of sections (1) or (2);

Annually report its findings to the Minister or MEC, as the case may be, or a person designated by the Minister of MEC.

(4) The Minister of MEC may appoint external auditors to monitor a management authority’s compliance with the overall objectives of the management plan.

Section 44. Termination of the mandate to manage protected area

If the management authority of a protected area is not performing its duties in terms of the management plan for the area, or is underperforming with regard to the management of the area or the biodiversity of the area, the Minister of the MEC, as the case may be, must-

Notify the management authority in writing of the failure to perform its duties or of the underperformance; and

Direct the management authority to take corrective steps set out in the notice within a specified time.

(2) If the management authority fails to take the required steps, the Minister of MEC may- Terminate the management authority’s mandate to manage the protected area; and Assign another organ of state as the management authority of the area.

The Chairperson requested that Mr Naude not continue to state the remaining relevant sections, due to time constraints.

Mr n Phillips proceeded to deal with the hunting protocols. He began by giving a brief history of hunting in the context of conservation. Importantly, that South Africa’s biodiversity conservation philosophy is largely based on the notion of sustainable utilisation of natural resources. SANParks’ policy framework does not allow for hunting in National Parks, although the legal framework of NEMPAA does provide for it. SANParks is committed in supporting ethical, sustainable and resilient wildlife economy initiatives in conservation areas adjacent and open to National Parks. Importantly, that there exists a draft hunting protocol is in line with IUCN best practice principles that are in the process of negotiation.

The Chairperson asked whether there is currently no hunting protocol in place to which Mr Phillips responded, stating that there currently exists no formal hunting protocol governing the opening system other than what is regulated through the MTPA LEDET.

Ms McCourt further clarified that the responsibility for hunting protocols lies within the domain of the provincial authorities (Mpumalanga and Limpopo). They are the authorities that receive and certify hunting applications and control as well as licensing. National Parks have no control over what provincial authorities do in respect to this. The role of SANParks would be to give input on what is being requested to be hunted from a conservation perspective.

The process to be followed in hunting protocols and processes followed in determining off-takes, is as follows:

  1. Management must have plans to provide for hunting, including cooperative aspects around it within an open landscape
  2. Ecological surveys, censuses and observations inform off-takes
  3. Must submit detailed post off-take records, in consideration with the above
  4. Off-take Committees must make recommendations and submit these to respective EXCO structures for approval
  5. EXCO then obtains support from KNP, MTPA and LEDET based on supporting documentation such as pre and post off-takes, information a management plans and signed protocols and members being part of the constitution
  6. MTPA or LEDET issues the permits, considering recommendations

The provincial authorities then perform due diligence and issue, regulate or regularise conservation areas. There are many aspects that need improvement, both procedurally and otherwise.

  1. Procedurally, the following governance aspects must improve:
  • Conduct joint censuses in the open system (as opposed to individualised recommendations), including joint ecological recommendations based on the broader system approach.
  • The necessary internal and external communication and dispute protocols should be in place (since the Greater Kruger cooperative conservation areas have multi-land owner Constitutions);
  • EXCO members of multi-party open conservation areas should endorse all hunting off-takes, and further amendments, in writing through the relevant joint Committee mechanisms;
  • All approved quotas should be made publicly known (feedback loop closed), but the rights of protected areas and hunter outfitters should be protected as per protocols;
  • External review and auditing of animal off-takes in the Greater Kruger system, as part of the current GLTFCA Cooperative Arrangements (in process).
  • The Management Plans of parties should ensure that the resource use practices, governance and zonation plans are adequately addressed and understood by land owners;
  • All Parties should be informed before a hunt – so unnecessary anti-poaching responses are not triggered.

 2. Open transparent communication between all parties, including a joint communication strategy, with a balanced view on all aspects of conservation management. The interest and stake of lobby-groups need to be clearly understood.

3. The Greater Kruger/GLTFCA protected area system must demonstrate their contribution to environmental, social and economic outcomes, and especially within the context of a broader regional cooperative system.

