Sting of the Green Scorpions
One of the most challenging years
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.