In a statement released in early May by Barbara Creecy, the Minister of South Africa's Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, the topic of the captive lion industry came under the microscope. Due to this, and community voices, the South African government will no longer issue permits relating to captive lions.
As Minister Creecy phrased it, "The captive lion breeding industry did not contribute to conservation and was doing damage to South Africa's conservation and tourism reputation." This, in addition to widespread public opposition and deeming the industry as inhuman, the enterprise is finally being shut down.
These significant actions taken to increase the quality of life of South African lions will keep people from receiving permits to breed, own, or hunt the large animals. In addition, National Geographic reported that it would help dismantle any "Legal and illegal trade in lion bones" happening in the country.
With a country-estimated amount of 2,000 wild lions in South Africa, and nearly 20,000 in the continent, many believe this first step is long overdue. Nevertheless, actions have been kicked into high-gear to remove lions from the inhumane conditions they may have been placed in. The large cats can now be seen by veterinary care.
"This latest move by the government of South Africa is courageous—taking the first steps in a commitment to long-lasting and meaningful change. This is a win for wildlife," wrote Edith Kabesiime, a wildlife campaign manager of the NGO World Animal Protection.
After Creecy submitted a nearly 600-page-report in December 2020 that recommended the banning of breeding, selling, and using lions for tourist purposes, it was accepted in full by the South African cabinet! In response, Ian Michler, director of Blood Lions, spoke out, calling these changes "Huge."
"We believe this is a significant shift in thinking and a fairly clear mandate from the minister to everyone that this has got to be phased out," said Michler. These changes have to pass through the South African parliament, which he hypothesized will not be turned down. With progress made, it's time to get these cats to safety!