QuentinJones

Walking with Lions - Con-Conservation?

197 posts in this topic

Matt

 

Understood. Sorry. Delete my postings and profile please, Safaritalk isn't for me after all.

 

Thanks

 

Rich

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Hey Matt

 

How come I'm still on here this morning? You viewed my profile at 10.57pm after I asked you to delete it and my comments, surely that was the opportune moment. I don't want to break any forum rules to get myself deleted, it should just be a couple of clicks your end. Please sort.

 

Thanks

 

Rich

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Rich,

 

I dont think its time to leave. Stick around. There is much to be drawn from what you say. I too have been very skeptic, in fact very critical of Alert and walking with lions.

 

I have been speaking to a number of people lately who say that it is not too difficult to take captive lions and make them "semi wild". Semi wild lions will hunt on their own, and sustain themselves, but may have lost the social know how of genuine wild lions.

 

Some interesting changes are happening in SA - led by the KZN/Ezemvelo wildlife department which is attempting to control captive wild animals. They are calling it :-

PROPOSED PROCEDURES, AND STANDARD TERMS AND CONDITIONS,

FOR REGISTRATION, PERMITS AND LICENCES FOR ZOOS, GAME

PARKS, AVIARIES AND ANY OTHER KEEPING IN CAPTIVITY OF ANY

LIVE MAMMAL, GAME, WILD BIRD, PROTECTED INDIGENOUS REPTILE,

INVERTEBRATE OR AMPHIBIAN, OR FOR POSSESSION OF LIVE

SPECIMENS OF LISTED THREATENED OR PROTECTED SPECIES, AND

FOR EXHIBITION, ALIENATION (SALE, EXCHANGE, RELEASE, TRADE),

TRANSPORTATION OR BREEDING OF ANY SUCH ANIMAL POSSESSED

OR HELD IN CAPTIVITY

 

It deals with Sanctuaries, Zoos, Scientific institutions, Rehab facilities, Captive breeding operations, Wildlife traders, Game Parks and even aviaries.

Not only does it specify much about the living conditions and welfare of the animals; there are a few things that will not go down too well with some people (breeding farms, rehab centers, and sanctuaries).

42.

Breeding of animals in captivity may only take place in terms of a breeding programme

approved by the authorised authority. If a breeding programme is allowed, all reasonable

steps shall be taken to prevent incestuous relationships and hybridisation. For species

where no breeding programme has been approved, effective measures must be

implemented to prevent breeding.

 

43

Unless approved for the species breeding programme, no baby animal may be removed

from its mother, and hand-raised, unless the mother or baby’s health will be at risk if it is not

done, and a veterinarian has certified the need for hand-raising. In the event of removal of a

baby all reasonable steps shall be taken to reintroduce the baby to its mother or conspecifics

at the earliest opportunity.

 

Breeding centers, Sanctuaries and Rehab centers are not allowed to exhibit or display to public. And no breeding is permitted in Sanctuaries and Rehab centers. They also go on about qualifications of people working at these places - to limit this volenteer tourism.

Basically this legislation could put an end to sanctuaries and rehab centers as well as breeding centers, and maybe most Zoos and could stop canned lion breeders.

 

The draft is 97 pages, and I wonder if they will have any success. My problem is that they have made it so heavy on admin, they will not be able to cope. Although KZN has always been pretty strict on captive wild animals, they generally lead the standards.

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I don't particularly like being bossed around , and I do things when I get chance. Tamu's membership has now been deleted as requested. As for deletion of posts, please refer to Safaritalk's Registration Terms and Rules, namely:

As a member, by uploading text, "making a post" you agree that Safaritalk has a nonexclusive copyright to publish such information, and once having made a post, you cannot at a later date request/demand its removal for any reason.

Matt

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Dikdik: Thanks for that information, where can we get the entire document? And what will the be the progress of this draft - who will consider/amend/implement? I thought KZN did not have much in the way of breeding for canned hunting (of lions) to begin with? And if/when implemented, will the other provinces in your opinion consider similar changes to their statutes?

