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South Africa’s wildlife shake-up: Now’s the time for opponents to bury the hatchet

This is an excerpt from an article written by Don Pinnock and published online by Daily Maverick on 02 May, 2021

The High-Level Panel report on Lions, Rhinos, Elephants and Leopards marks a tectonic shift from apartheid-era exclusive ownership and use of wildlife to a more inclusive and transformative approach that acknowledges community stewardship of conservation and the sentience and welfare of animals. It’s not all the way there, but it’s a remarkable start.

The report began with the 2018 Parliamentary Colloquium on lion farming and would probably not have happened without that historic kickstart. It’s merely a report of course, albeit a massive and comprehensive one, and many reports have been buried and forgotten in the past. What started in Parliament must now end in Parliament as law, and that still lies ahead. 

But the momentum that propelled the report goes much further back than 2018 and this is more likely to accelerate than to slow. 

The report has followed the wheel tracks of documentaries such as Blood Lions, forensic and innovative reports from NGOs like the EMS, Landmark and Born Free foundations, Ban Animal Trading, Humane Society International-Africa, the Cape Leopard Trust, legal challenges by the National Council of SPCAs (NSPCA), high and Constitutional Court findings against cruelty and on the sentience of animals, landmark legal opinions by law firms such as Cullinan and Associates and the Centre for Environmental Rights and on exposés by media organisations such as the Mail & Guardian, Oxpeckers and Daily Maverick. And more recently, impetus was added when responsible tourism and the mainstream conservation sectors got involved.