Posted to the web on: 17 January 2007
LION breeders say they face bankruptcy and may be forced to slaughter thousands of the big cats when government implements laws in March banning most breeding of the animals for hunting.
The South African Predator Breeders’ Association said this week the laws meant breeders could not generate enough money to buy donkeys from villagers and low-grade meat from abattoirs to feed the lions, and might boost hunting of wild lions elsewhere in Africa. SA has up to 300 breeders keeping about 5000 lions worth R5000 to R200000 each.
The local lion industry has grown rapidly over the past decade as it is cheaper for American and European tourists to shoot captive lions released into the wild a few days before they are killed.
Government faces increased lobbying from animal rights organisations to curb the largely unregulated industry.
“They want to close down a viable business,” said Carel van Heerden, association chairman, from Vryburg yesterday.
“An American will pay $60000 for a 21-day safari in Tanzania and is not guaranteed a lion.
“Here for $15000-$25000 he can be guaranteed a lion and we can even send him a photograph of the animal before he travels,” he said.
The closing of the industry would deprive villagers of income as donkeys fetched R200 to R400 apiece, said Van Heerden, whose organisation represents 150 breeders, one of whom keeps 350 of the cats. Farmers’ expenditure that may be lost included the purchasing of farms of between 2000ha and 3000ha.
There are about 2700 wild lions in SA, says National Geographic, and between 28000 and 47000 lions in sub-Saharan Africa, Tigerhomes.org reports.
Animal rights organisations say compensation should be provided so that the lions can live out their lives while the industry winds down.
Will Travers, director of the Born Free Foundation in Sussex, England, said the situation was due to “government inaction, a lack of legislation. The new laws must carry a government responsibility.”
Travers, whose organisation was inspired by the 1964 film about lions, Born Free, said the closing of the industry would not affect lion numbers elsewhere as the number of wild lions that could be hunted every year was set “through scientific quotas”.
The hunting of captive lions, known as “canned hunting”, attracted adverse attention to SA’s hunting industry in 1997 when the BBC’s Cook Report programme showed a lioness being shot next to a fence, on the other side of which were her cubs.
Srinagar, Jan 17 (IANS) Hundreds of security forces comprising elements of the army, para-military, police and the forest protection group launched a massive hunt for a man-eater leopard that has killed three children in the past five days in south Kashmir.
Seven police teams were sent out in the forested area to spot and trap the leopard, after S.M. Sahai, Inspector General of Police, Kashmir zone, visited the Chattergul village in Anantnag district in the Pir Panjal range.
“Besides police personnel, the teams would have officials of the wildlife department with them. Each team will also have one expert hunter,” a police spokesman in Srinagar told IANS Tuesday.
There has been a huge protest from the villagers against the depredation by the wild cat and the government’s inertia in responding to it.
The government has announced a reward of Rs.10,000 to anyone who could give exact information about where the leopard is or could trap it, an official spokesman said.
“In view of the alarming situation, all the concerned agencies including wildlife department, police, army, paramilitary forces and forest protection force has been directed to trap the beast immediately and ensure the safety and security of the general masses,” Power and Health Minister Peer Muhammad Hussain said.
About two months back, a black bear was burnt alive by angry people in south Kashmir’s Tral town for attacking the villagers. The video footage of the episode had led to serious condemnation by animal rights activists, including Maneka Gandhi.
Before launching the spot-and-shoot campaign, the district magistrate of Anantnag declared the leopard as a man-eater.