Cape Town, 31 August 2022 – The animal welfare organisation, FOUR PAWS in South Africa, says in a written submission to the Department of Fisheries, Forestry and the Environment, that they are concerned that some of the proposals of the Draft Game Meat Strategy is contradictory to the recently published White Paper on Conservation and the Sustainable Use of Biodiversity.
The deadline for submissions on the Draft Game Meat Strategy was last week. The Minister of the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, Barbara Creecy, called for submissions in response to the Draft Game Meat Strategy that it published in July.
The strategy aims to formalise the game meat sector and open doors for informal game meat traders and previously disadvantaged communities. According to Creecy, the strategy will create an organised game meat industry, based on achieving the economies of scale that are necessary for commercial ventures based primarily on game meat production, harvesting and marketing. However, animal welfare and environmental groups raise the concern these plans overlook key risks such as detriment to biodiversity.
The Director of FOUR PAWS in South Africa, Fiona Miles, says while the White Paper outlines steps that are progressive for conservation and biodiversity in South Africa, the Draft Game Meat Strategy on the other hand advocates for industrial scale breeding, farming, and slaughter of wild animals.
Says Miles: “These are two deeply conflicting trajectories. There is a distinct lack of inclusion in the proposals of the Draft Game Meat Strategy of principles of animal sentience, welfare and wellbeing as proposed in the Department’s own Draft White Paper on Conservation and the Sustainable Use of Biodiversity.”
Miles proposed that the Department must include these progressive aspects into the Draft Game Meat Strategy.
She points out that increasing South Africa’s role in the global game meat production as proposed by the Draft Game Meat Strategy, also means an increased chance of risks associated with large scale game meat production such as increased risk of higher transmission rates of zoonotic diseases.
She says FOUR PAWS is further highly concerned that the Animal Welfare Act is not mentioned within the strategy document and very little is mentioned about animal welfare in general. FOUR PAWS recommends that the strategy must include references to the Act as well as to include proposals on sentience and wellbeing of animals.
Miles also urges the South African government to research investments in sustainable development for agriculture which would induce expansion of plant-based food industries. She emphasises that the South African game meat industry is reported to be responsible for 131.9 Giga grams of methane gas annually, which has significant impacts on climate change.
“We would urge the Department to review the Draft Game Meat Strategy immediately. The Department must seek sustainable solutions to economic development, job security, and sectoral transformation. Ensuring solutions minimise biodiversity loss and mitigate climate change, for example, is imperative to achieve long-term development in these areas – rather than short-term wins.“ /END
FOUR PAWS is the global animal welfare organisation for animals under direct human influence, which reveals suffering, rescues animals in need and protects them. Founded in 1988 in Vienna by Heli Dungler and friends, the organisation advocates for a world where humans treat animals with respect, empathy and understanding. The sustainable campaigns and projects of FOUR PAWS focus on companion animals including stray dogs and cats, farm animals and wild animals – such as bears, big cats and orangutans – kept in inappropriate conditions as well as in disaster and conflict zones. With offices in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Kosovo, the Netherlands, Switzerland, South Africa, Thailand, Ukraine, the UK, the USA and Vietnam as well as sanctuaries for rescued animals in eleven countries, FOUR PAWS provides rapid help and long-term solutions. www.four-paws.org.za