SA reclassifies wild species as farm animals

Posted on 17 October 2019

The South African government have amended the Animal Improvement Act (AIA) to include 33 wild animal species as farm animals.

Lion, rhino, zebra and cheetah all make the list of animals that were added to the list of animals categorised by this new status.

While it is unclear as to what the exact purpose of this amendment is, conservation activists and organisations are concerned that it leaves these species open to manipulation and will harm rather than help the conservation of these wild animals.

‘The intention of the Animal Improvement Act is predominantly to enhance animal species through breeding practices for improved food production. This practice certainly cannot be argued to be beneficial for threatened species,’ Lizanne Nel, conservation manager at the South African Hunters and Hame Association told the Daily Maverick. 

The white and black rhinoceros are included among 33 other wild species listed as ‘farm animals’ in the new amendment.

The AIA’s purpose is ‘to provide for the breeding, identification and utilisation of genetically superior animals in order to improve the production and performance of animals in the interest of the Republic.’

This means that the new classification will allow for the breeding and manipulation of these wild animals much like what is already done with cows and sheep.

According to the Daily Maverick, the Department of Environment Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF) said that this change was made ‘due to changing farming systems in South Africa, game animals are included as these are already part of farm animal production systems in the country.’

The government did not open this amendment for public participation and explained in parliament that this amendment occurred after a request from ‘the industry’, which was identified as game breeders.

The biggest concern that conservationists have  is still what exactly this change means for endangered species. Previously protected under the National Environmental Management Laws Amendment Bill, it is unclear if this will still stand since the AIA has none of these protections.

Image: Pixabay

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