It is not the first time that the mutilated remains of a lion have been found in enclosures on South African lion breeding farms. In fact there have been an increasing number of incidents of this nature on farms where captive-bred lions are kept for various uses.
In the latest incident, on 31 January 2017, the mutilated remains of a white lioness were discovered at Ingogo safari lodge in Limpopo Province. Her body had been decapitated and all four paws removed. A 31 year-old man was reportedly found in possession of all four severed paws and the head, and then arrested.
“The 31-year-old man and three suspected accomplices allegedly fed three lions in an enclosure on the Ingogo Safari Lodge poisoned chicken meat on Tuesday,” said Brigadier Motlafela Mojapelo, a police spokesperson.
The two male lions in the same enclosure were found alive but severely incapacitated by the effects of the poison.
At least six lions were poached in the Limpopo area in January, and similar instances were recently reported in Tzaneen, Mara and Hoedspruit. Many of these operations are linked to lion cub petting, walking with lions, canned hunting and the lion bone trade.
The growing captive lion industry in South Africa seems to be a thriving source of product for the illegal channels which flourish alongside these highly controversial businesses. And in the background is the final destination for most lion and other wildlife products – the unscrupulous and insatiable Asian markets.