The Chairperson asks for clarity as to whether hunting has been taking place without any regulation since 1996 in the National Parks. He continues to state that the fences were dropped in 1996 allowing animals to roam freely and there was nothing put in place to safeguard the hunting of those animals. Given that fact that the putting down of the fences greatly benefits private nature reserves, was nothing done by Kruger National Park and SANParks to safeguard the hunting of these animals?

In response to this, Ms McCourt emphasised that this was also something that identified as a problem in 2015; hence, the proposed plan attempts to somewhat bridge this gap. The reality is up until 2016, the situation operated solely under Provincial legislation.

The Chairperson enquires about what the 1996 agreement said in this respect.

Ms McCourt stated that the 1996 agreement stated that the principles sustainable use, are accepted. That is how it was managed. Additionally, there were processes that needed to be set up so as to further structure the protocols around hunting and that never happened. Hunting was one area that was seen as a revenue generating avenue and not so much a management area. The proposed agreement; however, tries to remedy and control this.

The Chairperson remarked that this information is shocking because they all expected for there to be a protocol in place. On the cooperation agreement, he said the presentation failed to inform the Committee what it provides for exactly, except for the hinting protocols and off-take information which was sufficient.

Discussion

Mr R Purdon (DA) starts off by stating that he is cognisant of the challenges involved as well as the amount of work that has gone into the proposed agreement. Mr Purdon proceeded to pose the following questions to SANParks:

  1. Were the various municipalities and forums involved, attend the park management consultations mentioned in the Stakeholder workshops? This is a massive challenged as there are 2 million people living there.
  2. Does the protocol and proposed agreement supersede all the previous agreements?
  3. With respect to the JMC, who will sit on that Committee? It is unlikely that cannot be that all signatories will sit on the Committee. Will it be elected? Will it involve the provincial government?
  4. Presumably, prior to taking down of the fences in 1996, something had to be signed and an audit of animals had to take place, that’s how the buyer mass was calculated. Clarity in this regard is needed as to, on what basis for hunting or no hunting has been calculated. Was there an audit of animals?
  5. Additionally, clarity on the role of the provinces is needed. The provincial authorities are there for the applications of exporting regularities.
  6. What are the protocol effective dates and how long will it last? If a member of one of the signatories is not allowed to hunt, there’s a possibility that they put their own fences up. This would mean more expenses for Kruger National Park and would be detrimental for conservation.

In response to these questions, Mr Mketeni stated that the big question was whether the municipalities consulted. The answer was in the affirmative (yes). There as two letters that were written to DG and late Minister to ensure municipalities are on board for implementation.

With respect to the 1996 agreement, is very difficult for the current management to respond to that question because it has the very same questions itself but without answers to those questions of whether there was any census taken. A buffer zone was developed but it did not speak to the core issue. Coming to SANParks, the current management prioritized finding answers to these very questions without any success.

The issue of hunting for your fridge, they are contributing to conservation. This is an incentive for them. At the same time, the risk of them putting up their own fences, the risk is very high; hence, there is a need for a balancing act. This is an issue we can get back to the Committee about. Mr Phillips added the following contributions to the questions asked, in terms of whether municipalities were in attendance, some of them did attend and others were unable to attend. However; there will still be further deliberations to discuss implementation of the agreement. With respect to the new agreement, it supersedes all other existing agreements. The JMC is constituted by the chairperson of each of the signatories as well as the head ranger or warden of each of the areas in the JMC. There is a joint operations Committee that each cluster has and that will feed into the JMC. The joint operations Committee will be doing all the hard work in ensuring regularisation. The JMC is really about dealing with the strategic aspects rather than the day-to-day regulation.  In terms of the protocol, currently, it was decided that it will last for three years but this can be altered by way of negotiation and agreement, moving forward.

It is important to note the current dynamics of the areas that are reflected and were spoken about during the presentation when looking at the role of the provinces. Most of these areas are owned by communities as land claimed and resituated but remained as conservation areas. In terms of the off-takes communication between management authorities such as Limpopo and MTPA with the land owners as per the restitution;  one would find that the process of the census, management plan and scientific interface between them and permits in terms of the off-takes, then the management authorities would take care of that. It is not the management authorities alone; the owners of the land must be factored in terms of their expectations in the process. The above is the nature of the relationship between the provinces and parties to the proposed agreement.

