Cape Town - Blood Lions says it has noted with concern the recent attempt by the South African Predator Association (SAPA) to swap Sylvester, a lion that has twice escaped the confines of the Karoo National Park with a captive lion.
News that SANParks was considering putting Sylvester down after he was re-captured on 31 March, after being on the run for three days despite wearing a tracking collar, sparked an online petition to save the lion.
Initially SANParks said that due to Sylvester being "identified as a damage-causing animal, unfortunately the lion would be euthanised”, however following the public outcry, SANParks CEO Fundisile Mketeni said announced five different options, including putting the lion down - but has yet to decide Sylvester's fate.
Blood Lions has since shared a letter from SAPA to South African National Parks, offering to take Sylvester into captivity, in exchange for a captive bred male lion that "adapts well and will have no difficulty adjusting to a new environment".
SAPA says in the letter that as "Lions, their environments and their fate are very much in the public eye, it wants to work together with SANParks "for the sake of the future of these marvellous creatures" - applauding the body for reconsidering euthanasia.
Blood Lions shared a copy of the request to its page.
Blood Lions however says SAPA, through its commercial activities "exploits breeders of captive lions" and is further confusing the issues around the "legitimate conservation of wild lions" by offering to make a swap for the wandering lion.
"It is simply what they themselves claim to be a 'public relations' exercise," says the Blood Lions Team.
"Blood Lions believes it to be a rather cynical and clumsy one at that and amounts to nothing more than SAPA placing their own private sector interests over that of public concerns. We would like to point out again to SAPA and everyone concerned about lion and predator conservation that the recognized predator conservation community do not regard South Africa's captive bred lion population as having any conservation value whatsoever.
According to the African Lion Working Group, the region's largest collection of predator conservationists, states that the estimated 8 000 lions in South Africa currently being maintained and bred on game farms as part of this industry "should not be included in any assessments of the current status of wild lions".
"Sylvester and indeed all lions are Born to Live Wild!" says Blood Lions.
Sylvester is currently being kept in a boma until a final decision is reached on its future. Traveller24 contacted SANParks for comment but they have yet to respond.