Calls to finalise plans for new deal for people and wildlife

14 October 2021


A weighty 75,504 global citizens (including at least 9,011 voices from South Africa) are calling on Minister Barbara Creecy and her Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE) to implement the New Deal for People and Wildlife, as outlined in the draft Policy Position on the conservation and ecologically sustainable use of elephant, lion, leopard and rhinoceros, without further delay.

© P Hankinson 

On 2 May 2021, Minister Creecy announced her proposal to adopt the vision outlined in the High-Level Panel’s report and its associated goals and recommendations, including the courageous step towards bringing an end to the commercial captive lion industry in South Africa.

In a submission to an extended call for comments on the draft Policy Position document, thousands of South Africans, voices from the African continent and beyond expressed their collective concern about the fate of South Africa’s biodiversity and iconic wildlife, and their support for the visionary draft Policy Position that seeks to redefine South Africa’s relationship with its wildlife.

The public are now asking the Minister to follow through on her promises and set ambitious and urgent time frames for the forward-looking goals outlined in the policy document, including: 

  • To immediately halt the domestication and exploitation of lion, and implement the closure of captive lion facilities.
  • To reverse the domestication and intensification of management of rhino.
  • To prohibit ivory and rhino horn trade under current conditions.
  • To restrict ex situ live export of the iconic species.
  • To implement an increased wildness, naturalness and wellbeing of fauna focus.
  • To adopt the One Welfare approach.
  • To embrace a transformative African approach to conservation and ecologically sustainable use, consistent with Ubuntu.

These progressive and ambitious goals proposed by the Minister and DFFE are supported by many organisations, including Blood Lions, Humane Society International – Africa, World Animal Protection, Born Free Foundation, and FOUR PAWS South Africa. These five animal welfare organisations commend the Minister for such a progressive conservation policy and urge her to finalise the policy in order to implement the proposed changes.

These shifts in policy will not only signify a New Deal for people and wildlife, but also position South Africa as a global conservation leader and destination of choice for nature-based tourism, a key future driver of our economy and rural socio-economic development. 

The draft Policy Position on the conservation and ecologically sustainable use of elephant, lion, leopard and rhinoceros was developed after a year-long consultation process by the High-Level Panel, established by the Minister, and their recommendations in a 600-page Ministerial report.

The finalisation of the draft Policy Position document is vital to put the necessary processes in place to achieve this new vision and goals in the interest of South Africa, all of her people and its wildlife.

“Since our inception we have sought to highlight the devastating consequences of the exploitation of wild animals for trade, hunting and other destructive purposes. We have also advocated for many years for an end to the commercial lion breeding industry in South Africa, which currently exploits thousands of lions and other captive-bred predators for tourism activities such as cub petting and walking with lions, canned hunting, and the sale of bones and other products into international markets. The progressive reforms proposed by Minister Creecy have the potential to transform South Africa’s relationship with wild animals, and place it at the forefront of regional and international wildlife protection efforts for the good of all. It is vital that they are implemented in full and without delay. We stand ready to work with the South African authorities and other stakeholders to ensure that the reforms are successfully implemented and the objectives achieved, with full regard for animal welfare, and for the benefit of wildlife and wider biodiversity, as well as for the people of South Africa.” Dr Mark Jones, Head of Policy, Born Free Foundation. 

“The Blood Lions film and global campaign was launched in 2015 and has worked tirelessly to end this cruel and unethical industry and its spin-off activities. We commend the Minister in her decisive leadership to bringing an end to the commercial captive lion breeding industry. However, the welfare of the predators involved in this exploitative industry hangs in the balance and thus swift and adequate action from DFFE and the Minister is required to start implementing a responsible phase out process. In this process, we hope that the Minister will afford all other indigenous and exotic big cats the same fate as she promised for our captive lions.” Dr Louise de Waal, Campaign Manager & Director, Blood Lions

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