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(Cape Town, South Africa – 23 July 2021) – Vietnam’s seizure of three tonnes of lion bones found in a container shipped from South Africa has raised concerns for up to 12,000 lions bred in captivity for the country’s notorious “canned” hunting industry. The container also included rhino horns weighing 138kgs.
The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) said the seizure represented “a clear convergence of criminality between lion breeding and bone exporting and rhino horn trafficking." The poaching of rhinos for their horns has devastated populations of rhinos in South Africa with as many as 10,000 killed since 2007.
“The Vietnam authorities are to be commended on this seizure. IFAW encourages them to collaborate with South African and international law enforcement agencies to ensure the matter is thoroughly investigated and those found responsible, be held to account,” said Neil Greenwood, IFAW Director Southern Africa.
Vietnam authorities made the seizure on Sunday, 18 July 2021 at Da Nang port.
South Africa last issued permits for the export of lion bones in 2018, and there has been no official export of bones since then. Conservationists estimate that between 8-12,000 lions live in captivity in South Africa—about three times the country’s population of free roaming wild lions.
In May, South African Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, Barbara Creecy, released a report by a high-level panel on the hunting, trade, captive breeding, management and handling of elephant, lion, leopard and rhinoceros. The Panel recommended that South Africa do not captive breed lions, keep lions in captivity, or use captive lions and their derivatives commercially.