Mr Purdon asks for clarity on the members of the JMC and whether SANParks also constitutes a part of the membership of the JMC.

In response, Mr Phillips states that he is currently the chair of the JMC along with the general manager of conservation services and the general manager of scientific services as well as the chief ranger. It is a new structure in terms of trying to get everyone to follow initiate implementation of key issues such as safety and security.

The Chairperson posed the question of how previous off-takes worked in the past as well as the issuing of hunting permits and what the role of SANParks was in this regard.

The response by Mr Phillips was that the said function was the responsibility of the provinces and SANParks plays a purely commentary role from an ecological perspective.

 Mr Mketeni added that there was no joint consensus in this process, the off-takes were done separately.

The Chairperson remarks that he received information and as part of the information, was a photograph of the former Minister under the Apartheid era, announcing the dropping of the fences. From this information, it is clear that the fences did not first drop in 1996. The point of the discussion was to try and zoom into what the previous agreement said and what is in the current agreement. There is a clear benefit to the private nature reserves and it was not Kruger National Park that benefited so the Committee was hoping to get more clarity on the arrangement. Furthermore, the argument about expanding the protection footprint of nature reserves does not hold water because these were private nature reserves that were already protected. The question as to why the fences were taken down and what is the role of each party is, remains unanswered. A lot of work has been put into the current agreement and this should have been done a long time ago; however, the chairperson remains unsatisfied about what the cooperation agreement says. It is still a draft agreement because the Committee still needs clarity from the minister.

Mr Purdon remarks that working out the off-takes is not an easy task as animals are migratory by nature. The JMC has a hard job ahead of it. However; no one mentioned the impact of tourism. The chairperson adds that tourism is another clear benefit as private reserves now have accesses to animals that were not there before as a result of having taken down the fences.

Mr Mketeni agreed with the chairperson’s first point that it is highly possible that the fences did not start dropping in 1996. The chairperson’s concerns about the absence of a hunting protocol are even more reason why the implantation of the draft hunting protocols needs to be speed up.

In terms of tourism, it has been taken into account, firstly how tourism is measured as well as its impact. Hence the development of the responsible tourism tool kit that everyone will ascribe too as well as fair trade tourism to a tender process was appointed to develop those minimum standards.

The Chairperson concludes this part of the meeting by stating that, there will still be further engagements once the Minister is present. He re-emphasised that SANParks should move forward with the hunting protocols.

Presentation of quarterly reports:

In the interests of time, Ms Bunding-Venter was asked to only discuss the targets which SANParks has been unable to meet.

In terms of the percentage of reduction of water consumption, SANParks has not completed the audits that have to be done involving Marakele National Parks as there are no bath water meters installed for baseline determination as well as in Augrabies and Mapungubwe. The cost estimates to install these meters are being explored. However; there has been a 27% reduction in Agulhas Nation Park and a 95% reduction in Bontebok National Park, with a slight increase in the West National Park of 3%. There has been a 2.59% increase in water consumption in Kruger National Park due to the high temperatures and low rainfall during October to November which led to increased water consumption at the large camps and staff villages.

Looking at the total hectares of Land Rehabilitated - SANParks is only as 77% of the target it set for quarter three, which is 21 908 hectares.  The Parks are below target by 23% due to the fires in the GRNP which destroyed most of the planned areas for initial alien invasive vegetation clearing. The reduction of the WfW & Ecosystem budgets to make provision for VAT might also impact on the achievement of the annual target. In terms of the Follow-up target which is 124,799 hectares, there was a late start by Kruger National Park due to a new selection process of contractors, Table Mountain management problems as well as project management capacity in the Garden Route. SANParks has only rehabilitated 2,905 m³ of wetlands which is below target. The project of rehabilitation of wetlands commenced four months later than planned due to delays in finalisation of the Memorandum of Agreement process between SANParks and Department of Environmental Affairs; and the redesign of structures in Marakele which will impact on the cubic meters target for the year.

