Environment Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk dealt canned lion hunting a death blow on Tuesday (21 Feb 2007) by outlawing the hunting of captive-bred large predators within two years of their release on a property for the purpose of hunting.
Announcing new regulations on threatened and protected species - to come into effect on June 1 - he told journalists in Cape Town he intended "putting an end, once and for all, to the reprehensible practice of canned hunting".
The regulations specifically prohibited "hunting large predators and rhinoceros that are 'put and take' animals - in other words, a captive-bred animal that is released on a property for the purpose of hunting within twenty-four months".
Van Schalkwyk's announcement is certain to send shock-waves through sections of South Africa's hunting community. Previously, it was proposed animals be free-ranging for six months before being hunted.
"South Africa has a long-standing reputation as a global leader on conservation issues. We can not allow our achievements to be undermined by rogue practices such as canned lion hunting," he said.
The new regulations signalled the start of a clean-up of the hunting industry.
"They lay the basis for a well-regulated and ethical hunting and game farming industry in South Africa.
"While we applaud their substantial and positive contribution to conservation management and economic growth, we also have a responsibility to preserve the resource base and ensure that the industry has a sustainable future."
In order to do this, it was necessary to balance economic objectives with conservation management objectives.
"Hunting is an important industry, but we must manage it in accordance with ethical and defensible standards," he said.
For this reason, the regulations included prohibitions and restrictions on certain activities and methods of hunting.
"For example, hunting thick-skinned animals and large predators with a bow and arrow will be prohibited, and hunting from vehicles will no longer be allowed."
The implementation of the regulations was the first in a two-step process.
"The next step will be to promote even greater uniformity with regard to elements of the hunting industry that we are not dealing with today.
"We will introduce national norms and standards that provide a framework for provincial regulation and further streamline permitting. This will also be developed in close consultation with the industry, provincial authorities and other stakeholders."
Van Schalkwyk warned that the "Green Scorpions" would play a key role in ensuring compliance with the new regulations.
The new regulations also introduce a uniform national system for the registration of captive breeding operations, commercial exhibition facilities, game farms, nurseries, scientific institutions, sanctuaries and rehabilitation facilities. - Sapa