Minister concerned about hunting in Timbavati

Hunting in private game reserves that border South Africa’s national parks is of “specific concern” to Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism Marthinus van Schalkwyk, he said in a statement on Wednesday.

The issue was raised two weeks ago by Bantu Holomisa, leader of the United Democratic Movement. He accused the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve of killing Kruger game.

“Minister Van Schalkwyk’s specific concern is the broader issue of hunting in the buffer zones, where fences have been dropped around national parks,” the press release states.

On Tuesday, the minister had two separate meetings with Tom Hancock, the chairperson of the Timbavati Association, and Hennie de Beer, of the Zuma Zuma lodge in the Timbavati reserve.

De Beer is opposed to hunting in Timbavati and he brought the issue under Holomisa’s attention.

“Both meetings were informative, with a number of documents and much important detail conveyed.
Our department, Sanparks [South African National Parks] and I will now study this information and apply our minds further to the issues at hand,” the minister is quoted in the press release.

In 1992, the fence between the Kruger National Park and the Timbavati reserve was brought down to enhance ecological unity. 

According to Holomisa and De Beer, there has never been a legal agreement between the Kruger and Timbavati parks that actually allows the commercial hunting of animals.

“Sanparks and Timbavati have never come to any kind of [agreement] regarding the protection of animals when the fence was brought down,” Holomisa told the Mail & Guardian Online last week.

“The issue of the hunting of trophy game from the Kruger park was first brought to my attention when Mr De Beer invited politicians to his lodge and discussed his concerns on land claims and hunting,” Holomisa said.

This meeting was held in the winter of 2004.

“The impression I gained was that De Beer was against hunting in the Timbavati, and I told him that I would undertake action if he could provide me [with] documents stating that commercial hunting was illegally conducted.”

“I now have a cardboard box filled with documents that show that commercial hunting of trophy game is conducted illegally, and therefore I asked Minister Van Schalkwyk and [provincial minister of economic development, environment and tourism] Collins Chabane of the Limpopo province to investigate the matter,” Holomisa said.

Holomisa shows ‘ignorance of law’

Hancock, of the Timbavati Association, has denied the accusations made by Holomisa, stating that all hunting conducted in the Timbavati reserve is legal.

“Mr Bantu Holomisa shows an ignorance of the common law and legislation governing sustainable utilisation of natural resources in South Africa,” Hancock said.

The Timbavati Association is convinced that there is nothing illegal about trophy hunting conducted in the private nature reserve.

“Hunting is not illegal in this country and we hunt with the permission of Sanparks and the provincial legislature,” Hancock said.

“We have a good relationship with the Timbavati Association, and they are excellent conversationalists,” Dr David Mabunda, CEO of Sanparks, told the M&G Online last week.

Mabunda was present at both meetings.

“Hunting in private reserves, contractual and provincial parks is allowed within the framework of provincial legislation and sustainable use of natural resources,” Mabunda said.

A privately owned piece of land that borders a national park, without a fence, is considered a contractual park.

“This framework means that hunting can only take place if it is based on scientific studies, scoping exercises, aeral surveys and the granting of a permit to hunt by the Limpopo department responsible for conservation. Sanparks scientists and rangers are part of the process that determines [hunting operations].

“We have reached an agreement with Timbavati and the other privately owned reserves that border the Kruger park. This agreement states that the area would be managed according to the management plan that applies to the Kruger National Park. And our policy is open to the sustainable use of natural resources,” Mabunda said.

“Mabunda and his team will now consider the terms of this agreement in the light of the allegations that have been made and will then report back to both the Sanparks board as well as the minister,” Wednesday’s press release from the minister states.

“The minister added that he is not, in principle, opposed to regulated, responsible hunting, but that he believes certain matters need a framework in terms of which greater clarity will be brought to issues like hunting and harmonising land-use practices in areas adjoining national parks,” the statement concludes.

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