10 August 2020

Today is World Lion Day (10 August) – a day to celebrate one of Africa’s most iconic species and to raise awareness on conservation issues and efforts globally. Lions are recognised for their importance not only from a nature conservation and ecological point of view, but also symbolically, culturally and in terms of tourism.

The significance and dignity of wild lions in South Africa have sadly been replaced by the commodification of captive bred lions.

Today, Blood Lions in partnership with World Animal Protection, has launched a global campaign called, 800 Voices for 800 Lions, to create awareness and drive action around the lion bone trade from South Africa to Southeast Asia.

South Africa is one of the few countries in Africa that allows the intensive captive breeding and keeping of lions and other big cats for commercial purposes. In 350+ facilities, thousands of lions, cheetahs, leopards, caracals, servals, and many exotic species, such as tigers, jaguars, pumas, and even ligers (a crossbreed between lions and tigers), are bred and kept in mostly substandard conditions.

“We want to inspire the public to raise their voice for lions by letting their imagination flow freely in creating a lion masterpiece, whether this is painting, drawing, photography, music, poetry or dance. We are aiming for at least 800 pieces of lion art, representing the quota of 800 lion skeletons South Africa exported every year for use in traditional medicine that have no proven curative benefits,” says Dr Louise de Waal (Campaign Manager, Blood Lions).

For more than a decade, South Africa has been supplementing the demand for tiger bones in South East Asia for the use in traditional Asian medicine practices, with a steady supply of lion bones from the captive population. Since 2008, nearly 7,000 lion skeletons weighing a total of around 70 tonnes have been exported from South Africa.

“In an attempt to increase the profitability of this breeding industry, especially when it comes to the lion bone trade, animal welfare is often not a priority. Lack of adequate basic animal welfare conditions, such as sufficient water, food, space, shelter and medical care, is sadly inevitable and a stark reality in most commercial breeding farms”, states the World Animal Protection.

In 2016, an official lion bone export quota from the captive population was agreed at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) through an annotation to Appendix II.

Subsequently, the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries set a legal export quota of 800 skeletons in 2017 and 2018, although both quotas lacked a sound scientific basis and were solely driven by the economic principle of supply and demand.

“We urge Honourable Barbara Creecy, Minister of the South African Department for Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, to implement a permanent Zero lion bone CITES export quota for lion skeletons, parts and derivatives and destroy all existing bone stockpiles”, adds de Waal.

Watch this short film to learn more:


More information:

  • Contact: Dr Louise de Waal
  • Email: management@bloodlions.org
  • Blood Lions is an award-winning documentary feature film and campaign that blows the lid off claims made by the predator breeding and canned hunting industries in South Africa. www.bloodlions.org
  • World Animal Protection is a global organisation with 14 offices around the world and for 55 years they have been protecting animals from needless suffering. From the frontlines of disaster zones to the boardrooms of large corporations, they are fighting to create better lives for all animals. www.worldanimalprotection.or.ke