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.


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.


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.


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


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


*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…

UPDATE: HSI-Africa reached out to the Express requesting its article be corrected, which it has now done, amending the headline and correcting the statements accordingly.

Humane Society International / South Africa

South Africa—Following publication of an online story in the UK’s Daily Express newspaper, published (11 May 2020), Humane Society International-Africa has released the following statement of clarification regarding the misleading nature of its headline and various quotes attributed to Audrey Delsink, HSI-Africa’s wildlife director.

HSI-Africa’s Audrey Delsink addressed the global wildlife trade in a recent phone interview with the Express and detailed the sad reality that pangolins are the most trafficked land mammal and are illegally trafficked from South Africa to China, to be eaten as delicacies and used in traditional medical elixirs. Delsink also explained that pangolins have been cited as one of the possible intermediate hosts for the virus, to which scientists believe humans were first exposed at a wildlife market in Wuhan, China.

While Delsink conceded that it is not inconceivable a pangolin trafficked from South Africa could have ended up in a wildlife market in Wuhan, China, where the conditions were such that COVID-19 first evolved, she made no suggestion at all that the virus originated in South Africa. The article incorrectly implies that a South African pangolin was the “host” and carried the disease from South Africa, which is not the view of Delsink or of HSI and for this reason HSI-Africa has reached out to the Express, requesting for the article to be corrected.

“The trade in wildlife through incredibly inhumane methods is not just an animal welfare concern, but it poses risks to public health. Scientists have linked the COVID-19 pandemic to wildlife trade – specifically to the consumption of wildlife at a market in Wuhan, China. Globally, animals, including endangered animals, are found at wildlife markets, held in close confinement and sold for consumption, fashion, medicine and the pet trade. We urge governments to learn from this crisis and to ban the trade in wildlife for these purposes to minimise the risks of future zoonotic disease outbreaks”, said Delsink.

Humane Society International, along with many other international organisations, has called on governments to urgently ban in the trade in and consumption of wild animals worldwide. Last month, Humane Society International published a science-based white paper, WILDLIFE MARKETS and COVID-19, addressing the links between zoonotic diseases and the wildlife trade.

Fast facts:

  • Zoonotic diseases are responsible for over two billion cases of human illness and over two million human deaths each year.
  • Zoonoses account for 58% of all known human pathogens, and for 73% of all emerging infectious diseases affecting humans.
  • Risk of disease transmission is prevalent across all aspects of wildlife trade, which also supplies products to the traditional medicine industry.
  • Chinese academics have called on the government to support transitioning the wildlife farming industry away from the production of traditional medicine,as studies have highlighted that over 80% of Traditional Medicine consumers would consider herbal or synthetic alternatives to wild animal products.
  • In South Africa, there is a legal lion bone trade that primarily feeds the Asian market for traditional medicine,as well as luxury items that serve as a status symbol. Currently, there are approximately 12,000 lions – living in captive facilities to supply this industry – four times more than the entire South African wild lion population.
  • The consumption of wildlife products has been linked to zoonotic diseases,and the captive conditions are conducive to the development of new emerging pathogens.


Media Contact: HSI-Africa: Leozette Roode, media & outreach manager, lroode@hsi.org, +2771 360 1104

Indonesia, India, Vietnam among countries where wild animal markets pose a disease risk

Humane Society International / Global

Masked man in Hong Kong market
Jayne Russell/ZUMA Wire/Alamy Live News

WASHINGTON —Wildlife campaigners across the globe from animal charity Humane Society International have called for an urgent worldwide ban on the wildlife trade after China’s announcement that it will prohibit the buying and selling of wild animals for food in light of the mounting threat associated with coronavirus. The capture, market trade, and butchery of wild animal species for human consumption happens across large parts of Asia and Africa such as Indonesia, India, Vietnam, and West, Central and East Africa, as well as in Latin America, says HSI, posing a very real threat of spreading zoonotic and potentially fatal diseases. Governments around the world must take China’s lead and shut down this trade for good. HSI leadership in South Africa, Nepal, India, South Korea, Canada, the United States, Australia, Guatemala, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, the United Kingdom, Honduras, El Salvador and Costa Rica have joined the call for global action.

