SA not in­flu­enced by US hunt­ing in­ter­ests

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - SHEREE BEGA

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”.

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