Fiona Miles, Director of FOUR PAWS in South Africa delivers a presentation about the big cat trade to the IFP at Parliament in Cape Town South Africa

moving in the right direction: One step closer to ending the commercial trade of big cats

Fiona Miles, Director at FOUR PAWS in South Africa presented at the Inkatha Freedom Party’s discussion on the crucial topic of Captive Lion Breeding in South Africa


Cape Town, 18 April 2024 The South African Government’s Cabinet has approved the revised Policy Position on the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Elephant, Lion, Leopard and Rhinoceros for implementation. Fiona Miles Director at FOUR PAWS was invited to the recent Inkatha Freedom Party’s event “IFP in Conversation with Experts in the Fields of Environmentalism and Conservation, Crime and Safety” to discuss the ‘Captive Lion Breeding’ industry in South Africa and the recommendations by the Ministerial Task Team recently published after Cabinet approval.

Guests were welcomed by Honourable Narend Singh, IFP Chief Whip and the forum was moderated by Advocate Anthony Mitchell. Amongst the speakers were Ms Swati Thiyagarajan Indian Conservationist, Documentary Filmmaker and Investigative Journalist who discussed the topic of the challenges for South Africa’s biodiversity, Mr Craig Pedersen Crime and Safety Expert, Digital Forensics and Cybercrime discussed the alarming topic of South Africa being one of the largest cybercrime capital in Africa followed by Mr Craig Foster, South African Documentary Filmmaker, Naturalist and Founder of the Sea Change Project who discussed the need for South Africans to embrace nature to bring on a deeper connection to the way we as humans view our conservation.

FOUR PAWS kicked off the presentations of the evening, providing insight into the decades long development of the captive lion breeding industry and the legislatives processes leading up to the recent developments. During the discussion Miles stated that,

“FOUR PAWS commends the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment for these announcements and reiterating the intention to close the captive lion industry. However, we are concerned that unless there is a timeline with time bound specific goals and a government published roadmap or implementation plan, this process may become laborious and drawn out, counteracting the justification towards an urgent need for action.”

Fiona Miles, Director FOUR PAWS in South Africa

The captive lion breeding industry, which has proliferated uncontrolled for almost 35 years for commercial purposes with no conservation benefit, has harmed the country’s reputation. According to a FOUR PAWS commissioned survey, 94% of South Africans agree that big cats should be better protected by the country’s laws and regulations and 68% agree that South Africa’s reputation is damaged because of the export of captive big cats, their parts, and derivatives. FOUR PAWS looks forward to seeing a plan that details how and when the Department for Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment will implement the recommendations from the Ministerial Task Team’s report.

#BreakTheViciousCycle has become the call to action for FOUR PAWS South Africa and one of our biggest campaigns. The campaign has sought to ban the commercial trade of ALL big cats in South Africa, as we have the largest number of captive lions in the world with some estimates of approximately 12,000 animals. There is also an unknown number of tigers bred and traded for commercial purposes and an underlying illegal trade in big cat parts. South Africa is the world’s leading exporter of big cats and their parts,” says Miles.

FOUR PAWS, urges the South African Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment to:

  • Publish a government implementation plan, including time bound specific goals to follow up on Cabinet approved policy position to end the captive keeping of lions for commercial purposes and close captive lion facilities.
  • Include all big cat species in the implementation plan. Due to a global convergence in the legal commercial trade and illegal trade of big cats and their parts, the rationale for closing the lion industry applies to all big cat species.

FOUR PAWS is ready to support Government’s implementation of the progressive recommendations of the Ministerial Task Team’s Report with time-bound deadlines through, amongst others:

  • Making available space at our sanctuary for South African lions that may be confiscated through law enforcement activities or surrendered as part of the voluntary exit.
  • Supporting the establishing of new true sanctuaries.
  • Supporting in the transitioning of facilities that may wish to change their business models to that of conservation and education, through improving animal welfare standards for the current animals and not acquiring more into captivity, investigating alternative energy and other sustainable practises.
  • Mass sterilisation of healthy animals to prevent further breeding.

Concluding remarks were delivered by Honourable Velenkosini Fiki Hlabisa, IFP President and Leader in Parliament, who expressed his thanks to all the speakers who presented on the various crucial topics which indicates the need for legislative intervention. “I am left with a wonderful sense of hope knowing that people like our speakers here tonight are fighting the good fight for all our benefit. I’m also left keenly aware of how little we as legislators know of the complex issues with which we are called to grapple. There is a need for environmental education to be brought back into the SA schooling system which I believe will allow the new generation to learn about how to take better care of our conservation.”

Read the Ministerial Task Team report here:

Read the approved Policy Position on the Conservation and Sustainable Use of elephant, lion, leopard and rhinoceros:

Read the National Environment Management: Biodiversity Act (10/2004) Publication of the draft notice prohibiting certain activities involving African lion (Panthera leo):


FOUR PAWS petition to urge the South African Government to #BreaktheViciousCycle once and for all, and end the commercial trade in live animals and parts of all big cat species

 Find out more about the #BreaktheViciousCycle campaign here.

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Ban the Commercial Trade of Big Cats in South Africa

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Public Relations Officer ZA

Deidre Daniels

Public Relations Officer

+27 (0)21 702 4277

+27 (0)78 675 8220

9B Bell Crescent, Westlake Business Park, 
Green Building, Cape Town, 7945

A Public Relations professional with over eight years’ experience in fostering positive relationships between organisations and media.

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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