Jeffrey Flocken, HSI president, says: “China has taken decisive action to halt the wildlife trade for human consumption implicated in the global coronavirus crisis, but it would be a grave mistake for us to think that the threat is isolated to China. The capture and consumption of wild animals is a global trade that causes immense suffering for hundreds of thousands of animals every year, including endangered wildlife species being traded to the brink of extinction. The trade can also spawn global health crises like the current coronavirus, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome and the deadly bird flu. Wildlife markets across the globe, but particularly in Asia and Africa, are widespread and could easily be the start of disease outbreaks in the future.”

In the north eastern states of India, wild species such as the Chinese pangolin and several species of wild birds are routinely sold for human consumption. Bengal monitor lizard meat is also consumed across India, driven mainly by the superstitious belief that the fat stored in the tail can cure arthritis, and meat from the Indian flap-shell turtle is also popular across the country, despite both species being listed under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. In some north Indian states, owl eyes are also consumed for their perceived medicinal benefits for human vision.

Indonesia also has hundreds of “extreme” animal markets where the conditions are the same as those described by scientists as the perfect breeding ground for new and deadly zoonotic viruses, such as coronaviruses. Wild animals are sold and slaughtered in public and unsanitary conditions. The trade takes place alongside that of dogs and cats which itself has already been shown to pose a risk of rabies transmission. In January this year, Humane Society International wrote to Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo as part of the Dog Meat Free Indonesia coalition, calling for urgent measures to ensure that Indonesia does not become the next point of origin of a deadly virus by tackling the risk posed by these animal markets.

Mr. Flocken adds: “We already know that dog and cat meat markets in Indonesia are a hotbed for disease transmission, and we also know from our investigations that rabies-positive dogs are being sold and slaughtered for consumption in these markets. Given that dogs are caged and slaughtered alongside wild animals such as snakes, bats and rats, Indonesia must surely take preventative measures now to ensure it does not become the next point of origin of a deadly virus. Similar risks can be observed in wild animal markets across the globe and especially in Asia and Africa. The trade in wildlife is a global crisis that calls for global action, now.”

Wild meat consumption is also an issue in Vietnam where wild pig, goat and bird species are eaten as well as softshell turtle, bear, snake, pangolin and civet, and snake wine is also consumed. A number of studies conducted in recent years reveal that a significant percentage of the Vietnamese population consumes wild animals.

Bush meat, including that derived from primates, is still consumed in many parts of Africa. Earlier this month, the Tanzanian government endorsed the establishment of butcheries specifically for the bushmeat trade. And in South Africa, approximately 12,000 lions are captive bred in deplorable conditions, to facilitate the export of lion skeletons to Southeast Asia for tiger bone wine. Lions are hosts for the tuberculosis (TB) virus, which can survive in bones ground to powder.

In Guatemala and El Salvador, meat from crocodile, iguana and other reptiles is often eaten during Lent despite it being illegal to do so.

This week, the National People’s Congress, the Chinese national legislature, elevated an originally temporary ban on wildlife trade for human consumption from an administrative action to the level of a national law. Specifically, the announcement, issued as an emergency measure, creates a comprehensive ban on the trade in terrestrial wild animals bought and sold for food, including those who are bred or reared in captivity.

Download video footage of Indonesia’s wild animal and dog/cat meat markets here: https://www.dropbox.com/home/Indonesia%20Extreme%20Markets


Media contact: Wendy Higgins whiggins@hsi.org

Donald Trump Jr. was a speaker at the February 5 to 8 convention

Humane Society International / Africa

SOUTH AFRICA — As animal protection organizations fight for the survival of many African wildlife species, an undercover investigation by Humane Society International and the Humane Society of the United States has exposed exhibitors peddling wild animal products and pay-to-slay trophy hunts at the Safari Club International convention in Nevada, USA, last week. The SCI convention is one of the world largest trophy hunting expos with over 870 exhibitors from 34 countries and more than ten thousand attendees. Sale offerings at the February 2020 event included a captive-bred lion hunt in South Africa for $8,000. One South African outfitter said hunting a giraffe costs “only” $1,200 because they have “too many giraffes” and need to “get rid of the animals.”

Other hunting trips for sale at the SCI 2020 convention included:

  • A $350,000 hunt for a critically endangered black rhino in Namibia.
  • An outfitter advertised its “Trump Special” – a $25,000 hunt for a buffalo, sable, roan and crocodile.
  • A $6,000 hunt for any six animals that a customer can choose to kill in South Africa, such as zebras, wildebeest, warthogs, impalas, hartebeest, gemsbok, nyala, and waterbuck.
  • A $13,000 hunt for black-backed jackal, African wildcat, caracal and bat-eared foxes in South Africa.
  • A tuskless elephant hunt in Zambia for $14,500.
  • A polar bear hunt in Canada sold for $60,000.
  • An Asiatic black bear hunt in Russia for $15,000.
  • Four South African exhibitors offered to sell or broker captive-bred lion hunts. One vendor bragged that his safari company holds five of the top 10 lions ever taken in SCI’s Record Book.

