Call for Ban on Captive Breeding as Investigation Reveals Wildlife Industry’s “Dirty Underbelly”

Tuesday, 15 November, 2005
Cape Town, South Africa
An investigation that reveals “captive breeding” of large predators as the dirty underbelly of South Africa’s wildlife industry, has prompted demands for an immediate ban of the practice.
IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare – today released the findings and documentary film evidence of its investigation into the captive breeding of large predators in South Africa.

“Our evidence proves that captive breeding of large predators is an industry responsible for encouraging, supporting and enabling the abuse of wildlife,” said Helen Dagut, Campaigns Manager for IFAW Southern Africa.

“If captive breeding, other than for bona fide conservation purposes, was banned, we would rapidly see the demise of “canned hunting” and the indiscriminate trade of our wildlife. Captive breeding provides prey for the canned hunting industry, but also for the local and international wildlife trade.”

Canned hunting is the practice of hunting (lion mostly) in an enclosure too small to allow an animal any chance of escape; hunting animals drugged or sedated; and hunting human-habituated animals.

IFAW said its investigation into captive breeding and a legal review of the regulation of breeding and hunting of large predators shows an industry that is virtually free to act as it pleases due to inadequate national and provincial regulation and a lack of capacity – or will – by authorities to enforce laws.  “Our undercover investigation took us to many captive breeding facilities throughout South Africa, and without question, few of them observed even the fundamental basics of animal welfare.

“Large predators such as lion are kept in cramped enclosures which are completely inadequate for their needs” said Dagut. “More commercially valuable animals are fed while others are left to starve.”

The IFAW investigation shows that lion comprise the majority of animals bred in captivity, while the number of cheetah and wild dog being bred and traded is increasing. A substantial number of exotic large predators such as tigers, jaguars, puma and wolves were filmed in breeding facilities – some of which are intended for cross-breeding with indigenous species, as well as the manipulated breeding of rare colour “morphs” such as black leopard and white lion. 

In October, the SA Government took delivery of a report by a Panel of Experts on Professional and Recreational Hunting which is intended to inform the way the hunting industry in South Africa will be regulated in the future, and which will be decided upon in early in 2006.

“IFAW’s investigation and legal review and the recommendations we make are, in some part, in agreement with this report but we believe that nothing less than the following are acceptable if we are to reign in the abuses inherent in captive breeding and the industries it supports – such as canned hunting.

“IFAW calls for:
· A complete ban on captive breeding of large predators other than for strictly defined and regulated conservation purposes;
· Strict regulation of genetic manipulation of species and the import, export and movement of alien species;
· More emphasis on the conservation and animal welfare considerations of relevance to the breeding and hunting of large predators, and less on their value for purely commercial purposes;
· Improved national and provincial capacity and enforcement with respect to the management of large predators;
· Revised provincial wildlife legislation into a coherent, enforceable regulatory regime;
· The banning of canned hunting, “put and take” hunting, and other inhumane hunting methods including the use of lights and bait, and hunting with dogs.
* The full report and pdfs of IFAW’s investigation into the captive breeding of large predators in South Africa, and the review of legal framework, may be downloaded from

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