FOUR PAWS responds to South African Department of Environmental Affairs’ first Biodiversity Management Plan for Lions
- The proposals contained within the document, which has been released for public comment, are alarming for the future of lions in South Africa.
A quick summary of what the documentary proposes
The proposal states that due to an increase in the number of lions in captive conditions in South Africa there is no longer a need for the current protection levels offered to lion as a species. A basis of this argument is that wild populations are not threatened and captive populations have increased and can further increase and therefore overall numbers of lions in South Africa is at an accepted level to decrease their protection.
A Biodiversity Management Plan?
Firstly it is important to understand that the document is titled a Biodiversity Management Plan. Such plans are used globally in the field of conservation to provide a structure to help restore habitats and protect species. The ultimate aim of any Biodiversity Management Plan is to increase the population of a species and to ensure the species has what it needs to survive and thrive.
This particular document proposes that in an age where South Africa and the African continent is experiencing devastatingly high levels of poaching, the protection offered to the lion should be downgraded, . If accepted, this could be the world’s first Biodiversity Management Plan that actually fuels the illegal trade in a species, enables growth in the hunting sector and reduces the welfare of the animal it should aim to protect.
Check out our video 'Dead Lion Walking' to find out more about the Canned Hunting industry:
What would downgrading the protection offered to lions in South Africa actually mean?
The proposed document has a running theme mentioning captive populations of lion and how they have increased the overall population of lions in South Africa, which is ultimately the basis of the proposed downgrading in protection. It is essential to note that the captive population of lions in South Africa is the sole product of the canned hunting industry, unscrupulous volunteer programs and petting facilities, none of which contribute to Biodiversity Management or consider the welfare of the animals.
If the South African government accepts this imprudent action plan the trade in lion parts and transport of trophies would be fuelled through relaxed international restrictions. Therefore, the proposed plan would effectively provide the basis and infrastructure to increase the commoditising of lions in South Africa which can only fuel international trade and increase hunting and exploitation of animals.
Fuelling the trade in lion parts and increasing trophy exports
The South African government has already commissioned a panel to investigate the subject of legalising the rhino horn trade. FOUR PAWS believes that the proposed plan for lions effectively provides the first step in accelerating the trade of lions as it would essentially open trade routes and contribute to the growth of a market that demands lion parts.
With the demand of animal products already decimating wildlife populations and causing the most serious concerns for animal welfare, contributing to such trade would have devastating results for lions.
If accepted the proposal would also set a foundation allowing any number of lion trophies to be freely exported from South Africa without restriction. Lowering the protection offered to lions would downgrade the seriousness of trade and welfare problems and only act as a tool to allow the canned hunting industry to grow.
Advice/ Recommendation to the South African government
The Australian government has taken action banning the import of lion trophies from South Africa into Australia. Major airlines such as South African Airways and Emirates have placed embargos on carrying lion trophies on their flights. The action taken both by governments and huge multinationals are motivated by the horrendous conditions of captive bred lions in South Africa and the growing international public condemnation of the practice of breeding animals to be shot in a closed environment for so called ‘trophies’.
FOUR PAWS calls on the South African government to act and join the global movement by recognising that lions in South Africa need greater protection and that any Biodiversity Action Plans must not benefit unscrupulous hunting industries. The South African government should be one of the world’s greatest ambassadors for animals such as the lion and not the target of multiple global embargos and campaigns for its role in fuelling wildlife abuses.
Call to action
FOUR PAWS calls on it supporters to tell the South African authorities to not down grade the protection it offers to its lions. Please write to the below email address and express you views and be united in our global fight to end this massive crisis in animal welfare.
Environment House Attention: Ms Humbulani Mafumo 473 Steve Biko Street Arcadia, Pretoria
Or by e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org