Lion Trading the Same as Cow Trading for Some

Discussion in 'News & Announcements' started by AFRICAN INDABA, Sep 7, 2010.



    Aug 21, 2009
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    Lion Trading the Same as Cow Trading for Some
    by Tony Carnie

    A pending court case on South Africa's canned lion controversy is expected to have far-reaching ramifications for local hunters and several thousand lions - and possibly open a new and much uglier can of worms. In a nutshell, local lion-breeders have mounted a last-ditch legal challenge to prevent the government from shutting down their hunting and breeding industry. If they lose the case, the captive-breeding/ hunting industry will have to shut down or go underground and most of its members will be looking for new jobs. When this happens, lion breeders say, there will be no alternative but to "euthanize" most of the captive-bred lion population estimated at about 5 000 animals. Local animal welfare groups say there are not enough zoos or sanctuaries to accommodate so many lions and acknowledge most of them will probably have to be destroyed.

    There is also a possibility the government will grant the lion-breeders a phasing-out or sunset period to wind up their businesses and offer the last captive lions to hunters and other takers. But there is also a much grimmer alternative - turning lions into the equivalent of bone meal. The notion that the government would tolerate such a proposal seems outlandish and far-fetched, yet it is not illegal to export and trade lion products, if traders can obtain permits.

    David Newton, Johannesburg-based head of the international wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC, says in theory there is nothing to stop lion products being traded legally under the provisions of the international Convention on Illegal Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Lions are classified under CITES Appendix II, which affords a lower level of protection than is given to the more endangered Asian tiger, which falls under Appendix I.

    In his opinion, international laws would not prohibit trading of captive-bred lion bones. Asked if lion-breeders could exploit this opportunity, Newton said: "I'm sure they will. There is some interest in this already. Whether breeders choose to acknowledge this or not is neither here nor there. Some traders don't follow the animal rights view. For them it is just another commodity... trading in lions would not be any different to trading cows.

    "We know there is a limited trade in lion bones already and this is of great concern to us - especially if it is being driven by the Asian markets. We also know tiger bone is in demand in Asia and there have been some recent confiscations of intercepted lion patella bones (kneecaps)." Newton says wildlife intelligence sources indicate cat bone traders in Asia could be prepared to accept lion bones as an alternative to tiger bone, as the two big cat species are closely related and also capable of interbreeding. "So far we have not seen any lion bones in powdered form, and I would be surprised to see that happening, because most traders would want to be supplied with the real thing. Perhaps if they really trusted the supplier they would accept powdered bones."

    Asked for his opinion on whether trade in the products of captive-bred lions might help ease hunting pressure on wild lions, Newton said there were captive-breeding facilities, such as the De Wildt cheetah-breeding centre, that had conservation objectives. "I'm not sure the captive-lion breeders help conservation. To some extent they are creating a new market, so TRAFFIC does not support tiger farming or lion farming where the final product is bone. We think there is a risk that some animals will be mixed up to create a new market. "People in China have tried to farm tigers for some time, yet we have not seen any improvement for wild tigers - and so the same holds for South Africa. My feeling is that some farmers are catering to hunters who could not care less where their lion comes from."

    As for lion-bone farming, Newton says this could increase the pressure on wild lions but says the organisation does not have enough information about this market and hopes to raise funds to do a more detailed study. "How do you know whether lion bones are coming from wild or captive bred animals? How many wildlife officers can recognise a lion bone? If you are going to allow something like this you need to know what you are looking at." In his opinion, local wildlife officials could be entitled to sign a CITES export permit for lion bones if scientific experts decided such trade was "not detrimental" to the species. Another source cites a recent case in which the Free State nature conservation agency allegedly issued a permit allowing the export of lion bones to a neighbouring province. What rang alarm bells was that the permit contained only English and Chinese text, sparking concern that some lion breeders had already made contact with Chinese intermediaries. "My information is the Chinese will pass off the lion bones as free-ranging tiger bones. If South Africa relaxes controls there is no way to flood the Chinese bone medicine market because it's so massive."

    Last month the Endangered Wildlife Trust and other conservation and animal welfare groups met Department of Environmental Affairs officials and urged them to put regulations in place to avert a further conservation crisis involving lion bones. Sarel van der Merwe, chairman of the Kuruman-based African Lion Working Group, also fears lion-breeders are poised to exploit the potential lion bone trade option. "If there is money to be made from bones they will find ways to do it - or the trade will simply go underground. At the moment, some of our concerns are based on suspicion that lion breeders, zoos and safari parks from all over the world will find it increasingly worthwhile to export bones, much like the illegal trade in rhino horn.

    Leigh Fletcher, a lion breeder from Sandhurst Safaris in North West, testified in a recent trial that she had spent her life feeding, rearing and doctoring lion cubs in much the same way as farmers bred cattle. Her brother Clayton Fletcher will stand trial in October for his alleged involvement in a criminal syndicate that poached, procured and traded illegal rhino horn throughout South Africa.

    Van der Merwe says the African lion is already under severe threat from habitat loss, disease, poisoning and human persecution. Compared with estimates of about 200 000 lions in Africa in 1975, Van der Merwe and Dutch researcher Hans Bauer believe the continent's wild lion population has declined to between 16 000 and 30 000 animals. Other researchers suggest a more optimistic figure of 47 000 lions. But regardless of the true total, Van der Merwe says the entire African lion population would not fill a large city soccer or rugby stadium.

    Source: Cape Times
  2. ibie

    ibie AH Veteran

    Aug 2, 2010
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    South africa;Zambia and want to hunt in nimibia
    nice info sir!!
  3. andriesdeklerk

    andriesdeklerk AH Veteran

    Aug 31, 2010
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    South Africa
    Nam, Zim, Mos, Oz and RSA
    For I am a Hunter, and through my passion for wild animals I have acquired a piece of land. I took this land and fenced it so to protect them from poachers. This may not be ideal for it is not free roaming but my game farm plus so many other farms with owners that shares my passion makes it possible for God’s creatures to have a home at least. Is this not better then open country that gets poached? Governments budgets are stretched to its limits, the needs of people comes before the needs of animals and in cases like Zim this protected areas are used to support these people. I fear that the people that have the opinion that animals belongs only in the wide open plains will in years have only memories of them. They will sit down and tell their kids of the days when the lion used to roam the African plains. Inside they will feel responsible but this will be hindsight.
    So where do we go from here? This is my opinion:
    In today’s times nothing is for free and through proper management I have to utilise my animals. Sport hunting makes it possible to render income to employ people and make the farm sustainable. I am sure this rules applies to any type of game farm. Some have the added benefit of having eco tourism. I was on a cheetah hunt some years back and this will be my last cat hunt as well. So being negative toward big cat hunting I think the following is from someone that doesn’t choose sides. By breeding cats for sport hunting and having guidelines to keep it hunting and not shooting, will be the only way to reduce pressures on wild populations. More cats will contribute to a healthier gene pool. These farms create jobs, something very important to governments. My God forbid but when the plains are left without the presence of lions we have some kind of backup plan to reintroduce them.
    Unfortunately I don’t know enough about this topic and would love the opinions of outfitters, hunters and conservationist as well. But I truly feel this will be the only way to safe our big cats. It’s not ideal, I agree. Cows have no sense of freedom, gets shot after a life in a small paddock. But there is not merely as much outcry. I think the cows have the raw deal and needs the anti lion hunting people to focus there resources to help them!
    Through hunting the lion, it will be able to safe itself.

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