Sunday Times

An­i­mal waste of use to muti trade

Body parts of hunted game can pro­vide sus­tain­able sup­ply

- By TONY CARNIE South Africa News · Animals · Ecology · Consumer Goods · Wildlife · Austria · KwaZulu-Natal · Belarus · Belgium · Nongoma · Iceland · Durban · Johannesburg

● Hunters, game ranch­ers and tra­di­tional heal­ers want to es­tab­lish a new trad­ing scheme for wild an­i­mal waste prod­ucts and to test the mar­ket at a pi­lot sale in KwaZu­luNatal this month.

Thou­sands of pri­vately owned game an­i­mals from sev­eral species are hunted or slaugh­tered com­mer­cially for tro­phies, skins or meat ev­ery year — but the rem­nant body parts are of­ten dis­carded be­cause they have lit­tle com­mer­cial value to hunters.

How­ever, some of these un­used body parts — in­clud­ing bones, hooves, horns, skins, fats and oils — are in high de­mand by tra­di­tional heal­ers in KwaZulu-Natal and else­where, and a new, reg­u­lated mar­ket could help to meet this de­mand and also re­lieve pres­sure on wild species that are hunted or trapped il­le­gally for tra­di­tional medicine.

A study com­mis­sioned by the depart­ment of trade & in­dus­try sug­gests that more than 26-mil­lion South Africans use tra­di­tional medicine, mostly de­rived from wild plants and some an­i­mals.

The study was done in 2007 and showed then that the trade was val­ued at about R2.9bn a year, rep­re­sent­ing 5.6% of the na­tional health bud­get at the time.

Pi­eter Swart of the South African Taxi­dermy & Tan­nery As­so­ci­a­tion, who met nearly 200 tra­di­tional heal­ers at a wildlife com­pli­ance and aware­ness work­shop in Ulundi last month, said hunt­ing as­so­ci­a­tions and wildlife ranch­ers had es­tab­lished a new fo­rum to ex­plore com­mer­cial op­por­tu­ni­ties with Zu­l­u­land heal­ers.

“We are set­ting up a pi­lot project where our un­used game prod­ucts can be made avail­able for sale.

“We have a lot of prod­ucts that we think heal­ers would like to use, and which can be ob­tained in a le­gal and sus­tain­able man­ner in­stead of go­ing to waste,” he said.

Swart hopes to hold a pi­lot sale be­fore the end of the month, ei­ther at Ulundi or Non­goma in KwaZulu-Natal, to gauge de­mand.

“We are just wait­ing for a fi­nal wish list of prod­ucts and quan­ti­ties from heal­ers which we can sup­ply from a cen­tral fa­cil­ity in Gaut­eng, along with wildlife per­mits and other doc­u­men­ta­tion to cer­tify that the prod­ucts were ob­tained legally.

“We can also cer­tify the prod­uct ori­gin so that heal­ers know that the fat comes from an eland, rather than a cow, for ex­am­ple.”

Swart said it was dif­fi­cult to es­tab­lish the scale of de­mand for an­i­mal parts in the prepa­ra­tion of tra­di­tional medicine but his com­pany, Afrikan Traders On­line, be­lieved there were more than 1,000 tra­di­tional heal­ers and traders in the Zu­l­u­land re­gion alone.

Lit­tle re­search ex­ists on the value and quan­tity of wild an­i­mal prod­ucts in tra­di­tional medicine but there has been ex­ten­sive re­search on the plant-based mar­ket.

Com­mon prac­tice

Myles Man­der from the Fu­ture­works con­sul­tancy group con­ducted a study in 2007 which sug­gested that South African trade in mainly plant-based tra­di­tional medicines was worth about R2.9bn a year.

Man­der and his col­leagues es­ti­mated that more than 72% of the coun­try’s black African pop­u­la­tion used tra­di­tional medicine — amount­ing to more than 26-mil­lion con­sumers at the time.

“The di­ver­sity in con­sumers shows that con­sump­tion of tra­di­tional medicine is a com­mon prac­tice across most sec­tors of the black African pop­u­la­tion, and that tra­di­tional medicine use is not con­fined to poor, ru­ral and un­e­d­u­cated users.”

