A campaign which had more than 45000 people sharing their opinion on the Meat Safety Act amendments found that many people were unsatisfied with the government’s plan to allow more endangered species to be consumed and traded.
Dear SA, a non-profit platform which allows public participation in government policies and amendments, found an overwhelming number of people objected to expansion of the list of endangered animals for consumption and trade which includes rhino, elephant, hippo, undefined birds and reptiles.
Enviro Expert Coalition spokesperson Chloe Roberts said: “Based on the opinions that we received during the public participation process, an important trend was acknowledged that if an endangered species is given approval to proceed with full commercial use in a country that already has existing poaching problems and a weakening economy as a result of the pandemic, then this will observe a tremendous concern over the increase of criminal activities. Poverty, hunger and corruption may further contribute to the existing problem leaving the animals at the peril of human exploitation.”
Roberts said they noticed last year that the minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries added 33 new mammal species to Table 7 of the regulations under the Animal Improvement Act (Act No.62 of 1998).
The act serves to regulate the breeding and identification of animals in South Africa.
She said the proposed amendment notice on the Meat Safety Act, 2000 (Act No 40 of 2000) this year, showed a remarkable similarity among the species being put forward in the Animal Improvement Act amendment from last year, such as the giraffe, white rhino and black rhino.
“Although the Meat Safety Act has been put in place to safely regulate the slaughter and consumption of animals, the listing of endangered species wasn’t well-received by the public,” she said.
Dear SA managing director Rob Hutchinson said: “Many of the comments from the public were informed and passionate. Of particular concern to most is the proposal to add species such as elephant and rhino to the list of animals suitable for human meat consumption. Not only were some of the ‘new species’ listed already endangered, but they are already considered highly commercialised in a conservation sense.”
Roberts said: “The consequences of allowing endangered or vulnerable species to become a part of the Meat Safety Act may be severe due to an already fragile ecosystem.”
Another concern was the further mitigation of the illegal rhino horn and ivory trade if these endangered species are being commercially farmed.