Lion poaching a concern for farmers

12 January 2017 - 19:10 By Jan Bornman
Image: Gallo Images/ Thinkstock

The poaching of three lions in Limpopo has thrown the spotlight on the increasing demand for animal parts‚ which local wildlife farmers fear might cripple small players in the industry.

Farm owner Andre de Lange and some of his staff came across the carcasses of the three lions on Wednesday morning‚ and were shocked to discover all three lions had their paws and heads cut off.

De Lange said he had suffered damages to the cost of R900‚000‚ after the poachers had cut through three different wire fences and by-passed an advanced alarm system to poison the animals.

This comes just six months after he suffered a similar incident‚ with two lions killed on his farm last year.

"If it continues like this‚ I will have to leave this industry. It is just too costly and it becomes impossible to continue in this industry‚" he said.

"I don't have insurance because it costs around R100‚000 per month to insure a lion and I don’t even make that much money."

Limpopo police spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Moatshe Ngoepe confirmed that the police in Tzaneen have launched a manhunt for the suspects.

Ngoepe said police were still investigating and had made no arrests yet.

Last year‚ during the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) conference held in Johannesburg‚ there was a plea from nine African countries to uplist lions to the maximum level of protection as an endangered species‚ but the request was voted against.

This move was aimed at stricter enforcement in the trade of lion bones and other lion products‚ which were often used for traditional medicine and muti in both local and international markets.

Pieter van Zyl‚ a game farmer who has been working with lions for seven years and is a member of the SA Predators Association‚ said there had been an upsurge in the poaching of lions and other predators. "It is a huge problem. There is quite a big demand for lion products outside of South Africa‚" Van Zyl said.

He believes the increase in poaching incidents is directly linked with stricter regulations and more difficulty to secure a permit to hunt lions and other predators.

Albi Modise‚ spokesperson for the department of environmental affairs‚ said the department didn’t keep updated figures on lion poaching and would need to collate it from provincial authorities‚ as it considered the poaching as isolated incidents.

-TMG Digital/The Times