Good Governance in the Wildlife Sector

To: The Minster of Environmental Affairs, Forestry and Fisheries

GOOD GOVERNANCE IN THE WILDLIFE SECTOR

Is South Africa practising good governance in the wildlife sector? Or has it allowed itself to be led by the nose by the international and local animal rights community? In my opinion, if South Africa allows itself to be persuaded by any of these nefarious people, it will lose direction and start the slide towards a state of anarchy.

Effective government is measured by:-

• the quality of its public services,
• the quality of its civil service and its independence from political pressures,
• the quality of policy formulation and implementation, and
• the credibility of the government’s commitment to its stated policies.

How does South Africa’s Department of Environmental Affairs, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF) measure-up to these criteria? Not always so well. I have no reason to castigate the current Minister – she hasn’t been in office long enough for anybody to so judge her performance, yet – but some previous environmental Ministers, in my opinion, should have been run out of office long before their time ran out; and their negative influence on government policy persists to this day.

In recent times, however, I have often had good reason to be skeptical of the people the department employs. Not all of them but some of them. In fact, many of them are very good at their jobs. Others, however, succumb to the personal preference opinions of the department’s greatest enemies. Some are opportunistic scoundrels holding their hands out when the silver pennies are falling. They don’t have a personal commitment to ‘the cause’. And if they are in positions of power to select and/or to reject delegates to a conference, they stand to make a lot of money by soliciting funds for favours. Such corruption is rife within the framework of the South African government.

Am I really talking corruption here? Yes, I am – or something that is so near to it that it makes no difference. How can I say that? Why do I say that? I say that because nobody else – who thinks that way – or who knows that such corruption has taken place – has had the gumption to say it before now. If nobody talks about these things – if the relevant Minister is kept in the dark – how are these ‘bad things’ going to be corrected?

I then worry that, maybe, I am being unfair. Maybe the problem is that the people who are employed by the DEFF are not trained to discern the difference between good and bad; between the desirable and the undesirable; and between those who can be trusted to support the department’s policies on their own cognizance and those who can’t be so trusted. Maybe they confuse BAD animal rights with GOOD animal welfare. Maybe they don’t know the difference! In which case I would ask the members of the Minister’s High-Level Panel of Experts to request of the Minister that she produce suitable criteria allowing her and everybody else to separate the wheat from the chaff. This is important because what is at stake here is South Africa’s entire wildlife heritage.

To explain my point here, I am suggesting that, with respect to the integrity and the purpose of the DEFF’s government mandate, that the Minister commissions an official entity (unconnected to the DEFF) to compile:

1. A CODE-GREEN LIST OF NGOs AND INDIVIDUALS who can be trusted to help the Minister to achieve the objectives of her National Conservation Strategy (NCS) and the related legislation. These will be people who are properly informed about, and who fully understand and accept, the principles and the practices of science-based wildlife management; who understand the wisdom of, and necessity for, the practice of sustainably utilising living resources (both wild and domestic) for the benefit of mankind; who support the legal wildlife trade (i.e. the sale and purchase of live animals and the sale of legally acquired game products); who support animal welfare; and who reject the philosophy of animal rights the doctrine of which seeks to abolish all animal uses by man.

2. A CODE-RED LIST OF NGOs AND INDIVIDUALS would include those who support the animal rights philosophy; who disapprove of the practices of science- based wildlife management; who disapprove of the commercial game ranching culture of South Africa; who disapprove of hunting and all other kinds of wildlife harvesting; who disapprove of the wildlife management practices of culling and population reduction; who disapprove of the sale of live game and legally acquired game products; and who have connections to any local or international animal rights movement. It is a given fact that none of these NGOs or individuals would ever support the DEFF Minister in pursuit of achieving the goals of her department’s NCS and its related legislation. Code-Red people and organisations would be/are ‘undesirables’ in any wildlife management debate.

What would the purpose of these two lists be?

Here again, to explain myself without ambiguity, I have to use the analogy of paedophiles and rapists being invited to a conference that deals with abuse against women and children.

There are many kinds of ‘abuse’ to which women and children are subjected: physical, sexual, economic and psychological. And those problems are addressed by the Department of Social Development. Let us trim this list of abusive offences down to one. Let’s say the Minister of Social Development wanted to hold a conference that was designed to improve measures to help women and children fight sexual abuse.

Who would the Minister NOT invite to that conference? It would be my bet that he or she would not invite convicted paedophiles, people with known tendencies towards paedophilia, all known sexual offenders, and convicted rapists. Why exclude these people from participation in the Minister’s debate(?): because they are all Code-Red on the Social Development Minister’s records. They would be that Minister’s ‘undesirables.

