The NSPCA’s Wildlife Protection Unit were despatched to a lion breeding facility in the Boshoff area in the Free State province on 27 July 2022, following a complaint received from the Free State Provincial Nature Conservation authorities known colloquially as DESTEA over welfare concerns.  


The Inspectors found lions in poor health, with the majority showing signs of malnutrition and emaciation. Before the Inspectors left the property, food was procured by the owner and the NSPCA have proof of continued and substantial feeding on their follow up with the facility.


The NSPCA have Inspectors on the ground again today to ensure the welfare of the lions is prioritised, and that the owner is keeping his commitment to their upkeep.


On 4 August 2022, the NSPCA engaged with the Deputy Director General for Biodiversity and Conservation and other members from the Department of Forestry, Fisheries, and the Environment (DFFE); representatives from various Provincial Conservation Departments where captive lion facilities and breeding occur; as well as the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD). The objective of the meeting was to discuss the urgent need to address the increasing welfare concerns found at lion farms. The rampant animal welfare concerns within the industry call for immediate intervention and the finalisation of various legislative and policy processes.


The NSPCA expressed the urgency for an exit strategy for those wanting to voluntarily exit the industry. Legitimate concerns exist around the status, welfare and well-being of all animals involved in the captive lion industry, more so during the uncertain period of policy formulation, enactment, and implementation to essentially bring an end to the captive lion industry. There is a desperate need to find an interim measure that serves to address the current developing issues on the ground that is pragmatic until the Panel of Experts is established.


Not only does the Animals Protection Act No. 71 of 1962 hold the legal requirement to prevent cruelty to animals, the 2019 NSPCA High Court Lion Bone Export Quota Judgement was absolutely clear in highlighting that the well-being and welfare of any animal is not a question of legislative mandates, but the consideration and inclusion of animal welfare that remains the shared responsibility for all, whether under DALRRD, DFFE, Provincial Nature Conservation Departments, and all stakeholders within the captive lion industry.


Animal welfare is a legal imperative supported by the Animals Protection Act 71 of 1962 which is a national act, and the contravention of which is a criminal offense and thus bears implication and responsibility of all who reside or carry out business within South Africa.


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