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South Africa Finally Responds to Save Lions in Captivity, End 'Canned Hunting'

Sep 07, 2016 06:00 PM EDT

NGOs' call for the termination of hunting captive-bred lions have been accepted in IUCN and acknowledged by the South African goverment during the World Conservation Congress in Hawaii.

The 2016 International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Conservation Congress (WCC) in Hawaii put South Africa in a position to consider a motion presented to them to end the Controversial Canned Lion Hunting Industry, reports World Animal News. South Africa noted the motion moved by seven non-governmental organizations, calling to stop the hunting of captive-bred lions (Panthera leo) and other predators as well as captive breeding for commercial and non-conservation purposes in South Africa.

Though South Africa does not support some aspects of the motion, the country's government said it will consider implications associated with it and engage the IUCN body with the required contents. Following the motion, initial discussions with NGOs were undertaken, which lead to a consensus on the need for continued cooperation to address non-compliance, research needs and strengthening of regulatory framework.

The seven NGOs involved in the motion include Blood Lions, Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), South African Wildlife College (SAWC), Wildlands, and National Association of Conservancies (NACSA), which altogether filed the motion to secure global conservation support at the congress meeting.

Shonisani Munzhedzi, Deputy Director-General, who is responsible for the biodiversity and conservation of the countrys, said that while hunting contributes to conservation and economic growth, they need to strike a balance to still sustain the needs of the affected industries. Thus, the said motion must be undertaken within the framework of the regulatory prescripts. Moreover, he emphasized on the commitment, sustainability and responsible utilization of wildlife to enhance socio-development, rural livelihoods and creation of jobs.

South Africa's professional hunting associations are regarded as "ethically repugnant embarrassment" for practicing canned lion hunting. They are currently holding an estimate of 7,000 captive lions compared to approximately 2,000 lions left in the wild. In light of this situation, a new legislation, hoping to be enacted and implemented in 2020, encourages South African government to prohibit "canned hunting" and consider it illegal.

Furthermore, the proposed law will also restrict zoos and other facilities to keep lions in captivity, unless they show that this will have benefits for conservation. Also, these facilities must also address management norms and standards including welfare, biodiversity and utilization aspects.

A debate on the endangered lions' well-being, called at CITES COP117, will be held in Johannesburg from Sept. 24 to Oct. 5.

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