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Dikdik: Thanks for that information, where can we get the entire document? And what will the be the progress of this draft - who will consider/amend/implement? I thought KZN did not have much in the way of breeding for canned hunting (of lions) to begin with? And if/when implemented, will the other provinces in your opinion consider similar changes to their statutes?

 

Lionaid,

 

KZN wildlife is the leader in the conservation field, and pretty much held together on of the most disciplined set of rules. Many people outside the province are concerned about this proposed legislation, as they know that similar rules will soon apply to them. You are also correct that KZN is mostly absent of tame lions. I think the only ones belong to Brian Boswell (ex circus) and are kept at the Lion Park outside Pietermaritzburg. Other provinces have given in to the tourist demand and lion parks are springing up everywhere, often calling themselves sanctuaries or something else. KZN don't want to fall into that trap.

 

There is quite an intricate and complicated relationship between SAN Parks, KZN (Ezemvelo) wildlife and Department of Environment and tourism. Trying to follow all these draft regulations can be quite complicated. Its enough to give anyone a headache.

 

Try this link for the whole document. While you are on that site you may want to look at a few of the other norms and standards.

More documents

Edited by dikdik

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Would they be about as 'wild' as these guys???

 

http://sapredators.co.za/forsale.html

 

I phoned these guys today. He has bred and sold many lions, and yes they sell to hunting outfitters. They release the lions in the wild and within a few days the lions are hunting on their own. The only problems here are the question of genes, and the fact that these lions are way more likely to become man eaters. The other problem is that his lions are much more expensive, - because he has such fine genes.

 

All I wanted was confirmation that "re-wilding" lions did not need 15 years, four stages, a multitude of paying volunteers and donations from do-gooders; - just a void. I have since confirmed this from a number of people who have experience raising lions. Remember that ALERT is only claiming that they will release lions into "semi-wild".

 

My 2c worth - I cant imagine that ALERT is selling lions to the hunting industry - I don't believe its worth their while. They are making enough money from volun-tourism, and gate fees as well as do-gooder donations. What does raise questions though, is that the lion breeders in SA are able to produce thousands of lions every year, yet ALERT lion numbers are pretty stagnant, and they always have fresh cubs for people to walk with and play with.

 

Lionaid - quick questions. How important is this gene problem? Is is viable to release lions from these South African lion breeders?

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The issue with releasing human habituated lions was not only that they may have been reared in circumstances that made them unable to hunt "savvy" wild prey and therefore more likely to take easy prey such as livestock and humans. Rather the suggestion has been that these lions being habituated to human contact would be less likely to avoid people and therefore more vulnerable to being exterminated by humans who would understandably perceive them as a threat. This is an issue faced with other predators being introduced from captivity not just lions in Africa.

 

Interesting that peple are now referring to voids where lions can be re-introduced as previously the view commonly expressed on this site was that no such voids existed.

 

Don't be too quick to assume that volunteers are all gullable and don't know what they are getting into. For many they are well aware and have chosen the particular holiday project because it actually provides them with what they were looking for in the first place. After all most conventional safari holiday makers engage in a fair amount of romanticising their experience as well (as have environmentalists for generations, remember the old nonsense about the delicate balance of nature!!).

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I thought this announcement from Panthera was somewhat amusing in light of the trend on this forum to discuss the virtues of big cat conservationists. It seems the winner of Panthera's $15,000 Rabinowitz-Kaplan Prize for the Next Generation in Wild Cat Conservation is....Panthera!!!

 

This year, the $15,000 Rabinowitz-Kaplan Prize for the Next Generation in Wild Cat Conservation is awarded to Omar Figueroa for his ongoing contribution to jaguar conservation in Belize.A native Belizean, Omar Antonio Figueroa serves as a Biological Field Scientist for Panthera’s Jaguar Corridor Initiative program in Belize.

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Interesting that peple are now referring to voids where lions can be re-introduced as previously the view commonly expressed on this site was that no such voids existed.

