Stop Sanctioning Cruel Wildlife Hunts on Nature Reserves

Target: Johannes Nobunga, CEO of Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency

Goal: Do not allow wildlife hunting for sport at Kruger National Park or the adjacent private nature reserves—lands supposedly dedicated to “conservation.”

Tragically, a male lion was killed when he was most likely lured with bait out of Kruger National Park and into Umbabat Private Nature Reserve, allegedly by an American trophy hunter. Unconfirmed reports by the Daily Maverick suggest that this lion may have been the leader of his pride. If this is the case, his cubs will most likely be killed as well, as the other males of the pride vie for leadership. This tragedy should have been avoidable: the Associated Private Nature Reserves (APNR), which owns the land where the lion was killed along with over 1,000 square kilometers of land supposedly meant for “conservation,” did not include this lion in its hunting quota. However, the Daily Maverick reports that permission to hunt was given anyway, under the licensing authority of the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency. The organization allowed this despite receiving a Cease and Desist warning from two non-profits, EMS Foundation and Ban Animal Trading, threatening legal action if the hunt occurred.

This unfathomable cruelty is symptomatic of wider corruption. While the killing of this lion should have fallen outside the realm of permissible hunts as per the APNR quota sanctioned by the Kruger National Park and Provincial Authorities, many argue that no hunting should be allowed on these lands at all. The Daily Maverick article reports that the combined quota for hunting on the national private reserves Timbavati, Klaserie, Umbabat and Balule in 2018 was 4,467 animals, including “52 elephants plus a bull older than 50 in Umbabat which could potentially be a 100-pound tusker, which many argue should never be hunted. It also listed 36 buffalo (despite a 68% drop in numbers to 2,327 in 2017), 44 kudu, 19 warthogs, seven hippos, a lion, a leopard, eight hyenas, five giraffes and 4,171 impalas.” The killing of these innocent animals is a travesty that must be stopped. Sign below to demand that wildlife hunts be forbidden on national reserves and in Kruger National Park.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear CEO Nobunga,

The Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency must stop allowing wildlife to be hunted on lands that should be meant for conservation. The tragic killing of a male lion, supposedly lured out of Kruger National Park by an alleged American trophy hunter and killed in Umbabat Private Nature Reserve, was not permitted by the 2018 APNR hunting quota for those lands and never should have been sanctioned by your agency. The existence of this quota is itself an unacceptable cruelty, and should be eliminated entirely.

The innocent wildlife allowed to be hunted on these reserves must be preserved, especially as their numbers continue to plummet. Conservationists, activists, and tourists alike are fighting to stop the killing of these animals. Your agency even received a Cease and Desist warning from the EMS Foundation and Ban Animal Trading regarding the hunt of the male lion that you permitted to be killed. In addition to the cruelty of the unnecessary deaths of these animals, banning hunts would benefit the tourism industry, which relies on keeping these animals alive. I urge you to stop allowing wildlife to be hunted at Kruger National Park and the surrounding national private reserves.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Johan van der Merwe

Combat Invasive Plants Threatening South Africa’s Ecosystems

Target: Cyril Ramaphosa, President of South Africa

Goal: Protect South Africa’s biodiversity and limit the consumption of scarce water by thirsty invasive plants.

Hundreds of different invasive plant species in South Africa are running rampant. The country’s invasive control program, Working for Water, is one of the most successful in the world, creating local jobs while eliminating established invasive plant species, and yet cannot keep pace. This control program is underfunded and insufficient to stop the growth of so many different invasive species threatening South Africa’s natural resources.

South Africa is one of the most biologically diverse areas in the world, boasting over 9,000 plant species, two-thirds of which cannot be found anywhere else in the world. However, at least one-third of those unique species are now threatened with extinction by invasive plants. Invasive species cover 25 million acres and consume an estimated 1 billion gallons of water annually. Water is scarce as it is in this drought-stricken nation without invasive species consuming more water on average than native plant species. These invasive species also alter the fire regime, which is necessary for the regrowth of native plants, causing hotter fires which threaten not only the native plants by infrastructure as well. They can also change the composition of the soil, compromising the ability of native plants to survive. These species threaten the unique biodiversity of South Africa and the scarce water supply in an area of the world that is already undergoing extreme rationing.

Controlled burns and invasive tree felling have been shown to be effective in controlling invasive plants in certain areas. Prioritization of the most egregious species needs to be implemented. Widespread use of these techniques is needed but cannot be realized without additional funding on a much larger scale if positive impact is to be made, rather than just slowing the invasion. Sign the petition to promote funding for the Working for Water program to continue its good work in the protection of the environment and the creation of South African jobs.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear President Ramaphosa,

South Africa’s natural resources are being consumed by invasive plant species. Even under the Working for Water program, largely considered to be one of the world’s most successful invasive control programs, South Africa’s biodiversity and water availability are threatened. This program, even in its success, is underfunded and under-prioritized.

South Africa is home to thousands of plant species that are not found anywhere else in the world. Invasive plants threaten the existence of these unique native species by consuming more water on average, changing soil composition, and altering the fire regime for native plant regrowth. The controlled burns and invasive tree felling has been successful in inhibit the growth of established invasive plants but is not nearly enough at its current scale to impact the over 10 million hectares covered by invasive plants. These unwelcome plants consume over 3.3 million cubic meters every year, water that is already scarce. The Working for Water program simply cannot keep up.

President Ramaphosa, please, invest in this important program and implement the broad changes necessary to not only combat the invasion of these unwelcome plants, but beat them back completely. It is vital to South Africa’s water conservation efforts and diverse ecosystems.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Singhira