The SOUTH AFRICAN PREDATOR ASSOCIATION fully supports the minister of Environmental Affairs, Edna Molewa, in her decision to establish a quota for the exporting of captive-bred lion bones to Asia and other regions. The decision followed a thorough, transparent and scientific process and was made in accordance with a CITES resolution made at the COP 17 in 2016. SAPA lauds the minister for unflinchingly following through with the decision to announce the quota in the face of vehement and mostly misinformed factions.
Government has wisely, in its Biodiversity Management Plan, designated captive-bred lions as a population distinct from wild and "managed wild" lions. Minister Molewa has always made it clear that her priority is the protection of the entire wild lion population in South Africa. Captive-bred lions are not recognized internationally as a valid segment of the lion population in Africa. Therefore their possible demise is not seen as extinction or a threat to the lion species. The lion bones quota, which will be entirely derived from captive-bred lions, cannot therefore be detrimental to the survival of the wild lion in Africa. In addition, lions are prolific breeders in captivity. The captive-bred lion population is a truly sustainable resource.
This has left opponents of the quota to attempt to draw even the vaguest link between it and the wild lion population. Their best attempt is the very improbable idea that somehow wild lion bones will be sneaked into captive-bred lion consignments to be "laundered." They fail to explain why anybody would attempt the difficult, dangerous and expensive exercise of poaching and transporting a wild lion when there is a ready surplus of captive-bred lion bones at their disposal.
Minister Molewa also deserves credit for recognizing that the captive-bred lion population is not an insignificant resource, but is potentially of great value in safeguarding the wild lions of South Africa. This industry will, at the very least, ensure that the lion species survives into perpetuity. As long as there is a captive-bred lion male in close contact with a receptive lioness, the species will continue to exist. Recent release programmes have conclusively shown that captive-bred lions can be readily introduced into the wild. This is another guarantee for the continued existence of the wild lion. Even if through some calamity the wild lion population should be erased, the captive-bred segment stands ready to be released as truly wild lions in Africa.
We salute Minister Molewa and her department for not buckling under the onslaught of uninformed pressure groups, but to do, not what is right for any specific party of people, but what is in the best interest of the lions of South Africa.