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Lockdown Level 3: DEFF clarifies rules for game drives,...

Business Maverick

BUSINESS MAVERICK

Lockdown Level 3: DEFF clarifies rules for game drives, fishing and hunting 

An angler fishes at sunset off rocks in the Atlantic ocean near Kommetjie, Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo: EPA/NIC BOTHMA)

The Level 3 regulations around game drives, recreational fishing and hunting have been clarified by the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF). There is some relaxation and even game auctions will be allowed under strict conditions.

The Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF), as expected, brought some clarity to the rules around game drives, recreational fishing and hunting in a statement on Monday 1 June. Game viewing, of course, is a key part of the collapsed tourism sector and the rules apply to private reserves and game farms – many of which are in serious financial trouble – as well as state-run parks.

The bottom line is that self-driving will be allowed, but don’t expect the parks to fill up with SUVs just yet, as inter-provincial, not to mention foreign, travel restrictions remain in place. Preparations must also be made before the gates open.

“The iSimangaliso Wetland Park [in KZN] will, as of today, be getting the park ready for visitors. Besides staff returning to work, deep cleaning of the offices and public facilities have started. Additional work will be done by rangers and conservationists, including cutting back of trees and removing logs from roads. Once compliance requirements are met and the Park has been declared safe for visitors, the public will be given seven days’ notice of its reopening for self-drive excursion,” the DEFF statement said.

“While we understand that many nature lovers are keen to get back to our national parks and game reserves, it would be prudent to wait until the relevant authorities are comfortable with their state of preparedness to welcome visitors,” Minister Barbara Creecy was quoted as saying. 

On the fishing front, DEFF said recreational angling was now allowed, but “charter fishing” – which typically involves a group of people in a good-sized boat – remains off-limits.

“All regulations relating to social distancing, health protocols, movement and the prohibition of groups and gatherings apply” to those in pursuit of fish. There are lots of private recreational fishing establishments in South Africa so it opens up a stream of income for them.

Government is clearly taking an understandably cautious approach here as elsewhere as it allows various sectors of the economy to reopen. Game farming, which relies primarily on hunting, wildlife viewing and auctions, has been thrown a line, which hopefully will enable some establishments to rehire people who have been laid off.

Moving back to terrestrial wildlife, game auctions can now also take place online.

“Live auctions comprising not more than 50 people may be held, where online auctions are not possible,” the DEFF said. So game auctions have rules similar to that of places of worship, but game farmers still have not had their prayers fully answered.

And animal export markets have been reopened.

“The import and export of live or dead plant or animal specimens or products will be allowed subject to directions issued by the Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition,” the DEFF said.

Finally, as Business Maverick reported on Monday, hunting for the pot is also now allowed.

“Subsistence hunting for food with the necessary permits,” is also now permitted. This move will also have a limited impact to begin with, as much of the revenue generated from South Africa’s hunting industry comes from foreign hunters or Gautengers.

“More details on the directions are contained in the Government Gazette that will be published this week and we recommend that members of the public await the publication of these directions,” the DEFF said.

Government is clearly taking an understandably cautious approach here as elsewhere as it allows various sectors of the economy to reopen. Game farming, which relies primarily on hunting, wildlife viewing and auctions, has been thrown a line, which hopefully will enable some establishments to rehire people who have been laid off.

The sudden collapse of the sector’s sources of income have threatened the livelihoods of many rural residents, raising alarm bells about human hunger and the potential for poaching levels to rise in response. 

Meanwhile, expect some South Africans in coming weeks to hit the bush and water as a momentary respite from the Covid-19 pandemic. BM/DM 

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