Concerns are growing after South Africa has reclassified 33 wild species as farm animals, including lions, cheetahs, rhinos and zebras.
Back in May, Parliament approved an amendment to the Animal Improvement Act (AIA) -which governs livestock breeding in the country – and recategorized several endangered animals as farming stock.
The updated act now permits ‘the breeding, identification, and utilization 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’.
‘Controversial breeding practices’
Environmental journalist Don Pinnock, who wrote an investigative piece into the new legislation, says the law could ‘make it easier’ for the lion bone trade and other controversial breeding practices.
According to Cape Talk, Pinnock said: “[The legislation] clearly has something to do with lion and rhino breeding, guys. They tend to call shots and for some reason, the government listens to them.
“Once it’s [classified] in farming, you can farm animals.”
Lizanne Nel, Conservation Manager at SA Hunters, also opposed the amendment- stating that breeding practices such as genetic manipulation and cross-breeding 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’.