THE hunting season is now dead in the water, shot down by the covid19 pandemic.
A release from the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries on September 14, said the sale of state game licences – needed to lawfully hunt game on state land during the prescribed hunting season – had been postponed, but this did not cover hunting on private land.
This technicality afforded hunters a loophole whereby they could have possibly still hunted on private land and also possessed and traded in wildmeat sourced from that hunting.
But according to a press release issued on Wednesday by the ministry, amendments have been made to the Conservation of Wildlife Act which ban all forms of hunting, be it on state or private land, and also the possession of wildmeat even on or after October 1, when the hunting season starts.
The cancellation of the hunting season and ban on possession and sale of wildmeat was done on advice from the Ministry of Health that wildlife hunting encourages congregation, in contravention of the covid19 public health ordinance, which limits public gatherings to no more than five people.
The Agriculture Ministry release on Wednesday said the Conservator of Forests was still considering aspects of hunting and in light of the postponement of the sale of game licences, the conservator was aware that without changes to the conservation of wild life regulations, it was still possible to hunt on private land and possess/sell wildmeat.
The ministry said that without controls there is need to ensure that the market for wildmeat is not flooded by illegally imported meat – which could very well harbour disease-causing microbes – creating another public health risk.
Accordingly, the conservator advised Minister of Agriculture Clarence Rambharat of the need to amend the conservation of wild life regulations.
As a result, from October 1, and until further notice, the Second Schedule to the Conservation of Wild Life Act is amended by deleting the list of animals and birds listed in Parts I and II and most of the cage birds listed in Part III.
Further, the release said, the regulations on possession and sale of wildmeat from October 1 are also amended. This means that from Thursday, no one shall have in his/her possession the whole or any part of an animal, serve, purchase, sell, offer, advertise for sale or expose for sale of the carcass or meat, frozen, fresh, cooked or otherwise any animal referred to in the third schedule of the Conservation of Wild Life Act Regulations. This includes agouti, tatou, lappe, deer and quenk (wild hog).