Canned Lion Hunts in SA Banned

Uncertain future for thousands of animals
Melanie Gosling
    June 15 2009 at 10:44AM

"Canned" lion hunting – the commercial shooting of captive-bred lions
for trophies – appears to have been finally canned itself by a
Bloemfontein High Court decision.

While last week's decision has been welcomed, questions are being raised
as to what will happen to the 4 000 captive-bred lions in South Africa
which have now lost their trophy value for commercial hunting, which was
anything between $22 000 and $60 000 an animal.

The court action was brought in May, 2007, by the South African Predator
Breeders Association and two breeders, Matthys Christiaan Mostert and
Deon Cilliers. The three parties sought to overturn legislation
promulgated by the former minister of environment affairs and tourism,
designed to end "canned" hunting of large predators.

The legislation said captive-bred lions must be allowed to run free and
fend for themselves "in an extensive wildlife system" for at least 24
months before they could be shot. This was an attempt to introduce the
practice of "fair chase" into hunting captive-bred animals, which were
raised to be totally dependent on humans, and to allow the animals a
reasonable chance of escape. Some had been hunted in enclosures where
this was not possible.

The Breeders Association, Mostert and Cilliers sought to overturn this
legislation. They also asked the court to set aside the legislation
which makes the future breeding of lions for canned hunts illegal.

They argued that the laws would have a big economic impact on the
captive-bred lion industry, particularly in the Free State and North
West. They said having to allow the animals to run free for two years
would destroy the industry.

However, the court found that this claim could be refuted. The
application was dismissed with costs.

The head of the Endangered Wildlife Trust, Yolan Friedman, has applauded
the decision which she said would effectively put an end to canned lion
hunting in South Africa.

"We believe that the principles of ethical, humane treatment of all
species should never be compromised for the economic enrichment of a
few, as has been the case with canned lion hunting in South Africa," she

She welcomed the court's finding that economic considerations could
never be used to condone or ignore practices that either compromised the
country's biodiversity, undermined the humane treatment of hunted
animals, or tainted the hunting industry's reputation.

Friedman urged the government to begin a process immediately to avert "a
welfare crisis" in which the country's existing 4 000 captive-bred lions
could "fall prey to neglect and cruel treatment" now that they had lost
their economic value.

"To these animals, whose lives so far have been nothing more than a
caged existence to provide a trophy to an unethical hunter, their future
remains uncertain," she said.

          o This article was originally published on page 6 of Cape
Times on June 15, 2009

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