Bontebok. (Photo: iStock)
Cape Town – In a move to ensure the conservation of another one of
SA’s animal species, the Minister of Environmental Affairs, Dr Edna Molewa, has published the
draft Biodiversity Management Plan (BMP) for the bontebok and calls for South
Africans to participate by sending through their comments.
The draft BMP for bontebok was published in terms
of the National Environmental Management Biodiversity Act, and now the BMP
publication in Government Gazette on 14 November is available for the public to
comment. Click here to access the BMP and for information on how to submit
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Bontebok is found mainly in the East Coast
Renosterveld bioregion within the Cape Floristic Region (CFR) of the Western
According to the Department of Environmental
Affairs (DEA), evidence from fossil records indicates that past climatic and
habitat change promoted the splitting of the species into the two separately
classified subspecies known as the blesbok and bontebok.
Each subspecies displays different behavioural and
morphological traits including body markings and hide colours.
“Historically, the natural ranges of the two
subspecies did not overlap, with blesbok occurring widely on the grasslands of
Gauteng, Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga and Free State and bontebok restricted to the
coastal plains in the southern CFR,” says DEA.
“Bonteboks are tolerant of human activities and adapt
to changes in the landscape and readily utilise transformed landscapes with old
fields of short grass areas,” adds DEA.
“Conservation of the species within the natural
distribution range and extended distribution range in the Western Cape has
resulted in about 1650 individuals,” says DEA, adding that 7500 bontebok
survive “outside the native range of the species throughout South Africa”.
Low genetic diversity, population fragmentation,
habitat fragmentation and hybridisation with blesbok are some of the threats
that bontebok face.
DEA says that in order to alleviate threats and
conserve the animal, an integrated management strategy is required. “This would
encourage public support, ensure genetic diversity within the metapopulation
and sustainable utilisation of the species by the private sector,” says DEA.
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“The Draft Bontebok BMP focusses on strategies to
strengthen the effective implementation of conservation actions aimed at
ensuring populations are genetically diverse and that overall population
fitness and resilience within the natural distribution range is enhanced and
maintained in the long-term,” says DEA.
BMP aims to:
- Manage bontebok population in the natural distribution range to ensure
its long term survival;
- Co-ordinate national approach to bontebok conservation in and outside of
the natural distribution range in terms of management, monitoring and research;
- Halt the loss of habitat and ensure a steady increase in conserved
habitat and rehabilitation of degraded areas for re-introduction of bontebok
within the natural distribution range;
- Highlight research and communication priorities;
- Have a national database of population distribution and national testing and
profiling protocols for bontebok;
- Identify and gradually eliminate hybrids of this species and maintain
economic and conservation value; and
- Promote bontebok as a flagship conservation species.
imported to the US
According to hunting site Africa
Hunting, in 2016 the United States’ Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) did not
restrict the importation of bontebok trophies.
“We are happy to announce that due to the speedy intervention of DEA
over the past few days, USFWS will allow the importation of bontebok trophies
into the US during 2016. USFWS indicated that they will continue to accept bontebok trophies whilst waiting for South Africa to submit their updated
enhancement finding,” says the site.
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With wild animal trophies in the limelight following US President Donald
Trump’s recent halt on the reversal of an elephant trophy ban,
and the fact that the DEA calls for public participation on the protection of bontebok, it is disturbing that these animals are still being hunted for trophies.
DEA was contacted by Traveller24 to confirm if bontebok are still
hunted and imported as trophies, and how this will change in line with the BMP,
but failed to provide comment.
However, Ike Phaahla from SANParks told Traveller24 that according
to laws, “hunting is not allowed in national parks.”
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