The Trojan Horse in our Midst

The right honorable Mrs Barbara Creecy,  Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, made it known during the proceedings of the recent High Level Panel of Experts (HLP), that her decisions re the HLP debates, would be based upon the expectations of her “constituents” – without stating who she considered her  “constituents” to be.   In actual fact, because the good people of South Africa’s wildlife industry are those who work, all the time, within the ambit of Mrs Creecy’s “Environment” portfolio, THEY are her most important and real ‘constituents’; and THEY are “in the majority”, by far, within South Africa’s public domain. But whose opinions did she take when push came to shove? She sided with the animal rights brigade whose only purpose in being associated with the HLP platform was to shut down all South Africa’s commercial and “sustainable-wildlife use” programmes.   They certainly did not offer their so-called ‘expertise’ to the HLP to improve the wildlife industry’s performance.

Throughout the HLP process, therefore, Ms. Creecy has been ostentatiously riding around on a flashy white horse, purporting to be wildlife’s knight in shining armour when, all the time, she has really been a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Mrs Creecy is too young to have been cognizant of the importance of the World Conservation Strategy (WCS) which, when it was promulgated in 1980, was declared to be the “mission statement” of the IUCN. The WCS stated, in its third principle, that its purpose was: “To ensure the sustainable utilization of species and ecosystems (notably fish and other wildlife, forests and grazing lands) which support millions of rural communities as well as major industries.” In modern terminology, this means “the sustainable use of our wild living resources for the benefit of all South Africans!”

The WCS, therefore, is the linchpin on which a great deal of modern wildlife management philosophies and practices are based.  It is also a major component of Creecy’s own department’s foundations.  In 1980, the WCS was lauded by people and by governments the-world-over as being the ‘blue print’ that would take nature and mankind into the future in symbiotic harmony.  South Africa was one of them.

In 1980, so much so was everybody enamoured by the provisions of the WCS, that all responsible member states of the IUCN obligated themselves to model their NATIONAL “conservation strategies” on the WORLD “conservation strategy” template.  South Africa was, again, one of them!  And for the last 41 years, South Africa has continued to use the constantly up-graded (modern day) equivalents of the WCS objectives, to guide us when implementing our wildlife management practices. Indeed, every wildlife management principle that responsible society still believes in, has its roots in the WCS.

Now we have Barbara Creecy!

Mrs Creecy has, apparently on her personal whim, ignominiously chucked out the window, 41 years of those wildlife management endeavours that are associated with the WCS. This, despite the fact that our wildlife industry has always moved, and continues to move, ever closer towards persuading government to create an official policy that embraces the sustainable and consumptive use of our wild resources for the benefit of all our people.

What has evolved with respect to our captive-breeding of rhinos is exactly what the WCS promoted in 1980 and beyond. Indeed, the pinnacle of all that the WCS recommended in 1980 is exemplified by the practices of our modern day rhino farmers. Government, therefore, should be applauding our rhino farmers, not denigrating them (as Creecy is most certainly doing).

The articles of CITES are ONLY concerned with the effect that trade has on WILD populations of plants and animals. And it doesn’t have the legal authority to involve itself in the administration of captive breeding facilities.

CITES is, actually, not at all concerned about trade in legal CAPTIVE-BRED animals, or trade in legally procured products that are derived from legal CAPTIVE-BRED sources. So, the practice of captive breeding legally procured wild animals, for trade, is supported, not condemned, by CITES.

All that CITES requires is that the farmer, or the breeder, registers himself (with CITES) as a captive-breeding-entity.  And all that CITES requires for such a registration, is that the captive breeding stock is proved to be capable of producing F2 generation progeny. F2 progeny are simply young animals born of captive bred mothers. Thereafter CITES will allow the trade in all these animals, or trade in their products, without the need for any kind of CITES trade papers at all.  This seems to be a simple enough process. So what is holding these registrations up?

A very similar state of affairs exists with the lion farmers.

I have to seriously ‘call out’ Minister Creecy, therefore, on the issue of why she has not encouraged, supported and facilitated the registration of our rhino farmers as genuine captive-breeding entities.  And the same goes with respect to our lion farmers, too? As far as I can see, there is nothing stopping the Minister from encouraging and assisting with both these captive breeding registrations?  If there is a genuinely good reason why she has not facilitated them, I would like to hear what that reason is. So would the rest of South Africa!

What the minister does not seem to know is that there are a lot of honest and responsible people in South Africa who also want to know the answers to these questions. As the CEO of the True Green Alliance, a non-profit and public benefit organization, it is my duty to keep the South African public properly informed about such matters.  So, Mrs Creecy, would you please tell me why you have not already helped our rhino farmers and our lion farmers to register with CITES, as captive breeding facilities?

Ron Thomson. CEO – The True Green Alliance                                                                   

9th December 2021     

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