Wildlife organisations support parliamentary ban on captive lion breeding

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The Centre for Environmental Rights (CER) and the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) have come out strongly in favour of a new parliamentary report that calls for a ban on captive lion breeding in the country.

Entitled Captive Lion Breeding for Hunting and Bone Trade in South Africa, the new report found that captive lion breeding held no conservation value. There was no evidence to support the flawed, minority-held argument that the captive-bred lion industry is “a well-regulated, manageable industry that contributes way more positively to South Africa than negatively”.

The report further asserts that the South African government should rethink its policy stance on the captive lion breeding industry, which runs the risk of making the country an “international pariah”.

The increase in the lion bone export quote from 800 in 2017 to 1500 in 2018 is “highly problematic”. There are also ethical, welfare, and brand concerns relating to the captive lion breeding and hunting industries, according to the report.

The use of lion parts in commercial trade is one of the major emerging threats to wild lions and could facilitate illegal trade. Furthermore, there is concern that export quotas were not based on scientific evidence and that the 2017 quota had not been adequately managed, resulting in more than 800 skeletons being exported.

The 24-page report – adopted by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Environmental Affairs (PCEA) during a special meeting on November 8 – followed a PCEA colloquium held on August 21 and 22. It was, reportedly, the longest and best-attended parliamentary colloquium held in recent years.

During the special meeting last week, the PCEA resolved that the department of environmental affairs (DEA) should urgently initiate a legislative and policy review of the captive lion breeding industry with a view to putting an end to this practice, and the minister of environmental affairs should report quarterly to the PECA on progress in this regard.

The PCEA further asserted that the DEA should conduct an audit of captive lion and cheetah breeding facilities to assess legislative compliance and that the DEA and the department of agriculture, forestry and fisheries (DAFF) should present a clear programme and timeframes to deal with welfare and health issues relating to captive-bred lions.