‘Break The Vicious Cycle’ - Four Paws

Big cat sanctuary at Lionsrock. Picture: supplied.

Big cat sanctuary at Lionsrock. Picture: supplied.

Published Apr 24, 2024


Durban — The South African Government Cabinet has approved the revised Policy Position on the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Elephant, Lion, Leopard, and Rhinoceros for implementation,

Four Paws South Africa director Fiona Miles commended the Department of Forestry, Fishery, and the Environment (DFFE) for reiterating and announcing the intention to close the captive lion industries, but expressed concern over the lack of specific time bound goals for the implementation of the plan.

“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,” Miles said.

Miles added that 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 DFFE 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 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,” Miles said.

Four Paws is ready to support the government’s implementation of the progressive recommendations of the Ministerial Task Team’s Report with time-bound deadlines through, among 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 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 practices.
  • Mass sterilisation of healthy animals to prevent further breeding.

Concluding remarks were delivered by IFP President Velenkosini Hlabisa 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 am 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.”

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