Breaking News

Founded on cruelty, fuelled by money

by Andreas Wilson-Späth
22 November 2018 | 1181 Views
Are we about to see the end of one of South Africa's most infamous practices - Captive Lion Breeding (CLB) for hunting and trading of their parts? If Parliament adopts the recommendations of a hard-hitting new report released last Tuesday, the days of canned lion hunting and the trade in lion bones are numbered.

The report, produced by Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Environmental Affairs (PCEA), summarises the outcomes of a two-day colloquium held in August, at which a broad range of supporters and critics of the business of breeding lions in captivity were given the opportunity to present their case.

There was universal condemnation from local and international conservation organisations, including the Born Free Foundation and the Endangered Wildlife Trust, as well as Brand South Africa and even from within the hunting industry itself. The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), however, attempted to justify the practice as a supposedly well-regulated, legal and beneficial example of the sustainable utilisation of natural resources. This stance was supported by the Professional Hunter's Association of South Africa and the Confederation of Hunting Associations of South Africa, both of which have been defenestrated by a number of major international hunting organisations for the practice, as well as the South African Predator Association.

Importantly the Parliamentary Committee argues that Captive Lion Breeding for hunting and lion bone trade:
  • Must be reviewed urgently with a view to being stopped
  • Has no conservation value
  • Is unethical
  • Breaks moral and ecological boundaries
  • Involves serious animal welfare violations
  • Is poorly regulated and governed
  • Inflicts massive damage to the country's international image and tourism
  • Is associated with criminal wildlife trafficking

An increasingly bloody business

South African lion breeders initially catered almost exclusively to wealthy trophy hunters willing to spend tens of thousands of dollars for the right to shoot the "King of the Jungle" in what were widely decried as unethical and cruel "canned" hunts. Enabled by a more than sympathetic DEA under the late Minister Edna Molewa, enterprising lion farmers soon expanded their commercial offerings by charging unwitting tourists and volunteers for the opportunity to cuddle and raise cubs and go on bush walks accompanied by juvenile lions, all of which were ultimately destined for the bullet.

Roger Cook, the investigative journalist who brought the industry to the attention of global audiences via his 1997 television programme "Making a Killing", described it as "founded on cruelty and fuelled by money".

Following an international outcry over canned lion hunting, local breeders have recently shifted their focus and are now making millions of rands through the legal export of lion bones to Southeast Asia, where they are increasingly used as a substitute for tiger bone in jewellery, virility treatments and traditional medical cures the efficacy of which is entirely without scientific proof.

The suggestion that this has become a significant revenue stream is confirmed by the fact that the DEA raised the quota for the export of lion skeletons from 800 in 2017 to 1500 this year, by evidence that the vast majority of exported skeletons now include skulls, which indicates that the animals were bred specifically for their bones and not for trophy hunting, and by reports of industrial-scale slaughterhouses at breeding facilities.

Today, South Africa is home to some 8000 lions bred in captivity for purely commercial purposes. The population of wild lions is estimated at around 3500.

Damning observations

Having heard, debated and assessed presentations from all stakeholders, the members of the PCEA didn't mince words in their report, describing the industry as "unethical", "horrific" and "hideous", and suggesting that "other than greed and ego, there are no reasons to be breeding lions in captivity to be killed in captivity".

This may come as somewhat of a surprise, given the composition of the PCEA, which is numerically dominated by ANC MPs. But according to the DA's Ross Purdon, who is a committee member, "the committee has been able to rise above party politics on a number of occasions, enabling us to focus on national issues".

Purdon agrees that among the most serious conclusions drawn in the report are "that the captive lion breeding industry has little to no conservation value, raises serious animal welfare and ethical issues, and […] is doing serious damage to Brand South Africa" to the tune of as much as R54 billion in lost tourism revenue over the next decade if allowed to continue.

