South Africa To End Captive Lion Breeding For Hunting

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 (BRETT ELOFF/ AFP)

South Africa announced plans on Wednesday to phase out captive lion breeding for hunting purposes, as the country prepares to prohibit the controversial practice.

Conservation and animal rights organizations have long despised the practice of breeding large cats only to have them slain by wealthy hunters who spend thousands of dollars.

Hunters, generally foreigners, occasionally keep the head or skin of the dead animal as a trophy.

The South African government had already proclaimed its intention to outlaw lion breeding for hunting in 2021, and an ad hoc panel had been working on the subject for the previous two years.

“The panel recommended the closure of the captive breeding sector, including the keeping of lions in captivity, or the commercial use of captive lions or their derivatives,” Environment Minister Barbara Creecy said during a press conference in Cape Town.

Breeders will have two years to voluntarily resign from the industry and adjust their business model before the prohibition takes effect.

The idea, which has encountered heavy criticism from members of the extremely profitable industry, was approved by the government last week but has yet to be implemented into legislation.

The move comes as trophy hunting faces an increasing criticism in the West.

In recent years, campaigns to ban trophy imports have gained traction in the United States, Australia, and numerous European countries.

“The industry is large and complex, with a long history that is out of sync with both current international trends and domestic conservation policy changes,” said Kamalasen Chetty, chair of the ad hoc group.

According to estimates from animal rights groups that frequently criticize the conditions in which the animals are confined, between 8,000 and 12,000 lions are kept on approximately 350 ranches across South Africa.

In comparison, the Endangered Wildlife Trust, a South African non-governmental organization, estimates that there are only about 3,500 wild lions.



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