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Animal Defenders International

Say no to the lion bone trade in South Africa!

Posted: 27 January 2017. Updated: 6 February 2017

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South Africa is proposing to export as many as 800 lion skeletons during 2017 and we have just a short window of time to speak out. On 25 January the Department of Environmental Affairs published a statement on its website inviting the public to comment on the proposal before 2 February.

Please take immediate action!
Send a polite email to Mr Mpho Tjiane at mtjiane@environment.gov.za urging the DEA to end South Africa’s captive lion bone trade. Advise Mr Tjiane that it poses a serious risk to the survival of the African lion in the wild, fuels the illicit trade, and opens new markets.
Please note the consultation period has now closed. Read the joint submission from more than 30 animal protection groups.

The African lion was dealt a devastating blow at the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) Conference of Parties (CoP17) in South Africa last September. Nine African nations (Niger, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon, Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, Nigeria and Togo) wanted to raise protections for the species by up-listing them to Appendix I status, the maximum level of protection. The move was intended to end the lion bone trade. Instead, a compromise proposal was hammered together to appease the fierce opposition from lion bone and body part traders, and the hunting for entertainment enthusiasts.

Lions remain on CITES Appendix II, but with a “zero annual export quota for bones, bone pieces, products, claws, skeletons, skulls and teeth removed from the wild and traded for commercial purposes.” However, South Africa has been permitted to set its own export quota for the same body parts and products from their captive breeding operations. Of course, nobody can tell the difference between wild lion bones and captive bred lion bones, and tragically, it does not include lion skins or parts/derivatives obtained through captive breeding.

The decision is in stark contrast to the call from the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) for an end to captive bred lion hunting operations, and the recent recognition by the countries with wild lion populations, that the increasing lion bone trade poses a serious risk to the survival of the species in the wild.

Lion numbers are in devastating decline, conservatively measured at a 43% loss over the past 21 years, with 59% in East Africa alone. West African population estimates identify a mere 400 individuals. What little habitat remains (8% of lions’ historic range) is increasingly divided. Ongoing and increasing threats such as habitat loss, a loss of prey species, retaliatory killing and trafficking of lion bone are having a detrimental impact.

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