The next performance indicator discussed was the total Number of Park Management Plans Reviewed and Submitted as per annum, was also below target. The draft Management Plan for Mapungubwe National Park was completed and is ready for stakeholder participation. The draft Management Plan for the Garden Route NP is behind schedule due to the fires in the area. A disaster recovery plan is in place to catch up with everything that needs to be done.

The percentage implementation of the annual Elephant Plan, SANParks is on 67% (6/9) of the scheduled activities were completed. Outstanding activities include; in the Kruger National Park, Intervention Proposal to disturb elephants at a local scale must still be finalised. In Mapungubwe National Park, a report tracking elephant incursions into enclosures aimed at protecting forest and culturally sensitive sites was not completed. In Addo Elephant National Park, the number of elephant bulls moved from Tembe to Addo Main Camp.

The percentage implementation of SANParks Wildlife Utilization Strategic Plan, SANParks is at 81.3% delivery of planned quarterly activities. The planned capture and delivery of animals donated to two local communities around Marakele National Park was delayed due to the concerns for the wellbeing of the animals given the high temperatures and the start of the lambing/calving season. Additionally, the delivery of all outstanding animals for both loans and donations will resume in March 2019 with the opening of the game capture seas.

The percentage implementation of Cultural Heritage Management Plan, SANParks has only completed 70% (7/10) of the planned Quarter three activities. The following were not implemented; International Facilitators; MOU delayed by Ditsong Officials and Funding proposal for Thulamela.

The total Number of Visitors to National Parks has decreased by 3.9% year on year. This is due to factors such as VAT increases and subsequent increases on commodities such as fuel, differential conservation fees that were implemented at TMNP in November 2018. From a comparative analysis, domestic Tourism, as reported by StatsSA declined by -11.8% during Quarter 1 of 2018/19 while SANParks decline in domestic visitors was -3.6%.

The total number of accommodation unit nights sold was 445 735 unit nights sold which is a d decrease by 2.1% from 456 056 to 445735. The national average declined by -2.3% and a number of units have been decommissioned for maintenance and or refurbishments.

The total number of revenue generating products implemented, there were 2 revenue generating products (against a target of 4) implemented, namely the Boulders retail facility & the Golden Gate Classics. The Letaba and Phalaborwa lodge concessions on hold due to land claimant enquiries which has now been resolved and the tender will be adapted accordingly.

The rand value spent on SMME’s through EPWP was R 146.755 million spent on SMMEs. This target was missed due to the /Ai/Ais-Richtersveld project not commencing.

The number of social legacy projects implemented is zero as all projects were still in planning and procurement phase by end of December 2018.

With respect to employment equity, SANParks currently has a total male to female ratio of 1:0.6 which is below the target of 1:0.7.

The percentage of payroll spent on the Skills Development Programme, they’ve only used 0.69 % of the targeted 3% (R8.5 million) of payroll spent against a budget of R942.7 million). The bulk of the payment is paid out in Quarter four for bursaries.

The total revenue generated from fundraising per annum was R17.8 million was raised. This is below the target of 12.6 million per quarter. Overall, SANParks has achieved 72% of its targets and are close to achieving another 12%.

Mr Dlamini in his capacity as CFO of SANParks, said SANParks revenue is behind target by R35 million. Economic and fuel factors as well as the issues of an increase in VAT have resulted in lower numbers of visitors to the Parks. All of these impact on revenue lines, including, tourism income stream and gross profit. In terms of special projects, the income that has been recognised is far below what was expected. In terms of total expenditure is 11% behind target. Maintenance costs are far behind target of R72 million as a result of lack of capacity of people who are able to maintain the infrastructure as well as delayed procurement as SCM is quite a challenge in the public sector. People costs expenditure is also behind by R40 million. The bulk of it is vacancies that have not been filled. In terms of operating costs, SANParks is below budget of R34 million and a lot of it is, data, airtime and IT services.

