Environment Minister Barbara Creecy made the announcement over
the weekend in hopes of advocating a more "authentic" experience for
Environment Minister Barbara Creecy made the announcement over the weekend in hopes of advocating a more "authentic" experience for visitors.
Hunting remains an extremely controversial topic in and around South Africa, with many calling the practice ‘cruel’, while others advocate for population control, conservation to protect certain plant species, and for food.
While game hunting remains a popular pastime, many have spoken out about the cruelty that comes with trophy hunting. Many international tourists visit South Africa to hunt wild animals like lions, giraffes, and other animals and, as a result, breeding lions specifically for hunting became a popular way to make money. Now, Environment Minister Barbara Creecy has announced a plan to ban the breeding of lions in captivity for trophy hunting or for tourists.
The decision was made in response to recommendations contained in a government study into the controversial practice which studied the rules governing the hunting, trade, and keeping in captivity of lions, elephants, rhino, and leopards.
In a news briefing, Creecy said that the study recommended that "domestication of lions through captive breeding and keeping" should stop.
"We don't want captive breeding, captive hunting, captive (cubs) petting, captive use of lions," the minister said during the briefing, adding the decision is “not aimed at stifling the hunting industry”.
The minister admits that she is expecting a backlash from players in the multi-million dollar industry of captive lion breeding. "Legal regulated hunting of the iconic species under the regulatory environment will continue to be permitted," she said, adding that the ban will stop "tourists' interaction with captive lions, including cub petting".
She adds that "the intention here is to ensure that those who are interested in... authentic wildlife hunting" will have such an experience and "will not be hunting animals that have been taken out of the cage,."
Interestingly, there are between 8,000 and 12,000 lions at some 350 farms around South Africa which are raised for hunting, tourism, and academic research, according to estimates by wildlife groups. Meanwhile, only around 3,500 lions live in the wild across the country – a stark contrast.
This is why global animal charity World Animal Protection hailed the government's decision as courageous.
"Thousands of farmed lions are born into a life of misery in South Africa every year in cruel commercial breeding facilities," said Edith Kabesiime, World Animal Protection's campaign manager for Africa. "This is a win for wildlife" and will ensure that "lions remain where they belong -- in the wild.”
Image courtesy: Pixabay
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