This past weekend, news broke that the South African government would not fight measures aimed at outlawing captive breeding, captive hunting, captive cub petting, and other commercial uses of captive lions.
The decision, which is yet to be formulated into policy, is likely to set the government on a collision course with the powerful multimillion-dollar captive lion breeding industry.
South Africa has taken steps to end its multimillion-dollar lion-breeding industry, which supplies cubs for tourism, lions for trophy hunts, and bones for traditional medicine https://t.co/JjksJ0zo3o
The intention of the measures is to ensure that those who are interested in an authentically wild hunting experience will have such opportunities instead of simply hunting animals that have been bred and kept in cages just for the sake of eventually being shot.
According to ABC News, the decision was made alongside the release of a nearly 600-page report by a special government-appointed advisory committee tasked with reviewing the country’s policies, legislation and practices related to the management, breeding, hunting, trade and handling of lions and other species of wildlife.
“The panel identified that the captive lion industry poses risks to the sustainability of wild lion conservation.
The panel recommends that South Africa does not captive-breed lions, keep lions in captivity, or use captive lions or their derivatives commercially. I have requested the department to action this accordingly and ensure that the necessary consultation in implementation is conducted.
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.”
The animals are then hand-reared so they grow up to be tame and used to humans. Cubs are used in petting attractions while they’re very young and small. Adolescent lions are used in other tourist activities, such as walking with lions.
When they get too big to safely interact with tourists, the lions are either recycled back into the breeding industry or sold to other facilities where they will be gunned down in canned trophy hunts or killed for their bones.
Lion bones, teeth and claws are typically shipped to East and Southeast Asia, where they are often used in jewelry or falsely advertised as tiger parts for luxury products.
According to National Geographic, the captive bred lion industry could be to blame for further fueling the demand for poaching big cats.
“Others argue that by supplying lion bones to Asian countries, South Africa has fueled demand. According to a 2018 report from the wildlife trade monitoring organization Traffic, anecdotal evidence suggests that there is increased demand for lion bone products in Vietnam.
That’s in part because tiger bones, long favored, have become ever rarer as wild populations have declined to fewer than 3,200 today. Because tiger and lion bones are difficult to tell apart, greater demand could lead to more poaching of both species.”
It’s estimated that there are between 6,000 and 8,000 captive lions in private facilities throughout South Africa while only 2,000 wild lions roam free.
On a broader scale, there are more than an estimated 20,000 wild lions on the African continent.
South Africa will no longer support captive lion breeding, captive lion hunting, cub petting, or the sale of lion parts. Stopping these unethical activities is a huge win for wildlife! SAFE Worldwide celebrates South Africa’s decision and hopes to see more countries follow suit! pic.twitter.com/8caYBRxvx5