Africa’s lions are facing a new threat – demand for their body parts.
This includes their bones, teeth and claws.
The demand for these body parts comes from Southeast Asia.
They are used there for traditional medicines, trinkets and wine to which the body parts are added; supposedly resulting in greater virility.
And the government of South Africa is meeting the demand from Southeast Asia.
The vast majority of these lion skeletons are exported to Vietnam or Laos.
The South African government has raised the number of lion skeletons that can be exported to 1,500 a year, compared with 800 previously.
International trade in lion parts is banned for the most part.
But the South African government is getting around the rules by allowing the export from captive facilities.
This is where lions are bred and raised.
And the conditions under which the lions are raised are terrible.
As well customers are allowed to kill the lions in these facilities for so-called – canned hunts.
These customers also have the option of taking the head or skin as a trophy.
Up to 8,000 lions live in these captive facilities in South Africa, compared with 1,300 to 1,700 lions living in the wild.
“I’m pretty dismayed by it,” says Luke Hunter, chief if conservation officer of an international cat conservation group.
The government of South Africa has not responded seeking comment about the decision.
However, in a news release it said the decision came about because of the necessity of drawing down a growing stockpile of lion bones.