Keeping lions and other big cats as pets must be made illegal in South Africa, says Humane Society International/Africa

Humane Society International / Africa

Kobus Tollig/Kobus Tollig Production

CAPE TOWN—A four-month-old lion cub named Pi, who was rescued from an illegal pet owner in Lebanon, has been safely relocated to his new forever home at a true sanctuary in South Africa. Distressing social media videos surfaced in March 2024 showing the cub being exploited for selfies and petting in the streets of Lebanon. Pi was shown being kept chained up in poor conditions with his mouth taped shut. In a globally coordinated effort, he was rescued by local group Animals Lebanon, his flight to South Africa funded by Humane Society International to be received by Drakenstein Lion Park just outside of Cape Town which has offered him lifetime sanctuary. HSI previously partnered with Animals Lebanon in 2020 to rescue animals following a chemical explosion in Beirut.

Despite the private ownership of lions as pets being illegal in Lebanon, the practice is rampant, with big cats being smuggled in from neighbouring countries to feed the trade. Pi is the third captive lion cub to have been confiscated in Lebanon and brought to the sanctuary in South Africa in the past six months; cubs Issam and Kelly also found their forever homes at Drakenstein Lion Park.

This third rehoming occurs just as South Africa’s highest levels of government unanimously approved a landmark decision to close down the captive lion breeding industry, as well as intensive breeding and management of other species such as rhinos. This is a significant policy shift and one that HSI/Africa and its partners have campaigned on for years. The intensive captive breeding of lions in South Africa mostly sustains two activities after the cubs are too big for tourist interactions: canned lion hunting—a practice of breeding lions to be shot in enclosures by wealthy hunters—and/or a grisly global trade in lion bones and skeletons.

According to a government-commissioned Report there are an estimated 7,800 lions kept in more than 342 captive facilities across South Africa, breeding wild animals like commodities for commercial trade purposes, with no conservation value.  HSI/Africa has welcomed the South African Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment’s Policy Position to end captive lion breeding but says the plan has some glaring omissions that need to be addressed. The Policy currently fails to prohibit the keeping of big cats as pets and/or for interactive experiences like cub petting and ambassador species interactions and walking with big cats. It also fails to include the closure of breeding establishments for other big cat species, such as tigers, leopards and jaguars that could ultimately form a replacement industry for captive lion breeding.

Dr Audrey Delsink, wildlife director for Humane Society International/Africa said: “Pi’s ordeal in the illegal pet trade is an example of what thousands of cubs just like him endure at the hands of the captive breeding industry here in South Africa. It is heartening to know that, after many years of advocacy, South Africa’s cabinet supports an end to this cruel and exploitative industry so that these magnificent creatures will no longer be born to suffer for profit. As the Ministerial Task Team’s voluntary exit plan unfolds, and a moratorium on further lion breeding is established, numerous cubs will be saved from the clutches of profiters. However, while we commend the DFFE for its commitment to reforming this industry, we urge it to apply the ban to all captive big cats in South Africa and to include a prohibition on keeping big cats as pets.”

Shane Hart, assistant director for Drakenstein Lion Park, said: “We at Drakenstein Lion Park, South Africa’s oldest true sanctuary, are incredibly proud to provide Pythagoras (Pi) with his forever home. Here, he will receive our expert care for the rest of his natural life, free from exploitation and abuse. We are incredibly grateful to Animals Lebanon and Humane Society International for all of their help and effort in ensuring his rescue could take place. Pi is in an evaluation and quarantine area built to his needs while his mental wounds start to recover, and will graduate to a larger cub enclosure as soon as he is ready. Once this little warrior is no longer little, he will be moved into his full-size enclosure,  his lifetime sanctuary.”

TAKE ACTION: You can help make a difference to the lives of lions in South Africa.

  • Never visit or support any facilities that offer interaction with wildlife (such as cub petting or walking with lions), or that breed and trade wildlife. Visit org for further information.
  • Sign HSI/Africa’s Big Cats petition to help urge the DFFE to introduce legislation that prohibits keeping tigers, lions and other big cat species as pets. This legislation should include banning public contact with all big cat species, not just lions, including keeping such species for promotional, educational or entertainment purposes, and interactive experiences like cub petting and walking with big cats. Sign here.
  • Follow HSI/Africa’s social media channels (@HSIAfrica) to find shareable information about South Africa’s captive lion breeding industry and associated activities. Please share this knowledge with your friends and family and encourage them not to be a part of this exploitative trade too.

