On the 24th of May the Department of Forestry, Fisheries, and the Environment, published new amendments to the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act (NEMBA). The new Biodiversity bill aims to ensure more effective implementation, increased protection of species through the introduction of new provisions related to listed species and ecosystems, as well as increasing transformation initiatives in the biodiversity sector.

This bill has introduced clear definitions of certain previously ambiguous terms. “Sustainable use” has been a term that was often used against the goals and aims of NEMBA. This term has now been clearly defined, now making it difficult for trophy hunters and commercial lion breeders to use. “Well-being” has been introduced as a defined term and reveals the holistic nature of this bill focusing on animals physical, mental, and physiological health.

A duty of care has been introduced to people “using” wild animals, and the animal’s well-being has been placed in the centre of this – ultimately attempting to ensure a healthy sustainable relationship between human being and nature, both now and in the future.

This bill has particular emphasis on ensuring the prevention of captive breeding of lions and “canned” lion hunts. This follows Cabinet agreeing to ban these practices. Further, the phasing out of the live export of elephants, leopards and rhinos has been agreed to, in an attempt to enhance conservation measures. This bill provides the Minister with the further responsibility to regulate the qualifications required to manage  wild animals, from equipment used to licenses.

Further, the penalty for offenses has been increased to R10 million- or 10-years imprisonment,  while criminal groups targeting listed species can face up to a R20 million fine or 20-years imprisonment.

The public is encouraged to submit commentary on the Biodiversity Bill before the 23rd of July 2024. Please do not hesitate to contact us should you require assistance or more information.

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