The month of August is a time when the country celebrates women whilst also recognising the continuing plight of women in South Africa. For the August edition of their in-flight magazine, Juice, Mango has brought to the fore the difficult circumstances faced by another group of powerful female figures - the lioness.
As one of the largest domestic airlines in South Africa, the airline has officially joined the campaign against cub petting, predator breeding and canned hunting.
SEE: Cash before Conservation? A damning report on the commoditisation of lions
Its magazine cover features a powerful image on the front cover of a lioness and her cubs with the caption "her cubs, not yours". Travellers on Mango Airlines will also be able to read a feature article from Blood Lions and Humane Society International - Africa.
"Actions like these really contribute to awareness and change across the country. A huge thank you to the Mango Juice team. This is an important message to other publications who continue to promote cub petting and wildlife interactions - join the global movement and stop wildlife exploitation" says Nicola Gerrard of Blood Lions.
Big cat biologist, Luke Dollar, told National Geographic that, “While it may be a thrilling experience for a person to do, and they may think they are helping wildlife by doing so, I don’t see an obvious connection. If we love these cats so much why do we feel the need to touch them or hug them or walk with them, as though that is a natural occurrence?”
“Behaviours and programs that skirt the reality of our place in the food chain seem to be an accident waiting to happen,” says Dollar.
The Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), one of South Africa’s most respected and long-standing conservation organisations, have also come out strongly against close human interactions with large carnivores.
Their position paper from October 2015 clearly states that the educational value of captive-predator facilities is questionable in that “they give the general public the wrong impression that it is acceptable to hold carnivores in captivity. At best these facilities offer ‘edutainment’ with no real measurable change in behaviour that promotes conservation.”
EWT have long warned that captive carnivores do not have an innate fear of humans and often consider humans as potential prey or associate them with food. “This makes them dangerous to humans and interactions can result in serious injury or death,” says Dr Kelly Marnewick, senior trade officer for EWT’s Wildlife in Trade Program.
While EWT believes that ecotourism is important for the South African economy, the caveat is that it needs to be done in a manner such that it promotes the long-term conservation of our country's wildlife heritage.
“The captive-keeping of carnivores, and touch programmes, do not contribute to the sustainable, responsible use of our wildlife resources and in most cases are detrimental to conservation.”