Download photos and video of Pi’s rehoming here.

Note: This newsroom link is set to expire the week of May 20 when we will be upgrading our media visuals library. If you need access to these visual assets after that date, please contact to provide you with a new download link.


Media contact: Leozette Roode, media and communications specialist, HSI/Africa,, +27 71 360 1104

Stray and community animals can endure hunger, disease, injury and abuse

Humane Society International / Africa

Kobus Tollig for HSI

CAPE TOWN―This World Stray Animal Day, Humane Society International/Africa is promoting the role that street animal health can play in protecting human health. According to the Mars State of Pet Homelessness Report, over 360 million dogs and cats are homeless across 20 countries studied, 4.05 million in South Africa alone, of which 650, 000 live in shelters and 3.4 million live on the streets. Many street dogs live alongside some of the world’s poorest communities which have little access to spay/neuter, vaccination or other veterinary services. Life can not only be extremely tough for these animals battling starvation, untreated disease and injuries, but lack of veterinary care can also create human health issues from untreated tick, mite, lice and fly infestations as well as rabies.

HSI/Africa’s Healthy Pets, Healthier Community pilot program in Struisbraai and Bredasdorp, Cape Agulhas, is improving the welfare of roaming and owned community dogs and cats through sponsored veterinary services, mass sterilisation, vaccination, deworming and other treatments. The program also delivers humane education for local schools and families as well as an animal law enforcement component to strengthen the protection of animals in these communities. Soon, the charity will expand the program to reach people and animals in other regions.

Fagan Vollenhoven, campaign manager for HSI/Africa’s companion animal and engagement program, said: “There are around 4 million homeless dogs and cats living in South Africa, which not only presents an animal welfare challenge, but as so many of these animals live within some of our most underserved communities, keeping these animals safe and healthy also benefits human health. Our Healthy Pets, Healthier Community program brings sponsored veterinary services including spay/neuter and vaccinations to communities living with owned and roaming dogs and cats who may struggle to find enough food, water, shelter, veterinary care and safety. Meaningful and effective community engagement and humane education play a central role in the success of our program and we’re proud of our work to foster safer, peaceful coexistence between people and the companion animals with whom they live.”

On this World Stray Animal Day, help reduce the number of homeless cats and dogs in South Africa by adopting a companion animal instead of purchasing and ensuring that your furry companions are equipped with adequate identification.

For video and photos click here.


Media contact: Leozette Roode, HSI/Africa media specialist;; 071 360 1104

Humane Society International / Africa

Waldo Swiegers/AP Images for Humane Society International Not the elephant referenced. This mature elephant bull is seen during an afternoon game drive on Wednesday, March 21, 2018 at the Makalali Game Reserve, South Africa.

CAPE TOWN, South Africa—It has been reported that another “super tusker” elephant bull, from the Amboseli elephant population, has been shot and killed in the Enduimet Wildlife Management Area in Tanzania. The killing took place during a hunting expedition operated by Kilombero North Safaris and allegedly involved a prominent American trophy hunter from Texas. A statement revealed that ”as of 10 March, a further three licenses are said to have been granted raising alarm and putting the integrity of the Amboseli elephant population in jeopardy”.

This is reportedly the third “super tusker” gunned down near the Tanzanian-Kenyan border within the past six months. “Super tuskers,” also known as “hundred-pounder” elephants, are male elephants with at least one tusk weighing 100 pounds (45kg). It is believed that there are as few as 50 left in Africa. They are critically important for stability in elephant societies and their habitats and ecosystems.

Dr Audrey Delsink, elephant behaviour expert and wildlife director for Humane Society International/Africa, says, “It is beyond comprehension that yet another of Africa’s iconic ‘super tuskers’ has fallen victim to the relentless pursuit of trophy hunters. The intrinsic value that these bulls bring to elephant society through their genetics, as repositories of social knowledge and as keystones of the environment, is irreplaceable. Mature bulls are crucial influencers within the population, holding significant importance for the future of younger males.”

“It is a myth that they are expendable as they approach 40+ years of age. This is not the end of their breeding lives but rather when they are at their highest reproductive success, and they should not be senselessly cut down in their prime. The killing of these iconic animals isn’t just a biological travesty but a moral tragedy and a stain on humanity’s conscience,” Delsink explained.

