The Scientific Authority

What we do

The main functions of the Scientific Authority are to:

  • Monitor the legal and illegal trade in specimens of TOPS species (species listed as threatened or protected in terms of section 56 of the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act (NEMBA) of 2004) and CITES species (species included on the Appendices to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora)
  • Make recommendations to an issuing authority on applications for permits to undertake restricted activities with TOPS species
  • Make and publish non-detriment findings on the impact of trade on the survival of species in the wild
  • Advise on the registration of ranching operations, nurseries, and captive breeding facilities
  • Advise on amendments to TOPS listings and prohibition of restricted activities
  • Advise on the nomenclature of species in trade
  • Assist with identifying species in trade and issue certificates in which the identification of a specimen is verified as being taxonomically accurate

Where we work

The Scientific Authority is active nationally and in all nine provinces of South Africa.

Reason for our programme

The Scientific Authority has been established in terms of Section 60 of the NEMBA. The purpose of the Scientific Authority is to assist with regulating trade in TOPS- and CITES-listed species. This is achieved by making non-detriment findings and providing recommendations and advice based on a scientific and professional review of available information.

What we have achieved

To date 12 meetings of the Scientific Authority have been convened, the last of which was held in Cape Town on 25-26 February 2016. A special meeting of the Scientific Authority was also held in July 2016 in preparation for the upcoming 17th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES (CoP17) to be hosted by South Africa from 24 September to 5 October 2016. The following issues are currently on the agenda of the Scientific Authority:

  • CITES CoP17 proposals
  • Leopard monitoring and leopard hunting quota
  • Illegal leopard skin trade
  • Captive breeding of white rhino
  • Illegal hunting of oribi
  • Enhancement findings for lion and bontebok
  • DNA barcoding of cycads

Who we are

The members of the Scientific Authority include one representative from each of the nine provincial conservation authorities of South Africa, together with representatives from the Department of Environmental Affairs, SANBI, SANParks, and the National Zoological Gardens.

SANBI is responsible for the logistical and administrative functions of the Scientific Authority.

How to contact us

The Scientific Authority can be contacted through the Scientific Co-ordinator, Michèle Pfab.

Last updated on 17 October 2016
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