An estimated 70% of lions in SA are being bred for hunting and the illegal trade in lion products is growing. Conservationists are concerned that Africa's most iconic symbol is becoming – like the rhinoceros – worth more money dead than a alive.
We are please to share that our partners at The One&Only Cape Town are supporting the "Forever Wild" lion conservation initiative, organized through the Wilderness Foundation. Last year's gala event at the luxury resort in the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront netted the Foundation’s rhino protection campaign nearly R300,000 (almost $30,000). The monies funded an anti-poaching vehicle, which has been in place on a reserve in Mpumalanga, a province in eastern South Africa near the border of Mozambique. There have been no incidents of rhino poaching since the vehicle went into serivce – a remarkable testament to its efficacy in this conservation battle.
The annual One&Only Cape Town gala charity auction on behalf of the Wilderness Foundation will take place once again in the resort’s glamorous Ballroom on September 18, 2014. South Africa’s master chef Reuben Riffel will present a three-course menu with wines sponsored by Kleine Zalze of Stellenbosch. Star auctioneer Ariella Kuper will encourage guests to bid generously for stellar items including a work by renowned British royal portrait painter Richard Stone, a bespoke Nobu cocktail party for 20 people at the successful contributor’s home, the ultimate Spa experience by ESPA and artisanal appliances by KitchenAid South Africa.
Respected local and international conservation organizations, among them the Endangered Wildlife Trust, warn that rapidly dwindling numbers of rhino (in Africa) and tiger (in Asia) are prompting trans-national poaching syndicates to switch their attention to other species in their “traditional medicine” rackets. Their efforts have succeeded in promoting products that contain lion bones for “curing” afflictions. According to the Endangered Wildlife Trust’s Carnivore Conservation Programme, the lion-bone trade in South Africa was rapidly becoming a serious concern, with traders offering hunting-farm owners upwards of R30,000 per skeleton. Existing trade, she maintains, will probably stimulate demand for lion bones which – in turn – will have implications for “wild” as well as captive lion populations.
“Lion numbers in Africa have decreased from nearly 200,000 a century ago to fewer than 30,000 living in the wild today,” says Dr Andrew Muir, director of the Wilderness Foundation. “Of those that can be found in South Africa, only about 2,000 can be described as ‘free-ranging’.”
“Free-ranging” means the lions are able to roam almost without restriction. In South Africa, that means within the Kruger National and Kgalagadi Transfrontier parks. “Increased habitat loss and the failure to combat the growing but rapidly increasing trade in lion bones could see this drop even ruther. If current trends continue, it is expected that half of the unfenced lion population might decline to near extinction over the next 20 to 40 years,” says Muir.
Photo by Ryan Hilton, Dan Ryan Photography