Two-thirds also oppose canned lion hunting and the hunting of specific species

Humane Society International / South Africa


Two male lions named Netsai and Humba in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe.
Dex Kotze

CAPE TOWN, South Africa—South African citizens have spoken out against the cruel practice of hunting wild animals for trophies. A new 2022 IPSOS survey, commissioned by animal protection charity Humane Society International/Africa, reveals that 68% of the South African population oppose trophy hunting, and the majority (65%) oppose the practice of canned lion hunting. The poll also demonstrates the public’s opposition to the trophy hunting of specific species, including the hunting and export of trophies of black rhinos, elephants and leopards for which the 2022 hunting and export quotas were released earlier this year.

South Africa is Africa’s largest exporter, and the second largest exporter globally (behind Canada), of mammal species listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

Dr Matthew Schurch, wildlife specialist for HSI/Africa, said: “This new survey shows without a doubt that most South Africans reject the unjustifiable practice of trophy hunting, including canned lion hunting—and opposition to trophy hunting continues to grow. The South African government is out of step with public opinion because it allows people to hunt wild animals for the purpose of collecting their remains to adorn their homes. Trophy hunting does not significantly contribute to conservation. In South Africa one-third of hunting trophies of CITES-listed mammals are from captive bred animals, and most are non-native or species not subject to science-based population management. This senseless killing of wild animals is not only unethical and cruel, but a disgrace to brand South Africa.”

This significant IPSOS survey reports only on local data sourced from a diverse South African demographic across all provinces. The key findings from the IPSOS survey include:

  • 68% of South Africans fully oppose or oppose to some extent the practice of trophy hunting—an increase from 56% in a similar 2018 survey.
  • 65% of South Africans fully oppose or oppose to some extent the practice of canned lion hunting—an increase from 60% in a similar 2018 survey in 2018.
  • 64% of South Africans disagree with the trophy hunting of elephants, rhinos, and leopards.
  • 63% of South Africans disagree with the trophy hunting of lions.
  • 66% of South Africans disagree with the trophy hunting of hippos.
  • 60% of South Africans disagree with the trophy hunting of giraffes.
  • Regarding the 2022 hunting and export quotas announced by the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE) in February 2022, 63% oppose the quota for 150 elephants, 62% oppose the quota for 10 black rhino, and 61% oppose the quota for 10 leopard.

HSI/Africa released the survey report leading up to Part B of its litigation against the DFFE, challenging the 2022 hunting and export quotas of 10 leopards, 10 black rhinos and 150 elephants. In April 2022, the High Court of the Western Cape handed down judgment in the application for an interim interdict against the DFFE’s 2022 hunting and export quotas for leopard, black rhino and elephant. The judgment confirmed that, on the face of it, the 2022 trophy hunting quotas, as issued by the DFFE’s Minister Barbara Creecy, may be invalid and unlawful. That will be determined in Part B of the proceedings, now in process.

A previous  study detailing South Africa’s role in the international trade in hunting trophies of mammal species listed under CITES during 2014-2018 (the most recent five-year period for which data is available) demonstrated that about 83% of CITES-listed mammal trophies exported from South Africa are captive-bred animals or non-native species, and native species with no national conservation management plan nor adequate data on their wild populations or how those populations are impacted by of trophy hunting. This data directly undermines the claim that trophy hunting promotes conservation.

Trophy hunting by the numbers in South Africa:

  • South Africa is the second largest exporter of hunting trophies of CITES-listed mammal species globally, exporting 16% of the global total of hunting trophies—4,204 on average per year.
  • South Africa is the biggest exporter of CITES-listed mammal species in Africa. South Africa exported 50% more trophies than Africa’s second largest exporter, Namibia, and more than three times that of Africa’s third largest exporter, Zimbabwe.
  • Between 2014 and 2018, South Africa exported:
    • 574 African leopard trophies, or 115 per year on average. 98% of African leopard trophies exported from South Africa were wild-sourced, while 2% were bred in captivity.
    • 1,337 African elephant trophies, or 268 per year on average, virtually all wild-sourced. 47% of the total were exported to the United States.
    • 21 black rhino trophies, or five per year on average, all wild-sourced.
  • 68% of CITES-listed mammal trophies exported from South Africa were from wild-sourced animals, while 32% were from captive animals—19% bred in captivity and 13% were born in captivity.

Population and Conservation Status of IPSOS species surveyed:

According to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (date of last assessment indicated):

  • The African savanna elephant is globally assessed as endangered, with a decreasing population trend (2020).
  • The black rhino is globally assessed as critically endangered, with an increasing population trend and number of mature individuals at 3,142 (2020).
  • The leopard is globally assessed as vulnerable, with a decreasing population trend (2015).
  • The African lion is globally assessed as vulnerable, with a decreasing population trend, with an estimated number of mature individuals between 23,000 – 39,000 (2014)
  • The hippopotamus is globally assessed as vulnerable, with a stable population trend and 115,000-130,000 at the last assessment (2016).
  • The giraffe is globally assessed as vulnerable, with a decreasing population trend and 68,293 mature individuals (2016)

Download the IPSOS Survey Report.

