Multiple lion cub trafficking cases under investigation in Cape Town

Warrant officers HS Schroeder and AJ van Greunen of the police's stock theft unit with the lion cub they rescued in Athlone, Cape Town, on August 21 2019. It had apparently been transported from Limpopo.
Warrant officers HS Schroeder and AJ van Greunen of the police's stock theft unit with the lion cub they rescued in Athlone, Cape Town, on August 21 2019. It had apparently been transported from Limpopo.
Image: SA Police Service

Criminal trade in lion cubs is rife in Cape Town, say nature conservation officials.

CapeNature spokesperson Loren Pavitt said the organisation was investigating "multiple criminal cases regarding the suspected illegal import, transport, trade and possession of lion cubs in the greater Cape Town area".

Pavitt was responding to questions from TimesLIVE after police said they had rescued a lion cub from a house in Athlone on Wednesday. The cub was handed over to CapeNature by officers from the police stock theft unit in Kuils River.

Pavitt said: "Investigations are ongoing and therefore we cannot comment on any of the details."

She would not say where the lion cub was being kept.

"Any lions found during the course of the investigation will be managed in accordance with our provincial protocol, which is based on international best practice," she said.

Drakenstein Lion Park in Paarl, a sanctuary for captive-born lions, said it had not been asked to help with the cub.

Western Cape police spokesperson Sgt Noloyiso Rwexana said the cub had come from Limpopo.

"Detectives attached to organised crime investigations followed up on information about a lion cub that was transported from Thabazimbi to the Western Cape."

A spokesperson at Marekele Animal Sanctuary in Thabazimbi said she doubted the cub was from there.

"We’re the only people in Thabazimbi with lions, and it has nothing to do with us," she said.

Capt Petrus Jansen, of the stock theft unit, said the case was the second involving lion cubs in the past month. In the first, a Strand man had reported the theft of a cub a month ago.

Jansen said the investigation into the Athlone cub was still under way and no decision had been made on pressing charges. Rwexana said three people aged between 28 and 30 were taken in for questioning.


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