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National Council of the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals v Minister of Environmental Affairs, Director-General, Department of Environmental Affairs & South African Predators Association

6 August 2019

High Court of the Republic of South Africa, Gauteng Division, Pretoria  

Case no. 86515/2017

Date of judgment: 6 August 2019

Judge: Kollapen, J

This matter concerned the setting of the quota for the export of lion bones in terms of the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act, 2004 (NEMBA). The National Council of the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals sought to have quota for the export of lion bones set by the Minister of Environmental Affairs (Minister) in 2017 and 2018 be declared unlawful.

The Court found, among other things, that the setting of export quotas constitutes administrative action, as contemplated in the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act, 2000 and is therefore a decision that is subject to administrative review by the Courts. In reviewing the decision, and relying on the provisions of NEMBA, section 24 of the Constitution and relevant case law (such as Lemthongthai v The State and National Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals v Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development and others), the Court found that the welfare of lions in captivity is a relevant consideration that should have been taken into consideration when setting the export quota. This failure, according to the Court, rendered the decision unlawful and unconstitutional.

Download the judgment  

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Section 24of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996

Everyone has the right to an environment that is not harmful to their health or well-being; and to have the environment protected, for the benefit of present and future generations, through reasonable legislative and other measures that prevent pollution and ecological degradation; promote conservation; and secure ecologically sustainable development and use of natural resources while promoting justifiable economic and social development.

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