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Update on state of captive lion breeding in South Africa

This is an excerpt from a meeting summary published online by the Parliamentary Monitoring Group (PMG) on 22 October, 2019

The Committee was given a presentation on behalf of the Elizabeth Margaret Steyn (EMS) Foundation on the canned lion hunting and lion bone trade. Drawing on a Foundation report entitled, The Extinction Business, common arguments for the industry were refuted. One argument was that the industry provides rural jobs, both direct and indirect. The Foundation questioned at what cost these jobs would be provided, and pointed out that there could be opportunity costs in the form of South Africa’s tourism and conservation reputation.

Research had shown that South Africa could lose up to R54.51 billion in tourism revenue in the next decade if the canned lion hunting industry was continued. There was a rise in ethical tourism — tourists would not be pleased to find out they had been conned into cuddling wild lions, thinking that they were contributing to conservation, while they were actually contributing to canned hunting. Another argument in favour of the industry was that captive lion breeding provided a “buffer effect” against wild lions being caught for their bones, but the EMS Foundation report showed that fraudulent activity in the form of passing off wild-caught lion bones as coming from captive-bred lions was common. It was also unclear how many lion breeding facilities were actually in the country, which limited scientists’ ability to set a quota on lion bones.

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