Koning van oerwoud nou ‘n ‘sak waardelose bene’

Die koning van die oerwoud is Sondagaand op die COP17beraad in Sandton tot ‘n “sak waardelose bene” gereduseer.

So het die nieregeringsorganisasie Blood Lions Official gisteroggend getwiet oor die konven sie oor die internasionale handel in bedreigde spesies (Cites) se besluit dat die liggaamsdele van SuidAfrika se geblikte leeus uitgevoer mag word.

Cites het wel bepaal dat die beendere, tande en pote van wilde leeus wat aan natuurlike oorsake dood is nie na Asie uitge voer mag word nie.

Maar hy is nie gekant daarteen dat die liggaamsdele van die sowat 8 000 geblikte leeus wat in klein kampies in SuidAfrika geteel word, gebruik word nie.

Dit was ondanks die Wereldbewaringsunie (IUCN) se beroep op SuidAfrika om die geblikteleeubedryf te staak.

Karen Trendler van Four Paws se dit is ‘n tragedie.

“Dit is ‘n ontnugterende besef dat Cites ‘n handelsorganisasie is en dit [COP171 ‘n spel is wat om politieke getalle wentel.”

Edna Molewa, minister van omgewingsake, het die IUCN se beraad bygewoon wat in September in Hawaii gehou is.

People Against Canned Hunting (Pach) het getwiet: “Dankie, Cites. Panthera leo sal teen 2030 uitsterf.”

Leeus word intensief op nagenoeg 200 SuidAfrikaanse plase, Koning van oerwoud nou ‘n ‘sal( waardelose bene’ Elize Tempelhoff veral in die Vrystaat, Noordwes en Limpopo, geteel.

Molewa se dit is nie onwettig om wild in SuidAfrika te teel nie. Sy beskou dit as “volhoubare benutting”. Sy se die welsyn van die leeus in gevangenskap bekommer haar tog en haar departement ondersoek dit.

EXCLUSIVE: WATCH: Joburg market sells illegal wildlife products just down the road from CITES CoP17

Cape Town – This 5-minute raw footage taken at the Faraday Muthi market, in Selby, Johannesburg shows skins and animal parts of endangered species from cheetah, leopard, lion, chimp hands, hyena, pangolin, vulture.

This while just down the road in Sandton, more than 3 500 delegates from 183 member state countries attended the 17th Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora kicks  – one of the most important wildlife conferences focused on the protection and monitoring of trade in wildlife.

Yet at this Joburg market, a rather well-known muthi market in fact, the video clearly shows rampant trade in illegal wildlife products, most of which have very specific restrictions attached to trade, if any is even allowed.

The person who took the video and shared it with Blood Lions wishes to remain anonymous, but confirmed the video’s authenticity to Traveller24 and that it was taken in this week, saying it was “alarming to see so many leopard skins available”.

In January this year the Department of Environmental Affairs set provincial leopard trophy hunting quotas at zero for 2016, effectively banning leopard trophy hunting throughout South Africa for a year.

This calls into question the origin of these products, which include Pangolin skin, just moved up to CITES Appendix I as critically endangered. Other illegal products include lion skins and bone as well as endangered vulture species.

Traveller24 spoke to Green Scorpions Environmental Management Inspector for Complaints Andrew Mbhalati who is acting head for Green Scorpions head Lawrence Badenhorst at the moment, but he could not confirm if the market was being investigated.

Mbhalati says he would only be able to follow-up on the matter on Monday, when the necessary official Eric Mbela who deals with Biodiversity issues was back in the office.

‘We rely on the public to lodge a complaint’ 

Mbhalati says, “We rely on the public to lodge a complaint, where after the issues are then registered and we send the inspectors to investigate further.” He could not confirm that the division actively investigates or patrols well-known markets such as Faraday.

But given that the film was shot in this week, it does not appear as if this particular one is being actively monitored.

Ian Michler, the investigative conservationist behind the documentary Blood Lions who has seen the video told Traveller24 that while no official complaint has been laid, Blood Lions would definitely be collecting a full body of information in order to do so.

Michler says, “The striking irony of this is that a mere 15km from where the world has been holding the most important conference on the trade of endangered species is that these products are being traded in a market.

“The video shows everything from lion and vultures and crocodiles and primate hands.”

‘Greatest irony and sadness in actual fact’ 

Michler says that while it is all good and well for the stakeholders to hold intellectual discussions on the endangered species, it highlights how little is actually being done on the ground and exactly why these species are in trouble.

“It is one thing to accord them protection in writing but it is another to enforce those laws entirely which CITES needs to be aware of,” says Michler.

“It is the greatest irony and sadness in actual fact,” says Michler.

When told that the Green Scorpions rely largely on investigating complaints made by the public or organisations who witness the illegal trader Michler says, “This is an indictment on local and national government, the fact that a country of South Africa’s stature when it comes to wildlife cannot get a rudimentary protection force together to carry out their mandate.”

