Bloemfontein – A Supreme Court of Appeal ruling in favour of the SA Predator Breeders’ Association concerning hunting captive-bred lions was disappointing, the NSPCA said on Tuesday.
“Bitter news for lions,” National Council of SPCAs spokesperson Brenda Santon said in a statement. On Monday the court held the minister of environmental affairs did not take a rational decision when he determined that captive-bred lions had to fend for themselves in an extensive wildlife system for 24 months, before they could be hunted.
Santon said this meant the 24-month re-wilding period, as stipulated in the Threatened and Protected Species Regulations to prevent “canned hunting”, could not be enforced.
Santon said nearly all lions hunted in South Africa were raised in captivity.
In the High Court the predator breeders challenged the inclusion of lions in the regulations, and the 24-month period in which captive-bred lions had to fend for themselves before they could be hunted.
The SPCA believed breeding predators in captivity for hunting should never have been allowed in the first place.
“The SPCA is concerned about the welfare of more than 4 000 lions currently kept in captivity.”
Lack of adequate legislation and the issuing of permits to allow for the keeping and breeding of lions had contributed to the problem. She said now the non-profit organisation had to police the welfare of captive animals, as well as the spin-offs from the trade, such as lion cub petting and walks with lions.
In a statement, the breeders’ association said the judgment brought an end to a four-year court battle that could have been prevented if proper consultation between the environmental affairs department and its members had taken place.
“Unfortunately we were forced to go to court in order to protect our interest, business rights and properties from being expropriated by an ill-informed decision.”
The association said it strived to do business in a legal and ethical way.
“We will do our utmost to enter into proper negotiations with the department to find an amicable solution for the hunting and breeding of lions, that is in the best interest of the animals and the sustainability of the captive-bred lion in South Africa,” the statement read.