Over 1400 Lion, Leopard trophies exported: Minister
Big cats, mainly dead ones of the genus Panthera, are big export items, according to figures released by Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa.
In a written reply to a parliamentary question, tabled on Monday, she said export permits for just over 1400 lion (Panthera leo) and leopard (Panthera pardus) trophies were issued in the past two years.
This total -- for 2009 and last year -- does not include hundreds more export permits for skins, bones, "carcasses" and skulls.
The export permits are issued under provisions of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), to which South Africa is a signatory.
According to the figures provided by Molewa, the country issued permits during 2009 for the export of 121 live lions, as well as 131 lion skins; 92 carcasses, plus various lion bones; 741 trophies; four "bodies"; and 122 lion skulls.
Figures for last year (2010) are incomplete, due to provinces not yet having captured all the data, but over and above 153 live lions sent out of the country, South Africa exported 46 skins, 235 "carcasses", 592 trophies, 43 "bodies" and 41 skulls.
Corresponding figures for leopards are considerably lower.
Last year (incomplete figures), permits were issued for the export of one live leopard, six skins, 10 trophies and five skulls.
The year before (2009), a total of 62 live leopards were exported, plus 71 skins, 58 trophies and 90 skulls.
The reply deals only with exports, and gives no indication of the number of lion and leopard trophies within the country.
The parliamentary question was posed by Democratic Alliance deputy chief whip Mike Ellis.
Panthera, a genus of the family Felidae, includes tigers, lions, leopards and panthers.