South Africa to ban breeding lions in captivity for hunting and petting


lions in captivity
Andrey Lear | Unsplash

During a news conference on Sunday (2 May 2021), South Africa’s Environment Minister, Barbara Creecy¬†announced the country’s plans to ban the breeding of lions in captivity for trophy hunting and for petting.

According to IOL, the decision comes after a government study was conducted into the controversial practice, with a panel delving into the rules governing the hunting, trade and keeping of lions in captivity as well as elephants, rhino and leopards.

Creecy said that the study’s results recommended a ban on the domestication of lions through captive breeding and keeping and urged a stop to tourists’ interaction and hunting of captive lions, including cub petting. “We don’t want captive breeding, captive hunting, captive (cubs) petting, captive use of lions,” Minister Creecy said.

The new recommendations reportedly advocate for a more “authentic” experience for visitors and locals wanting to experience a genuine hunting experience. Creecy said that the new laws were not aimed at stifling the hunting industry. “Legal regulated hunting of the iconic species under the regulatory environment will continue to be permitted,” Creecy explained.

“The intention here is to ensure that those who are interested in authentic wildlife hunting will have such an experience and will not be hunting animals that have been taken out of the cage,” she said.

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The practice of hunting lions in captivity has long been controversial in South Africa, where a large number of animals (roughly 8 000 and 12 000 lions across 350 farms) are confined to pens ringed with electric fences, where they are raised and held captive for hunting, tourism and academic research, according to estimates by wildlife groups. They are also raised for their bones, used in medicine and jewellery in Southeast Asia, according to wildlife charities.

Sadly, by contrast, only around 3 500 lions live in the wild in the country, according to the South African-based Endangered Wildlife Trust.

World Animal Protection’s campaign manager for Africa, Edith Kabesiime, hailed the government’s decision as courageous. “Thousands of farmed lions are born into a life of misery in South Africa every year in cruel commercial breeding facilities,” Kabesiime said. “This is a win for wildlife and will ensure that lions remain where they belong – in the wild.”

The panel also advised the government to phase out captive rhino breeding and to ban the future use of rhino horn stockpiles.

The decision is yet to be formulated into policy. A seal of approval is awaited from the government. Find more trending content, right here.


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