Michler says, “At least give them the capabilities to patrol markets in the heart of the city – because this is what it boils down to, we are not talking about markets that are in the middle of nowhere. These are visible to everyone. It is extremely sad and a very concerning situation – that they don’t have the resources to carry out the most basic regulatory mandate.”

Michler says Blood Lions would be looking at other areas in the CBD as well as try to ascertain who the suppliers to these markets area as part of its official complaint.

NSPCA Wildlife aware of the muthi market

National Council of SPCA spokesperson Isobel Wentzel told Traveller24 that while they are aware of the market it falls out of their domain.

“We don’t have proof on how the animals are killed, it would be about the manner in how they were killed or proof of cruelty. The fact is we don’t know if they were alive when the parts were chopped off.”

However Wentzel says, “Market traders need to be in possession of a wildlife trader permit, which must be regulated as it is issued subject to specific quotas. They need permits even if it’s for traditional medicine.”

Wentzel agreed that all known muthi market across the various provinces need to be checked on, especially to establish proof of origin.

CITES regulates international and not domestic trade

“Conservation enforcement departments have to check if these guys have been issued permits. But its clear some of the species they can’t get permits to trade in”, which is the key issue here according to Wentzel.

While CITES regulates international and not domestic trade, Wentzel says these traders are still accountable as it is illegal to take animals such as pangolin out of the wild, let alone sell them.

“You cannot take animals out of the wild; it must be legally bred in captivity in order to trade some of them.”

Wentzel also suggests that it is unlikely these parts came from animals that died of natural causes.

“If animals die of natural causes a permit needs to be obtained just to keep the horn of rhino for example. Leopard or cheetah skins cannot leave that property unless they have a registered wildlife permit. Curios all have permits for their wildlife items.

“Even if they call it traditional medicine or muthi markets they are not exempted from the law.”

‘Verligting’ oor geblikte leeus

Die geblikte leeubedryf in SuidAfrika mag voortgaan.

Edna Molewa, minister van omgewingsake, het Dinsdagmiddag op die laaste mediakonferensie van Cites se COP17beraad gese leeuboere sal hul teelgeriewe nou by Cites moet registreer as hulle leeubeendere na die Ooste wil uitvoer. Leeubeendere sal net met Citespermitte uitgevoer mag word.

Carla van der Vyver, uitvoerende hoof van die SuidAfrikaanse Roofdiertelersvereniging, het gese die leeubedryf is “baie verlig en bly” dat hulle nie gesluit gaan word nie en dat hulle met hul sake kan voortgaan.

Ian Michler van Invent Africa, wat hom sedert 1997 daarvoor beywer dat die bedryf gesluit moet word, het gese dit is skokkend dat Cites SuidAfrika toelaat om met leeus en ander wild te teel.

Dit is veral “onbegryplik” dat Cites Saterdag besluit het genie we waar tiers in China geteel word, moet gesluit word.

Die Environmental Investigating Agency (EIA) het op die beraad gese navorsing wat hulle gedoen het, het gewys dat die teel van tiers in aanhouding en die verhandeling van hul beendere, tande en pote stropery van wilde tiers laat toeneem het.

Volgens Molewa het “wetenskaplike navorsing” in SuidAfrika gewys die teel en verhandeling van leeus se beendere, tande en pote is ‘n “bewaringsinstrument” vir die land se sowat 4 000 wilde leeus.

Sy meen dat die tussen 6 000 en 8 000 halfmak leeus in die vraag na die dier se skelet in die Ooste kan voorsien.

Molewa het voorts gese haar departement en die departement van landbou, bosbou en visserye wat tans die bedryf “reguleer”, is besig om gesamentlik wetgewing op te stel wat ten doel het om na die welsyn van die geblikte leeus om te sien.

Die welsynsaspekte wat betref die wyse waarop leeus geteel, in hokke aangehou en doodgemaak word, is egter vir haar ‘n bron van kommer.

Sy meen steeds dat die diere as trofee gejag mag word, maar dat streng regulasies moet geld.

Volgens haar doen elke provinsie nou “net wat hy wil” wanneer leeujagtogte onderneem word. Die departement van omgewingsake bepaal dat ‘n halfmak leeu net in ‘n plek van 1 000 ha vrygelaat moet word voordat hy gejag mag word. Die dier mag ook nie van ‘n bakkie gejag word, met aas gelok word of bedwelmd wees nie.

Die departement onderhandel nou met die departement van landbou, bosbou en visserye dat leeus wat in aanhouding geteel is, tyd gegun word om “weer wild te raak” sodat hulle ‘n regverdige wegkomkans het wanneer hulle gejag word. Sodanige tydperk kan enigiets van een tot twee jaar wees. “Die tydperk sal met ons susterdepartement onderhandel word,” het sy gese.

Van der Vyver het gese ‘n leeuskelet (met die kop aan) is sowat R25 000 werd.

Michler, een van die vervaardigers van die opspraakwekkende dokumentere rolprent Blood Lions, het gese hul veldtog teen die onetiese bedryf gaan verskerp word.