2. Grasp the facts! Start lobbying your local MPs, Councillors, Ministers, Senators. If you live abroad, contact the South African Embassy near you. Great strides were made in the past because one person started to do that very thing. Never think that one voice cannot make a difference. Share Lions4Lions on Facebook.
3. Get hold of media (print, radio, TV) and see if they know about the situation and would be prepared to run a story. Be a LION warrior!
6. See if there are schools in your area who would be interested in educating their pupils about this. Contact YOUTH for LIONS and ask if they can organize an educational day or support you with any material. Youth for Lions is a global movement aimed at informing and engaging the world’s youth around the realities of volunteering, cub petting, walking with lions and other forms of animal interaction, and their contribution to canned hunting.
7. Organize a protest outside any hunting conventions.
8. If you hear of anyone who is going to volunteer at any of the breeding places, explain to them why it is not a good idea. Most people are ignorant or naive and think they are supporting conservation by bottle feeding cubs and walking lions. Read this heartbreaking story about SAVING SERABIE
How a Volunteer Rescued “Her” Lion From Canned Hunting
9. If you see or hear anything that doesn’t seem right to you please report it to us so that we can investigate further.
It is 4 YEARS since CECIL the lion was shot with a crossbow by the trophy hunter, Walter Palmer. His last 11 hours were lived in pain and suffering.
When Walter Palmer, the Minnesota dentist and avid trophy hunter, killed Cecil the Lion in July 2015, the incident ignited a furor. For Oxford University biologist Andrew Loveridge, who had been studying Cecil for the past eight years, it was devastating.
An excerpt of Lion Hearted:
The Life and Death of Cecil and the Future of Africa’s Iconic Cats – Andrew Loveridge – REGAN ARTS
Cecil, the 12-year-old male lion, padded along the dirt track with leisurely strides, soundless except for the crystal scratch of sand under his soup plate–size feet. His coal-black mane proclaimed his status as the undisputed king of this part of the savanna. He paused only to scent-spray roadside bushes, maintaining his domain’s signposts in a routine he had followed every night since he had become a territorial male nearly a decade before. He underlined his aromatic signature with vigorous scrapes of his hind paws.
The scent of a dead elephant drew the lion forward, enticing him to what long experience had taught him was another free meal. He had often fed on elephants. But there was something different about this carcass, something beyond this cat’s experience of things to avoid. He could sense the presence of humans. No matter how quiet we think we are, how little scent we think we exude, animals pick up the tiniest cues. The rustle of clothing, the smell of toothpaste and deodorant, gun oil and plastic—they all stand out in a wild animal’s sensory world like a snowflake in a coal mine.
Humans didn’t worry Cecil
He was used to their scent from years of living in a prime photographic safari concession in the park. But these were not the humans he knew. To minimize the scent and sound that would drift across the clearing, these humans were hiding in a tree platform downwind of the carcass. Crouched on a small platform was an American with a broad, white smile, a powerful compound bow, and a quiver full of lethally sharp arrows. He was flanked by a stocky Zimbabwean guide.It would have been freezing cold to sit agonizingly still in the cramped hide, but the hunters would have comforted themselves that the wait wouldn’t be long. This was an easy lion to hunt—a park lion, well-fed and habituated to people.
The big cat sniffed the clearing. The draw of the elephant meat overcame the lion’s caution, and he approached the carcass. He settled down to feed, tearing at the tough, dry meat with scissor-like teeth. He fed for a few minutes, oblivious to the hunter taking up the tension on his bow.
The Hwange RESEARCH PROJECT STAFF
only became aware that something was amiss six days later. Project field assistant Brent Stapelkamp was routinely checking all the GPS downloads from the satellite collars we’d fitted on the study lions. He noticed that Cecil’s satellite collar hadn’t transmitted any data since July 4.
Subsequent positions sent from Cecil’s collar show that he moved in a southeasterly direction until 7 a.m. on July 2. In about eight hours the wounded animal had moved only 160 meters from the point at which he’d been shot. Eventually, Bronkhorst, the hunting outfitter, advised Palmer to “finish the lion off.” If Bronkhorst’s later statements are accurate, the hunters went to administer a coup de grace at around 9 a.m.
They went off in the vehicle to find the lion
According to the collar’s GPS data, by now Cecil had moved a distance of about 350 meters from the point where he was wounded. A second arrow killed Cecil. Bronkhorst and Palmer returned to the hunting blind about 45 minutes later with the dead lion in the back of the hunting vehicle.
In media reports it was widely touted that Cecil suffered in agony for 40 hours. It’s unlikely he’d have lived that long with such a severe thoracic injury. However, he most definitely did not die instantly and almost certainly suffered considerably. Judging from the data sent by the GPS collar, the injured lion most likely was killed 10 to 12 hours after being wounded.
The most difficult about the whole incident is the apparent callousness with which the hunters undertook this hunt. Concern for the pain and suffering of the animal never seems to have been a particular consideration. The thought of killing any animal purely for sport or pleasure abhorrent. If it has to happen, it must be done cleanly and without undue stress or suffering.
Cecil suffered incredible cruelty for at least 10 hours, severely wounded and slowly dying. The Lion was heard “struggling to breathe”. Clearly, although the wound was severe, the arrow had missed the vital organs. It missed arteries that would have caused rapid blood loss and a relatively quick death. Cecil in all those hours was only able to move only 350 meters from the place where he was shot.
To kill a quarry animal quickly and efficiently is the hallmark of a good hunter. Palmer had allowed an obviously mortally wounded animal to suffer for more than 10 hours before attempting a final kill. Palmer was hoping to submit this obviously large trophy to a hunting record book as a bow-hunted specimen.
One possibility is that the hunters were content to leave the lion to die from its first catastrophic injury. When the lion didn’t oblige them, they were presented hours later with the inconvenience of shooting it with another arrow. Cecil the lion died slowly and painfully. He died slowly to allow Palmer to claim he had killed a huge lion with a bow and arrow.
Andrew Loveridge is one of the lead researchers in a team studying lions in the Hwange area. 42 of their collared male study animals have been trophy-hunted since the research began in 1999.
Members of the public are invited to submit concise written scientific information or data in order to be considered by the Scientific Authority. The information must be submitted on or before 15 June 2019, to Ms Malepo Phoshoko.
On 16th May 2019, the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) sent a public request. Information is needed to be considered for determination of the 2019 export quota for Lion bones and parts for cross-border trade in the lion parts from SA captive breeding operations.
NEMBA, the Scientific Authority is required to advise the Minister of the Department of Environmental Affairs on the 2019 export quota for Lion bones, bone pieces, skeletons etc. of captive Lions for commercial purposes.
