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;

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

Humane Society International / South Africa

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conservation: lip service

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

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

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

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

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

Canned hunts offered

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

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

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

The Big 5 – and the Tiny Ten

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

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

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

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

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

Genetic manipulation

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

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

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


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

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

Humane Society International / South Africa

Olyjo/Alamy Stock Photo

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

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

Bred for slaughter

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

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

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

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

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

Read the NGOs’ full letter

No scientific evidence

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

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

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

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

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

Read the lion scientists’ full letter

Read the scientists’ endorsement letter

Impact on tourism

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

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

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

Read the tourism full letter

Read the SATSA’s endorsement letter

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

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


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