Grisly report on captive lions shocks Parliament

This is an excerpt from an article written by Don Pinnock and published online by Daily Maverick on 25 January, 2023

Parliamentarians were horrified by the cruelty NSPCA inspectors have to witness on lion breeding farms. Warning: this report contains graphic images

It was a briefing to Parliament’s Environment Portfolio Committee on captive lions. But, as NSPCA senior inspector Douglas Wolhuter began explaining the images he was putting on the screen, it became a horror show.

The levels of cruelty his team have been required to witness were sickening.

“The weight of evidence against the captive lion industry,” he said, “calls for its closure. It is irresponsible, inhumane and an unsustainable practice. It’s heartbreaking what our inspectors have to deal with.”

That evidence, he proceeded to show. Skeletal lions, small pens full of rotting bones, water troughs green with algae, cowering and disfigured cubs, disfigured limbs, fragile bones from a diet of nothing but birds from chicken farms, carcasses of lions killed by having their heads bashed in… images very hard to watch.

Tigers in South Africa: a farming industry exists – often for their body parts

This is an excerpt from an article written and published online by The Conversation on 20 January, 2023

A tiger escaped from a residence and roamed the countryside outside Johannesburg, South Africa, for four days this month. It attacked a man and killed several animals, and was eventually shot by the authorities. Tigers aren’t native to South Africa and are considered an alien species. Its escape highlights the country’s controversial commercial captive breeding industry and the key role South Africa plays in the international big cat trade. Tigers are being intensively farmed for tourism, hunting, and commercial trade in live individuals and in their body parts.

Moina Spooner, assistant editor at The Conversation Africa, asked Neil D’Cruze and Angie Elwin to share their insights into the industry.

What are your main concerns about South Africa’s captive predator industry?

The recent tiger escape in Johannesburg demonstrates the safety risk that this industry poses to wildlife farm workers, visitors and the public. Attacks by big cats in South Africa have resulted in multiple life-changing human injuries and deaths in recent years.

Although individual tigers can be tamed to varying degrees, this should not be confused with domestication. They are wild animals. They have biological and behavioural needs that can only be fully met in the wild.

Another concern we have is for animal welfare. Big cat breeding facilities in South Africa have been consistently criticised for their substandard conditions.

Bones of contention – fate of thousands of captive lions in SA depends on implementation of government report findings

This is an excerpt from a special report written by Don Pinnock and published online by Daily Maverick on 17 January, 2023

From 2008 to 2018, South Africa permitted the export of captive-bred lion skeletons. The well-being of a lion in captivity is irrelevant when all you want is its bones. This has led to enormous cruelty involving thousands of Africa’s most iconic animals.

Jabula was born at Predators Pride safari park in Hartbeespoort, North West.

When he was just a few weeks old, he was taken from his mother and moved to Chameleon Village, where he was monetised for cub petting. The story given to tourists and volunteers was that his mother had died and he needed to be hand-reared until he was ready to be returned to the wild. 

This was a lie.

Eight months later, too big for petting, he returned to his birthplace to be used for tourist walks. There, a special bond formed between Jabula and his keeper, Armand Gerber. They would hug, and the lion would roll over for a tummy scratch. 

But young lions grow into big, strong predators which become too dangerous to entertain tourists. At 18 months, Gerber discovered that Jabula was to be sent away. He began negotiations to buy the lion. 

On 22 April, 2018, with the purchase still pending, a team from Wag ’n Bietjie farm near Bloemfontein arrived to collect Jabula despite Gerber’s protests. The men had shown no permits and no vet was present. Jabula was inexpertly darted and hauled away.