#ShockWildlifeTruths: SA tourism industry urged to commit to help curb ‘exploitative wildlife practices’
Cape Town – South Africa is going to be celebrating Heritage month in September – with our wildlife being an integral part of SA’s natural heritage, it stands to reason that our tourism practices should advocate ethical, wildlife protection.
This has seen Blood Lions and Humane Society International asking the Southern Africa Tourism Services Association (SATSA) to join its international petition, with over 110 000 signatures and directed at the South African tourism industry, with the aim of curbing exploitative wildlife practices.
Blood Lions together with Humane Society International presented the formal request and call to action at the SATSA conference taking place in Stellenbosch on Thursday 17 August, asking its members to” help end exploitative wildlife practices and calling then to join the global Born to Live Wild Pledge”.
‘Urge the tourism industry to end lion exploitation!’
Speaking on the animal interaction panel discussion at SATSA. Blood Lions documentary filmmaker and environmental journalist, Ian Michler says “it is clear that a lot of work needs to be done in order to define ecological education and highlight the difference between it and the use of wildlife for entertainment”, especially when it comes to responsible tourism.
“Blood Lions wishes to congratulate SATSA on tackling what is clearly a thorny issue around wildlife interactions in South Africa. A special thanks must also go to the SATSA members of which a majority have signed the ‘Born to Live Wild’ pledge,” says Michler.
He has called on SATSA to “distinguish between legitimate wildlife facilities versus those that are businesses looking to justify the use of animals for financial gain.”
In the pledge HSI reiterates that unknown to tourists and volunteers, “captive-bred lion cubs they are led to believe are orphaned, pay to feed, pet and walk with are raised to be a trophy hunter’s next victim.”
“The documentary film Blood Lions reveals that between 6 000 and 8000 captive-bred lions are confined to cruel conditions on farms throughout South Africa, raised purely for profit and exploitation.
It also states that SA’s move to approve the sale and export of 800 captive-bred lion skeletons for 2017, ignoring widespread public opposition – will potentially fuel the demand in Asia where lion bones are used in tonics.”
The DEA says the export will only be from captive-bred lions as per the specific parameters approved by Convention in the Trade of Endangered Species (CITES).
Lions in South Africa are listed under Appendix II which means their products can be traded internationally but only “if the trade will not be detrimental to the survival of the species in the wild.” The numbers of African free-range lions have declined alarmingly over the last few decades with only 20 000 remaining today, down from 30 000 just two decades ago.