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What is the AIA and how was it formed?

The AIA is a registered non-profit TRUST, founded in 2006 by a group of concerned citizens, in response to radical draft policies that were published by the KZN provincial nature conservation body, Ezemvelo Kwazulu-Natal Wildlife (EKZNW) in September 2006 These draft policies seek to either severely restrict or completely ban the keeping in captivity of wild animals, and especially for commercial purposes. Unless you are a Registered facility or EKZNW approved Sanctuary / Rehabilitation / Research Centre you will no longer be allowed to keep 'wild animals'. The draft policy defines a 'wild animal' as ANY species of animal that occurs naturally anywhere in the world ! This includes all primates, birds, reptiles, fish & even insects. According to the current draft, the only animals you would be allowed to keep without severe restriction in future, would be domestic animals such as dogs & cats. Consider the implications of what EKZNW are trying to do. They are threatening the passions of many thousands of people whether it be a hobby or an entire livelihood. Private breeding facilites that keep and breed birds, reptiles or other ‘wild animals’ will be forced to close down as they are deemed undesirable. Trained performing animals would be banned from working in Films, TV Commercials and Circus... under all circumstances, no matter how well cared for or regulated ! The whole pet industry will collapse because it is not simply the handraised lovebird that may not be sold, but the ripple effect moves onto the manufacture of the parrot cage, to the farmer of the seeds which the bird will eat, to the labourers and their families who work on those farms and so it goes on.......... Left unchecked, it won't just be KZN that suffers........ EKZNW have consulted other provinces in the hope that their policies will be adopted nationally by the other provincial conservation bodies. AIA membership should be of interest to all South Africans that are in any way connected with animals, whether it be an association or individual, hobby or as a business occupation. The AIA does not oppose sensible regulation and welcomes high norms and standards of animal husbandry. AIA was NOT formed to avoid regulation. Our members have been actively participating in improving and perfecting the conditions under which animals are kept for many years. Many AIA members are renowned animal specialists in their own fields and believe EKZNW have made a grave error of judgement in not inviting their input into these draft policies from the outset. The EKZNW 'Ex Situ Wild Animal' draft policy (and associated Primate Policy) is clearly a wish-list of how EKZNW would like matters in the future. The drafts are heavy with 'animal activist' sentiment and appear to be driven by people who don't want to see any animals in captivity, period. The AIA has repeatedly attempted to negotiate with EKZNW on these matters but EKZNW remain steadfast in their refusal to back down and instead have gone ahead with the whole process, even berating the AIA in the press and making statements to the effect that the AIA are an alarmist group causing 'unnecessary panic' and that what EKZNW are doing is in the "best interests of the animals" !

What do we hope to do now?

The AIA has enlisted the services of a specialist environmental attorney (Prof. Jeremy Ridl) to represent them in their unified objection to the draft policies. We are not attacking the actual content on EKZNW draft policies (even though we disagree with much of it !) - we are asking EKZNW to withdraw their 'policy documents' because, if implemented, they would have the effect of LAW and EKZNW cannot make law - that's Parliament's job ! EKZNW failed to consult properly with interested parties and have followed a fatally flawed process in arriving at these "draft policies". AIA is currently preparing legal action against EKZNW. We feel AIA has no alternative but to approach the High Court with a view to obtaining an order that will include an interdict pending a declaration of rights as follows: • the powers of the Board of EKZNW to make policy in the way in which it is proposed (or at all); • the powers of officials of EKZNW to determine permit conditions except within the confines of the Ordinance and subject to the principles of just administrative action; • the constitutionality of the Board’s actions, particularly with regard to the legislative effect of the proposed policy and its interference in the domain of the legislative powers of the national and provincial governments; • that matters that have the effect of the proposed policy fall to be dealt with by way of appropriate regulations (or norms and standards) made under the Biodiversity Act • Whilst we seek no order against his office, as a matter of procedure we have also joined Provincial Premier of KZN to the matter, as well as the MEC Agriculture and Environmental Affairs and the Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism. This may well be a very expensive fight but it is one we cannot back away from. We refuse to allow EKZNW to rob us of our constitutional right to a legitimate interest in the keeping of captive animals for private or commercial purposes. We think it is vital that we resolve this matter in KZN on behalf of animal keepers throughout the whole Country.

AIA and the future

The Animal Interest Alliance was formed very quickly to face the EKZNW challenge. It brought together a very diverse group of people with varied interests. We believe that AIA has a useful function beyond the current disagreement with EKZNW. There will always be Provincial or National matters where AIA could provide a unified voice to represent the interests of animals and their owners. A common-sense sounding board for Government to interface with interested & affected parties. We think AIA might become a clearinghouse for information and a forum where 'norms & standards' for animal care could be written by the people actually involved with a particular species.

Please Join Us!

The Animal Interest Alliance invites you to join as a member and support our cause. Each member adds their weight to our voice and your tax-deductable membership fees and donations will enable us to defend our rights to continue to work with and keep wild animals, as we have done for generations. As someone with an interest in animals, we encourage you to be proactive and become a member of the AIA and make your voice heard. Attached please find membership details and categories. The AIA is a registered non-profit TRUST.

Kind regards

William Horsefield (AIA TRUSTEE)




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