Government closes lid on canned lion hunt debate

2014-07-15 00:00

CANNED lion hunting may officially take place in South Africa.

Magdel Boshoff, acting director of the section for endangered or protected species and the Convention on the international trade in endangered species (Cites) at the Department of Environmental Affairs, said yesterday in a meeting that research shows hunting of lions that have been bred in captivity has no negative impact on the numbers of wild lions.

The government’s announcement that it will not prohibit the contentious canned lion hunting industry in South Africa follows several campaigns around the globe against the practice. A petition to the SA government to stop canned lion hunting was signed by 1 430 290 people.

Signatories to the petition said canned lion hunting is unethical and that lions are allegedly bred in squalor and are doped before these animals, which are used to humans, are shot in small camps.

Boshoff said the conservation of just over 3 100 wild lions roaming game parks and game farms is her department’s priority.

She said lions that are bred and hunted in captivity make a considerable contribution to help pay for the conservation of wild lions as well as to South Africa’s economy.

Chris Mercer, founder of the non- governmental organisation Campaign Against Canned Hunting (Cach), yesterday said he is disappointed in the government’s decision. Mercer said Cach delegates are still lobbying MPs in the European Union, Australia and the U.S to prohibit export of lion trophies from SA.

Emeritus professor Pieter Potgieter, chair of the SA Predators Breeders’ Association, yesterday said he felt relieved after the decision.

Potgieter said there were a lot of unfounded preconceptions about hunting lions that had been bred in captivity.

He said the industry members regulated themselves very strictly and the welfare of the lions were important to the breeders. He said lions are no longer sedated when they are moved from camps to hunting areas.

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