The Facts:

  • Wild animals are bred in captivity in South Africa for several reasons: for the hunting industry, the entertainment industry, the zoo industry, for national and international export purposes and to supply the demand for lion bones in Asian countries.
  • The captive breeding of Big Cats in South Africa is hugely problematic.
  • There are a number of individuals in South Africa that are breeding and keeping exotic Asian Big Cats in their backyards in city suburbs. They are able to breed and keep these predators legally, because South Africa offers very little protection to exotic species.
  • Since early 2016, we have asked South Africa’s Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF) if they know the number of Asian tigers in South Africa and if they monitor and audit the facilities in South Africa that keep Asian Big Cats. DEFF has continuously and consistently replied that this is not their mandate because the species are exotic. DEFF is also not aware of the number of captive breeding facilities that breed African lions.
  • In terms of CITES, facilities breeding Appendix I-listed species (whether indigenous or exotic) must be registered with CITES for international export purposes. South Africa does not have one facility listed with CITES for any Asian big cats, yet hundreds of tigers are exported to China, Vietnam, Bangladesh and Pakistan every year.
  • The Bones of Contention Report estimated that there were more than 280 tigers (mainly Bengal tigers) in at least 44 facilities in South Africa. Our own research shows that the industry is growing (together with the intersecting demand for tigers and their body parts in Southeast Asia) with more captive facilities and more tigers in city backyards; inbreeding is rampant, and there is a lack of regulation and control by South African authorities.

How you can help:

  • Do not support game farms or recreational facilities that breed wild animals.
  • Do not support any facility that offers interactions with wild animals. A useful resource to determine the ethics of various wildlife tourist attractions is ‘The good, the bad and the ugly’ list on the Volunteers in Africa Beware Facebook Page: as well as the animal interaction guide by SATSA:
  • Specifically avoid businesses that offer lion and tiger cub petting or walking with predators as an attraction.
  • Do not support the elephant-back safari industry.
  • Be an advocate for animals and advise your friends and family about the real cruelty the wildlife trade.

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