There are approximately 10,000 – 12,000 lions held in captivity in South Africa. This equates to almost three times the country’s wild lion population being intensively bred and exploited from the moment they are born, until their untimely death. This begins when cubs are used for petting attractions and to provide voluntourism opportunities and then as juveniles, lions are used in ‘walking with’ experiences and as photo props. When they reach adulthood, their life takes an even more sinister turn when animals become the targets in canned trophy hunts – where they have no option to escape from pain and suffering. After their death, experts are concerned that the bones of these big cats are supplying the trade in their body parts, which further endangers the future stability of already vulnerable big cat populations.
Sadly, the captive big cat industry is growing in South Africa and now targets many wild cat species, including leopards and cheetahs. Now, even exotic species, such as tigers, and crossbreeds such as ligers (lion crossed with tiger) are targeted and forced to go through the same cycle of exploitation in private and public facilities across the country.
Not only does the practice exploit animals, FOUR PAWS believes that many workers on the predator farms are being taken advantage of too. Workers are required to be in close proximity with dangerous big cats, often without safety procedures in place, protective equipment or training. Moreover, many of the South African nationals, and, it would seem, illegal immigrants working on these establishments are paid below the legal wage and without the minimum employment packages set out by the South African Government.
As a result, we believe South Africa’s captive predator breeding industry facilitates the continued exploitation of two of the country’s most valued resources; its people and its wildlife.
Sign our petition to South Africa’s President, Mr Cyril Ramaphosa, and the Minister for Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, Ms Barbara Creecy, to join us in urging the Government to take action today.
- To ban, with immediate effect, all forms of interaction between people and big cats, including but not limited to, cub petting, walking-with interactions, feeding by non-qualified persons and the use of big cats as photo props.
- To ultimately phase-out and subsequently ban, the keeping and breeding of native and exotic big cats in captive facilities in South Africa. This should be carried out through consultations with independent big cat scientists, veterinarians and NGOs.
Dear Honourable President and Honourable Minister,
The breeding of big cats in captive facilities across South Africa has been allowed to flourish unregulated and unmonitored for too long. This has facilitated the exploitation of up to 12,000 lions that currently remain behind bars. This number is three times the population of South Africa’s wild lions and now, more big cat species are being targeted. Today, cheetahs, leopards and even non-native tigers and crossbreeds, are suffering the same cruel fate.
The welfare conditions of these animals are poor and inhumane and as a result, behavioural abnormalities and physical deformities are commonplace among individual cats. In addition, the links between these breeding facilities, the cruel trophy and canned hunting industries and the trade in big cat bones, confirm that continuing this will only fuel the unsustainable demand in their consumptive use and cause thousands of animals tremendous suffering.
Alongside the abuse of big cats, workers on these farms are exploited by being forced to work in close proximity with dangerous big cats, often without safety procedures in place, protective equipment or training. Moreover, our report shows that many of the South African nationals and illegal immigrants working on these establishments are paid below the legal wage and without the legal minimum employment packages.
I ask you to take a stand against the cruelty to big cats and ban the keeping and breeding of big cats in South Africa with immediate effect to ensure that we do not participate in the exploitation of two of South Africa’s most valued resources; its people and its wildlife.