Wildlife and welfare legislation – passing the buck
Amanda Lombard1, Jean Harris2, Karen Trendler3, Andrew Blackmore2
1Conservation Ecology Research Unit, University of Pretoria, South Africa and Botany Department, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University
2Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, PO Box 13053, Cascades 3202
3Working Wild, Pretoria, South Africa
Income derived from wildlife forms a major component of southern Africa’s economy. As the wildlife industry grows, so does the potential for conflict between sustainable use, conservation and welfare. Current legal frameworks and institutions are not structured to address these conflicts and are inadequate to provide guiding principles and codes of conduct for wildlife welfare. In South Africa, the national Department of Environment (DEA) is responsible for conservation legislation, whereas welfare legislation is administered primarily by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF). De facto, an NGO (the National Council of SPCAs) is expected to prosecute welfare transgressions. This legal fragmentation is problematic, particularly in cases where conservation authorities take actions that have negative welfare consequences, for example, when permits to keep wild animals are issued without conditions to ensure the animals’ welfare. Furthermore, when developing wildlife management regulations, conservation agencies (under DEA) currently “pass the welfare buck” to DAFF, and when transgressions occur, the “buck is passed” to an NGO.
Consequently, the “buck” often gets lost in the process. An example is the “canned” lion-hunting challenge where lion breeders won a court case against DEA (who sought to prevent inhumane practices) on the grounds that DEA has no jurisdiction to decide on animal welfare. Fortunately, several legal instruments can potentially address these problems. South Africa’s TOPS regulations and provincial conservation legislation provide for permit conditions that can address individual animal requirements. Across borders, CITES regulates endangered species trade and provides for permit conditions to ensure that the receiving country applies basic welfare criteria. Regionally, the OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health) is developing an Animal Welfare Strategy to support implementation of OIE animal welfare standards in southern Africa. We submit that this strategy provides an opportunity to develop evidence-based, integrated legislation for regional cooperation in promoting wildlife welfare.
Author-recommended references relevant to the topic:
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Dawkins M.S. 2006. A user’s guide to animal welfare science. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 21: 77–82.
Fraser D. 2010. Toward a synthesis of conservation and animal welfare science. Animal Welfare 19: 121-124.
Fraser, D. 1999. Animal ethics and animal welfare science: bridging the two cultures. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 65:171-189.
Kirkwood J.K. 2002. Tackling conservation/welfare conflicts in the management of wild animals. Pacific Conservation Biology 8: 36-39.
Littin K.E. 2010. Animal welfare and pest control: meeting both conservation and animal welfare goals. Animal Welfare 19: 171-176.
Mathews F. 2010. Wild animal conservation and welfare in agricultural systems. Animal Welfare 19: 159-170.
Paquet P.C. & Darimont C.T. 2010. Wildlife conservation and animal welfare: two sides of the same coin? Animal Welfare 19: 177-190.
Reynolds, J.C. 2004. Trade-offs between welfare, conservation, utility and economics in wildlife management – a review of conflicts, compromises and regulation. Animal Welfare 13: S133-S138.

Presentation Topic

Wildlife and welfare legislation – passing the buck


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Conservation Ecology Research Unit, University of Pretoria, and Botany Department, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University


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