The welfare of South Africa’s wild animals is in the hopelessly wrong hands of the food police – this has to change urgently

This is an excerpt from an article written by Don Pinnock and published online by Daily Maverick on 09 December, 2021

The welfare of wild animals in South Africa is being thrown under a bus by dithering departments and inappropriate legislators.

Giving the job of drafting wild animal welfare legislation to the Department of Agriculture is like asking a jackal to look after your ducks. It’s the wrong department for the job. They’re the food police. They administer the Meat Safety Act, the Animal Improvement Act, chopping trees, drought relief, catching fish, pets, draft and performing animals, and exporting sheep. Their vision is sustainable agriculture and food security, for God’s sake.

If you put “animal welfare” into the search box on its website you get Animal Production, Wildlife Ranching, Aquaculture and Animal Improvement. Yet for almost two decades they’ve been tasked with drawing up an Animal Welfare Act. Doesn’t show.

Michele Pickover of the EMS Foundation got it right when she said: “We urgently need new legislative protection for wild animals, but DALRRD lack the competency to write it. Also, the department’s business is slaughter and production plus they’re in bed with the industry. They’re the wrong people to be tasked with wild animal welfare.

Right now there’s a team of vets supposedly writing an Animal Welfare Bill. Outsiders are not welcome. When the job’s done, they say they’ll consult other stakeholders. The drafters, all Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) insiders, have limited expertise in ethical conservation management, biodiversity policies, wildlife trade legislation or animal protection, economics and welfare. Even Parliament raised a red flag.