MUFASA the lion’s fate, and life, lie with the courts.
MUFASA the lion’s fate, and life, lie with the courts.

Crusade to save Mufasa the white lion

By SAKHILE NDLAZI Time of article published Oct 17, 2018

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THE campaign to save Mufasa the lion from canned hunting is roaring with might and gaining momentum among animal lovers and other sectors of society.

Mufasa is a white lion, of which there are fewer than 300 of his kind left in the world, and only 13 in the wild.

The life of the 3-year-old hangs in the balance; in 2015 he was confiscated by law enforcement from a Pretoria family who kept him as a pet without a permit.

He was handed to Wild for Life Rehabilitation Centre in the Rustenburg area, where he has been cared for since. However, he could be sold on auction and thereafter condemned to a life of preparing for trophy hunting.

The fear of this has been at the centre of an online petition, which has generated 190000 signatures.

Just over R300000 has been spent on Mufasa’s rehabilitation. The centre fears Mufasa would be turned into canned meat or bones and sold to Asian countries.

Carel Zietsman, lawyer for Wild for Life Rehabilitation Centre, said there would be only two markets for Mufasa: auctioned in order to be hunted, or slaughtered and exported as lion bones. “Legally, we think the department responsible for nature conservation has a moral and legal obligation to look after wild animals,” he said. “The rehab centre where Mufasa is kept has just been served with a court application by NatCon to interdict them to hand him over. Obviously, we are going to take Mufasa’s side and oppose this.

“We believe Mufasa and Suraya (another lion in the centre, also facing the same fate) have the right to live the rest of their natural lives in a sanctuary where they will be as close to free as is humanly possible.”

He said they also believed that human wisdom had evolved so that they no longer just focused on feeding animals in captivity, but they had the obligation to care for their well-being, including their emotional state, until they died. “This means that they should not be subjected to stress or kept in circumstances that induces stress or emotional hardship.”

Zietsman said he offered to relocate Mufasa to a sanctuary called Sanwild, and Wild for Life undertook to pay the cost incurred in caring for him. The department declined the offer.

North West environmental affairs authorities declined to comment as the matter was in court.

In the petition, it was stated: “The department has declined our offer to write off all costs in returning Mufasa. The case will now be heard in the High Court in Mmabatho, which pushes up our court costs to R100000. We tried to stay in the Regional Court to prevent the escalation, but the department has now forced our hand, hence the increase in fundraising efforts.”

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