Voluntary exit options for lion bone stockpiles

Lion bone stockpiles

The panel’s audit also identified that South Africa holds large privately owned lion bone stockpiles, namely an estimated 2,888 whole carcasses, 275 skeletons (no skull), 636 skulls, 765 kg of bones (= about 22 lions) and 292 whole skins.


One of the recommendations outlined in the report deals with this large quantity of lion bones and parts and suggests that the government buys up all stockpiles for mass-incineration. The panel states they have raised funding and support for this initiative, as there is no government financial support available. This would not only prevent the illegal export of lion bones, but would also send a strong and positive message to the world about South Africa’s commitment to ending the captive lion industry.


The alternative option is to allow domestic trade in whole lion carcasses, skeletons, bones, skins, teeth, claws and other parts, as there is a small legal market to Traditional Health Practitioners and other traditional belief use. This would provide a short-term income stream for the lion bone owner.


There is currently no CITES export quota for the trade in lion bones, so no legal avenue exists for international trade.