Lesotho enacts law to protect wildlife

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By Lerema Pheea

The National Assembly of Lesotho has enacted a Biodiversity resources management law intended to protect biodiversity, and rare and endangered species found in Lesotho.

Tourism, Environment and Culture Minister Ntlhoi Motsamai said the purpose of the law will be to regulate the “conservation of biodiversity and the protection of rare and endangered resources in Lesotho”.

Motsamai explained in the statement of object and purpose of the law to parliament that it provides for coordinated management of biodiversity resources for the benefit of present and future generations.

“The Bill establishes structures and mechanisms for nature conservation and biodiversity management of protected areas.

“It provides for sustainable utilization and a fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of biodiversity by both private and public sectors,” said Motsamai.

She further said the Bill facilitates the proper management of protected areas and also provides for the application and issuance of permits as a mechanism of control and management.

The Minister further explained that the biodiversity hotspot areas will establish national zoological gardens and wildlife rehabilitation centres and also prevent and control wildfires and carry out prescribed burning inside protected areas.

“The Minister shall take responsibility for and management of an existing protected area owned by the government.

“A person, company or other body that wishes to establish or operate a private protected area shall apply to the Minister for permission,” said Motsamai.

The Minister shall after categorisation in terms of subsection (3), declare, by notice in the Gazette, a categorised area; and by notice published in the Gazette, establish or alter the boundaries of any area declared, as a protected area.

She said any area of land proposed as a protected area and which is not public land, shall first be acquired as public land in accordance with the provisions of the Land Act 2010.

She said a person shall not, without written permission issued by the Minister enter into or reside in a protected area.

The law after receiving royal ascend shall prohibit the following unless in possession of written permission of the minister of the environment:

  • Enter into or reside in a protected area;
  • hunt, remove, kill, poison, injure, disturb or destroy any wildlife in a protected area;
  • remove, destruct, damage, or deface or any object of geomorphological, paleontological, archaeological, historical, cultural, or scientific interest or any structure lawfully placed or constructed;
  • prepare land for cultivation inside a protected area;
  • convey or keep any wild animal outside a protected area;
  • introduce any alien species of plant, animal or other organism into a protected area;
  • convey or introduce a domestic animal into a protected area;
  • introduce any trap, explosive or weapon;
  • conduct research in a protected area;
  • start or maintain fire in a protected area; or
  • harvest resources within a protected area.

 

The law prescribes that a person shall not use pesticides or herbicides in a manner that destroys wildlife.

It further provides for penalties for contravening Section on establishment and management of biodiversity, protected areas, ecosystems and species in 5.

Section 5 penalties appear are provided for in the law in subsections (6) and (7) and provides that a person who contravenes the subsections “commits an offence and is liable, on conviction, to fine not exceeding M100,000 or imprisonment for a period not exceeding ten years or both”.

The law further provides for the protection of biodiversity outside protected areas and publishes guidelines on such biodiversity management in a Gazette.

On the protection of species endangered by extinction, the law provides that the Minister shall identify and publish in the Gazette a schedule of any species whose existence is engendered by extinction and prescribe measures to be taken for the protection of a species referred to in the gazetted Schedule.

On the endangered species, a penalty of M1 million or imprisonment for a period not exceeding thirty years or both is imposed by the law for a person who “harvests, removes, destroys or possesses an endangered wildlife”.

On the management of a problem animal that poses threat to life, the law further provides how such incidents must be handled and a person who fails to comply commits an offense and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding M100,000 or imprisonment for a period not exceeding ten years or both.