Born free welcomes high court ruling on canned hunting


Born Free has welcomed news that the High Court in Pretoria, South Africa, has found that export quotas for lion skeletons from captive breeding farms, set by the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) in 2017 and 2018, were unlawful and unconstitutional, and did not follow due process.

The judgement, which resulted from a case brought by South Africa’s National Council of Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NSPCA), found that the DEA failed in its duty to consider animal welfare in its quota determination, claiming that welfare was out of its remit and not relevant to the setting of quotas.

Born Free’s Head of Policy Dr Mark Jones said: “South Africa’s lion breeding industry is a cynical and cruel business that exploits tens of thousands of animals for profit, while contributing nothing to lion conservation. Its association with canned hunting and the international trade in lion bones, with all the negative connotations for the welfare of captive lions and the conservation of wild lions, has been widely condemned. We congratulate the NSPCA for bringing this important case and thank the Judge for his wise judgement.

“Once again we call on the South African authorities to bring an end to South Africa’s predator breeding industry, with utmost consideration for the welfare of the animals involved.”
The NSPCA has brought a number of criminal cases against captive lion breeding facilities that have neglected the welfare of their lions.”

In the judgement, Judge Kollapen highlighted that: “Animal welfare is connected with the [South African] constitutional right to have the environment protected through legislative and other means. This integrative approach correctly links the suffering of individual animals to conservation, and illustrates the extent to which showing respect and concern for individual animals reinforces broader environmental protection efforts. Animal welfare and animal conservation together reflect two intertwined values.”

Under international rules agreed in 2016, international commercial trade in bones and other products from wild lions is prohibited. However, South Africa is permitted to export lion bones from captive-bred lions under a quota determined by the South African authorities. The DEA set quotas of 800 skeletons for export in 2017, and 1,500 in 2018 (although this was subsequently reduced to 800 following widespread condemnation).