Parliament weighs in on captive lion breeding after outcry by conservationists
“MPs must be concerned when reputable conservation agencies turn their backs on SA and deplore its policies [regarding captive lion breeding],” said Mohlopi Mapulane, Portfolio Committee on Environmental Affairs chair, emphasizing that there are questions regarding the scientific viability of captive-breeding lions for the purpose of hunting and using their parts.
The two-day captive breeding lion for hunting colloquium, currently underway in Cape Town, is aimed at addressing the global ‘outcry’ against the industry and South Africa’s role in wildlife conservation.
To coincide with the start of the event, Humane Society International (HSI) Africa released the outcome of a nationwide poll, showing an overwhelming public concern about the lion breeding industry.
More than two-thirds of South Africans indicated that they think lion breeding is harmful to the country’s international reputation. HSI’s findings echo another new report published by the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA), which revealed that the captive lion breeding industry revenue represents less than 2% of South Africa’s tourism revenue and that the lion breeding industry damages South Africa’s reputation as a tourist destination.
“The conservation value of predator breeding is zero; the economic value is minimal and undermines South Africa’s tourism brand value. The negative reputation effect is real, and too often ignored,” says Ross Harvey, author of the SAIIA report.
Reports such as the recent ‘The Extinction Business: South Africa’s ‘Lion’ Bone Trade’, as well as the Born Free Foundation’s report, “Cash before Conservation, an overview of the breeding of lions for hunting and bone trade” review the damning effect this regulation has had for South Africa as a leading wildlife conservation and tourism destination.
Organisations favouring the captive-breeding of lions, such as the South African Predator Association (SAPA), are of the opinion that “the captive lion industry in South Africa is a well-regulated, manageable industry that contributes way more positively to South Africa than negatively,” as stated by SAPA’s President, MK Nematandani.
The Portfolio Committee on Environmental Affairs will then advise whether legislation on regulating the controversial practice is needed.