for National Geographic News
The South African government last week moved to ban the practice of "canned hunting"in which trophy hunters pay steep fees to shoot tame or drugged predators released in small enclosures.
The ban is included in tough legislation announced by South Africa's minister of environmental affairs and tourism, Marthinus van Schalkwyk, during a news briefing at the De Wildt Cheetah Research Center in the Northwest Province (see a map of South Africa).
The newly proposed laws aim to rid the country's lucrative wildlife industry of unethical hunting and breeding practices. They also call for stiff fines and jail sentences of up to five years.
The draft regulations ban "intensive breeding of listed large predatorslike cheetahs, lions, leopards, and wild dogsfor any purpose of hunting or sale for hunting," van Schalkwyk said at the briefing.
No hunting will be allowed on land that has been opened to national or provincial reserves unless formally agreed to by the landowner and the park authority. Hunting of big game with bow and arrow will be prohibited.
"Hunting will now be permitted only by humane methods, in accordance with strict fair-chase principles, by hunters registered with recognized hunting bodies and in terms of carefully monitored and reviewed limits," he said.
The proposed laws also call for "the registration of all captive-breeding and rehabilitation facilities, nurseries, scientific institutions, and sanctuaries," van Schalkwyk said.
"In effect, the days of captive breeding of listed species for any purpose except science and conservation are over."
The new provisions, recommended by a panel of experts, are part of a major revamp of conservation laws aimed at regulating South Africa's wildlife and ecotourism industries (see related South Africa tourism photos).
The country's conservation efforts have grown enormously since the change 12 years ago to an all-race democracy, which brought an end to foreign sanctions.
In 1994 the central parliament passed a national biodiversity law to better protect South Africa's natural heritage.
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