Lobbying for Wild Animals

A LOOMING CRISIS – THE CAPTIVE BIG CAT INDUSTRY, COVID_19 AND GOVERNMENT CULPABILITY

An Open Letter to the Minister of the Environment, Forestry and Fisheries Barbara Creecy

25th March 2020

Dear Honourable Minister Creecy,

Since at least as far back as the late 1990s, various NGOs have warned your department about the harmful and negative effects of breeding lions (and other big cats) in captivity. Yet, the South African government has done nothing to slow the growth of the captive lion breeding industry, nor has it given any indication of wanting to do so. This letter lays bare the facts and calls for immediate action.

First, it details the risks embedded in captive lion (and other big cat) breeding and why the industry should be terminated.

Second, we note that letter after letter to your Ministry and Department goes unheeded. It seems that industry voices – those with a vested interest in acquiring short-term benefits from exploitative breeding of lion (and other big cat) cubs for human interaction, canned hunting and the lion bone trade – provide the tune to which the policy fiddle dances.

Finally, tourism – the goose that lays the golden egg in the South African economy – is dead for the foreseeable future. Not only has South Africa’s willingness to supply Asian wildlife markets created zoonotic disease spillover risks, which have led to the need for travel bans, but the imposition of the latter means that thousands of captive lions (and other big cats) will now be left to starve to death without tourism dollars. Had the government acted in 2009 (when a plan was presented to your Department) and when there were far fewer lions (and other big cats) in captivity, this catastrophe would have been avoided.

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The South African Captive Bred Lion Industry and Associated Global Health Risks

Memorandum Of Demand

The Presidency

Tuynhuys

Cape Town

8001

Email: presidentrsa@presidency.gov.za

Minister of Tourism

Private Bag X424

Pretoria

0001

Email: zndudane@tourism.gov.za

Minister of Health 

Private Bag X828

Pretoria

0001

Email: minister@health.gov.za  

Minster of the Environment, Forestry and Fisheries

Private Bag X447

Pretoria

0001

Email: fshaik@environment.gov.za

Ambassador to South Africa

25 Rhodes Avenue

Newlands

7700

Email: chinaconsul_ct_za@mfa.gov.cn

HUMAN RIGHTS DAY

21ST March 2020

The Honorable Mr President Cyril Ramaphosa, Minister Kubayi-Ngubane Mmamoloko, Minister Zweli Mkhize, Minister Barbara Creecy, Ambassador Lin Songtian,

On the 21st and 22nd August 2018 a number of wildlife organisations made detailed and compelling presentations to Parliament on the massive problems and concerns with South Africa’s Captive Lion Breeding industry. 

This included a presentation on an 18-month research and investigation report into South Africa’s role in the international lion bone trade. 

As a consequence of the extensive evidence presented against the captive big-cat breeding industry and its abhorrent offshoots such as canned hunting and the unregulated lion bone trade, Parliament instructed the Minister of Environmental Affairs (at the time) and her Department – in December 2019 – to shut down the industry, which is a major ethical, legal and administrative embarrassment for South Africa. 

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IS SOUTH AFRICA’S LION BONE TRADE CREATING HEALTH RISKS FOR WORKERS AND CONSUMERS COVID_19?

Claws, teeth and paws: a clandestine industry reduces wild lions to mere objects and creates health risks for workers and consumers

AUTHOR Ross Harvey (PhD, Economics)

In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, likely attributable to the consumption of pangolin meat at a ‘wet’ wildlife meat market in Wuhan, China, the Chinese state has imposed a ban on the sale of wildlife and wildlife products. Even though this move is motivated by a desire to mitigate contagion risk, it is in keeping with China’s desire to portray itself as an ‘ecological civilisation’. An ecologically minded civilisation does not promote the domestication of wildlife to be farmed as mere consumables. South Africa could learn a lesson here.