ElephantVoices, Big Life Foundation and the Amboseli Trust for Elephants, released a statement appealing for “an end to elephant trophy hunting in the Enduimet Area of Tanzania”.  “The Amboseli population includes adult males with some of the largest tusks on the continent due to the particular genetic makeup of these elephants,” the statement reads. “Approximately 30 adult male elephants, over the age of 25 years, use the Enduimet area and beyond in Tanzania as part of their home range. For half a century Enduimet has been a favourite area for a particular set of adult males.”

Elephants are listed under Appendix II of the Convention on Migratory Species, to which both Kenya and Tanzania are parties. The listing encourages collaboration between countries to achieve conservation and management targets for listed species. Since 1995 a moratorium on trophy hunting of this cross-border elephant population between Kenya and Tanzania was agreed between the nations. After nearly 30 years, this moratorium was shattered when two “super tuskers” were killed south of the border in Tanzania, prior to this third killing.

Studies have found that with age, male elephants dedicate more of their energy toward reproducing. Mature bull elephants like these “super tuskers” will travel twice as fast and three times as far when they are in musth—the periodic state of intensive testosterone-fuelled sexual activity. Thus, the “conscious selection” of older “surplus” males being targeted by hunters has detrimental effects on the wider elephant society and can lead to a population collapse or long-lasting negative population changes. The biased removal of these older Amboseli bulls through trophy hunting poses a massive threat to these migratory animals.

Mature elephant bulls also act as role models for younger males. The killing of dominant elephant bulls results in the loss of vital social knowledge and experience from which these younger animals learn. Without leadership, the young bulls may navigate into risky environments and become more aggressive, resulting in physical interactions and associated injuries, and even increased human-wildlife conflict.

Dr Joyce Poole, co-founder and Scientific Director of ElephantVoices, says, “Fifty years of research on Amboseli’s known individuals has shown that males between 35 and 55 years of age are the primary breeders. Hunters who claim that older males are “dead wood” are just plain ignorant of the science. Males who are given the chance to live to an old age produce a disproportionate number of offspring, passing their genes to the next generation. By killing large tusked males hunters are damaging elephant society, negatively impacting Amboseli’s rare gene pool for large tusks and taking a toll on its future tourism potential.”

After a hunt, it is common for parts of the elephant to be taken and claimed as trophies. It is alleged that in this instance, the elephant’s carcass was intentionally destroyed through burning, to hide the travesty of making this bull yet another statistic in the ever-declining, already fragile “super tusker” elephant population.


Media contact: Leozette Roode, HSI/Africa media and communications specialist, +27 (0)71 360 1104

Humane Society International / Africa

HSUS A hunter posing with a zebra he shot at a captive hunting ranch in South Africa.

CAPE TOWN, South Africa—The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child has called on the South African government to “protect children from the vicarious effects of exposure to violence inflicted on animals such as during Trophy Hunting.” The announcement, on 8 February 2024, follows a periodic review of children’s rights in South Africa. Humane Society International welcomes the Committee’s recognition of trophy hunting as a violent and harmful activity—not just towards animals but also towards children.

Last year the UN formally recognised and defined the right of children to freedom from all forms of violence, including exposure to violence inflicted on animals. On 24 January 2024, during the UNCRC’s considerations of the periodic reports submitted by the South African Government, Dr Rinchen Chophal, vice chair of the UNCRC commented: “Various psychological studies on violence and animal abuse have shown that witnessing or participating in the violence can severely impact children’s moral and psychological development, besides normalising violence and conditioning life-long negative behavioural patterns. The popular and social acceptance of child participation in animal trophy hunting in the country (South Africa) is horrendous to say the least. Can the State Party enlighten us whether you will, as a matter of urgency, criminalise this practice?”

The UNCRC recorded that: “South Africa took note of the concerns about the effects that trophy hunting could have on children participating in them. South Africa was committed to holding roundtable discussions to address this matter.”

Research shows that witnessing animal abuse is a form of psychological abuse in children. Trophy hunting represents one of many forms of violence towards animals that could cause trauma. Around the world children, especially those from low-income communities, often encounter instances of domestic abuse towards pets, the violent slaughtering of conscious farmed animals, and the cruel extermination of animals considered to be “pests” or that pose a potential health risk to humans, including mice, rats and street dogs. Other activities perpetrating violence against animals include game hunting, culling, poaching, wing shooting and dogfighting, all of which pose harmful exposure to children. With the passage of UN General Comment 26 last year, children now have the right to be protected against witnessing any violence inflicted on any animal, and the South African government has been called on to demonstrate how it will ensure this right.

