In yet another blow to big cats in Africa, the Supreme Court of Appeal in South Africa has upheld an earlier rule that protects lions, but still partially allows “canned hunting” in December 2010.
The widely criticized practice of canned hunting allows the gunman to shoot the animal, which is kept in a confined place in order to minimize the animal’s chances of escaping.
An appeal by the South African Predator Breeder’s Association, an organization that lobbies on behalf of wildlife breeds, against an 2007 rule in favor of the big cats prevented captive bread lions from being killed before they spent two years in the wild and considered a fair game. The appeal also disputed considering the cats as a listed large predator in the Threatened or Protected Species Regulation.
“This ruling puts canned hunting right back on the agenda, and further entrenches South Africa’s image of a country that puts animal welfare last while profiteering from an abhorrent form of hunting practice,” said Jason Bell-Leask, Director Southern Africa of the International Fund for Animal Welfare.
The Supreme Court said that the environmental affairs minister’s earlier decision banning the cruel practice was “irrational.”
The earlier decision was also criticized by animals welfare groups and animals rights group the same for not banning the hunt all together, calling a cowered compromise.
“How was it possible that a minister could make a decision to force captive bred lions to be released into a wild environment for 24 month, that was so flawed that a judge was able to over turn it, in its entirety, in one fell swoop. There’s something wrong with this picture. The most rational decision upfront would have been an outright ban of breeding lions in captivity for hunting purposes,” said Bell-Leask in a report published on the organization’s website www.ifaw.org.
According to a News24 opinion poll on the court’s decision, 56 percent of voters said the ruling is harmful to wildlife while merely nine per cent said it is a good thing for hunting.
“The ruling is a sad day for lions, but hopefully the court of public opinion will now come to bear on the canned hunting industry, shaming it for what it is – an immoral and indefensible business without a shred of credibility,” added Bell-Leask.