Audrey Delsink, wildlife director for Humane Society International/Africa said, “We are devastated to see the SCI convention offering so many opportunities to destroy our already-threatened wildlife, including giraffes which was listed on Appendix II by CITES last year. Giraffe numbers have declined by 40% in the past 30 years, plummeting to fewer than 69,000 mature animals left in the wild, and here we have exhibitors offering their destruction. The sale of canned lion hunts at the convention is also a huge concern – violating SCI’s own ban that it implemented in 2018. In South Africa there are more lions bred in captivity than exist in the wild, with as few as 3,000 wild lions roaming freely compared to 8 in captivity. Studies show that captive lion breeding and canned trophy hunting do not support conservation, are wrought with welfare travesties and are simply money-driven industries that benefit a handful. It’s time for this needless cruelty to stop.”

Jeff Flocken, president of Humane Society International, said, “Our shocking investigation shows that no animals are off limits to trophy hunters. From shooting giraffes, hyenas, zebras, elephants, hippos, primates and lions in Africa to deer, ibex and wild boar in the UK and Europe, the trophy hunting industry reveals its true nature – one that is motivated by the thrill to kill, and not by conservation.”

According to CITES trade data, South Africa is the second largest hunting trophy exporting nation after Canada.

Other items for sale at the SCI convention were boots made of giraffe skin ($1,390) and kangaroo skin ($1,080), and trips to hunt Asiatic black bears, giraffes, elephants, lions, hippos, and more. The featured speakers and entertainers at the convention included Donald Trump Jr. and the Beach Boys. A “dream hunt” with Donald Trump Jr. in a luxury yacht in Alaska to kill black-tailed deer and sea ducks was sold at auction for a whopping $340,000. A taxidermy ibex mountain goat that Trump Jr. reportedly killed was on display on the convention floor.

Some items on the convention floor, such as belts and boots made of elephant, hippo and stingray, appear to violate Nevada’s law on wildlife trafficking. This is not the first time that vendors at SCI’s convention defied local authorities. Last year a dozen vendors were found selling illegal wildlife products in potential violation of the state law. HSI and the HSUS have submitted evidence of the violations of state law to local enforcement authorities.


Investigation Report here.

Photos/video from the 2020 investigation.




Media contacts:

SA: Leozette Roode, +27713601104, LRoode@hsi.org

UK: Wendy Higgins, +44 (0)7989 972 423, whiggins@hsi.org

USA: Nancy Hwa, 202-676-2337, nhwa@hsi.org


Humane Society International and its partner organizations together constitute one of the world’s largest animal protection organizations. For more than 25 years, HSI has been working for the protection of all animals through the use of science, advocacy, education and hands on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty worldwide – on the Web at hsi.org.

Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eswatini, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe refuse to cooperate with global community to protect iconic species and prohibit wild-caught live elephant trade to zoos

Humane Society International / Global

Michelle Riley/HSUS Wild giraffe in South Africa

WASHINGTON—Today, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora announced that several countries stated their intention to not implement agreements to protect species from international trade — agreements that were reached at CITES’ August meeting.

  • Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Eswatini, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe refused to enact protections for giraffe by entering “reservations” to the listing of the giraffe on CITES Appendix II. In doing so, these nations will not take vital steps to ensure that the export of giraffe products from their lands does not harm the long-term future of the species.
  • Botswana and Zimbabwe are also refusing to abide by CITES’ near total ban on trade in wild-caught live elephants from their countries to foreign zoos. They were joined by the Democratic Republic of Congo, Eswatini, Namibia, Tanzania and South Africa.
  • Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Eswatini, Japan, Indonesia, Namibia, Norway, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe also took a reservation to CITES protection for long-fin and short-fin mako sharks. Of these countries, South Africa and Japan are major players in mako shark fishing and trade.
  • Thailand entered reservations for the star tortoise and the tokay gecko. Thailand is the major exporter of tokay geckos and a major importer of star tortoises for the pet trade.

Canada routinely enters reservations to new CITES protections and later withdraws them after it has made the necessary regulatory changes to its federal laws.

