- Over the last few years BAT has increasingly become involved in the local and international trade in, and export of, live wild animals from South Africa. The trade ranges from the canned hunting of lions through the whole-scale breeding and butchering of lions and tigers for the supply of lion bones for consumption, to the sale and export of vast numbers of individual animals to zoos, animal testing laboratories, breeding farms and entertainment centres.
- The international export of wild animals is supposed to be regulated by The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), and by the South African authorities in the Department of Environment, Fisheries and Forestry (DEFF). The national trade in animals, i.e. within the borders of South Africa, is regulated by the different departments of nature conservation in each province.
- However, BAT has determined that many such animals land up in illegal international animal trafficking syndicates, that many destinations provided on export documentation do not exist and that some destinations are wholly unacceptable from an animal welfare point of view to house the exported animals. Some wild animals (such as pangolins) are also ultimately killed and eaten. Furthermore, the officials in many cases do not check information supplied on export documentation and the rules for the export of animals are often flouted by exporters and officials alike. Non-compliance is endemic and seems to suggest corruption. BAT makes its findings on these matters public to inform the people of South Africa of the immorality of the trade in animals and to combat illegal practices that have, regrettably, become the norm.
- The trade in the international export of live wild animals to zoos, private collections, laboratories and private breeding farms is growing.
- The legal trade and the illegal trade in wild animals are intertwined, and the legal trade often masks the trafficking of live wild animals.
- Systemic weakness in the international wild animal trade permitting regimen, particularly in South Africa and Asia, not only add to wild animal trafficking, but also undermine any efforts to address the illegal trade.
- The trade in wild animals (whether captive-bred wild) cannot be adequately tackled without addressing the significant loopholes in the existing legal trade multilateral agreements, i.e. CITES.
- For more than a decade, South Africa has also actively supported the international trade in Big Cat bones, despite local and international outrage and condemnation from conservation and protection organisations, lion scientists, and experts.
- South Africa’s lion bone trade is not a by-product of an existing industry (i.e. trophy hunting) but an entirely separate industry
- Tiger bones from South Africa may be laundered as lion bones using CITES Appendix II. Limitations in the South African legislation applying to endangered exotic species have made an unregulated domestic trade in tigers
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