The NSPCA is currently engaged in litigation on this matter with the DEA and other parties
Animal cruelty charges laid against lion farmer by NSPCA Animal cruelty charges were laid by NSPCA against Jan Steinman, a lion farmer in North West. The NSPCA found several contraventions of the Animal Protection Act. 108 Lions, Caracal, Tigers and Leopards were found in filthy and parasitic conditions. “It is deplorable that any animal would be forced to live in such conditions” …”READ MORE
NSPCA – URGENT LEGAL APPEAL FOR LIONS The National Council of SPCAs (NSPCA) has lodged an urgent interdict against the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) to suspend DEA’s authorisation of lion bone exports. At the CITES CoP17 meeting, the Minister of Environmental Affairs established an export quota of 800 skeletons for 2017. The NSPCA requested a judicial review of the quota... READ MORE
Animal cruelty charges were laid by NSPCA against Jan Steinman, a lion farmer in North West. The NSPCA found several contraventions of the Animal Protection Act after 108 lions, caracal, tigers and leopards were found in filthy and parasitic conditions.
Inspectors of the National Council of SPCAs (NSPCA) found 27 lions with severe mange, two lion cubs unable to walk, obese caracal unable to groom themselves, overcrowded and filthy enclosures, inadequate shelter, lack of water, and parasitic conditions.
Steinman, who owns the lion farm near Lichtenburg in the North West Province, is listed as a Council member of the South African Predator Association (SAPA).
“It is deplorable that any animal would be forced to live in such conditions, with such medical ailments. The fact that these are wild animals that are already living unnatural lives in confinement for the purposes of trade, just makes it more horrific”, said Senior Inspector Douglas Wolhuter (Manager NSPCA Wildlife Protection Unit).
SAPA claims that no welfare issues exist on member lion facilities. Mr Kirsten Nematandani (SAPA President) stressed to the Portfolio Committee of Environmental Affairs (PCEA) that “SAPA sets very high standards for [its] members”, at a Parliamentary Colloquium on Captive Lion Breeding in August 2018.
Nematandani assured the PCEA that they had “implemented SAPA’s Norms and Standards [N&S] for Breeding and Hunting to make sure everything is above board”.
The conditions found by NSPCA inspectors at Pienika Farm, where predators are kept for trophy hunting and the lion bone trade, are not only in breach of national legislation on animal welfare, but also several SAPA regulations, including those on animal welfare, husbandry of lions for hunting, minimum enclosure size, and the trade of lion products.
The N&S are binding to all SAPA members
These N&S are binding to all SAPA members and failure to comply will supposedly lead to disciplinary action and possible expulsion of the offender, according to the SAPA website.
Some of the enclosures on Steinman’s farm housed in excess of 30 lionesses, giving them less than one quarter of the prescribed minimum space set by SAPA’s N&S.
“However, the very fact that SAPA have qualified their N&S with the word “undue” negates their N&S”, says Karen Trendler (Manager NSPCA Wildlife Trade & Trafficking Portfolio). “SAPA basically suggests that there are justifiable times for an animal to be hungry or thirsty, or suffer from fear, pain or disease, which is totally unacceptable in terms of animal welfare.”
In response to a public outcry in 2016 over emaciated lions on Mr Walter Slippers farm in Limpopo, SAPA publicly distanced themselves from Slippers, stating “if Mr Slippers had been a member and owner of a SAPA-accredited facility, we would have taken note of the unfolding tragedy and would have been in a position to act much earlier to prevent this lamentable state of affairs”.
However, that same year then SAPA Chairman Prof. Pieter Potgieter admitted in a Four Corners interview (Australia’s leading Investigative journalism programme) that some SAPA member facilities don’t comply with their “ethical code”. He also stated that out of the 200 SAPA members, he only managed to visit five farms.
It is unclear how SAPA enforces its N&S or how it deals with non-compliances of member facilities. Slipper’s non-membership was a convenient way out for SAPA in 2016. However, they must now be held to accountable to take appropriate action against Steinman.
The current animal cruelty case of a SAPA member
The current animal cruelty case of a SAPA member facility in the NW once again demonstrations that the captive predator breeding industry continues to operate unchecked and unregulated, and animal welfare remains a huge concern.
There is no incentive to keep lions in a healthy condition, as all that is used are the skeletons for the lion bone trade. The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) has set a legal annual export quota of 800 lion skeletons, normally used in the Traditional Chinese Medicine market or to be carved into jewellery.
Last month, DEA backtracked on the Parliamentary Resolution to introduce legislation to end the Captive Breeding of Lions in South Africa and proposed instead to allow the industry to continue with the introduction of regulation and appropriate legislation.
“On the 2nd May 2019, the NSPCA laid criminal charges against the owner of the farm at the SAPS Lichtenburg station based on several contraventions of the Animal Protection Act”, says Wolhuter.
Article via Conservation Action Trust By Dr Louise de Waal ________________________________________________________________________________
24 Lions relocated to Mocambique – UPDATE May 2019 –
24 Lions relocated to Mocambique in 2018 to a 2.5 million-acre habitat in the Zambeze Delta area. After years of civil war in Mozambique, Lions were all but lost in the Zambezi Delta region. The introduction of Lions from South Africa in 2018 will grow the population to as many as 500 within 15 years. It was the largest move of Lions across an international boundary in history. The environment was once decimated by civil war and poaching in Mocambique. It has only benefited as a result of a 24-year effort led by Zambeze Delta Safaris. However, in spite of these efforts, the lion population has struggled to recover. Lions have are extinct in 26 African countries. Twenty Four Lions is determined to make sure that Mozambique doesn’t join that list.
There was very little wildlife in the Coutada 11 concession, in central Mozambique, when Mark Haldane, a South African hunter and one of the architects of the lion reintroduction, first arrived in 1995. In a spontaneous decision, Haldane bought the lease from a German owner who wanted nothing more to do with war-torn Mozambique. At the time, there were fewer than 44 sable antelope and perhaps a thousand buffalo on one million acres. The forests were full of snares and traps for small game species, and signs of civil war were everywhere.
Operating a single hunting lodge, Haldane dedicated much of his time and resources to helping the wildlife return by investing in anti-poaching measures, such as motorbike patrols and a team of scouts. There are over 3,000 sable antelope on the concession today and the block holds some 25,000 buffalo.
6 cubs have already been born
Haldane and his partners on the project spend a lot of time with the community living in the concession. Haldane employs some villagers at his camp, but most rely on subsistence farming.
In order to keep the genetic mix as wide as possible, the team sourced the Lions from various reserves in South Africa and kept them all in a boma in KwaZulu Natal’s Mkhuze Game Reserve for three weeks to complete medical tests. In two private planes for the journey to Mozambique in May 2018 the 24 Lions did fly to Mocambique.
