To start with I have been out of permitting for approximately 6 years now, so things could have changed and to add to this in South Africa this varies depending on your province. This is an overview of the way it was, so if you want the specifics and latest procedures please contact you Department of Conservation.

Another useful source of information are the local herpetological associations. There are a few of them around. The two in Gauteng I know of that are recognised by the Department of Nature Conservation are "Transvaal Herpetological Association" and "East Rand Herpetological Association".

The principle was fairly simple and in a lot of cases worked fairly well. Obviously there were problems, irritations etc... but as a whole I had no issues with obtaining permits from the Cape, Natal, Limpopo, North West or Gauteng.

The basics they work off in you sourcing of an animal and obtaining a keeping permit is that it must be of legal origin:

  1. Specimen is on a keeping permit
  2. Specimen was caught by a permitted catcher (problem Snakes)
  3. Specimen was bred from legal/ permitted stock
  4. Sourced from a zoo

It may be a requirement of the Nature Conservation body that you are a member of a herpetological association. If this is the case all these associations have their own protocol that one must comply to before the permit officer will sign off your permit application before going to Nature Conservation.

The donor also needs to sign the form. Once all this is completed you pay your department and submit your application. Wait, and maybe wait some more and then you will hopefully get word whether it is approved or declined. Remeber when applying for a permit you may also need to obtain a transport permit to tke it from its current residence to yours.

The transport permit is also applicable when you move, a show permit is required if you do displays or education, a catcher permit to remove problem snakes etc... Basically anythignt o do with indigenous reptiles. Natal is not quite as strict, the Cape is more strict, so ask them what to comply to.

Tortoises can be sourced from Johannesburg or Pretoria Zoo and they are legally allowed to sell them. In most provinces the trade in indigenous reptiles is not permitted. This means you can apply to keep a single tortoise or multiple specimens of the same sex sourced from these zoo's without being a member of a herpetolgical association.

Joining your local club is not a bad idea. Sourcing specimens from breeders reduces the risk of disease but it also opens upa network for you when you have problems. In most cases one of the guys can help, or easily get the answers. Quite often they hold talks which can be very interesting and informative.

Indigenous lizards were very problematic when I was involved with permits and basically not granted. This matter you will have to raise with your department of nature conservation. I would also recommend you ask questions regarding exotic species in South Africa as some provinces were talking about permitting exotics as well. Although I will take flack for this, to be honest I am in favour of it. I have caught enough exotics in the wild not to be amused by it.

If you going to keep exotics, do it responsibly, and should you not want the specimen, sell it, or give it to someone who does, don't dump it. Be responsible to what is left of our environent and biodiversity.


Cape Nature Conservation

Northern Cape Nature Conservation

South African Government Department of Environmental Affairs

Gauteng Province

Kwazulu Natal Province

Limpopo Province

North West Province

Eastern Cape Province

South African National Parks (SANPARKS)

Remember that permits are not only restricted to reptiles, it is applicable for some plants, birds, raptors, fishing etc...