The com­mod­i­fi­ca­tion of our lions

Zululand Observer - Weekender - - ZO NEWS - Dr Louise de Waal

CRIM­I­NAL syn­di­cates may use the le­gal trade in lion bones from our cap­tive lion pop­u­la­tion, as a cover for il­le­gal wildlife trade, re­veals a new re­port.

A damn­ing re­port ti­tled, ‘Cash be­fore Con­ser­va­tion, an over­view of the breed­ing of lions for hunt­ing and bone trade’ in South Africa, was re­leased by the UK-based Born Free Foun­da­tion on 19 March.

Will Travers OBE (Pres­i­dent, Born Free Foun­da­tion) says, ‘The in­au­gu­ra­tion of South Africa’s new Pres­i­dent, Cyril Ramaphosa her­alds the op­por­tu­nity for a fresh start.

‘Along with all the many other chal­lenges the na­tion must ad­dress, bring­ing an end, in an in­tel­li­gent and hu­mane way, to the scourge of lion breed­ing farms and the trade in cap­tive-bred lions should be a pri­or­ity.’

Cap­tive lions

South Africa holds a cap­tive lion pop­u­la­tion of ap­prox­i­mately 7 000 8 000 an­i­mals in around 260 breed­ing/cap­tive fa­cil­i­ties and is con­sid­ered the world’s top des­ti­na­tion for tro­phy hunt­ing of cap­tive-bred lions.

The ex­port quota of 800 lion skele­tons from the cap­tive bred pop­u­la­tion also makes South Africa the world’s largest le­gal ex­porter of lion bones for tra­di­tional Chi­nese medicine in Asia.

While our wild lions are in peril across Africa, the rapid ex­pan­sion of the com­mer­cial lion breed­ing and associated cap­tive lion hunt­ing and lion bone in­dus­try is a real cause for con­cern.

At the same time, com­mod­i­fi­ca­tion of our wildlife re­sources has the full sup­port of the Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­ment Af­fairs (DEA).

Il­le­gal wildlife trade links

SA is­sued ex­port per­mits for nearly 5 400 lion skele­tons be­tween 2008 and 2015.

The Tip­ping Point re­port stated that 153 ex­port per­mits for lion skele­tons were is­sued to Vi­nasakhone Trad­ing in the Lao PDR, a com­pany re­peat­edly at the cen­tre of ex­ten­sive il­le­gal wildlife trade.

‘It is known that the il­le­gal trade in rhino horn is op­er­ated through or­ga­nized in­ter­na­tional crim­i­nal syn­di­cates’, says the Born Free re­port.

It is there­fore a rea­son­able as­sump­tion to make that the in­crease in poach­ing of rhi­nos in South Africa since 2007 is linked to the growth in the le­gal trade of lion bones.

De­fend­ing the in­de­fen­si­ble

Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, the DEA has for the past 20 years con­sis­tently fa­cil­i­tated the growth of South Africa’s cap­tive preda­tor breed­ing in­dus­try.

The DEA has con­firmed that it has not un­der­taken any sci­en­tific re­search demon­strat­ing the con­ser­va­tion value of cap­tive lion breed­ing.

Nei­ther what the im­pact of lion bone trade and/or hunt­ing of cap­tive lions is on the wild lion pop­u­la­tions in South Africa or else­where in Africa.

No sci­en­tific data is avail­able of the im­pact of the le­gal lion bone trade on the il­le­gal wildlife trade.

No re­search data

The Depart­ment only re­cently com­mis­sioned a three-year re­search pro­ject on these is­sues.

It has no in­de­pen­dent fig­ures demon­strat­ing the fi­nan­cial worth of the cap­tive preda­tor breed­ing sec­tor to the na­tional econ­omy.

It has no up-to-date fig­ures on the num­ber of jobs the cap­tive lion breed­ing in­dus­try cre­ates.

The lack of ca­pac­ity, in terms of fund­ing and skills, at pro­vin­cial level has still not been re­solved.

This hin­ders the proper management of per­mits and com­pli­ance of the breed­ing and hunt­ing of cap­tive bred lions.

A cen­tralised data­base sys­tem has still not been put into place.

There is also no an­i­mal wel­fare leg­is­la­tion in place rel­e­vant to the cap­tive preda­tor breed­ing in­dus­try.

Draft Norms and Stan­dards for the Wel­fare of Cap­tive Lions have been due by the Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture, Forestry and Fish­eries (DAFF) since Septem­ber 2016.

Larry Bent­ley

A lion rest­ing peace­fully with­out threat in a Zu­l­u­land game re­serve

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.