Already, six cubs were born since the Lions’ release. Many don’t like the idea that Zambeze Conservation and Anti Poaching, a hunting orientated venture, is the head behind the relocation. But not all hunting outfitters are doing bad things. The past has shown that when Lions return to a previously wildlife-emptied area, all other wildlife will sooner or later come back. These particular Lions will never be hunted.
We are sure, Coutada 11 will be a stronghold for the wild African Lion in the future.
The 8th December 2019 saw 30+ Lions and Leos from the Brackenfell Lions Club – South Africa and Brackenfell Leos jailing the District 410A Governor and a mystery guest at the Pick n Pay Hyper in Brackenfell. This was our first ever Captive Lion awareness day. District 410A will hold more awareness days once a month or bi-monthly in 2019.
Why is it so important to raise awareness about captive Lions?
According to the global Blood Lions campaign, the demand for canned hunting has plummeted in the last few years. But captive and wild Lions are now increasingly being killed for the bone trade. The bones are dropped into rice wine vats and sold as tiger bone wine which is promoted in Asian markets as a treatment for rheumatism and impotence.
This District project will be going on until we have reached R 100.000. Lions are volunteers, we are not paid and Lions Clubs all over the world spend 100% of any donation made to them back into the projects. No costs whatever are deducted. The District leaders will decide how to spend the money that we raised.
Join us on our Captive Lions Awareness Day on Saturday, 8 December 2018, at the Brackenfell PicknPay from 11:00 to 13:00. More than 10 000 Lions are held in captivity in South Africa. At the same time, less than 20 000 Lions still exist in the wild in the whole of Africa. South Africa, one of only 7 hotspots with more than 1000 Lions, counts less than 2 000. As members of Lions Clubs International, we have the responsibility to save our iconic Lion species. District 410A is looking to raise R1000 per Lion on behalf of the Project Lions4Lions.
The Brackenfell Lions & Leo’s will be taking and jailing the District 410 A Governor on the 8th of December at Pick n Pay Hyper Brackenfell at 11 am. They will only release him on a minimum bail of R10 000.
Raising the awareness of the plight of our Lions in Africa
In 2018, more than ever captive bred Lions are currently living behind bars in South Africa in estimated 300 facilities. Raised in captivity at hidden breeding farms or at public scamtuaries, some of these animals are petted as cubs by tourists, who feed and care for the young lions or even walk with them. Once the animals are too old for petting/walking, they are sold to canned hunting outfitters. While Canned Hunting becomes less attractive, breeders simply slaughter their Lions for their bones to be sold to Asia.
Our Lions are in need and we need to do our best to save our iconic symbol
The Portfolio Committee on Environmental Affairs adopted the Report of a two-day colloquium on Captive Lion Breeding. Thecolloquium on Captive Breeding of Lions for Hunting and Lion Bone Trade was held from 21 – 22 August 2018.
The practice of captive lion breeding both for hunting and lion bone trade has caused much uproar against South Africa’s Captive Lion Breeding Industry. Certain members of the cruel Lions Breeding Industry are now excluded by international pro-hunting organisations. Amongst these organisations are the SAFARI International, the Dallas Safari Club and the European International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation (CIC). The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) had also raised concerns about captive lion breeding for hunting.
The DEA should put an end to this practice
The Report contains voices of representatives of local pro-hunting and conservation organisations as well as international organisations. Many spoke against the industry. The DEA should urgently initiate a policy and legislative review of Captive Lion Breeding. The Minister of DEA should submit quarterly reports to the committee on the progress of this policy and legislative review.
The committee would like the Department to reconsider the decision to increase the lion bone trade quota. It was emerging during the Colloquium that the increase to 1500 skeletons was driven by commercial considerations. This reconsideration is necessary given the huge public sentiment expressed against the increase in lion bone trade quota. The committee’s position is to protect South Africa’s esteemed conservation image, but more fundamentally the Brand South Africa.
The Parliamentary Colloquium on lion farming in SA by Chris Mercer.
Chris Mercer has been re-reading the transcript of the submissions made to the Portfolio Committee of Parliament, 6 months after the Colloquium on lion farming in Cape Town recently.
The arguments advanced on behalf of the hunting industry make one wonder if they were written by a five-year-old child. In fact, they were made by senior officeholders of hunting associations. Tragically, unbelievably, these puerile arguments are accepted as gospel by conservation structures in South Africa. At least, they’re childish – you make up your own mind.
The Portfolio Committee on Environmental Affairs hosted a two-day colloquium on captive lion breeding. The colloquium titled “Harming or Promoting the Conservation Image of the Country” took place on 21 and 22 August 2018. It gave stakeholders from across the board an opportunity to present arguments for and against captive breeding of lions.
A first positive result from the Colloquium about Captive Lion Breeding for Hunting in South Africa: The Committee demands a revision of agreement between Kruger National Park and Private Reserves.
3 weeks after the Colloquium Captive Lion Breeding for Hunting in South Africa took place in Cape Town, a first positive result came out. The Committee chairperson, Mohlopi Mapulane said, that the aim of the event would be to facilitate a constructive debate around the future of captive lion breeding and hunting in SA. The colloquium titled “Harming or Promoting the Conservation Image of the Country” took place on 21 and 22 August 2018. It gave stakeholders from across the board an opportunity to present arguments for and against captive breeding of lions. Obviously, Mohlopi Mapulane does a great job so far.
Lions in South Africa are treated like livestock. They are classified as farm animals. Ca. 8.000 to 12.000 Lions live in captivity in most incredibly bad conditions.
The Lion farmers have ONE GOAL, to make money out of their livestock. This circuit starts at the volunteer projects. Volunteers pay to be able to raise young cubs, that are taken away from their mother a few days after birth. When they are too old to be fed, the animals are exploited on Lion walks. Once they’ve grown up, the end as cannon fodder for hunts and bone sales. Sadly, lions are often traded between the breeding facilities, the volunteer projects as well as the Canned Hunting farms.
They breed Lions to be sold as targets in Canned Hunts, where the animal is brought into a confined area, often just hours before the hunter arrives and often drugged, just to be shot by a wealthy person coming from Europe or America, recently also from Russia.
Now the cruellest part of the Lion exploitation begins
The confined animals are easy targets for these safari loving hunting tourists. They have no chance to escape.
The hunters pay up to $5.000 for a female and up to $40.000 to shoot a male Lion. Export of trophy heads is booming. But only 10 % of the farmed Lions are destined to be hunted. And the greedy breeders have discovered a new market.
Lion bones are now sold to Asia. A whole lion carcass can bring up to $7.000. Nobody at the SA government cares, what bones are sent to Asia, and nobody checks if the skeletons are complete with a skull or not. So, bones from trophies and bones from bred Lions are mixed in bags and sent to Asia.