 

I still dont understand this issue of "voids". I understand that in areas where human wildlife conflict is rife - mostly in communal land, there may be a void. However to release more lions in such areas, is suicidal - for the lions and maybe even for the residents of the land. Of course "protected areas" are different, but it is not clear whether lion numbers of lions are declining in those areas. Perhaps Lionaid has better information at hand to suggest where the declines are most worrying. Remember we are looking at the whole of Africa North and South - many countries with many different threats and ways of protecting their wildlife. Many definitions - "semi wild" or "wild" - Protected areas, fenced protected areas, small fenced protected areas, communal areas, protected areas surrounded by hunting concessions, so called protected areas which are not protected adequately. What about Central and North Africa? How difficult is it to find a void?

 

I know of one void - Limpopo Lipadi are thinking of introducing lions into their 32 000ha reserve. I also know that Sundown lion park, has 27 lions for sale - on auction this weekend. In the same breath, SAN Wild have some "rescue" lions that they may happily place somewhere else. Clearly none these lions are not suitable, but why not have a discussion. Lets see (now that we have a void) if we can fill it, and what problems we encounter. It may be a good exercise and debate for all of us to understand what can and cant be done to relocate lions to a known void.

Issues such as disease, genes, ability to be re-wilded and possible danger to humans can be discussed. we could also discuss various places that may have surplus lions and the possibility of moving lions from one area to another. Remember that Botswana no longer kill "problem lions" - is it viable to capture some of these lions and move them. What about Alert? - they breed lions for this purpose - why cant they donate some lions to LL? How difficult is it to fill a void?

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Dikdik, some very interesting points you raise and it would be an interesting debate.

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A lot of new aspects have been stated on this thread, very interesting ones. Wouldn't it make sense to discuss "voids", "wild vs semi wild vs captive" and the reality of lion (re)introduction in a separate thread? And to keep this thread dedicated more specifically to the ALERT programm? It is a pitty that "Tamu guest" questions have never been answered.

 

I have personally now doubts, that there is a need for lion re-introductions on a larger scale in the future. There are existing needs and there is more to come. And many lion (re)introductions have taken place in the past. May be even Botswana will be on the list of countries in need of lions at some point. If Dr. Clay's concerns play out being reality, there may be a big issue occuring in north-east Botswana (and to my knowlegde there is a large number of "poblem lions" being killed every year in Botswana). And I cannot resist to make this statement: it is a myth, that lion populations are able to re-stock themselves pretty quickly (well, it depends on the definition of "pretty quickly" ... if the definition is 5-10 years I would agree).

 

There are existing sources of surplus lions being "ready" for relocation into the wild. This are from my point of view lions already fending for themselves and not captive lions. The number of this "ready to go" lions is very limited I believe. Whatever lion breeders claim, I do not believe that if you release a captive lion into "the wild" it will start hunting "after a few days". Well, the lion will start looking for food...but hunting (successfully) is a different story.

 

Captive lions are a potential source of lions to be relocated into "the wild". But I believe a professional programm is needed to leverage this potential source.

 

In this thread the question being discussed is whether or not ALERT is such a professional program ... as far as I am understanding it.

 

The question if such a programm is needed at all and how "an alternative programm" should look like ... could be discussed in a separate thread?

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A lot of new aspects have been stated on this thread, very interesting ones. Wouldn't it make sense to discuss "voids", "wild vs semi wild vs captive" and the reality of lion (re)introduction in a separate thread? And to keep this thread dedicated more specifically to the ALERT programm? It is a pitty that "Tamu guest" questions have never been answered.

 

I have personally now doubts, that there is a need for lion re-introductions on a larger scale in the future. There are existing needs and there is more to come. And many lion (re)introductions have taken place in the past. May be even Botswana will be on the list of countries in need of lions at some point. If Dr. Clay's concerns play out being reality, there may be a big issue occuring in north-east Botswana (and to my knowlegde there is a large number of "poblem lions" being killed every year in Botswana). And I cannot resist to make this statement: it is a myth, that lion populations are able to re-stock themselves pretty quickly (well, it depends on the definition of "pretty quickly" ... if the definition is 5-10 years I would agree).

