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The Dark Reality: How The United States Is Enabling Wildlife Crime

The Dark Reality: How The United States Is Enabling Wildlife Crime

The United States has long been a key player in the global illicit wildlife trade, with American consumers being some of the biggest buyers of illegal wildlife products in the world. Many of these products are sourced from countries where wildlife crime is rampant and where environmental protections are weak or nonexistent.
In recent years, the United States has been working to crack down on the importation of illegal wildlife products. However, it has been slow to enact legislation that would effectively address the demand side of the equation. Until the United States takes action to reduce demand, it will continue to enable wildlife crime.

Many people may not realize that the United States is one of the largest demand markets for ivory and other illegal wildlife products. A recent study found that 80 percent of Americans consider themselves animal lovers and support wildlife conservation measures. At the same time, however, it found 80 percent of Americans aren’t aware of the illegal wildlife trade in their own country.

The United States is contributing to the decline of endangered species

The United States is contributing to the decline of endangered species in many ways. Here are four key ways the United States is doing this:

1. Laws and Regulations – The United States does not have any federal laws banning the sale of illegal wildlife products. This lack of legislation has resulted in the flourishing of the illegal wildlife trade in the United States.

2. Demand – The United States has one of the most voracious appetites for illegal wildlife products, contributing to the demand side of the equation.

3. Port Security – Poor port security in the United States allows for illegal wildlife products to be smuggled in, as well as exported.

4 Private Companies – How are they Contributing to Wildlife Crime?

Private companies are playing a major role in the illegal wildlife trade. Here are a few ways that they are contributing:
1. Promotion of Wildlife Products – Private companies are profiting from the promotion of illegal wildlife products. This may include the sale of ivory, clothing made from skin of protected animals, or furs.

2. Money Laundering – Private companies are making money and hiding their profits in various ways. This includes tax evasion, the misuse of donor funds, bribery and other forms of corruption, and money laundering.

3. Poor Security – Private companies often lack proper security measures that can help to protect against the illegal wildlife trade. This can include not properly tracking shipments and shipments, or not following up on cases of suspected smuggling.

4. Lax Regulations – Private companies are operating in countries that often have weak or nonexistent laws concerning the illegal wildlife trade. This leaves them vulnerable to exploitation by criminals. This lack of regulation leads to increased profits for the criminals who are smuggling items such as ivory, rhino horn, and pangolin scales.

and lastly

Hunting – Hunting is legal in the United States and can be done without a license in some cases. While it is possible to legally hunt in the United States, many illegal sources of wildlife products are being generated through unethical hunting practices.
I would have to estimate that 90% of people are not aware of torturing/killing animals for no reason other than for fun and prizes, and it is legal in the United States. What organization do you think supports such activity? If you guessed the NRA then you guessed correctly. Prizes consist of guns, money, and Trophy Hunting trips.  

To learn about this dirty activity that is going on under your nose - watch this:


The United States is actively contributing to the decline of endangered species across the world. This is due to the fact that wildlife trafficking is often associated with transnational organized crime and international terrorist networks.

The US is actively contributing to the decline of endangered species across the world mainly due to the fact that wildlife trafficking is often associated with transnational organized crime and international terrorist networks. Wildlife trafficking has become a multi-billion dollar industry, and the US has had a hand in it.

The US has failed to address the legal aspects of wildlife trafficking for many years, which in turn has allowed for the growth of illicit wildlife trade to continue. This has opened the door for other countries to progress, as countries such as China, Vietnam, and Thailand have seen an increase in the illicit trade of various animal species.

In addition to this, the US government has done very little to promote education and better understanding of the atrocities that wildlife trafficking has in the world. This lack of education has lead to the US public being reliant on information derived from the media that is often biased, incomplete, or does not have a critical understanding of the underlying issues.

As a result, the US population is largely unaware of the dangers of wildlife trafficking, how it impacts biodiversity, and how US policies are enabling it to occur. It is imperative that the US government takes a more proactive approach to curbing wildlife trafficking and educating the population on the issue, as this will ensure that future generations do not have to bear the burden of the current decline in endangered species.

How the U.S. can Combat Wildlife Crime

The US government can take an active role in combating wildlife crime. There are a few steps that the government can take to ensure the protection and conservation of endangered species and the environment at large.