Lion bones have replaced Tiger bones in Tiger Wine that is sold all over Asia. The South African Breeders claim, that they conserve the wild Lions, but all that happens is that the demand for the bones is steadily increasing. But why should the criminal syndicates that organize the bone trade buy expensive bones from breeders, while its cheap to poach wild Lions?
Wild Lions are under enormous threat. The species has lost more than 90 % of its range in the last 100 Years. If we don’t act, the species will surely be wiped out in 2050. Please help us to avoid wild lions losing their fight against extinction! Share and join our Facebook Group.
Video: Courtesy of .Brut Featured Image: Courtesy of The Guardian
Original Article August 2, 2018 – by John R. Platt – Article adapted for better readability Angry headlines around the world decried the news that the Trump administration had issued trophy-import permits for 38 lions killed by 33 hunters — including many high-rolling Republican donors — between 2016 and 2018. But the captive Lion bone trade is much worse. Experts worry this booming trade could doom the big cats in the wild.
The Lion species has experienced massive population drops over the past two decades. In 2016, the big cats got some protection under the Endangered Species Act. The Obama-era regulations still allowed some hunting. Imports of trophies were legal, as long as the host countries could prove that their hunts were sustainable. The Trump administration lifted that requirement last year and instead allowed imports on a “case-by-case basis.” Those 38 dead lions represent the Trump administration’s shift on hunting of endangered species.
A story that came out about the captive Lion bone trade around the same time was more worrying than these trophies. A leaked letter from the South Africa Department of Environmental Affairs revealed that it had nearly doubled the legal captive lion bone trade quota and it would allow the skeletons to be exported from the country. The quota went up from 800 to 1500 skeletons, a dramatic increase.
The captive Lion bone trade is worse
Unlike the lions that are slain by hunters, the South African bones come from the country’s 300-plus lion farms. Here, the big cats are raised — often in terrible conditions — for use in “caged hunts.” There, according to the 2015 documentary Blood Lions, foreign hunters pay as much as $50,000 to shoot semi-tame lions in small, walled-off, inescapable encampments. The heads and skins from these caged hunts become trophies. The rest of the bodies are shipped to Asia. There the bones are ground down to be used as “medicine” and as a component in wine. There is no medicinal quality in lion or tiger bones.
These factory farms are believed to contain about 8,000 to 12,000 captive-bred lions. An astonishing number compared to the fewer than 20,000 lions estimated to still live in the wild throughout Africa. South Africa itself is estimated to hold fewer than 2,000 adult wild lions.
Where does this demand for lion products come from? Experts say the increase in the lion-bone trade is a response to the decline in wild tiger populations in Asia. Tigers are also poached for “medicinal” products, although those big cats have become so rare in the wild — an estimated 3,900 animals spread across a dozen countries — that the industry has been forced to turn to other felines to feed its fortunes.
Captive Lion bone trade is on the rise, whily hunting for trophies declines
Luke Hunter of Panthera says, “the lion never had any traditional value in China. It’s an analog to the tiger, so it seems to be acceptable there”. As more lions enter the legal bone trade, the danger to wild lions increases. A July 2017 report from the Environmental Investigation Agency said that legal trade in lion bones further threatens wild tigers and lions by stimulating demand for products made from their bodies. In traditional Asian medicine, wild products are considered more potent and valuable than farm-raised equivalents.
Interestingly enough, the farms and lion bone trade appears to also be inspiring an increase in the poaching of captive lions. Last month a report found that at least 60 captive lions in South Africa were killed by poachers since 2016.
At least five captive tigers were also killed in South Africa
All of this is big business and while most of it is legal, some of it may not be. Another new report, issued by two South African organizations called the EMS Foundation and Ban Animal Trading, accused the legal lion-bone trade of shipping a much greater quantity of bones than officially reported. The two organizations used their report to call for eliminating all lion exports from South Africa. They aslo call for restricting the breeding of lions and other big cats, and investigating the finances of breeders.
The Drakenstein Lion Park is one of only two real sanctuaries in the Western Cape (and only a hand full in South Africa!). It was established by Paul Hart in 1998. The park provides lions in distress a safe location, where they could live in safety. Where they can roam free from abuse and persecution, and be treated with the compassion and respect they deserved.
When we posted on our Facebook group, that the Drakenstein Lion Park was looking for donations for a fence upgrade, Wellington Lions Club member Benny Smith and his company Kraaifontein Construction & Fencing immediately jumped into action. He could arrange the necessary razor wire at an incredibly discounted suppliers quote. This brought the cost for the fencing down from R 65.000 to R 32.000. Kraaifontein Construction & Fencing also installed the razor wire free of charge, donating the manpower costs to the park.
Saving one animal won’t change the world, but for that animal, the world changes completely!
For 20 years, many Lions found a new safe home at the Drakenstein Lion Park in the Western Cape. But sadly captive Lions lives aren’t secure any more in South Africa to make sure, something similar doesn’t happen to them! These Lions have been gone through so much to finally arrive here in safety! The Lions cannot be sent to Game Reserves. Because they are human imprinted they cannot be rehabilitated and released to the wild. Cubs are taken from their mothers so that she can produce another litter soon and that volunteer can bottle-feed them. Cubs are being pawed, picked up and being posed all day long, day after day. Lions are abused in circuses and roadside shows. Captive Lions cannot be part of breeding programmes that will save lions from extinction.
But, they can spend the rest of their lives peacefully and secure at the Drakenstein Lion Park!
APPEAL FOR LIONS – South Africa must end the breeding of big cats in captivity, Lion slaughterhouses and cruelty against our wildlife
MEDIA STATEMENT by NSPCA
ISSUED ON 26 SEPTEMBER 2018
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NSPCA LAUNCHES URGENT LEGAL APPEAL FOR LIONS
The National Council of SPCAs (NSPCA) has lodged an urgent interdict against the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) to suspend DEA’s authorisation of lion bone exports.
The NSPCA has long been actively involved in addressing the cruelty in the captive lion industry; starting with lion cubs for petting to ‘canned lion’ hunting or slaughter for lion bone, with pending cruelty cases.
The NSPCA has been frustrated in its efforts to prevent this cruelty by the lack of regulation within the industry. Not only are there regulatory loopholes, but there is also generally a lack of cooperation and communication from both national and provincial authorities.
Following decisions were taken at CITES CoP17, the Minister of Environmental Affairs established an export quota of 800 skeletons for 2017. The NSPCA requested a judicial review of the quota; with the review process still grinding through the Courts; the DEA announced a 1500 quota for 2018.
