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.

Task team appointed to find ‘exit options’ for captive lion breeders

This is an excerpt from an article written and published online by The Citizen on 14 December, 2022

A task team formed by the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE) will help captive lion breeders with a strategy to exit the industry.

In a statement released by DFFE Minister Barbara Creecy, the appointment of the eight-member ministerial task team follows recommendations made by a high-level panel (HLP) on the management, breeding, hunting, trade and handling of elephant, lion, leopard and rhino.

Among the recommendations adopted by government are that South Africa no longer breed captive lions, keep them in captivity, or use their derivitates commercially.

The breeding of lions in captivity was officially banned in May last year.

The HLP recommended that existing captive lions be euthanised, and policies be put in place to halt the sale of lion bones from existing stockpiles and euthanised lions, and that hunting and petting captive-bred lions, be halted.

Women arrested for allegedly trying to sell lion cubs in Boksburg

This is an excerpt from an article written and published online by The Citizen on 04 December, 2022

Four women are currently behind bars after appearing in court for allegedly trying to sell lion cubs in Boksburg.

They appeared in the Boksburg Magistrate’s Court earlier this week after allegedly attempting to sell the cats, worth approximately R30 000.


They were arrested by the Hawks on 29 November, after its Serious Organised Crime Investigation Unit received a tip-off from crime intelligence a day prior, Boksburg Advertiser reports.

“Following surveillance, a search and seizure operation netted the four women in Trichardts Road, Boksburg North. Three lion cubs, estimated to be about five weeks old, were rescued and taken to a vet,” spokesperson Captain Lloyd Ramovha said.

The women face charges of carrying out restricted activity involving a threatened or protected species without a permit, and the unlawful purchase of specially protected game, Ramovha explained.

Political parties agree — captive lion breeding must end

This is an excerpt from an article written by Don Pinnock and published online by Daily Maverick on 29 November, 2022

Parliament’s environment committee has accused the departments of environment and agriculture of dragging their feet over the ending of captive lion breeding and canned hunting.

In a special session on captive lion breeding this week, all members of Parliament’s environment committee expressed disappointment at the Department of Environment’s failure to implement its own recommendations to phase out the practice.

Members across all party lines grilled representatives of the department who, they said, came unprepared and whose answers to their questions were unacceptable.

The department’s Flora Mokgohloa said she was unaware that canned hunting was taking place as it was illegal and had no evidence that wild lions were being poached.

“Enough is enough,” said committee member IFP’s Narend Singh, “the department is not taking our or its own High Level Panel recommendations on this and it’s unacceptable.”

Leading MICE destination, KZN South Coast, hosts successful Conservation Symposium

This is an excerpt from an article written and published online by South Africa Today on 10 November, 2022

From 30 October to 5 November, the KZN South Coast played host to some 215 in-person and 219 virtual delegates from 22 countries worldwide attending the 2022 Conservation Symposium. Talks by leading experts, networking and discussions were held at the upmarket venues, Premier Resort’s Cutty Sark Hotel and Dream Hotel’s Blue Marlin in Scottburgh, while a number of local establishments welcomed delegates, showcasing the many tourism offerings of this top MICE and events destination.

“South Coast Tourism and Investment Enterprise [SCTIE] would like to thank everyone involved in the organisation of this groundbreaking event,” commented Phelisa Mangcu, CEO of SCTIE. “It was a privilege for the KZN South Coast to host such an important ecological conference, particularly considering the local biodiversity and reliance our tourism economy has on healthy ecosystems. The success of this event also places the KZN South Coast on the map as a leading MICE and events destination, and we look forward to hosting more conferences at our many great venues in future.”

Throughout the six-day conference, delegates gained valuable insight, and discussed possible solutions, on various aspects impacting conservation today.

Blood Lions says Creecy’s task team will help bring end to captive lion industry

This is an excerpt from an article written by Kgomotso Phooko and published online by The Citizen on 18 August, 2022

The captive lion industry, including canned hunting, petting zoos and commercial trade in lion bones, was banned last year.

The Blood Lions campaign has welcomed the announcement from Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, Barbara Creecy, that she will appoint a ministerial task team to create exit strategies for the controversial captive lion breeding industry.

Creecy on Monday said the department is looking for an advisory panel to identify voluntary exit options for lion breeders. The nominations to join the panel should be submitted within 14 days.

Members of the public are urged to submit nominations of members who have relevant qualifications, including expertise and experience in a number of areas associated with the captive lion industry.

One of the steps taken by the department to end the captive lion industry is the draft White Paper on conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity in South Africa.

The White Paper was created to review the current policies, legislation and practices on management, breeding, hunting, trade and handling of elephant, lion, leopard and rhinoceros.


Ministerial task team to identify and recommend voluntary exit options from captive lion industry

This is an excerpt from an article written and published online by Cape Times and IOL News on 16 August, 2022

Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment Minister Barbara Creecy is to appoint a ministerial task team to identify voluntary exit options and pathways for lion breeders from the captive lion industry.

On Tuesday, the department said the appointment of this advisory panel in terms of Section 3a of the NEMA followed a high-level panel which made recommendations to the minister on matters relating to the management, breeding, hunting, trade and handling of elephant, lion, leopard and rhinoceros.

In her budget speech in May this year, Creecy proposed that the department develop processes that would allow for voluntary exit options and pathways from the captive lion industry.

“The minister has invited members of the public to submit nominations for members of the ministerial task team to the department.

“Members nominated must have the necessary qualifications, expertise and experience in a number of areas associated with the captive lion industry, animal welfare, conservation and sustainable use of South Africa’s biodiversity in general, veterinary care and carnivore interventions, disease risk from husbandry and disposal of carnivores, traditional practices associated with lions, persons with relevant academic experiences and resource mobilisation,” the department said.


WATCH: Blood Lions Releases Powerful Message on World Lion Day

This is an excerpt from an article written and published online by SA People News on 10 August, 2022

Today is World Lion Day (10 August) – a day to celebrate one of Africa’s most iconic species and to raise awareness on conservation issues globally.

Lions are recognised worldwide for their importance not only from a nature conservation and ecological perspective, but also symbolically, culturally and in terms of tourism.

The significance and dignity of wild lions in South Africa have been replaced by the commodification of captive lions at every stage of their lives.

Currently, 8,000-10,000 lions and thousands of other big cats, including tigers and cheetahs, are bred and kept in captivity in approximately 350 facilities in South Africa.

These predators are bred for commercial purposes, including cub petting, voluntourism, “canned” hunting, the lion bone trade and live exports.

In honour of World Lion Day, a short video clip was produced by Blood Lions to highlight one stage in the exploitative cycle, namely the cub petting, where thousands of tourists and volunteers pay to play with, bottle feed and hand-raise captive-bred predator cubs. These unsuspecting tourists and volunteers are made to believe that their money will contribute to the conservation of wild lions and that the cubs they interact with will be returned to the wild.