Court rules against canned hunting

A court decision in favour of the government on canned hunting could be the end of the road for South Africa’s 123 lion breeders and about 3 000 canned lions, the Volksblad reported on Friday.

This follows a verdict in the Free State High Court in Bloemfontein on Thursday that semi-tame animals may only be hunted 24 months after being set free from their breeding cages, the report said.

Judge Ian van der Merwe held, in favour of the government, that biodiversity must be protected and that the breeding of lions in captivity with the sole purpose of hunting did not aid their protection.

The report said the lion breeders’ request that the period of 24 months in the regulations be changed to “a few days” was dismissed with costs.

Spokesperson for the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry Albi Modise said the government welcomes the verdict.

“This means that the reprehensible practice of canned hunting has most certainly come to an end,” he was quoted as saying.

The chairperson of the South African Predator Breeders’ Association, Carel van Heerden, said the judgment was regrettable.

“It feels like someone has kicked me in the stomach,” he was quoted as saying.

“The practical implications of the verdict are devastating to our industry and to all the people involved in the industry. It means that 5 000 breadwinners will soon lose their jobs, and about 3 000 [semi-tame] lions will have to be put down.”

Van Heerden said the financial implications for members of the association and the damage it would cause to the hunting and tourism industry in South Africa were incalculable.

He said the association’s legal team would study the verdict and then decide if they would appeal the decision.—Sapa

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