Cape Town- The Department of Environmental Affairs has embarked on a biodiversity compliance awareness drive with muti traders and traditional healers - with the first workshop kicking off on Thursday19 January 2017.
The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), in collaboration with the Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (GDARD) and the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) have hosted the one day workshop, bringing together government authorities, muti-traders and traditional healers operating at the Faraday and Mai Mai markets to promote compliance with the National Environmental Legislation.
The department says it particularly needs to create awareness on the National Environmental Management Biodiversity Act for“muti-traders” and “muti-collectors” operating at the “muthi-markets” in Johannesburg.
The regional conservation departments have confirmed an increase in complaints from members of the public about a diverse number of threatened species listed in terms of the Threatened or Protected Species (TOPS) Regulations that are being illegally sold at “muti-markets” around the country.
SEE: EXCLUSIVE: WATCH: Joburg market sells illegal wildlife products just down the road from CITES CoP17
In October 2016, Traveller24 broke the video footage taken at the well-known Faraday Muthi of leopards skins being sold, amongst other animal products. The traders were allegedly unable to provide permits or details of where or how the products were obtained. At the time there was a year-long hunting ban on Leopard in SA - which has subsequently just been renewed. SEE: #ShockWildlifeTruths: DEA extends ban on leopard hunting in South Africa for 2017
This National Environmental Management Biodiversity Act requires all wildlife traders to be registered and to apply for possession permits related to endangered species with restricted trade - so the move to the much-delayed integrated awareness programme and enforcement plan is welcomed.
In light of the complaints, government says it will embark on a compliance awareness drive to, amongst others, empower traders in the “muthi-markets” industry by providing knowledge about environmental legislation and to enable them to play a meaningful role in the conservation of the country’s biodiversity.
At the time the video was taken, the annual Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora CITES CoP17 was being held in the Sandton Convention Centre where more than 3 500 delegates from 183 member state countries got together to discuss 'game-changing' policies to protect the world's most endangered species.
Ian Michler, the investigative conservationist behind the Blood Lions documentary commented then saying, "It is all good and well for the stakeholders to hold intellectual discussions on the endangered species, but this highlights how little is actually being done on the ground and exactly why these species are in trouble."
"We call on the authorities to treat the awareness campaigns they speak about as a matter of urgency, and to involve all the relevant parties that can assist with protecting our endangered species. In the meantime, CITES regulations are law and the police need to enforce that.”
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