By Kaya FM News
Animal advocacy groups have welcomed plans to ban the breeding of lions in captivity for trophy hunting and petting.
Environment, Forestry and Fisheries Minister, Barbara Creecy announced that the captive lion breeding industry does not contribute to conservation and was doing damage to South Africa’s conservation and tourism reputation.
She says given that there were a number of other burning issues related to other iconic species such as rhino (escalating poaching, rhino horn trade), elephant (ivory trade), and leopard (threats such as illegal offtake of damage causing leopards, poorly managed trophy hunting, trade in leopard skin for religious and traditional use) the department decided to include these in the terms of reference of the Panel in order to get a holistic view of the pertinent issues.
“It is important to stress that the recommendations are not against the hunting industry. Preventing the hunting of captive lions is in the interests of the authentic wild hunting industry, and will boost the hunting economy and our international reputation, and the jobs that this creates,” Creecy says.
Lion bone trade
Portfolio Committee chairperson, Fikile Xasa, says the captive breeding of lions for hunting and lion bone trade had faced severe criticism from both local and international conservation organisations.
Xasa says at a colloquium on captive lion breeding, there was an overwhelming view that the practice was damaging to the country’s conservation reputation.
CEO of Southern Africa Tourism Services Association, David Frost, says they were heartened by the decision.
“We are particularly heartened that the panel shares our view that the captive lion breeding industry does not contribute to conservation and is doing damage to South Africa’s conservation and tourism reputation. The department’s decision to initiate a policy and legislative review to put an end to this practice as a matter of urgency, could not have come sooner,” Frost says.
IFP spokesperson of Environmental Affairs, Forestry and Fisheries, Narend Singh, says they have been campaigning against the issue since 2014.
He says the IFP has consistently applied pressure on the government regarding the issue of captive-bred lion hunting, and we therefore view the HLP Report as a step in the right direction.
Director and Campaign Manager of Blood Lions, Dr Louise de Waal says they have campaigned against this cruel and unethical industry and its spin-off activities for many years and are extremely happy by the Minister’s decision to bring an end to the commercial captive lion breeding industry.
“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,” she says.
Wildlife Campaign Manager for World Animal Protection in Africa, Edith Kabesiime, says by working together, organisations can ensure that lions remain where they belong.
“We stand ready to offer our expertise, working collaboratively with governments, NGOs and the tourism industry to find practical solutions,” Kabesiime says.
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.