FREE STATE PROVINCE, SOUTH AFRICAMore than 3,300 skeletons and carcasses from captive lions in South Africa—nearly equivalent to the number of the country’s wild lions—were legally shipped to Vietnam, Laos, and elsewhere in East and Southeast Asia between April 2016 and April 2019, new reporting reveals.
This finding is important because it sheds light on the inner workings of the global trade in big cat parts—illegal as well as legal—that’s pushing lions and other wild animals closer to extinction.
But who wants the bones of lions, and why?
The trade didn’t start with lions. Traditional Chinese medicine holds that tiger bones brewed into “wine” can treat illnesses such as arthritis and rheumatism and boost sex drive—claims not supported by science. Poaching of tigers caused their numbers to