• South Africa has released a strategy document intending to leverage the extensive wildlife industry to increase exports of zebra, crocodile, and other meats, while simultaneously promoting greater local consumption of these animals.

    The legislation aims to formalise the wildlife industry in a country where 80% of wild animals are situated on private land, designated as the property of the landholders. This legal quirk has elevated the value of game animals, contributing to the growth in their numbers.

    News24 reported, Historically, only a minimal amount of game meat has been sold through formal channels. In 2019, a mere 3,000 tons of zebra, crocodile, and ostrich meat were exported to the United Arab Emirates, China, and the European Union.

    This meat is recognised for its relatively low-fat content compared to beef and lamb, as highlighted in a statement released by the Department of Forestry, Fisheries, and the Environment on Friday.

    The statement read: ‘The growing market of consumers who are health-conscious, looking for sustainably sourced products that contribute to biodiversity conservation, community development and pose less risk to the environment is evident. The South African game meat industry is well placed to service this growing market domestically, regionally, and internationally.’

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    The strategy is expected to create 202,000 jobs by 2030 if approached correctly and the majority of livestock will be sourced from farms housing 16 million wild animals. The department noted that in 2016, almost 180,000 wild animals were culled and could have been made available for consumption.

    Key elements of the approved strategy by the cabinet involve nearly doubling the annual production of game meat to over 100,000 tons by 2030, with a focus on ensuring that 85% of this production is suitable for human consumption, a significant increase from the current 10%.

    The strategy also advocates a shift from hunting to commercial production, with the establishment of abattoirs.

    Despite South Africa producing over double the quantity of game meat compared to deer-hunting in New Zealand, its 2020 exports amounted to just $12 million, a stark contrast to New Zealand’s $122 million.

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    Article was written by Adrienne Bredeveldt for Cape Etc.

    Feature image: Pexels