 

There are existing sources of surplus lions being "ready" for relocation into the wild. This are from my point of view lions already fending for themselves and not captive lions. The number of this "ready to go" lions is very limited I believe. Whatever lion breeders claim, I do not believe that if you release a captive lion into "the wild" it will start hunting "after a few days". Well, the lion will start looking for food...but hunting (successfully) is a different story.

 

Captive lions are a potential source of lions to be relocated into "the wild". But I believe a professional programm is needed to leverage this potential source.

 

In this thread the question being discussed is whether or not ALERT is such a professional program ... as far as I am understanding it.

 

The question if such a programm is needed at all and how "an alternative programm" should look like ... could be discussed in a separate thread?

Sound like a good idea.

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Feel free to start that new discussion...

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Of course, if you read The Daily Mail, (UK) it's fine to walk with sub adult white lions while holding their tails - their article about it can be found here.

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Posted (edited)

Anyone following this thread will be interested to read the latest report from leading members of the lion scientific research community on captive lion breeding projects:

 

New Report Finds Captive Lion Reintroduction Programs in Africa Operate Under 'Conservation Myth'

Edited by QuentinJones
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From the article:

 

Dr. Matthew Becker, CEO of the Zambian Carnivore Programme (and not an author on the report) notes “Certainly interacting with tame lions is a unique experience, but it's not conservation. We have such 'Walking with Lions' programs in Zambia and they require a continual stream of young imported lions, which live out their days in captivity because they are not suitable for release. Zambia doesn't need captive-bred lions versus increased protection of its wild populations and ecosystems. Help lions by supporting the classic walking safaris that occur in our magnificent protected areas - that's the real walking with lions."

 

Amen.

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Hi ZaminOz, that's an interesting quote! I wonder what David Youlden from ALERT would say in reply to this? (Very surprised that he hasn't already commented!)

 

The ALERT/Lion Encounter certainly did import its starting group of cubs, from a South African captive breeder (and in doing so exposing themselves to claims of indirectly supporting canned hunting in South Africa - even then they wouldn't disclose the source of their lion cubs, which sort of speaks for itself).

 

They had hoped to import lions from their Zimbabwe project, and had bred many cubs specifically for this purpose. They couldn't get the export licenses, so those lions, as with all the others which have grown up through the ALERT/Lion Encounter 'walking with lions' project, will be in cages somewhere. (David will probably call them 'enclosures')

 

The lion cubs used in lion walks are rotated every 18 months, so the Livingstone operation in Zambia, which has been running for a good few years, will have gone through several batches of lions by now. Perhaps David will enlighten us as to how many and where they have all come from, and gone. Or perhaps he won't!

 

The Zimbabwe operation, which has been running now for almost 10 years, has used over a hundred captive bred lions. Not one has been released into the wild - indeed they never will. Nor has any 'second generation' captive bred lion been released, as proposed by their overly complex and designed-to-confuse multi-stage breeding project. The names of all these lions are recorded through the ALERT newsletters and reports over the period.

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Peter Borchett talks about the walking with lions question in his Africa Geographic blog here.

 

Do you think it adds anything new to this debate other than what has already been discussed here?

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I think Peter has put it a little more eloquently.

 

I think the comments say a lot from other volunteers. One or two volunteers admit to being duped and a single well indoctrinated volunteer professes to be another expert.

 

Good to see Luke Hunter responding. The figure of 500 successful wild - wild translocations being done in the same period that Alert have had none hits home.

 

Yet this lucrative business still goes on, and good money and energy continues to drain away from genuine efforts to save lions.

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Other than the whole business of tourists interacting with lions one of the major criticism of this project seems to be that not a single lion has been released back into the wild when that is surely supposed to be the whole objective of the project. To give them the benefit of the doubt maybe part of the problem is that they just haven’t found anywhere where they can actually release any lions or at least they hadn't until recently.

