Court rules against lion breeders

Monday, September 28, 2009

Pretoria - An application by lion breeders for leave to appeal a decision on captive bred lions has been dismissed by the Bloemfontein High Court.

The South African Predator Breeders Association brought an application in May 2007 taking the environment minister to court over certain aspects of the Threatened or Protected Species (TOPS) regulations, which came into effect in February 2008.

The association challenged, amongst others, the inclusion of lions as a listed large predator and the 24-month period in which captive bred lions had to fend for themselves in an extensive wildlife system, before they could be hunted.

The applicant argued that the regulations would have a particularly great impact on the captive bred lion industry in the Free State and North West provinces.

It was also submitted that the 24-months self sustaining provision would destroy the industry with negative economic and social impacts.

The court found against the lion breeders on 11 June this year and dismissed an application for leave to appeal on Friday.

The Department of Environmental Affairs has since welcomed the decision, adding that the latest judgment strengthens the department's resolve to responsible, regulated and sustainable hunting practice.

Department spokesperson Albi Modise said on Monday that while hunting makes a substantial and positive contribution to conservation management and economic growth, the department also has a responsibility to preserve the resource base and ensure that the industry has a sustainable future.

"Hunting is an important industry but we must manage it in accordance with defensible standards, the department will now focus on achieving its original intention of listing lions as a large predator subject to TOPS regulations," Modise said.