First, the US government should increase its resources and efforts to combat wildlife trafficking. This can be done by increasing the resources for agencies like the US Fish and Wildlife Service, National Marine Fisheries Service, and the US Department of Agriculture. The additional resources could be used to increase enforcement of wildlife protection laws, increase monitoring and regulation of US imports, and build partnerships with other countries to ensure that US imports are not involved in wildlife trafficking.

Second, the US can increase public awareness of wildlife trafficking and its impacts. This can be done through campaigns in schools, parks, and public media. The government can also incentivize partnerships with wildlife conservation organizations and research universities to educate the public on the issue.

Finally, the US should promote collaboration with other countries to ensure that wildlife trafficking is addressed globally. This would involve participating in and leading international efforts to combat the global wildlife trade.

By taking these steps, the US can combat wildlife crime, protect endangered species, and help ensure the health of the environment for future generations.

The wildlife traffickers are linked to the illegal pet trade, poaching of iconic species, and illegal logging. The United States government is aware of this and has taken steps to address the issue on a global scale.

The US government has taken a few steps to curb this illegal activity because of the devastating impact that it has on local wildlife populations and ecosystems.

First, they have increased resources to fund agencies like The US Fish and Wildlife Service, and the US Department of Agriculture. This ensures that these organizations have the resources they need to take action and implement tougher regulations but it does not seem to be working.

Second, they have increased public awareness of the issues surrounding wildlife crime and the impacts it has on endangered species and the environment. This can be done through education campaigns in schools, parks and public media which can help to create greater public understanding of the issue. Remember 80% of the people are still unaware so their attempts to educate are failing. We must do more and I ask you to subscribe to MojoStreaming to join our community of wildlife protectors

or scan:

Third, the US government has taken an active role in international collaboration, leading and participating in efforts to combat global wildlife trade. By working with countries around the world, the US is ensuring that this issue is taken seriously and is being addressed on a global scale.

Enforce Stricter Penalties for Wildlife Traffickers

The US government is taking steps to enact stricter penalties for wildlife trafficking; however, more needs to be done. Currently, the penalties for wildlife trafficking are not severe enough to discourage those involved in this activity from continuing to do so.

Heavier penalties are needed in order to create an effective deterrent and financial disincentive for these activities. By increasing the penalties and ensuring that they are enforced, the US will send a signal to those who have been engaging in these activities that they will pay a heavy price for their actions.

In addition to tougher penalties, it is important that those involved in wildlife trafficking be held accountable and that their activities be made public. This will create a stigma around the issue and will discourage others from involving themselves in illegal activities.

Finally, the US needs to strengthen its collaboration and international partnerships in order to fight wildlife crime on a global scale. By working with other governments and organizations, the US will not only be able to strengthen its efforts for tackling this issue but also gain valuable intelligence that can be used to prevent these activities from taking place.

By taking all these steps, the US will be able to create a stronger legal framework and raise awareness about the detrimental impacts of wildlife trafficking, ultimately creating a safer environment for endangered species and their habitats.

How Are U.S. Laws Contributing To Wildlife Crime?

The U.S. has several laws that contribute to the wildlife crime crisis. The U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA), originally passed in 1973 and amended in 1988, prohibits the trade of protected species, including their parts and products. However, the regulations in the ESA are often outdated and not comprehensive enough to prevent the trafficking of endangered and at-risk species.

The Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) also plays a role in the illegal wildlife trade. It prohibits interactions between humans and marine mammals without a permit, such as capturing, selling, or buying dolphins or whales. The MMPA forbids the trading of marine mammals in the U.S., but it does not apply to the import of marine mammal products from other countries.

The Lacey Act, in force since 1901, is another law that is aimed at combating wildlife trafficking. It prohibits the import, export, and transport of protected wildlife species and requires businesses to accurately label their products. Unfortunately, this label must reference a government-approved system, which is sometimes very difficult to obtain.
Despite the myriad of regulations, criminals continue to exploit flaws in regulations in order to facilitate wildlife crime.
The U.S. needs to strengthen its current laws and create more stringent regulations in order to better protect endangered wildlife and their habitats.

