Victory for NSPCA in lion bones export case

Posted on 2019-10-11 07:27:29


It was a sad day for South Africa when market forces encouraged lion breeders to promote an appalling industry: the export of lion bones to the East, which led to lions being bred ruthlessly for profit under cruel circumstances.

On 6 August 2019, the Gauteng High Court made a judgement that the 2017 and 2018 lion skeleton quotas made for those years were “unlawful and constitutionally invalid”, although they had already been fulfilled. The court strongly rejected the attitude that the “management” of wild animals can totally disregard ethics. Ross Harvey of the Conservation Action Trust covered the story.

The National SPCA had brought the case against the Minister of Environmental Affairs and the South African Predators’ Association on the grounds that the quota process had initially “ignored welfare considerations”.

In November 2018, the National Assembly adopted a report that called for an ending to South Africa’s predator breeding industry and required that current legislation be reviewed “with a view to ending the industry”. Curiously, this was sidestepped via the suggestion by the then Minister of the Environment that the matter be reviewed by a “high-level panel”.

Judge Jody Kollapen noted that the way in which conservation decisions were taken had “ongoing implications” for conservation. He ruled that “the treatment of lions in captivity was an environmental issue” that could not be separated from commercial activities and from the right of present and future generations to an environment “that Section 24 of the Constitution articulates”.

The NSPCA’s “placing intrinsic value on animals as individuals” has important implications for animal welfare. This legal victory is momentous, “because the government is now legally obliged to consider animal welfare in all its wildlife conservation decisions”.

Karen Trendler of the NSPCA notes that this “precedent-setting judgement” establishes that “one cannot simply use, abuse and trade wildlife without considering their welfare and well-being”.

Judge Kollapen clearly ruled on “the unlawfulness of the establishment of the 2017 and 2018 quotas” and unequivocally declared “the captive lion industry” to be “abhorrent and repulsive”. This does not mean that quotas are at an end. Widespread public rejection is vital. Speak out against canned lion hunting where “animals are shot in a fenced enclosure”. Speak out against supplying lion bones which “masquerade” as tiger bones, because tigers have been wiped out. Only public outrage can protect our animals.

Photo with thanks: Mail & Guardian

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