Captive lion breeding in South Africa: the case for a total ban | 6/28/2017 | Staff
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A new report by global NGO, World Animal Protection, provides a damning indictment on the captive predator breeding industry. Big cats are being bred for the use of their bones in traditional Chinese medicine. China is estimated to house about 8 000 tigers in captivity, while South Africa may have as many as 14 000 lions. Nontobeko Mtshali asks Ross Harvey to analyse the issues around captive breeding in South Africa.

Is the South African government doing enough to manage the fact that it's got the biggest number of wild cats in captivity?

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No. The fact that it has the largest number of big cats in captivity in the world—anywhere north of 8 000—across an estimated 300 facilities—is evidence of an industry out of control. It remains largely unregulated.

The Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries admits that it doesn't know how many facilities there are. Nor does it know how many predators are in captivity.

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Captive breeding is permissible under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The trade in products arising from it is permitted under an annotation. But the International Union for the Conservation of Nature—the world's foremost conservation body—has unequivocally called for its termination.

The South African government has been slow to act against the industry despite significant welfare concerns. These include the fact that regular practices include removing cubs born in captivity from their mothers a few hours after birth. And that they are regularly sold into the captive-origin (canned) hunting industry after they've outlived their usefulness, or sold directly into the Asian tiger bone trade.

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On top of this South Africa's legal trade is actively encouraging the consumption of tiger parts, which is imperilling highly endangered wild tigers. This is because lion bones masquerade as tiger bones in China, where the purchase of tiger products...
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