The NSPCA has launched an urgent interdict based on welfare concerns
The NSPCA believes, for both the review and interdict purposes that:
• there is inadequate regulation of lions’ conditions of captivity and slaughter; • the study on which the decision was based is incomplete; • the DEA failed to comply with its statutory duty to consult; • based on expert opinion and data available, consider the decision to be scientifically irrational; • lion bone trade may threaten the viability of lion and other big cat populations globally encouraging consumers to utilise lion bone as a replacement for tiger bone in wine, tonics and traditional medicines and may increase demand; • captive lion ‘farming’ is an industry that has no conservation value. It poses a risk to both wild lion, tiger and other big cat populations globally; • The lion bone trade has links to transnational wildlife crime syndicates and other wildlife crime.
The NSPCA would like to extend its heartfelt appreciation to the dedicated legal team and the various experts who have supported our efforts and cause.
The NSPCA is of the view that cruelty to lions is an inevitable consequence of the DEA’s misguided actions and is therefore committed to fighting this decision in court to protect lions.
The Ongoing Disgrace of South Africa’s Captive Lions
An estimated 7,000 to 14,000 (numbers vary) captive lions are held at over 300 Lion breeding facilities in South Africa. Increasingly, the animals are slaughtered for their bones and other body parts, many of which are sold in Asia for their purported — and scientifically discredited — health benefits.
Original article byAdam Welz•September 18, 2018 • Yale Environment 360 • Shortened for better readability – Comments in (brackets)
Reinet Meyer is the senior inspector at the SPCA in the provincial city of Bloemfontein. She had received a tip. Two adult captive lions had been held 2 days without food or water in tiny transport crates on a farm called Wag ‘n Bietjie. She went to the farm, found the lions, and discovered that they’d been trucked about 250 miles. They came from Predators Pride, a “safari park” near Johannesburg. It keeps big cats in small enclosures so tourists can get close to them. For an extra fee, hold lion cubs or cuddle adult cheetahs while having their photos taken.
She then noticed a large pile of rotting, fly-covered meat outside a farm shed. Inside she found a supervisor. About eight workers stripped the skin and flesh from the fresh carcasses of 26 lions. “You could see that it wasn’t the first time they’d done this,” she says. That afternoon a truck arrived with 28 additional lions, which were to be killed the next day. Meyer insisted that the lions be released into a corral rather than be left in their transport crates overnight.
She returned to Wag ‘n Bietjie the next morning to observe that animal welfare standards were being maintained. A veterinarian arrived at 9 a.m., drove into the newly arrived lions’ corral in a pickup truck, and darted all 28 with tranquillizers. As they lapsed into unconsciousness, he walked from one to the next. He methodically shot each in the ear with a .22-caliber rifle. “Overseas buyers don’t want a skull with a bullet in it,” he told Reinet. Which is why he didn’t shoot them directly in the cranium.
These lion carcasses, as well as the ones Reinet had seen the previous day, were being processed into skeletons to be sold to wildlife product dealers in Asia. They would likely resell them as “tiger bone” to be made into a wide variety of products. Products like jewellery, “tiger-bone wine or -cake” and a dizzying array of “health tonics.” There is no mainstream scientific proof that tiger bone is of genuine medical use. On further investigation, Meyer counted 246 lions confined elsewhere on the farm, more than 100 of which were scheduled to be shot and reduced to bones.
As grotesque as the scene at Wag ‘n Bietjie was, the farmer gave Meyer unfettered access to his property. Although he expressed some unease at killing the animals, he told Meyer that he was making good money. It was all legal; he had government permits to keep and kill lions.
The low-tech lion slaughterhouse that Meyer had stumbled upon was part of South Africa’s large and increasingly controversial captive-bred lion industry. Not even Edna Molewa’s DEA knows how many lions this industry currently holds because it is poorly monitored. But, it’s one of the most lucrative of South Africa’s wildlife breeding sectors. It has generated generates tens of millions of dollars annually from a worldwide client base.
Captive Lions History – Part I
The industry originated in the late 1990s* to provide relatively cheap lions for foreign trophy hunters to shoot in fenced areas. (*More than 20 years ago, in 1997, the findings of The Cook Report investigation were presented to the public by famous Roger Cook). Captive Lions (Males) were sold at between $25,000 and $40,000. Femelaes sold at half of it. But following U.S. restrictions on trophy imports from such “canned” hunts, the captive-bred lion industry is increasingly focused on supplying bones to Asia.
Supporters of the industry, including especially the late Edna Molewa, the South African Environment Minister, promote captive lion breeding. They define the slaughter as an example of “sustainable utilization of natural resources”. But increasingly vocal opponents, including prominent hunters, say that it is cruel, damaging to South Africa’s reputation. There is no benefit to wildlife conservation. Luke Hunter of the leading big cat conservation group Panthera says, that captive-bred lions have “unequivocally zero” conservation value.
The debate about the industry is heating up — hunting groups have split over it. Lobbyists on both sides are ramping up their rhetoric. Now politicians are considering legislating against it. Because lions are a high-profile species and the captive-bred lion industry sells its products across the globe, South Africa’s decisions will have ripple effects through the international hunting and wildlife trades.
Wild female lions only give birth every 18 months to two years, but in captivity, cubs can be are removed within days of being born. This allows the females to produce up to four litters every two years. Lion breeders have learned to profit from every stage of a lion’s life.
First – they extract by extracting cash and free labour from “voluntourists”. These are often young foreigners in their school gap year and who pay well for the chance to hand-raise cubs while being told that “their” lions will later be released into the wild.
Then – breeders charge tourists to hold cubs for photos, and when these cubs become adolescents, charge tourists again to go on “walking with lions” excursions.
Then – adolescent lions become too large to be controlled — hand-raised lions have no fear of humans and can be extremely dangerous — they are sold to trophy hunting outfitters,
Later – they are released into fenced areas and lion farms guarantee their clients easy, time-efficient kills, often without disclosing that the lions being shot are effectively tame.
With its increasing size and high profile, the industry inevitably attracted scrutiny. In late 2016, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service banned the import of captive-bred lion trophies, saying the industry had not proved that it benefited the long-term survival of lions in the wild. (Trophies from wild lion hunts could still be imported, however, because the agency found that trophy fees often went toward habitat conservation and anti-poaching patrols).
Almost overnight, the industry lost more than half its hunting clients. Prices of Captive Lions plummeted. But the game wasn’t over for lion breeders. They had an alternative market for their products — the bone trade — which they had quietly been developing since 2008.
Captive Lions History – Part II
A trophy hunter normally takes just the skull and skin of the lion to a taxidermist to be mounted. The flesh and remainder of the skeleton remain with the outfitter or landowner. Prior to 2008, this was normally disposed of. In 2008, however, the first exports of lion bones — 35 skeletons — from South Africa to Southeast Asia took place. Arranged by powerful Asian syndicates that finance and commit wildlife crime in dozens of countries.
By 2015, exports had risen to around 1,300 skeletons per year. Between 2008 and 2016, South Africa The circuit of abuse and exploitation with a total weight of more than 70 tons, almost all to Southeast Asian countries known as hubs of the illegal wildlife trade. That robust business continues today.
