The export of lion skeletons is fuelling the business of these criminal enterprises and South Africa should be held to account for encouraging them, conservationists say. The issue came to public attention after the decision of South Africa officials to double quota of exports of skeletons of lions in captivity.
Dr Paul Funston, the senior director of the lion programme at Panthera, the global wild cat conservation organisation, believes South Africa’s contentious lion bone trade came to a point to start endangering the continent’s dwindling wild lion populations.
“I can’t understand why the government is being so stupid and ignorant by making decisions and supporting an industry that is clearly not supported by the world one that is having a massive knock-on effect on the poaching of wild lions in other African countries” – Funston said.
Funston was reacting to the announcement this week by Environment Minister Edna Molewa that she had approved an annual export quota of 1500 captive-bred lion skeletons – nearly doubling last year’s 800-skeleton quota.
“What we’re seeing now in many other African countries is that they poach the lions and just cut the face and feet off for the teeth and claws as trinkets,” the conservationists regrets. Conservation organisations like Panthera have maintained there is significant evidence that South Africa’s legal trade in lion bones is accelerating the massacre of wild lions for their parts in neighbouring countries and increasing demand for wild lion parts in Asia, where they are used as a substitute for tiger bone wine and other products.