There is no denying that the United States is a major player in the global wildlife trade and its role shouldn't be underestimated. According to a 2019 report from the World Wildlife Fund, the United States is one of the largest consumers of wildlife products globally, accounting for 10% of the global trade in live animals.

The United States is also a major supplier of illegal wildlife products. The United States is a major source of illegal ivory, as well as a major exporter of live animals, including parrots, reptiles, and primates. The U.S. is also a major importer of exotic pet species, such as tortoises and snakes.

On Nov. 2, 2022, Savannah Nicole Valdez, 20, from Katy, Texas, pleaded guilty to smuggling a spider monkey into the United States without first declaring and invoicing it and fleeing an immigration checkpoint. 

On July 12, 2022, Herdade Lokua, 34, and Jospin Mujangi, 32, of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), each plead guilty in federal court in Seattle, WA to conspiracy, and Lacey Act violations for trafficking elephant ivory and white rhinoceros horn from DRC to Seattle. 
Immediately after the arrests, the task force in DRC acted on information provided by HSI Seattle to make additional arrests and seize 2,067 pounds of ivory and 75 pounds of pangolin scales in Kinshasa. The DRC placed the value of the wildlife trafficking contraband at approximately $3.5 million.
On January 25, 2021, a federal judge sentenced a Dallas business owner to pay a $2,000 fine and to complete a 1-year term of probation. The owner pleaded guilty to violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA).

You read correctly $2,000 fine and probation. If you look up records you will find people are fined a few thousand and may spend up to 3 years in jail for something that was earning them hundreds of thousands of dollars! Basically, a slap on the hand! We need strict laws for these criminals.

What you should take from this:

Wildlife crime is big business

Wildlife crime is a serious and growing global problem. Each year, millions of animals are illegally traded for their meat, skin, and body parts. This illicit trade is worth billions of dollars and it is having a devastating impact on wildlife populations around the world.
What many people don’t realize is that the United States is one of the largest markets for illegal wildlife products. In fact, the United States is the second-largest market for illegal ivory after China. Wildlife crime is a big business, and it is being enabled by the United States.</p><p></p><p></p><p></p><p> Note part of this article was generated with IA if you notice false information please message me.

By coming together and implementing a multi-pronged approach to combating wildlife crime, we can make a major impact in protecting wildlife around the world.

MojoStreaming is a network where advocacy meets entertainment. A channel dedicated to wildlife, our planet, and the concerns of our environment. Our vision is to rejuvenate the love for wildlife through inspiration, creativity, and compassion.  Our Mission is to ignite empathy for animals through mesmerizing and entertaining content while educating the world about the importance of wildlife The goal is to become the voice of thousands of species and motivate our audience to support and safeguard wildlife and the environment through our content. It is a site like no other, from educational wildlife programming to live streaming in sanctuaries around the world to our news/political channel that will keep you current on today's issues we are facing. We invite you to be a part of our family and by working together we can make a difference. 


  1 year ago
Killing Contests! Do you support?

The Unspoken Horror of Wildlife Killing Contests in the United States

1. The Unspoken Horror of Wildlife Killing Contests in the United States

1. Wildlife killing contests are an annual event in many parts of the United States.
2. The animals killed in these contests are often subject to horrible cruelty and suffering.
3. The contests are often held in secret, with little public knowledge or oversight.
4. They are often sponsored by businesses or organizations with a financial interest in the outcome.
5. The participants in these contests often receive prizes or trophies for their kills.

Wildlife killing contests are a brutal and horrifying practice that happens in many parts of the United States. These contests often attract participants from all walks of life, and the animals killed are often subject to horrible cruelty and suffering. The contests are often held in secret, with little public knowledge or oversight. They are often sponsored by businesses or organizations with a financial interest in the outcome. The participants in these contests often receive prizes or trophies for their kills.

These contests are a blight on our country, and we must do everything in our power to stop them.

2. These so-called “contests” are nothing more than opportunities for people to engage in wanton slaughter of innocent animals

These so-called “contests” are nothing more than opportunities for people to engage in wanton slaughter of innocent animals. It is a cruel and callous disregard for nature, and it is wrong. The people who participate in these contests are motivated by greed and often act with complete disregard for the law. They are motivated by the potential prizes, trophies, and recognition they could earn by killing off already-endangered species.

