In South Africa the killing of leopards and predators on livestock farms continues, on the grounds that they are a problem to farmers. A leopard caught and left in a trap on a livestock farm in Uniondale died of dehydration and sepsis, and was left to rot in the trap.
The use of gin traps (alias ‘soft-catch traps’), poisons, denning and hunting dogs is common and still legal in the livestock farming industry in South Africa. The Western Cape recently restricted the practices to permitted activities. These practices decimate our biodiversity across the country as tens of thousands of animals die this way each year. Most are unintended catches. It is not only their impact on our biodiversity that offends us, but the unethical and cruel nature of these practices.
What is even more concerning is that ethical and more effective methods are available to farmers – and we have demonstrated that ethical methods lead to better production and better financial returns – but the old practices continue.
The Landmark Foundation finds it ethically unacceptable that production practices that decimate our biodiversity and that are indefensibly unethical be rewarded with industry awards and record prices. We believe that the many producers who act ethically and conserve biodiversity should be the ones rewarded.
To that end we are launching a wildlife-friendly brand, Fair Game, at the end of 2009. This will reward ethical produce through premiums, and give consumers the choice to support ethical producers. This brand will be independently audited by a third party and will be fourthparty reviewed. The brand will ensure general biodiversity (inclusive of predator-friendly) standards, ethical livestock management and social responsibility standards. Please support this brand, its development and sales once it emerges at the end of 2009 on your supermarket shelves.
We believe that consumers and producers need to decide whether they will support the harmful production practices employed by the meat and wool producer bodies. Alternatively consumers can vote with their wallets by supporting ethical brands. Please consider your choice at the till in the light of these approaches. After 5 years of effort by the Landmark Foundation not a single supermarket chain in South Africa can reassure us that their produce has been exempt from these barbaric production practices!
We continue to lobby government to change legislation to outlaw the practice of gin traps and all other manner leg-hold devices, poisons, denning and hunting dog packs, and have participated in the task team and public process of drafting the Norms and Standards of the National Department of Water Affairs and Environment. This process is ongoing.
By Bool Smuts, Director of the Landmark Foundation