By Linda Ensor
Government has proposed that intensive breeding of listed large predators such as cheetahs, lions, leopards and wild dogs for hunting purposes or "canned hunting" be banned.
According to draft regulations issued by Environmental Affairs and Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk yesterday, canned hunting will be banned -- a move that will affect the revenue of private game farms and reserves which attract international guests who pay large amounts to kill wild cats for, among other things, trophies.
"In effect, the days of captive breeding of listed species for any purposes except science and conservation, are over," Van Schalkwyk said at the De Wildt Cheetah and Wildlife Centre in Brits, North West.
The draft regulations for threatened and protected species as well as norms and standards for hunting will be published in Friday's Government Gazette.
Interest groups and the public will have six weeks to submit their comments.
The hunting of any listed predators kept in captivity will be prohibited, especially if they have not been rehabilitated to fend for themselves in the wild for at least two years.
Also, hunting on private land that borders national or provincial protected areas will be prohibited, particularly areas where fences have been dropped. Exceptions will be authorised by a provincial MEC or the minister.
Van Schalkwyk said the department's environmental management inspectors would enforce the regulations "with vigour" and contraventions would lead to heavy fines and imprisonment of up to five years.
A permit system will be introduced nationwide for breeding, hunting, trading and transportation of threatened and protected species.
All captive breeding and rehabilitation facilities will have to be registered within three months of the regulations coming into force. Hunters will also have to be registered with recognised hunting bodies, while a national hunting register will record animals hunted, the purpose for the hunt, where it happened and by what method.
Van Schalkwyk said a scientific authority would be formed to represent the department, provincial authorities, SANParks, the National Biodiversity Institute, natural history museums and the National Zoological Gardens, to regulate and monitor trade in protected species.
The draft's norms and standards allow hunting only by humane methods based on "fair chase principles within carefully monitored and reviewed off-take limits at both national and provincial level".