Cape Town - South Africa's controversial Canned Lion Hunting industry has been high on the agenda at the 2016 International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Conservation Congress (WCC), currently under way in Hawaii.
Seven non-governmental organisations have called for the termination of hunting of captive-bred lions (Panthera leo) and other predators and captive breeding for commercial, non-conservation purposes in South Africa.
The Blood Lions team, the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), South African Wildlife College (SAWC), Wildlands and the National Association of Conservancies (NACSA), filed the motion to secure global conservation support at the momentous congress meeting.
South Africa has an estimated 7 000 lions in captivity, in comparison to an estimated 2 000 wild lions - and the practice of Canned Lion Hunting is regarded as an "ethically repugnant embarrassment" by South Africa's professional hunting associations at large.
In response to the acceptance of the motion by the IUCN's WCC, the department of environmental affairs says it has acknowledged the move, in which the NGOs’ expressed concern on the alleged escalation of the breeding of lions for the specific purpose of 'canned lion hunting' or 'canned lion shooting', by sectors of the wildlife industry.
However the DEA says while it does not support certain aspects of the motion, it has confirmed it will engage the IUCN Director-General and the IUCN members on the requirements contained therein.
The motion requests the IUCN Director General, relevant Commissions and the South African National Committee to encourage the South African Government, as well as all other southern African Governments, to support this initiative by reviewing existing legislative provisions regulating this activity and drafting, enacting and implementing legislation by 2020 and giving reasonable time frames to:
- Develop and implement norms and standards, supported by the South African Scientific Authority, that define the conditions under which the hunting of Lions is regarded as “canned hunting” and to legally prohibit the hunting of lions under these conditions.
- Restrict captive breeding of lions to registered zoos or registered facilities that demonstrate a clear conservation benefit;
- Develop norms and standards for the management of captive-bred lions in South Africa that address welfare, biodiversity and utilisation aspects (including new emerging uses such as harvesting of lion for the bone and meat trade), taking into account Threatened or Protected Species (ToPS) regulations, legislation and IUCN guidelines governing this activity;
- Ensure compliance with, and enforcement of, all relevant legislation.
"There remains a need for continued cooperation in addressing non-compliance and research needs, as well as further strengthening regulatory framework for the industry", says the DEA citing that the IUCN has always recognized the role that "sustainable, legal hunting plays in conservation and supports human livelihoods in areas where other farming and land use options are less viable.
Addressing non-compliance and strengthening regulatory framework
Speaking at the IUCN World Conservation Congress, Deputy Director-General responsible for biodiversity and conservation Shonisani Munzhedzi says, “While hunting makes a substantial and positive contribution to conservation management and economic growth, we also have a responsibility to preserve the resource base and ensure that the industry has a sustainable future. However, hunting activities must be undertaken within the framework of the regulatory prescripts.”
"South Africa is recognised worldwide for its conservation successes which includes the African lion, in addition has a proud record of collaborating with the global community to ensure natural resources form the global common good are properly conserved, sustainably utilized and that arising out of them are shared fairly and equitably. It is in this light that the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) recently hailed South Africa’s advances in protecting the species such the African lion."
”We would like to emphasise our commitment to the promotion of conservation, sustainable use of biological resources and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use its biological resources, noting further that responsible utilization of wildlife contributes to the enhancement of socio-economic development, rural livelihoods, and job creation in the sector,”
However, the DEA said it cautioned against assumptions that the adoption of this motion will result in the shutting down of facilities.
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What's the future of Africa's lions?
Blood Lions, a film launched in July 2015, has brought the horrors of predator breeding, canned hunting and a variety of other exploitative activities using lions and other species to the world’s attention in a way that has not been achieved before.
The theme for this year’s IUCN conference is “Planet at a Crossroads” and the presenting of this particular motion could not be more relevant to the IUCN statement that: “The ecosystems that underpin our economies, well-being and survival are collapsing. Species are becoming extinct at unprecedented rates. Our climate is in crisis. And it’s all happening on our watch…Time is not on our side. The success of these agreements depends on how quickly we turn them into sustainable action.”