Since South Africa, Zimbabwe and Namibia are the top exporters of giraffe parts and products to the U.S., the action taken by the eight southern Africa nations raises significant concerns.

Adam Peyman, wildlife programs and operations manager for Humane Society International, said, It is unacceptable that these nations are not going to join the other 176 countries that are CITES Parties to help ensure to the future of giraffe in the wild. The Appendix II listing marks the first international protection for the species, and the reservations undermine this monumental decision.”

“We are very disappointed that Botswana and Zimbabwe have refused to accept the overwhelming consensus that the capture and export of live wild-caught baby elephants to foreign zoos must stop,” said Audrey Delsink, an elephant biologist who is director of wildlife for HSI Africa. “It is now up to other nations to prohibit the import of wild-caught elephants.”

After an animal is given CITES protection, countries are allowed to enter reservations within 90 days. These reservations were likely entered in November but made public only today. By entering reservations on Appendix II listings, such as the giraffe, these nations can export these species — dead or alive, in part or whole — without determining that the items were legally acquired and verifying that the export will not harm the survival of the species in the wild. Nor will they report export data for these species to CITES, thus hampering the global community’s ability to gain a full picture of the international trade in them.

Importing countries that are CITES Parties are still recommended to require proof from the exporting country that the export will not harm the species and that the items were obtained legally according to the laws of the country of export. In addition, they will have to report their imports, so this important trade monitoring data will still be collected.

“We urge all these Parties to withdraw these reservations as soon as possible,” said Dr. Teresa Telecky, wildlife vice president for HSI.


Media contact: Nancy Hwa, nhwa@hsi.org, 202-596-0808 (cell)

Humane Society International / Global

Plant-based dish

With the plant-based eating movement enjoying such momentum in 2019, this holiday season Humane Society International and the Humane Society of the United States invite you to celebrate in delicious, international plant-based style! Our colleagues around the world have chosen some of their favorite holiday recipes to share with you and your loved ones to kick off an even more humane 2020.

There are many reasons to eat more plant-based foods – for your health, for the animals and for the environment. This holiday season why not let plants take more of the starring role with some of our favorite recipes from around the globe.

Brazil: Festive rice

Treat your taste buds to the flavors of Brazil with this festive rice dish. This recipe is a simple one to prepare and can be made in advance and then warmed before serving. 

Canada: Stuffed acorn squash
Whether making this for yourself on a cozy night in or serving this to guests, our aromatic stuffed acorn squash is sure to be hit.

South Africa: Sweet and sour “chicken” and mushroom braai pie

Have you ever barbequed a pie? Try a taste of South Africa this holiday season with this sweet and sour “chicken” and mushroom braai pie! Fun fact: the term braai is Afrikaans for barbeque or grill, so fire up that grill and get braaing.

Southeast Asia: Mango delice

Mango sticky rice, although traditionally a Thai dessert, is immensely popular throughout Southeast Asia. Bring these tropical flavors into your home this holiday season with this mango delice—a delicate dessert sure to melt in your mouth!

United Kingdom: Mushroom chestnut and parsnip barley bake

Delight your guests over the holidays with a beautiful plant-based centerpiece. This recipe for a delicious mushroom chestnut and parsnip barley bake is bound to impress all your dinner guests.

United States: Old fashioned apple pie

Though it is said to have originated in England some 600 years ago, apple pie is a delicious American favorite. This classic dessert and comfort food is simple to make entirely plant-based.

Vietnam: Summer rolls with peanut sauce

In Vietnam, fried spring rolls (nem rán/chả giò) are always a signature feature of a festive meal. Try a healthier twist on this classic recipe with the bold, fresh flavors of summer rolls in a creamy peanut sauce.

Throughout the year, the food and nutrition teams of HSI and HSUS teach the culinary staff at schools, colleges and universities, workplaces, healthcare facilities and more how to prepare and menu tasty, nutritious and creative plant-based meals. In 2019 alone, HSI hosted more than 150 culinary events globally, training over 1,330 food service professionals across Brazil, Canada, Malaysia, Singapore, South Africa, the United Kingdom and Vietnam. For more information about these trainings, contact Stefanie McNerney at smcnerney@hsi.org. Since 2015, the HSUS has trained nearly 11,000 foodservice professionals and helped over 600 institutions throughout the United States adopt plant-based initiatives. To learn more about training benefits and opportunities, contact Maria Katrien Heslin at mheslin@humanesociety.org.

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