By Tony Carnie
The government is hoping recent changes to environmental laws will reduce the number of sham rhino hunts, by closing loopholes exploited by professional hunters and hunting outfitters.
The Department of Water and Environmental Affairs said the amendments, gazetted by President Jacob Zuma late last month, would not put an end to illegal rhino poaching.
However, the changes would help limit the potential abuse of the permit system which is used to regulate the legal hunting of rhinos in South Africa.
Although the department did not refer to specific examples, there have been cases of several rhinos being shot by foreign “hunters” in different provinces, under the pretext of legal trophy hunting. The horns were then exported to Vietnam and other Far East nations for use in traditional medicine.
In terms of the new amendments to the National Environmental Management Act, the government can now suspend, defer or cancel hunting permits if the hunting outfitter or professional hunter is already facing a criminal investigation for alleged contraventions of environmental laws.
The minister of environmental affairs and permit authorities could also refuse to issue permits for rhino hunts, if they believed these hunts were “likely to have a negative impact on the survival” of rhinos or other protected/threatened species. More....