Airline Makes Best Decision To Help Lions Being Kept On 'Farms'

“Just because something is legal does not make it legitimate or justifiable."

A demand for a bizarre kind of wine is incentivizing the deaths of so many big cats, but people in positions of power are starting to realize that they can help fight this trade, which spans thousands of miles, from Africa to Asia. 

This week, in a major win for animals, Singapore Airlines announced that it would no longer transport shipments of lion bones.

Lion bones are just one of the byproducts of a thriving "canned hunting" industry in South Africa. Canned hunting is the practice of actually breeding lions on farms so that tourists can shoot and kill them for trophies in fenced-in areas. The lions are sometimes even drugged to make them easy targets. 

The trade in lion bones (which is actually legal) has helped feed this industry, shipping the bones to the Far East, where they are made into "bone wine," a tonic from traditional Chinese medicine falsely believed to help cure fatigue. Often lion bone wine is sold as tiger bone wine, which is considered of a higher status. South Africa currently allows the export of 1,500 lion skeletons per year. 

Singapore Airlines was the only airline transporting the bones from South Africa to Asia in 2017, according to a report on the lion bone trade; the ban on these shipments is a huge win. Over the past few years, similar resolutions from other airlines and shipping companies have helped protect other kinds of animals imperiled by the trade of their parts, like sharks.

“Airlines play a major role in perpetuating the misery of wild animals caught up in international trade,” Michele Pickover, director of the EMS Foundation, said. "Just because something is legal does not make it legitimate or justifiable. Airlines need to acknowledge their damaging role [and] proactively inform themselves of the facts.”

To help people who keep fighting for the lives of lions, you can make a donation to the EMS Foundation