ENDS

Media contact: Leozette Roode, HSI/Africa media and communications specialist: +27 (0)71 360 1104; LRoode@hsi.org

Humane Society International/Africa’s new report states 83% of exported trophies from South Africa are captive-bred animals, non-native species or species without science-based management plans, undermining claims that trophy hunting promotes conservation

Humane Society International / South Africa


johan63/Stock Photography

Cape Town, SOUTH AFRICA—The Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment announced this weekend that South Africa will allow the hunting of 10 vulnerable leopard, 150 endangered elephant and 10 critically endangered black rhino in 2022. This concerning news precedes World Wildlife Day, which is intended to celebrate our collective natural heritage each year on 3 March and draw attention to the plight of threatened and endangered wild animals.

This week, Humane Society International/Africa releases Trophy Hunting by the Numbers, a report that highlights South Africa’s shameful role as Africa’s largest exporter of hunting trophies, and the second largest exporter globally (behind Canada) of Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species Wild Fauna and Flora—listed species.

The data cited in HSI/Africa’s report contradicts the DFFE’s argument in favour of the trophy hunting quotas—that the “regulated and sustainable hunting is an important conservation tool in South Africa.” It confirms that 83% of trophies exported from South Africa are from captive-bred animals, non-native species or species that are not subject to scientifically based management plans such as caracal, baboons and honey badgers. Also, only 25% of native-species trophies exported as trophies are species managed with a national conservation plan.

An economic review in eight countries in Africa, including South Africa, demonstrated that the total economic contribution of trophy hunters was at most about 0.03% of gross domestic product, whilst overall tourism accounted for between 2.8% and 5.1% of GDP in those eight countries. Furthermore, conservation experts and professionals have critiqued trophy hunting as it “yields low returns at household levels with only a fraction of generated income reaching local communities.” This argues the DFFE’s statement that “Income generated by trophy hunting is especially critical for marginalised and impoverished rural communities.”

Audrey Delsink, wildlife director for HSI/Africa, says: “We are terribly disappointed that the DFFE is failing in its duty to protect our threatened and endangered wildlife species. It is unacceptable that we allow people to hunt endangered and critically endangered animals for the purpose of collecting their remains as trophies. The claim that trophy hunting contributes to conservation cannot be justified in light of the evidence demonstrating that one-third of South Africa’s hunting trophies are captive bred animals, and most are non-native or species not subject to science-based population management.

“The captive breeding and intensive farming of wild animals in South Africa for profit often harms in situ conservation efforts, with negative impacts on biodiversity when protected landscapes are carved up into breeding camps and predator population structures, as predators are targeted as competition. Trophy hunting further threatens the survival of threatened species such as leopards who already face multiple threats including habitat loss and degradation, poaching and illegal trade and lethal conflict with humans. Killing animals for ‘fun’ is part of the archaic ‘if it pays it stays’ concept that demands immediate change. The ongoing and worsening biodiversity and climate change crises demand new science-based approaches to conservation that better serve our communities and our wildlife. Killing animals for pleasure has no place in conservation.”

The Trophy Hunting by the Numbers report is the first of its kind and provides information on South Africa’s role in the international trade in hunting trophies of mammal species listed under CITES during the most recent five-year period for which complete data are available (2014-2018).

Key findings from the report include:

  • South Africa is the second largest exporter of trophies of CITES-listed species globally, exporting 16% of the global total of hunting trophies, 4,204 trophies on average per year.
  • South Africa is the biggest exporter of CITES-listed species in Africa. South Africa exported 50% more trophies than Africa’s second largest exporter Namibia, and more than three times that of Africa’s third largest exporter, Zimbabwe.
  • About 83% of trophies exported are captive-bred animals or non-native species, and native species with neither a national conservation management plan nor adequate data on their wild populations or the impact of trophy hunting on them. This data challenges the assertion that trophy hunting is critical to in situ conservation.
  • The top five species exported as trophies from South Africa are African lion (mostly captive), chacma baboon, southern lechwe (captive, non-native), caracal and vervet monkey.
  • The most common captive-source species exported from South Africa over the period was the African lion, comprising 58% of the total number of captive-source trophies exported.
  • Most (90%) trophies exported from South Africa originated in South Africa.
  • 68% of trophies exported from South Africa were from wild animals, while 32% were from captive animals –(19% bred in captivity and 13% were born in captivity.
  • 90% of the 6,738 captive-source trophies exported during 2014-2018 were African lion or non-native southern lechwe.
  • 1,337 African elephant trophies were exported during 2014-2018, and 47% went to the United States.
  • 4,176 African lion trophies were exported during 2014-2018 and 94% were captive-source. 52% went to the United States.
  • 574 African leopard trophies were exported during 2014-2018, 53% were exported to the United States.
  • 2,227 trophies were imported to South Africa 2014-2018, mostly African elephant, Hartmann’s mountain zebra, African leopard and hippopotamus and mostly from Namibia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique.
  • The top ten importing countries of South African wildlife trophies are:
Importing country Percent of total
United States 54%
Spain 5%
Russia 4%
Denmark 3%
Canada 3%
Mexico 2%
Germany 2%
Hungary 2%
Sweden 2%
France 2%

Download the Report

ENDS

Media contact: Leozette Roode, HSI/Africa media and communications specialist: +27 (0)71 360 1104; LRoode@hsi.org

Otters are endearing but wild species must be treated as such

Humane Society International / South Africa


Karien le Roux The near-threatened African Clawless Otter in Struisbaai, South Africa.

CAPE TOWN, South Africa—In light of increasing sightings of African clawless otters around the Western Cape’s public shores and water masses, wildlife experts from animal protection organisations are seeking to remind residents that although these near-threatened animals are endearing, like all wild animals they should be observed from a distance both for their protection and to avoid potential human-wildlife conflict. Otters are protected under South Africa’s Animals Protection Act, and the Threatened and Protected Species Act, and disturbance of or interference with these wild animals that leads to any suffering may be a criminal offence. 

