Humane Society International / South Africa

S. Chakrabarti/We Animals Media

CAPE TOWN, South Africa—Amidst the headlines detailing the severe outbreak of avian flu in South Africa, the culling of approximately 7.5 million infected chickens this year, and the resulting economic impacts, animal protection organization HSI/Africa says the fragility of our current food system and animal welfare are being overlooked.

According to the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, as of 21 September the country has experienced a total of 50 outbreaks of the H7 strain of bird flu, and 10 outbreaks of the H5 strain of bird flu. The South African chicken and egg industries have killed approximately 7.5 million chickens, including around 2.5 million chickens bred for their meat and five million hens kept for egg production. Izaak Breitenbach, general manager of the South African Poultry Association, commented in an interview that this represents a staggering 20-30% of South Africa’s total flock.

In 2017 it was reported that 20% of the national flock was culled and the outbreak cost the poultry industry R1.8 billion. Not only did the 2017 H5N8 outbreak in South Africa result in massive financial loss, and the death of millions of birds, but more than 1,300 people lost their jobs. The current outbreak is leading to egg shortages, job losses and increased egg prices. The emergence of new strains of avian influenza underscores the inadequacy of relying solely on vaccinations and biosecurity measures. The situation we are witnessing today may tragically repeat itself in the future, as these new strains continue to evolve.

Candice Blom, farmed animal specialist for HSI/Africa, emphasizes: “Our food system’s fragility becomes evident when millions of chickens must be killed to ward off disease. A food system premised on mass production of confined animals is inherently prone to risk, regardless of biosecurity and plans for imported vaccines. It is clear that we need more than just band-aid solutions; we need a fundamental shift toward a more diverse food system that is resilient and also not contingent on animal cruelty.”

Beyond the cruelty of slaughtering millions of birds in response to a disease outbreak is the inherently cruel intensive cage confinement of hens during egg production. The vast majority of egg-laying hens in South Africa are confined and crowded together in small, wire battery cages, with each hen having the space of an A4 piece of paper to live her life. These cages prevent hens from performing almost all of their natural behaviours, including nesting, perching, dustbathing, scratching, foraging, walking and even flapping their wings.

As we confront the dire consequences of the avian flu crisis in South Africa, it is imperative that we broaden our perspective to address the systemic issues at the core. This includes reevaluating our animal and food production practices and relying upon a more plant-based food system for the benefit of all living beings.


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:

Humane Society International / South Africa

Urge the South African government to prohibit keeping big cats as pets and commodities and ban public contact with them.

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


Use your power at the till point to help the animals who feed our nation

Humane Society International / South Africa

Erin Van Voorhies

CAPE TOWN, South Africa— Sunday, 22 Oct. 2022 is World Farm Animals Day, an opportunity for members of the public to recognize the suffering and climate impacts of the approximately 88 billion land animals who are bred, raised and slaughtered globally for human consumption each year. This year, while animal protection organization Humane Society International/Africa works with the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development and industry bodies to improve the welfare of these animals, the organization also calls on the public to use their purchasing power and make conscious consumer choices.

Despite farmed animals playing such a significant role in human lives, most people have little knowledge of how those animals actually become their food. Over the years, the methods used to raise animals have changed significantly, and the idyllic image of farms with animals on green pastures has given way to a massive industry in which animals are intensively confined, seen as commodities and raised in a way that has negative consequences for both animals and humans.

Animal agriculture is one of the most significant contributors to climate change, representing more than 16.5% of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions globally, which is on par with all forms of transportation combined. It is also the single largest anthropogenic user of land and a major driver of deforestation, species extinction, land degradation, exhaustion of water resources and pollution. The increasing demand for animal feed is also a major driver of the loss of habitat, biodiversity and the destruction of rural livelihoods.

If the implications of intensive animal production appear this dire for people and the planet, the consequences for the animals can only be described as horrendous. Animal production has been optimized in whatever way the pursuit of profits sees fit. Selective breeding, unnatural diets, castration, tail-docking, debeaking, amputation without anesthetics, the routine use of prophylactic antibiotics, long distance live transport and industrial scale slaughter are some of the common inhumane practices that animals on farms face. In many cases the conditions in which farmed animals live their pathetic lives deny them even their most basic needs such as stretching their limbs, running, flapping their wings, foraging for food, mud and dust bathing, natural reproduction and other everyday behaviors.

This happens on South Africa’s doorstep. Nearly 70% of the 135 000 sows in South African production systems are confined to crates and more than 90% of the 27 million egg-laying hens in the country are housed in small wire battery cages, giving each hen less than an A4 piece of paper’s space. Studies show that the intensive confinement of these animals not only cause them physical pain but also great psychological stress.

Further, crowded and unhealthy conditions in which animals are kept, whether on farms or during live transportation, present the ideal environment for zoonotic diseases to spread, potentially raising the risk for future pandemics. Industrial agriculture and livestock farming also promotes intensive use of agricultural chemicals which could affect food quality, human and environmental health.

Candice Blom, farmed animal welfare specialist for HSI/Africa, says South Africa is an animal-loving nation. We are exceptionally proud and protective of our diverse wildlife, and we express great outrage towards cruelty inflicted upon companion animals. It is tragic then that the same mercy is not shown for the over 1 billion farmed animals who are bred and slaughtered in South Africa every year, many in horrific conditions. The mass production of animals for meat, eggs and dairy has grave consequences for the animals, people and the planet but is largely ignored and even disguised. Decades have passed without material amendments of legislation to improve the welfare standards for farmed animals. HSI/Africa hopes that acknowledging a day dedicated to farmed animals and raising awareness of the lack of welfare in our intensive animal production facilities will help increase South Africans’ consciousness about where their food comes from. This day also serves as an opportunity to call on government, producers and industry bodies to urgently transition towards a sustainable food system that is not premised on systemic animal cruelty. “

World Farm Animals Day stemmed from the birthdate of the late Mahatma Gandhi who lived and worked in South Africa for 21 years, fighting against injustice and discrimination. He was an outspoken advocate of non-violence – towards both human beings and animals. The unimaginable suffering of farmed animals in South Africa’s industrial production systems should not continue unnoticed. South Africans have the opportunity to improve farmed animal welfare now and in the future by assuming responsibility at the till point and purchasing higher welfare products and/or alternatives to animal-proteins. The increase in demand for higher welfare products will encourage the government to enforce anti-cruelty legislation and the agricultural industry to commit to environmentally sustainable food production systems not premised on cruelty.


Media contact: Leozette Roode, media and communications specialist for HSI/Africa: ;  0713601104


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.


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

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


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

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.  


Media contact: Leozette Roode: (+27) 713601104;

Humane Society International / South Africa

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.


Media contact: Marisol Gutierrez, HSI/Africa, media and communications manager: +27 72 358 9531;

Learn More Button Inserter