The Lion’s Share

The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) released a new report, THE LION’S SHARE: South Africa’s trade exacerbates demand for tiger parts and derivatives, as the 29th Meeting of the Animals Committee under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, began on July 18th in Geneva, Switzerland.

“Trade in bones and other parts of lions faked as tiger products is thriving in Chinese and South East Asian markets, the agency says.

“China’s ban on the sale of tiger products has led to unscrupulous traders substituting them with lion parts; South Africa is the largest exporter of lion parts to Asia.”

EIA is pushing for the trade to be banned, saying it encourages poaching.

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) allows for “limited trade” on body parts of lions bred in captivity.

Earlier this month, the South African government announced it approved an export quota of 800 lion skeletons, raising serious concerns among conservation organizations around the world.

Research data collected by EIA shows that between 2005 and 2015, South Africa exported the following to Laos and Vietnam: 755 lion bodies; 587.5kg (of bones, which is roughly the equivalent of 65 lions); 54 claws; 3,125 skeletons; 67 skulls and 90 teeth.

Wildlife organizations fear that lions will become extinct, and say that their population has fallen by a staggering 43% in Africa between 1993 and 2014.

While the lion population saw a 12% increase in Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe during this time, the lion population numbers fell in the rest of Africa.

Sabri Zain, with TRAFFIC, an organization that investigates illegal wildlife trade stated: “The other African countries that do not have captive breeding facilities like those in South Africa are concerned that allowing trade on such lion products might adversely affect their wild populations. And what is worrying is that there is no information on the situation of wild lions in the rest of Africa.”

The 29th Meeting of the Animals Committee under CITES convenes from July 18 to July 22.

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