Nowhere was that more evident than at COP OUT 17, when CITES failed to upgrade the status of lions to Appendix 1. For those unfamiliar with CITES categories, leaving lions on Appendix 11 means that they may continue to be hunted freely.
This is a major victory for the hunting fraternity, and a devastating blow to real conservation, which is the preservation of natural functioning ecosystems. CITES decided years ago in Decision 14.69 that tiger farming and the trade in tiger body parts should be banned because it would camouflage and thereby fuel poaching and the illegal trade. You would think that the same reasoning would apply to lion farming, but the ferocious lobbying and wealth of the hunters prevailed.
Motion 009 of the recent IUCN Conference in Hawai, called on the SA government to ban lion farming and the lion bone trade for the same reasons that tiger farming is ‘banned’. The considered views of the global conservation community, 1300 global organisations comprising something like 16,000 scientists, were treated with contempt by the SA government. Such is the lobbying power of the animal abusers.
SA conservation officials are mostly unqualified and the services in most provinces severely dysfunctional. They have a primitive belief, skilfully fostered by hunting propaganda, that money is conservation. Wave a Benjamin ($100 bill) at an SA conservationist, and he’ll clutch at it mindlessly, probably even after death and rigor mortis has set in. Easy prey for the hunter predators.
Hunters’ claims that land used for hunting benefits conservation is false and misleading in so many ways. The worst elephant massacres by poachers in the Selous Game Reserve in Tanzania took place in ‘protected’ hunting concessions. And SA government claims that ‘wild lions’ in SA provincial and national reserves are conserved are also misleading. Lion prides in SA’s small fragmented reserves are hardly wild. They are ‘actively managed.’ Is a small lion pride in a provincial reserve like Madikwe really wild when half the animals wear radio collars and the contraception of females is determined not by ecological imperatives but by the lobbying of the Game Lodges who require a constant stream of cubs for the tourists?
Conservation in SA is an ugly dysfunctional mess. Do not believe one word of the self-congratulatory Press releases put out by the Dept of Environment.