South Africa’s Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment Barbara Creecy has announced a ban on the sale of captive lions.
Creecy also instructed her Department to put processes in place to halt the sale of captive lion derivatives including the appropriate disposal of existing lion bone stockpiles and lion bone from euthanized lions, the hunting of captive bred lions; tourist interactions with captive lions including, so-called voluntourism, cub petting.
“We have identified that the captive lion breeding industry poses risks to the sustainability of wild lion conservation resulting from the negative impact on ecotourism, which funds lion conservation and conservation more broadly, the negative impact on the authentic wild hunting industry, and the risk that trade in lion parts poses to stimulating poaching and illegal trade”, said Minister Creecy in her announcement today.
The Department will be initiating processes to implement these majority recommendations by the High-Level Panel (HLP), established by the Minister in October 2019, in order to mitigate these risks and shift away from this abhorrent industry.
“Blood Lions has campaigned against this cruel and unethical industry and its spin-off activities for many years, and we are extremely happy by the Minister’s decision to bring an end to the commercial captive lion breeding industry”, says Dr Louise de Waal (Director and Campaign Manager of Blood Lions).
“We commend the Minister in her decisive leadership, and we would welcome the chance to play a role in assisting her, the various Departments and entities in the phasing out process to come.” He added.
Currently, 8,000-12,000 lions and thousands of other big cats, including tigers and cheetahs, are bred and kept in captivity in more than 350 facilities in mostly the Free State, North West, Limpopo and Eastern Cape provinces. These predators are bred for commercial purposes, including interactive tourism, “canned” hunting, lion bone trade and live exports.
World Animal Protection and Blood Lions together with many other stakeholders in the animal welfare and conservation sectors made a wealth of compelling science-based evidence available to the HLP in written and oral submissions in 2020.
“By working together, we can ensure that lions remain where they belong – in the wild. We stand ready to offer our expertise, working collaboratively with governments, NGOs and the tourism industry to find practical solutions”, says Edith Kabesiime, Campaign Manager for World Animal Protection.
By implementing a ban on the use of captive lions and their derivatives, in conjunction with a breeding ban and an immediate end to all activities involving captive bred lions, will effectively take the lead towards a greener and more responsible South Africa.
These are the first steps in shifting away from commodifying wildlife, while moving towards a true “ecologically sustainable…use of natural resources.