South Africa to Ban Captive Lion Breeding for Trophy Hunting

SOUTH AFRICA has revealed plans to ban the breeding of lions in captivity for trophy hunting or for tourists to pet, advocating a more “authentic” experience for visitors.

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The decision was in response to recommendations contained in a government study into the controversial practice.

The panel studied the rules governing the hunting, trade and keeping in captivity of lions, elephants, rhino and leopards.

Environment Minister Barbara Creecy told a news conference on Sunday that the study recommended a halt to the “domestication of lions through captive breeding and keeping. “

“We don’t want captive breeding, captive hunting, captive (cubs) petting, captive use of lions,” the minister said.

The decision, which is yet to be formulated into policy, is likely to set the government on a collision course with the powerful multi-million-dollar industry of captive lion breeding.

The minister said the recommendations were not aimed at stifling the hunting industry.

“Legal regulated hunting of the iconic species under the regulatory environment will continue to be permitted,” she said.

But the report urged a stop to “tourists’ interaction with captive lions, including cub petting”, Creecy noted.

The practice of hunting lions raised in captivity has long been controversial in South Africa, where a large number of animals are confined to pens ringed with electric fences.

Campaigns to ban the importation of captive-bred lion trophies have in recent years gathered steam in the United States, Australia and several European countries.

The minister said the tourism industry was susceptible to negative perceptions.

South Africa counts between 8,000 and 12,000 lions at some 350 farms, where they are raised for hunting, tourism and academic research, according to estimates by wildlife groups.

They are also raised for their bones, used in medicine and jewellery in Southeast Asia, according to wildlife charities.

By contrast around 3,500 lions live in the wild in the country, according to the South African-based Endangered Wildlife Trust.

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