The White Paper proposes legislation for the management of South Africa’s iconic species: lions, elephants, rhinos and leopards.

One of the objectives of the anticipated legislation was “to put a stop to captive breeding of the four species”, according to Fiona Mills, director of FOUR PAWS in South Africa, a global animal welfare foundation.

FOUR PAWS believes that the captive lion and big cat breeding industry threatens the country’s reputation as a leader in the conservation of wildlife.

The draft White Paper is a statement of intent that declares animals as conscious beings in the proposed groundbreaking legislation, she said.

FOUR PAWS therefore called on government to include non-native species in future legislation pertaining to captive breeding, since a significant commercial trade in live animals and body parts of big cat species including, lions, leopard, tigers and jaguars was taking place in South Africa.

The recognition of animals as sentient beings in the proposed legislation is a significant indication that South Africa wants to take a more progressive approach to protecting biodiversity, while also preventing animals from suffering at the hands of humans, she said.

Previously, Prof Peet van der Merwe of North-West University’s Tourism Research in Economics, Environs and Society Unit (TREES), highlighted that the recommendations of the ministerial advisory committee about captive-bred lions could see the poaching of lions skyrocketing.

There is a deeply entrenched demand for lion products in South Africa. It is a logical conclusion that this demand would not disappear and that poaching of free-roaming lions would increase accordingly.

I wish decision-makers would start addressing these matters in a logical manner and take emotions out of the equation, he stressed.

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