Dear Honourable President
I am sure you are aware of the global outcry (500 million people world wide are aware and concerned) over the illegal hunting of a large male lion, Cecil, in Zimbabwe by an American citizen.
Because of the media coverage of this incident, a commission of inquiry has been launched in the United States of America by President Barrack Obama.
Zimbabwe has arrested the hunting outfitter who guided the American hunter.
Cruelty generally is becoming a global issue across the world as more and more governments shut down circuses and inhumane zoos.
Inside our country exists a cruel and inhumane activity called the canned lion industry. Lions are bred in captivity and then shot for large amounts of money by overseas hunters.
More and more this industry is coming under scrutiny from animal activists, journalists and international news and film crews.
The combined force of the above are already tarnishing our South African image. They have the ability to hurt our valuable tourist industry severely.
I have come up with a project “Operation Wild Lion”, which I would like your government to consider very, very seriously.
1) Your government illegalizes the holding and breeding of lions in captivity. The government disassembles the canned lion industry over a period of 5 years.
2) The government purchases the captive lions from the breeders over a 5 year period at market related prices.
3) The government searches for areas of land which are agriculturally unproductive, is good lion habitat and is close to impoverished communities.
4) The government buys up these areas as part of their land distribution programme. The areas are owned by the local communities.
5) Reputable game reserve, game ranch and hotel operators are incentivised to lease these areas from the government. The mandate given is:
- Develop tourism
- Create jobs
- Train people for the tourist industry
- Manage the introduced lion populations
6) The areas can also be used to relocate rhino populations that currently cannot be protected from poaching
Consider the following:
a) Some 5 000 lions, many are magnificent males, are currently incarcerated in poor conditions. These same lions would be a huge tourist attraction if allowed to roam wild across the African veld.
b) You allow rural people to participate in the South Africa Tourist industry which is the largest job creator in South Africa.
c) By compensating the lion breeders, you prevent the death of 5 000 captive lions and costly court cases as lion breeders seek compensation.
d) You turn a worsening situation of cruelty to animals into a positive situation of lions being freed, the land being distributed and poverty being alleviated.
e) You have in South Africa a strong private enterprise system able and willing to lease the land from the government, provided the incentives are in place.
Your government will need vision, resolve and large amounts of money. I have no doubt that is is achievable.
I believe your minister of Tourism should launch a campaign running hand in hand with “Operation Wild Lion” that “South Africa is a Cruel Free Country”
I have copied this letter to the Honourable Minister of Lands, the Honourable Minister of Tourism and the Honourable Minister of Water Affairs and the Head of the Rural Development Corporation and Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism.
Please respond to my request.
Tread lightly on the Earth
Co-Owner: Londolozi Game Reserve
Founder of Londolozi Productions
Founder of Tiger Canyons.
Watch John Varty’s video on the illegal killing of Cecil the Lion
Source: John Varty