In addition to the sheer brutality of wildlife killing contests, they are also dangerous because they act as a gateway to other forms of poaching and wildlife exploitation. The participants of these contests often go on to become more involved in the killing of innocent animals. It is critical that we end these contests and put an end to the cycle of violence and exploitation of wildlife.

3. native wildlife species are being decimated by these killing contests

Native wildlife species are being decimated by these killing contests. The native species are suffering, especially due to the influx of non-native species that are often brought in for these contests.

These killing contests are leading to the degradation of vital habitats that boast of unique flora and fauna giving rise to a wide array of biodiversity. As these species become extinct, the balance of the entire ecosystem is disrupted and struggling populations are further threatened.

The mass killing of birds, mammals and reptiles takes away from an animal’s ability to fulfill its role in the food chain and generates unmeasurable suffering for the creatures involved. It's time for a change, and these killing contests should be banned and outlawed. Only then can native wildlife species have a chance to thrive and flourish in peace.

4. These contests are often held in secret, with little to no public oversight

These killing contests are often held in secret, with little to no public oversight. This means that many events are only known by those who organize them and made possible by those who participate in them. This means that wildlife activists and community advocates may not even be aware that they are occurring within their communities.

This lack of transparency also contributes to the perpetuation of wildlife exploitation and unrestricted killing. In addition, the secrecy available to these events also clouds public understanding of their implications and effects on populations. It also keeps the public from taking meaningful actions in the wake of these contests and in the future.

The secrecy of these events is a major contributing factor to their ability to go largely unnoticed and unreported. Without more public attention and oversight, these damaging and cruel contests will continue to exist with impunity.

5. The participants in these contests typically take home grisly trophies of their kills, and bragging rights

Participants in these contests typically take home gruesome trophies of their kills, often as a way to show off their prowess. In addition, bragging rights are up for grabs as part of these contests. It is a vicious cycle, with the potential reward of a “trophy kill” continuing to spur participation.

It is partly because of this phenomenon that the hunting of animals, both native and non-native, has become increasingly common and accepted in the United States. Because of the wild animal populations' dwindling numbers, wildlife killing contests have become an accepted form of entertainment. This disrespect for wildlife is unacceptable and needs to be addressed.

The anti-wildlife killing contest movement is growing and people are beginning to call for these cruel contests to end. Animal welfare activists, hunters, and other community members need to come together and demand an end to these grotesque actions. We must continue to raise awareness of these events to put an end to the unspeakable horror of wildlife killing contests in the United States.

6. These contests have a negative impact on ecosystems and local economies

The impact of wildlife killing contests on ecosystems and local economies is devastating and far-reaching. With a decreasing number of animals, other species that depend on the species killed in the contest become more vulnerable and their biological diversity, habitats, and populations decrease. This in turn has a direct effect on local economies as the tourists who come to visit the indigenous wildlife and ecosystems often spend money in the area.

In addition, the waste generated from these contests can damage local ecosystems. The skinned animals left behind in the contests often create toxins that poison the environment. This can lead to decreased air and water quality, exacerbating the damage to the local ecosystems.

The effect on local economies, ecosystems, and wildlife is not only negative, but also long-term. The population of some of these species will never have a chance to recover, as many of these animals are difficult to capture or study to begin with. It is essential that these contests be stopped before they damage the environment and local economies beyond repair.

7. It’s time for these contests to be outlawed

It is time for wildlife killing contests in the United States to become illegal. It is no longer acceptable to allow such destructive competitions to continue unchecked. The U.S. government understands the negative impacts these contests have and is trying to put an end to them.

At the federal level, a bill has been proposed to make it illegal for any person or organization to host or organize a wildlife killing contest. It also outlaws any encouragement or promotion of wildlife killing contests.

At the state level, numerous states are passing laws to prohibit wildlife killing contests. These laws make it illegal for individuals or organizations to sponsor, organize, or participate in organized contests. In addition, local cities and counties are passing their own ordinances to prohibit these contests in their respective jurisdiction.

It is essential that the laws against wildlife killing contests are enforced and that violators are prosecuted in order to ensure that participants will not be able to act with impunity. The penalties for violations of these laws should also be severe enough to deter potential violators from participating.

