Captive-bred lion industry a stain on SA’s tourism reputation, say environmentalists

This is an excerpt from an article written by Nica Richards and published online by The Citizen on 08 December, 2020.

Government has been urged to phase out and eventually remove the industry entirely, which makes up less than 1% of the country’s gross domestic product.

Tourism and conservation authorities have for the first time come together in a united call to stop South Africa’s thriving captive-bred lion and big cat industry. 

Government has been urged to phase out and eventually remove the industry entirely, a call which has been signed off and supported by 21 lion scientists, and endorsed by 41 scientists. 

There are a number of reasons why the captive-bred industry is unsustainable. From the welfare of lion farm workers to the potential damage to the country’s tourism industry, experts are reiterating and substantiating their reasons to impose a zero lion bone quota, and to kick the entire sector to the curb.


Lion programme director at Panthera, Dr Paul Funston, emphasised in a webinar on Tuesday that there was no evidence to support the notion that captive lion breeding and hunting provided direct conservation benefits to wild lions. 

There is also significant evidence to prove that there is a direct link between South Africa’s captive-bred lions and lion bone exports destined for Asia. 

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SA tourism body calls for ban on captive lion breeding

This is an excerpt from an article written and published online by African News Agency and IOL on 08 December, 2020.

CAPE TOWN – Conservation and animal welfare organisations, Humane Society International-Africa (HSI-Africa) and Blood Lions on Monday called for a ban of South Africa’s captive lion breeding industry and its associated spin-off industries.

This decision was backed by other non-governmental organisations (NGOs), scientists and the Southern Africa Tourism Services Association (SATSA).

Comprehensive submissions on captive lion breeding were presented to the department of environment, forestry and fisheries, to review existing policies, legislation and practices in the management and handling, breeding, hunting and trade of elephant, lion, leopard and rhinoceros.

South Africa has about 400 facilities with approximately 10 000 – 12 000 lions in captivity for commercial use in cub petting, canned hunting and the lion bone trade.

HSI-Africa wildlife director, Audrey Delsink said that the lions were bred with the intention of slaughter, one way or another, whether for their bones or as hunted trophies.

“In addition to the global opposition to trophy hunting, the cruelty of ‘canned hunting’ is making South Africa a pariah in conservation and animal welfare and protection communities,” Delsink said.

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