Dr Matthew Schurch, wildlife specialist for Humane Society International/Africa, stated: “Trophy hunting is cruel and violent to animals and deeply harmful to the children who witness it. The Committee’s statement is a critical starting point to address the wide spectrum of animal cruelty that children in South Africa—and around the world—are exposed to. Promoting compassion and respect towards all animals helps to foster children’s emotional and social skills. Ending exposure to animal cruelty can help prevent the development and normalisation of violent behaviours, towards the animals and also towards people. We look forward to the South African government demonstrating how we will ensure the rights of our children to be protected from all forms of violence towards animals.”


Media contact: Leozette Roode, media specialist, HSI/Africa:+27 71 360 1104;

Interim interdict prohibits the trophy hunting of African elephants in South Africa

Humane Society International / Africa

Simon Eeman/Alamy Stock

CAPE TOWN—Humane Society International has learned about a male elephant who was killed in a deeply distressing and tragic trophy hunt at a local game reserve on September 3, 2023, in the Limpopo Province of South Africa. The elephant suffered through eight gunshots over an extended period of time before finally succumbing to his injuries.

This tragic episode contradicts the prevailing South Africa High Court interim interdict, a court order issued after a successful legal challenge brought by Humane Society International/Africa in 2022 against the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment and others. The court order explicitly prohibits the allocation of permits for trophy hunting of African elephants, leopard and black rhino in South Africa.

The elephant was killed at the Maseke Game Reserve, situated within the Balule Nature Reserve, by a hunting party consisting of a client, a hunting guide, a reserve representative and a backup rifleman. According to a publicly released letter issued by Balule Nature Reserve, the client discharged the initial gunshot, wounding the elephant. The reserve representative and the hunting guide fired subsequent shots to bring the elephant down, however these efforts also proved ineffective. The injured elephant sought to escape into the neighbouring Grietjie Game Reserve, an ecotourism reserve, where trophy hunting is prohibited. The injured animal was followed on foot and a helicopter was called to the scene. The elephant was eventually located and was chased back into Maseke Game Reserve by the helicopter where he was finally killed by more gunfire. It is reported that approximately eight shots were discharged into the elephant before the harrowing ordeal was over.

Tony Gerrans, executive director for Humane Society International/Africa said, “We are horrified by this unnecessary tragedy. Given the High Court’s interdict prohibiting the permitting of elephant hunts, the letter’s conclusion that this hunt was lawful is incorrect. Furthermore, no animal should ever experience the pain and suffering that this elephant endured. The practice of trophy hunting is not only profoundly inhumane, but also poses a grave threat to our biodiversity and tarnishes South Africa’s global reputation as a sustainable and responsible tourist destination. To injure, chase and kill any animal in this way, is unacceptable.”

Balule Nature Reserve is a member of the Associated Private Nature Reserves, a group of privately owned nature reserves bordering Kruger National Park. Animals can move freely across the borders of neighbouring reserves. Within the APNR there are some reserves that allow trophy hunting and others that do not, which means that protected animals from one reserve, or even the Kruger National Park, could possibly be killed by trophy hunters within another reserve.

Sarah Veatch, director of wildlife policy for Humane Society International, said, “This incident is a serious cause for concern beyond South Africa: it calls attention to the rampant mismanagement, lack of oversight, and cruel nature in the global trophy hunting industry. This is a harsh reminder of Cecil the lion’s tragedy in Zimbabwe who suffered from arrow wounds for over 10 hours before he was killed by a trophy hunter, and it happens far more often than these two instances. Permit violations and documented instances of suffering like for this elephant and Cecil, are manifestations of the industry’s much larger, dangerous culture of wilful disregard for animals and the law.”

“This incident once again demonstrates the inhumanity of hunting sentient animals merely for bragging rights and to display parts of their bodies as trophies on a wall. Too many endangered and threatened animals continue to suffer and die within so called ‘nature conservation reserves’ in what is best described as a blood sport, Gerrans continued. “HSI/Africa has challenged the way this horrifying activity is permitted by the government, and we call on all South African wildlife administrators to abide by the High Court order which prohibits the permitting of elephant, leopard and black rhino hunts until such time as the court can rule on the merits of the permitting process.”

Editor’s note: These photos of elephants for download are at another South Africa location called the Makalali Game Reserve. These images are not at the Maseke Game Reserve or at the Balule Reserve and not the elephant who was shot. 