Man­der also noted that tra­di­tional medicines were of­ten more ex­pen­sive than Western medicines sup­plied at lo­cal gov­ern- ment clin­ics, dis­pelling the myth that tra­di­tional medicines were a cheaper al­ter­na­tive to con­ven­tional medicines.

How­ever, he warned that the sup­ply of ma­te­rial from about 771 wild plant species was not sus­tain­able.

“Al­most all the plants are har­vested from the wild, with pop­u­lar species be­com­ing lo­cally ex­tinct and be­ing traded at very high prices.”

Dlozelihle Buthelezi, a tra­di­tional healer at the Mona mar­ket at Non­goma, said sev­eral tra­di­tional heal­ers found it dif­fi­cult to get per­mits for cer­tain an­i­mal prod­ucts.

The Mona mar­ket is one of largest tra­di­tional phar­ma­cies in the coun­try, with up to 3,000 traders of­fer­ing a va­ri­ety of prod­ucts for sale — in­clud­ing plants, roots and an­i­mal parts — to in­yan­gas and to col­lec­tors who then re­sell these prod­ucts at the War­wick Av­enue mar­ket in Dur­ban and at the Fara­day and Mai-Mai mar­kets in Jo­han­nes­burg.

“How do you get a per­mit for an ele­phant bone, as an ex­am­ple?” asked Buthelezi.

“At the mo­ment, the only way to get such a bone is through poach­ing. We don’t want that. We would like to get them legally.

“We are not in­ter­ested in rhino horns be­cause they are not used in tra­di­tional Zulu muti but some­times we use rhino fat, and a healer has to hide that at the mo­ment, even if the rhino died nat­u­rally.

“So we would like to get parts from cer­tain an­i­mals that have died nat­u­rally or were hunted legally.”

Si­fiso Miya, a deputy direc­tor of the na­tional depart­ment of en­vi­ron­men­tal af­fairs who ad­dressed heal­ers at the Ulundi work­shop, said the pos­ses­sion and sale of wild an­i­mals and plants were reg­u­lated by sev­eral laws, in­clud­ing the Threat­ened or Pro­tected Species reg­u­la­tions, the Con­ven­tion on In­ter­na­tional Trade in En­dan­gered Species known as CITES, and the Tra­di­tional Health Prac­ti­tion­ers Act.

“The depart­ment and pro­vin­cial con­ser­va­tion de­part­ments have been re­ceiv­ing in­creas­ing com­plaints from the pub­lic about a num­ber of threat­ened species that are be­ing il­le­gally sold at muti mar­kets around the coun­try.

“In light of these, the depart­ment has been con­duct­ing com­pli­ance-aware­ness work­shops to em­power traders in the tra­di­tional medicine in­dus­try by pro­vid­ing knowl­edge about en­vi­ron­men­tal laws and to en­able them to play a mean­ing­ful role in the con­ser­va­tion of the coun­try’s bio­di­ver­sity,” Miya said.

En­vi­ron­men­tal of­fi­cers wanted to pro­mote sus­tain­able use and en­sure that traders sell­ing threat­ened or pro­tected prod­ucts ob­tained the nec­es­sary per­mits, he said.

It was dif­fi­cult to es­ti­mate the cur­rent num­ber of per­mits, as most were is­sued sep­a­rately by the nine pro­vin­cial con­ser­va­tion agen­cies, he said.

How­ever, an­nual per­mit costs ranged be­tween R50 and R100 a per­son, depend­ing on the prod­ucts traded.

“We are also train­ing more staff to raise aware­ness and to mon­i­tor com­pli­ance with laws, be­fore we move into the en­force­ment and pros­e­cu­tion phase,” Miya said.

We have a lot of prod­ucts that we think heal­ers would like to use

Pi­eter Swart

South African Taxi­dermy & Tan­nery As­so­ci­a­tion

 ?? Pic­ture: Moeletsi Mabe ?? The Mai Mai tra­di­tional heal­ers’ mar­ket in down­town Jo­han­nes­burg could ben­e­fit from the reg­u­lated sales of en­dan­gered-an­i­mal parts.
Pic­ture: Moeletsi Mabe The Mai Mai tra­di­tional heal­ers’ mar­ket in down­town Jo­han­nes­burg could ben­e­fit from the reg­u­lated sales of en­dan­gered-an­i­mal parts.

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