So, when ministers have done their groundwork properly, if they have compiled a Green List and a Red List (with respect to issues relating to their portfolios), they would know immediately which candidates would contribute positively towards the debate, and which ones would go all out, from the outset, to sabotage it. All Code Red people would be excluded.

Animal Rightists publicly criticise the DEFF Minister because, they say, her ‘High Level Panel of Experts’ is biased, implying that it needs an injection of animal rightist members to create a ‘balanced’ approach to the panel’s wildlife debates. This attitude is greatly out of place. The Minister doesn’t WANT such a ‘balanced approach’ to these debates. She doesn’t WANT a single nuance of animal rights objection to the delegates’ performances. She WANTS a debate that is focused on the important issues that are ‘in line’ with her NCS objectives.

NB: Let’s put this another way. If a medical conference was convened to discuss the latest advances in brain surgery, the convenors would not invite the local town veterinarian to take part. Veterinarians – good people though they may be – are simply not trained to make any worthwhile contribution to a conference on human brain surgery.

I am still not sure, on the basis of this Green Code and Red Code selection principle, that the DEFF Minister has got the appointments to her ‘High-Level Panel of Experts’ properly sorted. I look at the NSPCA, EMS and EWT as suggested candidates, and I shake my head. None of these, in my book, qualify for membership because they have continuously voiced opinions that are against the NCS protocol.

To verify the validity of the Green-Code/Red-Code principle, I draw the Minister’s attention to the recent Parliamentary Colloquium on the Captive Breeding of Lions Industry. The composition of invited members to that parliamentary debate were certainly not chosen on the basis of the Green and Red code principle. I believe that more than 50 percent of the delegates were serious animal rightist in ideological orientation. And several attendees were very richly endowed international animal rightist NGOs who could easily have ‘purchased’ the opinions of every parliamentary member of the colloquium. I am not saying that happened. But it could have happened. Many say it did happen. The fact is, we will never know. But if there had been a Green & Red selection code system in operation it would never have happened.

Many statements coming out of the colloquium were not true. It is still being said by the animal rightists, for example, that Brand South Africa told the colloquium that the Captive Lion Breeding Industry (CBL) had damaged South Africa’s reputation. In fact, the Deputy Director of Brand South Africa whilst addressing the colloquium, virtually laughed at that idea. He informed the meeting that it would take a lot more than the Captive Lion Breeding Industry to tarnish South Africa’s image abroad. He totally refuted what the animal rightists have been saying, therefore, yet they continue with their propaganda.

That is the calibre of people who comprise the animal rights brigade.

I think it might be appropriate, therefore, for the DEFF Minister to inquire into who invited those international animal rightists NGOs to participate in the CBL colloquium? And why? I think she might discover that there is a conspiracy in action here in which well-heeled international NGOs are buying their way into South Africa’s domestic wildlife controversies. And, if they are not already doing that, that the possibility exists for them to do so at the next (and subsequent) colloquiums. The Code Green/Red programme will, for all such future events not allow that to happen.

The Minister aught also to be told that throughout the colloquium in the meeting hall, cell phones were blatantly used by the animal rightists NGOs to ‘coach’ colloquium members (i.e. the parliamentarians) with regards to what they should say and should not say in answer to specific questions, and what questions they themselves should ask – using, inter alia, WhatsApp and SMS messages. And the chairman, who in my opinion was totally and utterly biased, did not even try to bring the house to order.

In view of all this shocking controversy, I believe the Parliamentary Colloquium on the CBL Industry should be declared null and void.

This is NOT the way good governance is practiced. It lays itself wide open for international animal rightists NGOs to control what happens inside South Africa’s parliament. Indeed, under these circumstances, the dangers of a Gupta-style take-over of government wildlife management affairs is very great indeed. And that can lead to

I think it is appropriate, therefore, that the High-Level Panel of Experts should advise the DEFF Minister to seriously consider introducing the Green/Red code principle for the selection of candidates to all official wildlife management debates.

The colloquium on the Captive Breeding of Lions Industry controversy taught us one thing. It taught us that it is entirely possible for factions with their own agendas, to overload a conference with biased animal rightist delegates whose purpose (and ability) is to overturn a government Minister’s legitimate National Conservation Strategy, even one that has developed properly and democratically over the last 40 years. And to take that one step further, to have such protocols thrown out the window. That the Minister has not (yet) acted on the colloquium’s recommendation (i.e. to close down the CBL Industry) is much to her credit. It tells the whole world that she is not prepared to be bullied into making a such a decision.

