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South Africa’s Parliament set to probe captive lion breeding industry

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Lions

South Africa’s unregulated captive lion breeding industry will shortly be reviewed by the Portfolio Committee on Environmental Affairs in a two day hearing open to the public.

Committee chairperson, Mohlopi Mapulane, said the event would facilitate a constructive debate around the future of captive lion breeding and hunting in SA. It would be held on August 21 and 22.



“We will give stakeholders across the board an opportunity to present arguments for and against captive breeding of lions. There is an outcry, and we must find a way to address it as soon as possible,” said Mapulane. “What is worrying is how this issue is affecting SA’s standing internationally. We cannot allow [captive lion breeding] to blemish our internationally acclaimed wildlife and conservation record.”

A report published by UK-based Born Free Foundation in March backs up Mapulane’s fears over SA’s waning reputation as an international wildlife and conservation pioneer, illustrating how the captive breeding of lions for hunting and their bones has detracted from SA’s conservation status.

Mapulane says the portfolio committee would “put a spotlight on the [captive breeding] practice, to better understand the different views”. Following the discussions, the committee would decide whether to review and/or amend legislation, or whether they would have to initiate new legislation through parliament.

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He said the portfolio committee specifically asked that the recent EMS Foundation and Ban Animal Trading report, The Extinction Business – South Africa’s ‘Lion’ Bone Trade, be presented at the gathering. “Some people will argue that it has been compiled by researchers who are against sustainable use. But for us, as parliamentarians, it is important to get that info, so we’re able to make up our minds about this practice.”

The report examines and investigates substantial problems and loopholes in the CITES permitting, enforcement and oversight system, and demonstrates the failings of South Africa’s national policies and procedures. There have been pleas to formulate policies and better regulate the industry for years, without avail.

No national consensus can even be found on the number of captive-bred lions in the country. Experts conservatively estimate around 8 000 African lions in cages, but considering the unnaturally high breeding rate to produce more cubs, for petting, it is likely that the figure is closer to 12 000. The South African Predator Association even suspects the figure to be as high as 14 000.

On 16 July this year, the Department of Environmental Affairs announced an increase in the lion skeleton export quota from 800 to 1500 skeletons, citing a growing stockpile of lion bones, an increase in poaching of captive bred lions for body parts as well as increased pressure on breeders due to the US’ restrictions on importing captive-bred trophies.

Conservationists warn that this latest spin-off from the industry, exporting lion bones from captive-bred animals, may be an even bigger driver for captive lion breeding in the country. According to Ian Michler‚ consultant and campaign co-leader to Blood Lions‚ “it is possible that canned hunting will become a by-product of the bone industry”.

The department’s decision to almost double the annual lion bone export quota baffled conservation authorities, who argue that there is not even enough scientific data to back an export of 800 skeletons, let alone 1500.

There are also increasing concerns over the possible impact of captive lion breeding on SA’s wild lion populations. Dr Kelly Marnewick‚ Senior Trade Officer for the Endangered Wildlife Trust’s Wildlife in Trade Programme, said: “The poaching of wild lions for body parts has escalated in recent years and we cannot rule out a link to the market created for lion bones from captive breeding institutions”.

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Motherland News

Nigeria General Elections postponement not politically influenced – INEC

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Nigeria’s electoral body, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has cleared the air, saying its decision to postpone the general elections a few hours to the commencement was not politically influenced.



INEC chairman Mahmoud Yakubu said at a press conference that “The decision has nothing to do with security, nothing to do with political influence and nothing to do with lack of resources.”

The postponement heightens the political tensions in the country, especially between the ruling All Progressives Congress and the main opposition People’s Democratic Party.

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The parties have accused INEC of kowtowing down to the political influence exerted by either party to postpone the elections which ought to begin the presidential and National Assembly elections on Saturday, February 16 2019.

PDP and APC faulted INEC’s decision to reschedule the presidential and National Assembly elections will hold on February 23 while the governorship and state houses of assembly elections will take place on March 9.

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Nigeria: Reactions trail INEC Postponement of 2019 General Elections

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Reactions have trailed the decision of The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), to postpone the Presidential and National Assembly elections earlier slated for today by a week, citing operational difficulties.



Prior to the postponement of the election, the PDP accused INEC of hoarding the presidential and senatorial elections result sheets for undisclosed reasons.

The party also revealed that its monitoring and intelligence showed that INEC had been distributing sensitive election materials in most states of the federation without the Presidential and Senatorial elections results sheets.

The National Publicity Secretary of the Party, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, in a statement said that the party’s agents were being denied the INEC accreditation and identification cards, ostensibly to shut them out of the election monitoring process and allow the APC a field day to manipulate the process.

According to him, “The development is already heightening tension and suspicion of underhand method by the commission to open the elections for manipulations and allow the APC to enter fictitious results for onward transmission to collation centres.”

The PDP also rejected alleged substitution of the already trained INEC adhoc staff in various states of the federation with members of the APC.
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The party said that PDP would never allow “this unscrupulous attempt at power hijack to stand.”

He stated, “This surreptitious ploy to use APC members as polling staff is a direct template by the APC in collusion with some INEC officials, to rig the elections for the APC.

“This affront to the collective quest by the people for a credible election is akin to sitting our nation on a keg of gunpowder.”

A renowned political analyst in Lagos state, Isaac Abiola on his part expressed displeasure at the postponement, citing the electoral body’s insincerity the worrisome part.

Mr Abiola said “I am disappointed with INEC. It is obvious that they are not sincere with us. INEC till 11:30pm yesterday claimed to have been ready and even tweeted that their situation room was ready. It is not a must to conduct elections when you are not fully ready. But the decision to postponed should have been reached and announced at least 24hrs before election. Why announce 2:30am when people were sleeping. I feel there is an arrangement somewhere.”

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Also Reacting to the postponement, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Ahmed Raji, noted that if the postponement was towards achieving a credible, free and acceptable election, it is in order. According to him, if the reason for the postponment is actually on logistics as it is being said, it is okay instead of the Commission to go ahead and conduct an election that would put it to ridicule both locally and internationally.

Raji, while stating that it is high time Nigerians begin to see election as a process, observed that budgetary allocation for the elections came a little bit late.

According to him election materials are not things people just pick from the shop, hence the commission needs adequate time to plan and arrange for some of this materials.

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On the ruling party’s side, Arc Waziri Bulama, the deputy director general of APC presidential campaign council disclosed the party’s readiness for the forthcoming general elections dismissing claims that the APC was looking for a postponement of the polls. Bulama who disclosed this on Wednesday, February 13, stated that the council had carried its campaign all over the country. He said the responsibilities of leaders was to deliver good governance, secure the lives of Nigerians, ensure that they promote justice, rule of law, peace and freedom through their actions.



Meanwhile, the opposition People’s Democratic Party presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar said the postponement of the general election by Independent National Electoral Commission is “obviously a case of the hand of Esau but the voice of Jacob.”

“The Buhari administration has had more than enough time and money to prepare for these elections and the Nigerian people were poised and ready to perform their civic responsibility by voting in the elections earlier scheduled for Saturday, 16 February, 2019,” Atiku said in a stateemnt on Saturday.

“By instigating this postponement, the Buhari administration hopes to disenfranchise the Nigerian electorate in order to ensure that turn out is low on the rescheduled date,” he added.

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