A major step forward for the South African Wildlife Industry has come to light as the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) recently added twelve wildlife species to the list of tame and domesticated animals, currently regulated under its Animal Improvement Act (No. 62 of 1998).
This alteration will allow game ranchers to breed and manage their wildlife similar to livestock farmers, which obtain animals with specific characteristics for agricultural purposes.
The description in the Animal Improvement Act states that listed animals may be used “for the breeding, identification and utilisation of genetically superior animals in order to improve the production and performance of animals in the interest of the Republic; and to provide for matters connected therewith”.
The listing of these species together with domestic stock comes as a leap forward for the game industry, as numerous game ranchers today comes from a background of cattle farming and breeding with domestic animals, and has in recent years applied several management methods to the breeding and enhancing the number and quality of their wildlife animals.
The species added to the list are Black Wildebeest, Blue Wildebeest, Blue Duiker, Bontebok, Gemsbok, Impala, Oribi, Red Hartebeest, Roan, Sable, Springbok, and Tsessebe whereas the only wild animal that was previously listed under the Animal Improvement Act, was the Ostrich.
Not everyone welcomes the notion though. The South African Hunters and Game Conservation Association (SA Hunters) has raised concerns about the breeding practices, which might, following the amendment, include genetic manipulation and crossbreeding.
According to Lizanne Nel, conservation manager at SA Hunters, breeding practices such as genetic manipulation and crossbreeding of wildlife are in conflict with existing biodiversity conservation legislation that protects indigenous wildlife and maintains the genetic integrity of wildlife species for current and future generations.
“”Some of the antelope species that have been listed with livestock species such as cattle and sheep under the Animal Improvement Act, are also popular species for the local hunting market, while others, such as Bontebok, Blue Duiker, Roan Antelope and Oribi, are threatened. The reason for listing these species for animal improvement is unclear,” Nel said.
Asking the game ranchers themselves, many welcome the idea and are in accord that, the benefits the amendment holds for the industry as a whole, far outweighs the possible dangers.
By Adriaan Snyman