Image via Adobe Stock

Four held for trying to sell lion paws – days after mutilated carcasses found

Four suspects have been arrested for allegedly trying to sell lion paws to an ‘undercover agent’ for R300 000 in Rustenburg.


Image via Adobe Stock

Police have arrested four people for allegedly trying to sell lion paws. The arrests follow just days after eight mutilated lion carcasses were discovered in the North West. 

According to AFP, the four were arrested on Monday 6 January in Rustenburg, about 60km from Swartruggens in the North West, where the carcasses were found on Friday 3 January.

“The suspects were allegedly looking for a buyer for four lion paws that were in their possession,” police said in a statement on Tuesday 7 January.  

They were suspected of trying to sell the paws to an “undercover agent” for R300 000.

The motive for the lion killings remain unclear. Some speculate that previous killings in South Africa have been for the big cats’ body parts, which are allegedly used in traditional medicine.

Police spokesperson Captain Tlangelani Rikhotso said it was too early to tell whether the paws had been taken from the carcasses of the Swartruggens lions. 

“In due course, we will be able to say whether the two cases are linked or not,” she said. 

Eight mutilated lions found in Swartruggens 

North West police were investigating a case of illegal hunting after eight lions were killed in the most horrific manner at a game lodge in the vicinity of Swartruggens.

According to the African News Agency (ANA), North West police spokesperson Brigadier Sabata Mokgwabone said the case was opened at the Koster police station on Friday 3 January 2020. 

“It is alleged that the lions were found dead in the morning,” said Mokgwabone. 

“According to information received, noses and paws were cut off from the lions and taken,” he added. 

It was reported that the lions were poisoned, but Mokgwabone said this has not been officially confirmed.

“The investigation is still ongoing, so at this stage, it is only a suspicion because there were chicken carcasses found nearby. It cannot be confirmed at the moment,” said Mokgwabone.

Call for ban on canned hunting 

International Network for Animals (NFA) called on South African decision-makers in July 2019 to urgently address the legislative gaps around canned lion hunting. 

“South Africa is considered the top destination for canned lion hunting and we urgently call for South African decision-makers to address the legislative gaps around this cruel practice,” NFA chief campaigner David Barritt said.

However, lions are still being brutally killed in illegal hunting incidents.