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In major move, South Africa to end captive lion industry

This is an excerpt from an article written by Gerald Imray and published online by AP (Associated Press) on 06 May, 2021

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) — South Africa says it will end its captive lion industry in a major move for conservation that would outlaw the heavily criticized “canned hunting” of the big cats and sale of their bones, as well as popular tourist experiences like petting cubs.

The policy, which still needs to be made into law, would effectively end the world’s legal lion bone trade. South Africa is the only country given a special dispensation by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species to sell and export lion bones, claws and teeth, and they have to be from captive lions. None of those parts from wild lions can be sold or traded anywhere.

South Africa’s announcement was praised by wildlife groups that want to see the iconic species left to live in the wild or in recognized conservation parks. They say the captive lion business in South Africa has been marked by disregard for the animals’ welfare in favor of profit.

Lions are kept in unhealthy and unethical conditions, conservationists say, and bred to ultimately be killed and their parts sold for trophies or for use in traditional medicines in Asia.

South Africa had made “a courageous decision” to end it, said Dr. Neil D’Cruze, the head of wildlife research at World Animal Protection. “This is no longer viewing the animals as commodities and how you can profit from them.”