Scientific authority: Non-detriment findings
In terms of Section 61 of the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act, 2004 (Act No. 10 of 2004) (NEMBA), the Scientific Authority is required to make and publish annual non-detriment findings on impacts of international trade on threatened or protected species.
In terms of Article IV of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), an export permit for specimens of an Appendix II species or for specimens of an Appendix I species that were artificially propagated or captive bred for commercial purposes shall only be granted when the Scientific Authority of the State of export indicates that export will not be detrimental to the survival of that species.
A non-detriment finding (NDF) is a science-based risk assessment where the vulnerability of a species is considered in relation to how well it is managed. The Scientific Authority of South Africa uses the CITES NDF checklist to make non-detriment findings. Factors considered include the biological characteristics of the species and its national status (distribution, abundance, trends and threats), as well as the management, control and monitoring of harvest, protection of the species from harvest, and incentives and benefits arising from harvest. Trade can be allowed for species assessed to be at low risk, or moderate risk in some cases (above dotted line in image), whereas trade is not advisable for species at high risk.
To date, draft non-detriment findings (download) have been published for public comment for the hippopotamus (low risk), white rhinoceros (low risk) and South Africa's Critically Endangered cycads (Encephalartos species) (high risk). The final NDFs for these species will be formally published once the Scientific Authority has considered all written inputs submitted during the public commenting period.