Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, supported by Four Paws International, delivered 545 130 petitions from around the world to the Minister of Environmental Affairs.

He also handed over a letter calling on her to act against canned lion hunting.

In his address at the presentation, he said that while growing up he was taught that his ancestor, King Shaka, used to set aside land where hunting was not allowed to protect wild animals.

As a young iNkosi, Buthelezi worked with conservationists, including Dr Ian Player and Nick Steele, persuading the people to actively protect wildlife.

As chief minister of the KwaZulu government, he established South Africa’s first department of environmental affairs.

Throughout the years he has spoken at the World Wilderness Congress, received international conservation awards, served as patron of the Wildlands Conservation Trust and founded the Tembe Elephant Park.

He has also had many conversations with Sir Laurens van der Post and Lawrence Anthony about the plight of South Africa’s wildlife.

‘But I have never been so deeply affected as I was by the film ‘Blood Lions”.

‘The IFP has supported the fight against canned lion hunting for several years.

‘We have asked why, when there are only 3 200 wild lions left in South Africa, there are 7 000 captivebred lions being kept on some 200 farms?

‘They are not being kept for research and they are not being kept for conservation.

‘There has never been a single successful relocation programme of captivebred lions into our parks or reserves.

‘These lions are tame, human-imprinted and genetically contaminated. Breeding lions in captivity makes no contribution whatsoever to securing the future of our lions,’ said Buthelezi.

He said the only reason for captive breeding is money.

Weak legislation

Legislation on canned lion hunting is weak, ambiguous and full of loopholes, enabling the continued hunting of captivebred lions who have been taught to trust humans and, indeed, to come when we called, to them.

Legislation prohibits hunters from shooting captivebred lions in a small enclosure, but it allows them to shoot captivebred lions if they are first released into a bigger area, despite the fact that, stripped of their instincts, they still have no chance of survival.

Government has a responsibility to tighten legislation to offer full protection to our lions.

Support against canned hunting growing

‘I was encouraged by the news this past week that the 2016 World Conservation Congress of the International Union for Conservation of Nature has lent its support to a motion tabled by seven NGOs that seeks to end the hunting of captivebred lions and other predators, and to end the practice of captive breeding for.commercial, nonconservation purposes in South Africa,’ said Buthelezi.

The IFP wants captive breeding of lions restricted to registered zoos and registered facilities that demontsrate a clear conservation benefit.

The status of lions should be upgraded from Vulnerable to Endangered. This will afford them the greater protection they so desperately need.

Lion bone trade

‘Eight years ago, 60 individual lion bones left South Africa’s shores.compared to three years ago when 1 094 lion carcasses were exported.

The ‘legal trade’ in lion bones is exploding.

 ‘My friend, Lawrence Anthony said, ‘Until we allow all living creatures their place in the sun, we can never be whole ourselves.”

Lawrance Anthony was one man who went into Iraq when others were fleeing, to rescue the starving lions imprisoned in the palace of Saddam Hussein’s son.

His courage is an inspiration, reminding us that we as individuals can and must act on our conscience,’ Buthelezi said.