Captive Lions in Deplorable Condition

Stephen Wiggins Article 4 Comments

The NSPCA (National Council – Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA)), reported on 13 May 2020:


The National Council of SPCAs (NSPCA) Wildlife Protection Unit undertook an investigation at two captive lion facilities, owned by the same person, in All Days, in Limpopo after receiving a complaint about underweight lions. The NSPCA Inspectors found deplorable conditions – underweight lions, lack of adequate shelter, lack of veterinary treatment, as well as unhygienic and small enclosures.

A warning highlighting the contraventions in terms of the Animals Protection Act No 71 of 1962 was issued, and a meeting was held on site with Mr Riaan De Jager from the Limpopo Department of Economic Development, Environment and Tourism (LEDET) where the condition of the lions was discussed at length. All parties present agreed that the lions were in a dire situation and urgent intervention was required. The NSPCA was assured that feeding was being addressed urgently.

A follow up inspection was conducted under warrant by NSPCA Inspectors, as well as a world renowned veterinarian with a special interest in large carnivores. The inspection revealed that insufficient improvements had been made by the owner.

The NSPCA is in the process of laying charges in terms of the Animals Protection Act No 71 of 1962, with the submission of scientific and medical evidence from what the veterinarian witnessed during the inspection.

On 12 May 2020, the NSPCA was informed that seven of the lions housed at one of the two facilities had escaped – this only supports the NSPCA’s findings that the owner of these lions is negligent in the way in which these lions are kept, not only within welfare parameters, but public safety as well. The lions were re-captured in the early evening of 12 May 2020 and photographs circulating show a deterioration in the lions’ condition.

“We believe that permits should never have been granted to keep lions, or any other predators like the tigers, as not only was the fencing wholly inadequate, but there are specific dramatic shortfalls on the welfare of these animals – and their welfare has consistently been compromised” said Senior Inspector Douglas Wolhuter, manager of the NSPCA’s Wildlife Protection Unit.

Post the High Court Judgment in 2019 regarding the lion bone quota which the NSPCA brought about, and won, the judgment referred again that animal welfare and conservation are entwined values. Therefore, the welfare should have been considered when deciding on issuing a permit due to the poor conditions and inadequate fencing.

The NSPCA has issued further warnings in terms of contraventions of the Animals Protections Act 71 of 1962 to all role-players concerned. A deadline has been issued by the NSPCA for an action plan regarding the animals and the NSPCA is taking further legal action which will see criminal charges brought about as there is a history of neglect at these facilities which bear a significant influence on the current matter.

Further Reading

Emaciated captive bred lions found again at Slippers facilities,” Blood Lions, 13 May 2020

“During inspections in April and May 2020, the NSPCA found deplorable conditions underweight lions, lack of adequate shelter, lack of veterinary treatment, as well as unhygienic and small enclosures. Slippers has 72 lions on his farm that is in liquidation and he allegedly feeds them one giraffe every two to three weeks” – Blood Lions, 13 May 2020)

Lion Crisis,” IWB, 15 July 2016

Comments 4

  1. Linda

    Why in Sam’s Hell weren’t these innocent and defenseless animals not all removed and placed in a safe and secure sanctuary while notices and all the nice talk was presented to the “owner” of this ‘hell hole’ was delivered??? This” owner ” and these people have no respect and do not care about these animals.

    1. Post
      Stephen Wiggins

      Linda, Thank you for your comments (where comments all have to be moderated/approved first – for security reasons – so hence the delay). At the moment, the subject facility still (unbelievably) has a legal permit to operate, issued by the Province authority, LEDET. Until that permit is withdrawn, then no-one else can legally intervene without permission from the facility’s owner (but he is being prosecuted for the neglect by the NSPCA – an NGO). This case highlights that ‘animal welfare’ is given little, if any consideration in the captive breeding industry – and even when repeated abuses are evident (this is not this facility owner’s first offences, plus an NGO helped with the lions’ welfare in 2019, but the owner subsequently refused to let the lions go to sanctuary), the authorities are slow to act…..hence why the whole industry needs to be shut down in the absence of any semblance of control (let alone any contribution to conservation etc.).

      If the authorities want to be seen to ‘care,’ then yes – the Department for Environment and/or Agriculture (DEA/DEFF/DAFF) should be intervening to ensure their legal obligation to ‘animal welfare’ is enacted, taking the captives into sanctuary (but that is limited and provided by NGOs, not state) and/or taking over this captive facility directly…..but the ‘respect’ required has been absent for decades.

    2. Post
      Stephen Wiggins

      This is the response from the Lion Watch Project (an NGO) that has tried to help in the past at this facility:

      “On Tuesday news broke that 7 lions had broken out of the terrible breeding facility in Alldays town. I rushed off to assist as I really care for those lions and regardless of my feelings about the owner or the lion industry, I knew I could help the vet safely recapture them before any lions or people were killed. I want to make it clear that I am in no way associated with that facility. We did try to save those lions before in 2018, we spent a huge amount of money and time fixing the enclosures so they were at least liveable, clean and we got the lions healthy and to the correct body condition. We did this for a year and then the contract was broken and we were kicked out and the place slipped back to this deplorable hell for lions.

      I helped to recapture those lions because I love those lions. If this went wrong the lions would have been shot and somebody in our local community could have died. We took meat and my staff and know those lions well. Such a sad situation. That place is the reason I started Lion Watch….after seeing what was happening to lions there and knowing how long it had been going on!” – Lion Watch Project, 14 May 2020

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