In a joint scientific study, researchers from Blood Lions and World Animal Protection investigated the extent of the captive predator industry in South Africa. Using legislation, known as PAIA (Promotion of Access to Information Act), that gives everyone the right to obtain information, we gathered TOPS permit data to learn more about the nature and scale of captive breeding, keeping, hunting, and trade of big cats across South Africa’s nine provinces.
Explore our research findings below to learn about how South Africa’s varying national and provincial legislation has created blurred lines and a lack of regulation.
What did we learn about captive predators in South Africa?
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Captive Predator Research
Read the original peer-reviewed articles about the extent and nature of South Africa’s captive predator industry and the Free State case study.
Join us as we unpack our research findings on the unregulated nature of the captive predator industry in South Africa.
A new peer-reviewed study by Blood Lions and World Animal Protection has recently been published, which exposes how legal loopholes and poor record keeping has resulted in the boom of a loosely regulated captive lion breeding industry in South Africa.
Our researchers reviewed national and provincial regulations that govern the captive predator industry and accessed records held by the nine provincial departments regulating the captive keeping, breeding and trade of big cats in South Africa.
Due to poor governance, it is near-impossible to track a captive-bred lion from birth to death in South Africa.
The Free State and North West are the most attractive provinces for breeders and hunters due to their weaker laws regulating the captive industry.
Our recent report analysed various TOPS permits confirming that lions are transported from other provinces with stricter laws to either be hunted in the North West or euthanised in the Free State. This again highlights the issues around the exploitation of legal loopholes that are created at a provincial level.
Furthermore, the North West Province recorded 230 lion hunts in 2020, despite the country being in a hard COVID-19 lockdown for most of that year. This raises some red flags as to how these hunts were conducted under these lockdown restrictions.
- Requirements and reporting styles for EMI reports across provinces vary hugely, with some being very detailed and others containing scarce information.
- EMI officials are not trained to look for animal welfare issues, which means this is often overlooked or reports on welfare concerns are vague.
- EMI officials cannot enforce welfare regulations – this responsibility sits with the NSPCA, who receive no government funding.
The captive lion breeding industry largely relies on a paper-based provincial record keeping systems with no centralised database and no transparency.
- Re-issuing of certain permits, even though officials’ reports have indicated that the facility is non-compliant,
- The inability to effectively and accurately track and monitor the types, quantities and movements of captive wild animals.