Conservation activists call for ban on lion bone trade

Environmental Affairs Committee chairperson Philly Mapulane has warned that South Africa risks becoming a pariah among world conservation bodies.

Parliament's Environmental Affairs oversight committee is hosting a two-day colloquium on trophy hunting in South Africa. Picture: Gaye Davis/EWN

CAPE TOWN - Conservation activists are calling for an immediate ban on the trade in lion bones, saying it is a major embarrassment for the country that threatens tourism jobs and fuels crime.

The call was made at Parliament, where the spotlight has been put on the breeding of lions in captivity for trophy hunting.

Environmental Affairs Committee chairperson Philly Mapulane has warned that South Africa risks becoming a pariah among world conservation bodies, who are “turning their backs on the country” for allowing the practice.

South Africa is the world’s biggest exporter of lion bones, mainly to south-east Asia.

But the EMS Foundation and Ban Animal Trading say the trade is linked to international crime networks and should be banned.

EMS Foundation’s Michele Pickover said: “Included in this ban should be the destruction of all big cat bone stockpiles. We’re humbly requesting you, honourable members, to bring the criminal aspects of this trade to the attention of other relevant parliamentary committees and authorities, to ensure that a forensic investigation and financial tracking of the industry is undertaken.”

Pickover says the legal trade is used by criminal networks to launder bones obtained illegally, with export permits known to have been issued to trafficking syndicates.

(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)