Cape Town, 1 December 2022 – The animal welfare organisation, FOUR PAWS in South Africa, called on the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment to proactively take measures to end the captive lion breeding industry and to no longer prolong effective implementation plans.
This is the position held by the Director of FOUR PAWS in South Africa, Fiona Miles, in comment to a special session on captive lion breeding that was held this week, where members of Parliament’s Environment Portfolio Committee voiced its disappointment at the delay of implementation of the commitment to end the captive lion breeding industry by the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment.
Says Miles: “Making slow progress with the implementation exploits big cats in captivity and poses a risk to their wild populations. It increases the risk of zoonotic disease transmission, and we believe the export of bones and other live animals also fuels the demand for big cats to be used in traditional medicine or as luxury items. In addition, the legal trade acts as a conduit for illegal big cat trade.”
FOUR PAWS believes ending this industry is of the upmost importance and requires immediate proactive measures to be taken by the Department.
Miles says they are looking forward to news from the Department regarding its proposed Lion Task Team. She believes this task team will enable South Africa to move towards being a country where lions are not intensively farmed, exploited, and commercially traded.
The Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, Barbara Creecy, announced early in August this year that she will appoint a ministerial task team to create exit strategies for the captive lion breeding industry. Creecy said at the time the department is looking for an advisory panel to identify voluntary exit options for lion breeders. She called for nominations to be made to be members of the panel.
Miles pointed out that lions are however not the only big cats currently being bred and sold in this manner in South Africa.
“Tigers, that are non-native to the country and endangered, are being bred here in South Africa for the same commercial purposes. We are calling on the South African Government to end the commercial trade of ALL big cat species.”
She explains that in addition to the organisation’s campaign calling for the end of the commercial trade of all big cat species from South Africa, the FOUR PAWS’ LIONSROCK Big Cat Sanctuary in Bethlehem has recently received several big cats as a pride and dubbed them the #GoldenPride.
They were rescued from a captive breeding facility that did not meet standard requirements for lions in captivity in South Africa. The rescue and release of the ten lions were done in co-operation with authorities. Miles says this shows FOUR PAWS’ commitment to take hands in finding a solution to end captive breeding of big cats in South Africa.
Miles says cases likes this show how difficult it is to monitor compliance in the captive lion breeding industry and how urgent it is to bring an end to breeding facilities such as the one the lions were taken from.
FOUR PAWS’ wildlife team represented the organisation last week at the wildlife trade summit CITES CoP19 in Panama City.
Says Miles: “We also urged signatories to the trade agreements, countries and leaders to act now so we can stand a chance to reverse the decline of wild big cats.”
Miles says the key outcomes for big cats at the summit was that it was agreed that big cat investigations should be held to disrupt criminal networks and law enforcement should continue. Important decisions related to tigers were upheld and specific timelines were set for visits to identified breeding facilities of concern.
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. www.four-paws.org.za