Sting of the Green Scor­pi­ons

One of the most chal­leng­ing years

Saturday Star - - NEWS - SHEREE BEGA

THIRTEEN tons of croc­o­dile meat val­ued at R5 mil­lion ex­ported from South Africa to Hong Kong with­out per­mits, bakkie and trail­ers “laden full” of rare cy­cads and the in­ter­cep­tion of stor­age units con­tain­ing boxes of cut up ivory .

These were some of the sig­nif­i­cant cases high­lighted in the Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­men­tal Af f airs’ 2016/ 17 Na­tional En­vi­ron­men­tal Com­pli­ance and En­force­ment Report (NECER).

The report re­veals a “sig­nif­i­cant” in­crease in re­ports of the ex­port and im­port of species – surg­ing from 17 in 2015 to 208 in 2016/2017. “The next cou­ple of years are go­ing to be a busy time for bio­di­ver­sity com­pli­ance and en­force­ment of­fi­cials in South Africa,” says the report.

“We’re mov­ing into a new and ex­cit­ing di­rec­tion to col­lec­tively com­bat wildlife traf­fick­ing, not only as a threat to con­ser­va­tion but also a na­tional se­cu­rity threat.

“We will con­tinue to fo­cus on rhino and wildlife crime as pri­or­ity crimes but will also main­tain our project fo­cus on tra­di­tional heal­ers’ mar­kets, lion breed­ing fa­cil­i­ties, nurs­eries, in re­la­tion to alien and in­va­sive species, cy­cads and rhino horn stock­piles.”

Its in­spec­tors will fo­cus on coastal dis­charges, specif­i­cally from waste­water treat­ment fa­cil­i­ties.

The report de­tails the in­spec­tors’ in­volve­ment in Op­er­a­tion Thun­der­bird, a global ini­tia­tive to tackle il­le­gal trade in wildlife and tim­ber at the coun­try’s air­ports.

Among oth­ers, 480 ship­ping con­tain­ers were in­spected for wildlife, one African rock python was seized from a sus­pect and 1 657 ve­hi­cles were searched.

The project also re­sulted in the ar­rest of seven sus­pects in a raid on a cu­rio shop in Bruma, in which 17kg of carved ivory was seized, 2kg of rhino horn pieces, 38 leop­ard and lion teeth and 286 leop­ard and lion nails as well as 80g of rhino horn pow­der.

In Op­er­a­tion Ndiza, a mis­sion was con­ducted with the SA Army, SA Air Force and po­lice, to in­spect the East­ern Cape bor­der­ing Le­sotho, char­ac­terised by a high num­ber of stock thefts, smug­gling of nar­cotics, il­le­gal cross­ing of peo­ple and weapons, which “lead to an en­vi­ron­ment in which ivory and rhino horn may be smug­gled into Le­sotho, in­tended to be ex­ported through SA as an in-tran­sit con­sign­ment, to coun­tries in the East”.

The report notes how the 2016/17 fi­nan­cial year “proved to be one of the most chal­leng­ing years” for in­dus­trial com­pli­ance and en­force­ment ini­tia­tives.

These sec­tors had “am­ple time to come into com­pli­ance as some of these fa­cil­i­ties were in­spected for the third time,” noted the report, say­ing that no real im­prove­ments were ob­served de­spite inspections be­ing done as far back as 2007.

The report lists non-com­pli­ances at ArcelorMit­tal’s steel smelter in Van­der­bi­jl­park, SCAW Met­als in Ger­mis­ton, Sa­sol’s Se­cunda re­fin­ery, Na­tref in the Free State, the PetroSA re­fin­ery in the West­ern Cape.

Nu­mer­ous in­ci­dents, it de­tails, were re­ported at Eskom’s Ma­timba power sta­tion, and sev­eral non-com­pli­ances were ob­served at Eskom’s Ken­dal power sta­tion, Lethabo, Ma­juba and Medupi.

The over­all waste man­age­ment at health care risk waste fa­cil­i­ties im­proved sig­nif­i­cantly – though none of the five in­spected in­cin­er­a­tion fa­cil­i­ties was found to be achiev­ing emis­sion stan­dards.

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