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Botswana now also involved in lion trafficking?

In a hard-hitting article, reporter Fiona Macleod of the South Africa Mail&Guardian reveals yet another shameful wrinkle in the canned lion trade in South Africa. She indicates the existence of an active conduit between Botswana and South Africa to supply lion breeders with wild stock for their amoral canned hunting operations and a supply of their bones to Asian Traditional Medicine markets. Officials on both sides of the border seem to be turning a blind eye or perhaps are even implicated.

This should be a blow to Botswana’s reputation as a country touted as being foremost in the region in terms of wildlife conservation, and should also set off warning bells about similar conduits from Zimbabwe at least.

With this kind of evidence, the environment Minister Edna Molewa cannot continue to insist that a moratorium on shipments of lion bones to Asia is not necessary as it does not, in her blinkered opinion, affect wild populations. We and many others, like Dereck Joubert who is quoted in the article, take the view that to create a supply for an insatiable market will always have consequences far beyond animals involved in captive breeding. All that is needed to convince Molewa is to look at the rampant and uncontrolled rhino poaching going on in her country.

With so few lions left in the wild, this is not a time to be intransigent on clear threats emanating from self-enriching lion breeders in South Africa. It can only go from bad to worse, and the world community needs to pay much closer attention to a cynical industry that benefits few but could impact an entire species unless put out of business. This has to happen in South Africa. Well-meaning programmes to “educate” the Asian consumers that rhino horn is not medicine and that elephant ivory means dead elephants have not led to any meaningful decline in illegal trade. Choke off the pipeline, otherwise wildlife products and live animals will continue to flow.

Picture credit: greenprophet.com

Posted by Pieter Kat at 11:59

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