Together with the Two Ocean’s Aquarium and the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, Humane Society International/Africa, the International Union for Conservation of Nature Species Survival Commission Otter Specialist Group and the African Otter Network Group have been working to monitor and protect otters, and to increase awareness about how the public can peacefully coexist with them. 

Audrey Delsink, director of wildlife for HSI/Africa, said: “It is wonderful to see precious wildlife enjoying our beautiful shores, however, otters are wild animals and we urge the public to keep a respectful distance. Never attempt to touch or pick up otters as they may defend themselves and their young. We can all play a part in protecting this endearing species so we encourage the public to live harmoniously alongside them, keep visits to waterways litter-free, and give these animals space.   

“HSI/Africa works to protect all animals and seeks non-lethal solutions and tools to promote coexistence instead of conflict with our urban and native wildlife. We are proud to work alongside other experts and specialist groups and the DFFE to closely monitor the otters as a remarkable example of such coexistence, and to mitigate any possible conflicts.”      

Nicci Wright, wildlife specialist for HSI/Africa and member of the African Otter Advisory Group and the  

IUCN SSC Otter Specialist Group, said: “As otter habitat decreases due to human encroachment and development along coast and river lines, these animals become more visible and consequently more habituated to people and our activities. However, otters are apex predators and will defend themselves and their territories if they feel threatened by people getting too close or dogs off leash, especially if they are protecting dependent pups. If you have the privilege of seeing otters in the wild, remember to stay back and give them their space. We can coexist in our shared spaces by respecting each other and understanding the otters’ needs.” 

The African clawless otter is one of 13 otter species and the third largest in the world. It is widely distributed throughout South Africa in most aquatic habits; although largely known as freshwater mammals, they often occur in marine habitats as long as freshwater is nearby for rinsing. Otters are usually solitary, but when prey is abundant they can be found in family groups of females with their offspring or, more rarely, males and females with their young.   

African clawless otter numbers are declining and the species is currently listed as near-threatened by the IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species. Their major threats include poaching for their skin and body parts, habitat loss due to urbanisation, disturbance and pollution, as well as persecution by humans in competition for food. Fortunately, otters are protected by the South African law and disturbance of or interference with these wild animals, and/or failure to report or prevent such action, may be considered a criminal offence in terms of Section 2: Offences in Respect of Animals, of the Animals Protection Act 71 of 1962 and when read with other law.  

ENDS 

Media contact: Leozette Roode: (+27) 713601104; LRoode@hsi.org

Humane Society International / South Africa


Lions
Maggy Meyer/iStock

CAPE TOWN—The Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment has released the recommendations of the Ministerial High Level Advisory Panel (the Panel) appointed in November 2019 to review existing policies, legislation and practices relating to the handling, breeding, hunting and trade of elephant, lion, leopard and rhinoceros.

The Panel’s recommendations include a number of positive commitments, including ending the practice of captive lion breeding and the commercial trade of lion derivatives, as well as expressly recognising animal welfare as a central pillar of wildlife management policy. These were key proposals made by Humane Society International/Africa, in comprehensive written and oral submissions to the Panel, as well as comments submitted during public participation processes in species-specific Norms and Standards development.

Captive lion breeding

“Today is a massive celebration for South African lions with the government adopting recommendations to end the abhorrent captive lion breeding industry. Lions will no longer have to suffer in horrid conditions for someone’s selfie, canned trophy or have their body parts harvested for wines and powders,” said Humane Society International/Africa wildlife director, Dr Audrey Delsink.

The new policy is welcome and will be supported by most South Africans, according to HSI/Africa, which in 2020 commissioned an independent national public opinion poll on trophy hunting, captive lion breeding and associated industries. The majority of South Africans polled oppose the breeding of lion cubs for two infamous tourist activities—cub petting and lion-walking. These activities are also linked to canned hunting and the lion bone trade.

According to the organisation, South Africa is the top exporter of lion trophies in the world—and most of these are lions who originate from the country’s notorious captive lion breeding industry. An HSI analysis of trade data of mammal species listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) between 2014 and 2018 found that 4,176 lion trophies were exported from South Africa (as well as 25 captive-source tiger trophies).

“We applaud the decision to end captive lion breeding and will study the other recommendations comprehensively to consider all details. We are also pleased that animal welfare considerations are now expressly recognised as a central pillar of wildlife management policy.

“Considerations of animal sentience and welfare are key to wildlife policy decisions. This was one of the main elements in HSI/Africa’s comprehensive submission to the Panel, and also forms part of all of our submissions in the development of Norms and Standards for the different species,” added Delsink.

Trophy hunting

HSI/Africa remains concerned about the centrality of trophy hunting in South Africa’s wildlife sector and the ongoing focus on generating revenue through hunting the country’s iconic species.

“We are mindful of the need to alleviate poverty through economic development in the biodiversity sector. However, after the mass of scientific evidence that was put before the Panel by HSI/Africa and other organisations regarding the harmful consumptive use of imperiled species, we are concerned that the Panel’s recommendations envisage an expansion of trophy hunting,” said Delsink.

“Our independent national survey revealed that 64% of South Africans share this concern and oppose trophy hunting. The poll results were consistent regardless of race, gender, age and income,” said Delsink.

