Invitation to SATSA to end promotion of predator exploitation
Audrey Delsink, Masha Kalinina
16 August 2017

SATSA President: Mr. Gavin Courtenay
SATSA CEO: Mr. David Frost
And all SATSA Members

Dear Mr. Courtenay, Mr. Frost and all SATSA Members

cc: The Honorable Minister of Tourism, Ms. Tokozile Xasa

We, as some of the leading organizations working against the captive-bred predator and canned hunting industries, write to you in recognition of SATSA being one of South Africa’s leading tourism bodies. And as a group, we also acknowledge your, as well as the global tourism industry’s move to increasingly embrace responsible and ethical tourism experiences.

This is an exciting time for the industry as it continues to experience incredible growth. To encourage further momentum, it is critical to guard against potential damage to Brand South Africa. One of the most effective ways to achieve this is to be a leader in promoting authentic activities that match our marketing campaigns.

With this in mind, we urge you to take a strong stance against animal interactions, such as the use of captive-bred predators in cub petting, lion walks and the voluntourism sector. To this end, ninety-eight leading tour operators and safari companies from across Africa and the world have already joined the “Born to Live Wild” pledge with the common goal of ending exploitative tourism practices as well as promoting Africa as an authentic, wild and rewarding tourism destination.

The award-winning documentary film Blood Lions™ sheds light on the sad truth that there are between 6,000 to 8,000 lions held in captivity on private farms and facilities across South Africa. And many of these are being bred for cruel and unethical canned lion trophy hunts. However, the film also shows the links between the breeding and various other revenue streams, which includes the way young cubs are forcibly removed from mothers to be used to lure unsuspecting volunteers for hand-rearing, and tourists for cub petting and lion walks. Together with canned trophy hunting, these activities are all part of the same industry exploiting lions destined for a brutal death. It does not stop there. Once hunted, this industry sells lion bones as a byproduct to Asia where they are used in tonics and other forms of traditional medicine. Apart from the exploitation, big cat interactions are also extremely dangerous with increasing incidents of people injured or even killed.

Collectively, Blood Lions™, Humane Society International, Humane Society International/Africa and Wildlands call on SATSA and your members to follow the lead already set by many within your membership to sign the “Born to Live Wild” pledge and not to promote operations offering these activities. In addition, we call on SATSA to join us in calling for an end to all breeding of predators for non-conservation purposes. By ending the exploitative breeding, there will be no need to deal with compliance issues.

In fact, over 113 000 individuals from around the world have already called on tour operators to join the pledge, and these signatures are provided separately. Will you answer their call and join the CEO for South Africa Tourism, the African Lion Working Group, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and ninety-eight tour operators in pledging against the captive breeding and exploitation of African predators in the tourism sector?

Let us work together to end predator breeding and big cat interactions, a dark stain on African tourism. Let’s ensure that SATSA members truly reflect “the mark of quality tourism in Southern Africa”.


Audrey Delsink Executive Director: HSI/Africa
Masha Kalinina International Trade Policy Specialist, HSI 

Read actual letter: file: HSI Letter