Wildlife crime researchers say that Asian wildlife syndicates view lion bone as a convenient substitute for tiger bone. There are well-established markets — albeit often black markets — across Asia. Tigers have long been listed on Appendix 1 of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) treaty. This mean means that virtually all international trade in their parts is banned.
How Lion Bones become Tiger Bones
African lions have long been viewed as less threatened than tigers, and have been listed on Appendix 2. As a matter of facts, this allows international trade subject to permits. Lion bones leave South Africa legally, with CITES permits. Once it arrives in Southeast Asia it is typically relabeled as tiger bone and smuggled to black markets. Thus, the legal product feeds illegal business. (Anti-hunting activist groups have recently identified numerous criminal participants in the South Africa-to-Southeast Asia lion bone trade.)
In Vietnam, lion bones are likely made into “tiger-bone cake,” an expensive “traditional remedy,” with no proven medicinal properties. It is made by boiling bones along with turtle shell and other ingredients until they disintegrate. Then it is compacted into a chocolate bar-like “cake”. In China, the skeletons of big cats are often suspended in large vats of alcohol, which are tapped to produce “tiger-bone wine.”
In January 2018 Lions4Lions was explicitly started to raise awareness about the Lion species fate. Today, at the end of September 2018, our Facebook group has 4700 members. Every single day, we meet people, that didn’t know what is happening to the most iconic species on Earth. We hear from shocked people. They shiver when they hear what is going on in South Africa’s captive breeding scene. Read more
Twenty Four Lions were reintroduced to a 2.5 million-acre habitat in the Zambeze Delta of Mozambique on August 5, in the largest move of lions across an international boundary in history. Today, fewer than 20,000 Lions run wild. Twenty Four Lions will be the seed population that will reverse this trend in the Zambeze Delta, an ecosystem of over 2 million acres. The environment, once decimated by civil war and poaching, has benefited as a result of a 24-year effort led by Zambeze Delta Safaris and dedicated to sound conservation practices. However, in spite of these efforts, the lion population has struggled to recover. Lions have become extinct in 26 African countries. Twenty Four Lions is determined to make sure that Mozambique doesn’t join that list.
The Cabela Family Foundation, in partnership with the Ivan Carter Wildlife Conservation Alliance, Zambeze Delta Safaris and Marromeu Safaris is proud to support this initiative. Without the revenue from hunting and the decades of conservation work from Zambeze Delta Safaris and Marromeu Safaris, none of this would have been possible.
The most important aspect of any conservation initiative is the scientific foundation upon which it is built. Learn more about the research behind Twenty Four Lions and what we hope to learn from this project.
Update about the 24 Lions at the 8. September 2018
Sadly lion 2783 has been lost due to a very cruel act by a poacher. The harsh reality of gin traps – the poacher knew he had a lion in his trap! He had contacted interested buyers to sell off the lion parts. He had informed them he would only kill the lion once he had been paid and the lion had weakened! As a result, the Lion had to be euthanized. Lions 2783 along with his brother started walking their new territory. They headed inland from the delta. Tragically he was caught on the front paw by a poacher’s Gin trap. The anti-poaching unit picked this up on their morning flight to monitor all the lions. They mobilized their team and darted him.
A vet was on hand but unfortunately, the damage was too bad, every bone in his foot had been crushed. Finally the young male was euthanized.
The poacher who set the trap has been arrested and is now with the Marromeu police. His brother (lion 2784) is still walking but seems to be heading back to the security of the floodplain as a result of his loss. The balance of the lions are on the floodplain and are really doing well. They are monitored on a daily basis. Anti-poaching is on high alert and continue to do everything in their power to keep the area clean.
A Rescue Team has been in the Philippines working on a mission to help Lyka. The six-year-old lioness lives with an undiagnosed eye condition at the Massin City Zoo. Lyka’s story has drawn international attention when visitors of the zoo have brought light to her cause. A Team from the Lions Tigers & Bears Sanctuary was able to meet Lyka. The team wants to find out the truth behind her story. Lyka was born at the zoo, six years ago. After just six months, her litter mates all passed away and left Lyka as the sole survivor.
Does Lyka have a chance?
Veterinarian Dr Nielsen Donato and his team assessed Lyka over the course of the day. Lyka suffers from a metabolic bone disease. Due to this disease her foot did break after birth. As a result to poor breeding practices, Lyka has several malformations. Not to mention improper nutrition by previous zoo management. The team will be able to better diagnose Lyka’s eye condition during her physical examination.
The next steps will be to provide Lyka with a thorough physical examination under anaesthetic. This procedure will be the first veterinary examination ever for the lioness. The skilled veterinary team will be taking every precaution necessary. As with any procedure that involves sedation – it always comes with risks. There is no formal medical history to refer to. With Lyka’s apparent health issues, the team will utilize the safest means possible. But the medical exam is necessary, so she can properly be diagnosed and treated according to her conditions.
has been written off as a ‘breeding mistake’ by the zoo, after going blind as a result of a congenital eye problem and now lives in a very small and barren enclosure in the zoo that is based in Iloilo, Southern Philippines. PhilZoos is an individual zoo facility, a government-run zoo in the Philippines. Without a doubt the rest of the zoo is in sub-standard condition as well.
PhilZoos is the Philippine Zoos & Aquariums Association – The National Zoo Association of the Philippines. But, Maasin zoo does not abide by PhilZoo’s ethical and welfare philosophy. However, colleagues in the Philippines and at PhilZoos are concerned for all animals in captivity. They have told us that: “While Maasin Zoo is not a member of Philippine Zoos & Aquarium Association, Philzoos, however, is looking into the matter already and is coordinating with Maasin Zoo and the concerned government agency on addressing the issues raised.”
Other animals near LYKA were also in very poor health and living in extremely unhealthy conditions. Maasin Zoo is government-funded but the staff has said that they don’t have enough money to improve the enclosures or properly care for the animals.
It’s unacceptable that Lyka and other animals at the Maasin Zoo continue to suffer from neglect in captivity while zoo officials and government do nothing.
Please sign the petitionHERE to call on the Governor of Iloilo to immediately close the Maasin Zoo and free Lyka to a sanctuary. Please, we must save this beautiful Lioness. To see such a beautiful creature suffering like no one cares is extremely painful to see. Thank you sincerely!
Outrage, secrecy, abomination, controversy, suspicion, and cat and mouse game, are some of the verbalisations around the events linked to the lion hunt in the Umbabat Private Nature Reserve bordering Kruger National Park (KNP), of what is believed to be Skye, leader of the Western pride.
Many of you will feel jaded by the continued stories around this one lion. However, the narrative is not necessarily just about one lion. This story is about the many unanswered questions and the lack of transparency and accountability around the events that took place pre-hunt, during the hunt, and post-hunt.
