3 years ago

Opportunity Issue 91 - Sept-Oct-2019

  • Text
  • African
  • Climate
  • Forestry
  • Economic
  • Opportunities
  • Lion
  • Economy
  • Businesses
  • Cannabis
  • Lions


TOURISM AND HERITAGE Protecting the king The extinction of the lion could kill tourism too Tourism could be a economic dynamo for South Africa and other SADC countries, yet the natural heritage of the region is in serious decline. A particularly threatened species is the lion. Once king of the jungle, the lion may face extinction in the wild if steps are not taken to turn the decline around. At the same time, regional tourism would suffer from the loss of one of its prize exhibits. We spoke to Four Paws Country Director Fiona Miles for further insight into this grave situation. What can be done to prevent the decline of wild lion populations? In order to curb the decline of the wild lion population, there would need to be strong policies in place to prevent the onslaught against these animals. This subsequently means that serious repercussions should be implemented when lions are illegally traded. This would and must be a strong deterrent, to prevent even the slightest thought of poaching an animal. One of the other areas which could help with prevention is a strong focus on education—not just theoretically speaking, but also practical education in helping the various stakeholders deal best with the situation. This needs to be implemented in, especially, communities where people live on the fringes of wildlife populations. Simple measures could be implemented, and do not necessarily have to come at a high cost. Essentially, when families aren’t threatened, neither are lions. The other side of the educational focus should be on informing consumers about the detriment of using lion parts for medicinal use – especially in Southeast Asia. When the demand for these products is no longer there, the supply would decrease. No hunting of lions should be allowed, and even though there is a small quota for wild lion hunting, there is no restriction on the hunting of captive bred lions. Lions are Africa’s heritage, and we can’t wait for many more generations before something radical has to be done in order to protect this apex predator. Decision makers should ensure that lions in wild spaces are kept there and guarantee their protection. National parks should have ample funding and enough resources to ensure we keep these animals in the wild – where they belong. Why is canned lion hunting so detrimental to Brand SA? It’s a very simple concept: The image of South Africa in terms of conservation is being damaged as a result of this industry, and as more people across the globe are educated about the atrocities happening in South Africa – relating to the exploitation of lions for commercial gain – more tourists will rather spend their money elsewhere. In the parliamentary report on the state of captive breeding and canned hunting of lions, it was reported that: “There are concerns that tourists would rather choose to spend their money elsewhere in light of a new peer-reviewed scientific report undertaken by the South African Institute of International Affairs, which reveals that Big Cat breeders could cost South Africa over R54 billion over the next 10 years in loss of tourism brand attractiveness.” As the captive breeding industry grows, we witness more and more disregard for animal welfare. Just recently pictures of neglected lions with mange emerged, becoming the face of this industry. Two lion cubs were confiscated at the same farm and showed neurological problems. It’s completely heart-breaking to witness this. There are many other instances where this has been seen, and those are only the ones that are brought to the attention of the authorities. With the continuation of this industry, and more information being shared through the media on a global scale, it highlights the absolute horrific injustices against these animals to a world where the majority of people stand firmly against animal cruelty. How do you debunk arguments in favour of canned hunting? One of the few arguments used by the pro-canned hunting lobbyists is that canned hunting would save wild lions from being killed for trophies. However, the hunting of lions in national parks is not allowed in South Africa and the number of permits issued to hunt wild lions for trophies on private reserves is extremely low (about 10 lions per year). The breeding and keeping of captive lions for canned hunting has a number of negative impacts: On the contrary to what the captive breeding industry likes to claim, there is no conservation benefit to captive breeding of lions; There are huge welfare concerns involved with the breeding and keeping of captive lions for canned hunting and the lion bone trade; The captive lion industry damages South Africa’s image as a conservation leader and our Brand SA / tourism industry; The ethical concerns of the captive breeding of lions and the subsequent canned hunting that is echoed by several reputable (international) hunting organisations, who also do not support this practice; The significant risk to human safety, including fatalities, through physical interactions with habituated lions and 38 |

TOURISM AND HERITAGE other carnivores, resulting in at least 37 incidents affecting no less than 40 victims since 1996 and including 12 deaths. The potential for the transmission of zoonotic diseases through the consumption of lion bones and the parts and derivatives of lion. Who stands to benefit from the canned trade? Captive breeders and the subsequent supply chains. There must be certain political elements attached to this industry—that is undebatable. Let’s take the simple example of how information is presented by the structures within: When in a position of power, and you’re presented with information that is a “non-detrimental finding”, then surely the problem isn’t highlighted with the necessary urgency it deserves. In this instance, a “non-detrimental finding” reflected that the number of lions in South Africa is sufficient and that the species is not at risk, but that is due to the fact that the wild lion population hasn’t been looked at in isolation – only then do you see the potential for a detrimental finding. The strategic wording in reports to the powers that be is what is preventing them from making the hard decisions necessary to give this species the ultimate protection. At this point in time, lion breeders rarely take the welfare of an animal into account—they’re merely seen as breeding machines and cash cows. With no welfare being taken into account within this industry, inbreeding and all kinds of other problems start to emerge, and when the wild lion populations continue to decline, these captive bred animals, with amongst other various health and behavioural issues, will most definitely not be able to repopulate the wild lion populations. What can companies do to support and promote lion conservation efforts? If companies invest in South Africa, they do so because it is a good opportunity and it’s a way to add to the image of either their business, or themselves; because South Africa has built itself as an incredible brand over the past few years – not without its problems of course. From a CSI perspective, investing in South Africa means investing in all of the elements to ensure we help to build the image of the country, and not risk it. South Africa has so much to offer and we need to maintain the good that we have: Our mountains, parks, oceans —and wildlife. FOUR PAWS wants to see change in that we put our voices together to restore the roar of the lion. FOUR PAWS has launched the Lion Longevity Oath (in August) and our aim is to ensure that lions stay in the wild —and subsequently end the devastating exploitation of these animals in commercial operations. From a practical point, companies can participate in payroll giving, where employees can voluntarily assign a donation to be deducted every month. Some companies opt to match these totals as part of their CSI efforts. Companies can put their voices behind the efforts of NGO, and come closer to the societal issues we face, effectively using their influence to make change for the better. FOUR PAWS calls on the leaders and strong influential readers of this magazine to join us. Rise up and roar! | 39

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