South Africa Authorities Refuse to Clarify Rhino Darting Regulations


Published: April - 2011

South African authorities have refused to clarify the legality of green rhino hunting and the participation of veterinarians in these hunts. Last month I told you that I was seeking clarification from South Africa on the issue of green rhino hunting. As this issue went to press, I had not yet received anything. I spoke with Roopa Singh, the Chief Director of Communications at the National Department of Environmental Affairs, who said various people were being consulted and that she would try to get me an official statement before I went to press with the April issue. I held our print date two days in hopes of receiving a definitive answer. Alas, it had not come by March 24, and I dared not wait any longer. I am still hopeful that the authorities will see the need to clear this up and issue an official statement clarifying what is legal and what is illegal in terms of darting rhinos. I explained to Ms. Singh that many hunters had purchased these hunts at various fundraising events and hunting shows, where operators represented the hunts as fully legal because they are being done for management purposes, such as inserting micro chips or conducting various veterinary tests. Some operators have declared that the new regulations passed by the South African Veterinary Council (SAVC) are not the law of the land, at least not yet, and that anyone can handle the M99 tranquilizer once a prescription has been written for it by a vet. On the other hand, a veterinarian I spoke with from the veterinarian group told me in no uncertain terms that is it illegal for a vet to be involved in any green hunt. Yet, I also have a letter from a provincial department assuring an operator that they have no objection to a green rhino hunt where the client darts the rhino as long as it is for management purposes and in accordance with Threatened Or Protected Species (TOPS) regulations. Of course that is the "Catch-22" facing us. TOPS requires a veterinarian's involvement and authorization when tranquilizers are involved.

So........(continued)

 
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