Discussion

The Chairperson remarked that the Committee had previously asked for more detail in the financial highlights’ component of the quarterly report.

Mr Mketeni confirmed this point.

The Chairperson warns against forgetting to incorporate this feedback regarding more detail about financial expenditure, in future.

With regard to failure to reach maintenance costs targets, Mr Dlamini mentioned that it is attributed to lack of capacity.

Mr Purdon asked for more clarity on this point. Additionally, to what extend can SANParks outsource SMMEs? There were projects such as /Ai/Ais-Richtersveld that had not commenced, why was this? With regards to the increase in water consumption, does the new lodge have recycling facilities?

The Chairperson expresses the same interest in knowing the answers to the first two questions posed by Mr Purdon.

In response, Mr Dlamini stated that there is a team in place that assists the Parks in their daily maintenance issues. They are currently experiencing a high vacancy in that team because plumbers, engineers and mechanics are in high demand and as a result, they keep getting poached by different organisations willing to pay more than what SANParks pays. There aren’t enough construction companies to assist the Parks with maintenance. There was a tender process that was initiated by SANParks 12 months ago to assist with maintenance, of those SMMEs that applied; SANParks was only able to award the tender to one service provider because the majority of the rest did not meet the SMME criteria. That company has already started working with backlog maintenance. There are not enough SMME officials to carry out the job efficiently. That has been the major challenge. SANParks is currently trying to get other State entities to allow SANParks to tap into their systems so as to assist them in its maintenance issues.

The Chairperson asks why SANParks cannot hire another manager, using money allocated to human resources as it is available.

Mr Dlamini responds by stating that he has just signed for a manger to join the team at the end of February. SANParks has approached GTECH under the National Treasury to assist it to place people within SANParks and currently, this process is moving at a snail pace because the National Treasury Office of Chief Procurement Officer has not signed a deviation to appoint GTECH.

Mr Phillips gave insight from the Kruger National Parks perspective and stated that over the last 10years, there have been a concerted effort in terms of small contractor development. The problem is that the amount of money Kruger National Parks pays is not meeting the demand for these skills within the industry; hence, staff and managers get poached by other company’s paying a higher salary. This resulted in having to do the same project two or three times which meant more money was spent. On this premise, it was decided that it would be better to start hiring bigger contractors to lessen the margin of error and costs involved in doing projects multiple times. It is a myriad of supply chain issues.

The Chairperson further posed the question of whether SANParks has a unit that deals with infrastructure seeing that there is a lot of infrastructure being done.

Mr Mketeni responded by stating that SANParks does have a unit; however, there is no separate dedicated capacity for infrastructure is all centralised but in terms of project planning, monitoring and professional services, there is a unit doing that. In the new structure, we have identified a need for an infrastructure management for a more refined focus. With respect to the new lodge, the latest green technology is being implemented. There are grey water systems that are implemented which will be monitored and measured regularly.

With regard to the number of visitors, Ms S Mchunu (ANC) sought clarity on whether it the number of local visitors or international visitors had decreased, instead of being provided with a blanket figure.  

Ms McCourt stated that the /Ai/Ais-Richtersveld project was already signed off in 2014 but because of logistical problems between /Ai/Ais-Richtersveld, they could not agreement in terms of an MOU to decide between them in terms of which percentage goes which of the two different entities. As the years continued, there were costs increasing and carrying out the project, which is why it was stopped.

Mr Mketeni provided clarity on the number of visitors coming to the Parks. He stated the majority of visitors are local (70%). Locals are more affected in terms of travelling to Parks.

Update: Preparations for Cites COP 2018

Mr Munzhedzi Shonisani Deputy Director-General: Biodiversity and Conservation, DEA, began the presentation by stating that a lot of work has been put into the preparations for the Cites COP 18 in anticipation of the upcoming conference in Sri Lanka. Countries that have to make proposals as part of CITES, must make them prior to the 150 days of the commencement of the COP. After the deadline of the 24th of December, it was necessary to look at how many proposals had been submitted and how many related to South Africa and thereafter prepare a response to these proposals. A combination of proposals and draft resolutions of close to 162, have been reviewed by Mr Shonisani and his department, in preparation for the conference. An open call for proposals from interested parties within South Africa to be considered by the Department, was made known through newspaper outlets, early in the year. The screening process of these proposals was generated by way of a scientific authority process which works against the CITES criteria. If it is a proposal for uplifting or any other type of lifting as there are different lifting within CITES. Once the proposals were analysed, they were sent to the department with recommendations on how to take them forward.

