In a recent study, conservation group Blood Lions and non-profit organisation, World Animal Protection, delved deep into the welfare issues of lions in captivity and called on the South African government to crack down on the exploitative captive lion industry.
The captive lion industry is comprised of more than 350 commercial facilities housing anywhere between 8000 and 10,000 lions, with very little regard for their wellbeing. The study identified 170 unfavourable conditions associated with the industry, such as malnutrition, obesity, dehydration, and abnormal behaviours such as self-mutilation or excessive pacing.
Following a report recommending the closure of the country’s commercial captive lion industry, Barbara Creecy, Minister of the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE), announced in May 2021 that South Africa would no longer breed or keep captive lions for commercial use.
It has been a year since the announcement, and the captive lion industry has undergone very little change. Breeding, canned hunting and trading of captive-bred lions is still legal, as well as interactive tourism encounters, such as cub petting.
Edith Kabesiime, World Animal Protection Wildlife Campaigns Manager, stated: ‘We urge the Minister to keep pressure on the progress of the upcoming legislative changes, as, in the meantime the welfare of thousands of lions and other big cats hangs in the balance. We appeal to the Minister to urgently carry out a comprehensive national audit of the current commercial captive lion industry, including the welfare conditions of the big cats involved, in order to minimise unintended negative welfare impacts during the planned phase out of the industry in South Africa.’
Picture: Getaway Gallery