Committee members found that instead of scientific evidence, "the economic principle of supply and demand was a key aspect" in the decision to increase the export quota for lion skeletons. They note that the industry is tainted by numerous direct and indirect links with criminal wildlife trafficking syndicates and that it "has long been a blemish on South Africa's wildlife and tourism landscape".

The ultimate consequence of all of this, according to the PCEA, is that "this tragic story needs to be arrested forthwith to avoid inflicting further and irreparable damage to the South African conservation image", that there was an "overwhelming consensus for the need to bring an end to the controversial aspects of [the] captive lion breeding industry" which "must be stopped immediately by enacting relevant legislation".

In its final resolutions, the report proposes that the DEA should urgently review the "Captive Breeding of Lions for hunting and Lion bone trade with a view to putting an end to this practice", as well as initiating a formal audit of lion breeding facilities to ensure that they operate within exiting regulations and laws. The DEA, together with the Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries, is also tasked with presenting a programme that will address the many animal welfare and health concerns raised during the colloquium. The report states that the DEA should reconsider the controversial increase in the export quota for lion skeletons, which, as the colloquium heard, was based on "commercial considerations, as opposed to science".

Not just another talk shop

Conservationists may be surprised by the exceedingly frank language used in the report, but given the DEA's decades-long staunch support for the so-called "sustainable utilisation" of and commercial trade in wildlife "products", including lion bones and rhino horn, they may be excused for viewing this radical rhetoric with considerable caution.

What are the chances that Parliament will enact the recommendations of the committee and bring the practice of breeding lions for profit to an end in South Africa?

"I honestly believe we will see a significant shift in government policy," says Purdon. "It is important that the Acting Minister (Derek Hanekom) be well briefed. I sincerely believe, that with the correct motivation, government will adopt the recommendations".

The PCEA's chairperson, Mohlopi Mapulane, gave the assurance that the colloquium would result in action instead of being just another talk shop. He promised that the committee would follow up its outcomes with the tenacity of a hungry lion chasing after its prey.

The end of a hated industry?

For too long, the South African government's controversial policies with regards to some of Africa's most iconic and most vulnerable species – rhinos, elephants and lions – have positioned the country on the wrong side of global consensus. By commodifying wild animals and by putting profits before true conservation imperatives, it has sided with a greedy, unethical and often downright criminal minority.

By taking the conclusions and recommendations of the PCEA's report seriously and by enacting legislation that will bring the practice of breeding lions for commercial gain to a speedy end – perhaps under the leadership of a new, visionary Minister of Environmental Affairs – government has the opportunity to rescue the country's proud and important conservation history, and to fulfil its moral obligations as the custodian, not only of lions, but of all wild species.

In a later development the Acting Minister of Environmental Affairs, Derek Hanekom tweeted "I intend appointing a high level panel review policies and legislation on a number of matters related to animal breeding, hunting and handling"

Mohlopi Mapulane money PCEA



Latest News

MDC Alliance's Mutare demo banned - The Officer Commanding Mutare Cent...

by Staff reporter | 21 August 2019 | 1 Views

Mawarire's freedom bid dismissed

by Staff reporter | 21 August 2019 | 1 Views

Zec calls on residents to register as voters

by Staff reporter | 21 August 2019 | 1 Views

MDC shona leadership brutalised in Bulawayo - The MDC is deeply concer...

by MDC Communications | 21 August 2019 | 1 Views

UZ publishes list of students allocated campus accommodation

by Ndou Paul | 21 August 2019 | 1 Views

BREAKING: Saviour Kasukuwere acquitted of criminal charges

by Mandla Ndlovu | 21 August 2019 | 1 Views

UK Based Model to represent Zimbabwe at Miss Global International

by Staff reporter | 21 August 2019 | 1 Views

Temba Mliswa blasts ZANU PF propaganda

by Mandla Ndlovu | 21 August 2019 | 3 Views

Pastors' plot against Prophet Isaiah Sovi in Botswana exposed

by Mandla Ndlovu | 21 August 2019 | 4 Views

BREAKING: Phelekezela Mphoko given ZW$1 000 bail

by Mandla Ndlovu | 21 August 2019 | 3 Views

Zimbabwe plunged into darkness again - Zimbabwe has rolled back into d...

