Yame & George had their first birthday this week. What a long way they have come in their journey to a healthy and fulfilling life. Jade, their carer, reports below on their latest activities and shares her photos with us.
Im so sorry it has taken so long to send this through. As Im sure you know the boys celebrated their first birthday over the past weekend. Its incredible to think back at the state these boys were in when they were rescued, and how far they have come since making the long journey to South Africa.
I have attached a few pictures for everyone to see how beautiful they are.
George is finally catching up to Yame and his little mane is growing all the time. Though he is not as big as his brother yet, he makes up for it in personality, while Yame remains as sweet as ever. They have also both lost their baby canines (as you will see in the pictures) and are waiting for their adult teeth to push through. Kevin was lucky enough to find one of them in the enclosure. Because they are missing some teeth, their dinner takes a little longer to eat, but they both really enjoy their food. Both are eating full portions now, just like our adult lions.
They continue to explore the property 2-3 times a week when they go out for their walks. They led us to the most beautiful little waterfall today which I had no idea existed, and after a short rest they were off again, finding a large burrow where a porcupine or wartog had made its home. At one stage Yame was so deep inside the burrow that we couldn't see him... Lucky for him the home owner was not there :)
Its starting to get colder here in the mornings and evenings now, and George is feeling it a little in his joints. Unfortunately this will be a constant thing for him but he manages extremely well considering (with a little extra TLC from all the staff at the sanctuary). He has really found his independance, and doesnt always feel the need to be right next to Yame... Its so great knowing that he can see and enjoy the world around him now, with his brother, always watching over him.
I will write again soon with more news on the boys, until then...
A HUGE thank you to everyone who was the VOICE FOR THE VOICELESS today.
Being amongst thousands of hunters - some so huge they could not walk from the parking lot to the entrance of Gallagher - is not an easy task, but TOGETHER WE DID IT!
Of course we first had to explain to the organisers of Huntex that our protest was legal. They insisted that we would not be allowed to be anywhere near the entrance. To Johannesburg Metro Police Department we say a big thank you for putting the organisers in their place and for protecting us right until the end. We got to stand exactly where we wanted to.
We handed out hundreds of pamphlets, listened to some disgusting verbal abuse (what else can we expect from hunters who kill for entertainment and profit) and our presence was clearly not a welcome sight to most of the visitors to Huntex.
To the many people who walked past and thanked the protestors for being the voice for the animals ~ a thumbs up to you for your support, and hopefully you'll be with Ban Animal Trading (BAT) next year.
Thank you so much for your support, BAT warriors ~ YOU ROCK FOR THE ANIMALS
My Comments on the Biodiversity Management Plan (BMP) for Lions in SA
The SA government has finally released a proposed lion management plan (BMP)
Prepared by consultants, the 66-page report contains much useful information and is well worth the time taken to read it.
In essence, the BMP separates lions in to three categories:
1. Wild lions (Kruger National Park, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park)
2. Managed 'wild' lions (in 45 private nature reserves, roaming free in large fenced areas, but culled and hunted to control their numbers)
3. Captive-bred lions (in 200 lion farms breeding lions for canned hunts)
Each group is treated differently.
The report sets out to meet certain Objectives, which are listed, and here is our first complaint. Whether or not lion farms and canned hunting should be allowed at all has been left out of the objectives. So the most important issue affecting lions in South Africa is excluded from the BMP.
You can read the full BMP here:
We urge you to read it, look at our comments below, and then send your input to the stakeholders listed in our website here:
The result is extremely superficial treatment of the whole issue of lion farming and canned hunting. One or two vague references to controversy around lion farming, vague sub-objectives about tightening up some (unspecified) permit conditions sometime before 2019(!!) and that is it.
There are more than twice as many tame lions being bred for slaughter than wild lions in SA. Yet this BMP focuses on how to manage the small population of wild, or semi-wild lions, and really just touches upon the far larger captive bred lion population in passing.
We would describe the BMP as a disaster for the African lion, and when lion farming for trophies and lion bones is proved to be contributing to the extinction of the African lion, it will be cold comfort to say to the complacent bureaucrats who mis-manage our wildlife: we told you so.
Never mind the consequences of fostering an animal welfare nightmare that will certainly have unexpected consequences (eg a boycott of SA agricultural produce, since lion farming has now been adopted by the Department of Agriculture DAFF)
Extracts from the BMP are in Italics, and my comments are in plain text below.
Ensure a well-managed captive lion population.
Why such a superficial objective? Why assume that lion farming has a valid conservation purpose when everyone, including the lion farmers' legal representatives, deny that this is so? Surely the first objective ought to have read: Whether lion farming for canned hunting ought to be allowed, and, if so, under what restrictions.
Consider the related issue of Tiger conservation.
The Tiger Comparison: Even CITES realised that the farming of tigers would cause the extinction of wild tigers. CITES realised:
a. That the tiger trade, being illegal, cannot be measured accurately;
b. That the effect of tiger farms on wild tigers could not be measured;
c. That farming would provide an opportunity for laundering wild specimens that would accelerate poaching;
d. That tiger farming would distract from tackling loss of habitat, loss of prey species and other illicit activities.
Accordingly, in Decision 14.69 the COP adopted this regulation:
Parties with intensive operations breeding tigers on a commercial scale shall implement measures to restrict the captive population to a level supportive only to conserving wild tigers; tigers should not be bred for trade in their parts and derivatives.
So here is the question that calls for an answer: if CITES has banned tiger farming for trade, why has the farming of lions for commercial purposes not been banned? All the same considerations apply to both species.