 

Just out of curiosity while looking for information on a national park in Burundi I happened to come across the ALERT website and it seems that they have signed an agreement with the government of Burundi to rehabilitate Ruvubu and Ruzisi NPs. Lions are extinct not only in these parks but in Burundi as a whole, I would guess that there isn’t too much game in either park at present so the prey base would have to be built up before any lions could be released. If certain herbivore species need reintroducing which is probably the case then the logical thing to do would be to find suitable animals in Tanzania and capture and translocate them, so why not just do the same thing with lions. Since the the translocation of lions in Southern Africa is tried and tested and works very well and there surely must be enough lions in Tanzania that a small number could be safely moved to Burundi.

 

I’m inclined to think that they’ve made this deal with Burundi just because they’re desperate to finally release at least some lions somewhere to give the project the credibility that it currently doesn’t have.

 

Having said that a part of me does think that if they do succeed in re-establishing wild lions in Burundi aside from boosting Burundian tourism this would be a good thing because it would show that their method works. Although there may not be any need in Eastern or Southern Africa to reintroduce captive bred lions because translocation is a much better option. There are however some other big cat subspecies for which reintroducing captive bred animals into the wild may ultimately be the only option for saving them. For example the Barbary lion, assuming that there are actually any genuine Barbary lions in captivity then in theory this same re-wilding process could be used to re-establish a wild population somewhere in say Morroco. Or the Amur leopard only 30-50 animals remain in the Russian Far East, reintroducing captive bred animals if done right would avoid endangering these few surviving animals and would from a genetic standpoint be a better option than translocation to try and establish new populations.

 

Indeed very much the same re-wilding process is currently being used to try and save the South China Tiger though this project hasn’t so far actually released any tigers back in to the wild in China. However the difference with this tiger project (not to be confused with John Varty’s tiger business) is that as far as I know tourists are not allowed to visit the tigers at all (unless perhaps you give them a very large donation).

 

So I can see merit in establishing how captive bred big cats can be returned to the wild. What concerns me is the whole ‘walking with lions’ aspect of this enterprise I would be a lot happier about the whole thing if there was no tourist interaction at all, even if this is what funds the project. Also of course the thought that any of their lions are ending up being used for canned hunting appals me, if this really isn't happening at all and no lion that they've bred has ever been hunted then I do find it slightly odd that they aren't able to convince their critics that this is the case.

 

My view I suppose is that I don’t have a problem with the concept of re-wilding captive big cats for release into the wild as long as it's done responsibly but I do have a problem if the cats involved are being used to milk money from gullible tourists and unfortunately that is what it looks like is happening in this case.

 

If perhaps they’d established this project in say Burkina Faso and were working with western lions to produce suitable lions for reintroduction into those West African parks where lions are extinct or very nearly so and there wasn't so much if any tourist involvement, then maybe their project would be seen in a more favourable light. After all the greatest need to restore lion populations is in West Africa but so long as there are still extant western lions ALERT's lions can’t or certainly shouldn’t ever be released anywhere in West Africa. So one does have to question the real value of their project to lion conservation, it will be interesting to see what if anything does happen in Burundi and whether this will change anyone’s opinion of ALERT and their walking with lions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I am going to post this link here, because of the relevance to this debate.

 

I had been saying repeatedly that there are no suitable release sites for the so called re-wilded lions bred in Antelope park. One can only imagine how many lions they have bred in this time and are yet to deliver a rehabilitated lion to the wild.

 

The attachment shows a well known reserve in Zimbabwe - that claim to have the highest single population of lions offering 200 surplus lions to good homes. Of course the hypocrisy is that LionAid and Pieter Kat couldn't provide a solution, other than to bemoan the Bubye Valley for their hunting activities and suggest that they should have managed their lions better.. Surely - if you are managing your biodiversity well, you will produce surpluses, and even with the immense size of the conservancy, management is necessary..

 

Culling to Conserve: A hard Truth for lion conservation..

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