Green Scorpions deployed at OR Tambo International Airport to combat Wildlife Crime

13 April 2015


The Department of Environmental Affairs has taken another important step in the fight against wildlife crime.

From 1 April 2015, Environmental Management Inspectors, commonly known as the Green Scorpions, have been deployed at OR Tambo International Airport (ORTIA) to ensure compliance and to undertake enforcement action related to the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act (NEMBA) and its Regulations.

The regulations also relate to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the Threatened or Protected Species (TOPS) Regulations and regulations related to the import of Alien and Invasive Species.

A team of 10 Compliance officials will ensure that CITES export and re-export permits are endorsed after physical inspection of consignments and that CITES import permits are cancelled after use. They will also ensure that TOPS and Bioprospecting, Access and Benefit Sharing permit conditions are complied with.  Trade bans for commercial purposes relating to CITES listed species have been put in place since 19 March 2015 for Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Nigeria due to non-compliance with CITES plans and the Green Scorpions need to ensure that these bans are enforced.

A team of 9 Enforcement officials will make sure that non-compliances with NEMBA Regulations are met with enforcement action, through criminal investigations followed by prosecution and / or the issuing of enforcement notices and fines.

A team of officials will also ensure that the Alien and Invasive Species Regulations are being complied with. Officials will ensure that prohibited invasive species do not find their way into the country without being detected and are destroyed, where necessary. People who do not comply with the Alien and Invasive Species Regulations will either be prosecuted or issued with Compliance Notices and Directives.

It is envisaged that Green Scorpions will also be deployed at some of the other designated Ports of Entry and Exit across the over a period of time, dependent on resources available.

The Green Scorpions will work closely with other law enforcement agencies and departments at the airport, including the SAPS, Customs, the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, the Department of Health and Department of Home Affairs.  Through joint enforcement operations, the Green Scorpions and the SAPS have already detected non-compliance with the Alien and Invasive Species Regulations related to reptiles and notices will be issued in response thereto.  Such pro-active operations will take place on a regular basis.

Shops trading in the International Departure Hall of OR Tambo have also been checked to ensure that they comply with NEMBA Regulations in order for people buying CITES-listed products to comply with permit requirements. A number of shops are currently in non-compliance and enforcement action will be taken.  It is critical to understand that permits are required for the export and import of CITES-listed species, such as cosmetic products made from Aloe Ferox and crocodile leather products, such as watch straps, handbags and belts.

The Green Scorpions will also ensure that people using other airports in Gauteng comply with the requirements in the NEMBA Regulations and spot checks will be conducted at these Airports.

Apart from all these activities involving international passengers, the Green Scorpions will also focus efforts on other key areas at ORTIA, such as the international mail centre and freight areas.

Anybody that would like to report non-compliance with Environmental law can phone the Environmental Crime Hotline at 080 020 5005.

For media inquiries contact:

Albi Modise
Cell: 083 490 2871