The CITES trade data analysis between 2014 and 2018 showed that South Africa exported 574 African leopard trophies—with 98% of those wild sourced and 2% bred in captivity. In addition, 1,337 African elephant trophies and 21 black rhino trophies were also exported.

“Despite these ongoing concerns regarding trophy hunting as opposed to non-consumptive wildlife uses, today marks an important step in transforming and reframing South Africa’s wildlife policy. We welcome the department’s policy paper on the recommendations for public comments and their expressed commitment to inclusive and transparent dialogue with all stakeholders, and look forward to engaging further,” concluded Delsink.

ENDS

Media contact: Marisol Gutierrez, HSI/Africa, media and communications manager: +27 72 358 9531; mgutierrez@hsi.org

South African hunting outfitters top the exhibitor list at the Dallas Safari Club’s annual convention, where animals from large lion to little blue duikers are offered for hunting.

Humane Society International / South Africa


The HSUS Wolf head and skins at Dallas Safari Club Convention 2020.

CAPE TOWN—South Africa represents the biggest percentage of hunting outfitter exhibitors at the Dallas Safari Club (DSC) annual convention. The DSC, a Texas-based trophy hunting industry organisation, hosts the USA’s biggest industry hunting event, which is being held online this year.

Based on research conducted by both Humane Society International (HSI) and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), hunting outfitters at this event are collectively offering hunting trips to kill at least 319 types of mammals across 70 countries.

Of the 306  outfitter exhibitors, 104 offer hunts in South Africa—making South Africa top the list at 29% of all exhibitors, followed by Canada (16%) and the US (10%).

“As it is, South Africa is one of the world’s largest exporters of hunting trophies—hardly a record of which to be proud. Far more beneficial to conservation and the country’s economy on a sustainable basis is the promotion of wildlife watching—not killing sprees for a privileged few,” said HSI-Africa wildlife director, Audrey Delsink.

DSC gained prominent attention when it auctioned off hunts of a critically endangered black rhino in Namibia in 2014 and 2016.

“Given the recent revelation that rhino numbers have dropped so dramatically in the Kruger National Park—and with most rhinos in the country and the continent facing a similar poaching pandemic—it’s all the more disgraceful that rhinos have targets on their heads by  hunting outfitters,” added Delsink.

Conservation: lip service

Among the 153 international auction items at this year’s event, 75 African hunting packages make up the most. South Africa tops the list with 47, followed by Namibia (15), Mozambique (4), Zimbabwe (4), Cameroon (3) and Zambia (2). These include elephant hunts in Zimbabwe, Zambia and Namibia, a leopard hunt in Namibia and giraffe hunt in South Africa

According to HSI-Africa, the “trophy hunting industry generally pays lip service to conservation or uses the term to try to justify and legitimise its existence”.

For instance, the DSC regularly lobbies to weaken or challenge wildlife protection measures in the US. The organisation opposed a proposal to upgrade the conservation status of the African leopard from “Threatened” to “Endangered” in the US Endangered Species Act.

“For trophy hunters it’s about the thrill of the kill, bragging rights, killing competitions and awards for the number and variety of species that they’ve killed,” added Delsink.

For instance, DSC’s top trophy hunting award, for ‘Outstanding Hunting Achievement’, celebrates trophy hunters who have killed at least 106 animals. This year’s recipient qualified with his collection of 23 spiral horned animals of Africa, of which 21 are ‘record class’, and by completing the DSC African Grand Slam with 106 animals. Then there’s the ‘African Big Game Award’, which requires successful hunts of the African elephant, buffalo, lion, rhino and leopard.”

Canned hunts offered

South Africa’s captive lion breeding industry and its associated ‘canned’ lion hunts have already blemished the country’s conservation reputation.

While DSC and Safari Club International (SCI)—another large US-based hunting organisation—have both renounced captive-bred lion hunts, HSI/HSUS undercover investigations in 2019 and 2020 exposed several vendors who offered to broker captive-lion hunts. Some even bragged about breeding lions.  A number of them are among this year’s DSC exhibitors.

“At least 39 South African exhibitors are offering lion hunts in South Africa at this year’s DSC convention. Most, are likely to be captive-bred lions,” said Delsink.

The Big 5 – and the Tiny Ten

While the African Big Five (African elephants, lions, leopards, rhinos and Cape buffalos) are popular among trophy hunters, hunts of the Tiny Ten are also sought after by hunters and promoted by outfitters.

The Tiny Ten species include the Blue duiker, the smallest antelope species, which is approximately 30cms at shoulder height and weighs 4–5 kgs. Another mammal on that list is the dik-dik, which stands 30–40 cms at the shoulder and weighs 3–6kgs.

“It’s ironic that these animals are poached for the pot amidst disapproval, yet these gentle animals are purposefully killed by trophy hunters’ bows and bullets as collectors’ items,” said Delsink.

HSI has also highlighted that among the approximately 303 types of animals, many species are captive-bred to supply the trophy hunting industry.

The most controversial and unethical among them all is the captive breeding of lions, which are commercially exploited throughout their life cycles. Female lions are forced into an endless, exhaustive cycle of breeding. Their cubs, some as young as a few weeks, are used as photo props to dupe unwitting tourists into paying for ‘selfies’. As the cubs mature they are used for profit-driven ‘walk with lions’ experiences, before being sold to canned hunts. After the animals are shot by hunters and their trophies are exported, wildlife dealers make one last round of profits from the leftover skeletons and bones by exporting them to Asia to supplement the black market for tiger bones.