The time to put an end to these cruel and destructive contests is now. It is time for these contests to be outlawed and for the individuals involved to be held accountable for their actions.

  1 year ago
Floating Meadows and their Wildlife

The Untold Beauty of Floating Meadows

1. Introduction

The Floating Meadows is one of the most beautiful and unusual places on Earth. It is a cluster of around 1,000 islands in the middle of the East China Sea, about midway between Japan and the Chinese mainland. The islands are scattered over an area of about 4,000 square kilometers and are surrounded by crystal-clear waters.
The islands are formed of limestone and are covered with lush vegetation. They are home to a wide variety of wildlife, including many endangered species. The area is also home to a number of small villages, where the residents make a living from fishing and tourism.
In recent years, the Floating Meadows has become a popular tourist destination, with people coming from all over the world to enjoy its unspoiled beauty. If you are looking for a place to get away from it all, then the Floating Meadows is the perfect destination for you.</p><p></p><p>

2. The beauty of floating meadows

The beauty of Floating Meadows is captivating and breathtaking. Its vibrant colors, lush greenery and the wide variety of wildlife all make the experience of visiting this area truly special. The islands are also covered with many unique geological features that provide great opportunities for exploration.

The picturesque lagoons, swimming ponds, monolithic rocks and caves, and other interesting features can be easily reached by boat. Snorkeling and dive trips are popular activities in the area, as they offer a glimpse of its submerged landscapes and crystal-clear waters.

The Floating Meadows is also a great destination for nature lovers. Its diverse vegetation and abundance of wildlife, with numerous species of birds, make it a paradise for birdwatchers. And, the area also offers excellent hiking and cycling paths, allowing visitors to explore its natural beauty at their own pace.

For photography enthusiasts, the Floating Meadows make for an absolute paradise. With its stunning sunsets, dreamy sunrises, and starry night skies, this place gives one the opportunity to capture some incredible shots of stunning landscapes and wildlife.

The Floating Meadows is quite simply an unforgettable experience and one of the most beautiful places you can visit.</p><p></p><p>

3. The importance of floating meadows

Floating Meadows is more than just a beautiful place to view. It plays an important role in maintaining the delicate ecosystems of the area. It provides a natural habitat for many species of birds, animals, and plants that would otherwise struggle to survive in this part of the world.

In addition to its natural habitats, the floating meadows are important for the local economy. People living in the nearby towns often rely on this area for their livelihood. Fishermen use the meadows to catch fish, while other local families may turn to the meadows for the resources they need to feed their families.

For tourists, Floating Meadows is also invaluable. Visitors to the area can enjoy the wildlife and other unique features of this unique ecosystem, as well as providing rich memories and experiences that will last a lifetime.

Floating Meadows is a special place that needs to be preserved for future generations. It is clear that the Floating Meadows is important both to the local environment and to the local economy. This is why it is essential that we work together to protect this special place and ensure its ongoing preservation.</p><p></p><p>

4. The ecology of floating meadows

Floating Meadows is a unique and delicate ecosystem full of life. The area is home to a variety of flora and fauna, which are all reliant on one another for survival and existence.

One of the main species that inhabit Floating Meadows is the reed. The reed provides essential nourishment and shelter for a variety of animals and birds, such as ducks, geese, coot and mallard.

At the same time, the reed beds are an essential food source for many fish species, such as carp, barble and roach. The warm, shallow water of Floating Meadows allows these fish species to spawn and allows them to provide food for predators such as otters and birds of prey.

The presence of the reed also helps to clean the water and maintain the right level of oxygen. This creates a delicate balance between biological and chemical components, which provides a safe and hospitable environment for animals, fish and birds. In addition, the reed also helps to stabilise the shoreline and reduce the risk of erosion.

Floating Meadows is an oasis of flora and fauna, an interconnected web of life, and it needs to be protected in order to ensure its future.</p><p></p><p>

5. The future of floating meadows

Floating Meadows is an incredibly fragile ecosystem that must be nurtured and looked after in order to ensure its future. To do this, there are a few steps that need to be taken in order to protect and preserve the floating meadows.

Firstly, actions need to be taken to limit human activities and reduce the amount of nutrient pollution from runoff. The nutrient pollution from things such as agricultural runoff and sewage can upset the balance of the ecosystems, damage the reed beds, and contaminate the surrounding aquatic environment.

