Opportunity for lion owners to engage task team on voluntary exit options

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

The Ministerial Task Team (MTT) tasked with identifying and recommending voluntary exit options and pathways for the captive lion industry has invited captive lion owners that wish to consider voluntary exit into confidential discussions on potential exit options and pathways.

“We wish to identify industry participants who may indeed be interested in such an opportunity, and who may be willing to initiate a confidential discussion with the Task Team around potential options or pathways for their particular enterprise(s),” Task Team Chairperson Kamalasen Chetty said on Wednesday

Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, Barbara Creecy, appointed the Task Team in December 2022 following a recommendation by the High Level Panel on matters relating to the management, breeding, hunting, trade and handling of elephant, lion, leopard and rhinoceros.

The panel recommended the closure of the captive breeding sector, including the keeping of lions in captivity, or the use of captive lions or their derivatives commercially.

The period for establishment of the Ministerial Task Team is due to expire on 30 June 2023.

“We would be extremely grateful to be given the opportunity to have an open and frank discussion with any captive lion owners, whether this involves one or 200 lions, who would consider a voluntary exit from the captive lion industry. When speaking to interested parties about options and pathways, the Task Team would definitely consider carefully and responsibly the future of their captive lions, the potential impact on their vulnerable workers, as well as positive economic outcomes,” Chetty said.

The Minister extended the period for establishment of the Ministerial Task Team by a further period of six months from 1 July 2023 to 31 December 2023, as published in the Government Gazette (Government Notice No. 3536, Government Gazette No. 48783 of 13 June 2023).

The extension is intended to give the Ministerial Task Team sufficient time to conclude outstanding work, which includes, amongst others, finalisation of stakeholder consultations, determination of funding mechanisms, and report compilation.

“A key component of the Task Team’s work is substantial stakeholder engagement, which has been taking place over the last few months. This includes meetings and engagements with representatives from the captive lion industry, wildlife industry associations, and other interested and affected parties.

“The key objective of these engagements was to gather viewpoints and listen to stakeholder inputs on potential voluntary exit options, and any specific terms or conditions that may be associated with these. It has also met with provincial nature conservation authorities, who have been providing information about the captive lion within their provinces which will be consolidated into a national audit of captive breed lions,” said the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment.

Lion owners are encouraged to register their interest for potential voluntary exit on a fully confidential basis and without any obligations by 21 July 2023.

Interested parties can alternatively register their interest with contact details by emailing the chairperson on kchetty@dffe.gov.za. 

The MTT is open to further inputs on viable and pragmatic proposals for voluntary exit options, which can include a combination of potential scenarios.

Registration details:

  • If you own captive lions, or are otherwise involved in the captive lion industry, and you would consider a voluntary exit from the industry, you can register your interest HERE: https://shorturl.at/ctHR3 or email the Chair of the Ministerial Task Team on kchetty@dffe.gov.za.
  • The Gazette Notice (No. 3440) announcing the extended registration of interest in voluntary exit can be found at: https://www.dffe.gov.za/sites/default/files/gazetted_notices/nema_ext.registration_captivelionindustry_g48639gon3440.pdf