Genetic manipulation

In South Africa the intensive breeding of game species for hunting and other purposes is big business. “The country has a large trophy production industry, with some species intensively bred, managed and manipulated to produce higher numbers of bigger and better trophies, which has inherent risks,” said Delsink.

Numerous other popular trophy hunted species, such as buffalos, nyala and sable, are intensively bred to produce top trophy quality. Scientists have warned[1] that intensive and selective breeding of game species poses a number of significant risks to biodiversity at landscape, ecosystem and species levels as well as the wildlife economy of South Africa.

[1] Jeanetta Selier, Lizanne Nel, Ian Rushworth, Johan Kruger, Brent Coverdale, Craig Mulqueeny, and Andrew Blackmore. An assessment of the potential risks of the practice of intensive and selective breeding of game to biodiversity and the biodiversity economy in South Africa. August 2018.

ENDS

Media contact: Marisol Gutierrez, HSI-Africa media and communications manager: mgutierrez@hsi.org, +27 (0) 72 358 9531

Condemnation of South Africa’s captive lion breeding industry and its associated spin-off industries has increased globally, with lion scientists, conservation bodies, international and national non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and SA’s leading tourism body presenting a joint pack of letters to the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries that all call for a ban

Humane Society International / South Africa


Olyjo/Alamy Stock Photo

CAPE TOWN—Representatives from two conservation and animal welfare organisations—Humane Society International-Africa and Blood Lions—backed by other NGOs, scientists and the Southern Africa Tourism Services Association (SATSA)—presented five separate letters to the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries today.

In their letter, 41 international and national animal welfare non-governmental organisations (NGOs) assert that “… the captive lion breeding industry lacks regulations, enforcement controls and standards. Industry-generated Norms and Standards are voluntary and are not enforceable. As a result, there are pending cruelty prosecutions of lion breeding facilities for contraventions of the Animals Protection Act 71 of 1962.”

Bred for slaughter

South Africa has 400+ facilities with approximately 10 000 – 12 000 lions in captivity for commercial use in cub petting, canned hunting and the lion bone trade. According to HSI-Africa, most lion trophies exported from South Africa are lions that originate from the country’s notorious captive lion breeding industry.

“These animals are bred with the intention of slaughter, one way or another, whether for their bones or as hunted trophies. In addition to the global opposition to trophy hunting, the cruelty of ‘canned hunting’ is making South Africa a pariah in conservation and animal welfare and protection communities,” said HSI-Africa wildlife director Audrey Delsink.

The NGO letter also raises a red flag relating to pandemics: “The current Covid-19 pandemic causing global chaos with its credible link to wildlife utilisation should be raising concerns about the zoonotic risks, including tuberculosis, associated with the unregulated, inadequately monitored intensive breeding, slaughter and utilisation of lions.”

A recent study by Blood Lions and World Animal Protection identified 63 pathogens recorded in both wild and captive lions, as well as 83 diseases and clinical symptoms associated with these pathogens. This includes pathogens that can be passed from lions to other animals and to humans.

HSI-Africa and Blood Lions are among the stakeholders that made comprehensive submissions on captive lion breeding to the Ministerial High-Level Panel that was appointed in November 2019 to review existing policies, legislation and practices relating to the management and handling, breeding, hunting and trade of elephant, lion, leopard and rhinoceros. Their recent presentations were marked by a unanimous call for an end to the captive lion breeding industry.

Read the NGOs’ full letter

No scientific evidence

The scientists’ letter—which represents many leading lion conservation and research organisations, as well as individuals with extensive experience, scientific knowledge and credibility in the field of lion biology, conservation and management—states that “Captive bred lions are not suitable for reintroduction [to the wild] or species restoration and would not be good candidates due to inbreeding and behavioral concerns.”

Dr Louse de Waal, Blood Lions campaign manager, agrees: “There is no published, peer-reviewed evidence to show that the commercial captive lion breeding industry provides direct conservation benefits to wild lions or provides a buffer to lions in the wild.”

The scientists also say that South Africa’s captive lion breeding industry has “created a legal channel for lion bone that formerly did not exist in Asia and are the main supplement for the illegal tiger bone trade to Southeast Asia. Bones from captive bred lions are illegally combined with tiger bones to continue fueling this trade.”

“More and more evidence is showing that the Asian demand for tiger and lion bones and other body parts is driving illegal killings of wild lions in South Africa and in neighbouring countries,” added Dr de Waal.

In support of the scientists’ letter asking for an end to captive lion breeding, an additional endorsement letter was also signed by 41 scientists. Signatories to that letter include the US Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and Pan African Sanctuary Alliance (PASA).

Read the lion scientists’ full letter

Read the scientists’ endorsement letter

Impact on tourism

The Southern Africa Tourism Services Association (SATSA), joined by 115 national and international tourism organisations, requested Minister Barbara Creecy to:

  • Declare a zero CITES export quota for lion bones.
  • Declare a moratorium on lion breeding in captive breeding and tourism facilities.
  • No further permits to be issued for new facilities.
  • Bring an end to captive lion breeding and all its associated spin-off industries as Parliament directed in December 2018 through the implementation of the National Assembly Resolutions.

SATSA represents more than 1 300 inbound tourism products across southern Africa. “The voice against tourism experiences that include animal interactions has grown so loud that many tourism businesses are feeling the impact of these changes—irrespective of how ‘ethical’ their approach to animal interactions may be. The impact has also filtered through to how South Africa is being perceived as a tourism destination,” said the association.

