Michael ‘t Sas–Rolfes at the Oxford Martin School.
South Africa’s captive lion industry, considered by many to have ‘no conservation value’, is nevertheless linked to wild lion conservation – and indeed that of other wild felids – by way of a complex adaptive social-ecological system (through trade activities and markets), the mechanisms of which we do not yet fully understand.
The survey we undertook provides insights into how the (much reviled) practice of put-and-take lion hunting in South Africa may have some previously unconsidered collateral biodiversity conservation benefits (by rendering wildlife management a viable form of land use on areas that might otherwise be converted to conventional mono-cropping agriculture).
It further clearly demonstrates how the 2016 USA suspension on trophy imports from these SA captive-bred lions has caused economic disruption to this industry, with some evident unintended consequences, the upshot of which is that we now sit with an animal welfare quandary and a very precarious situation in terms of lion body part exports, creating a serious regulatory challenge for the South African government.
That’s three sentences! This is a very complicated issue and I intend to write a longer piece in the next few weeks that explains things more clearly.