Pretoria - The government holds the view that there should be a ban on the captive breeding, hunting and petting of lions in South Africa.
This was said by Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment Minister Barbara Creecy yesterday, during a media briefing in Pretoria, where she released a high-level panel report on the management, breeding, hunting, trade and handling of elephants, lions, leopards and rhinos
.The report was put together by a panel of conservationists, scientists, department officials, community leaders and economists appointed in 2019.
Creecy appointed the experts following a colloquium on captive lion breeding in 2018, at which it was recommended that lion breeding in South Africa should be stopped.
She said according to a report of the portfolio committee on environmental affairs, which was adopted by Parliament, there was a predominant view that the captive lion breeding industry did not contribute to conservation, and was doing damage to South Africa’s conservation and tourism reputation.
The department said the appointment of the panel was also in response to the number of emotive and complex conservation issues being raised by the public, particularly those involving keystone species.
These included the lion bone trade, hunting of captive-bred lions, the elephant culling debate, the ivory stockpile, and trade in rhino horn.
Chaired by Pam Yako of the World Wide Fund for Nature. the panel reviewed policies, legislation and practices related to the management, breeding, hunting, trade and handling of elephants, lions, leopards and rhinos.
Yako said the panel recommended the development of a national policy on biodiversity and the sustainable use of resources, which would provide context, clarity and strategic direction to all stakeholders.
It also said such a policy was highly important for the transformation of the sector, empowerment of communities living with wildlife, and for recognition of their traditions and culture, as practised through the traditional leaders and traditional healers.
Yako said: “Many stakeholders identified inefficiencies in and ineffectiveness of governance of the wildlife sector, caused by multiple mandates and dual competency between national (level) and provinces, with this noted as requiring reform from a legislative and implementation practice perspective. Careful consideration of conflicting legislation, policy and mandates, between environment and agriculture, will be undertaken."
The panel, she said, also recommended rationalised and improved contribution of protected areas, to support conservation and the sustainable use of the species, and to aid in serving as drivers of regional rural economies.
She said South Africa’s international standing as a leader in conservation, and its reputation as a member of the global community, was threatened by some wildlife practices, and there was a need for protocol and a risk mitigation and communication strategy.
Creecy said: “Given that there were a number of other burning issues related to other iconic species such as rhino, escalating poaching, rhino horn trade, elephant ivory trade, and leopard threats such as poorly managed trophy hunting, trade in leopard skin for religious and traditional use, the department decided to include these in the terms of reference of the panel to get a holistic view of the pertinent issues.” She said they would be taking forward the recommendations to develop a policy on biodiversity conservation and sustainable use, and adopt a “one welfare approach” for wildlife.