Read the tourism full letter

Read the SATSA’s endorsement letter

Register for our ONLINE PRESS BRIEFING and Q&A with a panel of experts via Zoom at 11am (CAT), 8 December 2020.

  • Dr Paul Funston, Lion Programme Director, Panthera.
  • Keira Powers, Chair, Responsible Tourism Committee, Southern Africa Tourism Services Association (SATSA).
  • Dr Louise de Waal, Campaign Manager, Blood Lions.
  • Audrey Delsink, Wildlife Director, Humane Society International-Africa (HSI-Africa).
  • Dr Simon Morgan, co-founder and trustee, Wildlife ACT.
  • Zama Ncube, Community Conservation Manager, Wildlife ACT.

ENDS

Media contacts:

Download images from Blood Lions

A bold elephant relocation and contraception exercise has seen Humane Society International place > 1040 female elephants on immunocontraceptive birth control.

Humane Society International / Africa (in South Africa)


Audrey Delsink for HSI Relocation, collaring and contraception of elephants from Atherstone Game Reserve to undisclosed new reserve with partners Global Supplies – Conservation Initiatives, Elephant Reintegration Trust and Fondation Franz Weber.

CAPE TOWN— A wild herd of elephants that roamed in Limpopo’s Atherstone Game Reserve has been translocated by Global Supplies – Conservation Initiatives to a safe haven through the collaborative efforts of the Elephant Reintegration Trust, global animal welfare organisation Humane Society International-Africa (HSI-Africa) and Fondation Franz Weber, a Swiss organisation that has been dedicated to the protection of elephants since 1975.

At the same time, HSI-Africa treated the herd’s females with immunocontraception to humanely control the population growth at their new home.

Elephant immunocontraception – a non-steroidal, non-hormonal and humane method of elephant population control – has been researched and funded by HSI and the Humane Society of the United States since 1996. Immunocontraception uses the female elephant’s own immune response to block egg fertilisation.

Female elephants over the age of 10 years are darted remotely from a helicopter with a dropout dart that contains the immunocontraception vaccine and a marking dye. This marks the elephant at the dart site, creating a quick aerial reference of which animals have been darted. The dart falls out a short while afterwards. Thus, the animals do not need to be immobilised in order to be treated and the vaccinations are completed within minutes.

“This relocation marks the 36th population and 1041th female elephant on immunocontraceptive treatment to date. This is more than half of all breeding age female elephants in populations outside of the Kruger National Park.

“Considering that a female is capable of reproducing eight to 10 elephant calves within her lifespan, the exponential effect of our immunocontraception programme means that thousands of elephants have been spared from death through a cull as they compete for land and resources with people in an ever-shrinking habitat,” says HSI-Africa wildlife director, Audrey Delsink.

Smart elephant management

In addition to contracepting the females, HSI-Africa and partner Global Supplies – Conservation Initiatives also deployed a satellite tracking collar on one of the herd members to remotely monitor the elephants at their new home under the watchful eye of the Elephant Reintegration Trust. This translocation forms part of groundbreaking research into elephant behaviour and reintegration and is critical to our understanding of elephant management.

“The collaring and immunocontraception are part of a long-term, proactive elephant management strategy. Both activities work to save elephants’ lives and mitigate human-elephant conflict. We are extremely proud and excited to be part of this project that will not only lead to the enrichment of the lives of these elephants but will change the way in which we manage elephants in the future.

“We are delighted to collaborate with the Elephant Reintegration Trust, Fondation Franz Weber, who provided funding for the transportation of the elephants, and our partner, Global Supplies – Conservation Initiatives, as well as the progressive reserve that has willingly accepted this herd. We all share the same vision of peaceful human-animal co-existence,” added Delsink.

HSI-Africa is the only non-profit organisation that specifically works on humane methods of population management in and around reserves where elephants could come into conflict with surrounding communities.

ENDS

Media contact: Marisol Gutierrez, HSI-Africa media and communications manager, +27 72 358 9531, mgutierrez@hsi.org

Download photos of the elephant relocation

World Elephant Day is a reminder that peaceful coexistence with this imperiled species is possible and necessary

Humane Society International / South Africa


Anton Van Niekerk/for HSI JJ van Altena mixes elephant immunocontraceptive vaccine and injects it into darts, as Audrey Delsink of HSI assists. South Africa, August 2020

CAPE TOWN—This World Elephant Day, Humane Society International/Africa is celebrating the treatment of its 34th population of African elephants using the immunocontraception vaccine as a humane population growth control method. This brings the total number of females under treatment in South Africa to 1,035 – which is more than half of all breeding-age female elephants outside of the Kruger National Park, which does not use contraception.

As an effective alternative to the traditional method of culling – when family groups are gunned down – immunocontraception uses the female elephant’s own immune response to block egg fertilisation. Female elephants over the age of 10 years are treated remotely from a helicopter with a dart that contains the immunocontraception vaccine and a marking substance.that creates a quick reference of which animals have been darted. The dart falls out shortly afterwards. The animals do not need to be immobilised to be treated and vaccinations are completed within minutes.

Download photos and video of elephants receiving the immunocontraception vaccine.

“Shooting these magnificent animals to control their numbers is an antiquated, cruel and unnecessary way to deal with an elephant population that is increasingly squeezed by human encroachment. Immunocontraception is the future of humane elephant conservation,” said Audrey Delsink, wildlife director for HSI/Africa and an elephant biologist.