In addition, there needs to be more awareness about Floating Meadows and its importance to the wider environment. More educational programmes and information campaigns need to be implemented in order to ensure that society is aware of the importance of these ecosystems.

Finally, there needs to be more research conducted on the different species that inhabit the floating meadows. This research could help to better identify and monitor the different species and determine the factors that influence their behaviour and interactions with one another.

By taking these steps, we can ensure that Floating Meadows will remain an oasis of life, an interconnected web of flora and fauna, and a haven for the species that inhabit it.

Learn about the only floating National Park on our planet Keibul Lamjao National Park at
written and directed by:
GEORGE THENGUMMOOTTIL Wildlife Film Maker | Documentary Editor 

  1 year ago


State caves in to game farmers and hunters over key wildlife protection

By Don Pinnock

10 Apr 2023

Vital legislation in South Africa for the protection of wildlife has been stopped in its tracks by a mysterious settlement between game breeders/hunters and the Department of Environment.


The Department of Environment (DFFE) had gazetted the most progressive wildlife protection legislation ever drafted in South Africa. It seemed like good news for beleaguered wildlife. 

But just before it was to become law, game breeder and hunter organisations applied for an urgent interdict to halt it. DFFE responded with a convincingly argued defence of its legislation, clearly indicating its strong opposition to the application, not least on the grounds that it was not urgent.

But at the last minute, in a secret, out-of-court settlement, the Department withdrew the proposed Threatened or Protected Species (TOPS) regulations as well as related Norms and Standards amendments and agreed to pay the applicants’ legal  costs. 

Its reasoning? “Due to the urgent timeframes of the litigation, the Department required additional time to consider the varied issues raised in the court application” by Wildlife Ranching South Africa (WRSA) and the Professional Hunters Association of South Africa (PHASA). So was it urgent or wasn’t it?

What’s curious is exactly what happened between 24 March, when the Department filed its comprehensive and well argued 91-page affidavit opposing the interdict, and 27 March when it completely backtracked in conceding to retract the regulations without revealing any of its arguments.

Because the TOPS regulations were closely interlinked to four other Government Notices – also due to come into effect on 1 April – DFFE has also withdrawn the revised Norms and Standards for the management of elephants, the hunting of leopards, the amended protection list of 266 wild mammal, fish, birds, invertebrates and plants and new regulations involving the trade in rhino horn.

What were the seemingly convincing arguments made by WRSA/PHASA that made the DFFE back off? What other agreements or aspects to the settlement were reached? And why and on what basis did DFFE agree to pay costs when, in such cases, each party normally pays them? At this stage nobody’s talking and a request to DFFE by Our Burning Planet got no reply.

Consultation timeframes

The TOPS regulations were published on 3 February for public comment before being promulgated, and at that point WRSA and PHASA met with the Department. Were their concerns raised then? What prompted them to take the Department to court? 

Explaining the court challenge, the CEO of PHASA, Dries van Coller, said the publication of the TOPS regulations and species list had taken the industry by surprise because the previous very limited public participation process was eight years ago in 2015.

“The Minister’s promulgated version of the regulations differed materially from the previous versions and included numerous provisions which would be detrimental to the ability of game ranchers and professional hunters to conduct sustainable business in the game industry.”

Van Coller had grounds for complaint. Very limited public participation followed the publication of the TOPS regulations. This is in contrast to the exhaustive consultation following the recommendations of the High Level Panel on lions, rhinos, elephants and leopards and also the White Paper on Biodiversity just approved by Cabinet. 

It is also surprising that the minister’s legal advisers appear to have failed to take note of the precedent affirmed for the requirements for public participation in two other cases. One was an interim interdict granted to the Humane Society International-Africa which challenged the hunting and export quotas for elephants, rhinos and leopards. The second judgement was obtained by Endangered Wildlife Trust overturning the Department of Agriculture’s inclusion of several species of wild animals under the Animal Improvement Act.

More than time frames

A reading of the TOPS regulations, however, makes it clear why game farmers and hunters hit the panic button. It’s not just about consultation time frames. Following the report of the High Level Panel, DFFE’s Cabinet-approved proposals on animal wellbeing and the White Paper on Biodiversity just published, it’s clear that Creecy is responsive to increasing reports and studies on cruelty on game farms and, particularly, the hunting of lions bred for the bullet. 