It is about the free migration of KNP wildlife into the Associated Private Nature Reserves (APNR). Free migration of national assets that form part of our natural heritage. Wildlife that receives protection under the Protected Areas Act (2003) (PAA) from trophy hunting in the KNP, but not in the ANPR.
The PAA states that “all animals occurring in a national park are….deemed to be public assets held in trust by the State for the benefit of the present and future generations….”. The act further describes that these animals are not only public assets within our national parks but remain public assets even when they leave the parks.
In February 2018, SANParks KNP informed Umbabat they will not support the requested off-take for among others one lion, based on census wildlife numbers, sustainability and governance issues.
Later that month, Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency (MTPA) approved the Umbabat proposed hunting quota for 2018, including one male lion older than 5 yrs.
Subsequently, MTPA issues a hunting permit for one lion, marked as a hunt where baiting is allowed. Several official requests to view this permit have been made post-hunt to no avail.
Michel Pickover (Director EMS Foundation) says they contacted Glenn Phillips (Managing Executive SANParks KNP) post-hunt “to confirm, as a matter of urgency, that the KNP did not change its mind and grant permission to Umbabat to kill a lion”. In response, Ike Phaahla (SANParks Media Specialist) states that they “make recommendations, but that does not prescribe to the issuing authority and they have the final say”.
Pre-hunt, other shareholders in the Umbabat PNR wanted reassurance from Bryan Havemann (Umbabat warden) that the dominant male lion of the Western Pride (called Skye) would not be the target of this hunt. Skye was identified as a “high-value pride male” for reasons of genealogy, pride stability and from an eco-tourism perspective.
The Ingwelala share block (non-hunting properties) raised concerns over the safety of Skye’s offspring (infanticide) and the negative impact it would have on the wildlife recreational experience of the whole of Ingwelala, if Skye was shot.
At the time, Havemann assured the target of the hunt was not Skye, but an elderly male lion that often encroached into the north-eastern section of the Umbabat from KNP and steps were being taken to increase the probability of this elderly lion being shot by baiting.
Skye was easily identifiable by two distinctive S-shaped scars on his right rump and scarring under his right eye.
On 7th June 2018, an American hunter is believed to have paid R1 million to shoot a Kruger male lion in Umbabat with still unconfirmed reports suggesting it was Skye. The last sighting of Skye was on this very day.
Havemann has been evasive ever since the hunt. He admits it was a lion hunt using the carcasses of a buffalo and elephant as bait, both killed on the same hunt. In some instances, he seems to be aware of Skye’s identity and other times he is not, whereas clear identifying images were presented to him pre-hunt.
An Ingwelala member met with Havemann days after the hunt, during which the latter confirmed to have inspected the hunted lion. Upon further questioning, Havemann claims to have only seen the left rump and not the distinctive scar on his right.
Nevertheless, Havemann insists it was not Skye, but the target elderly male. Yet, among the photos of all the known male lions in the area, provided by Motswari Lodge pre-hunt, there is no lion of such description nor have there been any recorded sightings in the area.
We need to ask the simple question, if indeed an elderly lion was hunted, why not be transparent and allow the skin to be inspected? This would surely put an end to all speculation? I contacted Havemann on several occasions and he declined the opportunity to comment.
There also seem to be violations of the Greater KNP Hunting Protocol as well as national legislation. The Hunting Protocol states that “hunting should be conducted according to set rules to ensure that the spirit of fair chase is honored”. Using bait neither consists of an ethical hunt nor fair chase.
On the 20th June 2018, Riaan de Lange (Head of Professional Hunting, MTPA) tells Adam Cruise in an interview: “It’s a pity we didn’t have more pictures. If the hunter had other pictures, then there would be no excuse, but he only had this one, so one can’t blame him if he did shoot Skye.” Yet another inconsistency, as we know that many identification photos were made available pre-hunt.
However, if indeed the hunt took place based on one photo, this further contravenes the Hunting Protocol, which states that “reasonable steps should be taken to gain knowledge of the males with pride affiliations and their ages, thereby ensuring that pride males under the age of 8 years are not selected”.
Furthermore, Skye was believed to be younger than 8 years and, if he was shot, this would constitute another violation of the Hunting Protocol.
Cullinan & Associates (Environmental Attorneys) believe there are potential violations of the Threatened Or Protected Species (TOPS) Regulations 2007, which provides that the issuing authority (MTPA in this case) may not authorize the hunting of a listed TOPS using bait.
Baiting is however allowed under the Mpumalanga Nature Conservation Act (1998) – one of the two provinces in South Africa that are not TOPS compliant. This obviously creates a conflict between national and provincial legislation.
Cullinan & Associates argues that conflict of this nature is dealt with in our Constitution and TOPS Regulations should prevail when it comes to the killing of a listed TOPS species. They say “the survival of the whole species in South Africa requires a uniform approach and cannot be dealt with effectively by each province making their own laws”.
Cullinan & Associates asked the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) in a recent letter to take urgent action by looking into this potentially illegal lion hunt.
They conclude their letter to the DEA as follows, “there is a good reason to believe that the lion that was hunted was not the animal which was specified in the permit. Our client and other concerned individuals have been denied the opportunity to inspect the skin despite repeated requests, from which only an adverse inference may be drawn. There is thus a reason to believe that other offenses may have been committed.”
DEA promised to undertake a full investigation, including whether or not the lion hunt was lawful and the correct lion was hunted, and, if necessary, take appropriate action.
In light of this investigation, I asked de Lange (MTPA) whether or not he has granted the hunter an export permit for the trophy. He replied a “PAIA request may be the way to go”.
Earlier last week, Albi Modise (DEA Chief Director of Communications) told me that a draft investigation report is currently under review, but that this will not be made public. “At this stage, there is no evidence that any offenses were committed in the execution of this hunt”, Modise continued.
Nearly 30 NGOs with the support of 139,000 global citizens asked SANParks some very pertinent questions in an attempt to create more transparency around the hunt.
SANParks’ response has been evasive, hiding firmly behind their mandate of the KNP only. Phaahla concluded his response that “in the spirit of transparency and open communication, you [29 organizations] are urged to follow the formal engagement routes by consulting with the issuing authorities MTPA, LEDET, with DEA, and with the Private reserve representatives”, clearly another attempt to divert the responsibility to other authorities.
A representative of those 29 animal welfare organizations, Stefania Falcon (Future4Wildlife), told me that they followed up with all the authorities involved on many occasions, but were met by a wall of silence. “The stakeholders are clearly ignoring public inputs and consultations, as well as petitions signed by many global citizens”, she said.
