South Africa may have barred the commercial sale of lion meat, but other wild animals are still on the chopping block of species that can be slaughtered for human consumption.
In breaking news, Environment, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Barbara Creecy has blocked a proposed amendment to the existing Meat Safety Act (MSA). If passed, the changes would allow various wild animals, including threatened and protected species such as giraffes, rhinos, and elephants, to be slaughtered for food.
Agriculture Minister Thoko Didiza initially proposed the Act’s controversial changes in February 2020.
The captive predator breeding industry is plagued by controversy and welfare concerns over captive lion hunts and lion bones’ export.
Creecy cautioned that putting lion meat on the menu would likely boost illegal poaching and encourage exploitation and animal abuse. While the announcement is a victory for lions, the Cabinet now face a battle amongst themselves on what species will be on the chopping block.
The Meat Safety Act (MSA) was initially put in place to ensure that meat is safe for human consumption by establishing national standards for abattoirs and regulation of the meat trade industry. In a cruel and ironic twist, by including wild animals in the MSA, the South African government is, in effect, giving the commercialization of bushmeat the green light.
The foundation for the possible large-scale farming of wild animals was laid last year. The then Minister of Agriculture, Senzani Zokwana, amended the Animal Improvement Act, which saw 33 wild species reclassified as livestock.
In light of the current pandemic, these pieces of legislation are catastrophically dangerous. The tie between wildlife and zoonotic diseases is well known. The current coronavirus pandemic should be reason enough for South Africans to utterly dismiss the idea of butchering wild animals for meat.
“Network for Animals has been fighting hard to block lions and other wild animals from becoming human snacks and we welcome the decision not to allow it, but we are very concerned for the safety of other wildlife. Another concerns is the danger this represents to the health of all South Africans,” said David Barritt of Network for Animals (NFA).
“The majority of viruses, infections, and diseases that have arisen over recent years have stemmed from wildlife. Yet, those in positions of power are ignoring the very real health risks and potentially putting all South Africans in colossal danger,” concluded Barritt.