A lion in a breeding facility. (Photo: Conservation Action Trust)

All this is having a negative effect on South Africa’s image abroad at a time when the country desperately needs to rebuild its tourist industry after the Covid pandemic.

The new TOPS regulations tighten the thumbscrews on sloppy, inappropriate, dangerous and cruel game farming and hunting in an industry that has mostly been at great pains to fly below the radar. They considerably tighten regulation of captive breeding, rehabilitation, temporary holding and commercial exhibition facilities, game farms and animal translocators.

But the regulations go much further, listing 266 species as vulnerable, endangered, or critically endangered with precise listing of restricted or prohibited activities with regard to each. These include all rhino species, elephants, lions, leopards, African wild dogs, cheetahs, hyenas and a range of plains game including southern roan and sable antelope and both species of zebra.

TOPS also tightens regulations around hunting permits and drills down on captive breeding, which must have infuriated breeders and would have been the main points of contention in the court case. A huge bone of contention with facilities involved in so-called canned hunting, where hand-reared lions are released to be shot, would have been regulations prohibiting the hunting of a large predator in an area adjacent to a captive holding facility.

Also prohibited would be the introduction of wild-caught predators to breeding facilities, a time limit after which rehabilitation facilities would have to return animals to the wild, and a ban on breeding in sanctuaries.

The TOPS regulations put captive breeding facilities under an official microscope with the ability to close them down for non-compliance with the strict guidelines. All animals and the conditions under which they are kept would have to be documented for official inspection and stud books kept to curb inbreeding and hybridisation.

Enclosures would need to comply with regulations, the food supply for captive animals detailed, plans provided for the removal of waste and the availability of veterinary services. Captive breeding facilities would be required to provide a description of the strategies used in breeding that contribute to the conservation of wild populations, a requirement that lion farms would find impossible.

Breeding facilities would be denied registration if their activities conflicted with the Biodiversity Act or with anything within the TOPS regulations. And to add to the uncertainty of game breeders, their registration could be cancelled if “there is a change in the conservation status of the species involved being bred, reared, propagated, traded or kept by a permit holder”.

A question of capacity

A weakness of the TOPS regulations – and this would have been pointed out in the court case – is that the tight control required by DFFE would require far more trained officials and a data collection system capable of responding quickly and efficiently. Sadly, neither national or provincial environmental departments have either of these. This point was hammered home by Dries van Coller of PHASA:

“We are already being hamstrung by the inability of various national and provincial departments to administrate the myriad of environmental regulations. State departments already do not have the capacity or funding to administer the wildlife industry properly. 

“We receive complaints from members on a near-daily basis of permits not being processed. There is simply no money in some provinces to cover the costs associated with statutory oversight work. The system is stalling due to the department not having enough people and money to do their job. Now we see a Minister who wants to impose even more conditions on an already over-regulated industry.” 

So here’s the question. Will the TOPS regulations and linked wildlife laws be scrapped, rewritten or hit a new round of contestation? No time frame or way forward has yet been suggested. For now the issue lies smouldering in a firepit of confusion. OBP

  1 year ago

We regret to announce the passing of our beloved animal advocate and wildlife warrior extraordinaire, Samantha (Sam) Dixon on the 4th of March 2023 in Brisbane Australia after a short illness.

Sam attended the Presbyterian Ladies' College in Sydney and she graduated from Charles Sturt University but her greatest love and passion was always Africa and its wildlife.

She was a staunch anti-trophy hunting campaigner and worked tirelessly to ban trophy hunting. The message that she conveyed was that trophy hunting is done for greed, ego and the thrill of it.

Sam was also an advocate against poaching, trapping and the abuse of animals that should be free.

She was a brave and wonderful advocate for animals, with the heart of a lioness. Her disability never stopped her from fighting for the animals. She left an incredible mark and will be dearly missed and always remembered.

She loved her two constant fur baby companions, the late Winston and June bug with all her heart.  

A true animal angel is gone. One of the bravest wildlife warriors to ever grace the battlefield.

Rest in eternal peace.

  1 year ago