Three proposals from South Africa were advanced by the department. The first one related to amending the listing of Aloe Ferox in Appendix II, meaning that one can trade but there are conditions to this (listed as ‘annotations’). For goods to traded and exported in South Africa, there is a stringent CITES process that must be followed. With the abundance of Aloe Ferox of in South Africa as well as the fact that the species is not subjected to concerning forms of trade that affect its survival in the wild, a proposal to release regulations under CITES has been drafted and will be presented at the conference; however, local trade regulations will still be applicable.

The Chairperson asked whether the aloe that Mr Shonisani is referring to, is the aloe that the Committee knows as it had been shown to the Committee by the Minister of Finance.

Mr Shonisani responds by stating that the aloe he is referring to is the same Aloe brought by the Minister. He further states that there is an abundance of the aloe in areas such as the Eastern Cape; however, there are hindrances because of CITES regulations that prevent people from reaping the full benefits of these.

The second proposal relates to the need to increase South Africa’s export quota for black rhinoceros hunting trophies from five adult male black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis) to a total number of adult male black rhinoceros not exceeding 0.5% of the total black rhinoceros population in South Africa in the year of export. On CITES currently, South Africa has a maximum of 5 percentage quota. The third proposal relates to the need to extend the decision on trade in Captive bred African grey parrots to allow South to register captive breeding facilities as people trading in these are no longer permitted to source them from the wild. South Africa has currently registered 83 captive bred facilities of the African Grey Parrots. South Africa, as the largest exporter, exports approximately, 80 000 breeds. In the last CORPS, South Africa was directed to register all of the existing captive breeding facilities.

The chairperson enquired about why the African grey Parrots are being exported.

Mr Shonisani responded by stating that the reason for their export, is that they are to be used as pets for personal use and others for a variety of purposes. 140 of those captive breeds have been done. A proposal asking for an extension of the given deadline will also be put through by the department.

There are a number of proposals that have an affect South Africa; however, the department has not put forward a proposal that South Africa can trade in rhino horns. South Africa’s rhinos are still listed in Appendix II. There is a proposal by Ewatini to remove the existing annotation which only allows export of live rhino, to allow other specimen's such as rhino horn facilities for the population of Eswatini. Additionally, there is a proposal by Namibia to have its population of Ceratotherium simum of Namibia from Appendix I to Appendix II and thus; be allowed to trade in live animals and hunting trophies.

There is a new resolution concerning the African lion that Nigeria has put forward, in effect, putting more stringent measures to prevent the hunting of these animals. Such a resolution affects other countries and it is not merely confined to Nigeria as the threat of lions being hunted exists for all lions in the wild and otherwise.

Year ago, South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe were allowed to have a once-off sale of ivory to a specific destination country that came from, Japan was one of them. That agreement took place in 2007. There was an annotation that was written to this effect which has now being ruled off. The annotation stated that these countries are not to return to CITES COPS to ask for another once-off sale in ivory for 9 years from the date of the single sale. This time period has since lapsed.

An additional proposal was put forward by Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon, Kenya, Liberia, Niger, Nigeria, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic and Togo to transfer the populations of Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe from App. II to App. I.

Zambia has put forward that it wants to Transfer the population of Zambia from App. I to App. II subject to; trade in registered raw ivory (tusks and pieces) for commercial purposes only to CITES approved trading partners who will not re-export. Additionally, trade in hunting trophies for non-commercial purposes; trade in hides and leather goods as well as for all other specimens to be deemed to be specimens of species in Appendix I and the trade in them to be regulated accordingly.

