The controversial question of whether the commercial sale of lion meat should be allowed in South Africa has come to an end. Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries Barbara Creecy has moved to veto the amendment to the existing Meat Safety Act (MSA).

The MSA determines which meat is safe for consumption by establishing national standards and regulating the meat trade industry. Changes to the Act to allow for the commercial sale of meat of wild animals including giraffe, rhinos and elephants were initially proposed by Agriculture Minister Thoko Didiza in February 2020. The initial proposal did not specifically mention lion.

According to Hannah Shameema Winkler, the DA Shadow Deputy Minister for Environmental Affairs, Forestry and Fisheries, the DA submitted a number of written questions on the proposed amendment to the MSA to seek clarity on the motivation behind the proposed inclusion of threatened and protected species (TOPS) to the act.

During the course of the meeting, it was revealed that the inclusion of TOPS species in Schedule 1 of the MSA would in fact also apply to lions, despite the fact that that lions were not explicitly mentioned in the amendment to Schedule 1 of the act.

“This omission is conspicuous by its absence considering that other TOPS species of public concern and interest such as giraffe, rhino and hippo, to name a few, were explicitly listed under Schedule 1 for public comment,” said Winkler.

“Upon questioning, it was clarified that the undefined catch-all phrase at the bottom of the MSA gazette which reads that ‘the act also applies to all other species of animals not mentioned including birds, fish and reptiles’ in fact includes lions – that is, the amendment would allow for the legal slaughter and sale of lion meat for human and animal consumption.”

Minister Creecy has since vetoed the proposal. According to the Democratic Alliance, Creecy has engaged with Didiza on her recommendation and stated an ’emphatic veto’ following an oral parliamentary question by the DA.

Creecy argued that allowing the lion meat trade could encourage illegal activities like poaching and animal abuse.

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