Media contacts:

HSI/Africa’s Elefence Project supports newly approved national wildlife management priorities laid out in 2023 White Paper on Conservation and Sustainable Use of South Africa’s Biodiversity

Humane Society International / Africa


CAPE TOWN, South Africa— Animal protection organisation Humane Society International/Africa has advanced a unique community-based conservation project around Ithala Game Reserve to facilitate peaceful co-existence between elephant herds and local people. In collaboration with Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, African Conservation Trust and the Bio-Diversity Conservation Foundation, HSI/Africa is constructing an elephant-proof fence in the 290 km2 reserve in northern KwaZulu-Natal province to stop resident pachyderms from leaving the prescribed area and damaging local crops as they roam further afield. Project Elefence clearly aligns with the South African Government’s White Paper on Conservation and Sustainable Use of South Africa’s Biodiversity, approved and gazetted earlier this month, which aims to “conserve and manage South Africa’s biodiversity, and ensure healthy ecosystems, ecological integrity and connectivity, with transformative socio-economic benefits to society for current and future generations.”

The fence will provide a humane solution to mitigate elephant-human conflict instead of lethal population control methods such as culling. The project’s collaborative, community-centric approach is the result of many years’ work by HSI/Africa and partners which has placed establishing relationships with local communities and employing social ecologists right at the heart of the project. As the boundary between several communities and the reserve is currently unfenced, the project brings enormous benefits and security to the people living close by, while also protecting the resident wildlife. Project Elefence runs alongside HSI/Africa’s other humane elephant management project at Ithala, an innovative immunocontraception program implemented since 2014.

An additional benefit is that the fence still allows smaller animals including local cattle herds to walk under the fence to access their grazing areas and the Phongolo river, while keeping elephants in the confined area.

Audrey Delsink, elephant biologist and HSI/Africa director of wildlife, says: “This is a prime example of human-wildlife cooperation that is implicit within the government’s White Paper, because it creates wildlife and community benefit at the same time. It was absolutely imperative for us from the outset to adopt a community-centered approach. We have eight communities including the land-owning communities of Ithala fully engaged in this project as active stakeholders and participants. Far too often, conservation projects have taken a top-down approach and failed to engage the local communities that are directly affected. With Project Elefence, the surrounding communities are essential partners who have a clear vested interest in making this work to protect and enhance their land tenure, livelihoods, crops and property. As an elephant biologist, I’m also proud that HSI/Africa is yet again spearheading practical, humane solutions to prevent lethal killing being used to control elephants in South Africa.”

HSI/Africa applauds the project partners for their involvement in this cutting-edge initiative, the first of many projects supporting the mission set forth in the White Paper and urges the adoption of this community-based conservation method throughout the rest of South Africa.


Media contact: Leozette Roode, media specialist for Humane Society International/Africa,, +27 71 360 1104.

HSI/Africa and ProVeg South Africa launch ‘My Plant-Based City’ map to finding veg-friendly restaurants in the Mother City.

Humane Society International / Africa

Leozette Roode/HSI

CAPE TOWN—Considering that South Africa is one of the highest per capita meat-consuming countries in Africa, one might be surprised to discover that there are 14 fully vegan restaurants in Cape Town alone. Humane Society International/Africa and ProVeg South Africa have partnered to create a My Plant-Based City map of Cape Town to highlight these restaurants, as well as 16 other vegan-friendly eateries offering great plant-based options.

More and more South African consumers are looking for healthier, more environmentally friendly, and ethical food options. This has led to an increase in veg-friendly restaurants serving everything from burgers and brownies to fine-dining dishes. A decade ago, it would have been almost impossible to find a vegan-friendly menu in South Africa, but today there are countless eateries offering a selection of plant-based meals. Offerings cater to everyone, from those looking for healthy poke bowls featuring fresh whole foods, to others craving plant-based versions of fast-food favourites like cheeseburgers. Advances in food technology have meant that plant-based meat and dairy alternatives are now able to successfully mimic the taste and texture of animal products they replace.

Leozette Roode, meat-reduction specialist for HSI/Africa, says: “The guide is an ideal tool to help Capetonians explore the diversity of the city’s incredible plant-based food options. These options are not only offered to die-hard vegans but also consumers who want to eat more plant-based, like on a Green Monday, and who have other dietary, cultural or religious needs. Today it is easier than ever to feast on foods that are healthier and less harmful to the planet and to animals, without having to sacrifice on taste!

