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A WORK IN PROGRESS: sharing some thoughts




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Emy Will

Emy Will

Greetings from Johannesburg, South Africa. Although I have a doctorate in psychotherapy, my main passion is advocating for nonhuman animal rights. I condemn all cruelty to nonhuman animals and therefore follow a vegan lifestyle. I would like to connect with other animal activists from all over the world. The fur trade is one of the most abhorrent practices on this planet. Innocent animals are subjected to prolonged suffering for a trivial fashion item. As the chairperson of Fur Free SA. we campaign towards ending the global fur industry. This might not happen in my lifetime, but even if I leave one footprint behind, that is one step closer to the goal. This blog is a forum to discuss all aspects of the fur industry. It also raises issues around animal activism in general. Johannesburg is a crazy city and I need to escape from time to time. This photo was taken next to the magnificent Zambezi river.

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I took these photos when we were on holiday at Hluhluwe-umfolozi game reserve and Ndlovu River Lodge respectively. There are many places in South Africa where one can view wildlife and this is a major attraction to tourists.

After much discussion with family and friends,  here are some ideas on the way forward to banning fur in South Africa. Any feedback is most welcome:)

  • South Africa – a unique country

South Africa is a country with diverse population groups.  There are many cultural practices, some that involve the wearing of skins, for example leopard skins.

Zuma in skins

The President of South Africa Jacob Zuma wearing a Leopard skin.

  •  To Poll attitudes to fur

Israel has now banned fur except that used for religious purposes. An opinion poll conducted prior to the banning showed that 86% of Israelis were against the fur trade.

South Africa has a high unemployment rate and the wearing of a luxury item such as fur does not feature in most people’s lives. The best case scenario is that an opinion poll will show indifference. I think??

  • So we need a different strategy

We need to convince the South African government that selling fur is contrary to South Africa’s image of Eco-tourism and preserving wild life.

  • Eco-tourism does not support the fur trade

Eco-tourism is about many things, but one aspect of it is travel that focuses on avoiding harm to wilderness areas and wildlife wherever possible.  It can actively contribute to the preservation of wildlife . In this context, surely it does not look good for South Africa to be involved with the fur industry in any way?

A big news item at the moment is how ECO-TOURISM can boost the South African economy.

If you are closely following this journey to ban fur these are essential articles to read:

– A press release this week by Marthinus Van schalkwyk,  South Africa’s tourism Minister.


– A survey done by WWF – SA  showing that owning Rhino horn is a status symbol. So what makes fur any different? Animals are brutally killed for no purpose other than a status symbol.


  • Changing legislation 

To change or implement a new law a citizen may approach an individual Member of Parliament (MP).  This MP can submit this proposal for consideration in parliament.  One would, of course, have to gain the support of this MP for what one is trying to achieve.

I suppose in this situation the obvious MP would be Marthinus Van Schalkwyk, although I still resent him for culling the Himalayan Tahrs, on Table Mountain:(

  • Contents of the proposal

In this proposal we would have to present:

1. A coherent reason for getting fur banned

– Animal welfare: Fur farming is inherently cruel. Wild animals are bred and killed under horrendous conditions, only for their fur. There is no such thing as humane fur farming. If fur farms were in South Africa they would be in contravention of the Animal Protection Act.

– Environmental hazard: Due to the nature of factory farming, fur farming has a negative impact on the environment.  Climate change is a global issue.

– Mislabelling: The globalisation of the fur trade has made it impossible to know where fur products come from. Skins move through international auction houses and are purchased and distributed to manufacturers around the world. Finished goods are often brought into the country with “faux fur” labels. Even if a fur garment’s label says that it was made in a European country, the animals were likely raised and slaughtered elsewhere—possibly on a Chinese fur farm, where there are no penalties for abusing animals. Other than doing genetic testing there is no way of identifying all fur.

2. Precise terminology about the type of fur to be banned

This is complicated: The following will probably have to be excluded from the definition :

– South Africa uses skins of zebra and buck etc. to make retail items.

– Many animal skins are used for cultural practices.

– Seal fur also falls under a different category of fur and seals are not farmed.

– Rabbits are now being farmed in South Africa for their meat and fur. This provides employment and money.

3. Proof of the horrendous ways fur-bearing animals are farmed and killed, even though this happens overseas.

Many animal rights organisations have documented these conditions.

3. Facts and figures on how the banning of fur would affect the South African economy

We are researching this area through the Department of Trade and Industry. So far it seems that banning fur will not have a huge impact on the South African economy. The fur industry does not provide much employment, as furriers send their workers overseas for training.

I’m sure there are many other things to consider. Let me know if you think of any.

In the meantime. Please carry on raising awareness about the abhorrent fur industry in any way you can.

Collective action works!!



  1. Chris says:

    The easiest way to get around the definition issues is by way of a schedule. The envisaged piece of legislation would define fur bearing animals as those appearing in schedule A to the Act. The schedule would then contain a list of animals. This has two benefits, firstly one does not have to get into a debate over how to define fur as opposed to skin. Secondly it would be easy to amend the schedule in due course by adding further animals rather than having to amend an entire act.


  2. Emy Wilhelm says:

    Thanks Chris. One could then just present a list of fur-bearing animals that excludes “game” type animals such as zebra and buck.


  3. Emy Wilhelm says:

    Oh. It has been pointed out to me that because Marthinus Van Schalkwyk is a Cabinet Minister, if he is our MP, it would not constitute a Private Member’s Bill 🙂 Hope all of this makes sense?


  4. Janet Wilhelm says:

    Was wondering about having an organisational base from which to launch these initiatives – can help when making formal approaches to people.


  5. Emy Wilhelm says:

    Thanks, Janet, for this essential point. All my anti-fur activism is endorsed by Fur Free SA and Beauty Without Cruelty SA.


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