Lions are in trouble themselves as people keep breeding them for hunting. Now they are endangering the delicate positive state of tiger conservation measures. EIA are reporting that actual governmental action is to export 800 lion skeletons to the greedy Asian market where they will be sold as if they were their close relative, the tiger. It is impossible to tell the two species apart from the skeleton, so this will feed the Chinese and other obsession with ancient medicine and another fashion - tiger wine, made from the bones.
Last year a big mistake was allowing CITES delegates to negotiate their way to a compromise document that allowed the Republic of South Africa to continue trade in captive lions. Wild lions are, of course, affected by this trade, as they are poached from reserves in the same way as elephant ivory and rhino horn.
Now we have the prospect of increasing the production of tiger wine and also the poaching of wild tiger, snow leopard, jaguar and anything else that can be traded as a tiger part. 4,900 African lions have been sold between 2008 and 2014, reaching dealers in Laos, Vietnam, Thailand and China.
The obviously influential lion breeders in South Africa are also keeping tigers to send their penises and other body parts to the Far East. This is highly illegal and will obviously be noted when CITES finally realises that its Johannesburg COP17 meeting was rigged to allow this trade. There are currently a maximum of 4000 wild tigers, with captive breeding facilities in Thailand and elsewhere being shut down by governmental action and the animals rescued. They have been sending cubs, both alive and frozen, to China for many years.
What to do about these governmental actions. Legal governments have to respond at times to their citizens and to responsible pressure groups. By February 2nd, South Africa will be responding to a public consultation on the proposed lion export quota. Look at EIA’s sample document at the bottom of this article --- and respond to Mpho Tjiane if you have time!