The implications of the reclassification of South African wildlife species as farm animals

The Government Gazette No. 42464 dated 17 May 20191 amended Table 7 of the Animal Improvement Act (Act no. 62 of 1998), which lists breeds of animals, to include at least 32 new wild animal species, including 24 indigenous mammals. The list includes threatened and rare species such as cheetah, white and black rhinoceros, and suni. Some alien species such as lechwe, various deer species and rabbits are also included. The cornerstone of the original Act is ‘To provide for the breeding, identification and utilisation of genetically superior animals to improve the production and performance of animals in the interest of the Republic; and to provide for matters connected therewith.’
By declaring these wild animals as landrace breeds (in Table 7 of the regulations), the Act implies that they are locally developed breeds. The Act typically provides for landrace breeds to be bred and ‘genetically improved’ to obtain superior domesticated animals with enhanced production and performance. Similarly, provision is made for the Breeders Association to lay claim to the breed and to establish specific breed standards for animals to be included in stud books. Animals declared as landrace breeds can also be used for genetic manipulation, embryo harvesting, in-vitro fertilisation and embryo transfers. As indigenous species of wildlife are included in the recent amendment to the Act, the amendment is flawed.
Here we point out numerous concerns in the new legislation, including the process of consultation, and argue that the law will not improve the genetics of the species mentioned but will have considerable negative genetic consequences and pose ecological and economic risks. We also suggest that this new law is in direct conflict with other biodiversity laws in South Africa.

Publish DateJuly 22, 2020
Last UpdatedJanuary 27, 2021
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