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Code of Conduct

Rare and luxurious leathers are mostly sourced from endangered-, or rare animal species. These types of exotic leather are regulated by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). It is the international body that governs the trade in all species of Fauna and Flora considered to be endangered in the wild and is made up of representatives from all participating countries. This means that a special permit is needed to trade with any of the Fauna and Flora listed under the Convention.

Cape Karoo Producers breed a specific species of ostrich (Struthio camelus domesticus or SA Black) that is one of the rare exceptions, being part of a handful of exotics that are not regulated by CITES. This is because these birds are very well regulated and farmed commercially on registered farms.

Even though ostriches are not regulated by CITES, there are still various organisations and regulations in place to ensure that all animals are treated in ethical and safe conditions, and receive humane care throughout the entire process. Ostrich farmers associated with Cape Karoo International must comply with 5 basic animal care freedoms.

Basic animal care freedoms:

  • Freedom from thirst, hunger, and malnutrition.
  • Freedom from discomfort.
  • Freedom from pain, injury, and disease.
  • Freedom from fear and distress.
  • Freedom to express normal behaviour.

All ostriches are individually tagged for traceability back to the farm. Ostriches are classified as free-range animals accustomed to the extreme heat and cold associated with semi-desert, and arid regions of the world. Young ostriches are provided with shelters and heating during extreme cold, but as they mature, they prefer not to make use of their shelters and rather roam free in the natural climate. Environmental conditions such as shade and cooling are however still given to protect the animals in times of extreme heat waves.

The industry is very well monitored. The Provincial Departments of Agriculture, the South African Ostrich Business Chamber and the NSPCA continually monitor the entire process. These organisations help ensure that the industry complies with international standards in farming practices, processing, exporting, biodiversity, management, biosecurity and the humane treatment of animals.

Occupational Health & Safety

Occupational Health and Safety is an important aspect of the operation of the tanneries of Cape Karoo International, as ostrich leather requires the skill of numerous operators to make a quality product. Therefore, training and development form the cornerstones of competent personnel that understand their role and importance in the producing of high-quality leather. The health and safety of the workers are paramount to retain the skills required. Health and Safety committees take care of all the required aspects in the tanneries.

Quality Control & Tracking

Strict quality control is applied throughout all the Cape Karoo tanneries’ processes. A tracking system is used to capture all the stages of processing and finishing of our ostrich leather. Final quality control is done for colour consistency and correctness of colour against colour standards. All production batches are graded according to the Cape Karoo grading norm. The skins are measured with a final size, after which a label with the logo, barcode, and unique skin number as well as all skin attributes is printed as confirmation of the Hallmark of Quality supplied by Cape Karoo. With this unique form of identification, the skin is traceable all the way back to the registered ostrich farm.

Research & Development

Cape Karoo International is proud to be an international pioneer in the continuous creation of new dyeing and finishing techniques for ostrich leather. Our dedicated team strives to keep pace with modern trends and the latest preferences of international fashion houses. New finishes and colours are introduced to the market at international shows like Lineapelle in Milan, Italy, Premier Vision in Paris, France, APLF in Hong Kong, and WESA in Denver, USA.

One of the latest successful development by CKI Research and Development Department is a chrome-free tanning process on ostrich leather. This speciality leather was on display at the 2020 Fairs and already ordered by International Brands.

Chemicals available in the production process are continually monitored, and if necessary, changed, to comply with REACH and international specifications. These ever-changing chemicals need to be tested in our processes to assure compliance with other chemicals used. Finally, it is tested on ostrich production batches to ensure the outcome stays the same and that Cape Karoo continuously delivers a product of the highest quality.

REACH Compliant

The Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) is a European Union (EU) regulation dated 18 December 2006. It addresses the production and use of chemical substances and their potential impacts on both human health and the environment. All CKI Speciality Chemical Suppliers are REACH compliant. Most tanning chemicals are procured from highly-regulated tanning supplier companies, most of are situated in the EU. The CKI Tanneries regularly monitor and update our processes and chemical suppliers to remain REACH complaint.


Cape Karoo has a dedicated in-house laboratory where tests can be performed on the leather. This is necessary when minimum requirements are specified by customers. Some standard tests for fashion houses and for each batch of automotive leather are performed before delivery of the finished ostrich skins to the manufacturer.

Certifications, Licences & Registrations

Certifications, licences, and registrations can still be in the names of Klein Karoo Tannery or SCOT Tannery. The names will be updated to CKI Oudtshoorn Tannery and CKI Mossel Bay Tannery once the necessary renewal audits have been completed with-, and the processes checked by the regulatory authorities.

Environmental management system: ISO 14001

Cape Karoo International Tanneries will make every effort to ensure that the adverse effects of their operations on our environment (which include the air, water and land) are restricted. The company is committed to sustaining the environment for present and future generations and therefore implemented the ISO 14001 Environmental Management System in the CKI Tanneries.

CKI endeavours to show continual improvement of environmental matters and prevention of pollution through regular measurement and auditing of the environmental system by the SABS and NQF.

Atmospheric emission licences

Cape Karoo International Tanneries comply with the Full Atmospheric Emission Requirements in terms of section 41(1) of the National Environmental Management: Air Quality Act, 2004 (Act no.39 of 2004), in respect of Listed Activity No 19, Category 10 (Animal matter processing), as published in terms of Section 21 of the Act.

Wastewater storage

Cape Karoo International Oudtshoorn Tannery complies with the Department of Water Affairs authorisations of intended water use which falls within the ambit of General Authorisations dated 18 December 2009 as published in Government Gazette No. 32805.

Wastewater works

The CKI Mossel Bay Tannery has an on-site Effluent Treatment Plant for the treatment of industrial effluent and the removal of activated sludge. Critical parameters are monitored on a daily and monthly frequency rate. The treated effluent is discharged into the Municipal sewer

Veterinary approved establishment

The Klein Karoo Tannery was approved as a Tannery, for the import and export of crocodile, ostrich and game skins with registration number ZA 16/27 by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries. The audit for the permit renewal has been completed and is currently submitted for the name change to Cape Karoo International Oudtshoorn Tannery.

Leather Working Group Environmental Certification

Mossel Bay and Oudtshoorn tanneries  are classified as Category-C:   Raw hide/skin to finished leather tanneries.

Animal Welfare Commitment

The producers are responsible farmers, aiming to raise the birds in the most acceptable way according to the legislation of EU and DAFF. All ostriches from CKI are bred using good animal welfare protocols.

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