‘SA tourism could lose billions due to illicit wildlife trade’

All indications are that the illicit wildlife trade in South Africa is flourishing. This was according to the Coalition Against the Breeding and Keeping of Lions and other Big Cats for Commercial Purposes, in a letter to the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Michael Masutha.

‘SA tourism could lose billions due to illicit wildlife trade’
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The coalition, which consists of 19 animal welfare and conservation organisations, was reacting to reports that 40 lions had allegedly been killed on a lion farm near Klerksdorp.

In the letter, MJ Lourens, head of communications for South Africa at the Four Paws Animal Welfare Foundation, said the uncovering of an illegal Vietnamese lion and tiger bone syndicate operating in North West earlier this year, had been noted with shock.

It had been reported that a joint task force arrested eight people, six of whom were Vietnamese nationals, while a ninth suspect handed himself over to police, in connection with alleged killing of the lions.

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A report released by the Portfolio Committee on Environmental Affairs on captive lion breeding for hunting and the lion bone trade in South Africa earlier this year, had since been adopted by the National Assembly, Lourens said.

In the report, the committee concluded that the Department of Environmental Affairs needed to urgently initiate a policy and legislative review of captive lion breeding for hunting and the lion bone trade, with the view to putting an end to this practice.

It was also recommended that the department should conduct an audit of all captive lion breeding facilities throughout the country to determine how these facilities conformed to applicable legislation, and to ensure compliance with the legislation.

According to the report, the Department of Environmental Affairs and the Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries also needed to present a clear programme of how animal welfare and health in the captive lion breeding industry would be assured.

In addition, it was recommended that the Department of Environmental Affairs should reconsider the decision to increase the lion bone trade quota from 800 to 1 500 lion skeletons.

The report further concluded that the captive lion breeding industry was doing serious damage to Brand South Africa.

In another report released by the Southern African Institute of International Affairs, commissioned by Humane Society International, it had been estimated that South Africa’s tourism industry could potentially suffer revenue losses amounting to R54 billion over the next decade, if this industry was allowed to continue, Lourens added.

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Annelie Coleman represents Farmer’s Weekly in the Free State, North West and Northern Cape. Agriculture is in her blood. She grew up on a maize farm in the Wesselsbron district where her brother is still continuing with the family business. Annelie is passionate about the area she works in and calls it ‘God’s own country’. She’s particularly interested in beef cattle farming, especially with the indigenous African breeds. She’s an avid reader and owns a comprehensive collection of Africana covering hunting in colonial Africa, missionary history of same period, as well as Rhodesian literature.