Anger over green light given to lion farms
Elise Templehoff
13 March 2019

Non-governmental and conservation organizations are highly upset that the Department of Environmental Affairs has not shown the “political will” to close the Canned Lion Breeding industry. This was the general response yesterday by stakeholders to the Department of Environmental Affairs’ submission on the controversial industry to the Environmental Affairs Portfolio Committee. 

According to the submission, officials from the Department of Environmental Affairs have visited 227 lion farms over the past few months. The department’s team explained to the portfolio committee that 88 were trading without permits. However, the department renewed the permits there and then. 

Dr. Louise de Waal, of Green Girls in Africa, and consultant for the responsible tourism industry, described the department’s actions as “shocking”. “The permits were renewed without any of the owners of the lion farms being fined.

According to the departmental team, the Free State has the most lion farms. Inspectors from the department visited 111 of these farms in the Free State. 62 of them farmed with lions without permits. In North West, where the second-largest lion farms are, officials visited 74 lion farms and 20 did not have permits. In Limpopo they visited 31 lion farms and 6 did not have permits. “All expired permits have been renewed.”

According to the department, lion farms are not allowed in the Western Cape. 

Stefania Falcon of Future for Africa Wildlife, who attended the parliamentary debate, said the committee members “were like lambs in the hands of department officials.” 

“Rather than forcing the portfolio committee to force the department to close the industry, they agreed better regulation should rather take place.” 

This is inconsistent with the Report published by the Portfolio Committee in August last year, which recommended that legislation should be introduced to close down the industry  . 

She said she was “extremely annoyed” in the portfolio committee’s “sudden turnaround” of their early stance that this industry was unethical, and that the South Africa’s name was being damaged by it . 

Audrey Delsink, director of Humane Society International in Africa, said she was “stunned” by the department of environmental affairs. The whole process that was proposed early on by the portfolio committee to close the canned lion industry has derailed. “It’s totally undermined,” she said. In addition, the Department of Environmental Affairs is hiding behind the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries regarding the welfare of the thousands of canned lions in South Africa. “It goes without saying that, despite research showing that  the canned lion industry will cost South Africa R54 billion in loss of tourism revenue, the portfolio committee is suddenly satisfied that the industry is regulated.” 

She once again cautioned them about the damage it will do to brand South Africa. 

Ross Harvey of the South African International Relations Institute said he also found it shocking that the Department of Environmental Affairs had ignored the recommendations of the portfolio committee report.

*This article was translated from Afrikaans

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