Following a two-year study on the effects of raising and breeding wild animals in captivity, South Africa has announced that it will ban the breeding of lions in captivity for hunting, cub petting, and for the commercial lion-bone trade.
Many tourists take photos with lion cubs bred in captivity in South Africa, but once these animals mature, they are often used for trophy hunting, or their bones are sold into the traditional medicine industry. Although the bone trade is currently legal in respect to animals bred in captivity, there is no way to tell whether the bones were actually sourced from a farm, increasing poaching of wild populations.
Conditions for these animals are often inhumane and cubs are taken from their mothers at just a few hours old. Frequent interactions with humans mean they can never be introduced into the wild, and these animals are slated to spend the rest of their lives in captivity.
Now that the government has introduced plans for legislation to outlaw this practice, the next step is to turn the legislation into actual policy for use by the Department of Forestry, Fisheries, and the Environment.
The ban on lion breeding is an encouraging first step for eliminating this inhumane practice. Moving forwards, the government must find effective ways to actually implement and enforce the ban. We hope this legislation in South Africa will offer a blueprint for other countries seeking to eliminate wild animal breeding.