Cape Town - The department of home affairs has been criticised for approving policy that not only endangers wild lions but perpetuates the canned lion industry.
On Monday, 26 June the DEA confirmed it would be going ahead with the approval of a controversial move to sell a quota of 800 lion bones to Asia, despite public outcry to the contrary.
The decision has also sparked international condemnation from conservationists and local stakeholders alike. However, the DEA says the export will only be from captive-bred lions which is legal under the Convention in the Trade of Endangered Species (CITES). Lions in South Africa are listed under Appendix II which means their products can be traded internationally but only “if the trade will not be detrimental to the survival of the species in the wild.”
The numbers of African free-range lions have declined alarmingly over the last few decades with only 20 000 remaining today, down from 30 000 just two decades ago. Criticism has been leveraged against the sale, saying it would imperil wild lions as it is feeding demand as well perpetuating canned lion the canned lion industry.
Blood Lion, the hard-hitting documentary by conservation activist Ian Michler has been instrumental in exposing the industry that sees lions bred for the bullet. Following the lion bone quota decision, the organisation has released the following infographic, reinforcing the life cycle of lion cubs - prompting tourists and volunteers to be fully aware of what they're contributing to.
SEE: SA public has 'no time' to contest annual quota of 800 lions' bones
“It is irresponsible to establish policy that could further imperil wild lions,” says Dr Paul Funston, Senior Director of Panthera’s Lion Programme earlier this year when the DEA first proposed its plans.
Those who included their voice of concern include Singita together with other prominent safari operators &Beyond and Great Plains Conservation, warning how it was damaging the safari industry.
Panthera also called it "irresponsible to establish policy that could further imperil wild lions—already in precipitous decline throughout much of Africa—when the facts are clear; South Africa’s lion breeding industry makes absolutely no positive contribution to conserving lions and, indeed, further imperils them."
But the DEA insists they are acting within the environmental law, and says a "well-regulated trade will enable the Department to monitor a number of issues relating to the trade, including the possible impact on the wild populations".
ALSO SEE: Leading safari companies take bold stand against SA's lion bone trade agenda
Panthera has warned legalisation of a trade in lion bones will stimulate the market and endanger both captive and wild lion populations.
"There is significant evidence that South Africa’s legal trade in captive-bred lion trophies is accelerating the slaughter of wild lions for their parts in neighbouring countries and is, in fact, increasing demand for wild lion parts in Asia — a market that did not exist before South Africa started exporting lion bones in 2007."
Traveller24 has contacted the DEA to confirm if a long-term impact assessment study has been done in relation to the approval of the quota and is awaiting a response.
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