Capture permit puts farmer in tight spot

2012-10-29 00:00

A GAME capture permit issued by Ezemvelo KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife has led to a stand-off between a farmer and conservation groups in the Ashburton area.

The permit was issued on September 28 to Sven Bruss, of Shemungwe Game Capture, to capture 30 impala, 20 zebra and 10 nyala on behalf of Steve van Huyssteen, owner of Starlight Farm. The permit expires on Wednesday, October 31.

Van Huyssteen said that the proposed capture had been organised because animals have been “wiping out” his crops.

He has farmed in the area for 12 years.

“Up to now, everything had been left alone, but now the animals have become over-populated and we want to take a few off.”

However, the Mpushini Protected Environment Landowners’ Association have requested the permit be withdrawn, and called for an inquiry into the circumstances of the permit being issued.

“We have requested that Ezemvelo withdraw this permit on the grounds that these are free roaming animals which form part of the ecosystem of this area,” said Nicole May, the chairperson of the assocation.

“As protected environment property owners, we feel that Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife has certain obligations to fulfil under the stewardship arrangement in place. If game capture in this area is to be allowed at any stage, we require consultation on the matter and evidence of adherence to required procedures.”

According to Pandora Long, chairperson of the Lower Mpushini Valley Conservancy, “these are free-ranging animals and don’t belong to anyone”.

She added that there had been no contact or consultation from Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, their partner in the conservancy.

Environmental lawyer Jeremy Ridl, acting on behalf of the Preservation of the Mkondeni Mpushini Biodiversity Trust and the Mpushini Protected Environment Land Owners’ Association, has also sent a letter to Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, calling for the permit to be withdrawn. The letter was also sent to the holder of the permit and to the landowner.

Ridl points out that his clients are members of the Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife Biodiversity Stewardship Programme.

“It is extremely disappointing to them that your organisation did not see fit to consult them prior to the issue of the permit.

“It undermines their confidence in the programme and ignores the sacrifices they have made as landowners in having their environment legally protected and devoted to the conservation of the biodiversity of the province.”

Bruss said he had received Ridl’s letter and that his lawyers were dealing with the matter.

He said he would not proceed with the game capture until he had been advised on what to do by his lawyers.

Maureen Zimu, spokesperson for Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, said they could not comment until the issues between the two parties had been resolved.

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