Implementation of regulations relating to listed threatened or protected species (TOPS)

In terms of the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act, 2004 (Act 10 of 2004), (NEMBA)

Magdel Boshoff

Department of environmental affairs and Tourism

The TOPS regulations came into effect on 1 February 2008 and, as they apply to listed species, it is important to have a look at how they will impact on the Wildlife ranching industry.

As a large number of wildlife ranches include hunting as an economic activity, this article will review TOPS as applied to this sector.

From the onset, it is important to note that:

•Non-listed species will still be covered by provincial permits

  • Professional hunters’ permits and hunting outfitters permits will still be issued in terms of provincial legislation
  • CITES is not regulated in terms of NEMBA – This is an additional requirement

In looking at TOPS in relation to hunting, it is important to take note of the following definitions:

Restricted Activities

Any activity that directly impacts on a species, for which a permit MAY be issued- for example, hunting, conveying, keeping, or selling.

Prohobited Activity

Any activity for which a permit MUST be refused – for example hunting a listed large predator in a controlled environment.


  • Intentionally kill by any means, method or device;
  • Capturing by any means, method or device, with the intent to kill;
  • Search for, lie in wait for, pursue, shoot at, tranquilise or immobilise with the intent to kill;
  • Lure by any means, method or device with the intent to kill;
  • But excludes culling.

Species most likely to be affected by hunting:



Critically endangered

Non huntable


Tsessebe, black rhino, Cape mountain zebra, African wild dog, Oribi.



Samango monkey, Bontebok, roan, suni, lion, leopard, blue duiker.




Nile crocodile, white rhino, black wildebeest, spotted and brown hyena, serval, elephant, Sharpe’s grysbok, reedbuck, Cape fox.


Questions and answers




What happens to exemptions?



Non-listed species: remain on exemption.

Listed species: replaced by a STANDING PERMIT



How do tops permits work?



Register as a game farm

2.Qualify for a standing permit

3.Qualify to purchase a book with GAME FARM HUNTING PERMITS



How do I use the permits?



Registration certificate

Only to register the business as a game farm

Do not undertake any activities

Standing permit

Provides for all/ combination of activities

Provides for all/ combination of species

Game farm hunting permits

Hunter obtains it directly from farm owner

Allows hunter to hunt, transport and keep




What are the options?


Register as WILDLIFE TRADERS – to qualify to obtain a STANDING PERMIT for the processing of the trophies, and selling their own stock.

Purchase the PERSONAL EFFECTS PERMIT books. To facilitate transporting of trophies from the farm:

Game farm owners can register as WILDLIFE TRADERS – to qualify for a book with PERSONAL EFFECTS PERMITS.



Is regulation compulsary?



Registration for game farm owners as game farms and wildlife traders is not compulsory but, if one does not register, a new permit will be needed for each individual activity involving TOPS.



Where do I register?



Registration and all permit applications - your provincial conservation office.



What does it cost?



R1000-00 per registration (3 years)


R1000-00 per standing permit (3 years)

R500-00 per game farm hunting permit book (50 permits – 1 year)

R500-00 per personal effects permit book (50 permits)



Where will the permit be valid?





Standing permit

Wildlife traders – transporting only - nationally

For live specimens – provincially

Game farm hunting permits/ personal effects permits

Hunting/ purchasing – only on the premises specified

on standing permit

Conveyance and keeping - nationally


Contact Person

Magdel Boshoff

(w) 012 – 310 3534

083 952 2334



Prohibited Activities

No Permits may be issued for:

  • Translocation of TOPS species to protected areas from outside natural distribution area.
  • Translocation to extensive wildlife system where possibility of transmitting disease or hybridization.

Listed large predators & rhino

  • Captive bred put and take
  • Hunting in controlled environment
  • Hunting adjacent to holding facilities for listed large predators
  • Hunting by using gin traps
  • Poison;
  • Snares;
  • Automatic weapons, .22 Rim fire or smaller caliber, air guns;
  • Hunting animals under the influence of tranquilisers;
  • Hunting animals trapped against a fence;
  • Hunting listed large predators, rhino, elephant and crocodile with bow and arrow;

No traps, except for:

  • Hunting/ catching marine species;
  • Collecting invertebrates for scientific purposes;
  • Trapping terrestrial vertebrates for scientific, veterinary or management purposes;

No dogs, except for:

  • Tracking a wounded animal;
  • Flushing, pointing and retrieving;

No darting, except for:

  • Management purposes, disease control procedure or scientific research;
  • Veterinary treatment;
  • Translocation

No luring (bait, smell, sound or any other) except for:

  • Lion, leopard or hyena – dead bait;
  • Marine or aquatic species – dead bait;
  • Invertebrates for scientific purposes – dead bait;

 No flood/ spot lights, except for:

  •  Culling;
  • Hunting leopard or hyena;

No motorised vehicles, except for:

  • Darting
  • Tracking when hunting over long ranges;
  • Culling;
  • Allowing a disabled person to hunt;

No aircraft, except for:

  •  Tracking when hunting over long ranges;
  •  Culling.

Damage Causing Animals (DCA)

May be hunted (but not by foreign clients) by means of:

  • Poison;
  • Traps, except gin traps;
  • Dogs, only to track or flush a wounded DCA;
  • Darting for translocation of DCA;
  • Luring with bait, sound or smell;
  • Motorised vehicle;
  • Flood/ spot light.

Contact Details

Magdel Boshoff

(w) 012 – 310 3534

083 952 2334