A meeting behind closed doors in Polokwane between the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) and Safari Club International Foundation (SCIF) was gatecrashed yesterday by protestors from animal rights organisation Ban Animal Trading (BAT).
The week long meeting between DEA and SCIF has been widely criticised by animal rights and anti-hunting lobbyists for its “secretive” nature.
According to the SCI website: “SCI Foundation ensures the best available science is used in wildlife policy and management, and demonstrates the constructive role that hunting and hunters play in the conservation of biodiversity worldwide. The organisation is “First for Wildlife,” investing millions of dollars into wildlife conservation and education every year.”
“We are extremely upset no-one from South African organisations who know about conservation and how we should be conserving wildlife in this country were invited,” said Smaragda Louw of BAT.
“So we went in and demanded to hand over a memorandum, they gave us the time to do that, and then we left.”
According to the Conservation Action Trust, NGOs requesting access were emailed by DEA deputy director Mpho Tjiane saying ‘this is a Government meeting and is not open to the general public.’
Journalists requesting accreditation were allegedly told attendance was by invitation only.
“It is of grave concern that issues of this nature and importance are discussed at closed meetings with what appears to be predominantly pro-hunting representation,” said Karen Trendler of the NGO Working Wild on the CAT website.
“Many conservation and response organisations will be affected by the various issues being discussed, as will broader South Africa, and it would be preferable to have wider representation.”
Ian Michler, producer of the film Blood Lions, questioned why a foreign a hunting club was playing such a significant role in deliberations about the sustainability of wildlife in Africa.
“The agenda is clearly not only pro-hunting, but also seeks to raise doubts about the value of photo-tourism against hunting. It also appears to support those wishing to overturn the CITES ban on trade in rhino horn.”
DEA spokesperson said the Department would be sending out a press release later today, however denied the meeting was secret.
Memorandum handed over to the African wildlife consultative forum at Legends Golf resort on 12 November 2015
- It has come to the attention of Ban Animal Trading South Africa (a registered NPO fighting for the rights of animals) that a secret meeting about conservation and wildlife issues which are pertinent to all South Africans is being held between the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) and the Safari Club International Foundation.
- As a public interest organisation, and insofar as South African tax payers’ money is being used to fund the secret meeting between the South African Government and an American hunting club about conservation in South Africa, BAT demands that:
2.1 The minutes of the meeting are made public, including all the presentations and papers delivered at the meeting.
2.2 The DEA meet with ALL stakeholders, including animal protection organisations and those opposing hunting and trade, to discuss the same issues discussed at this secret meeting opposed to hunting.
2.3 The following questions be answered publically:
2.3.1 How much money was spent on this secret meeting and from which budget was the money paid and which Minister authorised the allocation?
2.3.2 The agenda indicates that this secret meeting will be ‘developing unified strategies for CITIES Convention of the Parties 17”: please explain this further and is this meeting part of a series of secret meetings relating to CITES and which will influence and enunciate South Africa’s position at CITES?
2.3.3 How has this meeting/forum influenced DEA positions and policies, generally and particularly in relation to CITES.
2.3.4 Is the South African government bound to the decisions taken at this meeting with the Safari Club International Foundation?
2.3.5 Why is this meeting secret?
We look forward to receiving your response in the media, or in writing to Ban Animal Trading: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ban Animal Trading South Africa