Overview of the Ministerial Task Team

What did the MTT try to achieve?

 

In December 2022, Minister Creecy of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE) appointed a panel of experts, including a wildlife veterinarian, carnivore ecologist, animal welfare specialist, industry specialists, and labour and environmental lawyers. This panel was tasked by the Minister to look at voluntary exit options from the captive lion industry for those lion owners who would be potentially interested in a way out. 

 

This Ministerial Task Team (MTT) produced a report that was approved by cabinet in March 2024 and outlines among others eight voluntary exit options for lions and lion bone stockpiles, two important and mandatory prerequisites, protocols, as well as a set of recommendations. The panel also engaged with facility owners and identified a group of people that would like to take this opportunity to find responsible ways to exit this tarnished industry. 

How does the MTT report align with other policies?

In May 2021, Minister Creecy promised to take steps towards closing the captive lion industry in South Africa. In March 2024, she released a policy document that cements this promise to end the captive keeping and breeding of lions for commercial purposes and end the exploitation of these wild animals. The voluntary exit options, as suggested by the MTT, essentially function as the first step towards this longer term aim to close the industry.

Exit options the panel developed

 

The panel had numerous meetings with captive lion owners and industry representatives, animal welfare and conservation organisations, veterinarians, NSPCA representatives, genuine lion sanctuaries, Traditional Health Practitioners, and the general public. They developed a range of possible ways for lion owners to exit the captive lion industry and tested those options by assessing each one on its strengths and weaknesses.

 

This process created six viable exit options for owners with captive lions, two options for lion bone stockpiles, and two important compulsory prerequisites #1 and #2. The entire process was underpinned by socio-economic impacts, particularly on vulnerable workers, while prioritising the well-being of the captive lions involved in the voluntary exit.

Is there financial support for this process?

There is currently no financial support available for this voluntary exit process neither from the national nor from provincial government. However, the MTT has secured some third party donations for various aspects of the process, such as sterilisation of lions, incentives for surrender of live lions and lion bones, parts and derivatives.