South Africa has co-sponsored a proposal which will look at the review of the convention. Numerous changes have been made since having held the COPS conventions, some of the changes are moving away from the essence of COPs. COPs are there to ensure that international trade in endangered species does not compromise the survival of species in the wild. Some of the proposals put forward do not meet the requirements and this is a problem as it undermines the purpose of COPs as well as the goals it has set out to achieve. The rules of procedures need to be reviewed. Moreover, there needs to be a clear distinction between legally and illegally acquired species.

Relevant agenda items with direct implications for South Africa include:

  • Rules of Procedure for COP 18 – proposal to adjust the rules so as to create uniform rules applying to all the countries
  • Demand reduction strategies to combat illegal trade in CITES-listed species – Parties are requested to invest a lot in demand reduction. One must ensure that where illegal trade does not compromise the survival of the species in the wild, it must be allowed to continue.
  • Rural Communities – there need be a system to allow those affected to be heard. Be it in the formulation of decisions affecting them or feedback on decisions already taken.
  • Domestic markets for frequently illegally traded specimens – intended to address domestic illegal trade. CITES need not go beyond its mandate of dealing with international trade and give additional mandates to countries.
  • Due diligence by CITES Parties and obligations of importing countries – irrespective of whether there’s illegal trade and a receiving country. The receiving country must still require certain documentation and perform due diligence and be responsible by checking that goods are being obtained legally.        
  • Simplified procedure for permits and certificates – important for the receiving countries to take responsibility for species that they have received and in doing so, obtain the correct permits within their relevant countries and comply with the prescribed procedures for maintenance of the species and or disposal.
  • Definition of the term 'appropriate and acceptable destinations' – most of the lions and rhino specimens, CITES will dictate that these must go to ‘appropriate and acceptable destinations’ without comprehensively defining this but rather providing indicators of what such said destination will encompass.
  • Implementation of the Convention relating to captive-bred and ranched specimens – most of the animals being trades are historically coming from species that were sold from the wild. This has changed and most of the animals are now coming from the captive-bred and ranched specimens.
  • Illegal trade in cheetahs – this is to address the illegal trade of cheetahs.
  • Illegal trade in elephants – there is a monitoring group that is tasked with monitoring activities impacting elephants.
  • There is an additional proposal from Nigeria and Chad to have the Giraffe listed in Appendix II as it is currently not a CITES listed issue.

In each one of the resolutions and proposals, the department has indicated the position of South Africa and given reasons or this position. The Department has initiated a Cabinet process that will give the department a mandate with regards to all the proposals having a direct implication on South Africa. Moreover, there has been a task team set up to assist in finalization of South Africa’s mandate with regards to the various resolutions and proposals.

Discussion

Mr Purdon remarked that on the agenda of items with direct implications for South Africa, there is no indication whether South Africa will oppose, support or propose anything with regards to the agenda items. Additionally, that the Eswatini and Nambia proposals are vague and he would appreciate more clarity on these proposals. In addition to this, more clarity on South Africa’s proposed export quota for black rhino horn to not exceeding 0.5% and who will decide these figures.

In response to this, Mr Shonisani stated that the Namibian proposal calls for the transfer of population from Appendix I to Appendix II. Currently, they are not in the position of South Africa which has an annotation that allows for hunting trophies and live animals. The proposal is looking at the placing Namibia in a position similar to South Africa’s position in terms of hunting trophies and live animals. The proposal differs from that of Eswatini in that, the latter speaks to the removal of the annotation (conditions) attached to Appendix II. A document motivating the proposal has been compiled by Eswatini. A decision from South Africa looks at a number of issues such as enforceability and trends over the years. Currently, there has been no pronouncement as to South Africa’s response, support or opposing.

The black rhino has been qualified in the proposals to state that only the males that have gone past its productive stage will be subjected to what is proposed. Although the qualified males play an ecological roe, they no longer play a reproductive role and as such that must be stringent processes and conditions applied so as to not interfere with the population of the black rhino.

The Chairperson concluded the discussion by thanking Mr Shonisani and his delegation.

Meeting adjourned.

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