Nonetheless, SANParks KNP doesn’t seem happy with the whole deplorable situation. Glenn Phillips stated in a recent email that “if Umbabat does not sort out their governance issues, they will re-erect the fence” with KNP. An external source says that “Umbabat has been given six months to get their house in order and to ensure that a new Hunting Protocol is signed with KNP”.
Now more than ten weeks since the hunt, all the evidence is stacking against the survival of Skye. Sightings in Umbabat suggest that the Western Pride is breaking up in the absence of its leader.
Among the many unanswered questions, remains one central issue of national importance. If all animals occurring in a national park are deemed under the PAA to be public assets, even when they occur outside of a national park, would the public not have the right for more consultation and transparency?
The highly controversial shooting of Skye the Lion by a trophy hunter in the Umbabat section of the Greater Kruger could conceivably mark the beginning of the end for trophy hunting in this part of Africa. I am speculating here, but please hear me out…
Since we reported the known facts about the hunt, I and many others have been digging for clarity. Was the hunted lion indeed ‘Skye’? – a dominant male of the Western Pride, featured in this tribute ‘The Story of Skye’ by Charlie Lynam, a shareholder in Ingwelala, one of the properties making up Umbabat. The photos accompanying this opinion editorial are of Skye and his pride.
The trophy hunting team insist that the lion killed was not Skye the pride male, claiming that he was in fact an old male lion with worn teeth and a protruding spine. But they refuse point blank to supply a photo of the dead lion to prove their claim, citing legal and personal safety concerns. Lynam and others insist that Skye the pride male was killed. According to Lynam, Skye has not been seen since the day of the killing of that lion. Additionally, one of his cubs has since been killed and some of the pride lionesses have been beaten up as a new coalition of males has moved into the area. This is classic lion behavior when a dominant male is removed and new male/s move into the vacuum – cubs are killed (infanticide) and lionesses are beaten up as they try to defend their cubs.
Recently activist Don Pinnock, who broke the story, has revealed that the hunter in question is an American by the name of Jared Whitworth, from Hardinsburg, Kentucky. He also revealed the names of the South African hunting outfitter who sold and managed the hunt and the government official who signed off on the lion permit. Whitworth is a member of Safari Club International (SCI), which defines hunting success in terms of size and rarity. Apparently the larger the horns/tusks and rarer the animal, the more respect you are due for killing it. Whitworth’s 15-year-old daughter was awarded the title “2018 SCI Young Hunter of the Year”, and the SCI website features her proudly posing with a massive buffalo she killed. I found this out by visiting the SCI website a few days ago – and note with interest that today those pages have been removed (fortunately I saved a screenshot). Are the SCI members now afraid of the tree-huggers? Perhaps they should be …
And here, ladies and gentlemen, is where I start reasoning why I believe that trophy hunting will soon end in the Greater Kruger.
As I write this, an investigative agency has been hired to look into the legality of the Skye hunt, there is a popular online petition calling for justice, and various people are digging away to find out the personal information of everyone involved. Momentum is building, and I hear that the guilty parties are shaking in their boots. Anyone remember what happened to Walter Palmer, the American dentist who shot Cecil the Lion, once his name was known to the public?
Let me be blunt: Do trophy hunters really think that they can keep these things secret in this day and age, and do they and their families feel safe knowing that their deeds will be in the public domain sooner or later? I understand from sources that the southern African trophy hunting industry is already suffering from cancellations because of increased public scrutiny and vigilantism.
Beyond the hunter and the hunting outfitter, what about the other people involved – the government officials and game reserve management? How long before these people decide that they are not prepared to take the risk and stress of being associated with this industry that specializes in surgically removing the last-remaining big-gene animals? Many of these people are simply ordinary employees, who signed up to be involved in conservation and now find themselves defending an industry they don’t even believe in, and being subjected to personal abuse and threats of physical violence.
We are increasingly seeing government departments and officials being targeted by a tidal wave of emotional backlash against trophy hunting. The fact that much of the commentary is factually inaccurate is beside the point – this is a battle of emotion, not fact. The anger generated amongst the social media-empowered general public, driven by activists who value impact over fact, is a toxic cocktail that will drive change – regardless of the consequences. Recently the Namibian government issued a ruling that trophy hunters to that country cannot publish kill photos on social media. This bizarre and unenforceable move is surely a testament to the extent of the pressure that is being brought to bear on the trophy hunting industry.
Anti-hunting activists are evolving, and increasingly now combining their immense social media support base with targeted action against specific perpetrators. On the other hand, the trophy hunting industry does not have the DNA to evolve. They are still barking out the same defensive rhetoric from decades ago – despite the conservation landscape having shifted massively under the immense pressure of habitat loss and poaching. This industry will never be driven by ethics and transparency; it is entirely opportunistic and known to retrofit the conservation argument based on the specifics of the particular animal hunted.
In the court of public opinion, we are all judged by the company we keep, and the partners we choose. In my opinion, if management of the Greater Kruger does not change tack and distance itself from their trophy hunting partners, this tremendous conservation initiative will self-destruct. Members of the Greater Kruger simply cannot any longer risk being associated with an industry that refuses to evolve, and regularly shoots itself in the foot. Quite simply, they have to dissociate themselves or face eventual ruin.
And that is why I believe that it is only a matter of time before trophy hunting ceases to be a management tool in the Greater Kruger.
Of course, the landowners and managers of these wildlife reserves will consequently need to source alternative funding for their rapidly escalating anti-poaching and general conservation costs. Photographic tourism can provide some of the extra funding, but not all of it. Even if all parties agree to higher lodge and vehicle densities (with concomitant increased environmental pressure) and higher lodge prices, not all areas in the Greater Kruger have the same tourism potential – this is a simple fact based on location, carrying capacity and biodiversity. Many of the most vocal social media activists have never been on safari in Africa, and are unlikely ever to. But hopefully, they will donate to a fund to enable anti-poaching work in the Greater Kruger to continue.
I suspect that some landowners, especially the local communities, will seriously consider alternative land uses such as livestock and crops, once trophy hunting is off the table. There are few straight roads in Africa.
Some pro-hunting folk will refuse to acknowledge advice like mine if it does not come accompanied by instant iron-clad alternatives to hunting. With respect, this is like refusing to accept that your daughter is pregnant, just because she won’t tell you who the father is. The first step to solving a problem is to acknowledge that you have a problem.
I have great faith that in time trophy hunting in the Greater Kruger will be replaced by a more ethical, more relevant sustainable land-use strategy. This will take time, but it will happen. A luta continua!
CALL TO ACTION: Please have your say on the lion bone quota and the killing of Skye the lion in South Africa and submit your comment to the Chairperson of the Colloquium in Parliament, Cape Town. The debate will focus precisely on these two controversial topics and we ask you to support our participation!
The Colloquium will start on Tuesday, August the 21st 2018 at 8.00 so, please, send your message before Monday.