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Judgment was handed down in the Pretoria High Court today in a case between the National Council of SPCAs (NSPCA), and the Minister of Environmental Affairs and the South African Predator Breeders Association regarding the lion bone export quotas and the implications for the welfare of captive lion. Judgment was found in favour of the NSPCA.

Judge Kollapen found that the quotas set in 2017 and 2018 for the export of lion bone skeletons were unlawful and unconstitutional, and did not follow due process. It was further stated that the Minister and the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) disregarded the welfare of captive lion in setting the quota, and whilst welfare is not their mandate, the Minister and the DEA must take the welfare of captive lion, and other captive wildlife into consideration in decision making.

The NSPCA have recently opened a number of criminal cases against captive lion facilities that have neglected, and in some instances, completely disregarded the welfare of their lions. For these reasons, the NSPCA launched this application as the lion bone quota directly impacts the welfare of captive lions.

The NSPCA elatedly welcomes this judgment as it has broader implications for the welfare of wild animals – both wild populations and captive wild animals. The captive lion industry, cub petting, canned hunting, and the trade in lion bone is a highly contentious and controversial issue both globally and locally.

“We are overjoyed that the importance of animal welfare, and the vital and legal role of the NSPCA in protecting captive and wild animals, has been recognised in this precedent setting judgement. One cannot simply use, abuse, and trade wildlife without considering their welfare and wellbeing” said Karen Trendler, manager of the NSPCA’s Wildlife Trade and Trafficking Portfolio.

In his opening statements, Judge Kollapen stated that this was an important judgment for both current and future generations in addressing the manner in which society interacts with wildlife and the environment.

It has been a tough, intensive and challenging case. The NSPCA would like to extend their sincere thanks to their dedicated legal team and expert witnesses for their input and support – an incredible team effort.

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