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Cabinet Approves Updated Policy on Sustainable Conservation of Elephants, Lions, Leopards, and Rhinoceroses

South African Predator Association

03 Apr 2024

South Africa, renowned for its extraordinary biodiversity and high levels of endemism, shoulders the responsibility of conserving and sustainably managing its wildlife for the benefit of all its citizens and future generations.

Minister Barbara Creecy, overseeing the Ministry of Forestry, Fisheries, and the Environment, emphasizes the paramount importance of safeguarding the survival of various species in their natural habitats. To this end, a revised Policy Position has been endorsed by the Cabinet, focusing on the conservation and sustainable use of white and black rhinoceroses, lions, elephants, and leopards.


Drawing upon Section 24 of the South African Constitution, which mandates the protection of the environment and the promotion of ecologically sustainable development, the Policy Position addresses specific challenges associated with these five species, including international commercial trade.


Aligned with the principles outlined in the White Paper, the Policy Position aims to rectify unsustainable practices, prioritize conservation efforts, ensure sustainable usage, and bolster the well-being of these species. It sets forth three conservation and sustainable use objectives:


1. Cease commercial captive lion activities, stop intensive breeding of lions in controlled environments, and discontinue commercial exploitation of captive and captive-bred lions.

2. Phase out intensive management and captive breeding of rhinoceroses for commercial purposes while strengthening wild populations.

3. Ensure sustainable utilization of leopards while incentivizing and enhancing their conservation in the wild.


Furthermore, the Policy Position outlines three international commercial trade-related objectives:


1. Advocate for live exports of these species solely to range states or other suitable destinations within Africa.

2. Collaborate with a range of states and potential destination countries to support international commercial trade in rhinoceros horn from protected wild populations for conservation purposes.

3. Consider international commercial trade in elephant ivory only under favorable conditions.

Implementing these objectives necessitates responsible, legal, and sustainable practices that prioritize animal welfare. Minister Creecy emphasizes that adherence to these guidelines will not only transform the wildlife industry but also promote the conservation and sustainable utilization of biodiversity, particularly concerning the specified species.


The strategic significance of this Policy Position lies in providing clarity and certainty regarding the conservation and sustainable use of these five species. It also serves as a foundation for reviewing relevant legislation to ensure its alignment with these objectives.


Source: Media Statement released by the Department of Forestry, Fisheries, and the Environment (28 March 2024)

Click here to read the Revised Policy Position on the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Elephant, Lion, Leopard, and Rhinoceros

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