CAPE Town – World Animal Protection joined their supporters in a recent webinar to celebrate World Lion Day and address the alarming decrease in wild African lions across the African continent as a result of the global wildlife trade.

The webinar, hosted by World Animal Protection wildlife campaigns manager Edith Kabesiime, was held to coincide with World Lion Day on Tuesday.

The aim was to draw attention to the cause and find sustainable solutions to protect and save lions from suffering and extinction with Africa’s lion population having almost halved in the past 25 years.

World Animal Protection spokesperson Lucy Wanjiku said the captive lion industry threatened the survival of lions and had a negative impact on tourism, public health and safety.

“Ending the trade in wild animals is not only good for the animals, but also for the people. As the world struggles to respond to the current global health pandemic, it is more important now than ever to be aware of public health risks from contact with wild animals and to reduce risks wherever possible,” Wanjiku said.

Wanjiku said there was great need for states to take bold steps through enacting and operationalising laws that heavily punish those involved in wildlife trade.

“Wild animals can no longer be reduced to commodities simply to be cruelly exploited by humans, without any regard for their lives or welfare,” said the spokesperson.

After a high-level panel report recommended the shutting down of the captive lion industry, Forestry Fisheries and Environment MEC Barbara Creecy announced that South Africa would no longer breed and keep captive lions, or use captive lions or their derivatives commercially.

WORLD Animal Protection spokesperson Lucy Wanjiku said the captive lion industry threatened the survival of lions. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency

Creecy then released a draft policy position gazette on the conservation and ecologically sustainable use of elephants, lions, leopards and rhinoceros in June.

This ban prohibited the captive keeping and breeding of lions, selling of their parts like bones for traditional medicines, lion hunts (lions raised in captivity, moved to a larger enclosure then shot by paying hunters), tourist interactions with captive lions (including cub petting and walking with lions), the issuing permits to breed, keep, hunt, or interact with captive lions, destruction or disposing of lion bone stockpiles and humane euthanasia of existing captive lions.

“It is encouraging to see some African countries like South Africa making commitments to shift away from the practice of breeding, keeping lions in captivity, using captive lions and their derivatives commercially,” said Kabesiime.

Kabesiime commended South Africa for this important step forward and hoped that this declaration will be fully implemented and that other African states considering legalising commercial lion breeding, halt the process.

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Cape Argus

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