An open letter signed by over 300 South African youths was sent to the Presidency as well as the Departments of Environment, Forest and Fisheries; Basic Education and Higher Education calling for an end to the captive breeding and commercial exploitation of wildlife across South Africa.

The 16th of June in South Africa serves to commemorate a day in 1979 when South African youth banded together and changed the course of our history. This Youth Day, the Blood Lions ‘YouthForLions’ team called upon the youth of South African to stand together once more and speak up against the injustices of captive predator breeding.

South Africa currently has approximately 3 times more lions in captivity than in the wild, and these animals are exploited at every phase of their lives despite claims made by the breeders. Young people from around the world travel to our country to visit these facilities believing that they are contributing to conservation when, in fact, their money is simply contributing to what is most often unethical breeding and fraudulent use of the animals.

©Blood Lions

This Youth Day initiative follows a decision made by the Department of Environmental Affairs in March 2019 to allow the captive lion breeding industry to continue with regulations in place, despite the recommendations and resolutions made by the Portfolio Committee of Environmental Affairs (PCEA) towards the end of 2018 to put an end to the practice. The PCEA confirmed that “there was an overwhelming consensus to the need to bring an end to the controversial aspects of the captive lion breeding industry in South Africa” and that the industry is, in fact, a blemish on South Africa’s conservation reputation and tourism image. Leading global conservation and scientific authorities have stated time and time again that the captive predator breeding industry has no conservation value, and goes against internationally accepted ethical and welfare protocols.

The 324 youth who signed the open letter agree that trying to regulate an industry that has been thriving for over a decade under ineffective governance is unfortunately not the answer.

“I truly believe that we are vastly more powerful and influential as a collective. I have been completely blown away by the support for this Open Letter and am immensely proud to have been a part of it. I implore the President and his Ministers to listen to the voices of the youth and hear their message” – Cath Jakins, Blood Lions ‘YouthForLions’ Coordinator.

In the week leading up to Youth Day, YouthForLions Coordinator, Cath, visited three schools in Eshowe, northern KwaZulu-Natal, where she presented on the captive lion breeding industry and the exploitative wildlife interactive tourism industry.

Cath presented to Grade 4 to 7 students at John Wesley School and Holy Childhood School and Grade 4 to 12 students at Gratton School. The reception at all 3 schools was fantastic with approximately 150 students volunteering to sign the YouthForLions pledge and add their names to the Open Letter.

Grade 7 class of 2019 at Holy Childhood Convent School, Eshowe added their voices to the Letter

THANK YOU to John Wesley School, Gratton School and Holy Childhood Convent School in Eshowe for hosting YouthForLions and for all your support for the Youth Day Open Letter initiative. We will definitely see you next year!

Read the Open Letter with all 324 signatures HERE.

For more information or if you have any questions, contact the Blood Lions ‘YouthForLions’ team on youth@bloodlions.org.