Consultation meeting with DFFE & Extended High-Level Panel

FOUR PAWS statement June 2021


On Thursday, 17 June 2021, FOUR PAWS and several other animal advocacy and NGO groups joined a consultation meeting with the Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, Barbara Creecy, along with members of the Extended High-Level Panel, to discuss the Panel’s recommendations to ban the breeding of lions for commercial purposes after they released their Report on 2 May this year.

Fiona Miles, Director of FOUR PAWS in South Africa, thanked the Minister and addressed the following;

“The progressive recommendations made by the HLP in recognition of this crisis including, but certainly not limited to, the eradication of captive breeding of lions, the incorporation of One Welfare into the model going forward and taking back the wild spaces are commendable.

Commercial trade of our wildlife, has and continues to perpetuate a global animal welfare crisis and the stimulation of demand of parts leading to illegal trade and the demise of species in the wild, along with severe implications for our own survival. 

We would like to bring to your attention and focus specifically within the framework of what has already been presented by the colleagues today, alternative solutions for captive bred lions. I must say, the current welfare status of the animals in captivity is of grave concern to us and of even more concern is the decline of welfare during this interim period. The regulations should cover ALL big cats to ensure that there is not a transference from lions to tigers and other big cats. 

Simply euthanising the lions in captivity does not speak to the fundamental concept of welfare nor would we wish to be remembered for those decisions. One Welfare is the golden thread that should be run through policy and legislation development and act as a moral compass for us.  

Specially what we bring to the table collectively: 

  • Full/active participation in any Ministerial Task Team established to assess the industry in terms of the quantum of animals currently held in nearly 400 breeding farms and other facilities. By this we mean knowledge, skills and expertise to develop mechanisms for such urgent assessment and subsequent actions for instance mass sterilisation of adult males, in order for the immediate deliverables stated in the HLP recommendations to be fulfilled (e.g. no breeding, interaction, trading etc). We can share data and research to expedite such audits, expertise and knowledge. No complete solution or recommendations can be provided until there has been a full evaluation of the situation
  • Contribution to the development of a roadmap to seeing the end of the industry, such as the one for example FOUR PAWS developed for closing bear bile farming in Vietnam.
  • We have examples to follow in terms of an animal welfare friendly business model for sustainable sanctuaries and can:
    • Provide first-hand experience in transforming poor facilities/breeding farms into world class sanctuaries – our LIONSROCK Big Cat Sanctuary in Bethlehem being the prime example of this.
    • Contribute to the development of criteria for permitting the establishment of true and ethical sanctuaries based on over 30 years of experience
    • The efforts for relocation from any facility, either from abroad, or within the country, reflect the last step in a framework that sometimes has taken years, to ensure the end of suffering of animals in the facilities from which they have been rescued, seeing legislative as well as behaviour change, ending the demand for those animals for whatever purpose they were in those facilities as well as permanently closing them down
    • Share quality standards already developed – everything from animal keeper training, safety and security protocols, health and husbandry, enrichment both physical and environmental, management into old age and final release after a species appropriate quality life.
    • Share best practise in logistics and processes for rescue and relocation of animals.
  • Expansion of existing sanctuaries to accommodate animals that may need to be rehomed.

We look forward to ongoing engagement and collaboration to secure the most humane outcomes for the thousands of big cats currently suffering for commercial purposes. We are thankful for the opportunity to discuss recommendations and look forward to ongoing engagement and collaboration with the Government after the publication of the policy paper.” 

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FOUR PAWS is the global animal welfare organisation for animals under direct human influence, which reveals suffering, rescues animals in need and protects them. Founded in 1988 in Vienna by Heli Dungler and friends, the organisation advocates for a world where humans treat animals with respect, empathy and understanding. The sustainable campaigns and projects of FOUR PAWS focus on companion animals including stray dogs and cats, farm animals and wild animals – such as bears, big cats and orangutans – kept in inappropriate conditions as well as in disaster and conflict zones. With offices in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Kosovo, the Netherlands, Switzerland, South Africa, Thailand, Ukraine, the UK, the USA and Vietnam as well as sanctuaries for rescued animals in eleven countries, FOUR PAWS provides rapid help and long-term solutions. 

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