The exportation of lion bones from South Africa should be banned completely according to Veterans for Wildlife, and more work should be done on reducing the demand for bones internationally.

In response to the Department of Environment’s calls for submissions on the proposed setting of a quota for lion bone exports, Veterans for Wildlife CEO Wesley Thomson said the quota should be zero.

“Setting a quota, knowing that these bones are destined to replace illegally harvested tiger bones for use in Chinese traditional medicine, sends a message from South Africa that it is perfectly acceptable to kill Africa’s wildlife to feed a cultural myth that this product has some medicinal value,” Mr Thomson said.

Mr Thomson said the government should, instead, be doing more to reduce the demand for lion bones by calling for a ban on their importation, possession and sale in user countries, and encouraging pro-active demand-reduction strategies.

“People buying lion bones are being ripped off and South African lion breeders are capitalising on this outdated confidence racket.  This is nothing short of an international criminal conspiracy and it needs to stop.”

Mr Thomson said Veterans for Wildlife understood that lion farming was a significant industry in South Africa which employed many people and contributed to the economy.

“However, it is time for lion farmers to realise that if South Africans do not accept the export of rhino horn, pangolin scales and elephant ivory for use in sham medicines or as curios then there is no excuse for them to make money out of peddling bones.

“Lion breeders have exploited this loophole for too long and it’s time for it to be closed.  A quota system lends legitimacy to the outdated notion that wildlife products have some mystical powers and it’s time for that to stop,” Mr Thomson said.