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South Africa plans to end controversial captive lion industry

This is an excerpt from an article written by Rachel Fobar and published online by National Geographic on 04 May, 2021

The country’s environment department will stop issuing permits to breed, keep, hunt, or interact with captive-bred lions.

South Africa has taken steps to end its multimillion-dollar lion-breeding industry, which supplies cubs for tourism, lions for trophy hunts, and bones for traditional medicine.

In a statement on May 2, Barbara Creecy, the minster of South Africa’s Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, acknowledged the “view that the captive lion breeding industry did not contribute to conservation and was doing damage to South Africa’s conservation and tourism reputation.”

With this announcement, the government will stop issuing permits to breed, keep, hunt, or interact with captive lions and is revoking current breeding permits. A number of factors are thought to have influenced this decision, including growing public opposition to the industry for being inhumane, possible links between legal and illegal trade in lion bones, and greater understanding of the diseases that animals can pass to humans.

It’s estimated that there are between 6,000 and 8,000 captive lions in private facilities throughout the country, but Ian Michler, the director of Blood Lions, a South African nonprofit dedicated to ending the captive lion industry, says there may be as many as 12,000.