Minister Mokonyane moves to address concerns on captive lion breeding and associated trade activities

19 March 2019

Minister of Environmental Affairs, Nomvula Mokonyane, today met with the National Council of Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NSPCA) together with the South African Predators Association (SAPA) in an attempt to find consensus on concerns around the breeding and welfare of Lions in captivity as well as the trade in lion bones.

The NSPCA lodged a court application challenging government’s ‘quota-system’ on lion bone trade citing concerns relating to the welfare of lions in captive-breeding facilities, the impact on lion population, and the prevalence of poor standards and concerning practices in captive breeding facilities.

Minister Mokonyane felt it necessary to create an opportunity for the NSPCA, SAPA (representing lion breeders) and the Department of Environmental Affairs to seek ways to bring the conservation, sustainable use, welfare and trade under integrated regulatory interface with input from the affected parties, and in the best interest of South Africa, its natural heritage and its people. Minister highlighted the need to strengthen governance, administration, and capacity in the management of wildlife especially in the administration of permitting systems, compliance assessments and institutional coordination. 

“As a country, we take our responsibility to protect our wildlife seriously and we do so with an equal interest of promoting the sustainable use and conservation of wildlife to promote economic growth, job creation, and transformation.”

“Our engagements are aimed at ensuring that we create a healthy balance amongst the interests of the NSPCA, SAPA and the national interests to ensure that ultimately South Africa prevents non-compliance with globally acceptable standards and norms in the captive-breeding of lions, promotion of legal trade and such done within a strengthened regulatory framework and that is scientifically informed to best manage the lion and other wildlife populations within our borders” said Minister Mokonyane.

Currently, South Africa has just more than  3, 000 wild lions that are well protected in our national parks and other reserves. This is in addition to more than 6, 000 lions in captive breeding facilities across the country.

The NSPCA, SAPA, and the department have agreed to a continuation of engagements that should lead to the finalization of a variety of protocols on the captive-breeding, welfare norms, and standards, governing the keeping of lions and associated trade practices. 

The NSPCA and SAPA have welcomed the Minister’s efforts at promoting dialogue and have further supported the department’s initiatives to establish mechanisms to further engage in the detail on proposed efforts to better manage, promote transparency and enhance regulatory and compliance efforts on the above matters.

The meeting also noted that the Minister intends to appoint High-Level Panel to Review Policies, Legislation, and Practices relating to matters of elephant, lion, leopard and rhinoceros handling, management, breeding, hunting, and trade. This panel will further assist in ensuring that a scientifically determined regime in the above areas is developed and with due consideration for the priorities of government and the country.

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