South Africa bans lion breeding for hunting, tourist attractions, bone trading

South African conservationists are celebrating the news that the country will soon start implementing policies to ban lion breeding and the abuse of animals in captivity. The legal battle began in 2019, when Barbara Creecy – South Africa’s Minister of Forests, Fisheries and the Environment – launched a review of the treatment of captive-bred animals. This included elephants, leopards and rhinos as well as lions. Submitting its findings in 2020, the panel called for an end to captive breeding of lions to be harvested for traditional medicine or to hunt in confined habitats.

The South African cabinet has now accepted the recommendations, as confirmed in a statement released on May 2, 2021. The next step is to establish the supporting policies that will stop the multi-million dollar lion breeding industry. The South African government will no longer issue permits allowing tourists to pet lion cubs or shoot adults, and will make it illegal to breed animals in captivity. One of the recommendations, according to a National Geographic report, includes the euthanasia of these captive animals – but this has been suggested with animal welfare in mind, as captive animals rarely do well when they are released into the wild.

“The panel identified that the captive lion industry poses risks to the sustainability of wild lion conservation resulting from the negative impact on ecotourism which funds lion conservation and conservation more broadly, the impact negative about the genuine wild hunting industry and the risk that trade in lion parts will spur poaching and illegal trade, ”the statement read. “The expert group recommends that South Africa not keep lions in captivity, keep lions in captivity, or use captive lions or their derivatives for commercial purposes.”

Carrying out a cost-benefit analysis for an industry such as lion breeding is not as straightforward as some might think. The panel that looked at the current lion breeding industry in South Africa included conservationist and economist Michael ‘t Sas-Rolfes who wanted to end captive breeding but maintain the bone trade. lion.

The conservationist’s argument for such a move centers on the fact that just making something illegal doesn’t mean you can stop it. Some argue that the application of policies that make these exchanges illegal only pushes the problem underground, where its processes cannot be regulated. Instead, supporters of maintaining the bone trade argue that it should be monitored, using existing stocks of lion bones as well as those of deceased captive animals in zoos to support a more sustainable trade that does not. not risk an increase in lion poaching. The counter-argument to this approach is that supplying animal products to countries where they are coveted may actually increase demand, only making the problem worse.

Animal welfare is another key issue when examining the ethics behind the debate, as the panel argued that captive breeding sites are rarely found to treat their animals humanely. King tiger, a documentary that became famous at the start of the pandemic, showed how inbreeding and roaming zoos are not in the best interests of animals. Protecting wild populations at the expense of thousands of farm animals may in fact lead to a greater return on suffering, although the importance of maintaining biodiversity in nature cannot be ignored.

“In summary, I think the report provides a platform for not only achieving policy clarity, but also for the development of a new agreement for people and wildlife in South Africa,” it reads. the statement. “Implementing the recommendations will dramatically transform practices within the wildlife industry, improve the conservation of our environment and these species, reinvigorate rural economies where the species is present or may be introduced, and empower communities. traditional practices, leadership and healers.

[H/T: National Geographic]

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