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ENDANGERED ANIMALS PUBLICLY CUT UP FOR MUTHI (South Africa)

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 15, 2008

December 14 2008 at 01:48PM

by Mike Cadman

This article was originally published on page 1 of the Sunday Independent on December 14, 2008

PUBLISHED BY ‘IOL’ (South Africa)

Illegal trading in protected and threatened animals, including leopards and cheetahs, is openly taking place at CAPE PANGOLINthe Mai Mai traditional medicines market in central Johannesburg – but the authorities are doing nothing to stop it.

This week at least seven full leopard skins and three cheetah pelts were on display, but traders said they were not aware that they were required to have permits to possess and sell the skins.

Smaller sections of leopard, cheetah and serval skin, for use in capes, headbands and other adornments, were available at the market.

Skins and body parts of at least 40 other species of mammals, birds, reptiles and marine life, some of them endangered, including Cape pangolin, African rock python, honey badger, crocodile, hippo, giraffe and spotted eagle owl are also available. Vulture body parts and feathers, and vervet monkey skins and hands, are also often sold at the market.

The Mai Mai market is a traditional medicines market and many of the traders are traditional healers. Some animal parts are used as medicine to cure physical ailments and others to enhance spiritual wellbeing or for supernatural purposes. Leopard and cheetah skins are widely worn in South Africa by traditionalists and by royal families and other people of status.

“This leopard skin comes from Zambia and its price is R7 500,” a trader who did not want to give her name, working in shop 141 at the market, said. “This one is R6 000; it comes from Botswana.”

She said the cheetah skin displayed in the shop came from KwaZulu-Natal and was for sale for R6 500.

Another trader, working at shop 131, said the several leopard skins and a cheetah skin CHEETAHhanging from the eaves outside came from KwaZulu-Natal.

Both leopards and cheetahs are listed in appendix 1 of the Convention on Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna (Cites), which is intended to impose strict regulations on trade in these species. Permits are required to hunt these animals or sell their skins.

Many of the other species on sale at the market are protected by environmental legislation.

Though the market is administered by the Metropolitan Trading Company, which is owned by the Johannesburg Metropolitan Council, the company does not monitor the legality of the trade at the market.

“We look to [the] council to deal with issues around wildlife to determine whether or not people are complying with regulations and whether they are authorised to be in possession of particular skins and other animal products,” said Nhlanhla Makgoba, the communications and marketing manager for the Metropolitan Trading Company.

Makgoba said she believed that the council’s environmental health division monitored the trade, but Nkosinathi Nkabinda, a spokesperson for the city’s department of health, said this was not the case, but claimed that the Gauteng department of agriculture, conservation and the environment was the responsible authority.

A spokesperson for the department said it was attempting to deal with illegal trading in wildlife at Mai Mai but the matter was “very sensitive”.

“The use of animals in traditional medicine is a very sensitive issue among certain communities and we have an ongoing programme aimed at educating people about environmental laws,” said Sizwe Matshikiza. “We will not be able to change attitudes overnight.”

Animal Rights Africa said nothing had been done to enforce environmental SLAIN LEOPARDregulations.

“It’s clear that government conservation agencies are not acting in the interests of conservation and wildlife. It’s ironic that South Africa has chosen the leopard as a logo to promote the 2010 soccer World Cup but we do little to offer the species protection.”

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE

PUBLISHED BY ‘IOL’ (South Africa)

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