The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) has increased South Africa's lion bone export quota from 800 to 1,500 a year, despite being aware that some skeletons are being exported to known wildlife traffickers in Asia. It also thereby sanctions the existence of lion slaughterhouses.
After a document was leaked in North West, the government this week finally made public its decision to almost double the lion skeleton export quota to 1,500. By chance, this coincided with the release of an explosive report, The Extinction Business, about the lion bone trade by the EMS Foundation and Ban Animal Trading.
South Africa is already the largest exporter of lion bones to mainly Vietnam, Lao PDR and Thailand, countries which are at the nexus of the illegal wildlife trade. The bones are mainly used for fake tiger bone wine, which is a bogus health drink.
In a letter announcing the quota, the DEA says the decision is based on findings from a survey (in year one of a three-year scientific research process) by the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI). The survey - Interim Report 1: South African Lion Bone Trade - mentions only the 800 quota. One of the...