EWT successfully challenges classification of wild animals as livestock

Posted on 23 February 2023 By Tsoku Maela

According to Eyewitness News, several previously classified animals as “landrace” breeds and managed as livestock will soon have their wild species branding restored.

Picture: Getaway gallery

The Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) in 2016 and 2019 declared several wild animals as either landrace breeds or “locally adapted and regularly introduced breeds” under the Animal Improvement Act of 1998 (AIA). According to animal rights organisation Four Paws, this move allowed for the “breeding, identification and utilisation of genetically superior animals,” effectively managing them as livestock.

The Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) successfully challenged the decision made by DALRRD to include 33 wild mammal species in the AIA, and the North Gauteng High Court launched its application to review and set aside the decision in January 2020. The EWT argued that the decisions did not follow public or intergovernmental participation and questioned the environmental impacts of the decision, notably because several deer species listed were not indigenous to South Africa. The EWT also argued that the AIA amendments allowing wild animals as “breeds” to be managed by the DALRRD contravened parts of the Constitution, the National Environmental Management Act, and the National Environmental Management Act Biodiversity Act, and the AIA itself.

‘The EWT is pleased with the outcome and lauds the overturning of a decision that could have ultimately seen all wildlife in South Africa becoming managed as domesticated livestock,’ the EWT said.

Some of the concerning wild animal species which would have been classified as livestock include: zebra, giraffe, white and black rhinoceros, lion, cheetah, and various deer species. The EWT’s successful challenge means these animals have restored their wild species branding.


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