Cape Town - Changes to regulations governing threatened or protected species (ToPS) have been published, and the public invited to comment on them.
“The amendments... address... challenges experienced in the implementation of the current threatened or protected species regulations,” the department of environmental affairs said in a statement on Thursday.
The amendments, including changes to the lists of such species, were published for public comment in the Government Gazette on Tuesday.
The list includes, among others, various species of endangered or threatened birds, butterflies, fish, frogs, reptiles, plants and mammals.
Interested parties have 60 days from the date of publication (April 16) to submit their comments for consideration.
“Subsequent to the public participation process, the regulations and list of threatened or protected species will be amended based on the consideration of comments received during the process, and re-submitted for consideration by Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa.”
The regulations and species lists would replace the current ToPS regulations and species list.
According to the statement, the purpose of the regulations is to “regulate the permit system and to regulate and prohibit the manner in which specific restricted activities may be carried out”.
In addition, they would also provide for the registration and regulation of, among others: game farms; boat-based whale and dolphin watching operators; wildlife translocators and white shark cage-diving operators.
“The regulations have been expanded to include all threatened or protected marine species, including whales, dolphins, various species of seals and seabirds, and to provide for an integrated and uniform system of managing and regulating all ToPS species within one piece of legislation, whether marine or terrestrial.”
On the possession of rhino horn and elephant ivory, the regulations stipulate certain requirements for permits authorising the possession of these.
“Applications for the possession of a rhinoceros horn and elephant ivory must be accompanied by, among others, information on the weight of each detached horn or ivory, and photographs of each detached horn or ivory.”
The proposed new regulations also contain stiff penalties for those who contravene its provisions.
“In terms of penalties, the draft regulations state that an individual found in contravention of a provision of the regulations is liable upon conviction to imprisonment for a period not exceeding five years or a fine not exceeding R5 million, or both a fine and such imprisonment.
“In the case of a second or subsequent conviction, an individual will be liable to a fine not exceeding R10 million or imprisonment for a period not exceeding 10 years, or both such a fine and imprisonment.”
Some of the species listed as critically endangered include 15 of South Africa's 39 cycad species, the Table Mountain ghost frog, Coelacanth and Whale Sharks.
“Endangered species include, among others, the Cape parrot, black rhinoceros, African wild dog, the Knysna seahorse and a further four cycad species.”
The department said comments on both notices should be addressed to:
The Director-General: Environmental Affairs, Attention: Ms Magdel Boshoff
Private Bag X447
They could also be faxed to 012-320-7026, or e-mailed to: MBoshoff@)environment.gov.za
The notices can be accessed via environmental affairs' website: www.environment.gov.za. - Sapa