“Elephants are widely acknowledged as highly cognitive, sentient beings with close-knit family bonds that span generations. It has also been well documented that these sensitive animals suffer symptoms of post-traumatic stress for decades after undergoing traumatic experiences such as capture from the wild, culling or poaching,” said Delsink.

Humane Society International and the Humane Society of the United States have funded cutting-edge research on the use of this non-steroidal, non-hormonal and humane method of elephant population control since 1996. HSI adopts a science-based approach, and with its research partners, has published numerous scientific papers documenting the vaccine’s efficacy, reversibility, lack of behavioural side effects and cost-effectiveness.

“African elephants face many challenges, particularly habitat loss,” added Delsink. “The past three decades have seen their habitat shrink by half, which also leads to increased opportunities for human-elephant conflict on the fringes of neighbouring rural communities, parks and reserves.”

HSI/Africa is working to protect elephants from these and other threats through advocacy, education, policy and regulatory reforms, ivory-demand reduction programmes and on-the-ground conflict resolution efforts. It is the only non-governmental organisation that specifically works on humane methods of birth control in and around zones where elephants could come into conflict with surrounding communities.

With natural processes such as elephant migration curtailed by fences and borders and elephants limited to smaller areas, the ecosystem within the animals’ range also needs to be carefully managed. With females able to produce eight to 10 calves in their lifetime, elephant populations are able to double every 10 to 15 years, making immunocontraception a vital tool in elephant management plans.

Boys will be … bulls

Young male or bull elephants are sometimes incorrectly labelled as ‘problem’ or ‘damage-causing’ animals because they do what they are biologically programmed to do: to seek out new territory after leaving their natal herd. In the process, conflict with people can occur and the animals may be legally destroyed.

To mitigate such conflict in a community in rural KwaZulu-Natal, HSI/Africa and partners Global Supplies and Conservation Outcomes recently deployed three satellite collars on two bulls and a member of a family herd. The collars facilitate the remote monitoring of the animals’ movements: when a collared elephant nears a defined perimeter, reserve management are alerted and can then take steps to reduce the chance of conflict.

This is the second community reserve in the province where the partnership has deployed immunocontraception and satellite collars, embracing science and technology to provide more humane solutions that allow people and elephants to peacefully co-exist.

Download photos and video of elephants receiving the immunocontraception vaccine.

ENDS

Media contact: Marisol Gutierrez, HSI/Africa media and communications manager, +27 72 358 9531, mgutierrez@hsi.org

More lions in cruel captivity than in the wild, says Humane Society International

Humane Society International / South Africa


Chris Upton/Alamy Stock Photo

CAPE TOWN—South Africa is not a good place for lions today, on World Lion Day—and it won’t be tomorrow either, with an estimated 11,000 lions held captive in more than 300 facilities across the country. The captive lion breeding industry is marked by ongoing exposure of poor conditions and welfare standards, inhumane slaughter and pending cruelty cases.

“Like the pitiful circuses of old, the clock is ticking for this abusive industry, and the South African government should be doing more to hasten its end,” said Audrey Delsink, wildlife director for Humane Society International/Africa. “As consumers become increasingly aware of the cruel and exploitative practices in captive lion breeding and its spin-off industries, taking concrete steps to shut down this profit-driven, putrid trade would be a fitting way to honour World Lion Day.”

In addition to serious welfare and conservation concerns, COVID-19 has also placed a spotlight on infectious disease outbreaks linked to the wildlife trade.

“In captive breeding facilities, many lions are confined under unhygienic, stressful conditions, and they are often slaughtered on site, creating ideal conditions for the spread of zoonoses,” said Delsink.

There are almost four times more lions in cruel captivity in South Africa than there are in the wild. The country is home to only 3,000 wild lions.

The captive lion industry has no conservation value and is believed to be contributing to the growing demand for body parts of big cats and threatening global populations of other big carnivores—including tigers who are bred, slaughtered and hunted along with lion. The World Wildlife Crime Report issued in May 2020 by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime stated that illicit markets in big cats raise conservation concerns for the species.

The industry’s associated activities—such as cub petting, lion walking, ‘canned’ hunting and the trade in lion bone and other body parts—have continued despite the 2018 Parliamentary Colloquium that led to a committee resolution calling for the closure of the industry.

HSI/Africa provided an extensive submission to the high-level panel commissioned by the Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries Barbara Creecy to inform state policy on the management of lions, leopards and other wild animals in the country.

HSI/Africa called on the panel to take the following actions:

  • Implement the directives of the Parliamentary resolution addressing captive lion breeding without further delay;
  • Place an immediate moratorium on new captive lion breeding facilities or further breeding at existing lion facilities;
  • Place a moratorium on the international import and export of live animals and animal parts, pending an independent investigation into allegations of CITES and local regulation non-compliance; and
  • Engage with the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development to repeal recent amendments to legislation that facilitate the management of wild animals as farm animals, and the slaughter and consumption of lion and other wild animals as human food.

Tourists are often not aware that South Africa’s wildlife ‘entertainment’ facilities are linked to canned lion hunting, and many such facilities dupe unsuspecting tourists into spending time and money on volunteering at these places under the guise of ‘conservation’.

Trophy hunting

Lions exist in only 8% of their former range and are suffering from loss of habitat and prey, in addition to being decimated by trophy hunting.

HSI analysis of CITES trade data shows that between 2017 and 2018, the European Union imported 398 lion trophies, while the United States imported 150. Of the 406 EU trophies, 312 were from captive lion hunting facilities in South Africa.

