JOHANNESBURG — South Africa says 800 skeletons of captive-bred lions can be legally exported this year, meeting demand for traditional medicine ingredients in parts of Asia while alarming critics who believe the policy threatens Africa’s wild lions.
The environmental affairs department said Wednesday that the lion bone quota meets international guidelines on wildlife trade and that its impact on wild lions is being assessed.
It says it worries that a ban on the legal lion bone trade could lead to the illegal killing of wild lions for their bones.
Some conservationists, however, say the legal trade may be fuelling demand for bones, whether from captive-bred or wild lions.
They also note that many of the captive-bred lions are killed by paying clients in a practice described by critics as “canned hunting.”