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Parliament, Wednesday, 12 September 2018 – The Portfolio Committee on Environmental Affairs today had an engagement with the Department of Environmental Affairs, South African National Parks (SANParks) and Mpumalanga Tourism & Parks Agency Board on issues arising from our recently held Colloquium on Captive Lion Breeding, particularly hunting in the Greater Kruger National Park and the implementation of TOPS (Threatened or Protected Species) regulations.

The recent hunting of a male lion which took place in Umbabat Private Nature Reserve in Mpumalanga on the 7th of June 2018, highlighted wider issues of concern, both in terms of law governing hunting in the Kruger National Park and the contractual arrangements between the Kruger National Park and the Association of Private Nature Reserves (APNR).

The committee is extremely concerned that 10 years after the promulgation of the amended TOPS regulations in 2008, Mpumalanga Tourism & Parks Agency is not complying with the regulations, especially those relating to hunting of listed species in the regulations like lions, based on a flawed technical argument that the regulations are in conflict with the Provincial Act as they have not been taken through the NCOP. The committee has thus directed that the department should ensure that these regulations are processed through the NCOP before the end of the year and that the Mpumalanga Tourism & Parks Agency should ensure compliance with these regulations by January 2019. Baiting as a form of hunting of TOPS-listed species should cease immediately.

The committee would further like to urge the Minister of Environmental Affairs to expedite the process of realising full compliance with these regulations, through the MINMEC process in order to have a uniform standard for the whole country.

The other matter which concerns the committee is the agreement between the Kruger National Park and Association of Private Nature Reserves (APNR) concluded in 1996. We believe that this agreement needs to be revised to ensure that there is sharing of benefits arising from the collapse of the fences in the western boundary of the Kruger National Park in the interest of the broader society. The committee believes that issues of transformation and beneficiation should be taken into account in this agreement. In this regard, the committee has directed SANParks to develop a concept paper on this matter for discussion with the committee in October/November 2018. The committee will hold public hearings to determine the best way forward after its engagement with SANParks.

The committee also wants discussions to take place around the current hunting protocol that allows hunting of animals in the Greater Kruger National Park as a results of an open system arising from the taking down of the fences between the Kruger National Park and Association of Private Nature Reserves. The committee wants this protocol to be interrogated to properly account for this system, for which the Kruger National Park prohibits hunting inside the park, but nonetheless animals are hunted when they roam over to private nature reserves.

ISSUED BY THE PARLIAMENTARY COMMUNICATION SERVICES ON BEHALF OF THE CHAIRPERSON OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS, MR PHILLEMON MAPULANE.

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