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The captive lion breeding industry puts conservation and public health at risk

This is an excerpt from an article written by Jared Kukura and published online by Daily Maverick on 02 April, 2020.

South Africa is replicating China’s policies that resulted in the Covid-19 outbreak, including mandates promoting domesticating and breeding wild species.

South Africa’s captive lion breeding industry will go down as one of the worst chapters in the sustainable use book of conservation. Horror stories of disease-ridden lions living in squalor made international headlines and forced the country to take a hard look at how the industry is impacting its national brand.

Looking to distance themselves from the negative media attention, many pro-sustainable use organisations publicly condemned the captive lion breeding industry on conservation grounds. Safari Club International stated its opposition to hunting captive-bred lions while the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) called for an end to breeding lions for commercial purposes as far back as 2016, though it should have made this call at the turn of the century.

Contrary to the South African Predator Association’s belief, lions bred on game farms serve no direct benefit to conservation efforts since they cannot be successfully reintroduced to the wild. Reintroduction success is severely hindered because captive-bred carnivores lack essential survival skills. Captive-bred carnivores often succumb to starvation, disease, and unsuccessful avoidance of other predators when released into the wild.

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