HSI/Africa advocates for a reduction in the number of animals raised for food by changing consumer eating habits to reduce the amount of meat, dairy, eggs and fish they eat. Through its Green Monday SA campaign, HSI/Africa assists institutions, private and public businesses and food service providers in increasing plant-based offerings by conducting culinary training with chefs. The My Plant-Based City maps form part of HSI/Africa’s Green Monday SA campaign as a fun, affordable and tasty way to bring about positive change.

The list of eateries featured on the map is based on recommendations from renowned local blogger and vegan influencer, Garth Tavares, better known as the Cape Town Vegan. The list highlights some of the most novel vegan offerings including “meaty” options like Infinite Foods’ ultimate burger, seitan burgers and subs from The Fussy Vegan, and chicken-style kebabs from The Vegan Butchery. For those with a sweet tooth, some highlights include ice-cream and waffles from Ditto, donuts from Grumpy & Runt, We Cafe’s gluten-free chocolate brownies and baked goods and coffee from Okja Café. Health-enthusiasts also have a variety to choose from including a tempura cauliflower bowl from Wild Eatery and Sunshine Food Co’s sprouted charcoal burger with chickpea dahl. You can even have a crackable plant-based egg from Vegan Street Food or sushi from Plushi.

The My Plant-based City Map also lists the top five most plant-based friendly national food chains according to ProVeg South Africa’s 2022 Plant-Based Friendly Fast Food Franchise Ranking. According to Donovan Will, co-creator of the maps and Country Director of ProVeg South Africa, taste and availability remain two of the biggest barriers to consumers who are considering eating more plant-based food, and fast food chains play a big role in removing these barriers.

“We know that many South Africans eat fast food, and we know that fast food chains generally don’t sacrifice on taste, so having chains with hundreds of branches across the country offering plant-based options clearly plays a big part in making these options more available, and getting consumers to try them.”

ProVeg South Africa is the local chapter of ProVeg International, a global food awareness organisation working to transition the food system from one primarily centered on animal agriculture to one based on plant-based and cellular agriculture. The maps and the fast food ranking form part of their ongoing efforts to promote plant-based food in South Africa, which includes the licensing of Europe’s largest vegan accreditation, V-Label, hosting events like the annual Plant-based Heritage Day Braai, and working to influence government food policies.

Printed versions of the map will be distributed across Cape Town at the participating restaurants as well as various information points. South Africans can also download the map and access all the locations of all the restaurants via the website.

Photos of the dishes can be downloaded here.


Media contacts:

  • HSI/Africa media specialist: Leozette Roode; e:; t: +27 713601104
  • ProVeg South Africa communications manager: Arleen Nel, e:; t: +27 72 649 2346

On World Pangolin Day, HSI/Africa celebrates the successful reintroduction of vulnerable pangolins into the wild

Humane Society International / Africa

Footage of Cory the pangolin with her pangolin pup at the Manyoni Private Game Reserve after being retrieved, rehabilitated and released back into the wild.

CAPE TOWN, South Africa—On World Pangolin Day 2023, animal protection organization Humane Society International/Africa celebrates a powerful collaboration with the African Pangolin Working Group and the Johannesburg Wildlife Veterinary Hospital to retrieve, rehabilitate and release vulnerable Temminck’s pangolins back into the wild. One of the many success stories is that of Cory, a lucky pangolin who was rescued from poachers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now released back in the wild after rehabilitation, a camera trap has revealed that Cory has given birth to a pango-pup, who has been filmed clinging to her back.

Pangolins are the world’s only scaled mammals. They are ruthlessly poached for these scales— mistakenly believed to have curative properties in traditional Asian medicine—as well as for meat, which is eaten as a delicacy in some Asian countries. They are incredibly vulnerable and submissive creatures with no teeth who are unable to defend themselves or run away from danger. Their only means of defense is to curl into a ball, which ironically makes them even more vulnerable to poachers who can easily pick them up. The number of pangolins left in the wild is unknown as they are very difficult to spot, but all species of pangolin are classified as vulnerable, endangered or critically endangered. In 2019, 97 tons of African pangolin scales were trafficked from Africa, which equates to roughly 160,000 individual pangolins.

Dr. Audrey Delsink, wildlife director for Humane Society International/Africa, said: “Pangolins are officially the world’s most trafficked mammal. This is devastating for a species whose cryptic status means that little is known about how many actually exist in the wild. Every pangolin saved from the trade and successfully reintroduced back into the wild is a conservation success. The birth of this pango-pup signifies hope that with better enforcement of laws prohibiting pangolin trafficking and continued work on rehabilitating and protecting these iconic animals, we can halt the rapid decline in pangolin populations. HSI/Africa is proud to support the African Pangolin Working Group and the Johannesburg Wildlife Veterinary Hospital and applaud all those who work tirelessly to save this remarkably unique species from extinction.”

