Political parties agree — captive lion breeding must end

Parliament’s environment committee has accused the departments of environment and agriculture of dragging their feet over the ending of captive lion breeding and canned hunting.
In a special session on captive lion breeding this week, all members of Parliament’s environment committee expressed disappointment at the Department of Environment’s failure to implement its own recommendations to phase out the practice.
Members across all party lines grilled representatives of the department who, they said, came unprepared and whose answers to their questions were unacceptable.
The department’s Flora Mokgohloa said she was unaware that canned hunting was taking place as it was illegal and had no evidence that wild lions were being poached.
“Enough is enough,” said committee member IFP’s Narend Singh, “the department is not taking our or its own High Level Panel recommendations on this and it’s unacceptable.”
Dave Bryant of the DA accused the department of fobbing off the parliamentary committee and Nazier Paulsen of the EFF said that all hunting of lions should be outlawed. Singh demanded a full report on the issue from the department early next year. Committee chair Ntibi Modise agreed and suggested that committee members make unannounced visits to breeding facilities.
The discussion followed a presentation by Tony Gerrans, director of the Humane Society International-Africa, initiated by the Conservation Action Trust. He told the committee there were 336 captive facilities breeding between 10,000 and 12,000 lions in mostly poor conditions. There were only around 3,000 wild lions — a reduction of 43% over a 20-year period.
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Breeders had received repeated warnings from the NSPCA over breeding conditions, which included inadequate diet, hygiene, shelter, vet treatment, enrichment and slaughter. He said poor conditions increased the risk of zoonic (animal-to-human) diseases and breeding farms provided a cover for the illegal trade of animal parts and the poaching of wild lions.
Captive lions were of no value to conservation, he told parliamentarians, and breeding farms provided few and often dangerous unskilled jobs. The industry was also inflicting reputational damage on the country’s tourist industry.
Following the 1997 Cook Report, documentaries like Blood Lions and Lions, Bones and Bullets, Unfair Game and various scathing books, there was no shortage of bad publicity to deter potential visitors. The breeding industry was also undermining post-Covid economic recovery.
Demands ignored
Direct demands by the environment committee were being blatantly ignored, it appeared. These included a ...