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South Africa’s legal lion bone trade exploited by criminals

This is an excerpt from an article written by Andreas Wilson- Spath and published online by Daily Maverick on 21 January, 2020.

Through what appear to be wilfully ignorant policies, South Africa is facilitating the illegal trade in lion bones, not only enabling the activities of notorious international crime syndicates, but also threatening the survival of tigers and lions in the wild.

Few South Africans would have taken note of a short statement released by the Hawks in November 2019, which details the arrest of two individuals with very similar names.

Yun Li had been on the run from authorities for years, having been set free on bail after being caught in possession of rhino horn in 2015. His associate, Yin Li, was arrested for his connection to some 600kg of lion bones worth R2.25-million seized at OR Tambo International Airport in recent months.

These arrests offer a small glimpse into the sleazy workings of a growing South African industry most people have never even heard of, revealing its extreme, greed-driven profitability and its deep entanglement with global criminal networks involved in the bloody slaughter of Africa’s rhinos, elephants and other wild animal species.

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