In January 2011 (well before the 2010 figures on the attached report were published by CITES) I noticed the entries on the CITES Trade Database showing export of 250 kilos of lion bones, 80 lion bodies and 5 lion skeletons from South Africa to Lao PDR in 2009.
I immediately brought this to the attention of a contact in the South African Parliament who, in February 2011, requested South Africa's Panthera genus export figures for 2009 and 2010.
The South African Minister for Water and Environmental Affairs was asked for details of all Panthera exports under the provisions of CITES, in the categories of live, skins, bones, trophies, specimens, bodies and skulls - to "….see how government's 'official' figures compare".
The Minister's figures, published on 11 March 2011, made headline news in South Africa as they provided evidence of over 1,400 lion and leopard trophy export permits having been issued in 2009 and 2010:
Whilst it was good that awareness was raised of those exports I was personally more alarmed by the 327 lion 'carcasses' that the Minister's figures showed were exported from South Africa during 2009 and 2010 (92 and 235 respectively).
I asked for a follow up question to be submitted requesting the destination of these carcasses and, based on the CITES data available at that time, guessed it would be Lao PDR. On 11 April 2011 the Minister published her answer confirming my suspicions.
If you wish to know more analysis about CITES’ efforts to address the illegal tiger trade and China’s tiger farms, go to my publication in the Journal of the WCCLAS.