Minister Edna Molewa’s speech during the official opening of the First Hunting Indaba

The Palace at Sun City, North West Province, 29 October 2012

Programme Director,
Members of the Executive Council
Members of Parliament
Traditional Leaders (Kgosi/Amakhosi/iiNkosi) and other Community leaders
Acting Director-General, Ms Lize McCourt,
Deputy Director-General: Biodiversity and Conservation, Mr. Fundisile Mketeni
Chief Executive Officers of our National Parks, Provincial Parks and Reserves and Agencies
Presidents and Chairpersons of Hunting Associations and other associations representing various sub-sectors in the wildlife industry
Distinguished guests
Members of the media

Ladies and gentlemen

It is indeed a great honour and a privilege for me to address you at this important event that will bolster the contribution of the hunting sector to the conservation successes and the economic growth of the wildlife sector in South Africa.

This Indaba should provide a platform for dialogue regarding the socio-ecological and economic contribution and impact of hunting; Community involvement in hunting; transformation of the industry; hunting in protected areas; and the legislative framework regulating hunting. It should furthermore provide an opportunity to strategize on the responses to these key issues, including mechanisms and interventions required to develop the full potential of the hunting industry and to minimize impacts while maximising benefits arising from this industry.

Although government and industry will sometimes not agree on other matters, I am of the firm belief that the hunting industry and the game farming industry are important partners, who play a key role in terms of conservation, tourism, and economic development. Ladies and gentlemen I need to fully state that, I am committed to strengthening and improving the relationship between my Department and this sector.

Government recognizes that game farming and hunting contributes significantly to conservation, tourism development, job creation and sustainable development, especially in rural areas, and is part of the broader biodiversity economy. An example of this is the contribution of the private sector to the conservation success of the white rhinoceros. The generally positive role that sport hunting has played in the increase in white rhino numbers in South Africa is also recognized by the International Conservation Union (IUCN).

Hunting of the White Rhino started in 1968 when there were only approximately 1,800 White Rhinos in Africa. This contributed to increasing the value of White Rhinos on auctions and encouraged the expansion of numbers and range.

Statistics compiled in 2010 indicate that there are approximately 18,800 White Rhinos in South Africa and the number of White Rhinos in South Africa has increased over 10-fold since hunting and live-sales started.

Hunting, together with live-sales and ecotourism has assisted in giving the White Rhino value that has generated incentives, This has played a critical and positive role in the successful conservation of this species in South Africa, and helped encourage the rapid expansion of range and numbers.

Unfortunately ladies and gentlemen all these successes are being undermined by criminals who come to our shores to steal our heritage. We need to continue working together to fight this scourge. South African Law-enforcement Agencies together with my department and our public entities both at National and Provincial levels are cooperate in fighting the problem. We also recognise all efforts made by the civil society, private sector and individual members of our society. As we gathered here today at this hunting Indaba, we call upon all stakeholders, particularly the private sector to continue working with us towards a common solution to the problem.

We need to note and appreciate that  sustainable utilisation in the form of hunting, eco-tourism, game sales, and translocations have resulted in an increase in a number of other scarce game species, including Bontebok, Roan and Sable antelope. Government and industry do however recognise that these successes also result in new challenges that have to be addressed from a conservation and economic perspective in order to ensure long term sustainability.

The hunting industry contributes substantially to the economy of the country. In 2010 hunting season for which comprehensive information is available, total revenue of approximately R1.1 billion was generated by the local and trophy hunting industries collectively. This amount only reflects the revenue generated through accommodation and species fees. The true revenue is therefore substantially higher, as the amount I am referring to does not even include revenue generated through the associated industries as a result of the multiplier effect.

Ladies and gentlemen, let me remind you that while the South African economy, as measured by standard economic indicators, is considered to be relatively stable, there are a number of concerns from an ecological sustainability perspective. These include the following:

  • The economy is highly energy-intensive
  • The natural resource base is under severe pressure due to among others, the impact of the  introduction and spread of invasive alien species
  • The impact of climate change on indigenous species and ecosystems which require the implementation of adaptation and mitigation measures.
  • There is widespread poverty, unemployment and inequality that require our collective intervention to find sustainable solutions.

Ladies and gentlemen, the transition to a sustainable green economy implies the decoupling of resource use and environmental impacts from economic growth. This is an economy characterized by substantially increased investment in green sectors, supported by enabling policy reforms.

In response to some of the challenges alluded to earlier, like climate change, poverty, unemployment and under-development, energy intensity and invasive species, we believe that we need to act together as role-players in our economy to transit into the green economy so that we steadily realize green growth.

In this regard, South Africa’s approach is therefore to ensure that a green economy we develop is supported by a practical and implementable action plan that recognises the importance of building on existing best practices, programmes, initiatives and indigenous knowledge in key sectors. It also recognises that government alone cannot manage and fund a just transition to a green economy, and that the private sector and civil society must play a fundamental role.

The Government of South Africa, through the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) has set aside 800 million Rands to establish the Green Fund. The DEA has appointed the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) as the implementing agent of the Green Fund.

The objective of this Green Fund is to lay the basis for the South African economy to make a transition to a low-carbon, resource-efficient, pro-development and climate-resilient development path delivering high impact economic, environmental and social benefits.

The golden thread is sustainability as well as to integrate and secure the contribution of the wildlife sector to the Green Economy. Long term sustainability should therefore remain our focus. 

At the 11th Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity that took place just two weeks ago, Sustainable Use, resonated throughout the various themes considered under the agenda items of the COP 11, Conference delegates called for a need to collaborate and form partnerships on wildlife utilization and management issues. They also agreed that climate change adaptation strategies should to some an extent take into consideration the importance of wildlife for maintaining healthy ecosystems and ecosystem services. 

For this reason, sustainable use is critical for our development, especially for developing and like-minded mega-diverse countries. These issues are critical for South Africa if we are to reduce the direct pressure on Biodiversity, and profile biodiversity as the cornerstone of sustainable development, especially through sustainable use.

I am pleased to note that the industry has itself identified transformation and empowerment as areas that require attention and dedicated resources and support. In addressing the challenge of transformation, the department has initiated a process to assess the current situation with regards to transformation of the industry. This information will be used to develop a Transformation Charter for the Biodiversity Sector, which will include relevant sub-sectors such as the game farming and hunting sectors. This will be done in consultation with all relevant stakeholders, because industry-led transformation is the preferred approach. 

Over the past year I have appreciated our working relationship with this industry. It has been characterized by vibrant and robust interactions as we jointly came to grips with a number of issues, including the interpretation of societal values on ethics in the hunting industry and giving practical content to sustainable use. We should not shy away from a robust debate in the next two days as government continues to shape the regulatory environment and industry continues to contribute towards a responsible and sustainable way of utilizing wildlife resources.

I am excited to note that the country’, and especially the hunting community, is united to resolve and unpack all the concerns and challenges we face, in order to ensure that South Africa remains a leader in biodiversity conservation  and continue to demonstrate the conservation achievements that can be realized through the sustainable utilization of natural resources.

I am very optimistic about the future of this industry and the great potential to further nurture and promote its conservation and economic worth. From the side of Government, be assured of my support for the sector and for your efforts, but always remember the importance of partnerships in this equation.

Ladies and gentlemen, I wish all a fruitful engagement as part of a collaborative effort to address the challenges in the sector and as we map a way forward. I am looking forward to further engagements with this industry.

I declare this Indaba officially opened.

I thank you!