The following letter regarding the implementation of the Performing Animals Amendment Act has been released by the Dr Roelof F. Hugo, a State Veterinarian within the Department of Agriculture for Veterinary Services:

Information Letter for South African Film & Production Industry and Interested Parties
A major amendment of the Performing Animals Protection Act (Act24/1935) was passed in January 2017, and implemented in July 2017.
Previously, licences were issued by the district magistrates, under the Department of Justice. It is now the state veterinarians, who, as delegated PAPA licencing officers, are responsible for the issuing of licences under the auspices of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries (DAFF).

A document called the Veterinary Procedural Notice (VPN) 48/17-07 was developed as a guideline for inspections to assist the licencing officer and applicant with the amended PAPA application process.

The VPN lays out requirements which facilitators or individuals must comply with before a licence can be issued. For example, the facility veterinarian must approve each primary training facility and ensure that it complies with acceptable standards for each species, such as enclosure design, dietary plans, enrichment activities and equipment used for training.

This letter is aimed at explaining some aspects of the VPN which are pertinent or specific to the filming industry.

1. Which animals are included under the Act?

1.1. Section 8(a) of the Act defines an animal as “any equine, bovine, sheep, goat, pig, fowl, ostrich, dog, cat or other domestic animal or bird, or any wild animal or wild bird which is in captivity or under the control of a person”. Previously, the Act specifically excluded reptiles under the definition of “animal”. This sentence was omitted from the new Act, which means that reptiles are now covered by the new PAPA legislation.

1.2. Fish and other marine animals are also included through the designation of “any wild animal or wild bird which is in captivity or under the control of a person”.

Wildlife species that are maintained in a camp where they cannot hunt or survive without human intervention are seen as under the control of humans and are therefore included under PAPA if people can view them (they are ‘exhibited’), even though they should be able to retreat at will to a place where they may not be visible.

However, wild animals which roam freely in their natural habitat and are not under the control of human beings are not covered by the act. For example, self-sustaining lions which are tracked and viewed on a game drive in a game reserve cannot be interpreted as being under the control of a human. However, lions which are trained to walk with people as an ‘experience’ in the same game reserve would need a PAPA licence.

Similarly, a company would not require a PAPA licence if they advertised boat trips to swim with dolphins or sharks in the ocean. But if people swam with dolphins or sharks in a contained environment such as an aquarium, that company would then be required to have a licence.

However, free-roaming animals that are fed with the intent of close encounters with humans for filming purposes, a PAPA licenced animal trainer, licenced for that particular species and an animal welfare inspector monitoring the use of these animals must be present.

2. Role Players

2.1. Licencing Officer (LO)
The LO is appointed by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries. A LO is usually the local state veterinarian. The LO may suspend, withdraw or amend a licence if the applicant no longer complies with any conditions subject to which the licence was issued or when the welfare of the animals are compromised.

2.2. Production Company
It is the responsibility of the company to ensure that they have employed an appropriately licenced animal trainer and have an animal welfare inspector present that can monitor the use of the animals on behalf of the LO.
Payment of the above personnel is in accordance with standard industry arrangements.

2.3. Animal Trainer (AT) (sometimes referred to as animal ‘wranglers’)
ATs teach animals specific responses to specific conditions/commands/stimuli. In order to receive a PAPA licence, an AT must have applicable experience in the humane training methods of a specific species. The LO may use evidence from experts and monitoring reports to assess this expertise.

The LOs would like to instil a culture that the people who are most qualified are responsible for sourcing the animals to be used in filming. As such, the relevant production department should liaise with the AT, who would then be responsible for ethically sourcing animals with the required appearance and behavioural traits, i.e. to source the most appropriate animals for a specific set of circumstances.