SA not influenced by US hunting interests
THE Environmental Affairs Department has defended itself against criticism it was allowing powerful US hunting interests to influence South Africa’s environmental policy.
This comes after the meeting of the 14th African Wildlife Consultative Forum in Limpopo, sponsored by Safari Club International, was held behind closed doors, angering some environmental activists.
Topics under discussion included canned lion hunting and the trade in ivory and rhino horn, the role of sport hunting, the breeding of spe- cial colour varieties for hunting and the value of hunting as opposed to photo- tourism, according to the Conservation Action Trust.
But the department said yesterday the meeting was “consultative” and “in no way influences government policy”. It was a gathering of African governments affected by hunting, with the Safari Club International and professional hunting associations.
South Africa was host country for the meeting and had always taken part.
“Claims the forum is an indication of excessive interference by US hunters in South African government policy are not true. This meeting is not a policy-making platform.”
Instead, the meeting was an “information- sharing plat- form” between Safari Club International and African countries affected by hunting.
“While discussions do include Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites) Conference of Parties (CoP) decisions, these are not country positions to the CoP, as governments have their own individual processes to prepare their positions for tabling at CoP, next year.”
It said 14 African countries attended the meetings, along with a representative of the Cites secretariat and “representatives of many African professional hunting associations”.