The global demand for live wildlife is substantial.
The legal trade of wildlife currently takes place under the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) system.
Between 2010 and 2020, South Africa legally exported a total of 5,345 big cats. Of those:
- 4,888 were indigenous big cats (lions, leopards, cheetahs, caracals and servals)
- 457 were exotic big cats (tigers, jaguars and pumas).
Most of these wild animals are intentionally bred in the many commercial captive breeding facilities in South Africa.
Over the coming weeks we will be unpacking the CITES Trade Database and looking at where these wild animals are exported to and for what purposes.