Captive Lions in Deplorable Condition

CAPTIVE LIONS IN DEPLORABLE CONDITION

The National Council of SPCAs (NSPCA) Wildlife Protection Unit undertook an investigation at two captive lion facilities, owned by the same person, in All Days, in Limpopo after receiving a complaint about underweight lions. The NSPCA Inspectors found deplorable conditions – underweight lions, lack of adequate shelter, lack of veterinary treatment, as well as unhygienic and small enclosures.

A warning highlighting the contraventions in terms of the Animals Protection Act No 71 of 1962 was issued, and a meeting was held on site with Mr Riaan De Jager from the Limpopo Department of Economic Development, Environment and Tourism (LEDET) where the condition of the lions was discussed at length. All parties present agreed that the lions were in a dire situation and urgent intervention was required. The NSPCA was assured that feeding was being addressed urgently.

A follow up inspection was conducted under warrant by NSPCA Inspectors, as well as a world renowned veterinarian with a special interest in large carnivores. The inspection revealed that insufficient improvements had been made by the owner.

The NSPCA is in the process of laying charges in terms of the Animals Protection Act No 71 of 1962, with the submission of scientific and medical evidence from what the veterinarian witnessed during the inspection.

On 12 May 2020, the NSPCA was informed that seven of the lions housed at one of the two facilities had escaped – this only supports the NSPCA’s findings that the owner of these lions is negligent in the way in which these lions are kept, not only within welfare parameters, but public safety as well. The lions were re-captured in the early evening of 12 May 2020 and photographs circulating show a deterioration in the lions’ condition.

“We believe that permits should never have been granted to keep lions, or any other predators like the tigers, as not only was the fencing wholly inadequate, but there are specific dramatic shortfalls on the welfare of these animals – and their welfare has consistently been compromised” said Senior Inspector Douglas Wolhuter, manager of the NSPCA’s Wildlife Protection Unit.

Post the High Court Judgment in 2019 regarding the lion bone quota which the NSPCA brought about, and won, the judgment referred again that animal welfare and conservation are entwined values. Therefore, the welfare should have been considered when deciding on issuing a permit due to the poor conditions and inadequate fencing.

The NSPCA has issued further warnings in terms of contraventions of the Animals Protections Act 71 of 1962 to all role-players concerned. A deadline has been issued by the NSPCA for an action plan regarding the animals and the NSPCA is taking further legal action which will see criminal charges brought about as there is a history of neglect at these facilities which bear a significant influence on the current matter.