Cory the pangolin was one of several of her species retrieved from a crime intelligence-led sting operation in Johannesburg during the pandemic. Law enforcement officials discovered Cory concealed in a zipped sports bag and in very poor condition as she had been held captive for approximately 10 days without food or water, and surely experienced extreme psychological stress during this time.

Cory was treated at the Johannesburg Wildlife Veterinary Hospital where she was initially weighed in at an underweight 4.9 kilograms. Although Cory’s condition was poor, she seemed to be free of any physical injuries and was deemed likely to recover fairly easily.

After a month of rehabilitation, Cory was transported to Manyoni Private Game Reserve for an initial ‘soft’ release. Cory still needed to gain weight to reach 6.5 kilograms before she could safely be released back into the wild, so she was fitted with two telemetry tags for monitoring—a VHF (very high frequency) and a satellite device generously sponsored by The Boucher Legacy— attached painlessly to one of her scales.

Cory was eventually released in 2020 in Manyoni Private Game Reserve in Zululand where she and another tagged pangolin were observed using the satellite data and a camera trap the specialist Manyoni team placed in front of Cory’s burrow. There was tremendous excitement in July 2022 when the camera trap revealed a surprise: a pup holding on to Cory’s tail as she exited the burrow! This week, merely days before World Pangolin Day, Cory and her pup were spotted inside her burrow and both mum and pup are thriving in their natural habitat. This birth has signaled the overall success of the program to retrieve, rehabilitate and reintroduce Temminck’s pangolin back into KwaZulu Natal’s wilderness where they had been locally extinct for around four decades.

Four traffickers were arrested by the South African Police Service Cullinan Stock Theft and Endangered Species Unit for the poaching of Cory. One of the perpetrators was found guilty and sentenced to three years’ jail time or a R10,000 fine.

Note: All pangolins who are treated at the Johannesburg Wildlife Veterinary Hospital are kept off-site for safety and security.

Pangolin facts:

  • There are eight species of pangolin in the world: four Asian species and four African species.
  • Of the four Asian species of pangolin, the Sunda, the Chinese, and the Philippine are now listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, while the Indian pangolin is listed as endangered.
  • Of the four African species, the white-bellied and the giant ground pangolin are listed as endangered, while the Temminck’s and the black-bellied are listed as vulnerable.
  • An estimated one million pangolins were trafficked globally over the past decade.
  • Europe has become a key transit route for pangolin parts from Africa to Asia, and pangolin parts are also illegally trafficked from Asia to the United States.

Photos of Cory and her pup are available here.


Media contact: Leozette Roode, media specialist for Humane Society International/Africa,, +27 71 360 1104.


Humane Society International / Africa

Kobus Tollig Photography

CAPE TOWN, South Africa—Animal protection organization Humane Society International/Africa has launched its Healthy Pets, Healthier Community pilot program in Struisbraai and Bredasdorp, Cape Agulhas, to improve the welfare of roaming and owned community cats and dogs. As part of the launch, HSI/Africa and partners conducted the program’s first sterilisation marathon or “sterithon” at Struisbaai North Primary School and the Bredasdorp East Sports Grounds, sterilising 142 animals (111 dogs and 31 cats) and providing vaccinations, deworming and other treatment for 100 other animals, all of whom also received other primary veterinary care and grooming—as well as treats and toys from HSI/Africa volunteers.

The Healthy Pets, Healthier Community program provides local pet owners with the knowledge to help families maintain a healthy and humane lifestyle for their pets. This pilot program is also delivering humane education for local schools and families, low-cost veterinary services, and includes an animal law enforcement component that will strengthen the protection of animals in these communities. HSI/Africa will work with partners, other animal welfare groups and school children in the communities to improve the lives of their companion animals.

The program is being rolled out following a Monitor and Impact Evaluation Assessment survey for communities, that showed low dog and cat sterilization rates in Bredasdorp East and Struisbaai North, and high euthanasia and shelter surrender rates at the Cape Agulhas Municipality animal control facility. The survey indicated that most pets are not kept inside the home or do not have suitable outdoor kennels. This resulted in cruel practices such as dogs being kept on heavy chains and pets suffering from severe untreated tick, mite, lice and fly infestations.