As Don Pinnock writes, the Chinese ban – implemented on 24 February 2020 – sounds an overdue death knell for South Africa’s lion bone industry, not least because of the extensive health risks of exporting lion bones to Asia. Workers in the industry are at risk of contracting bovine TB, giving the lie to the idea that the captive lion industry provides quality jobs to poor rural South Africans. Consumers are similarly at risk of contracting deadly diseases through drinking lion bone wine or lion bone cakes and so forth. Given these risks, detailed in a letter penned by the EMS Foundation to Minister Barbara Creecy, it is high time that the South African state terminated its captive lion breeding industry, as urged by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as far back as 2016. 

Why exactly does the South African government continue to support the industry and what myths do its proponents sell to maintain the breeding, hunting and skinning of captive lions? And why should they stop it immediately? 

Panthera leo (the African lion) is in trouble. Over the last 21 years we have lost 43% of our populations. It is likely that fewer than 32,000 are left in the wild, with some scientists favouring the lower-bound estimate of 23,000. Prey base depletion and associated habitat loss and fragmentation are the primary threats, along with bushmeat hunting, retaliatory killing for livestock predation and excessive trophy hunting. 

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CORONA VIRUS – THE EMS FOUNDATION CALLS ON MINISTER CREECY TO END THE LION BONE TRADE

Corona Virus - South Africa Lion Bone Trade - Brent Stirton Photojournalist of the Year South Africa

EMS FOUNDATION APPEALS FOR AN END TO THE TRADE IN LION BONE

Zoonotic diseases, or those contracted by humans that originated in other species, account for a large share of human infectious illnesses. Mixing species of wild animals increases the risk of diseases mutating and growing more virulent as they spread in unregulated markets.

In cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong there is little sign of markets catering to gourmands seeking “ye Wei” or “wild flavours”. But in provincial cities and in some parts of Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and other South East Asian countries, those determined to eat such exotic dishes can find all sorts of creatures for sale: pangolins, badgers, salamanders scorpions, hedgehogs and wolf puppies.

Lion bones are being used as an alternative to tiger bones in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Tiger Bone Wine has been used in TCM for a thousand years or more for the treatment of rheumatism, although there are no known medicinal properties. Over a thousand lions are killed annually in South Africa for this trade. The trade is not regulated and as is explained in our letter to Minister Creecy there are no health and safety regulations in place. This trade is putting the lives at risk of the South Africans employed in this bizarre trade. As has been clearly demonstrated with the SARS virus and now with the new CORONA virus trading in lion bone with unknown medical consequences is irresponsible to say the least.

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THE EMS FOUNDATION BID TO SAVE ELEPHANTS FROM HUNT IN BOTSWANA

The EMS Foundation has written an urgent letter to the Botswana government in order to try and save elephants that are being auctioned in a trophy hunting auction in Gabarone, 7th of February 2020.

BOTSWANA TO SELL SEVEN HUNTING PACKAGES OF TEN ELEPHANTS EACH

The Botswana government has demonstrated to the world that it does not care that elephants play a critical role in maintaining healthy ecological systems, nor does it seem to understand that killing off prime elephant bulls undermines the very basis of its successful ecotourism economy.

The Botswana communities are extremely dissatisfied at the process in which these elephant hunts are being marketed. There was meant to be a tendering process rather than an auction but clearly there is no governance capacity.

The qualifying criteria explicitly excludes tourism operators or Foundations, such as ourselves that do not necessarily want to hunt elephants but do desire to fund non-consumptive conservation in Botswana.

Please read our request to the Director of Wildlife and National Parks in Botswana for a revision of the qualifying criteria to enable us to bid on the hunting packages on the 7th February 2020 with the express intention that the elephants in these packages are not hunted should our bids be successful.

© Copyright EMS Foundation 2020. All rights reserved.

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EMS Foundation

PO Box 3018, Honeydew 2040
South Africa
168-304 NPO

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info@emsfoundation.org.za

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