Despite claims that the captive predator breeding industry and trophy hunting of captive-bred lions is a significant contributor to the economy, the contribution to South Africa’s GDP is marginal and benefits only a few. A recently published paper estimates that total gross revenue for the sub-sector is estimated at roughly USD $180 million per annum. These revenues represent a mere 0,96% of tourism’s total GDP contribution in 2019 (USD $18.8 million) but may entail extensive opportunity costs. The reputational damage to South Africa and the cost to its tourism is a far-greater risk than the country can afford as consumers increasingly seek out ethical tourist destinations around the world.

Panthera leo is classified by CITES as endangered, listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and is also listed in the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

ENDS

Media contact: Marisol Gutierrez, HSI-Africa media and communications manager, +27 72 358 9531, mgutierrez@hsi.org

Humane Society International calls on South Africans to add their voice to prevent shipment

Humane Society International / South Africa


Maura Flaherty, HSUS

CAPE TOWN—As the National Council of SPCAs prepares for a third court hearing on 6th August to stop the proposed shipment of between 55,000 and 85,000 live sheep to the Middle East, Humane Society International/Africa is urging South African citizens to add their voices of support in ending the cruelty of live exports.

Tony Gerrans, HSI/Africa’s executive director, says: “The conditions experienced by animals during long-distance sea voyages contravene many provisions of South Africa’s Animal Protection Act 71 of 1962. Transporting tens of thousands of sentient animals on a vessel means they endure 21 days of being packed together in pens without proper food and care, standing in their own excrement, breathing in ammonia which can lead to respiratory problems, exposed to the perpetual noise of the ship’s motors and to heat stress which can be so extreme as to kill the animals, much like leaving a dog in a car on a hot day. In 2016, some 3,000 sheep died en route from Freemantle to Doha onboard the same ship – the Al Messilah – that was waiting in East London’s port to load South African sheep. Such treatment is clearly inhumane, and so we fully support the NSPCA asking the High Court to declare it unlawful.

“Cruelty to animals erodes our most fundamental values and undermines our humanity. It should never be tolerated in the pursuit of profits, and the law is clear on this. With up to 85,000 animals on board, the crew members cannot ensure adequate welfare oversight of individual animals on a regular basis – especially those at the back of the pens. And indeed NSPCA inspectors have reported distress, injury and suffering during loading for previous voyages. It is clear that if this shipment is allowed to go ahead, we will intentionally be placing these sensitive animals in an environment where welfare standards are far lower than those we would ever allow in South Africa.”

The shipment presents multiple welfare concerns:

  • For 21 days sheep are confined in pens on multiple decks, standing on hard steel floors unsuitable for hooved animals accustomed to standing on soil.
  • The faeces and urine of thousands of sheep are not cleaned for the entire journey, forcing the animals to stand in their own and others’ excrement, which can lead to infection.
  • Sheep are fed pellets that can result in digestive issues for ruminant animals used to eating grass.
  • Some animals struggle to reach the automated food and water troughs, which can become contaminated with excrement.
  • Some animals suffer respiratory complaints from the concentration of ammonia and other gases below deck.
  • Sheep are exposed to constant noise from the ship’s motors and ventilation system, as well as constant light – despite their need for darkness in order to sleep.
  • Overcrowding poses risks to any sheep who were loaded with an undetected pregnancy or injury, going without proper observation or veterinary care. Newborn lambs and weaker animals are often trampled and crushed.
  • Heat stress is a serious risk for sheep because they have difficulty thermoregulating when the humidity and temperature are both high, particularly when they are caked in their own faeces – what the live shipment industry calls a ‘faecal jacket’.

Live sheep export by sea from Australia to Kuwait was banned in 2019 over the Northern Hemisphere’s summer months, following mass mortalities on board during some of these voyages and studies of heat stress in the sheep making this journey. Other countries such as New Zealand, which is highly dependent on animal agriculture, have banned the live export of animals for slaughter entirely.

Recognising the welfare challenges inherent in this practice, some countries require independent veterinary oversight on board. This is not the case with South Africa, where there are no regulations governing live transport by sea.

HSI/Africa is calling on all South Africans to add their voices to prevent the shipment of live sheep:

  • Write to the Department of Rural Development & Agrarian Reform (Veterinary Services) Eastern Cape, urging the department not to allow the export of these sheep on the Al Messilah.
    Dr Vusi Rozani, vusi.rozani@drdar.gov.za
  • Call on the National Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development to pass regulations that prohibit the live export of all animals by sea.
    Minister Thoko Didiza, COSMIN@daff.gov.za
  • Tell the Red Meat Industry Forum to support a total ban on the cruel export of animals by sea. Amish Kika, manager@rmif.co.za

ENDS

Media contact: Marisol Gutierrez, HSI/Africa Media and Communications Manager, mgutierrez@hsi.org, +27 72 358 9531

Notes

*South Africa’s Animal Protection Act 71 of 1962:

2(1) Any person who –
… (m) conveys, carries, confines, restrains or tethers any animal-

(i) under such conditions or in such a manner or position or for such a period or time or over such a distance as to cause that animal unnecessary suffering; or
(ii) in conditions affording inadequate shelter, light or ventilation or in which such animal is excessively exposed to heat, cold, weather, sun, rain, dust, exhaust gases or noxious fumes;  or
(iii) without making adequate provision for food, potable water and rest for such animals in circumstances where it is necessary … subject to the provisions of this Act and any other law, be guilty of an offence…

Learn More Button Inserter