Audrey Delsink, wildlife director and acting campaign manager for HSI/Africa’s companion animal and engagement program, said: “HSI/Africa is very proud to launch its very first Healthy Pets, Healthier Community pilot program in Cape Agulhas. The program aims to improve the health and welfare of companion animals in these communities through enhancing the family and pet bond. This is being achieved through high sterilization and vaccination rates. Meaningful and effective community engagement and humane education will be central to the success of our program. We encourage the communities of Struisbaai North and Bredasdorp East to participate and help us implement locally humane solutions for their dogs and cats through affordable veterinary services.”

In addition, HSI/Africa also visited two local schools to teach students the importance of responsible pet care and to encourage them to bring their pets to the “sterithon” and clinic days in the areas. The talks were focused on more than 400 children, who received educational coloring books to help them learn about caring for their pets at home.

Cape Agulhas Municipality executive mayor Paul Swart said: “Roaming dogs are a real challenge in our communities. To change this situation, we need to better inform our communities and I want to commit myself to doing so, starting here with HSI/Africa. Cape Agulhas is the most Southern point in South Africa, and we want to become an example for the rest of the country. We want to be a humane society that cares for one another – not only for us as humans, but especially for our pets. Through the ’Healthy Pets, Healthier Community’ program we wish to change the mindsets of our people to help them become better parents to their pets. Healthy and happy pets can improve our personal health and bring happiness to our homes. We thank the HSI/Africa team for the work you’ve already done in Cape Agulhas, and we look forward to becoming kinder, animal-loving communities with you.”

HSI/Africa encourages all community members to register their animals for sterilization and bring their furry friends to upcoming clinics to be hosted in 2023. For enquiries about the Struisbaai North registration, call Trevor on (084) 511-8705 and for enquiries about the Bredasdorp East registration, call Kerri-Lee on (082) 712-8331. For program enquiries, call Audrey Delsink from HSI/Africa on (083) 390-0337.

For video and photos click here.


Media contact: Leozette Roode, specialist media communications and meat reduction: ; 071 360 1104; E

Humane Society International welcomes announcement from hotel in Africa

Humane Society International / Africa

Stock Photography

CAPE TOWN, South Africa—Hotel Verde has committed to exclusively source pork from suppliers who do not confine soon-to-be mother pigs in crates. With this announcement, Hotel Verde joins the growing list of global companies that have pledged to procure only crate-free pork. This announcement follows discussions with Humane Society International/Africa, which welcomes the commitment.

Chef Adrian Schreuder, executive Chef at Hotel Verde said, “As the greenest hotel in Africa, Hotel Verde is committed to source and serve only the highest welfare products available. As part of our animal welfare and sustainability policy, we pledge to transition our entire pork supply comes from only local farms that do not use gestation crates for pregnant sows. We are working towards a 100% implementation goal by the end of 2023. Hotel Verde is proud to work with Humane Society International/Africa on the implementation of this animal welfare policy.”

Gestation crates are used to house sows during each of their nearly 4-month long pregnancies on commercial farms to maximise profit by packing as many animals into a facility as possible. Pregnant pigs kept in these steel gestation crates cannot fully express their natural behaviour and are confined so tightly that they are prevented from turning around or even extending their legs when lying down. Not only do the pigs suffer physical discomfort and injuries, but they also experience frustration and psychological stress.

Candice Blom, farmed animal specialist for Humane Society International/Africa, says: “We applaud Hotel Verde for prioritizing the welfare of farmed animals by adopting this commitment throughout its supply chain. These policies drive the demand for higher welfare standards on piggeries and will ultimately eliminate the use of cruel crates. Consumers care about the way animals are treated in food production systems and oppose the inhumane, near lifelong confinement of sows in crates.”

More companies are adopting responsible consumption policies in South Africa and the world, including Marriott InternationalHilton WorldwideNestle and others. Humane Society International/Africa will continue working with Hotel Verde and other companies to improve the welfare of animals in their supply chains.


 Reference in this article to any specific commercial product or service, or the use of any brand, trade, firm or corporation name is for the information of the public only, and does not constitute or imply endorsement by HSI/Africa or any of its affiliates of the product or service, or its producer or provider, and should not be construed or relied upon, under any circumstances, by implication or otherwise, as investment advice. Links and access by hypertext to other websites is provided as a convenience only and does not indicate or imply any endorsement with respect to any of the content on such website nor any of the views expressed thereon.

Media contact: Leozette Roode, media specialist for HSI/Africa, e:, t: +27 71 360 1104


Learn More Button Inserter