Poachers target lions in Limpopo

Polokwane - Lion poaching in Limpopo has increased as conservation authorities clamp down on rhino poaching.

Provincial MEC of Economic Development, Environment and Tourism Seaparo Sekoati said he was concerned that 24 lions were killed between January and August this year.

Lions are being poached for other body parts, including their paws, and police reports indicate that poachers poison lions.

"It is concerning that lion populations in Limpopo are being targeted by poachers, allegedly for the muthi market. It is understood that the escalation of lion poaching in our province was triggered by the clampdown on rhino poaching," said Sekoati.

Since January, 11 suspects have been arrested in connection with killing of lions.

READ: 2 lions, freed from circuses, are poached in Limpopo

Investigations

Most of the incidents have occurred on private nature reserves in the Waterberg and Mopani regions.

"Numerous enforcement operations have been conducted throughout the province hence the arrest of 11 perpetrators to date. It is imperative that private nature reserve owners should beef up their security," said Sekoati.

He said the provincial Environmental Management Inspectorate, also known as the Green Scorpions, was working in collaboration with other law enforcement agencies.

Sekoati said investigations were at an advanced stage and more arrests are expected soon.

"While certain communities believe that lion bones hold medicinal properties which help cure cancer and improve virility, other communities are reportedly utilising lion bones as a replacement for tiger bones in tiger wine, which is believed to be a cure for amongst others, ulcers and stomach cramps," said Sekoati.

There is, however, no scientific proof that the bones have such properties said Sekoati.

"The department is embarking on a programme to debunk these perceptions through its Environmental Empowerment Services in order to bring an end to lion killings in our province," he said.