The National Council of SPCAs (NSPCA) has lodged an urgent interdict against the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) to suspend DEA’s authorisation of lion bone exports.
The NSPCA has long been actively involved in addressing the cruelty in the captive lion industry; starting with lion cubs for petting to ‘canned lion’ hunting or slaughter for lion bone, with pending cruelty cases.
The NSPCA has been frustrated in its efforts to prevent this cruelty by the lack of regulation within the industry. Not only are there regulatory loopholes, but there is also generally a lack of cooperation and communication from both national and provincial authorities.
Following decisions taken at CITES CoP17, the Minister of Environmental Affairs established an export quota of 800 skeletons for 2017. The NSPCA requested a judicial review of the quota; with the review process still grinding through the Courts; the DEA announced a 1500 quota for 2018.
The NSPCA has launched an urgent interdict based on welfare concerns. The NSPCA also believes, for both the review and interdict purposes that:
• there is inadequate regulation of lions’ conditions of captivity and slaughter;
• the study on which the decision was based is incomplete;
• the DEA failed to comply with its statutory duty to consult;
• based on expert opinion and data available, consider the decision to be scientifically irrational;
• lion bone trade may threaten the viability of lion and other big cat populations globally encouraging consumers to utilise lion bone as a replacement for tiger bone in wine, tonics and traditional medicines and may increase demand;
• captive lion ‘farming’ is an industry that has no conservation value and poses a risk to both wild lion, tiger and other big cat populations globally;
• The lion bone trade has links to transnational wildlife crime syndicates and other wildlife crime.
The NSPCA would like to extend its heartfelt appreciation to the dedicated legal team and the various experts who have supported our efforts and cause.
The NSPCA is of the view that cruelty to lions is an inevitable consequence of the DEA’s misguided actions and is therefore committed to fighting this decision in court to protect lions.