Sulaiman Effendi with the lion cub Picture: Facebook

Cape Town – The four-month-old lion cub that was confiscated in Athlone earlier this year was euthanised the same day it arrived at CapeNature.

The conservation body said they were “faced with one of the hardest decisions to make in conservation as a result of the illegal behaviour of three local men”, when they supported and sanctioned the euthanisation by a professional veterinarian in August.

CapeNature spokesperson Loren Pavitt said the cub was euthanised “later that (same) day after protocol was followed”.

The cub, with an estimated street value of R50 000, was found in Athlone on August 21 after police had followed-up leads when photos of the cub went viral on social media.

Pavitt said they had euthanised the cub “in line with international best practice guidelines” and stood by their decision.

“Options to rehabilitate the animal for release back into the wild or place it into an acceptable institution where it would receive the appropriate level of care were all carefully considered, but were found to not be viable or in line with sound conservation principles.

“In this case, it was clear that the cub was treated as a pet and habituated to humans and would be impossible to rehabilitate to a healthy natural behavioural state. 

"Although there are facilities for keeping lions in captivity, there are no rehabilitation facilities in South Africa,” said Pavitt.

CapeNature said there were no successful cases of lions rehabilitated and successfully released into the wild.

“This was supported by the National Parliamentary colloquium on captive lion breeding and hunting in South Africa, which supports this and recommends no more lions find their way into permanent captivity.”

Pavitt said they too were saddened by the decision.

“It must be stressed that CapeNature did not take this decision lightly, and shares the public’s sadness that this was even necessary.”

Pavitt said they had received offers from various organisations to place the cub in captivity, however “existing facilities where lions can be kept operate as commercial ventures where animals are displayed to the public for an admission fee”.

Sulaiman Effendi, Moegamat Rayaan Simons and Shurud Jacobs are currently out on R5 000 bail each and face 14 charges relating to the protection of wild animals.

Cape Times