Faced with one of the "hardest decisions", CapeNature has explained why it euthanised a lion cub which was found in possession of three men in Athlone, after coming in for criticism for the decision.
Shurud Jacobs, Moegamat Rayaan Simons and Sulaiman Effendi were arrested in August after the cub was found at Effendi's Athlone home.
News24 previously reported that the cub had initially been transported from Thabazimbi, north-west of Pretoria, before finding itself in the Western Cape.
CapeNature said options were considered, like rehabilitating the cub to be released into the wild or to place it in an institution, "but were found to not be viable or in line with sound conservation principles".
"There are no successful cases of lions that have been rehabilitated and successfully released into the wild," said acting general manager Loren Pavitt on behalf of the organisation.
Unable to fend for itself
"In fact, the National Parliamentary colloquium on captive lion breeding and hunting in South Africa – supports this and recommends no more lions find their way into permanent captivity."
The lion cub was already habituated to humans and would have been unable to fend for itself in the wild, possibly continuing to seek human contact, the statement said.
"As the biodiversity conservation authority of the Western Cape, CapeNature has the obligation to look past the individual perspective and evaluate what is best for the species.
"This places CapeNature in the position to sometimes make hard decisions which are not always popular with or understood by the public," CapeNature Executive Director: Conservation Operations, Dr Ernst Baard said.
Paul Hart, owner of Drakenstein Lion Park, a sanitary for lions, said they were disappointed by the decision to euthanise the cub.
"It was unnecessary. There are two sanctuary homes available for the cub.
"CapeNature could have given the cub to a sanctuary, and it could have been used as an educational campaign as to why wild animals shouldn't be kept as pets," Hart said.
He said the rationale used by CapeNature was disingenuous because the bodies and practices have no relevance.
"The Parliamentary colloquium is about breeding lions," Hart said.
Jacobs, Rayaan Simons and Effendi are out on R5 000 bail and will appear in court again in February, News24 previously reported.