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The Western Cape High Court has suspended the decision by the Department of Forestry, Fisheries, and the Environment of South Africa to issue quotas to hunt leopards, black rhinos, and elephants for trophies. The Humane Society International (HIS) had challenged the issuing of quotas claiming that the government was not allowed to defer the 2021 quotas to 2022 because this was not authorised under regulations on international trade of these species, and also violated the common law principle of legitimate expectation.

Judge Patrick Gamble agreed, and he found that the government department failed to comply with the required public participation conditions, the quota announcement was not published in the Government Gazette, and the minister was not permitted to issue a quota for trophy hunting when there was no scientific proof that such hunts would not be detrimental to the species.

Tony Gerrans, the executive director for HIS-Africa, said to Daily Maverick: “We are thankful that the high court recognises that the killing of our threatened, vulnerable and critically endangered wildlife cannot continue while this matter is heard.”

For now, the lives of 170 wild animals have been spared, but it is possible that after the review ends new quotes are authorised. South Africa is the world’s second-largest exporter of hunting trophies, accounting for 16% of the global total. This is more than half of Namibia’s, Africa’s second-largest exporter, and more than three times of Zimbabwe’s, Africa’s third-largest exporter. The majority of trophy hunters that kill South African wildlife are from the US, followed by hunters from Russia, Denmark, Canada, Mexico, Germany, Hungary, Sweden and France. Leopards are categorised as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, black rhinos as critically endangered and the elephant numbers across Africa are declining. It is, therefore, unbelievable that issuing quotes to kill these animals is even considered. 

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