Canned lion hunting 'abhorrent to African culture'

20 July 2018 - 11:49
By Claire Keeton
File photo.
Image: Thinkstock Images/Gallo File photo.

Lions should be protected‚ Chief Patekile Songo Holomisa‚ the honorary president of Contralesa (Congress of Traditional Leaders of SA) and deputy minister of labour has said‚ condemning the latest government decision to almost double the legal export of lion bones to 1 500 skeletons from South Africa.

“Lions are revered in traditional culture. Canned hunting is not acceptable. It is abhorrent to African culture‚” said Holomisa on Thursday night. “Lions should be roaming in the wild and not be subjected to this kind of cowardice.”

The poaching of captive lions has more than doubled since South Africa legalised the cross-border trade in lion bones‚ the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) warned this week.

“In the year immediately preceding the quota (June 2016 to May 2017)‚ 13 captive-bred lions in South Africa were poached for their body parts. The EWT notes with concern that during the first year of the quota (June 2017 to May 2018) there were 12 poaching incidents‚ resulting in 31 lions being killed‚” said the trust.

They reported that wild lions in southern Africa‚ specifically Mozambique‚ have been under threat for their body parts. The Greater Limpopo Carnivore Programme reports that 26% of the lion population in the Transfrontier park has been poached for their body parts.

Linda Tucker‚ CEO and founder of the Global White Lion Protection Trust‚ wrote a heartfelt letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday‚ appealing to him to repeal the latest decision‚ which has sparked outrage among wildlife activists and organisations.

“As I write to you‚ 1 500 of our lions‚ incarcerated under abysmal conditions‚ have been committed to slaughter houses in the inappropriately named ‘Free State’. Once vilified for apartheid‚ our country will go down in history for legalising crimes against nature that supersede the wrongs perpetrated by the illegal trade in animal parts. For our international reputation and true moral compass‚ I call upon you with all my heart to repeal this heinous legacy‚” Tucker wrote.

Her letter to Ramaphosa further said: “In the sacred forests of Venda‚ your homeland‚ the ancestral spirits of departed chiefs are said to roam in the form of white lions. Amazingly‚ our country has been blessed with the birth of these majestic animals‚ not only in ancestral spirit‚ but in physical flesh and blood. How abominable then that our former leadership treated nature’s king of kings with such contempt?”

The Department of Environmental Affairs announced on Monday that the annual export quota of 800 skeletons for the international trade in lion bones had been increased to 1 500‚ effective from June 7.

The director of the environmental non-profit organisation EMS Foundation‚ Michele Pickover‚ said that killing lions for their bones in South Africa would kill the country’s brand and have an impact on tourism.