How the captive Lion bone trade is killing Africas and Asias big cats

How the captive Lion bone trade is killing Africas and Asias big cats

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.

Avaaz Poster in Mall against Captive Lion Bone Trade

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.

The captive Lion bone trade now feeds the Tiger Wine industry

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.

Lion bred for the capitive lion bone trade

At least five captive tigers were also killed in South Africa

It is unclear how many tigers exist in South Africa, but the country has exported more than 200 captive-bred tigers over the past five years. About half of those cats were exported to Vietnam and Thailand, hubs of tiger-product smuggling activity.

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.

What does the future hold for wild lions? A 2015 study predicted that wild lions would see another 50 percent population decline in two decades. Reasons are poaching, the bushmeat trade, retaliatory killings for predation of livestock, and habitat loss. Add legal trophy hunting and poaching inspired by the legal bone trade into the mix and that timeline may become accelerated — and lions throughout Africa could pay the price.

Original Article August 2, 2018 – by John R. Platt

The Ongoing Disgrace of South Africa’s Captive Lions

The Ongoing Disgrace of South Africa’s Captive 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 by

  1. The incident at the Lion Slaughterhouse in Bloemfontein, Free State

    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.

    Lion killed at Lion Slaughterhouse near Bloemfontein @ Conservationaction
    Jabula the Lion killed at Lion Slaughterhouse near Bloemfontein © Conservation Action
  2. Tiger Bone products made from Captive Lions

    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.

    Tiger Bone Wine Bottle somewhere in Asia
    Tiger Bone Wine Bottle somewhere in Asia
  3. 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.

    Roger Cook who first uncovered the Canned Hunting Industry @ LionAid
    Roger Cook who first uncovered the Canned Hunting Industry © LionAid
  4. The circuit of abuse and exploitation

    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.

    Canned Hunting Say No to Cub Petting
    Say No to petting of Captive Lions © Cannedlion.org
  5. 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.

    The business grew rapidly. In 2009 and 2010, for example, 16 consignments totalling 320 lion skeletons were exported to Laos. Nine of these consignments were destined for Vixay Keosavang, a The circuit of abuse and exploitation who deals in a wide range of threatened species. (In 2013, the U.S. government The circuit of abuse and exploitation for information leading to the dismantling of his organization, the Xaysavang Network.) Early South African lion bone exporters included Marnus Steyl, a game rancher who has been implicated in The circuit of abuse and exploitation including The circuit of abuse and exploitation.

    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.

    Captive Lions at a Breeding Farm @Big Cat Conservation
    Starving Lion at a Breeding Farm © Big Cat Conservation
  6.  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.”


    Read the full article  https://e360.yale.edu/features/the-ongoing-disgrace-of-south-africas-captive-bred-lion-trade

Raising awareness about the Lion Species Fate – Lions4Lions in the press

Raising awareness about the Lion Species Fate – Lions4Lions in the press

The Lion species survival is in our hands!

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

UPDATE – 24 Lions – a future for Lions in Mocambique

UPDATE – 24 Lions – a future for Lions in Mocambique

😈👿👿 Update about the project – one lion lost to a poacher

Twenty Four Lions bring hope to Mocambique!

Hope for Twenty Four Lions in Mocambique
Hope for 24 Lions in Mocambique

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.

24 Lions were relocated to a private reserve in Mocambique. They will be closely monitored for a minimum of 6 years
24 Lions were relocated to a private reserve in Mocambique. They will be closely monitored for a minimum of 6 years

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.

 

ENJOY the lovely video about the 24 Lions Project

 

 


Update about the 24 Lions at the 8. September 2018

Lion paw destroyed in a gin trap, lion euthanizedSadly 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. 

Lion paw destroyed in a gin trap Lion euthanisedThe 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.

Follow this link to learn more and to donate for antipoaching measures …

 

24 Lions24 Lions Facebook Page   Zambeze Conservation and Anti Poaching

Every Day is WORLD LION DAY!

Every Day is WORLD LION DAY!

A WORLD LION DAY?

That is the question you need to ask yourself today: Is today a Wold Lion Day?
Are you going to continue 😤😖😡 posting angry face images 😣👺😈 on social media every time you read about the plight of our lions? Or are you going to become actively involved somehow to stop this exploitation? Will you give up YOUR TIME and CREATIVITY to prevent even one more destruction of a lions life? Take today to think of those thousands of lions who gave up their lives unnecessary for the sake of greed, status and an inferiority complex. Share and raise awareness to support our cause to fight lion exploitation. Every Day is WORLD LION DAY!

World Lion Day - Statistics - Poster @ EWT https://www.ewt.org.za/
World Lion Day – Statistics adjusted- EWT – Endangered Wildlife Trust

Take the Pledge for the Lions HERE

Wild ‘n Free

“I pledge to keep all carnivores Wild ‘n Free by not petting, walking, feeding or taking selfies with them. I vow to become an ambassador for wild carnivores and to honour their right to live a natural life. I encourage others to do the same.”
Every day is World Lion Day - Pledge - https://www.ewt.org.za/ - #WildnFree
Every day is World Lion Day – The Pledge

 

#WildnFree #NoPet #Lions4Lions #WorldLionDay

 

End of the line for the Lion King – Report by Bronwyn Ann Howard – 2012

End of the line for the Lion King – Report by Bronwyn Ann Howard – 2012

End of the line for the Lion King?

Africa’s lions are facing a new threat from Asia – the lion bone trade.  The end for the Lion King. And it appears that South Africa’s captive lion breeding industry may be supplying lion bones and could ultimately fuel demand. We investigate the newest wildlife commodity – one which could compromise Africa’s wild lion populations forever.
Africa’s lions are in trouble. The species has declined tremendously over the past 45 – 50 years on the continent. Numbers are dropping from almost half a million to between an estimated 20 000 individuals in sub-Saharan Africa. According to UK-based NGO Panthera, lions have vanished from 90% of their historic range. There are now a mere seven African countries believed to hold more than 1 000 lions.

The report might be from 2012, but it contains the complete history how the captive Lion market developed and how the breeding farms gained momentum. 

End of the line for the Lion King

Africa’s lions are in trouble

But another, new threat faces Africa’s lions that may indicate the end of the Lion King. As with the rhino, this is fuelled by the burgeoning Asian demand for wildlife products – in this case, lion bones.  South Africa appears to be at the centre of this new trade. CITES records and statistics released in 2011 by the South African DEA indicate that trade in lion bones began in 2009. In 2009 lion carcasses were first recorded as having been exported to Laos.  According to a March 2011 blog by the Campaign Against Canned Hunting (CACH), 92 lion carcasses were exported to Laos in 2009.  This jumped to 235 carcasses in 2010, representing an increase of 150%.  This constitutes a significant injection into the Asian trade in wild cat parts and derivatives. That is likely to increase demand for lion parts. Not just those from captive-bred sources in South Africa but from all sources throughout the rest of Africa too.  Indeed the leap is strongly indicative evidence that this perceived/potential increase in demand is already well underway.

Download the report HERE

 

END-OF-THE-LINE-FOR-THE-LION-KING