The South African public should also start debating whether or not the animal rights movement, world-wide, is not symptomatic of international organised crime. Let me explain this in just two easily articulated steps:
only one thing – mobocracy.

  • Wildlife propaganda, based on the untrue statement that the African elephant is declining so rapidly that, as a species, it is ‘facing extinction’ becomes ‘common fraud’ – when the people who made that statement persuade the public to donate money towards ‘their’ campaign which, they say, will save the elephant from extinction.

NB: That statement – that the elephant is facing extinction – is a lie because the elephant is nowhere near facing extinction. Indeed, in most national parks in southern Africa elephant populations exceed (by 10 or 20 times) the sustainable carrying capacity of their habitats.

  • If that initial fraud is repeated within ten years, it is reclassified ‘a racket’; and, according to the American RICO Act (Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organisations Act) racketeering IS ‘organised crime’.

This is important because the colloquium could (still) put pressure to bear on the South African Government to destroy the CBL Industry when the real people who, more than anybody else want that outcome, are the international animal rights NGOs. The reason why they want such prohibitions to succeed, is because that is the way they make their money. It is possible, in fact, that organisations such the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), The Humane Society International (HSI), the Born Free Foundation (UK), PETA (USA) and IFAW orchestrated the whole colloquium debacle from behind screens held in place by local South African NGOs. In this regard, there are many animal rightists in South Africa, who are nothing more than their ‘paymasters’ puppets’. But we shall never know!

Payments made by international animal rightist NGOs to their South African acolytes run into tens of millions of US dollars. And those monies have been so large and tempting that they have turned many once-good South African heads away from local wildlife interests.

The World Conservation Strategy (WCS) was promulgated in 1980 and for 40 years has provided South African governments:

• with sound guidance in formulating wildlife management policy;
• with sound examples of ‘good practice’ wildlife management;
• with tested and acceptable templates on which government has continuously
moulded its National Conservation Strategies;
• with acceptable assurances that the sustainable-use of wild living resources for
the benefit of mankind, is the right way for mankind and nature to progress into
posterity together;
• with sound rationale that supports the view that renewable wild animal and wild
plant populations can and should be sustainably used for both commercial and
subsistence purposes for the benefit of mankind; and
• with an internationally accepted and sustainable model for the creation of
symbiotic partnerships between man and nature.

And today, the International Animal Rights brigade repudiates the WCS purely on ideological and emotional grounds; and because it undermines their propaganda money-making machine. Surely it is time for governments – and the public – to ‘dump’ these pernicious people?

Ron Thomson CEO -TRUE GREEN ALLIANCE

1 Rule or domination by the masses.

Ron Thomson

I am NOT a ‘trophy hunter’ - and never have been. I am not involved in the trophy hunting safari business. I am also not a game rancher. But I have ‘administratively controlled’ professional hunters and safari outfitters in my capacity as a government game warden. I am an 80 year old ex-game warden with 60 years of continuous experience in hands-on wildlife management, and national park management, in Africa (1959 to 2019). In breakdown, I have 24 years experience in the management of national parks in Rhodesia/Zimbabwe - and in the management of the wild animal populations that lived inside those national parks; one year as the Chief Nature Conservation of the Ciskei in South Africa; three years as Director of the Bophuthatswana National Parks Board in South Africa; and I worked for three years as a professional hunter in the South African Great Karoo (taking foreign hunters on quests for plains game trophies). I discovered, however, that professional hunting was not my forte. I worked as an investigative wildlife journalist for 30 years in South Africa. I have written fifteen books and hundreds of magazine articles on the subject of wildlife management and big game hunting in Africa. Five of my books are university-level text books on wildlife management. I am a university-trained ecologist; was a member of the Institute of Biology (London) for 20 years; and was a registered chartered biologist for the European Union for 20 years. I have VAST experience in the “management hunting” of elephants, buffaloes, lions, leopards and hippos (as part of my official national park work in the control of problem animals); and I pioneered the capture of black rhino in Zimbabwe’s Zambezi Valley (1964 - 1970). My university thesis was entitled: “The Factors Affecting the Survival and Distribution of Black Rhinos in Rhodesia”. Look at my personal website if you want any further details about my experience: www.ronthomsonshuntingbooks.co.za.

Ron Thomson has 179 posts and counting. See all posts by Ron Thomson

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