Humane Society International/Africa echoes Parliament’s call for a ban on captive lion breeding

Industry that profits from animal cruelty and undermines Brand South Africa must end

Humane Society International

  • Andreas Doppelmayr/iStockphoto

CAPE TOWN—The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee of the Environment issued a report last week following its “Colloquium on Captive Lion Breeding for Hunting in South Africa: Harming or Promoting the Conservation Image of the Country” held on 21 and 22 August and tabled on 13 November 2018. In the report, the Committee calls for an end to South Africa’s captive lion breeding and asks the Minister of Environmental Affairs to submit quarterly reports to the Portfolio Committee on the progress of this policy and legislative review.

The Committee notes that captive breeding of lions for hunting has long been a blemish on South Africa’s wildlife and tourism landscape. Furthermore, the Committee quoted the economics report by the South African Institute of International Affairs, which was commissioned by HSI/Africa, confirming that South Africa’s tourism brand value could potentially be harmed if captive lion breeding and its associated industries are allowed to continue. The report states that the revenues generated by the lion cub petting and lion walking tourist attractions, while highly lucrative for these businesses, constitutes only 1.85% of South Africa’s overall tourism industry, which is one of the biggest employers in the country. The study concluded that, “the opportunity costs and negative externalities associated with the predator breeding industry may – along with other threats facing wild lion survival – undermine South Africa’s brand attractiveness as a tourism destination by up to R54.51bn over the next decade.”

HSI/Africa’s Wildlife Director Audrey Delsink said, “We cannot agree more with the parliamentary committee that captive lion breeding must end immediately. For far too long, this industry has profited by condemning thousands of captive lions to a life in deplorable conditions. Well-meaning tourists pay to interact with these animals, who are held until they are shot in canned hunts or end up as a bag of bones for the Asian lion bone trade. The verdict is in. This industry serves no conservation value and is fraught with welfare concerns.”

Tell tour operators to stop exploiting captive lions.

On the same day parliament issued its report, South African Airways’ in-flight magazine Sawubona refused to publish a joint Blood Lions® and HSI/Africa advertisement highlighting the link between lion cub petting tourism activities and canned trophy hunting, spin-offs of the captive lion breeding industry. South Africa’s lion breeding industry has been under the spotlight since the 2015 release of the award-winning film Blood Lions® and the eponymous Blood Lions® Campaign of which Humane Society International is a partner.

SAA’s action is at odds with 45 international airlines, including United Airlines, Delta, Air France, Qantas, Emirates, British Airways and most recently, Singapore Airlines, that ban the transportation of hunting trophies, including those from canned lion hunting facilities. SAA’s refusal also stands in stark contrast to another domestic carrier, which not only published the Blood Lions®-HSI/Africa joint graphic in its July 2018 issue of its in-flight magazine but also made the captive lion breeding issue its cover story in the September 2018 issue.

“We urge South African Airways to join the overwhelming consensus expressed across all sectors, from the public to parliament members, the transportation industry to the animal and conservation community, to oppose captive lion breeding and ultimately ban the transportation of hunting trophies,” Delsink stated.

Blood Lions® added, “Together with HSI/Africa and a number of our partners in South Africa and around the world, we have fought hard to expose the horrors that comprise the commercial exploitation of Africa’s most iconic species. Blood Lions commends the Hon. Mr. Mapulane and members of the Portfolio Committee on Environment on the findings and resolutions of this comprehensive 24-page report. There is little doubt that the captive lion breeding industry has attracted extensive international criticism, and that it has had a deleterious impact on South Africa’s conservation and tourism reputation. We urge South African Airways to join the global tourism and conservation community in creating awareness and ultimately, putting an end to the exploitation of lions and the associated fraudulent tourism activities.”

HSI/Africa and Blood Lions® urge travellers, travel guides, and tour operators to fight lion exploitation by refusing to participate in or promote human-lion interactions, such as bottle-feeding or cub-petting, walking with lions, or canned trophy hunting. For more information, visit


Media contact: HSI/Africa Media and Outreach Manager Leozette Roode,, t +27(0)71 360 1104

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