In major move, South Africa to end captive lion industry

This is an excerpt from an article written by Gerald Imray and published online by AP (Associated Press) on 06 May, 2021

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) — South Africa says it will end its captive lion industry in a major move for conservation that would outlaw the heavily criticized “canned hunting” of the big cats and sale of their bones, as well as popular tourist experiences like petting cubs.

The policy, which still needs to be made into law, would effectively end the world’s legal lion bone trade. South Africa is the only country given a special dispensation by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species to sell and export lion bones, claws and teeth, and they have to be from captive lions. None of those parts from wild lions can be sold or traded anywhere.

South Africa’s announcement was praised by wildlife groups that want to see the iconic species left to live in the wild or in recognized conservation parks. They say the captive lion business in South Africa has been marked by disregard for the animals’ welfare in favor of profit.

Lions are kept in unhealthy and unethical conditions, conservationists say, and bred to ultimately be killed and their parts sold for trophies or for use in traditional medicines in Asia.

South Africa had made “a courageous decision” to end it, said Dr. Neil D’Cruze, the head of wildlife research at World Animal Protection. “This is no longer viewing the animals as commodities and how you can profit from them.”

Conservation’s Mariana Trench: Report on wildlife trade a seminal moment in South Africa’s history

This is an excerpt from an article written by Peter Borchert and published online by Daily Maverick on 06 May, 2021

For those familiar with the conservation landscape in southern Africa, the significance of Barbara Creecy’s announcement needs little explanation. But for those who aren’t, suffice it to say there are two main wildlife issues around which almost everything revolves in South Africa – hunting and trade. Unfortunately, the divide is so deep that it makes the Mariana Trench seem like a ditch.

Mid-morning on Sunday, 2 May 2021, I sat glued to my computer screen, and I certainly wasn’t alone, for the day was to prove a seminal moment in South Africa’s long and mostly illustrious wildlife conservation history. The occasion was the public release of Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries Barbara Creecy’s long-awaited review of the policies, laws and practices around the breeding, hunting, management, trade and handling of four iconic species – elephants, rhinos, lions and leopards. 

It didn’t disappoint. As Don Pinnock writing in Daily Maverick aptly observed: “In a seismic shift that will send shock waves through many areas of SA’s wildlife industry, the Cabinet has endorsed a report calling for the end of lion farming, captive lion hunting, cub-petting and the commercial farming of rhinos.”

Comment was quick to follow. Ian Michler, an investigative journalist, a long-time campaigner against predator breeding, and a key member of the Blood Lions film team, was deeply encouraged by the panel’s findings. “After almost 25 years of opposing the horrors of captive predator breeding, mostly without success, this shift in thinking is significant,” he said. “The minister seems sincere, which means it is also an incredible opportunity to work with the department to rid the region of these practices forever. Blood Lions congratulates her, the ministry, the high-level panel and all those who made submissions calling for an end to the industry.”