The Pretoria High Court yesterday (Tuesday, 6 August) set aside the 2017 and 2018 lion bone quotas, stating that these were both unlawful and unconstitutional, and that due process was not followed in the setting of the quotas.
The Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) said in a media release, it is delighted with the Court’s decision.
Before giving his judgement, Judge Jody Kollapen said that the issue had implications for both current and future generations, and that he had taken time over his deliberations to reflect on the grave importance of the decision for society.
The Judge said the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), and the former Minister, had erred when they disregarded the welfare of captive wild animals and that the welfare of captive lions should have been considered when determining this trade quota.
Judge Kollapen questioned whether the welfare mandate for lions in captivity lies solely with the Department of Agriculture, when the national Biodiversity Plan for African Lions (gazetted by the DEA) stipulates the need for permit holders to comply with “minimum standards” of care. The judge said “it is inconceivable that the State… could have ignored welfare considerations of lions in captivity in setting the annual export quota”.
According to the media release the precedent-setting judgement has much broader implications beyond the lion bone trade, and could have a significant impact on the breeding, slaughter and selling of parts of all captive wild animals.
The EWT has been vocal in its opposition to the lion bone trade, and the setting of these quotas, as the captive breeding of wild animals for their parts offers no conservation value for the species. “We do not support the commercial captive breeding of carnivores because it does not contribute to the sustainable, responsible use of our wildlife resources and, in some cases, may have negative impacts on the conservation of these species in the wild.
“Instead, we support the conservation of wild and free ranging carnivores, including but not limited to lions, in their natural habitat, where they contribute to biodiversity conservation as keystone and flagship species.”
The EWT said it welcomes this landmark judgement and applauds the NSPCA and all other parties who have persisted in their efforts to secure this victory for lions.
Before the Court decision 1 500 captive-bred lion skeletons, with or without their heads, could be exported annually from South Africa. That meant the bones of 4,2 lions per day. The quota was nearly double the number of the previous year’s quota of 800 lion skeletons.
The DEA said the quota was based on new evidence from a research project by the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) and the universities of the Witwatersrand (Wits), Oxford and Kent which analysed and monitored the lion bone trade in South Africa.
Yolan Friedmann, CEO of EWT, said: “We envisage this being a turning point for a trajectory of decision-making in recent years that has treated our national wildlife heritage as a resource for pure commercial exploitation at industrial production levels, and we applaud the Court for upholding the values underpinning our Constitutional environmental rights.”
Source: Capricorn Review