In the nearly 600-page report, the panel of experts appointed by the ministry in 2019 recommended that South Africa end the breeding and keeping of lions in captivity for economic purposes, including their hunting and tourist interactions such as the cuddling of cubs.
The group also recommended an immediate moratorium on trade in lion derivatives such as bones, which they said posed major risks to wild lion populations in South Africa.
Barbara Creecy, Minister of Forests, Fisheries and the Environment, responded to the report saying the department would adopt all of the report’s recommendations which were supported by a majority of the 26 committee members.
“I have asked the department to act accordingly and ensure that the necessary consultations for the implementation are carried out,” she said during the committee’s presentation, referring to the recommendations on lions. captives.
Among other measures, the ministry will now begin a consultation process with various stakeholders and develop a policy on biodiversity conservation for Cabinet approval.
The group was unable to reach consensus on how to tackle captive lion breeding, and only two-thirds of its members supported the recommendations, according to the report.
Creecy stressed that the measures did not target the hunting industry.
“Preventing the hunting of captive lions is in the interest of the genuine wild hunting industry and will boost the hunting economy and our international reputation, and the jobs it creates,” she said.
Regarding the stocks of rhinoceros horn and elephant ivory, the expert group recommended that the minister consult other countries in the southern African bloc to determine under what conditions the current stocks of ivory and horn rhinos can be eliminated.
Legalizing the rhino horn trade has been a hot issue, with conservationists fearing it could boost demand in Asia, while others argue it could raise funds that would help protect the species.