When it comes to unusual years noted throughout our existence as a species, 2020 is definitely one for the history books, this follows a controversial question finally being put to bed. What question you ask? Should the commercial sale of rhino and elephant meat be allowed in South Africa?
The amendment to the existing Meat Safety Act (MSA) was initially proposed in February 2020 by Agriculture Minister Thoko Didiz, but thanks to Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries Barbara Creecy, the ludicrous proposal was joyfully rejected, and the question of whether we can legally eat elephants and rhinos was finally answered and put to bed.
Just a recap for those who are not aware, the MSA establishes precisely what meat is safe for consumption by forming national standards, as well as regulating the meat trade industry.
When digging deeper into the proposed amendment, the changes to the MSA would allow for the commercial sale of a wide variety of wild animals, including rhinoceros, hippopotamus, elephants and even giraffes. While the list of proposed animals is rather extensive, the amendment further states, “This Act also applies to all other species of animals not mentioned above including birds, fish and reptiles that may be slaughtered as food for human and animal consumption. This schedule includes animals that may be listed as threatened species in accordance with conservation provisions, and therefore their slaughter for human and animal consumption must be in line with the relevant conservation provisions.”
This is where things take an even stranger turn (if possible). If the amendment were passed, lions would have made it onto the menu as well.
Hannah Shameema Winkler, DA Shadow Deputy Minister for Environmental Affairs, Forestry and Fisheries, explains the DA submitted several written questions on the proposed amendment, to the MSA and to the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) as well as the Department of Environmental Affairs, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF)—to seek clarity on the motivation behind the proposed inclusion of threatened and protected species (TOPS) to the act.
A DEFF portfolio committee meeting with DALRRD officials was also requested and convened to discuss the implications of the MSA amendment on TOPS species. During the course of the meeting, it was revealed the inclusion of TOPS species in Schedule 1 of the MSA would in fact also apply to lions among others. This is even though lions were not explicitly mentioned in the amendment to Schedule 1 of the act.
Winkler says, “This omission is conspicuous by its absence considering that other TOPS species of public concern and interest such as giraffe, rhino and hippo, to name a few, were explicitly listed under Schedule 1 for public comment.”
Apparently, after requesting the matter be clarified, Winkler says, “The undefined catch-all phrase at the bottom of the MSA gazette which reads that “the act also applies to all other species of animals not mentioned including birds, fish and reptiles” in fact includes lions – that is, the amendment would allow for the legal slaughter and sale of lion meat for human and animal consumption.”
While the amendment has been denied, what are your thoughts on the audacity of it being proposed? Especially when poaching and trophy hunting is already seeing several African species suffering at the hand of humanity?
Share your thoughts and views with us in the comment section below.
Author: Quinton Boucher
Edited: Calvin Swemmer