Encourage the development of opportunities for economic and social benefits from responsibly managed wild, managed wild and captive lion populations.
Translation: explore ways to exploit wildlife, to make more money out of the animals. The word 'responsibly' is suitably ambiguous.
2.1. Prevent illegal trade in lions and lion products while promoting and safeguarding sustainable legal trade; and
2.2. Promote sustainable legal trade in lions and lion products.
This oxymoron mirrors the confusion and muddled reasoning that characterises the debate on whether or not to legalise the trade in Rhino horn, with those who stand to make money out of rhino (rhino farmers, the SA government) being opposed by virtually every expert who understands how a legal trade will grow the illegal trade. Just as legalising the trade in Rhino horn will be the death knell for wild Rhino, so permitting the exponential growth of the lion bone trade will contribute to the extinction of wild lions.
As explained above with the example of the Tiger trade, you cannot promote a legal trade in lion parts without ipso facto promoting the illegal trade. The one feeds the other.
The species is well managed( sic!!!) and the Scientific Authority does not have any current concerns relating to the export of lion in accordance with Article IV of the CITES as the South African lion population is included in Appendix II of CITES. In terms of Article IV of the CITES, an export permit shall only be granted for an Appendix II species when a Scientific Authority of the State of export has advised that such export will not be detrimental to the survival of that species.
The assessment only considered wild and managed wild populations of the African lion and did not consider captive populations.
Well-managed? Well managed? Do they actually believe their own propaganda? So actually, almost all of the CITES tags for exports of lion bones and trophies are in violation of CITES, because the Scientific Authority has never issued an NDF (Non-detriment finding) for farmed lions. How well managed is that?
The Convention on Biodiversity(CBD) addresses conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the use of biological and genetic resources. The CBD also provides guidelines to manage biodiversity, but does not provide specific protection for the African lion or any individual species. The only international agreement that offers specific and significant protection to the African lion is CITES.
No protection for lions? What an understatement! Actually the Convention on Biodiversity lumps lions, elephants etc in with bacteria and any other 'organism' in its definition of biological resources and then proceeds to treat lion and elephants as if they were bacteria. Is this 'well managed?' Or 'responsible?'
Permits for wild and managed wild lion hunts in South Africa are obtained on application from the appropriate provincial conservation authority, as are permits for hunting captive-bred lions. Clearly permits are not limited, given the number of captive lions hunted. Furthermore, many of the captive hunts are being reported as wild or managed wild lion hunts, and the relevant authorities are in the process of addressing the incorrect use of source codes in the issuance of permits.
How 'well managed' is this? Here we see false reporting on a broad scale. Between 1999 and 2008 CITES reports show the export of at least 5000 lions of which nearly 3000 (2962) were exported as 'wild' lions, but we know that the number of wild lions hunted in SA every year to be less than ten. So the correct total for that period should be not more than 100 wild lions. Where have all the other 2,862 'wild' lions come from?
Clearly the statistics reveal the massive extent of fraud in the SA permit system. It is easy to guess why.
Roland Ward trophy book refuses to recognise the trophies of captive bred lions - for obvious reasons. So to get around the Roland Ward ban, trophies of tame lions are being exported as 'wild' with corrupt provincial conservation officials eager and willing to certify the trophy as 'wild' - for a fee.
We have also been told by eyewitnesses, who do not wish to become involved, that some lion farmers fly their lions at night over the border in to Mozambique to be shot by canned hunters there on arrival. The trophy is then exported fraudulently as that of a wild Mozambique lion, in order to circumvent the Rowland Ward Trophy Book refusal to recognise trophies of captive bred lions.
What a disaster for the African lion this management plan is!
08 April, 2015
Margrit shares her visit and photos of Yame and George.
For several years now Chris has been my go-to person for anything trophy hunting related in South Africa. When we founded Nikela it was solely with a desire to help those who did good by wildlife, but didn’t have a clue as to how complicated this seemingly simple journey was going to be.
In August 2014 we heard about the lion cubs in Spain. About how they were being used for profit by their owner who invited naïve tourists to pay to take photos with them. When CACH jumped in and we heard of the call for donations to help rescue the cubs, I of course wanted to help. We organized a small matching challenge and were able to raise a contribution to their travel expenses to their forever home in South Africa.
After that following their journey and learning about the amazing people involved in their rescue became even more exciting. And then, to culminate it all during a recent stay in South Africa I learned that they were only about an hour and a half away from Johannesburg… could it even be possible that we’d be allowed to visit them?
Yes, I literally jumped up and hugged my husband when I got word that we were invited by Kevin himself to visit the cubs. We arose early on the appointed morning and arrived as scheduled. The day was a typical sunny South African day, warm, blue skies with a few white puffy clouds, the bush golden and rugged.
We followed Kevin’s Land Rover down the track to the compound. Stepping around the building I caught my first glimpse of them, under the tree in their enclosure. They came closer as both Kevin and Jade were very familiar to them now.
Did they ever look different! The first photos I’d seen of them were pitiful. Both George and Yame looked sickly and unhappy. And here, now… about six months later, both looked so good!
Their eyes bright, their fur healthy and their size… my goodness, like half grown lions almost.
On the day of our visit it had been 12 days since George’s eye surgery and Kevin said that now he could see and was much naughtier and more playful because of it.
How amazing it was to be in their presence and how grateful I felt for people like Kevin who gave them a home, the next best thing to being wild, and to the many people from CACH who worked tirelessly to make the rescue reality.
Thank you Margrit, so much for sharing your visit with us. The boys look amazing and it is so nice to see them looking so relaxed.
Thank you Kevin and Jade for looking after them so very well, they look truly fantastic.