17 000+ Lions exported from South Africa in 10 years

The CITES Trade Database shows that over 17 000 lions have been exported from South Africa over the last 10 years… dead and alive. Many of these lions were exported as canned hunting trophies, bones for the Traditional Chinese Medicine, or alive to breeders, zoos, circuses and entertainment facilities around the world. The vast majority of those lions came from the captive population.

If we allow the wildlife trade to continue, especially with little governance currently in place, the lucrative captive predator breeding industry will continue to grow at an alarming rate in South Africa.

Read more on the Zoonosis Study we conducted with World Animal Protection here: https://bloodlions.org/the-sick-5/

Stop the interactions. Stop the trade.

Captive lions increase the risk of zoonotic diseases

When we take a step back and look at the industry as a whole, we are able to see the extent of the risks our wildlife and humans are possibly facing.

There are probably more than 15 000 predators in over 350 captive facilities in South Africa, including exotic species such as tigers that are not protected by our nature conservation legislation.

Holding wildlife in these commercial captive environments increases the chances of the spread of zoonotic diseases, not only from animal to animal, but from animal to humans too.

To learn more, visit The Sick 5 webpage.

Stop the interactions. Stop the trade.

Three times more captive than wild lions in South Africa

There are 8 000 – 12 000 captive lions in South Africa that are often kept in small enclosures. This is a stark contrast to the only 3 000 wild lions left in South Africa roaming large areas.

Having this many lions in confined spaces creates a breeding ground for zoonotic diseases, some of which are potentially harmful to humans.

In order to curb the risk, the captive lion breeding industry needs to be phased out.

Stop the interactions. Stop the trade.

How can we prevent zoonotic disease outbreaks?

This pandemic has taught us that we can no longer afford to underestimate the potential impact of zoonotic diseases. But what can we do to prevent these outbreaks from occurring in South Africa in the future?

  1. STOP interacting with captive wildlife.
  2. AVOID unnecessary contact during husbandry activities with wildlife in captivity.
  3. STOP the slaughter of captive lions in South Africa for hunting trophies and Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Instead of opting for the quick gratification of interacting with wildlife kept in enclosures, rather visit one of the many beautiful national parks or reserves that South Africa is renowned for and experience these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat.

Keep it safe. Keep it wild.

Thousands of people at risk of infection

The commercial captive breeding industry in South Africa puts thousands of people at risk of infection with potential zoonotic diseases.

This risk is exacerbated by:

  1. Poor welfare conditions in the commercial lion breeding industry resulting in sickly lions with compromised immune systems;
  2. High levels of stress experienced by wildlife in captivity – both points create the perfect conditions for a zoonotic disease spillover; and
  3. Constant interactions between humans and wildlife – the perfect storm for an infected animal to pass on a zoonotic disease to humans.

Stop the interactions. Stop the trade.

To learn more about the recent study published by Blood Lions and World Animal Protection, read the campaign document.

No studies conducted on commercial breeding farms

There are currently no known scientific studies that have investigated lion’s health and diseases on commercial breeding farms in South Africa, making it difficult to adequately monitor, prevent or manage any potential health risks.

The welfare of captive bred lions falls through the legislative cracks, with welfare enforcement falling solely on the NSPCA – National Council of SPCAs.

This is a huge cause for concern, as welfare is often not a priority on these farms, especially where breeding happens to supply the lion bone trade. This creates the perfect conditions for zoonotic diseases to jump between captive lions and farm staff.

In order to curb health and welfare issues, the captive lion breeding industry in South Africa needs to be phased out.

Stop the interactions. Stop the trade.

23 human diseases found in lions

Although there are 5 main diseases we’ve unpacked in #TheSick5, there are a total of 23 diseases that can potentially be transmitted from lions to people.

These diseases were identified in the recent Zoonosis study Blood Lions released with World Animal Protection.

Despite the large number of lions bred in captivity in South Africa and the long list of diseases found to affect them, the researchers did not find any scientific studies investigating health and diseases on commercial lion farms in South Africa.

Without this vital information it is impossible to effectively prevent, monitor or manage potential health risks on these farms, particularly considering this industry is poorly regulated and animal welfare enforcement lies with the NSPCA only.

Stop the interactions. Stop the trade.

How does a “zoonotic jump” occur?

Zoonotic diseases are infectious diseases caused by bacteria, parasites or viruses that can be passed between mammals and people.

The pathogen originates in wildlife (the reservoir host), often bats, that come into close or immediate contact with mammals (the intermediate host). Human interactions with such an intermediate host, through for example petting, handling or management of captive lions, is how the pathogen can jump or spillover from wildlife to humans.

This is more likely to happen when the animal is kept in poor conditions, is not well or under stress, like it often happens in the commercial captive lion breeding industry.

Once this zoonotic jump has occurred, there is a possibility that the infected human can infect other people.

Five major diseases linked to captive lion breeding

Five major diseases have been identified in Blood Lions’ recently released study with World Animal Protection that can inflict serious health issues for people.

#TheSick5 are:

  1. Human Ehrlichiosis
  2. Human Babesiosis
  3. Toxocariasis
  4. Trichinosis
  5. African Sleeping Sickness

The first two are tick-borne diseases, where the bacteria and parasite respectively are transmitted from animals to people by ticks.

Toxocariasis and Trichinosis parasites are transmitted more directly to humans, the former (for example) by handling faeces contaminated soil and the latter has a direct animal-humantransmission.

Lastly, African Sleeping Sickness (or Trypanosomiasis) is caused by a parasite transmitted by the tsetse fly and is listed as a Neglected Tropical Disease by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Over the last century, this disease has caused several epidemics in Africa.

To curb these vicious zoonotic cycles, we are calling on the public to STOP interacting with lions and for Department of Environment, Forestry & Fisheries to set a ZERO lion bone quota in an effort to begin phasing out the captive lion breeding industry in South Africa.