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SA’s canned lion hunting under fire at international conference

The abominable South African practice of canned lion hunting has come under severe attack at the International Union for Conservation of Nature Conference (IUCN) in Hawaii.

Despite being regarded as abhorrent and an embarrassment by most of the country’s professional hunting organisations, the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) still does not support certain aspects of the tabled motion.

Various nongovernmental organisations (NGO’s) have brought the motion to the World Conservation Congress in an effort to highlight and put an end to the local government’s practice of allowing trophy hunters to kill lions in captivity.

According to the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), SA has approximately 7000 of these big cats in captivity whilst only 2000 roam free.

Other wild animals are also bred and kept in captivity for.commercial shooting, a popular trophy hunting “sport” which was once again highlighted by a recent social media post of an 11year old American girl posing with a giraffe she shot. This has started an international outcry.

The Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) and the South African Wildlife College (SAWC), with the support of Wildlands, the National Association of Conservancies (NACSA) and the Blood Lions Group have filed the motion.

According to reports in SAs national media, the DEA was only prepared to say that it did not support the motion in its entirety, but has undertaken to engage with the IUCN regarding stipulations therein.

The motion has elicited huge support amongst other country’s members at the conference and the Director General of the IUCN has been tasked to urge national government to review existing provisions regarding this activity.

It also requires African governments known for allowing canned hunting, especially of lions, to within the next four year implement proper regulations to control this activity.

Not only SA, but other countries in the southern part of Africa are also allowing hunters to shoot wild animals in captivity which has great financial reward.

Some of the proposals in the document presented to the IUCN, call for restriction of the captive breeding of lions, not only for canned hunting, but also for the purpose of selling them to unregistered zoos and that proper norms and standards should be set, especially in light of the latest emerging trade in harvesting lion bone and the growing wild meat trade.

It calls for new legislation to take in account the standards set by the SA Scientific Authority and render the practice of canned hunting as illegal.

At the Conference, the DEA’s spokesperson and deputy director general reiterated SA’s commitment to responsible utilisation and preservation of wildlife.

However, in true political style, it was made clear that legislation against canned lion hunting will not automatically result in the termination and shutting down of these facilities. This in effect translates to the government dragging its feet on the issue and that money will always talk louder than conserving the biodiversity of SAs magnificent wildlife and its welfare.