LIONS and tigers from Port Elizabeth’s Seaview Predator Park are being sold to game farms known for hunting and the exporting of animal bones.
While the popular park punts itself as a wildlife sanctuary and allows tourists to pet the lions for a price, Eastern Cape Department of Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism (Dedeat) MEC Sakhumzi Somyo has confirmed that:
- The park has sent 22 lions to Cradock hunting reserve Tam Safaris since 2008, three of them this year; and
- Two tigers have been sent from the park to South Africa’s leading bone exporter, Letsatsi la Africa, in the Free State since 2008, and nine lions were sent last year.
Somyo was responding last week to a series of questions raised by the DA’s chief whip in Bhisho, Bobby Stevenson, regarding the transport of lions and tigers in and around the country.
This comes after the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality refused to give the Seaview Predator Park a rates rebate earlier this year, saying it could not be sure the park was not participating in “canned hunting”.
The park’s owners have refused to comment on the issue.
Earlier this year, The Herald’s sister publication, Weekend Post, revealed that television show hosts, major league sports stars, wealthy entrepreneurs and a former US congressman were among those who had hunted at the family-run Tam Safaris.
Dedeat permits indicate there have been 86 lion hunts at Tam Safaris over the past six years.
After being told that The Herald had seen proof from Dedeat, Tam Safaris owner Irvin Tam admitted the business had bought lions from the Seaview Predator Park, owned by Janice and Rusty Gibbs.
“I have an agreement with them but can assure you that none of these lions from Seaview are used for hunting,” he said.
“They are specifically used to breed and bring new blood into our breeding projects. Those lions [the offspring] are then either sold or used for hunting. I must stress again that all our hunts are legal and completely by the book,” he said.
Tam Safaris exported 32 lion carcasses to Vietnam in 2011, 738kg of lion bones and teeth in 2012 and 459kg of lion bones, claws and teeth last year. – Gareth Wilson
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