The iconic wild lion is increasingly becoming less of a respected animal and more of a commodity, with thousands living and being bred in captivity across South Africa.
To raise awareness of the importance of lions for conservation, culture and tourism this World Lion Day, Blood Lions in partnership with World Animal Protection has launched the 800 Voices for 800 Lions campaign.
“We want to inspire the public to raise their voice for lions by letting their imagination flow freely in creating a lion masterpiece, whether this is painting, drawing, photography, music, poetry or dance.
“We are aiming for at least 800 pieces of lion art, representing the quota of 800 lion skeletons South Africa exported every year for use in traditional medicine that have no proven curative benefits,” said campaign manager Dr Louise de Waal.
Bones harvested from South Africa’s captive-bred lions end up in South East Asia to supplement the tiger bone trade. Since 2008, nearly 7 000 lion skeletons weighing around 70 tonnes have been exported from South Africa.
Most breeding farms lack adequate basic animal welfare, with a lack of water, food, space, shelter and medical care, said World Animal Protection.
Sadly, the export of lion bones is legal.
South Africa is one of the few countries that allows captive breeding and keeping of lions and other big cats for commercial purposes.
There are over 350 facilities where lions, cheetahs, leopards, caracals and servals, as well as exotic species such as tigers, pumas and ligers are bred.
This World Lion Day, Blood Lions is once again urging Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries minister Barbara Creecy to scrap the lion bone export quota, and destroy all existing bone stockpiles.
(Compiled by Nica Richards)