by Staff reporter | 21 August 2019 | 9 Views

Political freedoms are not respected in Zimbabwe

by Bigboy Sibanda | 21 August 2019 | 6 Views

Ibutho leNqama press release on Chief Ndiweni issue

by Ibutho leNqama Spokesperson | 21 August 2019 | 7 Views

'Regime change!' is a desirable consequence of free elections and not ...

by Patrick Guramatunhu | 21 August 2019 | 1 Views

Signs of economic resuscitation rattle MDC - Indications of economic s...

by John Sigauke in Namibia | 21 August 2019 | 4 Views

Zanu-PF eyes Zaka by-election triumph - Zanu-PF's Zaka East by-electio...

by Staff reporter | 21 August 2019 | 1 Views

Scotch cart accidents kill 3

by Staff reporter | 21 August 2019 | 4 Views

Man 'kills' cousin, pretends to be an informant - A TOUT from Bulawayo...

by Staff reporter | 21 August 2019 | 15 Views

'Regime change!' is a desirable consequence of free elections and not ...

by Patrick Guramatunhu | 21 August 2019 | 11 Views

Mnangagwa: Reformist, corruption buster chimera - PRESIDENT Emmerson M...

by Paidamoyo Muzulu | 21 August 2019 | 2 Views

Mnangagwa dragged into Mphoko, Zacc fight - FORMER Vice-President Phel...

by Staff reporter | 21 August 2019 | 7 Views

Mphoko, ZACC strike deal

by ZimLive | 21 August 2019 | 11 Views

Mnangagwa denies Majonga 'love rivalry' allegations

by Staff reporter | 21 August 2019 | 28 Views

Allan Gray hopes that courts rule in Trevor Manuel's favour against Pe...

by Staff reporter | 21 August 2019 | 14 Views

ZANU PF youth leader attacks Jonathan Moyo

by Mandla Ndlovu | 21 August 2019 | 7 Views

Latest on MDC Masvingo mass demonstrations

by Mandla Ndlovu | 21 August 2019 | 3 Views

'Phelekezela Mphoko guarded by CIOs'

by Staff Reporter | 21 August 2019 | 10 Views


Top 5 PS2 ISOS to play with friends you can get right now

by Staff Writer | 21 August 2019 | 1 Views

Rebecca Malope retires

by Mandla Ndlovu | 20 August 2019 | 1848 Views

Famous women in the gambling industry

by Staff Writer | 20 August 2019 | 346 Views

Zimfest delivers another 'phenomenal' festival

by Tidi Kwidini | 07 August 2019 | 636 Views

Should you be betting on reality TV show outcome too?

by Staff Writer | 05 August 2019 | 86 Views

WATCH: Jah Prayzah featuring Iyasa Sadza nemuriwo song

by Mandla Ndlovu | 23 July 2019 | 5680 Views

Muvhango star Marang Phala visits Prophet Sovi's church

by Mandla Ndlovu | 22 July 2019 | 9626 Views

Greatsoftline For All Of Your Software Needs

coupon and promo codes: greatsoftline for all of your software needswhile some online sellers have promotional services that reduce the overall amount you spent, others do not .you need to be on the lookout for the best outlets in order to chase th... Read More
ITnews 25 February 2015 ago

Samsung Gear Vr Innovator Edition For S6: The Perfect Vr Intro For Professionals

we're drenched in talk about the impending wave of consumer-facing vr headsets about to hit the market, starting at the end of 2015. by contrast, you can walk into a best buy right now and pick up the samsung gear vr innovator edition for the galax... Read More
Sergey 20 June 2015 ago