Renewed call for voluntary exit from captive lion industry

Sponsored by Department of Forestry Fisheries and Environment

The ministerial task team responsible for identifying and recommending voluntary exit options and pathways from the captive lion industry has invited captive lion owners who are interested in complying into confidential discussions.

Renewed call for voluntary exit from captive lion industry
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The task team was appointed by Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, Barbara Creecy, in December 2022 following a recommendation by a high-level panel on matters relating to the management, breeding, hunting, trade and handling of elephant, lion, leopard and rhinoceros.

The panel recommended the closure of the captive lion breeding sector, including the keeping of lions in captivity, or the use of captive lions or their derivatives commercially.

The operational period of the task team expired on 30 June 2023, but Creecy has extended the period until 31 December 2023, as published in the Government Gazette of 13 June 2023. The extension is intended to give the task team sufficient time to conclude outstanding work, including finalisation of stakeholder consultations, determination of funding mechanisms, and report compilation.

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The chairperson of the task team, Kamalasen Chetty, said: “We are providing an opportunity for captive lion owners to consider voluntary exit from the captive lion industry. We wish to identify industry participants who may indeed be interested in such an opportunity, and who may be willing to initiate a confidential discussion with us around potential options and pathways for their particular enterprises.

“We would be extremely grateful to be given the opportunity to have an open and frank discussion with captive lion owners, whether this involves one or 200 lions. When speaking to interested parties about options and pathways, the task team will carefully and responsibly consider the future of their captive lions, the potential impact on their vulnerable workers, as well as positive economic outcomes.”

Chetty said the task team was open to further inputs on viable and pragmatic proposals for voluntary exit options, which could include a combination of potential scenarios.

A key component of the task team’s work is substantial stakeholder engagement, which has been taking place over the past few months. This includes meetings and engagements with representatives from the captive lion industry, wildlife industry associations, and other interested and affected parties.

The key objective of these engagements was to gather viewpoints and listen to stakeholder inputs on potential voluntary exit options, and any specific terms or conditions that may be associated with these.

The task team has also met with provincial nature conservation authorities, who have been providing information about the captive lions within their provinces, which will be consolidated into a national audit of captive bred lions.

Captive lion owners are encouraged to register their interest for potential voluntary exit on a fully confidential basis, and without any obligations, by 21 July 2023.

  • If you own captive lions, or are otherwise involved in the industry and you would consider a voluntary exit, you can register your interest here:, or email the chairperson of the task team at [email protected].
  • The Government Gazette notice (No. 3440) announcing the extended registration of interest in voluntary exit from the captive lion industry, published on 22 May 2023, can be found here: