South Africa to ban breeding lions in captivity for hunting and petting

Lion cub forced to entertain tourists, Lion and Safari Park, credit: Reuters/Tim Cocks/File Photo
Lion cub forced to entertain tourists, Lion and Safari Park, credit: Reuters/Tim Cocks/File Photo

South Africa revealed plans on Sunday to ban the breeding of lions in captivity used for trophy hunting and petting for tourists. A special government-appointed panel researching the controversial practices recommended the ban.

The panel studied the existing policies, legislation and practices relating to the handling, breeding, hunting and trade of lions, elephants, leopards and rhinos.

Environment Minister Barbara Creecy told a news conference that the 600-page report said to “halt and reverse the domestication of lions through captive breeding and keeping”.

Creecy added that the report also advised that action be “taken immediately to stop tourists’ interaction with captive lions, including cub petting”.

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

The practice of hunting lions raised in captivity has long been controversial in South Africa, where many animals are kept in pens with electric fences.

The decision still has to be formulated into policy, but animal welfare organizations have welcomed the news.

“Today is a massive celebration for South African lions with the government adopting recommendations to end the abhorrent captive lion breeding industry,” Audrey Delsink, wildlife director at Humane Society International-Africa, said.

“Lions will no longer have to suffer in horrid conditions for someone’s selfie, canned trophy or have their body parts harvested for wines and powders,” Delsink added.

The minister said that hunting would continue but on wild lions and not captive lions. “Legal regulated hunting of the iconic species under the regulatory environment will continue to be permitted,” she said.

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